A Home of Our Own

Hello! It’s been so long since I’ve posted on the blog, and this is why! We bought our first house!!

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It was a crazy whirlwind and we are so happy to be where we are.

It all started when our landlord sent us a letter saying that he was upping our rent by $200/month. We were thinking, “Okay, this is ridiculous for a 3 bedroom house. We could be paying a mortgage on our own home instead of rent with that money!” So I messaged my buddy Pat who is a realtor and told him we were on the hunt for a home. He set up the MLS for us and I checked it like a crazy person on the daily for new listings.

We looked at a handful of houses, but nothing felt right. We looked at one house that was clean and beautiful but as we pulled up, Pat said the selling realtor just texted him saying that they had an accepted offer. On a house that had been put on the market THAT MORNING! Needless to say, the housing market was/is crazy here. While walking out of the house, Pat saw that I had bird poop on my shoulder! I totally got pooped on when I was walking into the house. I said, “Hey! It’s good luck! It means we’ll find a house!” as Matt wiped it out of my hair with a baby wipe :)

Our landlord was not sympathetic at all to our search. We were upfront with him and let him know we were looking, but he wouldn’t let us go on a month-to-month lease. Even though we’d lived there for 2 years and were great tenants. He wanted us to sign a year lease, then if we found a house, he would charge us a fee to break the lease. $$$ We went back and forth and he wouldn’t budge.

In the end, it turned out that if he had waited ONE DAY, we wouldn’t have had to pay a fee. But, we felt like we did the right thing by signing a year lease like he wanted. If we had a crystal ball, we wouldn’t have, but I believe in doing the right thing, putting good in, and getting good out of life.

It was so stressful not knowing if we’d have a place to live the next month or have to move out without an accepted offer on a house! Usually, I am the confident and calm one. This was not one of those times! I felt so frustrated by everything happening, it felt like we would never be able to buy our own house and like we’d forever be paying money to greedy landlords. Matt was so sure and just kept saying, “It’s all going to work out. I just have this feeling that we don’t have to worry and we will be okay.” It was one of those times in our marriage where I had to lean on his faith to carry me through!

My grandpa called me one morning and said that his friend down the street had put his house on the market. I got so excited and told Pat right away that we wanted to go see it! We went on the day it was listed and already 4 people had looked at it. The minute we walked in, we knew it was the one. Matt didn’t even go upstairs! He knew, and I knew. So, we put an offer in the next day.

My cousin in San Diego told me about how she wrote a letter with a picture of their family to give the sellers with their offer. It got them the house! So, I did the same. I wrote a letter talking about how I lived on this street for a year as a child and have such fond memories here, how perfect this house would be for us, and put our family picture on it. I sent it to my sister who worked her magic and worded everything perfectly.

Long story short, our offer was accepted!! There was some back and forth with termite damage, repairs, etc. but Pat was awesome and handled all of it. If you are local and in the market, he is your guy! He answered all of our questions and walked us through every part of the very new process of buying a house.

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We spent our summer scraping popcorn off ceilings, retexturing, painting, ripping up carpet, laying self-leveling cement & laminate, and having carpet installed. We are at the point where we are moved in, living day to day life, but still have boxes to unpack. And a long list of things that still need to be done on the house :) We are chipping away little by little as we can on those projects and it’s coming together beautifully! It’s a 5 bedroom which means that Matt has his own home office, and we have room to rearrange bedroom situations down the road if we want to.

We are so grateful. Grateful to be in a home that our daughters will grow up in; a home of our own. Grateful for all of the support and love given to us by family and friends. I called this summer “Nonnie Day Camp” because my girls spent so many days with my mom so that I could work on the house! We had so much help with the renovations, moving in, and getting settled. We are a 3 minute drive to the girls’ school and less than a mile from my mom’s house. We love that our girls can ride their bikes up the street to go see their great-grandparents. Such a blessing!

Simple Advent Calendar Garland to #LIGHTtheWORLD this Christmas!

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Kara in the Kitchen! #LIGHTtheWORLD - karainthekitchen.comEvery Christmas season, we always want the focus to be on the birth of Jesus Christ, the Light of the World. So many times, though, we get caught up in the busyness of the season. Running errands, making cookies, wrapping gifts, attending parties, shopping, cleaning, the list goes on and on. Before we know it, it’s Christmas Eve! #LIGHTtheWORLD - karainthekitchen.comThis year, to help my family stay on track and remember who the Christmas season is about, we are joining with people all over the world to #LIGHTtheWORLD! For 25 days in December, we will look on the back of our advent garland and see what the day suggests doing to serve others. To make our super Simple Advent Calendar Garland, I bought this cute garland at Target and printed out the advent calendar here. For Family Home Evening, we cut out the dates and the girls matched them to their corresponding numbers. I taped the twine to the brick with Scotch tape and arranged the numbers with the mini clothespins. I’m all about easy during the holidays!#LIGHTtheWORLD - karainthekitchen.comIt has been awesome to have conversations with our daughters about service. I shared with them that a woman came and asked if she could take my cart after I’d put my groceries and baby in the car. I was doing the awkward, “Should I run and leave my baby alone or leave the cart here?” debate in my mind. She saw my dilemma and helped! Then when I was by myself with all three of the girls at Costco, a woman parked next to us helped load up the trunk while I buckled the baby in her seat. I thanked her profusely and we talked on the drive home about how she saw a need and served us, and now we need to do the same for those around us. I am so excited to focus on serving others this Christmas season as Jesus Christ did. If any of you would like to come to church with me on the 4th for that advent day or on any Sunday, let me know! I’d love to go with you :) #LIGHTtheWORLD - karainthekitchen.com Head over to Mormon.org for more inspiration, videos, ways to serve and #LIGHTtheWORLD this Christmas season!#LIGHTtheWORLD - karainthekitchen.com

Click on the picture below to buy the garland at Target: 

bObsweep, My New Best Friend

This post is in partnership with bObsweep. I received a super sweet robotic vacuum to facilitate my review. As always, all opinions are 100% my own! 

You guys. I have a new best friend. Sorry, babe! His name is bOb. The bObsweep PetHair Plus, to be exact.bobsweep-karainthekitchen-com-2He lives here, underneath June’s baby swing. When he’s done roaming my house, I push the charge button and he goes back to his dock all by himself. Since we have a dog, we have been loving bOb! For some reason, Maverick’s fur gathers into little dust bunnies and settles in the hall. bObsweep PetHair cruises down the hall and picks them up while I can be doing other things. Feeding the baby, working, cleaning, sleeping, staring at my phone, eating, you get the idea! bobsweep-karainthekitchen-com [Continue Reading…]

The Evenflo Sibby in New York City!

This post was sponsored by Evenflo as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. I received the Evenflo Sibby Travel System to facilitate my review.

We took the Evenflo Sibby, available at Target, to New York City and it was the perfect stroller for the trip! It is lightweight and has a little Ride-Along board on the back that a second child can ride on. Knowing my Lola, I was so excited to have a place for her to take a break with all of the walking we were going to do in the city.

Here we are trying Shake Shack for the first time outside of the Museum of Natural History! It was so good!! Junie was happy as a clam in the Sibby, even without the carseat part. I did not want to fly with it or deal with it on the subway, so I left it in the car at LAX.Evenflo Sibby - Kara in the KitchenI gate checked the stroller, so I took it through security with June in the wrap on me. I was able to close it up with one hand by myself, walk through the metal detector, and then open it up by myself on the other side. On the subway, we tried to take elevators as much as possible (P-U), but there were times where we had to carry it down the stairs. I would carry the bottom rung and my mom would carry the handles. Packed down with my beefy baby, diaper bag, and water bottles, it was quite the work out! I was so grateful for the times that people would offer to carry it up or down the stairs for us. New Yorkers are so friendly!  Evenflo Sibby - Kara in the KitchenHere is what the stroller looks like with the car seat inside of it. It clicks in with one click and lifts out easily as well. I like the shape of the carseat handle, it rests easily in the crook of your arm. With this configuration, you have to lay the stroller back a bit more. Junie slept in New York City with it flat quite a bit. There is mesh in the back so I could see her and make sure she was nice and cool! We got so many comments on that little white fan while there!! People kept saying they wished that they could have a little fan of their own :) I bought it here on Amazon (affiliate link).Evenflo Sibby - Kara in the KitchenOn top of the Empire State Building with my girls! My mom is taking the picture because she is scared of heights and didn’t go anywhere near the edge :) I had another mom ask me in line what kind of stroller this was, she had two young boys and loved the Ride-Along feature! It was great because the girls would ride it and then hook it back up so I didn’t kick it. The only thing I wish the stroller had is longer or adjustable handles. I am 5’7″ and I felt like I had to hunch over a bit to reach the handles while Lola was on the Ride-Along board. Other than that, we are loving the Sibby! Evenflo Sibby - Kara in the Kitchen

WaterWipes at Babies R Us

This post was sponsored by WaterWipes as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review.

As a mom of three (!), I am always looking for the best products for my children. Look at my little shopping sidekick! How could you not want to give that face the best? You know of my love for WaterWipes from a previous post, and this is one product that I have continued to use and buy for my family since writing about it the last time. Water Wipes - karainthekitchen.com-4Ever since having Ada, I have carried baby wipes around with me everywhere I go. Even after Lola was potty trained and before we had a new baby! They are the best to have on hand for messes, sticky hands, and faces. I have also been known to wipe down a table or two while out to eat! My Babies R Us has WaterWipes in the diapering section right at eye level. Water Wipes - karainthekitchen.com-3On our road trip to Santa Fe? WaterWipes in the car and diaper bag. On our trip to New York City? WaterWipes in the suitcase and diaper bag. Actually, my bag was stopped at airport security after going through the x-ray machine. It turns out that it was the two packages of WaterWipes that looked suspicious! It didn’t get searched on the way home, though. As you know, I love that WaterWipes are just water and fruit extract. While in New York City, June got a little bit of a diaper rash. I think it’s because her skin isn’t used to the heat and humidity. I thought that I would keep an eye on it and if it didn’t go away in a day, I would buy some diaper cream. I used WaterWipes on her when I changed her diaper that whole day and the rash cleared up on its own! I think it’s because there are no added chemicals or scents to the wipes. I have smelled some doozies!! One brand that shall not be named has a bitter smell to them. I really like that WaterWipes don’t have a smell so that you can wipe your face and hands with them and not worry about smelling funny. If you’d like to try WaterWipes out, enter the giveaway below! You could win one of 5 $100 gift cards to Babies R Us! Hurry though, the contest ends on August 18th. Good luck!

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WaterWipes Babies”R”Us Giveaway

I-C will randomly select winners from all program entries and will facilitate fulfillment of the winning prizes (5 winners).

WaterWipes in our hotel in NYC! I was temped to wipe down the window with one ;)
Water Wipes NYC - Kara in the KitchenFind out where WaterWipes are sold near you here.

Back to School with a2 Milk®

This post was sponsored by a2 Milk® as part of an Ambassador Program for Influence Central. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review.a2 Milk - karainthekitchen.comCan you believe that it’s that time already? Back to school has already started for some, and my girls will be going back next month. Lola will be starting Kindergarten and Ada will be in 1st grade. I am so excited for them! It’s going to be an adjustment for sure; we have been loving these lazy days of summer. No schedules, beach days, and vacations. After a full day of school, I know they will both be coming home hungry, and I want to keep them filled up with happy tummies! Speaking of tummies, if anyone in your home has sensitivities to regular milk, you should have them try a2 Milk®! The A1 protein, found in all other cow milk on the market, is usually responsible for unsettled stomachs. The heirloom herd of milk cows from the a2 Milk Company™ produces milk devoid of the A1 protein, leaving only the A2 protein that is gentler on stomachs. It is still real milk and doesn’t taste any different than the cows milk you know and love.a2 Milk® - karainthekitchen.comI’m a big believer in doing everything in moderation. I think if you are too extreme in something, you will get burned out or have the opposite effect that you were hoping for. This goes for snacks in our home. I monitor what my girls eat and have taught them about healthy choices and “sometimes” foods. Apples are an every day choice for an after school snack. Cookies, of course, are a sometimes food. Best enjoyed with a cold glass of milk!a2 Milk - karainthekitchen.comOr, if your children are not fans of plain milk, make it chocolate milk! You can rest easy knowing that a2 Milk® contains about six times the amount of calcium as soy milk, eight times the protein of almond milk, and six times the potassium levels of rice milk! 
a2 Milk - karainthekitchen.com-2I have loved being an Ambassador for a2 Milk®! I hope you have enjoyed learning about it through my posts and it will help you or someone you know with lactose sensitivities. To find the store nearest you that carries a2 Milk®, click here. Happy new school year and snack in happy moderation :) a2 Milk® - karainthekitchen.com

IAMS at Target Gift Card Offer!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #IamsDogDeal #CollectiveBias

IAMS Promotional Post

  • Give your dog some love! Save 5% with Cartwheel, PLUS get a $10 Target Gift Card when you buy 2 bags of IAMS dry dog food.

10 Years of Marriage!

I was looking through my memories on Facebook and thought it would be fun to share our anniversaries throughout the last decade!

10 Years – Hitching Post in Casmalia with baby June along for the ride:109 Years – Carmel, CA with Maverick:98 Years – Matt was in New York for training so he sent these:8

This was the night he came home…I had to pinch him to make sure he was real! 8

7 Years – On top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France (I still need to post about that trip!):7

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LEGOLAND California in the KIA Sedona

As an Official LEGOLAND Blogger, I received free tickets to the park for this trip. I also received a KIA Sedona to drive in partnership with DriveShop. As always, all opinions are 100% mine. 

We were so excited to go to LEGOLAND for the first time! My girls are the perfect age for it. They especially love Heartlake City, which is where the LEGO® Friends live. They had to get a picture with all of the girls:LEGOLAND - karainthekitchen.comWe had a fancy new KIA Sedona to drive down in! This one had the rear DVD entertainment system for the girls. We loved it! Around Santa Barbara, my mom and I were commenting on what a quiet trip it was since the girls had headphones on. Just then, Lola YELLS from the back, not realizing how loud her voice was! It was hilarious :)KIA Sedona - karainthekitchen.comI caught Matt rocking out with it’s sweet sound system to some Boston :)

We were there for the unveiling of the brand new Freedom Tower in Miniland, USA. It’s their version of One World Trade Center in New York City and is the tallest LEGO® tower in the United States! It is made up of over 250,000 LEGOS!LEGOLAND - karainthekitchen.comThey had a brass band playing the national anthem and Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty walking around on stilts. Lola wasn’t too sure about them, see her grabbing onto Ada’s dress in the picture? ;) LEGOLAND - karainthekitchen.comThey loved the live show in Heartlake City and then talking to the LEGO® Friends girls afterward.LEGOLAND - karainthekitchen.comIt really is incredible what they can create with LEGOS!! LEGOLAND - karainthekitchen.comWe had such a blast, even with new little baby June along. She slept and we tried to keep her cool. The water park was excellent and clean. It’s worth it to buy the reusable cup and fill it up at the Coke machines throughout the day :)

FamilySearch Worldwide Indexing Event 2016

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Have you ever wondered about where you came from? Genealogy is fascinating to me! I love learning about the people who came before me and what their lives were like. I have ancestors who crossed the plains in wagons along with ones who crossed the ocean on a boat for weeks from Australia. When you research your roots and connect with your past, it makes your ancestors come to life.

Back in the day, employees from the census bureau would go door-to-door, recording the names and ages of every person in the household. We have those records, and now they need to be digitized. This is where YOU come in! If you have a computer and an internet connection, you can help.

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FamilySearch International is hosting a 72 hour Worldwide Indexing Event this weekend. They want to save the records we have by getting them online and making them available to the public. My grandpa has been doing this sort of work since 1990! There have been multiple times that he has called us back to his office to get our opinion on whether or not we think a certain loop is meant to be an E or an L, or what we think a last name is. If my 83-year-old grandpa can index, so can you! It is easy, helps others, and gets kind of addicting.

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How can I help?!

Go here: https://familysearch.org/worldsrecords, download the software, and follow the directions. If you scroll down on the page, you can see what documents need indexing. Birth records from Ireland?! Cool! If anyone is having a baby soon, indexing is a great way to get baby name ideas :)

The goal is to get 72,000 people to join in the event this weekend. Join us and then tell your friends to join too!u