Alicia & Ben » Blog

Our New House

We got the happy news Monday night that the bank accepted our offer!  It’s nice not to feel homeless anymore.  If this didn’t work out I was really dreading the emotional let down, restarting house hunting, and enduring a longer amount of time in limbo.  So grateful we found something that we both feel so good about.

The house is in Tampa, near Citrus Park mall.  It’s only 10 minutes from Ben’s office and zoned for fairly good schools. Never imagined myself living in Tampa, but it will be fun to meet a new group of people.  It will also be nice to live close to Mike and Sarah.  This isn’t our “Forever House” but I could see us living there for a few years.  Ben thinks we’ll just be in it a year or two and then hopefully sell it for a profit and buy a house in Pinellas County.  Who knows?  Our plan was to stay in our current house three years and it will be seven this month.

The house has a unique layout.  The front doors open to a stair case which splits at the landing.  The right goes to the master bedroom and bathroom.  The left goes to two bedrooms and a bathroom.  The downstairs has a dining room to the right of the stairs and it’s matched by a living room on the left.  Very symmetrical which I like.  The kitchen is to the back right when you walk in the front doors and the family room is behind the stairs.  There’s another bedroom, bathroom, and laundry room to the back left of the lower floor.  The house is 2200 sqft.  It’s not huge but it’s bigger than what we have.  I think it will be perfect.  I wish the house had a slightly larger kitchen and family room but the rest of the house was exactly what we were looking for.  We also love that the house is in a quiet, safe neighborhood.  I’m not sure about parks or places to walk to, but hopefully we’ll find something.

We are hoping to close in 30 days.  The house needs some work so we probably won’t move in for another month after the close. We plan to have the inside and outside repainted, new flooring in the whole house, update bathrooms, gate around the pool, and spruce up the stairs a little.  We have a few other dream projects but I’m not sure if the budget will stretch that far – new doors, trim, and built in bookcase in living room to name a few.

We’re excited and relieved to have found our next house.  Any suggestions about how to make it cute?  Please share!

These pictures are in reverse order.  Sorry about that!


Has this flag pole in the backyard. That’s a stream behind the flag pole. It’s almost like a little memorial area.


Has quite a few statues and a fish pond. The yard is going to need a lot of work!


Statues and odd landscaping?


We didn’t really want a pool but it may be fun to have for a little while. I have recurring dreams about kids drowning. Getting a net is A1 priority.


Another pool view


Downstairs bathroom that goes out to the pool and is next to the guest bedroom. Needs updating. Not sure what to do?


Master bathroom is very eclectic – gaudy vanity, moody wallpaper, light pink tile, laminate wood flooring.


Downstairs bedroom which will be our playroom/school room.


I think this is the boys room.


i think this is Sadie’s room.


Master bedroom. It’s not huge. We’re hoping our bedroom set will fit.


View from the stiars looking down at the family room.


View from the stairs looking into the kitchen/family room.


Front door, stairs, and that room is the living room.


Stairs are like BAM! – right in front of you when you walk in.


Dining room.


View when standing in the family room.


Kitchen has this weird half wall/bar area. Not sure what to do with it?











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March 26, 2014 - 6:20 pm

Raven - How exciting! And what a fun palette to put your own design mark on! Awesome bones to this place and tons of potential. I look forward to seeing what you do with it!

March 26, 2014 - 6:48 pm

Desiree - What a fun project. Seems like so much you could easily do to make this a fabulous home. Definitely get rid of the statues in the yard. I wonder if you got rid of the big mirror and counter top behind the toilet in the hall bath if that would help it look more updated. I know you’ll make it look GREAT. Congrats

April 7, 2014 - 4:35 am

Cindy Ernest - I agree with your friend–great bones. And, you will enjoy putting your personal touches on it. I think once you start to use the pool you will never want to be without one again. I loved our pool so much –great family and friend time. Once your pool safety net is put up–you will feel good about it. When my kids were about 9 Mo. old I took them to swimming lessons. They said that the most important thing to teach them is how to get out of the pool. Even if kids know how to swim–it is vital–for them to know to get to the side of the pool and pull themselves out. Both of my kids were lousy swimmers – but they were the best and the fastest at getting out of it. It was funny. When they were older they became great swimmers. It is a big loss to the Hudson Ward but you will be a great Blessing to Tampa. Love and miss you & your family.

packing, house hunting, girls camp, photography, spring break

Thought I’d jot down a little update while I have a quick spare minute.

Taken with my phone 5 minutes ago.

Taken with my phone 5 minutes ago.

Ben and the kids are outside taking apart the trampoline.  Moving is in full swing now.  Our front room is full of boxes.  Most of the nonessentials are packed now, and some of the essentials… my can opener.  I’ve been borrowing the neighbors.  Tile is ripped up in our hallway – Ben is replacing the few broken tiles we had.  It’s a little chaotic around here.  Next Saturday is our move out date.  So, I guess this is our last Saturday night to sleep in this house.  The lasts have begun – tomorrow is our last Sunday in Hudson Ward, right now Jax is playing on the trampoline out back for the last time at this house, and tomorrow night will be our last Sunday night walk to the park.  It’s sad but I’m also getting more excited about the move.  I’m rather sentimental, I suppose, so it’s sad to leave memories behind.

We’ve been actively house hunting.  There were two houses on auction this week we bid on.  One was in Dunedin and that’s the one we’ve been holding out for for the past two weeks.  However, on Tuesday of this past week we found another house in Tampa that had the same auction close time so we went and saw it and decided we liked it a lot more.  It’s only 10 or 15 minutes from Ben’s office, had a little more space than the Dunedin one, needed less work, and the schools were better.  So, we decided to bid on both.  The Dunedin one went too high and it was a nail bitter of a finish with the Tampa one but we got it!  Only one problem, though…..our bid was below the reserve price (minimum amount the bank will accept).  So, we had some back and forth drama with the listing agent.  We’ve got it.  We don’t got it.  We got it.  We don’t got it.  We might have got it.  Ultimately a closer at the auction site is presenting our bid to the bank and we’re hoping they’ll accept it even though it’s below the reserve.  With the buyers premium and needed repairs it’s already towards the top of our budget so we’re hoping they’ll accept our bid.  If not, we’ll probably walk away.  It will be sad to start over again.

I haven’t mentioned it yet but back in December I was asked to serve as the Stake Camp Director for the young women’s summer girls camp for church.  We’ve been planning away and that’s been taking up a lot of my creative brain power.  It’s fun to have a distraction from house stuff.  If we move to Tampa I was told I’ll still finish out the calling.

Tonight I’m excited to photograph a big wedding at Casa Lantana in Brandon with Sarah.  Photography is such a great outlet for me!  Weddings are especially fun and the one tonight should be a really good one.  It’s a lot of pressure, stress, and work; but I love the experience and creative demands it requires.  It’s also fun to have a few hours away from home where I can be something other than a mom.  I love being a mom but I also love a few hours off duty:)

This past week was Sadie’s spring break.  Sadly, she and the boys had colds so all of our fun plans got cancelled.  Probably for the best, though.  It was really nice to just have quiet time at home with the kids.  I’m still debating whether to enroll her in the school by my parents house or just home school for the last two months of the year.  She’s reading basics books pretty well now so I feel like I could help her through the last few months but I just don’t know.  The elementary school by my parents house is fantastic and it’s kindof fun to think of walking her to the same school I attended at her age.  She is begging me to homeschool her.  Not sure what to do.  Still hashing that one out in my mind.

So that’s a brief update about life lately.  I’m going to go help Ben take down the trampoline now.


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March 23, 2014 - 8:27 pm

Shannon - I hope your week goes smoothly as you get ready for your move. Will you be putting your things in storage until you move into your house?

Where do you go for girl’s camp? I’m sure it will be lots of fun since you are a part of the planning. I can’t believe Marissa will be going to girl’s camp in a little over a year.

Hopefully there will be good news this week regarding the house you bid on!

March 25, 2014 - 12:38 am

alicia - Hey Shannon! Good to hear from you! We plan to put our things in a POD. Do you have that up north? We go to the church ranch in St. Cloud, FL for girls camp. I can’t believe Marissa is that old either!!!! Crazy!

Picture Post mid-January to mid-February 2014

Pictures from one of our many Sunday night strolls.  This was at Anclote Key Park in Holiday.













A few pictures from a Saturday when Ben was working.  His busy season is over now.  Hooray!  It’s still busy but not like it was.






Another Sunday evening stroll.  This night it was to the park by our house and the lake.








Jax asleep on my bed, looking like a beautiful little baby again.




This bike was stolen a few weeks ago.  We’re very sad!



Different Sunday walk:







Playing with the boys out front one day.  Never a dull moment with these two hams around!




Measured him on his two and a half birthday. He should be 5 foot, 10 inches when he’s an adult.




Another Sunday, another walk.  This time the family came up.  My cousin Jessica is visiting for a few months and it’s been great to have her at family gatherings lately.









Weird foggy beach day on a Saturday Ben was working:


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March 12, 2014 - 8:02 pm

Shannon - I just love looking at your pictures Alicia! Some day I’ll have to have you take some individual pictures of my kids that I can put on my wall. You have a way of making each picture a work of art :)

March 14, 2014 - 1:24 pm

Joe - Do you like how Jax, James and I are all walking in unison with our left foot up in the air behind us?

I love that foggy beach photo!

Sadie’s 6th Birthday

Sadie woke up on her birthday morning (Friday) to find a few presents and a new bike waiting for her.  We bought her a bike last year but it was too big.  This one works better but it’s still slightly too big.  I hate making the same mistake twice.  Oh well.  She has room to grow into it:)


We made crepes for breakfast and sang to her!

We were all at the tail end of a cold so Ben and Sadie stayed home from work and school.  I took Sadie and Jax to Toys R Us and let Sadie pick out any toy she wanted.  She choose a Minnie Mouse chair.  I don’t think I got a picture of it.

We had planned to have an extended family birthday party but since McKay still had a runny nose and Ben was feeling crummy we canceled that and went to Chuck E Cheese instead with just our little family.  Sadie had a ball!  I wanted to take her to Disney for her birthday but she insisted she wanted Chuck E Cheese instead.  I tried to convince her otherwise but there was no persuading her to go anywhere but good ‘ole gross Chuck E Cheese.  So be it! $300 back in my pocket.



I love this candid kiss I caught.









On the drive home we stopped by TCBY for dessert.  Always a hit with our kids!






A week later we had her real birthday party.  The family came up around 10:00 for a big brunch, presents, and a pinata.





Lining up for the pinata smash.






Jax took his pinata fight VERY seriously! He was fierce!


Good form, Jax.


Another great hit and intense warrior.


Ethan opted for the one hand, over-the-head technique. He fared well.


In the end the kids were unable to smash it open. I think it was Uncle Monkey who finally got it open.

Then we went to Suncoast Gymnastics’ open play time.  The kids always love, love, love to go there.  The trampolines, foam pit, bars, beams, toys, hula hoops…..they are their very happiest when we are there.

the Force; bike riding - Jan_Feb 2014 113

the Force; bike riding - Jan_Feb 2014 075

the Force; bike riding - Jan_Feb 2014 071

I love this picture of Spencer.

the Force; bike riding - Jan_Feb 2014 057

Sadie had a wonderful time!

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March 9, 2014 - 6:54 pm

Shannon - It looks like all of you had a great time celebrating Sadie’s birthday. Cousin play time at the gym looked especially fun.

March 10, 2014 - 5:30 pm

alicia - Yes, that was the highlight of the birthday party!