May
31

Cherry Orchard Family Photos

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Life update: the house inspection went well, so we're moving forward and will be closing on June 29th! I'm starting to plan out ideas, saving inspiration photos, and thinking about paint colors. FUN STUFF! Plus, we'll be heading out on our Alaska cruise at the end of this week. So it's an exciting time for the Allen family! In the meantime, I thought I'd share these photos from our cherry orchard family session with Lana Jenae Photography. I just loooove them. Ian was not having it for the majority of this session, but she still managed to capture some beautiful family photos that I will cherish.

Cherry orchard family photos

Cherry orchard family photos

Ian was teething that week, and it was a super hot day...so the photo above pretty much sums up what his attitude was. I still kinda love this photo, though. Is it bad to think your baby is super cute when he's crying???

Cherry orchard family photos

Cherry orchard family photos

Cherry orchard family photos

I was worried that I wouldn't like the photos, since Ian didn't flash his toothy grin very much all night. But they still turned out so cute, right?? I can never get enough of his striking blue eyes, his hair that's starting to curl, his rosebud lips, and his perfectly smooth baby skin. I'm so happy to have these photos that capture this moment in time.

Cherry orchard family photos

Cherry orchard family photos

Oh, and a baby in a bowtie?! Too much for my mama heart to handle.

Cherry orchard family photos

Cherry orchard family session

We got at least one smile out of him too! That's all I need, one smiling photo. There's our happy boy.

Cherry orchard family photos

And there's nothing that makes me happier than seeing my two guys together. They have such a sweet connection.

Cherry orchard fun

High five

HIGH FIVE!

Cherry orchard family photos

It was such a lovely night, feeling the love in a blossoming cherry orchard.

Cherry orchard family photos

Cherry orchard family photos

All photos by Lana Jenae Photography. If you're in the Spokane area and looking for a photographer to shoot your family photos, senior portraits, wedding--whatever...I can't recommend Corlana enough. She's the best!

 

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May
22

Exciting News!

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Two very exciting things happened last week. Ian started saying "mama" AND we had an offer accepted on a house we really like! Woohoo! We are getting an inspection done on Thursday, so it's not final yet, but...it's looking like we might be buying a house!!! We found it literally the day after we started looked into rental options. Haha. We were feeling discouraged and wanting our own space so bad (we're super grateful to my parents, but you can only live in someone else's house for so long). We've been tryyyying to trust in the process, but neither of us are very good at patience--so it's a good thing this house popped up when it did! I'll give you some of the details now and see if you can guess the type of house we decided on.

house hunting progress

(not our house--I'm waiting to post pictures until the sale is final!)

The story of our house hunting journey might be titled as "Lowering Our Great Expectations." Ha! When we started house hunting in Seattle over a year ago, we looked on Zillow for houses in Spokane in the same price range and thought, "Mansions! We could literally get a MANSION for the price of a shack over here!" And that was part of what inspired us to consider moving. Fast forward a year and a half, and housing prices have risen everywhere. They're unbelievably high in Seattle now, but they've also risen substantially in Spokane. Also, let's be honest, staged real estate photos almost always look better than the reality. Plus we lowered our price range over here, since I'm not working a 9-5 job anymore.

Still, we initially started out with a big list of "wants." We wanted a farmhouse with a wraparound porch and four bedrooms, on a couple acres. Or a big, charming old house in my favorite neighborhood, with tree-lined streets and parks and coffee shops nearby. Or a house with a separate studio/guesthouse that we could rent out for extra income. These were our top three dream house scenarios. Little by little, we came to realize that our dream did not match our budget.

The farmhouses we looked at were at the top of our price range and still needed significant work (and not the fun kind of work--we're talking new roof, electrical updating, and structural work). Also, we realized that we're not farmers and we have no desire to own animals or run an operating orchard, etc. We just wanted land for our kids to run around in, and for privacy.

The houses in my dream neighborhood, while gorgeous and full of character, were also full of old-house problems. Sloping floors, knob and tube wiring, tiny bedrooms with ceilings that Ben would hit his head on. Plus, since it's such a desirable neighborhood, you get way less "bang for your buck" there. We couldn't justify it.

And we never found a house we liked that had a guesthouse, at least in our price range. I saw a few that were more expensive, but it kind of defeats the point of "extra" income if you need a renter to afford the house.

Sooo, we ratcheted down our expectations and started looking at houses with normal-sized yards, in some less expensive neighborhoods. We found three houses that we considered making an offer on (including the one we did). See if you can guess what we decided on, HGTV style!

Option 1

A new-ish house (built in the 2000s) with vaulted ceilings, lots of natural light, and a good floor plan. It's in a safe, newer neighborhood, and the schools are excellent. Best of all, it wouldn't need any structural work so we could get right into the fun stuff like remodeling the kitchen, doing cosmetic updates, and decorating! There's farmland within walking distance, so it still has that quiet, country vibe we like.

Option 2

A solid 1960s rancher in the neighborhood I grew up in. Walkable to my parents and several friends' houses. It's big, and has a recently remodeled kitchen and a fairly large, private backyard (with a hot tub!). Best of all, it's right across the street from a park/elementary school so it almost feels like a larger property than it really is...but without the upkeep. And when our kids are in elementary school, they can just walk right across the street themselves!

Option 3

A cute 1940s house in a nice, established neighborhood with a similar vibe to my dream neighborhood--but more affordable. It's not as big as the other two houses, but has a lot of charm with arched doorways and original hardwood floors. Best of all, it's way under our budget, so we'd have a lot of money left to update the house and save for another one. Our idea is to live in this house until we outgrow it, then buy a bigger house and keep this one as a rental.

What do you think we picked???

8 COMMENTS
May
12

Life Updates: House Hunting & More

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It's been awhile since I did a rambly personal post...so let's catch up, shall we? How are you guys??? Me, I'm a mixed bag of emotions. On the one hand, I've been enjoying the beautiful spring weather here. We hung a hammock in my parent's backyard, got photos taken in a blossoming cherry orchard, did a big road race here in Spokane, and have spent lots of time outdoors. On the other hand, it's been hard to relax and enjoy ourselves, because we started house hunting at the beginning of this month. And since then, our thoughts and conversations have been anxiously consumed with HOUSES! It's kind of fun, but also sooo nerve-wracking. The market here is getting hotter, and the good houses are selling quickly (and often for over asking price). Ben and I are both fairly cautious people, and we like to take our time carefully considering and comparing all our options. But it feels like we're gonna have to be ready to pull the trigger quickly when the right house comes along, which is scary. 

Farmhouse

The farmhouse above is the one we've come the closest to making an offer on. So many things about it were exactly what we want: a charming 4 bedroom house with lots of natural light, some land (2 acres!) and a central location (only 20 minutes to Ben's work). We debated whether we'd regret letting such a dream property go. But in the end, we decided that the house needed too much work for us to take on, especially since the price was already at the very top end of what we could spend. So we're back to looking, and trying to rein in our expectations. What we probably "should" do is just get a cheaper, normal house with a normal yard (no acreage). But both of us keep holding out in the hopes that something special will pop up. I mean, who doesn't want a house that's special and unique??

I'm a little worried that it's not going to work out the way we hope, though. Every time I get online to look at houses, I start out super optimistic that THIS is going to be the day I find "the one", then I end up irritable, disappointed and defeated when everything in our price range is just...not what we want. I know it's only been a couple weeks, but I feel like I'm starting to get deja vu of how we felt in Seattle. Everyone keeps talking about how the market in Spokane is heating up after years of being stagnant, and I'm like, "did we move here too late? did we miss all the good deals yet AGAIN?" Sighhhh.

On a happier note, a few months ago I mentioned that we were trying to figure out a birthday trip for Ben's 30th. Well, we decided! We are taking an Alaska cruise with Princess in less than a month, and I can't wait. We sprang for a balcony room, and I'm hopeful that we'll see whales and other wildlife along the way...plus glaciers and stunning scenery. Anyone done an Alaska cruise before? I'd love to hear your suggestions for excursions that are worth it, as well as general tips, etc. It's the first time either of us has ever done a cruise and I'm curious whether we'll enjoy the experience or miss the freedom of being on our own. We are currently nervously waiting for Ian's passport to arrive. There was a (super annoying) snafu where the passport office misread his name as JAN, so it's taking longer than it should have. Kinda stressful since he needs a passport for the cruise (because of one Canadian port).

Motorola MBP 855 Connect baby monitor

Speaking of Ian...he's ten months now and fulllll of energy, curiosity, and determination. He's always on the move, and I can't leave him out of sight for even a minute...which means the only time I have for blogging, reading, watching shows, doing laundry, cooking, and getting anything done is while he's napping. Thank goodness for video baby monitors. Motorola sent us their new MBP 855 Connect, and I've been loving it. It has great range, two way communication, remote pan, tilt, and zoom, night vision, and Wifi capability. In other words, it's the BMW of baby monitors. :)

10 months

Ian's newest skills are clapping, shaking his head, high fiving, and pulling up on furniture. He has four teeth now, and is growing slowly but surely (still only in the 5th percentile for weight, but hey--he's on the chart!). I cannot believe how fast this year has gone. He'll be one in less than two months, which is just craaaazy. I know I should start planning a birthday party, but I can't quite wrap my head around the fact that my BABY is nearly ONE. Honestly, I'll probably throw together a small, simple party this time, especially if we are still living with my parents by Ian's birthday. It's not like he'll remember it anyways, so I'll save us the expense (and the stress) of trying to create a Pinterest-perfect party.

And speaking of birthdays...it's my 28th tomorrow! I always feel lucky when my birthday lands on a weekend, so I get to spend the whoooole day with Ben. And it's my first real Mother's Day on Sunday sooo pretty much it's all about me this weekend. :) Haha.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend and a great Mother's Day, as well! xoxo

8 COMMENTS
May
10

Dreamy Weekend Getaways

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This post is sponsored by HomeAway. All opinions are my own.

Now that we've been living at my parents house for a few months, we're itching to take a weekend getaway somewhere...and we're super excited to start exploring the area around us! It's fun to have some new possibilities for quick vacation spots that are within a few hours' drive. We've been throwing out lots of different ideas, so I finally decided to write them all down and do some research. Sometimes, if we're torn between a few options, finding a dreamy vacation rental can be the deciding factor. One of my favorite places to look is HomeAway--they're the world's leading online vacation rental marketplace with more than 2 million unique places to stay. And I found some preetttttyyyy cool ones that I would LOVE to stay at. Some of these are obviously way more expensive than we'd spend for just the two of us, but they'd be perfect to split with a bunch of friends (or family).

Unique vacation rental in Lake Chelan, WA

1. Lake Chelan: I love this chic modern farmhouse, and if we split it with friends we could stay there for less than we'd pay for a hotel. That's my favorite thing about vacation rentals--you can usually get a place that's way more cool, for way less money than it would cost at a boutique hotel. Plus when you and your friends have babies, it's a big plus to have a shared living space to hang out in once the kids are sleeping!

Na-Mu Lodge in Leavenworth, WA

2. Leavenworth, WA: I've seen this place on Instagram, and have wanted to visit ever since. It's beautifully decorated and has amazing views and a hot tub! We'd definitely need to split the cost with some friends, but it's about halfway between Seattle and Spokane so it could be a perfect excuse to meet up with people from the west side.

Homeaway in Nelson, BC

3. Nelson, BC: We've heard good things about the town of Nelson, BC, and this historic brick loft looks like the perfect home base to explore the area from! Except, I just saw it says no children under 14...so maybe we'll file this one away for an anniversary trip or something...

Gorgeous Whitefish, MT vacation rental (near Glacier National Park)

4. Glacier National Park: We're super excited to be less than 5 hours away from Glacier National Park, and it's definitely on our list to visit, soon. Most of the vacation rentals there are a little too lodge-y for my taste, but this one is gorgeous and modern, yet still fitting for the location!

Boyer House - vacation rental in Walla Walla

5. Walla Walla, WA: Here's another one that we would definitely have to split with friends. But how cool would it be to stay in this classic 1909 mansion?!? I mean, just scroll through the photos. It's beautiful and stately and impeccably decorated. I'd feel so fancy staying there.

Bozeman, MT vacation rental from HomeAway

6. Bozeman, MT: Last but not least (actually, it is the least--literally!), this loft in Bozeman would be great for a weekend getaway with just our family. We really loved Bozeman when we were coming through Montana on our road trip, and would love to go back and explore a bit more!

Have you ever planned a vacation around a super awesome place to stay? Which of these would you be most excited about?

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