A Sweet Life with Style

Motherhood || the life. the style. the joy.

Host an Airbnb How To

When Life is just – Life; After the Flood there is a Rainbow- Right?

This isn’t my prettiest post and it’s really not even my typical kind of blog post, but it is the reason for my lack of posting on here over the last few months.

This is a bit of a lengthy post, but I assure you, it’s a good one. So please follow along as I share this bumpy ride that we have been on for the last six months with our Lake House On Catalina.

Sometimes life is just life. Supposedly there is a rainbow after that infamous flood to indicate the endless love from above and that everything will be okay.
Well, I am out here looking to the skies for this glorious rainbow and I’m just not seeing it right now

Recently we turned our home of 15 years into an Airbnb. For those, that don’t know, Airbnb stands for Air-bed and breakfast and it is an online community marketplace that connects people looking to rent their homes with people who are looking for accommodations for lodging, stays and experiences.

It was a bold and slightly risky financial decision, but that we knew that it would pay off, as long as it went the way we planned. [insert evil laugh here, for this is when god laughs, ya know, the instant you make any concrete plans for anything specific in life]

A Little Back Story….

We absolutely loved our home. It is this adorable chalet with the entire front side of the house [or back-side, as I refer to it… although this is still up for debate. My husband claims that the money side, IS the front side. but whatevs] so the front side of the house is made completely of windows, looking out to this long peninsula strip of land over beautiful Lake Norman.

No view was dismal. At the end of this “yard” came a dock with a fully stocked Tiki-Hut [t.v. + all] and a boat. We made so so so many wonderful memories, inside and outside of this home. I mean, we had our first born out on the boat two days after we came home from the hospital. She probably had more naps in the pack-n-play outside than in.

But our family grew.

We expanded and became a family of five over a few short years. We knew that we could no longer fit into our beautiful, yet too tiny for living home. With two adults and three children, we were running out of space to live comfortably.

After several months of me “complaining” about the lack of space, my husband had this wonderful idea that we could move into another home with more space and rent out our “lake” home on Airbnb as a short term rental.
Several years ago I would have been like “ummm.. no thank you, I don’t want to give up this amazing view!” But after having to literally be outside with a newborn because there was no place for me to go inside with a crying babe, without waking other members of the family up, I was very keen on this idea.

We spent many nights and lunch breaks weighing the pros and cons of such a decision. We didn’t really want to make such a big move, but we knew that we needed to take some sort of action. We discussed how it would all work financially and what we would actually need to do. [WHICH, by the way if you think you have 20 hours of work to do on a project just go ahead and triple that estimate, to allot for the random things that come up while trying to complete said project! HA! ]

My first thoughts when this all came about were not 100% positive nor fully committed. I felt a little remiss about taking on such a task, because selfishly, I felt like as school was back in full swing, I could really get back to blogging [well, as full time as I could be with three kids], but committing to this course of action, would inhibit me from being able to do what I really want to do.

After a couple weeks of really talking about it, we decided that this was the right move for us to make. Sometimes you know that something is super risky and scary and kind of crazy but there is this feeling of serenity in your thoughts and actions that surrounds that decision. This is what I would say is the closest I feel to knowing that I am doing EXACTLY what that big person upstairs is leading me to do in life.

It just felt like exactly the right thing to do.

Work, Work, Work

Everything moved incredibly fast. We started looking at houses at the beginning of September and we were moved into the “new house”, as our almost 4 year continues to call it, at the end of October.

We needed to stay organized and on top of all that needed to be done, so I made a list for one house and another list for the other, along with several spreadsheets. It seemed like everyday more + more got added to each list.

I love this little notebook, such a great way to keep my life organized. I love that it has the month and date at the top. I got it here .

At first, we were only going to do a little touching up here + there but then realized that we had ALOT of work to do on our “lake home”.

It is actually quite astonishing, what you can get used to living with or without, when you are going, going, going all the time. I mean we had an unpainted piece of trim, from a repair, that was in our hallway for literally years! We just got used to it and it became like a blind spot.
Honestly, with three kids and running a household and participating in life, the old adage of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” really became “it it’s not pretty, but it works, then leave it!”

So needless to say, we had quite the workload ahead of us.

Late nights and more light nights. Annnd more late nights. We poured our blood sweat and tears into this home. There were many times where I thought “effff this bull honky I’m soooo over this, let’s just sell the damn thing. This is stupid. All of it. I hate it. I.am.over.it.” Then there were times when I was all in on a project, super excited and looking forward to the final reveal, only for that project to not come out as expected.

Like when I painted our cabinets and the top clear protective coat that I did not want to do apply, but felt compelled to complete the project 100%, completely ruined the paint job that I spent hours on. There was a lot of tears shed that evening.

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In spite of all those negative feelings, there were positive ones to match. We did pretty much all of the “upgrades” by ourselves, and that collective feeling of accomplishment and small success outweighed those other icky feelings towards this process.

If I think about it, my favorite part of this whole transition was probably the amount of time spent with my husband. In reality, it was the most consecutive time we have ever spent with each other and it was the best time we’ve ever had. We learned how to communicate better with each other and so much more. Those are the moments that really make me smile. .

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About that Plan…

I think I hear the Laughter from Above

Just like anything in life, deadlines passed and were shifted around.

Our goal for when we would put our home on Airbnb changed pretty much daily. We ended up making our listing live for individuals to book on December 14th.

On December 17th, we had someone booked for 15 days, arriving December 20th. That definitely lit a fire under our booties to finish up the details on this large task. Having someone book that quickly and for that length of time, really brought to light the reality of how awesome this could be and how it really was the perfect move to make. [figuratively + literally.]

We were doing great. We had pretty much every night in January – a month we didn’t even think we would get one night, booked.
February was just as promising.

The second week of February, we had a guest who was scheduled for a ten day stay. On the third day after their arrival we had an extremely rare pattern of weather. It was projected to rain so much and so abruptly, that they dismissed schools early due to possible flooding in our area and the surrounding counties.

I had told my husband that he needed to check on the house, because I wanted to make sure that the home was okay. After picking up our oldest up from school early, he went by the house and let me know that all was well over that way.

You know how you can get those feelings that something might be wrong. Well, I had one of those sneaky suspicions that in some crazy way, the house was in fact, being affected by this insane weather.

Given the current weather situation, I messaged our guests to ensure that they had everything they needed and asked that if anything was out of the ordinary to please let us know.

Well, about an hour after sending that message, our guest who was actually staying in the Airbnb due to their own local home flooding, had called to say that our beautiful Lake House on Catalina had flooded.
Ironic right? It’s literally like a verse from an Alanis Morisette song.

The guest sent me a video and I literally could not believe my eyes. There was an inch of standing water throughout the entire house.

My heart became heavy and as I sat on my vanity stool, alone in our bedroom and began to silently cry.

Literally all of our hard work that we put into this home for weeks straight, got washed away in less than three hours. I can’t describe the amount of sadness I felt when watching that video. Walking in and seeing the damage in person wasn’t any better.

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Thankfully there was only mud at the start of the house,
but the standing water went throughout the rest of the home.

Come to find out, not only did the house flood from the insane amount of rainwater in such a short amount of time BUT we also found an outside leak, that was funneling water toward the foundation of the house and directly filling into our newly finished bathroom through the brick wall itself.

This added several thousands of dollars to our flood damage repair,
including over 100 man hours to fix.

My husband is seriously a ninja because he did pretty much all of this repair all by himself! Seriously… he is amazingly talented, even outside of racing.

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The truly amazing part in all of this [that I can only attribute to god and life experiences], is the that I felt true gratitude in this chaotic poo storm.

Believe it or not, my first thoughts, after the initial sadness, was a feeling of being truly grateful that we were no longer currently living in that house and that we did have a dry home to live in.

I was also incredibly grateful for our amazing friends who helped without missing a beat and a company that stepped in right away to help with the flood damage repair. We were also lucky enough to have a guest that was extremely understanding. [as you would think most would be, but…but...]

Don’t get me wrong, I still felt very short in that gratitude. We, and by we I mean, like the entire household, had just finished having THE WORST case of the flu that we had ever experienced. As well as my husband was to start traveling for the start of the new NASCAR season the following weekend.
The timing was not the best and that frustrated me quite a bit, but in reality, it could have been much worse.

The workers at 123Flooring were extremely proficient and super nice. Every inch of flooring besides the kitchen + one bathroom had to come up. Carpet, wood planks and tile squares were ripped up and industrial dryers set up and running by late that night.

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While repairing the damage, we had A LOT more rain, and even snow + sleet. Which honestly, really kind of felt like god was just looking down laughing like “eh, they’ll figure it all out, we need this crazy weather right now”
It just seemed kind of silly that the weather would happen that way.

Thankfully, we did not have to cancel any bookings. We did however lose seven paying days from the guest that was residing in the house, when it flooded. Luckily, again, we were able to just block off those seven days and the following five before our next guests were to arrive.

It took almost 2 weeks to get The Lake House on Catalina back into being host ready. [Which was slightly defeating since we had just put in a solid full 4 months straight getting this home host ready!]

Besides having to fix the outside house issue, we had to take several steps before we could even put the furniture back into the home.

Basically the process involved first getting all of the furniture out, getting the wet + damaged flooring and other wet items out and then we could start the drying process.

Before making any flooring orders, even though, we knew the products we wanted, people had to measure the rooms, which took several days to do. Then, of course waiting for the order to come in is always an ordeal. This time was no different. I’ll spare you the details….

The carpet was installed a few days before our next guest arrived, but the other flooring we went with, had to be ordered as well and was not supposed to arrive until the day before our next check-in.
Whhhhich meant that they were still installing the floors the morning that our guests were to arrive.

Miraculously, we were able to get our guests checked-in at our typically
3 p.m. time!

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Clear Skies, or So We Thought

It’s in those moments, that I feel that god brings a husband and wife closer together. You can really truly focus on what is important. It humbles you. It takes you back and makes you realize HOW far you have really come.

It makes you realize that life just happens. These incidences + accidents aren’t personal attacks from a higher being up in the sky. They aren’t the result of doing something bad or not doing something right, that you are being punished for. It’s just life being life. It just is.

I once heard, that if you and five other people put your problems into a big ole pot, mixed it around and gave it a look, everyone, including yourself, would gladly take their own problems right back.

So when I feel like life is just too much, or “it’s just not fair” *stomps foot*, this is when I have to remember that life is just life and it is literally just as simple as that.

With this mindset, we were feeling pretty good about how it was all going, had learned to accept our financial losses and our educational life lesson gains.

We were ready to see that rainbow…

and then,

just more life…

As many of you are very aware and experiencing yourself, the Corona Virus busted in + altered our way of life faster than America broke political affiliations and joined forces for team #freejoeexotic.

[For those that don’t get that reference,
please read What is ‘Tiger King’ and why is everybody watching it right now?]

We felt the effects of Covid-19 almost instantaneously.
My husband’s race got postponed that first weekend, my daughter’s spring break got extended another week and we had about eight – 8 cancellations in a matter of days.

It was quite the gut punch.

Once our state postponed schools until May 15th and subsequently made the Stay at Home order, we quickly realized how this was going to effect everyone, not only in current life being put on hold, but also have a major impact financially for pretty much everyone down the road.

Which would include our new means of income based solely on people traveling, vacationing and experiencing new + traditional activities around our local Lake Norman area.

It was at this point that we really started questioning what we had done for the last 6 months. Did we really make the right decision in moving? Did we correctly invest a ton of time + money and sanity in the right direction of life?

We shifted + adjusted our focus again, and decided to direct our attention to longer stays. Those that need a place to stay in between homes or for those that need a safe place to retreat while living this quarantine life.

But once again, as in like, just two days ago, we had another booking cancel.
A 11-day booking at that.
A one third of the mortgage payment booking…

So… it brought us back to the same question that most are thinking…

What are we going to do? What are we supposed to do?

For us, it’s should we keep going? Should we just sell the whole thing and be done?

Flash back to those moments where we were weighing the pros and cons of making this whole endeavor work. I remember distinctly asking my husband, ‘What if something COMPLETELY out of our hands happens, what we will do then?” ha. again…“Isn’t it ironicDon’t you think?”

Well, to be fair, no one really plans for a world wide pandemic to occur shortly after making a business investment.
PLUS we did have funds set aside for accidental and godly acts, but that was all used up in our flooding escapade. *sigh*

So at this point. What do you do?
How do you know what action to take.
Do you take any action at all? Do you move forward or do you just give up and give in…

How do you know something is the right thing when all the right things seem to keep going wrong?

My mind, our mind really starts to question if we should even keep on keeping on.

What I have decided, is that, this is a crazy time for everyone.

We are all literally in the same boat.

The Rainbow WILL Appear, Just not in Our Time Frame

I have decided and accepted, that it is okay if we don’t have the answers or know how to solve all the [new] problems that seem to arise daily. I don’t have to see the rainbow right at this moment.

I do truly believe that everything happens for a reason.
So I need to trust that belief and act on that belief.

Which means that I have to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and doing what I believe to be the next right thing.
And sometimes that boils down to the bare basics of just getting up, brushing my hair + teeth and taking care of my family.

If I keep doing those small things, that I know I can do, then eventually that rainbow will appear.

In the mean time, while we all wait for that magnificent rainbow to appear, if you don’t mind sharing this post and our Airbnb link that would be oh so wonderful of you!

Our home is ideal for anyone that is in need of a place to chill in between home purchases, is in search of a temporary place to live or even just a place to get away from their quarantine partner!


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  1. Hey Ashley! Miss you guys and your beautiful house! I loved the article, and all of the stories that come with this one-of-a-kind house!

  2. Such a wonderful way to look at an unprecedented time. Hats off to you, Dave and Team Elenz! Love you guys.

  3. Life is so funny! One minute you think that you finally have a handle on things and the next minute you get your ass handed to you! Ugh! So sorry about all your troubles, but what an amazing adventure turning your house around and all those skills that you learned!

  4. I love this! Its never easy renovating a home, but the finished product is always worth it

  5. I used to live in NC, just a bit north of Winston.
    I remember thinking it was crazy when my son (he stayed with his dad when I moved back to Canada) said schools were let out due to potential flooding.

    Things will work out, they always do!
    Stay safe.

  6. Wow. What a story. You guys put in so much work into your beautiful house and to have the weather and now the virus. I can’t even imagine.

  7. I really hope that it picks back up and people start traveling and visiting again. Love what you did with the home and it looks like an amazing place to stay. Good luck!

  8. Wow! What a beautiful home. I’m so sorry for your misfortune. But your outlook is incredible! Great things are in store for you and your family in the future.

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