What's Your Opinion.....let's Talk 'house'.

Lounge By krysoco Updated 21 Jan 2009 , 3:45pm by krysoco

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krysoco Posted 11 Jan 2009 , 7:48pm
post #1 of 20

I am in the process of house planning. We are ready to build but hit some road blocks. I had settled on a 1 story(living) w/2nd floor (storage) house plan about a yr ago. But recently we saw a house that was a 2 story (living). I realized how much more room there is when utilizing that 2nd story. I am afraid of the stairs w/my lil ones (1, 2, 5, & 12 yr. old). But I'm rethinking it now. Falls from stairs account for a lot of accidents w/small kids. What's your opinion on floor plan layout?

Based on your current home or if you were house planning, what you be your preferences, dislikes, and WHY?
tile, carpet, hardwood?
cement board, brick, siding, stucco?
dining table, banquette?
patio, back porch?
formica, quartz, granite?
TV over fireplace?

My preferences are:
leaning towards quartz countertops
carpet in just the bedrooms???
banquette instead of trad. dining table.
exposed cypress beams in living area
brick backsplash for kitchen.
Being my kids are little, I'd like 2 bedrms and a bath on each side of the house.
Outside entrance to my utility room so kids don't track thru house.

19 replies
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indydebi Posted 11 Jan 2009 , 8:08pm
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I've always lived in a 2-story house. Kids will fall in a 1-story house. They will fall on the patio and coming onto the porch. They will fall off of the couch and out of their bed. But I've never (!) had a kid fall down the stairs.

Hubby was/is one of those willy nilly nervous parents when it comes to kids. When our youngest learned to climb onto the couch, HE thought he was keeping her safe by not letting her onto the couch. I pointed out what an idiot he was and proceeded to teach her how to climb down off of the couch SAFELY.

My 18 month old grandson goes up and down their stairs faster than any of us can catch him!

I'm the first one in my family who ever had a house built and there was SO much I didnt' know about doing it. (Hubby either).

If you get a TV over the fireplace, be SURE to have a good fireplace design. Our fireplace smokes terribly. I HATE our fireplace. I've had fireplaces before and I know it's the design. My mantle is constantly grey and black from the smoke. I've always been so glad we don't have a tv over the fireplace, because I'm afraid it would have been ruined by smoke.

My laundry room is a walk thru from the garage to the center hallway. As you walk thru it, the washer/dryer is on one side and the furnace/waterheater is on the other, with enough space to walk thru. The problem? As you're doing laundry, there's no place to put the dirty clothes (I sort into hot, warm and cold wash piles). WHen you take the laundry out of the dryer, there's no room for a work table. So if there is ANYTHING in that room at all, it's an obstacle course to walk over and around the laundry, the mop bucket, etc. And god help me if I'm standing at the washer and hubby decides to throw up the garage door and walk into the house! There just isn't anywhere for me to go before the door slams into my big behind! icon_surprised.gif

Which leads me to another thing. That hall closet looks PLENTY big enough to strore a sweeper when you're walking thru the model home, but try putting a sweeper in there when the closet is full of winter coats! I have NO storage area for the sweeper, brooms, mops, mop buckets, etc. Also take notice of where are you going to put your trash can?

And speaking of storage, gosh that big mirror in each of the bathrooms looks SO nice in the model home ... until we were moving in and I carried in the box of bathroom items and realized there was no medicine cabinet type of thing to put my aspirin, razors, hairspray, throat lozenges, first aid creams, etc. they ended up in a box under the sink until we could go buy a cabinet to install over the toilet for this stuff! (What kind of builder doesn't plan storage space for medicines in the bathroom!!!)

So much I didn't know ... so much I learned!

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Deb_ Posted 11 Jan 2009 , 8:36pm
post #3 of 20

How exciting a time for you guys. We built our current home about 5 yrs ago and I thought I had it all figured out beforehand because it was to be the 3rd house we lived in together.

One question to ask yourselves is "Will this be our final house or our family house?" We thought that this would be our final house, but now that my kids are in college and we're starting to get a little older I realize that a 3500 sq ft colonial is not the home I want to retire in. I definitely know now that I would like a 1 story for our older years.

Having said that though, I've always had a 2 story home and I've enjoyed having the bedrooms upstairs away from the living areas of the house. You know how kids bedrooms can be messy most times, well if they're on a different level your company doesn't walk by them on the way to using your bathroom.

Laundry room - in my last house which was new but we didn't build it, it was a model in a new development. The laundry room was on the upstairs level off of the hallway near all the bedrooms. I thought that I'd LOVE this location, since the dirty laundry usually starts off on this level to begin with, but I hated it. I realized that I usually did the laundry when the kids were in bed so I had to go up and down the stairs anyway to do it, and it was noisy so I couldn't always do it while they were sleeping.
So when we built this house I put it on the first floor and I LOVE this location. I can do laundry while cooking dinner or watching TV at night. We also installed a laundry chute in the upstairs bathroom that leads directly to the laundry room. I highly recommend this feature.

Definitely hardwood floors. Rugs hold dust and animal fur and if you have allergies as I do, hardwoods are the easiest to clean. I do have an area rug in the Family Room though.

Granite or quartz is awesome, I have granite and love that.

I'm a front porch type of girl so I have one of those and it's one of my favorite places to have morning coffee.

And definitely an open floor plan on the first floor. My kitchen is open to a step down family room separated by a huge island. We opted for a 4 season room off of the family room instead of a deck and on Christmas Eve I had 45 in these 3 spaces comfortably. We didn't opt for a formal living room in this house because as my DH refers to them "museum rooms" are a waste, we never used our last one. Instead we have an office which we use all of the time.
I really don't use my Dining Room much in this house either so I guess I still sort of have a Museum Room.

In our last house our 2 car garage only had 1 huge garage door, in this house we have 2 garage doors. This may sound insignificant, but it definitely gives you more room to have 2 doors.

Make sure you install enough electrical outlets. The building codes only require so many per wall, but think about where you'll have lamps and if at Christmas time you'll want a candle in each window, you'll want access to an outlet.
If you have a kitchen island, have them put an outlet at each end of that too if it's large, this is convenient for buffet's.

We used some brick on the exterior and some siding, we didn't want to have to paint in a few years so it's maintenance free.

I really don't have any major regrets about this house it's been great so far. Maybe a garbage disposal would have been nice, but that's minor.

Have fun and keep us posted.

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CakesByJen2 Posted 11 Jan 2009 , 10:02pm
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We've had both a 1-story and a 2-story, and I much prefer the 2-story. I just like the separation between the main living area and the bedrooms, and between me and the kids when needed. I wouldn't worry about the stairs as far as kids are concerned; that's what safety gates are for. We put a gate at the top and bottom of the stairs. We removed the bottom gate when my youngest was about 4, but kept the top one so we didn't have to worry about him going down stairs during the night, or when he was supposed to be in his room in time out, and because my oldest was going thru a spell of sleepwalking and wanted us to keep the gate up. We finally took it down a few months ago, just before the youngest turned 6, and haven't had a problem. I think stairs are more of a concern for the future, when we get older.

Some other things, I prefer carpeting in the bedrooms and living areas for comfort (warmer on your feet in winter) and noise dampening. I would NOT want carpet in a high-traffic entry-way or hallway, dining room, or bathrooms. I wish we had more windows, and a covered front porch (we just have a small stoop), to give you shelter from the weather while digging your keys out, and for guests while waiting for you to come to the door, protect packages left at door, and greatly lessen weathering of the front door. I love our deck, but think a patio would require less maintenance. The thing I don't like about our deck, other than being a bit too small, is that it opens off the living room. It would be much, much more practical if it opened off the kitchen instead.

Personally, I like having a separate formal dining room, but I wish we had a breakfast bar in the kitchen, and that the kitchen opened into the family room lik most of the newer houses. Our kitchen and living room are totally separate. We just have one very large LR, rather than a family room and small formal LR. I think the small formal LR is kinda wasted space, unless you wanted to use it for an office or playroom instead. I've never had nice counters; still stuck with laminate, but I've been looking at them. Granite of course can't be beat for beauty, but I'm leaning more towards solid-surface (like Corian) for practicality.

I hate that our laundry room is so tiny, more of a closet, and that the garage opens directly into the kitchen. I wish we had a nice big mudroom between the garage and kitchen instead.

I don't care for tile floors, too hard, too cold, and they never seem clean, especially the grout. For the kitchen and baths I still like old-fashioned vinyl because it has no seams to collect dirt, but I know I'm the exception. I'd do hardwood for the DR and entryway, definitely NOT laminate flooring. My sister has it, and it is very noisy. It has a hollow sound to it that magnifies every little noise. The racket made by their dogs nails clicking on it was really surprising.

Skylights: I like the light they let in, but it's very noisy when it rains. I would never have one in a bedroom. Some people have problems with them leaking, but ours never did.

Storage space: there is never enough!

That's all I can think of for now. HTH!

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Karema Posted 12 Jan 2009 , 12:16am
post #5 of 20

I totally came into the post thinking it would be about the show House! LOL GL with your planning

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taxnerd Posted 12 Jan 2009 , 2:14am
post #6 of 20

When we purchased our home, we specifically looked for a house with hardwood floors. We found one, though when we bought it they were covered with carpet. We ripped the carpet out of the bedrooms, and I have not regretted it. They allow me to keep the bedrooms more allergen free, so if someone in your family has allergies, you might want to consider this.

When we remodeled our dining room and kitchen, which are really one large room, we chose laminate flooring. I would have liked to use the hardwood there too, but was too afraid of possible water damage in the kitchen. The laminate is durable, easy to clean and (I think) looks really nice (we chose a pattern that looks like stone, but ones that look like wood are also available). Laminate is cheaper than hardwood but still helps keep allergens down, so you might want to consider it if your budget is a concern.

I personally don't like ceramic tile for flooring or countertops (OK for backsplashes though) because it's very cold when used on the floor and the grout can really start to look dirty if you don't keep cleaning it regularly. It's also harder than most types of floors, which could be a consideration if you have children that are learning to walk.

I absolutely love my countertops, which are Corian. I didn't like the fact that granite is usually very high gloss, and I'm not into shiny. Definitely get an undermounted sink though - these are the greatest because they eliminate the rim between your counter and sink so you can sweep crumbs right into the sink without them getting caught on that lip. They're available with most counter materials (not sure about Formica though).

I don't think I'd put a TV over a fireplace due to possible heat damage. It all depends on how well it drafts. We actually have a wood burning insert in our fireplace. If you're actually going to use the fireplace and hope to reduce your energy bills by using it, you may want to look into it. Obviously, it costs more, but it's made to direct heat out and into the house rather than up the chimney. This can always be done after the fact too. They're also supposed to burn more cleanly.

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mkolmar Posted 12 Jan 2009 , 3:06am
post #7 of 20

I'm not sure where you live but if you do ceramic tile it gets extremely cold, especially in the winter. Think about possibly those think lines that can go under tile and other surfaces that can heat the floor when you want them too. Also, buy extra tile so if one cracks or busts you can replace it. My parents have marble in their bathrooms and you could easily kill yourself slipping out of the shower/tub. It's also so cold it's crazy.

I have a HUGE counter that's connected to my kitchen counter but is actually in my living room. It's almost too big. It's about 12 feet long by 4 feet wide. One side has bar stools and the other side has all storage.

A good sized laundry room with rods and a table for folding clothes. That way if you fall behind you can shut the door and the house still looks clean. Man I wish I had that!

Better have too much storage room than not enough. We didn't build our house but I was pregnant with #2 and remember thinking "Boy, I'll never fill up all of this storage space, it's too much" We now have 4 kids that keep growing like crazy and I'm talking to a builder about making a huge closet going under our stairs and against the whole back wall it's on. We have no where near enough storage now.

I like an open floor plan for certain areas because it just looks nicer and helps with heating.

An attached garage is always a plus also.

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dldbrou Posted 12 Jan 2009 , 4:55am
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We built our house 24 years ago and I must say we have made few changes, mostly just upgrading bathrooms and kitchens. We got our house design from a magazine and worked and tweaked it from there. We have a two story house and I love it. My son only came sliding down the stairs on his butt once and we all had a big laugh. Believe me that bathrooms have more accidents with kids than stairs. Stairs are more of a jungle gym for kids. All of my bedrooms are upstairs, which is great and my washer & dryer are upstairs where all the clothes are. I wash at night when the electric rates are cheaper. I never had a noise problem cause the televisions were so loud. LOL. The only big regret I have is not having a bedroom downstairs for elderly guest or sick family members. We started with carpets and now have tile and concrete floors downstairs and wood upstairs. Now my bathroom was just remodeled and I put in the thermal floors/ Best investment I have ever made. I would love to put a solar system on my roof next. Just have to figure out how to pay for it. I do not have a formal dining room and never regretted that either. My house does not have extremely large rooms but has a great flow. I had a real estate agent come to my house for a party and all he could talk about was how wonderful the flow of the house was for parties. We have no wasted space. Under our stairs is a half bath. Living room has a fireplace that heats up the entire house. Remember, heat rises, so upstairs is toasty at night. I hate the dry air from heaters. There is never enough outlets and storage space. Don't be scared of choosing colors for your rooms. It's just paint and can always be painted another color if you don't like it later on. When I get bored, I go get a gallon of paint and pick a room. I have repainted every room of my house numerous times by myself. I get bored easily. Also, if you get bored with furniture in the same place, take a graph paper and draw out your floor plan and cut out your furniture shapes. Play with moving your furniture around to see how everything fits. This alone will save headaches in the end. This is getting long, so I will just say don't make too many changes once you start building, that brings the cost up considerably for your house. It is known as up-charging for every change from the plan.

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barbaranoel Posted 12 Jan 2009 , 1:23pm
post #9 of 20

Definately a subject I've thought of:

1. 2 story without a doubt - AND a basement - invaluable for storage

2. 3 car garage or an outside storage shed

3. Ceramic HEATED floors, my friend has these and it is awesome!

4. Upgrade the doors and woodwork to white, we always thought we would be able to do this as time went on (here it is 6yrs later and still not done)

5. Bigger kitchen, I would sacrifice my dining room to make my kitchen bigger.

6. Put sod or seed all the way around the house not go 1/2 and 1/2

7. They put in a large corner garden tub in the master bath but I had wish they put in a jacuzzi tub

8. The shower has track doors - would love to have seamless doors, would be much easier to clean

9. The carpet in the house was an upgrade, but wish we'd gone one or two steps higher, these looked horrible quickly

10. General craftsman ship - CHECK EVERYTHING, so many little things that become annoying. Our neighbors upstairs tub ended up in the downstairs living room because someone forgot to connect a pipe. We made them come out and change out the baseboards because it looked like the guy who installed it was having a contest on how many nails they could put in a square foot area icon_confused.gif

I have to stop now, my hands are beginning to cramp from all the typing icon_rolleyes.gif


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mlynnb Posted 12 Jan 2009 , 3:06pm
post #10 of 20

We just built a home and moved into it last March. We knew this was not our 'dream' home, nor our final home, so we did alot of stuff with resale in mind, but also, let's face it, you have to be happy with what you have in your home. That being said, I love, love, love my home. We actually picked a 2 story home (with a basement) because it is cheaper to build up rather than out when you are putting in a basement. All of the bedrooms are upstairs, which I love. The downstairs is all living and family space, the basement is mostly the kid's domain, with a rec room (and a small workout space for DH and I).
The things I love:
1. Big open floor plan.
2. All-wood downstairs (except for bathrooms and laundry-ceramic tile, see things i would change)
3. White trim, ect - although it is harder to keep clean, it looks beautiful.
4. Laundry room on first floor (not in basement, where it's always been before for me)
5. At least 3 bathrooms---we're actually putting in a 4th half-bath in the basement this summer
6. We have a huge great room rather than the traditional family room/living room set up and we also made the formal dining room a den/office and just all eat in in the 'breakfast area' since it is plenty big enough.

Things I would change:
1. While I love my tile, next time I would heat it
2. Laundry room looked big enough in the plans, but once we put all the stuff in it, I regret not making it at least 2x as big. (some times I feel like I live in my laundry room anyway!) icon_lol.gif
3. I really regret not putting in granite. At the time, it seemed extravagant on the budget, but it totally pays off in the long run.

A friend once told me after she researched to build her dream home...."you will almost always find something that you would change after you've moved into your home, no matter what." I have found that to be true, but honestly, while stressful, I actually loved building a home and having the input that comes with that. Good luck with whatever you decide to do!!!

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dailey Posted 12 Jan 2009 , 3:28pm
post #11 of 20

oh wow, what a great thread! i wish i would have posted this when we were building (just moved in a few months ago). at any rate, i agree with most of what everyone is telling you. for starters, we went with a 1 1/2 story home. i *love* it because the master bedroom is downstairs and we have the girls rooms upstairs. we also decided on hardwood floors for the entire house, except the kitchen, which is tile. i LOVE it!!! easy to clean and i wear Crocs in the house so i never noticed the floors being cold?? also chose granite for the counters, even in the bathrooms. i simply fell in love with this particular color called "white spring", it looks so exotic. my parents have quartz, which is great too, but they didn't have very many colors to choose from, just doesn't have the "wow" factor like granite, IMO.

let see, also consider getting a pantry for your kitchen so you can keep all of your cake supplies in one spot. so much stuff to decide on.....have fun!

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mlynnb Posted 12 Jan 2009 , 3:35pm
post #12 of 20

let see, also consider getting a pantry for your kitchen so you can keep all of your cake supplies in one spot. so much stuff to decide on.....have fun!

Oh Yeah! A pantry!!! Yes, this is one of my favorite features...make sure you have one of those!!

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GeminiRJ Posted 12 Jan 2009 , 7:03pm
post #13 of 20

One thing I have found when it comes to storage. The more you have, the more junk you will keep (especially if you have a pack rat like my husband). Adequate storage is important, but excess storage is not necessarily a good thing!

I wish I had a laundry room on the main level. Mine is in the basement...lots of up and down...hard to sometimes hear the buzzer when a load gets done.

I really like a lot of the choices you've gone with. Keep in mind that even when you think you've got it all figured out, once the house is built, you'll still find something that you wish you would've done different.

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marinewifejones Posted 12 Jan 2009 , 8:47pm
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This is the first 2 story house my husband and i have ever lived in. We both grew up in single story homes and have always lucked into single story homes at each duty station. DS was 10 months old when we moved in and the first thing we did was go buy baby gates for the stairs. I have fallen down the stairs 3 times now and the first two times was while holding DS and was pregnant but didnt know it (i had housing come install a hand rail on the other side once I found out) and the third time was just this past friday while holding DS's hand (he is now 2) I ended up dragging him down behind me because he refused to let go of my hand.
If i had to choose I would go with a single story because that is what I personaly find easier but if i were to build my own home as a second story I would put the laundryroom upstairs (i am always behind on laundry because I am unable to carry it and a 5 month old up while holding a 2 year olds hand)

as far as other preferences go I would want a walk in pantry in a nice large kitchen (not these sad excuse for a kitchen and pantry that we keep getting saddled with in military housing) My SIL is an achitect and one of these days we are going to sit down with her and draw up plans for our dream house. I would also like a counter and a sink in the laundryroom for folding and treating stains

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krysoco Posted 15 Jan 2009 , 3:35am
post #15 of 20

Wow, I've got lots of good suggestions from this thread. I'm taking notes and organizing them in a binder.

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JodieF Posted 18 Jan 2009 , 8:17pm
post #16 of 20

If this is going to be your "last" house, then go with a 1 1/2 story with the master and laundry on the main floor, or a ranch. You don't think stairs are going to be an issue, but you'd be amazed. I fell last July and tore up my knee, badly sprained the other ankle and broke toes on each foot. We have a raised ranch, with the living areas and bedrooms upstairs! It was a nightmare. I couldn't do stairs for weeks. Once I got upstairs with tons of help and pain meds, I couldn't go back down until I healed. I'm lucky that I teach and was off for time I needed to recuperate.

My next house will definitely be a ranch or a story and a half. I don't want to have to move because something happens and one of us can't do stairs anymore.

Just something to think about.


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gales Posted 18 Jan 2009 , 10:10pm
post #17 of 20

Ive lived in single storey (which we built ourselves) and double storey. Kids get used to stairs, teach the youngest to hold on to bannisters and shuffle down on their bottoms getting their feet firmly planted on the nest step down. I didn't get used to kids and friends of kids trampling all over the house, taking things outside that were meant to be indoors etc etc. With double story you can contain a lot of the mess etc to the downstairs areas. I had double doors between the living room and dining room. These could be left open for parties etc. and in the summer when we didn't need the fire on the rooms were sometimes interchanged. The lounge or living room became the dining room and vice versa. Two large laundry baskets, one for dirties that are loaded into the washer, one for cleans coming out of the dryer ready for ironing means you never fall over piles of washing. Store them in the biggest bedroom if you have nowhere else.

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mixinvixen Posted 19 Jan 2009 , 3:47am
post #18 of 20

since i'm not sure of your age, your location, or your budget, i'm just gonna throw some ideas out there that i have found to be helpful or awesome.

we just moved 6 months ago from our starter home. we lived there 8 years and brought our baby girl back to that home. it was 2500 sq ft, and was considered to be 1 1/2 stories. basically a one level, all brick home with a bonus room upstairs. we'd still be living there if i didn't do cakes, and my husband didn't collect star wars memorabilia. we just ran out of room! i loved that our master bedroom was on one side and our daughters room and the guest bdrm was on the other side of the house. i loved the open floor plan (living room with 13 ft ceilings and a kitchen only seperated by a small half wall, which flowed on into the dining room.) it was a great house to have dinner parties in. our master bath was large with a seperate water closet, WHICH I HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!!

our new house has some wonderful features...i absolutely adore this house!! it actually has 4 levels, but the main features needed in a house are on the same level. it's confusing, but here's the breakdown. it's on a sloped lot, so we have a 3 car garage and basement on the lowest side. you enter into our exercise room which connects to a theater room. there is tons of storage everywhere, lots of closets! then you go up an L-shaped stairway and you're on the main level, which has 3 of the bdrms, 2 of the full baths, the kitchen, dining room, and master bdrm. it also has another garage, this one 2 cars. off of the side of the kitchen is 8 or so steps which leads to a bonus room (my cake studio) and then in the edge of that room is about 8 more steps which leads up to another bedroom (my supply room). the walk in attic is also up there. if you'd like to look at pics, you can go to my myspace page and see the real estate pics.

hope it helps with ideas!


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mixinvixen Posted 19 Jan 2009 , 11:29pm
post #19 of 20

sorry...as usual, i typed and the thread was killed. should know better by now to just keep my big mouth and fat fingers still.

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krysoco Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 3:45pm
post #20 of 20
Originally Posted by mixinvixen

sorry...as usual, i typed and the thread was killed. should know better by now to just keep my big mouth and fat fingers still.

WTH?? LOL You thread killer. You ought to be ashamed. J/J icon_lol.gif

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