{ Our New Kitchen }

Upon returning from Utah my pregnant nose made a most unpleasant discovery. I could smell something in our kitchen that didn’t smell quite right. We have thoroughly cleaned before we left, but I still spent days sniffing around trying to find the culprit. I finally confined the area to right next to the dishwasher. I tried looking under the dishwasher and couldn’t see any leaking water and then tried pulling out the dishwasher. Not an easy task for a very pregnant woman. After using some not so nice language towards our dishwasher which I couldn’t manage to get out, I broke down and called a water damage service to come take a look. They had this cool device that they laid on the ground and it could detect how much moisture was on the concrete beneath. Sure enough right around the dishwasher-100%. He tried looking under the dishwasher and could see the leak right away.

The next day some guys came and took out our dishwasher, ripped up the vinyl flooring, and cut out part of our cabinet that was damaged. We spent the night and next day with a huge very loud fan and dehumidifier in our kitchen to dry everything out. We felt lucky that the damage was contained to a rather small area, but the reality was that a lot of our kitchen would need to be redone. Lucky for homeowners insurance we were able to fix it up and even upgrade a few things without too much out of pocket considering the whole expense.

Dishwasher tore out blog

It was very interesting to see how the whole insurance process works and what they would and wouldn’t pay for. We ended up having to replace the cabinet next to the dishwasher, and to get the cabinet out they would have to rip up the countertops-so new countertops, new flooring throughout the whole kitchen, eating area, pantry, and all the way into the laundry room, and a new backsplash. We also ended getting a new dishwasher, but on our tab this time. It was seven years old and would have cost $200 to fix or $300 for a new one, so we opted for a new one.

Now here comes our dilemma. Our house is still up for sale and we still want to move, so what do you pick to put in your house? When everything is already ripped up, it’s tempting to just get what we would want-granite countertops, tile flooring, a nice tile backsplash, but by doing so we would also dump a lot more money into it than we would ever get back in this market. Unfortunately, insurance only covers the quality that was there before, so any extras would come directly out of our pocket. In the end we decided to still get formica countertops, we tried to pick something that looked more like stone, vinyl flooring, and then we upgraded and paid the extra for a new tile backsplash.

The next month was spent without a dishwasher-oh how spoiled we are these days to have one, eating off of lots of paper plates, and waiting for the next subcontractor to show up. I can say now though that I know how they install laminate countertops and how they rip them off, how they install a tile backsplash, how they rip up and install flooring, and how much I love to have everyone else doing it while I watch. I have to give those guys credit, some of those things are backbreaking work, and take real talent to pull off. Though, I am not a huge fan of laminate countertops, I just loved my counter guy. He had been doing it for 30+ years and was super professional. There was not one thing he left undone, and he totally cleaned up after himself too! He was definitely a top notch guy.

So, here are all the before and after shots of our kitchen:

Countertops before blog Our kitchen countertops before. Not horrible, but a little dated and the laminate backsplash with the metal trim always bothered me.

Counters ripped up blog Our countertops and backsplash ripped off and our cabinet taken out. At first the insurance company wanted to just replace the one side of the cabinet, but I insisted that they replace the whole cabinet. I am glad I stuck to my guns because when they pulled out the whole cabinet later, there was damage almost all the way to the other wall that we couldn’t see before.

New countertops blog Our new countertops

New backsplash 2 blog

The new backsplash which I loved the moment they put it up. So much better than before!New backsplash by oven blogThe backsplash on the other side of the kitchen, awaiting to be grouted and sealed still.

When all is said and done, we were very pleased with how it turned out, and we learned so much, and do love it much more than what was there before. All the workers joked as I would ohh and ahh over what they had just installed that now that I had a new kitchen I might not want to move. It does look nice, but then I walked into my front room and tripped over piles of toys and decided, yes I would still like to move.

Things we learned through all of this:

  • How much we love having a dishwasher and what a treat it is to not eat on paper plates.
  • How fun it can be to pick out new stuff to put in your house.
  • How hard it can to pick out new stuff for your house.
  • We learned how we work together (Aaron and I) when picking out stuff. Aaron is pretty easy going and says he doesn’t really care, until he sees it and then maybe starts to care more. He works well when I narrow down the choices to a few things for him to see. Still he(okay we both) have a hard time seeing the vision until its done. I joke that when we build our new house, I will just invite to see it when we actually move in to it, then he won’t know what he’s missing by seeing all the choices he could of had. Not really, I really do love his opinion and it’s so much fun going to look at stuff together.
  • That I never want to remodel a house and live there at the same time. So hard with young kids! I have a new respect for anyone who does this.
  • Cleaning macaroni, spilled cereal, and basically anything gooey that was dropped from Scott’s highchair, off of a cement floor is really difficult. Okay, let’s be honest, it’s downright impossible.
  • Having a darker floor covering does make all the difference. My light colored floors drove me crazy! They showed every little speck of dirt on them. I guess now the dirt is still there, but now I can just plead ignorant?
  • Last but most important, we learned that Heavenly Father loves the family very dearly that will buy our house and wants them to get to enjoy a new kitchen. It was this knowledge that helped me trudge along for a month without a dishwasher and see the light at the end of the tunnel. At times we are so excited to get into a house with  more room for our growing family and for it to have all the things we want that we forget that Heavenly Father loves the family that will live here just as much and wants the best for them. Sometimes that means sacrifice for us. A sacrifice that has been such a blessing to give. I am very grateful for a loving Heavenly Father that never ceases to teach me things, even through a kitchen redo.

Kitchen After blog

Kitchen After 2 blog

The finished kitchen


{ Utah Trip }

Our big trip for the summer was over the 4th of July weekend to Utah. My youngest brother was getting married, so we decided to try to combine both family reunion/get togethers this year. Our flight was scheduled to leave early on Tuesday morning so we planned to spend the night up in Atlanta in a hotel next to the airport. By the time we actually got everything packed, the van loaded up, ate dinner at IHOP (can you tell we love to eat at that place?) and drove up to Atlanta it was well after 10pm. The hotel we had booked a reservation at was having air conditioning problems so they booked us at a hotel next door for free! Yea for us! Since we would be leaving so early before breakfast was served they sent us on our way with box breakfasts for everyone. We checked into the other hotel, unloaded our tired crew, lugged in our suitcase, and I grabbed my camera bag just for safe keeping.

The next morning started out early at 4am getting ready. We managed to make it to the airport around 5:30am and our flight was set to leave around 6:50am. We thought we were doing great on time, kids were fed, no major disasters yet, until we were unloading the luggage from the van. Aaron turned around and casually asks “Do you have your camera bag?”

“What?” Where was my camera bag? Safe and sound back in the hotel room. How can you go to your youngest brother’s wedding, one summer vacation for the year, and two family reunions without a camera? We didn’t have time to go back to the hotel, so on we ventured on the bus shuttle to catch our flight. By the time we finally got to the baggage check in it was an hour to go until the flight left. We were proud of ourselves that we had made it there that early. Unfortunately, I guess you can’t check in your bags with only an hour to go. What? After begging a slightly annoyed airport worker we managed to get our packed to the max bags on their way to Utah. By the time we got all 8 of us through security, shoes, belts, and everything else back on our bodies, we were cutting it pretty close to make our plane. Remember Home Alone when they are running through the airport? That would be us. Running with 6 small kids to make our flight. When we got to the straight away we sent Brianna and Austin ahead to let them know we were coming. The guy at the gate yells down the corridor-“You have to run!” Permission to run-check. I felt like I was dragging my poor kids. We made it just in time for them to shut the gate-two adults, six kids, 4 suitcases, one stroller, one diaper bag, one carryon bag, and no camera! Enjoy the picture journey the kids helped to recreate to take place of our camera pictures!

Utah trip on the plane Brooke

Plane ride by Brooke

Utah trip on the plane Erika  Plane ride by Erika

Utah trip on the plane BriannaPlane ride by Brianna I love the mystery guy in the back of the plane sleeping. So funny!

We were so blessed to have really good flights from Atlanta to Houston and on the Salt Lake. Scott slept in my arms the entire time, and by the time we landed in Salt Lake we were all refreshed and ready for some fun. We are discovering that traveling with this size of family is not only expensive, tiring, and a lot of work, but that finding a rental car to hold this many is near impossible. We ended up having to rent two cars for the week-so I spent most of my vacation with my husband not actually with him. We had managed to get a hold of the hotel and they said that they hadn’t found the camera bag. Okay this isn’t your small credit card sized bag, this is like a backpack! I know exactly where I put it, next to a chair in the corner, so I was optimistic that it had just been overlooked. I was wanting a knew camera, but not under these circumstances. I was at peace with the fact that I would be walking away with no pictures from this vacation, but was still hoping that they could find it. I hadn’t downloaded my last batch of pictures either from it-last day of school, last time with the Johnson family=(, Brianna’s birthday, all would be gone. Lesson learned-always download pictures before going on a trip.

Utah trip car ride to cousins Erika Driving to our cousins house by Erika. I guess we did find a van to all ride in!=)

The first leg of our vacation was going to be down in Provo with my side of the family and for my brother’s wedding. We arrived at my oldest brother’s house, got reacquainted with cousins the kids hadn’t seen in over two years, and then went out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants-Los Hermanos. So good and so fun! I love going to a place and getting a long table for 24 and no one looking at you like you’re out of your mind. Only in Utah! It was a great night of catch up conversation and last minute plans for the wedding.

Utah trip eating at Los HermanosEating at Los Hermanos by Brianna

Utah trip eating at Los Hermanos BrookeEating at Los Hermanos by Brooke The dotty things are the food I have been told.

On Wednesday morning we picked up some freshly made bread from one of our favorite places-Great Harvest. Three loaves of Pumpkin chocolate chip ought to do it. We love treat bread! That afternoon Aaron and I got to go to the Salt Lake Temple so that our almost new sister-in-law Michelli could go through and get her endowments. It was the first time that I had actually been in the Salt Lake Temple and it was such a  special experience. When we got back we took our kids to eat at the Brick Oven. Love that place! Aaron and I think it’s funny that all the places we miss and love from Utah are food places. I guess when your pregnant or being sympathetic to a pregnant wife, food is always on the mind. The food was great of course, but the funniest part of the whole trip happened there. We were seated next to a large group that was celebrating a little girls birthday who was turning 3. There were aunts, uncles, grandmas and grandpas, presents, a cake they had brought, the whole deal. It came time for the waiters/waitresses to come and sing to her. “Where’s Katylyn?” (I don’t actually remember her name so it will have to be that) they all called playfully. I think they thought she was hiding under the table. All of a sudden here she comes walking from the main part of the restaurant completely naked, carrying her dress in her hands. Her parents were so embarrassed. I guess she could go potty by herself, she just couldn’t get dressed by herself. Our kids were trying to hide their laughs, …okay they weren’t really trying that hard, and her family just kept saying, “well, I guess she wanted to wear her birthday suit on her birthday!” That night we all went swimming at our hotel, all 13 cousins, a couple dads, and a grandma and grandpa. The moms mostly watched from the edge being the lifeguards, but by the end were probably just as wet from holding squirmy swimmers.

Utah trip swimming Brooke Swimming at the hotel by Brooke

Thursday morning we spent some time with just us and the kids. We took a fun trip touring around BYU, visiting the bookstore and spending too much, outfitting everyone with new BYU shirts (the Johnson’s would be so proud), getting yummy bagels there, driving by our old apartment and work places, and hearing our kids say over and over, “This place is so cool!” I loved Austin’s comment the best: “I mean, I knew I was going to go to college, but now, I am totally coming to college! This place is awesome!” We think so too, buddy! We had planned on hiking up to the Y later, but I think that will have to wait until another trip.

Utah trip Y mountain AustinY mountain by Austin

The girl that my brother is marrying, Michelli, is from Brazil, so on Thursday afternoon all the adults  went to eat at a Brazilian restaurant. It had great food, and it was fun to see part of the culture. Mitch went on his mission to Brazil, and has a great love for Brazil. It was a great match when he later met Michelli at BYU. That night we did last minute errands for shoes for the girls for the wedding, took bike and scooter rides to a park, and hung out enjoying being with family.

Utah trip Playing with cousins on scooters ErikaRiding scooters in the driveway by Erika

Utah trip Playing with cousins at school park ErikaGoing to the playground by Erika

Friday was the day of the wedding. We dressed everyone in their cute purple dresses and tuxes and headed to the Salt Lake Temple. It was a beautiful and memorable wedding ceremony.

Utah trip Salt Lake temple Austin Salt Lake Temple by Austin

The kids waited patiently outside until picture time. They thought it was so funny that during the big group shots of the family, that the photographer kept moving around only one person..me. Do you really have to make the pregnant one trudge up and down the stairs three or four times? The kids sure thought it was entertaining.

Utah trip Salt Lake temple Brianna

Taking pictures by Brianna

Utah trip Salt Lake temple Erika 2

The Salt Lake Temple by Erika

The reception was that night back down in Provo, so we headed back there to wait for the new bride and groom. The reception was a lot of fun. Lots of food the kids enjoyed, dancing Brazilian style, the kids having fun decorating Mitch and Michelli’s car, and a very late night for us. We were glad to sleep in the next day. Utah trip Wedding Reception Brianna Dancing at the reception by Brianna

Utah trip Wedding Reception AbbyDancing at the reception by Abby

Saturday we checked out of our hotel and went to hang out with the cousins for a while at my brothers. We all went to see “How to train your dragon” at the dollar theater, and then headed up to Salt Lake to see Aaron’s side of the family. We were staying right there in Salt Lake so we could be close to all the fun temple square attractions. We went out to eat at Golden Corral, went swimming that night with all the cousins, and then turned in for an early night. We had been up late every night and we were exhausted.

We found a ward that met later on Sunday, and Aaron took the kids and the rest of his family to church. Abby had woke up sick that morning so I stayed and slept with her. That afternoon they were able to go tour the conference center and we all went to a nearby park for  a walk. Monday we went to Pioneer park for a while and had a picnic lunch, played soccer, let the kids run free, and then headed to a waterpark. I forgot how many kids there are in Utah. I don’t mean that in a bad way,  but it was packed with kids everywhere. It was a lot of fun, but we were noticing how different from Georgia. In Georgia, it is so hot even when you get out of the water, but in Utah you get out and it is cold! Okay, not cold cold, but you feel like to need to run for a towel right when you get out. I never thought I would want humidity. The kids loved the lazy river the best, and even Brianna got convinced by her cousins to try every waterslide. We order pizza that night, played games, ate Oreos, and called it a night. Our flight left the next afternoon, so we packed up that night. We had since gotten a hold of the hotel back in Atlanta and they had found my camera. I was so glad!

The next morning we enjoyed one last leisurely breakfast with Grandma and Grandpa Starbuck, said our good-byes to everyone, and then headed off to the airport. Our trip back was great. Sleeping baby, splurging on headrest TV’s for the flights so we could watch a World Cup game, lunches on the plane, treats at the USO (military lounge) at the airport, and finally coming home to our soft beds. We had such a fun trip. It’s amazing how fast a week can go by. The kids are already planning our next one out there. We love you family! Thanks for a great week.

*More pictures to come when I can convince my kids to draw some more.