On #winning

It’s Parade of Homes season in North Carolina which means every builder here is about as strung out and exhausted as it gets.  We seek perfection, admiration, and ultimately, we seek the win.

At Garman Homes and Fresh Paint we turn into complete Gold Diggers.  Maybe not everyone – but for most of us, it’s go big or go home time.  Sure, Bronze and Silver are acceptable and by all means, admirable medals, but it’s the Gold we seek.  Kanye was talking about US to Jamie Foxx.

We put 5 Homes in the Parade.  We came home with 3 GOLDs.  And if Facebook is any indication, by all means these GOLDS mean we are #winning.

Which got me thinking…what is it about #winning?  What does it mean to feel like you’re #winning?  I don’t think it’s all about the GOLD.  Even though I’m the first to go all gold digger in the moment.  Trust me, I’m the first to admit I’m the gold digging-est of all the diggers.  But the thought has occurred to me that getting the GOLD while wonderful and magical and validating is just a glimpse into what its like to really be #winning. Because we are, in fact, #winning.  As were so many others in that room last night. Regardless of whether they took home an award.

#winning is waking up every day excited about going to work with people you love, respect and admire.

#winning is having every member of Durham Building Company there to share a big night with Fresh Paint and Garman Homes.

#winning is cheering loudly and genuinely for another builder you love, respect and admire.  I’m talking to you, Homes by Dickerson and Terramor.  We got nothing but local builder love for you.

#winning is seeing the culture of your company come alive every day and infused into post after post on Facebook by everyone you work with..and knowing it’s real and not just real on Facebook.

#winning is emailing all your trades to thank them for making you better.  Not just when you win Parade awards.

#winning is being cliché – doing what you love and loving what you do.

#winning is knowing it’s about so much more than any single award.

#winning is building for people who love their homes.

#winning is loving the people who buy your homes.

#winning is working with world class developers, building in neighborhoods that make us pinch ourselves because we feel so lucky. I’m talking to you Newland Communities, Bryan Properties and Preston Development.

#winning is knowing we’ve only just begun.



We won’t always get the GOLD.  We will keep #winning.

Shining far brighter than a lifetime of GOLD awards ever could.

The Queen & I: Episode 3, Design Honeymoon & Back Again

We’re baaaaack.  After a brief but glorious Design Honeymoon to California for Professional Builder’s 40 Under 40 Executive Summit and the Pacific Coast Builder Conference (PCBC for you cool kids out there), the Queen and I are back to talk all things pretty in our Wendell Falls models.
But before we go through all that – I thought I’d share a few pics from our Design Honeymoon.  This is actually our second Design Honeymoon.  Our first was to Cape Cod two years ago for our builder, John Douglas’s wedding to his wife, Danielle.  During that trip to Cape Cod, Queen and I found all the inspiration we needed (and more) to design our Mixtape Collection in Briar Chapel.
Me & Queen at the Hotel Del Coronado.
Me & Queen visiting a swanky StanPac Community in Souther California.
Their outdoor living game in on point – check the pool behind us.
This time while we were off finding inspiration for our next great collection,  John & Danielle Douglas were welcoming their first great collaboration…welcomed with love from everyone at Garman Homes, DBC and Go Realty, introducing the newest baby Rock Star, John Phillip Douglas.
I wish there was an app so I could smell this picture.  Sweet boy.
So last we left off…Queen and Raquel were going to write about putting the Fresh Paint model together.
Me: So how bout that entry you and Raquel wrote?  
Q:  [laughs] Hey! I was BUSY.  Stuff still needed to get done around here.
Me: No I know, its hard running your empire.  
Q:  And I haven’t seen Tiny Stager (Raquel) in like 3 weeks.
Me: Yes, she’s been very busy because as soon as she stages something it sells and then we put her jam on repeat.
Q:  Stuff is blowing up around here.
See Tiny Stager in the back?
This is how we stroll in Briar Chapel, posse style.
Me: So tell me the story about how you and Raquel put the Fresh Paint Model together…I think you said the family room came together really quickly but then you struggled upstairs?
Q:  Definitely struggled upstairs.  The downstairs I struggled with the space across from the island.  We had that big IKEA armoire that we originally had planned for the Master BR.  
Me: That thing was huge
Q:  It was.  Our movers were not happy with me.  They were especially not happy with me when I asked them to bring it back downstairs.  Because it barely fit when they took it up the first time!
Me: OMG, I can imagine.
Q:  I moved it on every wall in the master and it didn’t work.  It was just too deep.
Me: Good lesson for everyone out there about checking depth on furniture pieces, that’s hard to work around without a niche or some…
Q:  …GIANT room.
Me: Like the sales center garage where it was exiled?  
Q:  I prefer final resting place.  It’s hard…. we were buying furniture for a house that didn’t exist, it only existed in our head.
Me: But isn’t that what our buyers must feel like every time?
Q:  no because eventually the house gets framed and they can start buying furniture.  We started buying months and months before the house started construction.
Me: That’s true.  And even with all our “expertise” we still had a few misses.
Q:  We had a lot of misses but that’s ok it all turned out in the end.  What do they say??? you gotta crack some eggs in order to make an omelette.  
Me: That Fresh Paint model is one delicious omelette.
Q:  So family room worked with all the furniture we bought exactly as we envisioned.  The dining room was bland.  Everything was monochromatic.  Until we brought in those rug tiles from the Miracle Home.  
Me: That fixed it?
Q:  Yeah, because it brought in the navy wall color and the teal front door.  And they were rug tiles so we could make the size and shape we needed for the space.  The table was round and the room was square and we needed the rug to be square.  So kudos to us for buying those.
Me: Yes, we’re fabulous even when we don’t know quite how fabulous.
Me: We’re over here talking about how we made a dining room pretty and poor Eric (from DBC) is over there aging another year every paragraph.
Us:  Eric, what’s going on over there, you’re sighing every minute or so, you doing nuclear physics or what?
Eric:  I’m doing attic vent calculations.
Us:  That sounds awful.  We’re over here just talking about how pretty we made the dining room with our rug tiles and you’re solving the world’s attic vent problems.
Me: This is the part where I force you to tell me your favorite parts of the house and you can’t say all of them.  
Q:  I love the front porch but we didn’t really do much.  
Me: I love it too, because it’s just such a good space you don’t have to do much to it to make it fabulous.
Q:  We found the bench at liberty antiques festival.  Raquel and her boyfriend and I (one rainy Saturday) went to the Liberty Antiques Festival. Ryan was a trooper.  We found some good stuff too.  
Me: Was it outside?
Q:  It was.  
Me: Oh my…that sounds wet.  
Q: &
;It was pretty miserable.  But, you know, pretty gotta get done.
Me: That sounds like a t-shirt we should make…what else do you love about the front porch?
Q:  I love all the seating areas…we did the wrap porch option so there’s lots of different places to sit and welcome people.  Plus we used the Francesca color package so it’s all light and bright in there.
Me: Just like my Cheka.  Light and bright.  
Q:  Right?
Me: What else – another favorite space…
Q:  Can I pick the whole first floor…(laughs) as one?
Me: No.
Q:  Oh.  (sad face) I love the kitchen.  The 11ft island, the beadboard backsplash.  And I love that I was able to find a really cool piece at Nadeau that worked across from the island. 
Q: Funny story about that piece.
Me: Hit me!
Q:  Our first Playlist homeowners in Wendell Falls were on their way to buy that bookshelf and I bought it first.
Me: No one spends faster than you, Queen.  You are speedy.
Q:  Can’t hesitate.
Me: Or you get out shopped.
Q:  Right?  
Me: Not you, Queen,  not you.  You see something you like and literally push the button on your remote starter and ask Nancy if the cc still works. I’ve seen you do it.
Q:  If not , there’s always my Amex.  
Me: Yes, your motto is: have credit, will buy.
Me: Ok, next fave, can we go upstairs?  
Q:  You don’t want to talk about the bookshelf project?
Me: I think we talked about it.  It’s been so long we both forgot.
Q:  Ok, then I guess we can go upstairs now.
Q:  The secondary bedrooms were a bit of a challenge…to say the least
Me: Why?  Size?
Q:  To some extent, yeah…I wanted to make sure we could fit the beds we originally bought for the Playlist model that didn’t fit.  
Me: So we took beds from a bigger house where they didn’t fit to a smaller house where we were hoping they would fit?
Q:  Maybe.
Me: How’d that work out for you?
Q:  One of them fit!  Because it’s not always the size of the room, it’s about configuration…that one bedroom has a single window in the corner so it made sense to push the bed to the opposite wall and then it was just a matter of finding the right scale pieces.
Me: Scale is critical.  I have a hard time converting from a piece we both love in a store to the actual room where we want to use it.  It’s really hard for me.  I thought that IKEA Cabinet wasn’t nearly as gargantuan as it is.  It’s a like a walk in closet.  So then how did the second secondary bedroom come together?
Q:  Well…we had a lot of twin headboards so we knew we were going to use a twin in there no matter what…and then I tried a bunch of dressers in the master that didn’t work so every dresser I tried in the master I moved into that second secondary bedroom until we hit pay dirt.
Me: So…did we make those rooms too small?
Q:  They’re only 20ft wide houses, there’s only so much magic I have when it comes to 20ft with 2×6 exterior walls.
Me: Right.  
Q:  Those bedrooms were gonna be that size no matter what.  
Me: I think that’s important to hit head on…there’s only so much maneuvering we can do so it becomes less about the actual size of the room and more about the functionality and paying attention to things like scale and configuration.
Me: Ok, 3rd and final.
Q:  Well, all that’s really left upstairs is the master, which, I do love.  The master was probably the hardest room to come together.
Me: Why?
Q:  I had that really cool barn door from Tucker (from the chicken coop) – I knew I wanted to use that as a headboard.  So that kind of set the tone for the room.  We bought a piece at Liberty Antiques that ended up working perfectly in place of that giant armoire.  It has the burlap inlay doors.
Me: I love that piece.  The scale is just right.  
Q:  And then we got the idea to use the cool console as a vanity.  Since there are two closets in the room, there’s not really a need to have another storage piece so I liked the idea of being able to sit down in the morning and get ready.  The idea of a vanity space made sense.
Me: I love that space too because it feels really luxurious and almost indulgent to have a vanity – I’m not sure why but it feels very fancy. It also makes perfect sense, is useful, and pretty.
Me: I think we covered it. I guess our readers will have to wait to hear from Tiny Stager on the Hospitality Model.  We’ll make sure we get her some press. #tinystagerteaser

#BlitzLikeaGirl: 2 Houses, 2 Families, 2 Girl Builders – 6 Days

Last week I took a break from my series with Queen to participate in the Habitat for Humanity of Durham Blitz Build.  Over the course of 6 days Durham Building Company and Garman Homes built two houses.  For real.  We went from foundation on June 6th to finished house on June 12th.  
The entire experience was tremendously gratifying.  Entirely exhausting.  And something we hope to do every single year.   

We called the week Blitz Like a Girl because Maggie and I were both comfortable with the title – we don’t build houses every day but when we do, we want it to be personal and special and with a tongue in cheek disclaimer.  This was the first house Maggie has every built!  And she killed it.  We won’t always be the Habitat builders – I feel certain this experience should be shared with as many people on our team who are up for the adventure.  To feel the weight on your shoulders of this undertaking and then to witness and facilitate the miracle of completing the home on time is nothing short of life changing.  Giving back is part of the DNA at Garman & DBC.  Practicing it in this way takes it to a whole new level. 

I was very grateful to be able to say a few words at the Dedication on Friday.  I’ve included a copy of my speech below – here’s to many more opportunities to show up for someone.  

Our latest Garman Homeowner – Monica and her beautiful daughters.

Throughout this week I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to show up for someone.

We’ve had so many people here this week.  But behing here and showing up are two different things to me.  Showing up to me, means more than just being here in a physical sense.  Showing up means being here emotionally & spiritually as much if not more than just physically.  It’s about being rooted to a cause and wanting to be part of it.  And doing whatever it takes to accomplish the task at hand.

I want to thank all our building partners for showing up all week.  Every time a trade partner rolled up, Maggie and I would breathe a teeny tiny sigh of relief.  You made the impossible, possible.  You smiled with us and laughed with us and worked really really hard.  And really fast.  Rising above every difficulty.

I want to thank our professional partners – our lenders, PWB, HBA and most especially Habitat for making a way and giving us all a reason to show up.

Baltimore School for the Arts – you guys were the superpowers we didn’t even know we had.  You worked SO hard and showed up for all of us in a big way. I want you to remember how hard you worked – how tired and frustrated you got – how hot you were…and then I want you to remember how good that felt!  I want you to know you have everything you need to do whatever you want to do in your life.  Continue to work hard and your dreams can become foregone conclusions.  

Me with the students from Baltimore School for the Arts
Thank you to Jim Garman & Eric Hedden, our guardian angel builders behind the scenes for Maggie and me.  We are so grateful. Thank you to everyone at Garman Homes and Durham Building Company.  Thank you to our friends at Go Realty.  Your visits fueled us this week.  

And to you, Monica and to you, Maw & Jaw –  I want to thank you both for the opportunity to show up for you.  I hope you drive up to your homes everyday and say to yourself, I did that.  Because you did.  You made this happen and the path to get here was probably not the easiest (by far).  Everyone who showed up this week showed up for you.  Not me, not Maggie, not Jim and not E

ric.  YOU.  They showed up for you and your families.  You put it out in the Universe that you wanted a home of your very own, and the world showed up to make that happen.  I hope the world continues to show up for you in big and small ways every day.  

Thank you for letting us show up.   We hope you live very well here.

The Queen & I: Episode 2, So Fresh & So Clean

The Queen & I – Wendell Falls Lot #127 (this is the before) 
First Fresh Paint House EVAH.

Me:  Do you remember our first conversation about Fresh Paint?
Q:  [long pause] the concept or the model?
Me:  the concept.
Q:  Yes, vaguely.  
Me:  What do you remember about it?
Q:  I remember being on the phone and just kind doing what we always do…we could do this, or this..or this…it could be paint by numbers!  We could pick this hardwood and this tile and the concept of the packages came to life.  I think you had the name first!
Me:  I did!  It was a year ago, actually.  When Eric was building the first Habitat House for DBC and I walked in and took a big deep breath and said, ‘I love this smell’ because the painters had just been there.  And Eric said, ‘Fresh Paint’ and I had this ‘Aha’ moment and pointed at him and was like, ‘THAT’S IT!!” and he had no idea what I was talking about.
Q:  Then we just kind of flushed out the idea…we knew we wanted it to be simplified…no changes, and just like anything else we do we starting asking each other the question, how can we do this better?  Because there are other builders out there building on production with minimal changes.
Me:  Right?  Woo…big whoop. [assume sarcasm]
Q:  Usually when you talk about those kinds of builders it’s all about what you CAN’T have, and we wanted to make it about how much you CAN get and still maintain the effortlessness.  
Me:  Effortless on the buyers part…you and I, not so much.
Q: Yeah!  [laughs] All the work was behind the scenes at the beginning to make it successful.  A lot of front end work.
Me:  So you and I met every Mon-Wed-Fri at 8am [which might as well be dawn to me] and picked out selections to put into packages.  And we quickly were like…Level 1 needs to be Level 1 & 2.
Q:  Yeah, because it’s a struggle sometimes.  Pretty costs money.
Me:  Preach!

Farmhouse Package – Included Painted Island with legs & skirt

Farmhouse Package – Included Dining Room Light Fixture
Farmhouse Package is one of FIVE packages available at the Base Price.  

Me:  For me, the packages were inspired by some of the places we shopped for the modesl…I love Dot & Bo and Joss & Main because they group everything in a single style or aesthetic.  You know I will click on anything with even hint of Boho in it.
Q:  Hint?
Me:  I know, I’m a Boho groupie.
Q:  Everything but the Patchouli {blech – makes disgusted face}  Are we going to insult some people that wear Patchouli.  I apologize in advance to anyone who wears it, I just don’t want to sit next to you.
Me:  I’ll sit next to you as long as it’s near some crazy moroccan themed leather pouf.  Or a crocheted hanging swing.

Me: Did we come up with the Farmhouse package first?
Q:  No. We did Classic Chic because it came together in about 3.2 seconds because it’s what we do very well at Garman…grays and whites and gorgeous.
Me:  That’s right!  I remember now!  I also remember the first time I saw the inspiration pic for the backsplash in the model.  I sent it to you like, ‘Can we DO this?!?’
Q:  I don’t remember what I said.  I’m sure I said yes.  Very rarely do I say no to Pretty things.  Pretty trumps hard.  Wait…lemme rephrase, Pretty trumps difficult.

Inspiration pic. 

Our version.

Me:  So let’s talk about the concept for the interiors of the Fresh Paint Model.
Q:  Well we knew we wanted it to be an affordable aesthetic since we’re the price leader in Wendell Falls. We also knew we wanted somewhat of a DIY angle because we were gonna give people a beautiful canvas with these homes but we weren’t going to be able to do all our normal tricks with built-ins, accent walls and trim details…those are a no-no in Fresh Paint.
Me:  Yeah, I was adamant that we not break the rules of Fresh Paint in the model.  I hate when you walk into a model and you see something you know they don’t offer their buyers.  It feels so phony to me.  I also knew I wanted to do the base package.
Q: Right, to do an included interior package.  So we could show how good it was still going to look.
Me:  I remember when I worked for a large national builder and I suggested (probably 2 years into my career so I was a total expert) that we should build a model with all the standard features so we could show the buyers how great the house is…and,
Q:  you were fired?
Me:  No, but I was met with a lot of blank stares and a healthy dose of you’re missing the whole point of upgrades.  I just always wanted to be able to say, that’s included!  So is that!
Q:  the problem with that is that the included features are usually not that great, which is what we tried to change with Fresh Paint.
Me:  The included features in Fresh Paint are actually better than Garman Homes.  That’s the beauty of the package.  You can’t break it but you can
get more than you’re expecting as a tradeoff.
Q:  Riiiiiiight?

Me:  So two things I love about the concept of this model.
Q:  Just two?  I mean…
Me:  There are more than two but I, unlike you, can narrow it down.
Q:  I’m a lover, not a picker.
Me:  Anyways…as I was saying…my two favorite things about this model are 1.  that we decided to furnish it (the majority anyway) from furniture that the target buyer could afford.  Specifically, we set out to furnish this whole thing from IKEA and I’d say we made it about 75% or more…closer to 90% on the first floor.

Q:  The chairs, the console and pretty much the whole family room is [from IKEA] except the vintage movie theatre chairs.  The upstairs isn’t at all.  The nightstand in the boys room and the basket at the end of the boys bed and the master bed are from IKEA.
Me:  And yet we still spent an entire day and $10k at IKEA.  I resent the fact that it took us an hour and half to checkout.  If I spend 5-digits, I want concierge service.  I know that’s not the IKEA way but still.
Q: No Shit!  I mean, can a sister get a hand?!  I would read off the items we needed to the guy at the furniture kiosk and say we need however-many of this and he would say, ‘we only have 5 so you need to go pick it yourself!’ and I would say, ‘M-f’er I thought we DID just pick it!’ [laughing like crazy]  I GOT MONEY!  I was having a Pretty Woman moment.  Meanwhile, you would be like at the starter gate ready to take off literally running like, ‘where is it?!  I’ll go get it!  What aisle?  What bin?’
Me:  That was a workout. I was just determined to get out of there as quickly as possible.  I was so done.
Q:  Thank God you’re a runner.
Me:  Came in handy for sure.  I thought I was gonna have to throw down with anyone who might be standing in front of the same 4 chairs we needed.  And I was gonna do it.  It was kill or be killed in there and I am only a little ashamed to admit I was ready to kill.
Me again:  I never got to say what my second favorite was…
Q:  I think we pretty much just talked about what wasn’t our favorite thing but whatever…bonus!
Me:  and 2.  I love the ‘look for less’ built-in that we masterminded from our built-in at the model in Briar Chapel.  I didn’t want to punk out on the IKEA hacks like some Pinterest newbie.  I really wanted to do something cool and affordable and show someone what’s possible in two very different price ranges.  Keepin it real, I guess.  Although, I’m not sure how real $10k at IKEA is.

Those Built-Ins are actually 5 Billy Bookcases at $39/ea. from IKEA
The reclaimed piece of wood on top is from the Reuse Warehouse. ~$200
This is the expensive version.  Pretty good, right?

Q:  Not all in one shot anyway.
Me:  True.
Q:  But there was no way I was going back.
Me:  Not without a weapon.  {I’m so kidding about this but this is the internet so I need to clarify – I am a lover, not a fighter and I do not brandish any weapons unless you count my ability to verbally assault.  I don’t condone violence on any kind.}

Q:  So now what do you want to talk about?
Me:  Well, I want to talk about how you and Raquel were the ones who actually put this model together since I was in California at the time holding my impossibly cute nephew.  This was about the time I was melting down about Randy so I wasn’t much help.
Q:  You really weren’t.  But I forgive you.
Me:  That’s why it’s a good thing I put in all that work on the front end and at IKEA.  So you and Raquel could whip up a fantastic model.  Will you two guest blog about the Fresh Paint model?  Because I’m about to spend 6 days (and nights) building our Habitat Blitz house for Monica.
Q:  I love Monica.  And yes, I accept your challenge.
Me:  Game on, girl.

The Queen & I: Episode 1, Part 2.

Before we go any further we need to address the elephant in the room. The teeny tiny, young & talented elephant.  Raquel.

Queen made a few references to Raquel yesterday, which prompted me to want to come clean and admit that, yes, not unlike other women of a certain age…I have been replaced with a younger model.

Meet Raquel.  Raquel has taken over my spot riding shotgun with Queen on the model homes.  She’s obviously doing a great job and they still let me pretend I’m part of the Pretty Committee,  so I look the other way and pretend not to care.

Me:  We left off with Master Bedroom and the 1st Fl Guest suite as your remaining favorite features.
Q:  there’s the screened in porch too.  And the man cave.  Oh my!
Me:  it’s ok if we don’t hit them all, we still want people to go out and see it all for themselves.
Q:  Alright.

Me:  I mean, that ceiling.  I never get tired of seeing it.  
Q:  Me either.  It’s definitely a show stopper.  Actually it’s more of a scream dropper!
Me:  A scream dropper?!  That makes me giggle.  
Q:  As soon as you walk up the stairs, people see it and scream.  That’s been my experience.  
Me:  Well that sounds legit then.  A new term, ‘scream dropper’. Thank you gorgeous, expensive ceiling for adding to our lexicon.  
Q:  Well I love that dresser.  You and I are gonna ‘wrastle for it.  If we ever stop using it in staging.
Me:  Probably best to leave it in staging then.  Be a shame to kill the company over one dresser.  I’m sure they make more.  
Q:  True.  In this pic you can see one of the features we put into this collection of homes – the Master has it’s own private balcony, which is just awesome.
Me:  Yeah, this is another super jelly moment for me.  I live vicariously through these homes.  To have the ability to go outside without the obligation to be social in any way appeals to me greatly.  
Q:  How very hermit of you.
Me:  I know, it’s not my go-to personality but I definitely have my moments.  I would love this space and I’m so proud we kept it a signature feature of this series and it’s included on all the base plans and across all the elevations.  And I love how it changes with each elevation.  It makes me feel calm.
Q:  Do we have a picture of the Master Bathroom?
Me:  We do.  Hold please. 
Q:  I love that glass tile and the fact that we kept the included tub in the model and the included shower floor.  We really wanted to find a way to show the included features but then show a way to upgrade too.
Me:  That’s a good point, I like to be very honest with our models if that’s possible?  I mean, we definitely have a few fantasy features and upgrades but I don’t ever want to portray a false representation of what our typical houses look like.  
Q:  But the tile is pretty fabulous.
Me:  Yes.
Q:  I love that Randy had a hand in picking it all out too.
Me: He did?
Q:  Yeah, he was in the bullpen (at Studio g) when Raquel and I were making selections and we could ask them when we were between two different glass colors.  And I knew I wanted to do the inlay tile on the floor.  And of course Randy wanted to take the tile all the way up and all the way around.
Me:  That doesn’t surprise me at all to hear.  In my experience with Randy, he always prefers to take things one step further than anyone is expecting.  It’s his signature included feature, the ability to shock us by just taking it right on over the top.
Q:  He might not remember that now!  [laughs hysterically]
Me:  Oh my gosh, that’s true, I wonder if he does?  We’ll find out soon enough.
Q:  Thank God he still has his sense of humor.
Me:  Oh God, yes.  
Q:  I don’t know if you can tell from this picture but that closet is pretty bangin’ too.
Me:  Right?  If I look any longer I will literally put my house on the market.  So talk us through that gorgeous 1st Fl Guest Suite so I can stay put a few more years.

Me:  Let’s talk about that bed you commissioned from Amy at Yellow Chair.
Q:  Should we put the inspiration pic in?
Me:  Yeah!
Q:  Ok, now I have to find it.

Me:  So n-n-n-Nailed it!
Q:  I hope so!  As soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to do something like it.  It fits right into our aesthetic and what we like to do.  Amy and I went and picked out the door together and she just took it from there.
Me:  Where did you get the door?
Q:  Reuse Warehouse in Durham.
Me:  I love it there.
Q:  I believe they got us all the reclaimed wood too.  They supplied it to the trim carpenters.  They’re amazing.
Me:  And pretty reasonably priced, right?
Q:  Absolutely.  Well…maybe not after reading all this!  [laughs]  Hopefully we’ll be grandfathered in.
Me:  What I love other than the furniture is what a great use of a space it gives this bedroom.  And not just a bed but also kind of a transition piece so it’s more like a studio effect of having a bed where you could also …I almost said entertain.  [laughs]
Q:  I don’t know about you but I always entertain on my bed!
Me:  Ok, I think we’re done on this house.  That’s the line of this blog.  It would be a travesty to go any further and as Nancy Garman always reminds us…’this conversation is deteriorating.’

Later via text:
Q to Me: We forgot to talk about the upstairs hall!!!
Me to Q:  I just checked and there are NO PICTURES of the upstairs hall in the Virtual Tour?! Surely the photographer must have blacked out unexpectedly and then when they came to got distracted by the ‘scream dropping’ ceiling in the Master BR.  I am considering all other reasons for this omission completely unacceptable.  The upstairs hall is picture-worthy.

Up next:  we get our IKEA on to the tune of 5-digits and Fresh Paint comes to life! And maybe I’ll let Queen talk about the upstairs hall.  If there’s time and we can convince someone to snap a pic. 

The Queen & I: Episode 1

Y’all know Allison King, right?  We call her Queen. [She’s Mrs. King. Get it?] She’s also pretty regal and just plain badass like a real Queen.  

If you’ve ever walked into one of our houses or seen a picture of our houses and thought, that looks amazing and/or your jaw dropped, that’s Allison.  She has that effect on people.  She eats, sleeps, and breathes good ideas about what we should do with our homes.  And better still, she knows how to get those good ideas built.  She probably needs no introduction but I just want to take a moment and make sure you know who she is.  

Readers, meet Queen. Queen, readers.

She just read that intro and said she doesn’t deserve it.  I’m gonna slap her.

I brought Allison into the blogosphere to introduce a series called, The Queen & I. Allison is DesignLikeaQueen to my BuildLikeaGirl. Her genius is all over our models and I want you to hear the story of how a model by Queen comes together.

Me:  So far this year, how many models have you completed?
Q:  It’s just 3 this year.
Me:  No, it’s five!  915 (Briar Chapel – 30Something Collection) was January and 1033 (Again, Briar Chapel – Mixtape Collection) was February.  [Plus the three in Wendell Falls]
Q: It’s too many to count, that’s what it was.

Me:  Let’s talk about those Wendell Falls models.  I have to say, they are my favorites and they make me really hate my house.
Q:  Me too.

Me:  I want to spend some time talking through each model.  I want to share the behind the scenes and tell the stories behind all the Pretty.  Because that’s where the real magic is.  I mean, yes, someone could come through our models and totally rip us off [clears throat and gives serious side eye to any builder this might apply to…I see you] but the magic is in how you come up with all this.  
Q:  I rip other builders off.  
[we both start laughing hysterically]

Me:  Let’s start with the Playlist Model.  It’s called Everything’s All Right (from a lyric in Garth Brooks Friends in Low Places) and…
Q:  and I had to tell myself that, several times.  
Me:  That everything would be alright? I’m sure you did.  You kept counting all the bedrooms and texting me, ‘there are 10 bedrooms in Wendell Falls!’ – in all caps and I was like, ‘stop counting, one bedroom at a time.’  
Me again: I love the Everything’s All Right plan because you had such a hand in designing that plan and at just 26’ wide you pulled off some spatial miracles like a built-in covered porch off the kitchen at the end of a ridiculously long side porch and you even fit in a 1st fl guest suite with a Nonna-bathroom. 
[editor’s note:  the Nonna bathroom was inspired by my mom living with me and not having a powder room in addition to her 1st Fl bathroom.  So Allison placed a pocket door between the sink/toilet and the shower space to preserve the shower as a private space and the ‘powder room’ as public. editor from editor’s note is me.]  

Q:  It was ridiculously important to start this new community off right with spectacular model homes that really pay homage to the vision that Newland had for Wendell Falls-the agrarian roots and that Farmhouse!  I definitely wanted a rustic farmhouse feel for this model.  So really the design started back when Raquel and I did the selections.  When we chose the reclaimed wood for the island and the Master BR ceiling and all the trim details.  

Me:  Where did the idea for that stuff come from?  
Q:  The island came from a picture, maybe on Pinterest or Houzz?  One of the two.  The Master ceiling came from my head.  We’ve done these amazing ceiling details before and I knew I wanted to do something like that in reclaimed wood..

Me:  And you knew this was your shot to do that because we can’t really justify the cost of something like that unless it’s a model?
Q:  Yeah, really.  I wanted to have these spots of reclaimed wood throughout the house – making things flow is big for us.  A model is definitely the time to go big or go home.
Me:  True.

Me:  So take me through your favorite spots in the house.  
[check out the virtual tour for this house HERE]
Q:  There’s not a spot in that house that’s not a favorite of mine.
Me:  I can’t type that much so you have to pick 3. Go.
Q:  THREE?!  Can I have Four?
Me:  We’ll see how much you talk.

Q:  Maybe we can combine the family room, dining room, kitchen into one?  You know, ‘cuz it’s really open.
Me:  Ok, go.
Q:  It’s a piece of furniture but I love the vintage teal piece from Revival Antiques in the family room.  I think my favorite part was I didn’t have to do anything but buy it and have it delivered to make it look good.  

Me:  Right?  Bookshelves and built-ins are my new nightmares.  That is a lot of work.
Q:  You never realize how much stuff you have to buy for those things.  It either looks too sparse or it looks like a train wreck with too much stuff on it.
Me:  I hate overdone models.  Less is always more for me.
Q:  I mean, the shiplap wall, can we talk about that for a minute?
Me:  You know I could talk about shiplap for days.  I put it in my own house.
Q:  It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Me:  I know because it’s a texture paradise.
Q:  And it looks better and better as the years go by.  Just like us.
Me:  Amen to that.

Q:  So just to talk a quick minute about something we tried and failed at…the cart piece from Amy at Yellow Chair (who we love) that we originally planned to use in the dining room as a buffet and it just wasn’t right for the scale of the room or the table.  So we used another piece I bought from Joss & Main – the shelving unit.  It ended up being perfect because it wasn’t as deep and fit perfectly under the transoms and between the sconces.  

Me:  I love all the pieces we used on that shelving unit.  I also love that you continued the shiplap to the backsplash.  Were you nervous at all about not using tile as the backsplash?  I wasn’t – but I love the unexpectedness of it.
Q: No, because it was a great space to try it – it was smaller and it’s not a wet area.  It was perfect.  Plus I knew we were going to do the open shelving on the other wall and the reclaimed wood on the island – the shiplap is so subtle.  You almost don’t notice it at first.  Because the open shelving with the black chalkboard paint – that was obviously going to stand out so I loved the subtlety of the shiplap to balance it.  
Me:  I love that wall so much.  It’s the first thing you see when you open the door and it’s such great impact.  I also love that space because it offers so much versatility and an opportunity for personalization to the buyer.  It’s ok if you’re not into coffee, you can make that space really reflect what you need there – like a built-in china cabinet or shelving for cookbooks or even small appliances.  You could make that a baking station…whatever you’re into.

Q:  Do we want to talk about the farmhouse sink, our gift?
Me:  Yes!

Q:  It just goes back to staying true to the farmhouse aesthetic.  We always want to take things in older homes we love and give them a more modern interpretation.  
Me:  And I always want to surprise our buyers with more than they’re expecting.  So we made the farmhouse apron front sink in the model an included feature.  Even though it’s way above market as something included, I thought it was a great way to start off our buyers when they’re building their own Garman Home.  
Q:  Did I talk too much, can I still have three more favorites?
Me:  We’ll see…
Q:  I’m combining the secondary bedrooms as one.  So that leaves the Master and the 1st Fl Guest Suite.
Me:  I’m pretty sure this is the whole house.
Q: I TOLD you!

Me:  Ok, tell me what you love about the secondary bedrooms, we’ll save the Master and 1st Fl guest suite.
Q: I do love that screened in porch though…
Me:  You’re pushing it.  Start talking.
Q:  We came up with these awesome wall trim details – they’re nearly identically sized bedrooms so we did identical trim details but we used two completely different accent colors to differentiate between the two.

Me:  I love that the teal is the boy room and the black is the girl room.  
Q:  It didn’t start out that way.
Me:  I think that’s what I love about it so much is that it evolved and I like when we do things that allow other people to identify with something outside the norm or encourages them, subtly or not, to be whoever they want to be.  I have three girls and only one room painted pink.  The other two would sooner move out than live in a pink room.
Q:  Well to start off, the beds I bought for those rooms didn’t fit.  They just didn’t look right for the scale of the room with both a headboard and a footboard.
Me:  Yeah, I remember that moment when we had to switch it up.
Q:  And then it still didn’t work.  So we just decided to get Hollywood frames for the beds and the accent wall became the headboard.  And then I starting putting all these pretty turquoise pieces in the room with the black wall and it clicked and became the girls room.
Me:  I like the black room as the girls room because black is so dramatic and in my experience, so are my girls.  

Q: Speaking of drama, the boys room stressed me out.  
Me:  Because of the teal wall?
Q:  No because all of the furniture I originally thought that I was going to put in there didn’t work.  You just start buying furniture, hoping it’s going to work and then I didn’t like it.
Me:  That actually was the beauty of having 10 bedrooms – there’s always another to shift it over to…
Q:  Remember when I texted you about using the lockers in the boys room??  The vintage lockers from Amy at Yellow Chair.  Once I figured that out my stress level dissipated.  Well, it went down a few notches at least.  And we got to paint them that fun orange/red color Raquel and I picked out. We got to use a unique piece of furniture I love in a really cool way and it really works in the room – I love it. [editor’s note: the virtual tour doesn’t show the lockers, you have to go see those in person. you know you want to.]
Me:  I love the colors in that room – so bold, totally made me think of superheroes.  
Q:  And I had those framed comic book covers originally going in the man cave but as soon as the teal room became the boy room, it was a no brainer to use those in there.  The colors all just worked together.
Me:  It was perfect.  And then we found that $60 alien lamp.  It was from Italy.  So, you know, it was worth it.

Me:  I think we should make this entry Part 1 and write the rest tomorrow as Part 2.  You have too many favorites.  And I have to go meet Zach for coffee.
Q:  They’re like my children, I can’t just pick one favorite thing.
Me:   [laughing] You have One Child she IS your favorite thing!  That metaphor doesn’t work for you.
Q:  Dammit.

To be continued…up next, the Master Bedroom, 1st Floor Guest Suite and my favorite, that upstairs hallway.

The Brain Trust

Late last year shortly after I began managing our construction team, I was completely stumped by a situation in our Grotto community.  Through a series of overlapping and pre-existing regulations, basically we were forced to finish the yards in the Grotto in a way that was counterintuitive to maintaining them – not to mention, it was making it REALLY hard to sell them.  It was a puzzle I couldn’t figure out how to solve.  So I called a Brain Trust.

It started out as something I just made up.  I needed some help and I knew I was surrounded by a community of people who could offer fresh perspectives and creative solutions.  And lucky for me they all happen to be really smart. A Brain Trust is about as literal as it gets.  The only other essential element to a successful Brain Trust is an absence of ego.  There was no use spending any energy on why we hadn’t solved the problem yet or who made failed attempts along the way – it was just, this is the situation, let’s figure out how to fix it.

Calling the actual Brain Trust was just me emailing several different stakeholders within Garman Homes along with our little brother at Durham Building Company [DBC].  I asked them to meet onsite so we could address the problem together – each contributing ideas from their own area of expertise.  It worked beautifully.  Everyone showed up [sales, design, construction, purchasing, I called them ALL], everyone contributed, and within a few weeks we had the problem solved and the houses under contract.  Not before we hit every single utility and made a giant mess that far exceeded the original problem but whatever, it worked.  I didn’t think it could get any better than that.

Since then we’ve called a Brain Trust a few more times – it started as a problem solving mechanism but it’s become a culture beacon.  Something that distinguishes the way we, as a company, approach and solve problems together.

So fast forward from that first Brain Trust to late last month.  Randy, our sales manager in Wendell Falls and self-appointed #1 Fresh Paint Fan, wrapped up a grueling and rewarding week of model set up followed immediately by an all day pre-sale event on Saturday.   That night he was hanging out with some neighbors and on the way home he fell off his son’s bike.  It sounds normal enough, right? What’s the big deal?  Only, it was a terribly big deal.

He suffered a major head injury.  Was in ICU for days, then step-down, then another step-down, then rehab…and now gloriously and miraculously he is continuing his recovery at home.  If you’re religious and would like to give thanks to God after that last sentence you would not be alone.  I remain very grateful for everyone’s prayers to heal Randy.  And for the fact that my own were heard.

I wasn’t sure if I could or would articulate what this experience has been like over the past few weeks but as Randy has continued to improve, I have some mental energy to spare on reflection.  And I think it’s relevant to the conversation and story of Garman Homes.

I think everyone likes to think they could be great in a crisis, including me…but I will freely admit, it’s not my best state.  I can function here and there, but I slowly start to drown in worst-case scenarios and what-ifs.  My mind goes wild and my emotions stand front and center ready for a fresh meltdown at the first sign of compassion or sympathy.  I’m the one who panics, I’m not the hero.  It’s terribly hard to admit that but I’d be a fraud if I claimed otherwise.  The only thing worse than the panicker is the fraud, am I right?

So what does this have to do with the Brain Trust or Garman Homes?  Everything.  In that moment when we didn’t know if Randy would fully recover as they said, in those moments when I dissolved to angry, sad or fearful tears, in the face of a paralyzing amount of uncertainty, I felt the members of Garman Homes, Durham Building Company and all of BH&G Go Realty calling a Brain Trust.  On Randy’s behalf as much as mine.  They all showed up – they all asked how to help – they all hugged me when I needed it and didn’t when they sensed I couldn’t take it.  They kept things happening while I was spinning and drifting…then welcomed me back when I would surface again.  I remain grateful beyond words to each and every one of them.  The BrainTrust was instinctive.

And here we are in the midst of that same Brain Trust that began just after the accident – it’s become our new normal.  Randy is now joining us here and there for a few hours at a time – for what we’re all calling Work Therapy.  He’s the patient but I’m certain his presence is healing all of us a bit more each day.

Along the way I discovered another essential element of a Brain Trust.  You have to care. Genuinely care.

Plus, I have to admit, the play on words is just about killing me.  I mean, for real…a Brain Trust for someone who has suffered a brain injury?  C’mon!!  It’s almost too obvious.  You can’t help but laugh.

Good thing it’s ok to laugh again.  He’s ok.  We got our Randy back.

I did it all for the Pretty.

When my 14 yr old nephew was about 2 or 3, he ran down the hall fresh from a bath wearing his pjs and a baseball mitt proudly announcing to his dad, ‘I got THIS thing and I’m ready to play!”  It’s one of my favorite stories about my nephew.  His all out enthusiasm despite his lack of knowledge about what he can actually play with the baseball mitt is completely endearing.  He just knew it was a gateway to play at an age when he was all about getting to play.  Now he’s all about being a snarky teenager, which, I gotta say, is almost nearly as entertaining to me, his snarky Aunt who doesn’t have to parent through any of that.  Yet.

When I asked him if I could use this pic for the blog he responded, ‘Of course, I look cute as hell.’  Indeed you do.

So last week I got my first text from Allison asking me to use my brand new truck to retrieve a couch from a staged home in High Grove and bring it to our model home install in Briar Chapel.  {that’s Fuquay-Varina to Chapel Hill for those playing along at home}  I was so excited – coach was putting me in the game!  I called Don to see if he could meet me in the neighborhood – it was the day after a snow day so everyone’s schedules were off.  Don rearranged an appointment so he could meet me and I drove up to the neighborhood all, ‘I got THIS thing and I’m ready to play!’

Same excitement.  Same oblivion.

Flashback to the day before I got the text from Allison when it started to snow and I got a call from Jim Garman on my way home confirming that I knew my truck was rear wheel drive and therefore was going to behave a lot differently than I was used to cars behaving in the snow.  Now picture me confirming I had no clue.  Not even an inkling.  I’m fairly sure I said some very unkind things to myself about myself right then.  I was totally ambivalent about 4WD at the dealership because it only snows here 2-3 days a year…big whoop.  I didn’t realize those 2-3 days would be the very first 2-3 days I owned the truck.  Good times.  After I hung up with Jim, our builder in Briar Chapel, Kevin, called to let me know the same thing and to warn me to be careful.  I mean, it’s a wonder I can get through the day on my own.

So back to me rolling up to the neighborhood with my good attitude, my truck and my able body that is ready to throw a couch in the back of said truck and head out for Chapel Hill.  Never mind the fact that the entrance of the home and the driveway where the couch was located were both covered in a sheet of ice.  Or that the back of my truck was filled with the same sheet of ice.  Luckily Don had it covered…he was wearing legit builder boots that he could break the ice with, there were painters in the neighborhood who lent us a broom (to brush away the ice) and a drop cloth (to cover the couch before putting it in the truck).

I actually tried to stomp away some of the ice in my pink rubber Hunter boots.  Don summed it up best with, ‘She drives a fully loaded pickup to the job site but she still rocks pink rubber boots.’  It’s probably time to up my footwear game.

Anyway…once we actually got the couch out to the truck in single digit temps, it was bigger than the bed and hung over the back – not a lot, but just enough to make me picture it flying out and killing someone the moment I pulled out of the neighborhood in my RWD deathtrap that I had no business owning.

At this point Don told me I probably needed some straps for my truck.

To sum up, so far the count was:  Boots, Ice Scraper, Tarp & Straps: 1, Me: -4.

Don, a true gentleman and one of the best people I know, agreed to let me follow him to the nearest Home Depot despite the fact that he would be pushing to make it back home in time to leave for his brand new son’s 1 month checkup.  In Don’s mind it was probably a tossup as to who was more helpless at that moment…me or Baby Whit.  Baby Whit at least had his Mamma.  I just had a truck I had no idea how to use.

Once safely in front of Home Depot Don made sure I knew what I was getting and that I would ask someone for help to secure the couch.  I reminded Don that even as clueless as I appeared (was), I was still a girl and therefore more than capable of finding someone in that Home Depot to help me.  I was right, thank goodness and someone did help me.  Ironically, in the middle of asking for help, one of our framers for Garman Homes walked through the door.  I shouted, ‘that’s my framer!’ as if to somehow convince this poor man who agreed to help me that I wasn’t as crazy as I appeared.  It didn’t help.  I was that crazy.

The Saint from Home Depot threaded the straps, secured the couch, and sent me on my way with a ‘that sure is a beautiful truck’ which, I took to mean, ‘not sure how you got that thing, crazy, but please try to wait until you’ve left the parking lot to crash.’

Finally, I was on my way…about 15 minutes in I look back just in time to see the straps flapping around like crazy.  At this moment I was on the toll road, speed limit 70 and I was about to pull over and try to reattach these things myself.  I said some very inspiring things to myself in that moment…I think it went something like, ‘you have no f’ing choice, you either pull over and re-attach those f’ing straps or you risk killing someone.  Killing someone is NOT an option.  You pull over and risk killing yourself over someone else.  You have 3 kids, you cannot GO TO JAIL and you CANNOT DIE.  So, PULL OVER and BE BRAVE.‘  So I did.  And I was.

When I bought my truck I pictured myself in a bunch of amusing scenarios…driving up to the job site, driving somewhere all dressed up, pulling a boat, picking up mulch for my sister….never once did I imagine I would be pulled over on a toll road with cars passing me at 80 mph while I sat straddling the back of the truck bed in single digit temps using all my might and strength to reattach those damn straps.  But there I was.

I finally arrived in Chapel Hill after what felt like hours.  I slip slided my way into the neighborhood and drove up to the model completely exhausted.   The Pretty Committee was outside making a plan for the install…they all laughed at the site of me in my giant truck with the couch in the back.  They even took this pic to commemorate the moment.

I got out of the truck and Allison asked if I wanted to come with them to get a few more things. Since she was driving I said sure.  She warned me I’d have to sit in her 7 yr old’s booster seat in the back since Janice was in the front and the rest of her Jeep was filled with furniture.  I happily accepted the tiny seat.

Truth be told, in that moment, I felt a hell of a lot safer squished into Maddie’s booster seat than I did behind the wheel of my truck.

It’s an adjustment.  And it’s fair to say I’m adjusting the heck out of it.

Are you there, Alaina? It's me, Alaina.

I’m struggling with the title on this post because I do not love it when folks talk about themselves in the 3rd person.  And yet, here I am…going all 3rd person inner monologue with a nod to the first novel I ever read,  Are you there God, it’s me Margaret.  I read it when I was about 10 or 11, barely on the cusp of puberty myself.  I thought of it as my guidebook for the next few years.

I was really looking forward to puberty because I did not love the way I looked.  I felt certain that puberty was going to be the cure for all that.  I’d seen it happen before on other people, surely I was going to rise from the ashes of puberty with less frizzy hair and all that baby fat reassigned to more (in)appropriate places. That was the deal, right?  RIGHT?!  A few years later I remember asking my brother if he thought I was all the way through puberty.  When he answered yes, I was pretty bummed out.  When he asked why I was upset I answered, ‘because I went through puberty and I didn’t get pretty!’  It sucks being an insecure teenager.  Being on the cusp of 40 is so much better.

I chose this title because I’m fairly sure there is such a thing as corporate puberty and I’m also fairly sure Garman Homes is all up in that mess. I think at least once or twice a week one of us will look at the other and ask, ‘Who ARE we?!’  Usually this expression is inspired by some very grown up action.  For instance, this year I took over our construction team and my goal is to walk every house, every week with every builder.  I spend about half my time in the field and I love it.  Jim has also dedicated a full day to being in the field in addition to being our Purchasing Jedi.  Recently we were meeting with our bankers telling them about this new shift from the office to the field, which sparked the question, ‘what the hell were we doing when we thought we were running the company all these years?’  This is the first time since the very beginning it feels like we’re operating in real time.  It’s awesome.  And exhausting.  And so friggin hard.  We couldn’t be happier.  

We’ve been operating as the punk kid builder for so long, I think we don’t immediately recognize ourselves when we realize we know what we’re doing and we know how to do it with a little more maturity and thought.

Speaking of not recognizing ourselves, back to that blog title…I love cars.  I love cars like I love accessories.  To me, a car feels like a very personal reflection, a car should match the driver.  A few years ago I had a very rare Audi that I loved so much.  It was super fast and loud and small.  It was me, as a car.  Or, the me I really wanted to be.  Our love affair was cut short by rising gas prices and the threat of investing a lot of money in maintaining this very special car.  So last year I traded that car in for something more responsible.  A small hybrid.  It was a Lexus and had a few more luxury features that I really wanted.  But it was not fast and it was practically mute.  I had no love for my responsible decision.  I didn’t feel like me.

So this year I decided to find my way back to a car that really felt like me.   Something that would inspire me to be the person I really want to be.

Naturally, I bought a massive pick up truck.

Say whaaaaaaaat?
It’s loud. Check.  
It’s strong. Check.
It gets the job done. No matter what that job may be. Double Check.  

It’s also massive.  Like my hair. Checkmate.

But the best part is, I don’t even need it to make myself feel pretty.  Puberty is a lot different the second time around. #thisis40

You've Made Your Point, January

I don’t know about y’all but I feel like January came to play.  The pace of this month has been as swift as the soundtrack – I mean, how many Taylor Swift songs are they playing on the radio right now? Feels like at least 5.   Not that I’m complaining, Blank Space is my jam.

And now January is throwing down a blizzard all over the Northeast just to remind everyone it’s January and this is how January do. All 31 days.

We get it, January, you’re cold and wintry.  You’re also full of contraction – hopeful resolutions to kick off a new year and gray skies to greet you every morning, you know, just so you don’t get too hopeful.

I knew this year would be all about growth and transition – I didn’t realize how rigorous the pace would be from the start. I feel like we’re trying to grow at the speed of a soap opera kid.  You know the ones that are born one month, walking the next week and graduating high school before the end of the year when they inherit the family business and turn evil?  Like that. Only in real time and not with the evil plot twist.

Actually there was one evil plot twist this month – a few of our houses in Briar Chapel were tagged with spray paint.  I hesitate to call it graffiti because I have a lot of respect for graffiti as art.  I’ve even been known to purchase a few pieces.  This wasn’t art, this was just annoying.

What is this?  Some passive aggressive cheer?  Whatever it is, my thoughts exactly.

At home the pace isn’t any slower…so far this month we’ve registered the youngest for kindergarten and attended a middle school open house with our oldest.  I thought I was too young for that.  I also thought I was too young to attend the funeral for a dear friend’s father.  I was wrong.  Life feels a bit sped up these days.

At Garman Homes we are fond of saying, These are days.  Lyrics from a song we love and a testament to the milestones we’re crossing everyday.  I find myself saying it more now just to mark the moment and force myself to stay present.

These are days, January.  And yours are numbered.  Onward to February and lots of love.