Thursday, October 29, 2020

Even More Adulting

Can you even call yourself an adult if you haven't bought new windows for your house? Just kidding. That's just me trying to make an expensive, mundane purchase sound cooler than it really is. When we bought our house (built in the 1960s), the majority of the windows had already been replaced by prior owners. There were a few irregular-sized ones and some "fancy" ones left that had diamond designs on them. They had lost their efficiency many moons ago and I'm guessing they had not been replaced yet due to the expense. Actually, I'm hoping that's why they were still there, and not because people actually thought they looked nice. Here's what we were rocking before replacement:






The horror! It's okay to cringe. We finally pulled the trigger on updating them to a modern design and current energy efficiency. We used Window World and were pleasantly surprised by their prices. The installation went really smoothly too. Here are the after pics:






The view is crystal clear now and there's more natural light coming in. I'm also grateful I won't be freezing in my office in the winter anymore. The 3 huge windows used to let too much cold air in! 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

2020's Not All Bad

 As with many people around the world in 2020, we started thinking about what remodeling projects we wanted to undertake at our house. A while ago we noticed a slight leak in the roof area of our sunroom. We think that room used to be an exterior patio that prior owners enclosed, so its roof wasn't part of the main roof and clearly wasn't covered appropriately. We knew that had to be dealt with, so we got a quote on removing all the old windows, replacing the interior sheetrock, putting on an adequate roof, and installing two sets of sliding glass doors. That turned out to be more expensive than we thought it would be, which got us thinking about just how much remodeling we wanted to undertake this year. If we're going to spend X amount of money on the sunroom, why not just knock everything out at once with one company who can accomplish multiple items on our to-do list? Rarely am I thankful for a quote that comes in higher than expected, but in this case, it resulted in some amazing transformations that might not have happened otherwise! I'll start with the sunroom, since I already mentioned it. 

Here's the before:


And here's the after:

With the shutters on the windows, we never enjoyed the natural light or unobstructed views of the backyard. Now, we have easier access to our entertaining area and better views from the interior.

Next up is our upstairs guest bathroom. We are lucky enough to have enough room downstairs for the whole family to sleep, so our upstairs has always been available for guests. There are two bedrooms and a full bathroom up there. When previous owners designed that bathroom, they really didn't utilize the space well. They took up too much of the bathroom with vanities and shoved a shower in a corner where the roof slopes. Our construction crew chief, Amelia, came up with a much better design for that bathroom and the remodeling company gave us examples of what types of finishes we should aim for. Here are some before pics (brace yourself):



And here are the after pics!!


We went with gray cabinets and white quartz counters (to match our kitchen and laundry, which you'll see shortly). The toilet was relocated to the back where the roof curves, which makes way more sense than having a shower there. That space was widened by removing part of the wall.


The shower was relocated and expanded and updated with a modern design. I love the floor/wall and accent tile that we chose.  


Recessed lighting was added throughout, along with a super cool rain shower head and a detachable extra shower head. 


We used the accent tile in the storage niche too.


My jaw still drops when I walk in that bathroom, mainly because I know what it looked like before. The configuration now makes so much more sense and I think guests will finally feel taken care of!

In the past, I always complained about our utility area because it didn't have a clear purpose and seemed like a hodge podge space that didn't really accomplish any one thing fully. It served as our laundry room, pantry space, water heater closet, and powder bathroom. There were no cabinets for my laundry supplies and no good space for folding or laying clothes out to dry. The powder room felt tiny, and the pantries seemed too shallow. The cabinetry was old and outdated. Luckily, we were able to remedy all of my complaints! Here are some before pics of the utility:




And here's how we fixed it!


We added cabinets above the washer and dryer so all my laundry supplies could be out of sight. We also flipped the way the bathroom door opens. It used to open in, which crowded your space as you entered. Now it opens out, so the bathroom feels bigger. 


We completely removed all the outdated pantry cabinets to the right of the entrance and replaced them with a true laundry station. Now there is a hanging rod, extra upper cabinets, a quartz counter for folding clothes, a lower cabinet for our dog food, and a space for laundry bins. It's an actual laundry room!


We got rid of the huge door and replaced it with a barn door. We rarely closed that door anyway, but now when we do, at least it will be more stylish.


The tall cabinetry is actually hiding our water heater! Not sure I've ever seen a fancier setup for one of those. The furthest cabinet is an overflow pantry for whatever doesn't fit in our kitchen. There's also additional space to the left of the cabinet where we keep our stand-up items, like a step ladder and brooms, etc. I feel so much better about this space because it has more purpose (and clearly a more modern design) now.

I saved the best project for last! We've been wanting a new kitchen since essentially the day we bought the house, but we kept putting it off in favor of more necessary work (foundation, plumbing, windows, flooring, etc). Finally, the time was right! Our kitchen was a U shape, that sided to the living room. Meezy always talked about taking the wall down between the kitchen and living, but I worried about the loss of cabinet space. The cabinets had been updated in probably the last 20 years, but they didn't go all the way to the ceiling because of the fur-down. The counters were a shade of blue and were fake stone, the backsplash was boring, our ovens and cooktop were surrounded by a brick monstrosity that was a waste of space, and we didn't feel connected to guests since the kitchen was closed off. Take a look at the before pics:





Behold, our masterpiece!


Bye, bye wall! Now the kitchen opens up to the living room.


We opted for a huge stainless steel farmhouse sink that came with drop-in attachments like a strainer, cutting board, and drying rack. The faucet has a blue LED light that illuminates when it's on, and the light turns to red when the water gets hot. 


We carried the gorgeous white quartz counters into a waterfall edge to give it a finished look. I love the wide soft-close drawers in this section of the kitchen. 


We had the counter overhang into the living room so we could add bar stools. 


I thought I'd be in trouble on food storage once I lost the pantries in the utility room, but these new cabinets utilize their space so much better than the old ones. Not only are they taller, but they are deeper and include drawers, so you can actually store items in the back and still get to them easily. The drawers and cabinet doors are all soft-close.


This range is essentially what I built my kitchen around! I've been waiting for the day when I could call this my own. After shopping various high-end brands, I realized that you were paying for name and not necessarily features. Don't get me wrong, this guy wasn't cheap, but it ended up being a better value for the money to go with GE Monogram instead of Viking, Wolf, Thermador, etc. It's got 6 burners plus a griddle, along with a full-size oven and an additional smaller oven. We put an island vent hood above it because we wanted as low a profile as possible. (Not super easy to do when you need 48" of vent). Hard to tell in the pic, but we went with a white subway tile in a herringbone design for the backsplash.


The best microwave option for our kitchen design was a built-in drawer microwave, so we went with a low profile Sharp with wifi capabilities. You can wave your hand in front of it to open it and operate it from your phone.


Lastly, we knew the niche on the other side of the kitchen needed some sprucing up, so we removed the brick surround and flattened the wall, changed the counter to match our kitchen counter, and added the same backsplash to match the kitchen. Eventually we may add shelves or a wine rack here. 

Can you believe the changes? I feel like I'm in a totally different house now. The project took 5 weeks from start to finish. We are extremely pleased with the results and happy to share more info about our contractor, appliance supplier, finishes, costs, etc. Feel free to ask!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

New Family Member

With my beloved Beagle/Corgi mix, Riley, turning 15 a couple months ago, I've begun to accept that we're on borrowed time. He can't hear that well anymore, he's lost a little of his eye sight, he suffers from arthritis and heart disease, and he can't go on a walk for more than a block or so. After losing my Keeshond, Casey, a couple years ago, Riley was a comfort during my sadness. I know I'm going to be a wreck when Riley eventually passes away, and the kids are going to take it even harder than when they lost Casey. I started looking for a Corgi rescue a couple months ago, because I decided I wanted to go ahead and have a second dog in the house to help counteract the unavoidable sadness that'll happen at some point, probably sooner than later. I found a good candidate every week or so, but each time I applied, the dog had already been adopted. The first couple times I applied, I showed pictures of the dog to the kids, but then I had to go back and tell them the dog was no longer available. I eventually stopped telling the kids about each dog I applied for, because I was tired of the disappointment!

I mentioned to a friend I was looking for a Corgi rescue, and he happened to find out about an owner surrender who had posted about it online. He sent me the owner's contact info and I immediately messaged her. We arranged a time for me to meet the dog the next day and OMG, I fell in love immediately. She was a 7 week old Corgi and probably the tiniest dog I've ever seen. She looks like she has a fox face, but she's definitely got the Corgi build, and she hops like a bunny when she runs. She didn't have a name yet because the owner said she had only had her a week, so Dutch did the honors and named her Zoey.


It was an adjustment having a puppy in the house. It's literally been 15 years since I had one! Constant bathroom breaks, little accidents, stolen socks, chewing on everything, etc. The first couple nights were rough because she woke up every couple hours and wanted to be taken out of her crate, but after being with us a week or so she started sleeping longer. We're getting a good stretch overnight of about 6 uninterrupted hours of sleep, so I'm good with that.



The boys are IN LOVE. They ask about her when they wake up in the morning and they want to kiss her goodnight before they go to sleep. If I ask Dutch to take her outside or play with her, he obliges without hesitation. Meezy and I had said we didn't want a puppy when we discussed getting a second dog, but I'm actually really glad we did. The boys are going to create a bond with this dog from the very early stages of her life and they're going to get to see her grow up.





Zoey got to meet her cousin, Sophie

Riley doesn't care too much about her, which is good. He occasionally will bark or sneer at her if she gets up in his business, but for the most part they leave each other alone and co-exist well. Zoey likes to follow Riley around the backyard to see what he's doing and it's adorable to see a stout Corgi/Beagle followed by the tiniest puppy.


You just can't help but smile when you see Zoey and it really has been a joy having her in the house. She's already brought so much happiness to my boys. I'm glad we are able to give her a forever home!


Sunday, March 22, 2020

Dutch Turns Eight

Dutch started off his 8th birthday with a happy birthday message on the school's digital message board.


Then he had a sleepover with a few of his closest friends. It was a lot of video game playing and Nerf wars, and little sleep for everyone! But, he had a great time. The next night, we hosted a family party so he could celebrate with his cousins.



Over the past year, Dutch has become even more of a bookworm. He reads in bed every night, sometimes for hours. As soon as he is done with his work in school, he picks up a book and starts reading (sometimes getting in trouble for it because he speeds through his assignment!). We went to Fossil Rim and he read a book in the back of the car instead of interacting with the animals. It's a serious obsession! He also loves math, but is definitely not a fan of handwriting!

As I usually do, here's a list of some of the funnier/more profound things he's said recently:

- "I'm a curious child, okay!"
- "That's a little bit savage."
- "I don't know; I'm just assuming."
- "Sometimes when my friends are talking, and it's boring, I play games inside my head."
- "I'm a street rat. I don't have any money."
- "He's the most braggiest person!"
- "Today I had the first headache I've ever had in my life."
- "Are we basically spending money every second?"
- "I'm gonna turn over a new leaf."




Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The Latest Endeavor

My dad had been throwing around the idea of starting his own CPA firm for many years, and I always told him I was interested in being a part of it. I earned my certificate in 2008, and even though I stopped working in the industry to focus more on real estate in 2011, I always kept up my CPE and handled the bookkeeping for various entities throughout the years. My dad has been performing tax preparation for as long as I can remember, so he had certainly built up a wealth of knowledge and clout in this field.

In early 2019, we finally took the plunge and started Van Wunnik and Marcum, LLC. In the beginning, my dad arranged the entity formation and I handled the leasing of the office space and furniture procurement (with help from my mom), and most of the initial office setup (with help from my techie husband). We hit the ground running in April and have been busy ever since! It's remarkable the client base we've built up in such a short time, but that's mainly a testament to the personal relationships my dad created over the span of his entire career. I've been able to add a few clients thanks to my real estate and bookkeeping connections, but it's definitely my dad who's responsible for the majority of our success. We have a bookkeeper/admin assistant employed full-time in our office as well, which helps us focus on the tax preparation and consulting while she handles the day-to-day office needs.

My days are normally split between real estate and tax preparation, with it leaning more heavily toward one over the other depending on what season we're in. I'm passionate about both of these professions and I'm very lucky I get to work with my mother-in-law in real estate and my father in accounting! There's quite a bit of overlap between these two fields as well, so it's been beneficial to have proficiency in both.

I work a lot of hours between Marcum Real Estate and Van Wunnik and Marcum, LLC (and in my volunteering with Families to Freedom and Northwood Hills HOA). But, it's worth it and I feel proud of the relationships I've built and what I've helped people accomplish. If you're in DFW and you could use real estate or tax accounting services, you know who to call!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Jude Turns Five

Since Jude's birthday always falls around Thanksgiving, we prefer to couple the celebration with a family get-together. He's lucky to have a lot of cousins around his age, so we have a full house of kids already. But, I'm guessing next year will be the year he makes us throw him a friend birthday party!



Some of the funniest/wittiest things that have come out of Jude's mouth over the past year were:

"I wish the things that wipe the rain away were called rain shields."
"I didn't kick you; I cannon-balled on you."
"I will eat anything you put in front of me."
"I couldn't chill out."
"Some days I'm sad when dad goes out of town...some days I'm not."
"I like rock, but I don't like roll."
"You got a 'bad guy' mustache."
"Water has no calories. I love water."
"Mom, instead of playing guess the song, we should play guess the album."
"Yeah, I got really rowdy with it." (After getting marker on himself)
"You're eating popcorn? That's a nice little snack."

This past year has involved quite a transformation for Jude. We enrolled him in Spanish Schoolhouse instead of leaving him in daycare for the last year before Kindergarten because he already knew how to read and we figured this was our chance to see if he could pick up the foundation for another language. And, it couldn't hurt to give him a year of practice in an actual school setting since he's not quite emotionally ready for what Kindergarten is going to involve! He's picking up the fundamentals of Spanish, but he's certainly not going to be conversational after just a year. But, I think it will prove to be a good experience for him. 

Jude impresses us with his memory recall and how quickly he picked up reading. He's advanced in a lot of ways, but he's also still very young in other areas! He's quick to get upset and cry when his big brother slights him and he has a hard time sitting still. He often has to be told the same thing a few times before he'll listen and he definitely likes to test the boundaries. He certainly does NOT like to be the center of attention and can get very shy, especially in groups. But, despite that, something happened recently that will go down as one of my favorite moments with him, ever. I signed up to read a book to Jude's class during a holiday party. After finishing it, the teachers asked me to read another. Jude came up and sat in my lap and said that he wanted to read the book. So, we took turns on the pages, reading the book aloud to the class. I was so proud of him for reading confidently, and out loud to the teachers and students, no less. I want to remember that day forever!

I can't wait to see what the coming year holds for Jude. Transitioning to Kindergarten will be a big change, but he'll be excited to be going to the same school as his big brother.