Monday, October 31
Boys were not bathed (but were soaked and scrubbed thoroughly this morning! Ew!)
Supper at the Waffle House. Yum. Have I neglected to mention that there is a Waffle House just a four minute drive from the house? Talk about serendipity!
The Chimney Guy comes on Thursday and that will tell us whether we can camp out there next weekend or not. I hope we can, as we need the extra working hours. The boys would think it's a riot, too. If, however, he tells us that he wouldn't smoke a cigarette near that chimney and we need to fill it with concrete and never speak of it again, well, then that's okay, too. It just means I get to call Northern Tool and buy a cast iron wood burning stove for the living room. *evil cackle*
Kiss those babies!
Saturday, October 29
I love that he'll do that. We won't ever be able to snuggle exactly like that again, with the sun coming through the slats at just that angle, with just that gentle morning glow illuminating three small pairs of smiling eyes. The smell of little children, the feel of their downy hair, the giggles and grumbles as they burrow like Very Large Rodents under the various corners of the comforter... tomorrow they'll be a day bigger. Tomorrow will be special, as well, but it won't be today. I'm glad for today.
And then it was off to work!!
Zorak headed out, hitched up the house a bit and decimated the subflooring that has caused me no end of grief. If I thought for one minute I could talk him into it, I'd buy him a Roman Gladiator outfit to wear while he works...
The boys and I ran to the store, then to our Wonderful Neighbors' home. We reconned the place for them, set off bug bombs, took some pictures, and headed to the FH. On the way out of their place, I noticed that the road directly across from their house leads straight to ours! A bridge is out right now, so it's closed, but that'll make the distance even less once it reopens! What fun!
At the house, the boys played. The boys worked. The boys ate like little men and sucked down Gatorade with a satisfying sigh. Zorak worked. I worked, then cleaned, then worked. Then cleaned. Then realized I was doing the equivalent of mopping the entryway to Graham Central Station in a blizzard and quit.
I did have to rest a bit today - don't know if it was dehydration, exertion, or random misalignment of the cosmos, but I felt a bit crampy and sore. So I sat in the Comfy Mommy Office Chair and spun in circles for a while. Then I lined up the big boys with hammers and directions to "give a little smack" to the nails along the floor joists. Oh, man, that's pretty fun! James said, "This is like playing whack-a-mole, but the moles aren't very smart." Smidge needed a job, too, but I'm not having that many hammers flying in all directions (two eyes = two hammers, no more). I set him to gathering the screws Zorak took from the kitchen floor and gave him the magnetic dish to keep them in. Wow, who knew? Another raging success in the Work-is-FUN category! They got a lot done, and I didn't feel like too much of a sluggard.
We stopped work around seven to hit the feed trough (aka - buffet, Chinese/Mexican buffet this time! Not a combination I'd have written the business plan for, but it was really quite good!) We thoroughly enjoyed eating together, telling stories, praising the boys for a Day Well Done. It's a good way to end the day.
Zorak headed back to the house to work a bit more. The boys and I came home. They're in desperate need of bathing, so I was in a mad rush to get back before they all passed out. Alas, tonight, they are snuggled in, out cold, and still in depserate need of bathing. It'll keep. They can shower in the morning - and then do it all over again! YES!
I think next weekend we might be able to camp out at the house! That'll mean no blogging, but it'll also mean a WHOLE LOTTA WORK. And a Very Cool Experience. All the way around, it'll be good.
It is SO coming together!
Kiss those babies!
Friday, October 28
We ran home so I could shower and change, then Zorak picked us up and we headed out to the house to put the jack posts in and get things secured. We had supper on the porch. We stoked the fire and watched the sparks as if they were the most beautiful July 4th celebration ever. We managed to lift the floor 1/4 of an inch (and will now give it 24 hours to settle before lifting more). That was good. Exhausting, but good. (See? I told you it got better!)
Zorak tried to get an AL driver's license, but that didn't go so well. After waiting there for three hours, they told him they wouldn't get to him that day and sent him packing. Argh. Talk about frustrating!
However, he did have time while waiting to hop across the street to where there was a mongo yard sale. He's not a big yard saler, really, so imagine my surprise when he called me from there to see if I was nearby... Because he'd found a table and chairs he wanted me to see. Hmmm.... I whipped the Suburban around, got mildly lost two or three times (still learning the ropes, or something like that), and pulled up to find a yard sale that could be seen from outer space.
The table is solid wood (probably pine, but it's THICK, THICK wood). It has four chairs, and a full-length bench! This is exactly, precisely, specifically, to-the-gnat's-netheregions, what I've wanted to put in the kitchen!! Serendipity! Joy! The chairs are stout, heavy, strong, and well-made. The set is exquisite (although the finish is very dark, so that'll come off... You know, when we need a project to do around the house). The Piper's Fee for such a sweet deal? $40. And we have the pickup to load it into! Happy, happy day!
Tomorrow begins The Remodel, Day Way Too Close For Comfort. I'm getting a bit nervous, and it's killing us that we don't have Our People, or Our Places to call on. Community is a good, good thing, and something it's easy to take for granted until it's not available. But it's okay, we will probably always be doing something interesting, and we will not always be New To The Area. That's such a comforting thought - this is the last time we'll have to be New! See? Another good thing!
Ooo, and on that note, I think Zorak just had an epiphany. I'm going to go pick his brain.
Kiss those babies!
No pictures of the house tonight, but here are a few shots of
The Reason We're Doing This...
The pre-flight checklist...
The joy of takeoff!
The space to enjoy a hard-earned break...
The opportunity for a little communing with nature... and books...
It's easy to have fun when this is your motivation...
Kiss those babies!
Thursday, October 27
It was a small bathroom (5'x8'). When the door was open, it cleared the toilet by less than an inch (never open that door if someone might be sitting!!) The vanity was just to the left of the door (the 5' is the depth as you look in, and the 8' was the width). The vanity took up all the space from the wall to the door jamb, front-to-back, side-to-side ~ a vast expanse of counter with one lone sink in the middle. The toilet was *right there* to the right of it, in front of the door. The tub was hidden behind the door when the door was open, and the tub spanned the width of the bath on the far right-hand side. That was it. Step in, scootch one hiney cheek onto the vanity counter so you can shut the door, and then step into the tub. Small, compact, and considering everything (except for the rot and such) pretty efficiently laid out for the space constraints.
What we've done/are doing now:
1) That door? Gone. Putting in a pocket door so we don't hog space in the bath or seal off the hallway. Yay!
2) Everything else is gone, down to the joists and studs now. The back wall to the right, which housed the back of the tub, was removed and a new one built a foot farther out. That took a foot from the fourth bedroom, but eh, we'll use the bathroom more often than a fourth bedroom. No regrets, there.
3) The 24" deep, single sink laminate vanity will be replaced by a 22" deep marble twin sink vanity. We'll have to shave a half inch off the ends of the top to make it fit in the 5' space, but that's better than going with one sink instead of the two we'd really like (there'll be a lot of people at the sink every day for the next umpteen years). To get a double sink in a solid surface counter that isn't custom made *cha-ching*, it has to be just a hair over 60", minimum. We're shaving the hairs off right at 60", so we're getting creative. This will give us just a bit more cubic space at the entrance, double sinks, a solid surface counter, and I can get a stock 60" vanity cabinet to put in there. WOOHOO!
4) Toilet. Well, it's a toilet. I know there are myriad options, but this isn't one I wanted to wrestle. It's going to catch urine. The urine of four teenaged boys. And their friends. We went with the one-piece toilet, for obvious reasons. :-)
5) Bathtub/shower. I started with the standard, "what'll fit in there that's in stock?" approach. Zorak, however, had other plans. I like his plans much better than mine. I do love a bath. I do love a deep bath wherein I don't have to roll from side to side to keep warm. Bless him for thinking of that. We'll use the tub/shower combo daily. It's a good investment. And there's already a second shower via the master bath, which is going to get the whomperdine Tuscan Villa Resort treatment in the spring sometime. *cheesy grin*
6) Flooring. It was molded (as in green, not decorative) vinyl over rotted MDF. Lovely, cushiony sensation to walk on, but not much to look at. Not terribly inspiring for those with a chronic fear of falling through the floor, either. We have to jack the floor up about 1/2" over the next few days (another surprise, but not too bad - we'll work in the kitchen while the house is getting it's, erm, tummy tuck). When that's done, we'll put in tile flooring.
*decadent sigh* This is so. much. fun. hee hee. Although, honestly, I much prefer the planning over the shopping. Ugh. Too many faucet choices. Too many things to consider that I didn't ever think about considering (and would rather not start now, but there's that whole "matching accessories" thing going on in there...) However, when you find the CSR at Home Depot or Lowe's who really enjoys the projects and his area of expertise, it's quite painless.
Oh, Lighting. Lighting has me a bit stumped. I think we'll go with a sealed, recessed canister light in the ceiling over the bath/toilet area. And I'd prefer to do the side-lighting on the vanity than the glaring overhead circus bulbs we've always lived with. However, with such a span, I'm not sure if maybe we'll need lighting in the middle, too? I don't. It's tempting to buy eight dozen of those round touch lamps and hook 'em all up to The Clapper or something. Something that doesn't require more shopping in order to plan. *grin*
Anyhow, that's the thing on the bathroom. It's not "This Old House" quality remodeling, I'm sure. But it's ours. And it's safe now. Y-a-y.
(Patty, the back deck is a prime spot for a hot tub!! It's not in the immediate future, but it's on the map, definitely! Mmmm, that sounds so heavenly right now...)
Thank you for sharing your great ideas and suggestions and - as always - cute stories. This is a fun phase in our life right now, but it's exhausting. So it's nice to come home at the end of the day, plop down with a cup of coffee and enjoy being greeted by your comments and emails. Thanks!
Kiss those babies!
It's a really great looking tub, and that's a lot of room (you could pile four children, or two adults in there quite easily)...
but there's not a lot of room in the room...
Other than that, a quiet day, and as you can see, it's well after midnight. I'll blog more over coffee in the morning.
Kiss those babies!
Tuesday, October 25
That was nice! I hesitate to say it aloud, but I think we might be getting into... you know, that thing... that's like a rut... only... Not Bad. (Starts with a G, but don't say it!)
I'm amazed the difference going to bed before three AM makes. I've actually been hitting the hay around midnight, giving me a solid six hours sleep. That most likely has a lot to do with the new flow to our days. Or at least, my new flow. The boys are their typical rowdy, frolicking, playful, happy selves. I'm just no longer grouchy with them about it. This might be worth making a habit, eh?
You will not believe this, but we did math today. That makes two days IN A ROW that we've done both Language Arts and math! We almost feel productive. *sheepish grin* The boys also had several spurts of independent reading, which was nice, as I hopped on the bookwagon and did some of my own, as well. (Currently reading The Oxford Book of Gothic Short Stories and Don Quixote. Finished Quicksilver, and am reminded why I swore after finishing the Aubrey-Maturin series that I would not pick up another book with sequels. Now I have to go back to the library and try to find the second book.)
Lunch was yummy: rice with broiled pork chops and sliced apples. Supper was easy tonight: roast in the crockpot with 'taters, pintos with garlic, sliced cucumbers, and for dessert - ice cream with sprinkles! The roast came out like prime rib! I felt like I could take on Betty Crocker herself and only get mildly whooped.
James improvised a "new knot" today, then tried it out by making hammocks to sling from the top bunk. They worked! The boys spent a good four hours of the day suspended, swinging freely between the beds. It was like a gargantuan butterfly garden at hatching time!
Zorak is back out at the FH, doing his thing. Tomorrow he'll take a break and take the boys to Pioneer Club so I can pester the Lowe's guy on faucets and bathtubs a bit more. That's just not something best done with children in tow, so I truly appreciate the reprieve!
And here it is, a little after eight - the house is clean, the boys are all asleep, laundry's caught up... I'm going to go play!
Kiss those babies!
Monday, October 24
The boys and I ran errands this morning after the dentist's visit. They were wonderfully helpful and have been so patient with all the upheaval. Then, for a special treat, we headed to a matinee to see Wallace & Grommit. YIKES! It has, evidently, been a long, long time since we've been to the theater! The cost of taking the four of us to a matinee was more than I'd have anticipated for taking all five of us to an evening show. No wonder Netflix is so popular! However, you'd have thought the boys had fallen through the Looking Glass and into some magic land. It was worth it. The boys wanted to sit Up Front. Oh, I've never been able to understand my poor mother quite so well... *sigh* So we started out in the front row, and within a few seconds everyone voted to scootch back. I'm glad it was their suggestion, and I have no idea how in the world I could ever stand sitting *that close* to the screen!!
We'd talked ahead of time about some of the inappropriate things they might see in the movie, and at one point James did lean over and whisper, "I'm glad you warned us about that. It would have been embarrassing if we weren't prepared for it." Yeah, I know. But in all, the movie was cute. We got a lot of laughter out of it, so it was good. It was a bit loud - for all of us - and pretty overwhelming for Smidge (although he sat in my lap and laughed quite a bit).
Zorak is out at the Forever Home tonight, doing a little solo work. He called a while back to say it was coming along nicely. I think he's enjoying the process, and that time alone is good stuff, really. There's just something very fulfilling, I think, for a man to tend to his own home - a sense of satisfaction in making it not only safe, but nice for his herd. The upkeep, hearth-warming, bookshelf-stocking, and general sustenance are my realm, but this - the roots and foundation building - this speaks to his desire to provide in so many ways. I love seeing him this happy. (And on a purely selfish note, I truly adore being the recipient of his love and the focus of his desires. I'm so blessed!)
Oh! Big News!! Our Wonderful Neighbors From AZ, Ben & Claudia, closed on their house today! They're now Alabama homeowners, and I had to giggle when she called because my first thought was, "The commune gathering has begun!" Yay!! They were still waiting for a moving van to come available when last we spoke today (because, you know, reservations mean nothing in that world...) I don't envy them the move, but boy, oh boy, are we excited for them to be close again!
That's about it. We enjoyed a day of reading, talking, working and playing. We hugged and giggled a lot. It was good. It was Intentional and wonderful. Oh, it was also COLD, so the boys got to wear their new coats Aunt B sent them. Everywhere we went, the old guys gravitated to them to comment on their "cowboy gear" (the coats are these awesome, tan suede-like coats w/ cream fleece lining, cuffs and collars - very cool, indeed!) The boys simply beamed and beamed. We sure do appreciate it when strangers find a kind word and a smile to share with the little ones. I don't know if they know how much it means... or perhaps they do. Sure makes the days a bit brighter, regardless.
And since Winter simply refuses to wait for me to get on it and finish those scarves, I think I'll take this opportunity for a little quiet time to do some knitting (haven't sworn in twenty or so rows!!)
Kiss those babies!
"calibre" is not the correct word, referencing the .22's mentioned in yesterday's post. It is actually the "Super Colibri .22", and is available from Aguila. They rock. They're seriously quieter than you would ever expect, and are a lot of fun to shoot.
I apologize for winging it on the spelling.
Sunday, October 23
Zorak then proceeded to finish replacing the rotted boards, chalking the line for the new wall, planning venting. (Side note: were you aware that every drain is supposed to have a corresponding vent? Sinks included. We've ripped out a lot of sinks before and have yet to see one - this house is no exception- but it's true. One of the things a vent will do is prevent other drains from gurgling when you flush, drain, or run water in your pipes. The more ya know...)
I ripped up carpet and padding in the study and dismantled the erstwhile coat closet turned* utility room. It's ready for framing the last wall and will get subfloor and rough-in during the week. It's going to be strange to see the house with internal walls again someday.
While Smidge napped, the boys explored the Joys of Flight. There's a swinging monkey bar on their swingset and I guess they tired of leaping from the swings themselves because suddenly James came galloping up the steps, shouting, "I FLEW!! And I SAT in THIN AIR!" He was so proud (and wasn't bleeding), so we congratulated him and went back to work. Not ten minutes later, James came bolting into the house shouting, "John tried to fly, but gravity kicked in and he's HURT!" Well, John was up and walking, but a bit bruised and obviously uncomfortable. It seems their flying scheme involved the same stunts tried by children of every generation since the invention of the monkey bars: hang by some appendage, start swinging, and let go at the height of your swing! They don't even have playmates to teach them these things on the school grounds! Some curiosities are simply genetically ingrained, and we comfort ourselves with the knowledge that if it weren't for that drive, man would still be using the donkey cart for transport and crossing oceans on the occasional land bridge rather than by boat or plane. The sound barrier would still be unbroken, and our world would not be as rich as it is.
We sat for a while and I told them a Mommy story about my exploits on the monkey bars when I was a little girl. Within a few minutes, the tears had dried and been replaced by giggles, snickers, and all-out guffaws. Soon, they were off to perfect their landings and I meandered back into the house feeling like I'd just glimpsed something pretty special, thankful that it didn't include capes or a trip to the ER.
The boys played and played and played. Then they came in for snacks and a movie. The movie picking session wasn't your Classical Homeschooler's media event daydream. Among the selections from which to choose were such classic titles as Pollyanna, Old Yeller, The Adventures of Huck Finn. The choice? By unanimous vote (even Smidge raised his hand in the air and said, "Me! Me!") they picked Tom & Jerry. Well, for five bucks and an hour's peace, I am SO good with that. Plus, we don't have any problems with these cartoons. We enjoyed them as kids. (And we've had The Talk about anvils and, on a similar vein, ordering anything, ever from ACME.) Charlotte Mason can help me bridge the gap after we're moved in. Right now, we're in survival mode.
Wow. The video is about an hour long, and they did not stop laughing. At all. James had tears running down his cheeks more than once. John was laughing so hard he choked. Smidge giggled so hard, for so long, that he had to lay on the sleeping bag. The laughter was so non-stop that Zorak and I found ourselves chuckling three rooms away; not because of the video, but because of the boys. That was five bucks well spent.
We threw out more stuff, pulled more nails than I can count. It was a wonderfully productive day. Then, to unwind a bit and provide a little cheap entertainment (because little boys, and big boys, love to see things explode) we took one of the commodes out to the field... and shot it. The calibre .22's aren't tough enough to do any damage to it, but your basic .22LR will do the trick on the tank. Even those will only chip the bowl, though, so we'll take the shotgun out next time. (Yes, shooting is legal out where we are. We checked first.)
We dined at Chez Taco Bell, enjoyed a wonderful evening together, and the boys were comatose by the time we pulled into the apartment parking lot at eight. It was, truly, a great day.
Kiss those babies!
*edited b/c Jess pointed out that I hadn't used the, erm, best term to post on the 'net. *blush* Thanks for watching my back while I'm too tired to think straight!*
~The Demolition Crew
Friday, October 21
***Pause here to do my Caddyshack gopher dance!!!***
We had to yank the entire master bath today. The shower came out and it was worse under there than we'd anticipated (if you can believe that). I think we wriggled something else loose, too, because then the sink began spewing water and we figured we'd might as well yank it all out. Let it dry. Work on it tomorrow. While it wasn't what we'd hoped to do today, it was on the radar anyway. So, better now, and we have more room to maneuver and work. So, it's good.
Our construction dumpster *finally* arrived this afternoon! We've had some serious Bad Neighbor action building up on the front porch, the balcony, and in the living room, and were running out of places to put the torn out materials, so its arrival today was cause for celebration. The driver was great! The boys had a blast watching him drop the container from the truck, and he showed them how it all works. Good stuff, there. And I'm so thankful he could get over the culvert! WooHoo!
The boys are really hanging in there. They love, love, LOVE the pickup and spent a great deal of time hanging out in the bed for snacks and Just Because. They also spent several hours throwing tile off the balcony into the dumpster that finally arrived. We threw the tub in and made that the "target" for them to aim for, and it was definitely a fun-filled time! They did great, and the front porch is nearly cleared off now (I kept their ammo fresh by bringing the stuff out in a wheelbarrow).
Zorak had to throw the big stuff overboard. I tried one, and while it wasn't too heavy to lug up 'n over, it did catch on my belly on the way up. I'm not terribly coordinated at the best and thinnest of times, but this thing really seems to jut out there. So, Em and I decided we'd rather go hang out with Spartacus and do subfloor duty. :-)
Oh, guys, it's starting to look So. Good.
And FALL IS COMING! (Yes, yes, I know it's been "fall" for a month.) There are little spurts of red and orange popping up on the property. The sunlight filters through the leaves so beautifully, and there's been a (yay!) breeze all day! It was all I could do not to grab a blanket and a cup of coffee and curl up on the balcony to stare into space. (Well, and my aversion to getting beaned by toppling acorns helped curb that desire a bit, too... what is the velocity of an acorn at the end of a 40' fall, anyhow?) Oh, but it is a gorgeous time of year to gut a house!
Zorak needs the computer to do a little HomeWork, and I've got to go hose off and pamper myself with a little reading before bed. Tomorrow is a big, big day! Yay!
Kiss those babies!
Oh, I almost forgot. I think Zorak lost it today. We went to lunch at a quaint little diner in town. (It is THE only sit-down restaurant in our town.) As usual, the boys attracted a lot of attention, and as usual, at least one person just had to ask if we've figured out what causes that yet. Zorak laughed and said, without missing a beat, "Of course! Why do you think we have so many?" I nearly choked on my okra, but the Questioner laughed heartily -- and stopped asking cliche questions. GO ZORAK!
Today was significantly more Intentional than yesterday, and we all felt the difference. I am so thankful for today, as it regenerated our spirits, soothed our rough edges, and infused us with a renewed enthusiasm for the coming days' work.
Today we read counting stories to Smidge; we sang Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to Emily (at least that's what we think we'll be calling her); the boys and I explored the world of genetics and albinism, the realm of the whales, and the mysteries of numbers. Today the boys and I talked more, touched more, laughed more, and played more than we have all week. We also did an inordinate amount of laundry, general housework, cooking, and baking (wheat free gingerbread cookies!!) I got more sleep last night, which made a tremendous difference. The boys took their time savoring the delicious parts of the day, and sharing them with us. That was nice, as well.
Tomorrow begins another round of frenetic activity. This weekend is a big push. I'm not sure what we need to have accomplished by Sunday evening, but it looks pretty big from the sketches we've done so far. It's a little scary, and I know that we've undertaken a truly astronomical task, considering the circumstances, but it's still do-able, and still quite thrilling. And we've only got three weeks and one day to have it in a condition which will allow inhabitation. Eek. That's both good news and really, really scary news! Since I'm fairly well-rested at the moment, it seems brighter than it might otherwise feel. Remind me of this Sunday night, when I'm dead on my feet and convinced we'll have to live in the basement for the next ten years, ok?
All is well, but I promised myself I'd get to bed at a "decent hour" tonight, and well, that has long since passed... so, to bed.
Kiss those babies!
Wednesday, October 19
I didn't sacrifice my moral standards to make a sale, either. After a while, people even stopped making me stand by the Amway/Quikstar folks at social functions and welcomed me back among the living. But I do understand why, as a general rule, car salesmen carry the stigma of a leper in polite society:
They just have to push those envelopes. Just have to. The sales and management staff are the mental equivalent of a showroom full of four year olds who reach for the cookie jar not five seconds after you told them "no". They know better. You've told them better. But they just. have. to. try.
And that, honestly, pisses people off.
Zorak is in Georgia right now, yes, at nine o'clock at night, seething pretty heavily.
He's been in the market for a pick up that would work well as a commuter, and also for hauling materials for the house. He's been looking for over a year. We have the cash, but wanted to finance it to help build our credit and keep assets fluid for the remodel of a home. (We've always known we'd have to remodel whatever we bought, so we just counted on it.)
Today he found one. He researched the vehicle. He called the dealership. He asked all the right questions, including the phrase "out the door". They couldn't finance the vehicle (older truck, low price), so he arranged his own financing in a matter of minutes, called the dealership back to let them know he's on his way (198 mi. one-way drive), picked up the cashier's check and headed out.
Of course, once he got there, took it for a drive, ascertained that there's not a frightening amount of Bondo on the thing, etc. He said he'd take it... and they broke out the Alpine Air, the charge for tires, doc fees, etc. It came in much higher than the out-the-door price he'd been quoted.
Yes, I'm sure they thought he'd be an "easy lay", as the term goes for pushover customers. He's very nice, and does not come across as confrontational. But come ON, people. If you want someone to bring the money to pay for your little stunts, ya might wanna let them in on it to begin with. Personally, I'd have ridden them a bit on the sales price, to begin with, and then we'd have had a throw-down over the details later. But Zorak is very upfront, very honest, and right now, he's very pissed. He is tired, he is cold, and he would much rather get back on the road to come home before midnight than sit there in studville (aka the showroom) and haggle like he's buying a blanket in Mexico.
Out. The. Door. That means, literally translated, "What, precisely, are you going to take from me, down to the last penny, so that I can walk out the door with a vehicle?" *sigh*
Poor guy just wants a pickup.
I just want my husband home, safe and sound.
So then he could kiss the babies, too...
****Update: He did lay it on the table and tell them to either make it work or give him the check back. He's driving home in the pickup, but had to go to Wal-Mart to buy a ramp because they're mad and wouldn't help him load the bike into the bed of the truck. I'm so glad he didn't have to use those insulated coveralls tonight!****
I didn't blog about our Normal Day because it was... well, pretty Normal. We wandered around a bit. We read a stack of books in bed, then headed off to the table to have snacks and make sock puppets and cards. We ate. A lot. We caught up on laundry, read and talked some more.
Part of the deal was that there were to be no overalls that day. The older two and I wore sweats and loved it. Smidge kept hauling his overalls from the closet and trying to get into them. Then he'd stand at the door and cry, "House!" Hmmm. We snuggled in informal shifts and spent a lot of time feeling like we ought to be doing something over at the house. The boys commented on it. I agreed. When Zorak came home from work, however, he wanted to run to the house for "a couple of hours" (alone), but I think the choking noise emanating from my throat hinted to him that it would probably be better if he'd take bath duty and let me find a dark corner to hide in for a bit. It was a good day, but boy, oh boy, it was draining. I think I need a few hours of q-u-i-e-t. That might help.
After the dentist appointments this morning, Zorak headed back to work (bless him for helping me herd the kittens at the doctor's!) and the boys and I headed to Costco. We needed food, in a bad way. One simply cannot go two weeks straight in a household of five without ever setting foot in a market, and expect there to be food in the house at the end of those two weeks. That is the official result of our experiment, anyway. So, we splurged. We had a great time. We got smoothies on the way out and laughed and giggled. We do very well when we're on-the-go, I've noticed. Anyone else do that? It'll be nice when we do just as well on-the-couch, though.
And this evening, we loaded everyone up and worked on the house for a few hours. Zorak finished removing the bathroom wall (we are moving it over 12"), and I hung out in the living room with Spartacus doing subfloor duty. The house no longer smells!! A great deal of the persistent odor that's refused thus far to subside seems to have been the cat urine/bong water soak the previous owners had put into the carpets. It's like Carpet Fresh for the socially deranged! The house is also harboring a lower relative humidity than it's probably had in at least a decade: the balcony door is splitting! We're keeping it to use as our humidity gauge. Now we just need some enigmatic liquidy substance we could use as a barometer and we're set.
The Dumpster Guy is bringing us a construction dumpster tomorrow. We can get the toilet out of the front yard now! WooHoo! (The neighbors were starting to get a little worried, I'm sure.) Tomorrow Zorak will head down to do his rough plumbing calculations greek greek greek mostly greek to me. The boys and I will head to church for Pioneer Club. The decision to keep the boys in PC while all this is going on has been a Very Good Decision, and while it's not-so-great to lose an evening of work, it's worth far more for the boys to have that positive consistency each week. Good stuff.
Pickles and Ice Cream, anyone? Poor (wonderful) Zorak is at Wal-Mart as I type, trying desperately to find a body pillow for me (and it sounds like tonight's excursion will not end with a pillow, either - who knew body pillows were considered "seasonal"???). I'm going to hit the hay, anyway, and get some shut-eye. If I go now, I might get an extra pillow from his side of the bed without much of a struggle! :-)
Kiss those babies!
Monday, October 17
Then I'd see a picture of me in that outfit. The tangible results were shockingly different than the rose-colored vision I carried around. It was, in a word, horrid. The sweatshirt neckline does nothing for my head (or sweatshirts in general, for my body), and the jeans had that "yeah, I've lost about eighty pounds, but don't want to buy new clothes until I know the weight's going to stay off" hang to them. No matter how nicely the hair/makeup/nails were done, this outfit just screamed, "I do not care what happens to me!" No wonder Zorak never beamed lustily at me when I donned my Happy Suit. It probably wasn't such a Happy Thing for him to have to be seen in public with me in it, and he showed no remorse when the sweatshirt received it's culling from the herd.
Well, I've found a new Happy Suit. And, I fear, it probably does about as much for me as that last one did, but darnit, I just don't have to be photographed when I've got it on. But I do plan to live in it until Spring, just because. It's soft. It's fuzzy. It's roomy. And it's probably ugly, too, but that's okay. I got some great jeans to go with it...
Sunday, October 16
Today was a short day, filled with unexpected surprises. Some good, some wretched. First, though, Carolyn, good question! The shower is actually still in there. We haven't the energy or the heart to tackle it yet. From what we can best figure, though, the shower is held in place by the lathe that squeezed through to the studs and insulation on the back. That also seems to be quite the hoppin' joint for the pill bug colonies, so (and we are completely making this up) we're guessing they found the most secure spot in the walls to hang out? Plus, there's plenty of archaeological, erm, evidence to suggest that other "cultures" have camped there before, as well. It's just gross. I'm thinking we should fill that room with cement and turn our back deck into a master bath!
Today was a Big Day for our marriage: Zorak topped his all-time Most Romantic Gift Ever, knocking my arm guard from its ten-year standing in First Place, by presenting me with a Spartacus Bar for pulling up the subfloor. (I've provided a link because a simple Google search will melt your eyeballs and then you'd never find my beloved wrecking bar. *blush*) For me, this is terribly romantic because it means he knows me well (ie. I hated not being able to get that floor up and offering to do it for me would have made me feel even more useless), he loves me to pieces (ie. but would rather have me all in one actual piece), and he is a wonderful provider and protector (ie. now my knees, arms, back, and hands don't hurt!) What could be more romantic than one gift that says all that?
So with Mighty Spartacus at hand, I was able to finish pulling up the truly horrible hallway subflooring (and all eight thousand nails holding it down) in a short day's work. The hallway looks better, and I'm ready to tackle the living room/kitchen space now!
Fortunately, that space is now ready to be tackled. The kitchen wall is non-existent, the ceiling is prepped for repairs, the linoleum is up, the carpet is up, and the layout is ready to make a dry run with panel-templates. (Might as well recycle the panels before we get rid of them, right?) The entire space has a completely different feel to it, and the house is beginning to show the promise of its end design. It still smells, but even that seems to be fading (or we're getting used to it, which is a deeply disturbing concept...)
The living space subfloor would have been done today, but for an incident that happened late this afternoon, which left us all shaken enough that we called it an early day and came home. I'll blog about it later, but not tonight. Everyone is fine, and we're all safe and healthy, not to worry. And, it was very nice to come home, bathe all three boys, enjoy dinner and a movie, and relax for a bit as a family.
We should be laying subfloor on Friday and ordering cabinets over the weekend! This week will be the plumbing and wiring week. I probably won't blog much of that unless Zorak spells it out in layman's terms for me. If someone out there is just painfully curious about the plumbing and wiring process, well, this is probably the wrong place to go for information. Cute boys? I can fix ya up. Wiring diagrams? Shyah, I still get excited when I can get my sketches to look remotely like what I'm talking about.
During quiet time tomorrow I need to call the County Guy, A Chimney Guy, A Glass Guy and the Dumpster Guy. Possibly the Rock Guy. I hope they answer their phones during nap time! Zorak has a convoluted list of his own to pursue. And the boys have cookies to bake. It should be a wonderful, exciting week.
Kiss those babies!
Saturday, October 15
The highlight of the day was when Zorak kicked through the wall adjoining the bathroom to the front bedroom. It was down to sheet rock when he got this gleam in his eye. He asked if I thought it would traumatize the boys too much if he jumped through the wall. Nah. We've done worse to them.
So we called them in to "come watch this wall, boys!" They stood by the back closet with me, watching the wall, when suddenly the drywall (long story, long, weird story about drywall even being in that room) flew from the wall and there was Daddy!! At first, Smidge didn't know what to think, but when he saw that the boys were awed and Mommy was laughing and clapping, he laughed. He still pointed to the wall and said, "Hey! HEY!" but he thought it was neat. If weird. James and John thought it was "sooooo cool!" They went on for quite a while about how Daddy is just like a Super Hero, and wow, they didn't know he was so strong! And of course, could they try it, too? SURE! Give it a shot! So three little boys went traipsing around the corner to give it the ol' heave-ho. Zorak lent a little hand and they managed to push down another piece of drywall, then bounded off feeling pretty darned impressive, if they did say so, themselves.
On the rest of it, we gutted The War Room (the front bedroom, which we plan to use as a base of operations, AKA "War Room", for the tactical planning aspect of the project) - ripped out the adjacent to the bathrooms wall, lost about an hour saying, "Ewwwww!" All of the plumbing aside from the kitchen has been removed, and we got a leg up on the subfloor in the hallway.
We determined that the interior walls that we want to move or remove are not attached to more than one ceiling joist (happy day!) Zorak removed what can only be described as a plethora of stuff from the Yucky Room in the basement and identified THE source of THE water in the basement (more happiness). He also discovered that our bath, the master bath, has no. floor. under. the shower. More "ewww" followed that discovery.
Just a tip for would-be DIY'ers. MDF (medium-density fiberboard) is not a good underlayment. It will soak up water like the wood-based sponge that it is. Wet MDF has the consistency of used coffee grounds. This is disgusting. While MDF is a wonderful product for Christopher Lowell Fans and decoupage projects, it makes a poor choice for underlayment. Plastic sheeting under the MDF will not, in fact, make it waterproof. And nailing the stuff down every two inches will not do the trick, either. Just. Don't. Do. That.
Where the subfloor hadn't reverted back to its free-particle state, the two-inch nailing pattern made it harder to get up than it would be to lift Michael Clark Duncan using a spatula. Lovely. Tonight, for the first time since we've begun this project, I am really sore.
There was more - slingshots, spiders, gravel, and BBQ. It was another good day, and now that Zorak has helped me list it all out, it wasn't too bad on the productivity scale, either. The boys and I are going to have a Normal Day on Monday - we're going to snack on the couch and read books all day in our sweats. We're all looking forward to that.
Kiss those babies!
Yesterday the bookshelves came off, and the kitchen wall is now see-through. I was giddy with anticipation as the first bit of wall came down and the sunlight streamed through into the living room. I made all manner of stoopid noises and bounced around singing, then bolted down the hallway to see if Zorak wanted, "to see something sexy". Without looking up, he said, "What, did you stab yourself with the wrecking bar again?" Um, no (although that is finally starting to heal, thanks)... It's beautiful! (The kitchen/living room combo, not the gangrenous looking bruise on my thigh.)
The hall bath is now down to only studs and prepped for plumbing. (PLUMBING! YEEHAW!). We can see the first two attempts someone made at putting in a toilet, and of course the final plumbing where the toilet eventually landed. The subfloor was so rotted that it looked like coffee grounds and had to be scooped up with a dustpan. That is a lot of urine and bathwater, folks. However, I think the field trip down the hallway to see what happens when little boys splash water out of the tub may have had an impact: the boys took their baths last night and got nary a drop out of the tub. *hee hee*
The carpet and padding in the hallway are up, insulation is out of the main living/eating spaces, and the place is looking incredible! I did have a bit of an "Oh. Dear. Me." moment when I pulled one of the threshold strips up on the taupe living room/hallway carpet, only to discover it's not actually taupe. It's original color is platinum white. Yeah. That's just wrong!
Oh, and the wall where *something* went horribly wrong? BONANZA!! I realized, while giving it more of my evil eye, that - hey - right there, where it's all framed in and nasty and coming apart? That's going to be a BAY WINDOW when we're done! I don't have to care about it anymore, because somebody ELSE gets to rip that out for me and put in a window. All I have to do is stand behind him with a six-pack and some fresh brisket and bribe him to do it well. HOT DAMN! That's a great feeling!
We lunched at Barnhill's Fry-For-All, where the boys with their overalls and bantering and voracious appetites attracted every senior couple in the place to our table to talk and visit and oogle them. The older two boys just beamed. Smidge hammed it up (that's what you do when you're two and have decided not to glare at people and say "no" all the time - two is actually a very fun age). The grandparently types shared their stories of children, grandchildren and greatgrandchildren, and it was just lovely. When we left, the boys got to the door, turned to say good-bye and the entire section we'd been sitting in waved and shouted back. (In a good way, not in a "wow, they're finally leaving" way.)
John and Smidge crashed for a long summer afternoon nap in the car, which left James free to roam and discover. Suddenly I heard a rickety, metal-on-rock clanging sound and from outside came this wee voice shouting, "WOOOOHOOOOOO!" I poked my head out the window, and there was James, legs jutting out to the sides, one arm flailing in the air, riding his Little Red Wagon DOWN THE HILL. At this point, my mother tried to channel through me and force me to go stop him before he gets hurt. Thankfully, I sent her back and kept my mouth shut. Sure, he may hurt himself. Sure, that scared the pants off me. But that little boy, laughing and whooping it up, dragging his wagon from hill to hill to find just the right one for riding down, was a HUGE part of why we bought this place. My little man, who can be so very serious about everything, became a Little Boy in all it's danger-infused, creative glory. So I did what any mother would do when faced with this scene: I grabbed Zorak and we sat on the porch, side by side, watching him and basking in the warmth of knowing we've bought the right place. They can grow up here. They can explore here. There are adventures waiting to happen, and the room to go find them. This place is so very perfect for us.
And today looks like another busy day, so I'd better go round everyone up and head out there. Have a great Saturday!
Kiss those babies!
Friday, October 14
It doesn't take much longer to let a little one "help out" by carrying or loading or holding tools than it does to do it yourself. But that very little bit of extra time, or patience, or effort that it takes from you yields a very large benefit for the Little Helper.
It doesn't take a noticeably longer time to unload the car if you haul a not-really-sleeping child into bed, even if he could get up and walk. But the smile and giggle from his bed once he's safely tucked in and kissed will keep you warm all night.
It's so easy to fall into the trap of looking for the Big Changes, the Big Moves, the Big of the Big to really show the children that we love them, cherish them, and are there for them. But really, all we have to do is love them, cherish them, and be there for them. It really doesn't take long to make a Big Impact on a Little Heart.
Kiss those babies!
Will just have to try again tomorrow. I'm too tired, and there's a pecan log around here somewhere calling to me...
Kiss those babies!
Wednesday, October 12
Today was pretty much a wash. Did you know that if you don't have a local bank branch, your honey has hidden the checkbook and he has your debit card in his wallet, you cannot do diddly squat for errands? Yup. Well, not where I needed to go today. So, we drove around just long enough to realize we wouldn't be getting anything done and came home.
Zorak wanted to go work on the house after he got off work, but the boys had other plans that squashed my much-needed nap plan, so we didn't go after all. It's ok. Zorak and I will throw on a pot o' coffee when the boys are down and come up with a rockin' game plan for tomorrow afternoon. (AND I have my debit card back, so I can get some cash and go make connections, transfers, and purchases as needed in the morning.)
What saved the day, though, was the arrival of our new, shiny, dust-free DSL MODEM!!! Woohoo! I have no idea what speed I'm flying, but I feel like Dennis Quaid in Innerspace right now. It's a hoot! I can add all the other great links that I love to visit, because now I can visit them regularly. Zorak and I could *both* use the computer in one evening without taking eight hours to do it! This is bliss. Sweet, wonderful bliss.
On the Forever Home front, we think we've come up with a way to handle the Wall That Went Horribly Wrong. It's going to take some figuring out to find the best way to apply it, but that's the fun part: coffee, mechanical pencils, scrap paper and brainstorming late into the night. These are a few of my favorite things!!!
OK, so I'm off to go play. Thank you, all for your sweet wishes for our little one. We'll keep y'all updated. In the meantime,
Kiss those babies!
Tuesday, October 11
So, for the skinny. Well, here's a 2D shot of Baby4 - for your normal ultrasound, it's a very good picture.
Everything looks good. The heart is strong and well-developed. The spine is very strong, and all the other tidbits we wanted to know about showed up ok. I know, there is no such thing as a guarantee that all will be well, but by the fourth child (and with my family's history of congenital birth defects), it's nice to know what we might expect or need to prepare for, if possible. But it was a good feeling to see that beautiful baby moving about in there, happy and calm. Here is one of the 4D photos of...
Our Baby Girl!!!
We're in shock, but it's a good kind of shock. James is estatic. He cannot believe he FINALLY gets a baby sister. John is anxious to see what it's like to have a baby sister. (I have a feeling he'll look at her the same way he does the princess with the gold star on her forehead.)
Smidge was relatively clueless, other than realizing there was a baby on the TV screen. After about ten minutes in the room, though, he decided that perhaps I needed some snuggles. Or something. Why wasn't I getting up?!? He's a sweet litle guy, and snuggled next to me the rest of the ultrasound, with his head on my arm and the paper blanket pulled up over himself while we talked about the baby up there.
It was an amazing day. I can't say more than that without blubbering like an idiot. It's always humbling to peer inside the unseeable recesses of creation and see Life take shape. And I am humbled.
Kiss those babies!
Monday, October 10
The boys explored the freshly mown meadows and pastures. They found a "hidden path" and are dying to show it to me, so we'll have to check that out Friday when we head back out for a full day. Or perhaps the boys and I will head out solo during the week and just spend some time enjoying the place without me yelling, "Look out below!" as the bulk of our conversation.
A neighbor dog showed up during lunch. I leaned over the balcony and gave it my best nasal, from-the-diaphragm, "Gidonouttaheah!" It wagged its tail and came up the steps. Ok, so it's friendly. Stupid, but friendly. The dog shadowed the boys the rest of the day and they had a great, great time. The dog has a rabies vaccine tag, but no ID tag of any kind. It left in a bit of a huff when I blocked the balcony come supper time, but I'm sure it'll be back - boys, food, sticks, and belly rubs, what dog wouldn't enjoy the occasional visit to that place, right?
The boys are faring well. They're chatty and helpful. They get off-kilter and need to snuggle. They needed a lot of redirection this morning, and I think they're ready for a break. It's okay. Zorak and I remember being these ages (well, except for Smidge - we're clueless about being two, other than that it seems to be a very exciting era in one's life), and so we try to remember to take breaks, have snacks, hold hands, tell jokes, and look at neat bugs. It does cut back on the productivity of the demolition aspect of the house, but it aids tremendously on the creation-of-a-home aspect of the project.
James burned his thumb on a piece of wood today. He told me about it and showed it to me. On the inside, I dove right into a huge lecture about knowing better and following directions and blah, blah, blah. Then I smacked myself upside the head and realized a) he probably won't do that again, b) he told me of his own volition - and how often do we have the opportunity to reinforce the trust we want to build in such an obvious, no-brainer way, and c) that really looked like it hurt. So we treated it and looked at it (you know, 'cuz that's a really cool science lesson!) We snuggled and I empathized. What could have been a camel-kicking session turned into an exploratory hike. That was very cool. I hope to catch more of those, more consistently.
Thinking back on my Living Intentionally post, I want to point out that this isn't a "look at what a great job I'm doing" segue, but this is one of the direct side effects of Living Intentionally. I can vouch for the effort, as just in the past week or so, we've felt a difference in our little corner of the world. Don't get discouraged, just keep going at it. Life will never be calm or cozy or predictable 100% of the time, but it can be good. Very, very good, indeed.
Zorak and I... um... are finding our groove. How's that? That sound okay? We are each motivated by very different things, and approach things in different ways. It's good. The house needs both methods of attack. The boys need both styles of parenting. The life we have would be horribly dull without these complementary perspectives. The meshing process may kill one or both of us, but still, even with the grinding gears and occasional stalled engines (figuratively speaking! Thankfully, the Suburban is healthy and sound), today was a productive day.
Zorak Smidge-proofed the balcony (the rails on it are spaced just wide enough apart for a large-headed two year-old to fly clean through with nothing to slow his acceleration. This nifty new feature is worth its weight in gold. We both breathe easier now, and the boys can eat on the balcony, where only the bees have found them so far but the ants have yet to venture.
He built a two-shelf workbench using some of the many interior doors we ripped out. It's nice to have a work surface now, and that thing will probably get much use before it's broken down for the fire. He also inspected the chimney on the scary-wall and cleaned out the gutters (ew), where he uprooted a couple of trees (yes, trees growing IN the gutters) and dumped out many cubic feet of what looks like the richest mulch I've ever seen! Wow. We'll probably need to replace the gutters, but can wait until Spring, at least. He also managed to get the debris pile down to a manageable level, which was not only encouraging for he and I, but tons of fun for the kids!
I worked on the living room and did manage to get all the paneling off in there. A quarter of it was pretty tough because the popcorn ceiling (a pox on the evil sob who invented that crap) is sagging under the weight of the now-collapsed blown newspaper insulation in the attic (more pox! Come to think of it, pestilence all around!). So while the paneling would come off the wall, it then stayed tightly wedged between the sagging ceiling and the six-inch deep, damp shag carpet (ok, not quite six inches, but the living room is 26x18 and by the time I hit the last wall I swear it felt like the carpet was that deep or deeper!)
Once the living room was comfortably bare, I tried to finish the bathroom, but the tile wall stalled me in there - I got one wall of that stuff off and almost doubled the cubic space in that bathroom! *grin* I'm too wobbly to be able to get a good stance to do the back wall of the tub, though, so Zorak had to step in at the end of the day and handle the tiles. It's almost done now, just need to haul out the broken tiles from the tub before it falls through the floor into the basement. We have a dumpster coming on Friday and I suppose it'll wait until then.
Then on to the kitchen remnants, where I did get the rest of the kitchen paneling out. Ew. Zorak wants the built-in bookshelves for the basement (they currently face the living room on that kitchen wall that's marked for destruction to open the two spaces). I simply don't get things out in one piece, so that's waiting on him, and I did not get to view my new kitchen/living room layout in all its nekkid glory today. That was a bit of a bummer for me, as I was really looking forward to that. But that's okay, it'll all come together this week.
And on that note, my dryer just buzzed (I have three days worth of maternity clothes and haven't done wash in four days - ew - so yes, I'm up when I ought to be in bed). I'm going to switch out a load and go tuck the boys in, then hit the hay myself. Have a lovely Tuesday!
Kiss those babies!
Sunday, October 9
We got out there earlier than yesterday, pulled into the drive and put on our game faces. We handed out tasks, pry bars, and water bottles to the boys and they quickly disappeared into the grass. Zorak started in on the last bit of the kitchen (where, yesterday, I had unearthed an alien rodent lair and immediately ran like a scalded cat, with the same look on my face as those women in horror flicks who find the bodies). I skirted the kitchen and began chipping trim off the living room, talking to myself, making silly faces, slipping off the scaffolding, and in general having a grand old morning. The trim off, I prepared to do the paneling (eyes wide, hands trembling with anticipation, here - this is exciting stuff). I pulled off the first piece of paneling and set it aside. Pulled off the second piece of paneling and inhaled sharply. Then I realized I'd just inhaled sharply, and did it again. Then I did the bolting cat thing again, trying very hard to sound calm as I mumbled (I had my hand over my mouth and mask), "HMY!! HMY Mew nob ooo cub n eeer ud lrk a' thid!" Fortunately, Zorak is fluent in most of the female languages, so he came in here to look at this.
After Zorak pulled down the black insulation and peeled back (or rather touched and then watched as they cascaded onto the floor) the crumbling chunks of drywall and pine needles, our home appeared to have nothing between the studs and the old external brick fascade but a thin, damp wall of sheetrock. *hiccough-y breathing and v-e-r-y s-l-o-w speech was about all we could manage* Where's the plywood? Where's the chicken wire? Where's the Tyvek (or a comparable brand name that would've been around when the house was built)? Heck, where are the black plastic trash bags? Work with us, here!!! Give us something! At one point, as we wallowed in the shock, Zorak actually said, "Well, I hear sheathing is nice in the fall, and looks good on the exterior..." *deep breath, but it's still that stuttery breath* Ok. I love you. I love you, too. This will be ok. Well, *&%#. *sigh* Yeah. But it will be okay. We'll just... have... to... adjust. NO! Wait, rip out that wall over there!
We scampered across the room like vagabond children demolishing a home in search of treasure. (Who knew Captain Kidd's treasure was actually just vapor barier?) We ripped off that paneling. The insulation is only partly black... the studs are dry... but CRAP, what is that stuff behind the studs?? *whine* It looks just like damp sheetrock, although on that side of the house it's in good shape - you know, for damp sheetrock.
Zorak mentioned that this may well be, as The Big Lebowski would say, "S*** we're not privvy to." However, he figured he might know someone who IS privvy. So, he called His Buddy Who Knows Stuff (BWKS) and asked him about it. Turns out BWKS has a house in Georgia that has the same thing. No, it's not sheetrock. It's some kind of gypsum vapor barrier. Look for tabs to create an air space. *Zorak looks* Yep. Sure enough.
Now, something did go horribly wrong on that other wall, but no, our Forever Home is not three short weeks from caving in on itself. It is not constructed of poorly laid thin brick stacked against drywall for an exterior finish. We are not going to have to pimp out cute cousins in order to pay for repairs. Life is still good, and we're making headway.
We handled it well, but I'm still not right after a scare like that, and that was at nine thirty this morning!
The rest of the day was busy, busy, busy. Zorak cut the water lines under the house and got water running to the back commode and sink. He rescued the kitchen from the alien colony, and then rescued me from the other dead body in the living room. When he decided to yank the toilet out of the bath, he broke out the reciprocating saw. High point! It is so much more impressive (and a whole lot less work) to just zip through those nasty nuts that bond your toilet to the floor (and seep rust, they do that, too). ZOOM, Ch'kunk, and up it comes! Same thing with the supply lines for the sink, and the ungainly vanity counter.
I pulled off 80% of the paneling in the living room and demolished the hall bathroom vanity. The trim, baseboards (and inadvertenly, most of the linoleum, which has bonded molecularly to the baseboards) are all off in there now, too. Tomorrow the rest of the paneling will come out of the living room and bathroom, as well as all the linoleum. Hopefully the tub will come out, too. And then the carpet comes up. That stuff is still damp a week and a half after it was shampooed! EW!
We were there a little over ten hours today, working for all but a brief lunch break and some time to enjoy the Fire Ring (we're burning much of the debris at this point - one of the perks of living in the boonies). Bush Hog Guy came today and did a great job - the difference is amazing, and the boys are ready to go explore The Meadow (now that they can tell there is one). The barn seems to have sprouted legs and grown. It looked more like a Hobbit Hole than a barn before the Bush Hog Guy came.
The boys had a wonderful day again today, and once again all were out before seven thirty tonight. They dragged hoses about, demolished baseboards, and even had a special outing across the recently uncovered meadow, with Daddy and the bbgun late in the afternoon. They swept the balcony of leaves and tossed old wood into piles. They enjoyed watching the bush hog in action (from the safety of the front porch). I had some great insights on them, and some cute quotes, but I'm really too tired to think of them.
In all, though, today was a good day. I'm not sure we made as much leeway as we'd hoped, but considering the two major surprises and the general logistics of little ones and their needs, we made a good road. Tomorrow we have one more big push, and then we get a day off on Tuesday for our ultrasound and midwife's appointment. It'll be difficult not to be working on the place, but that's a good excuse. ;-)
Kiss those babies!
We got there this morning, completely overwhelmed and ready to go. The boys immediately got into everything they weren't supposed to get into, so we had several false starts. We learned a lot about our children today, and it was good.
John makes a good hand. He wants to help and makes no bones about it. He looks for things to help with, and if we don't have anything for him to do, he'll make suggestions. He will do anything, anything at all, if only we will let him. If we leave him alone to do it, he will probably improve upon it. He has the ability to take the abstract and find a practical application for it. He is undaunted by size, scope, or outcome of the job, and he'll ask for help when he needs it - but don't do it for him (he can spot that!) He is only five and still needs our affirmation that he's made a good call. His smile is the best indicator of how well he thinks he's doing. Our smiles are the best indicator of just how well we "get it". There were a lot of smiles today, all around.
James wants desperately to be involved and to be helpful. He has a temperament, however, that causes him to stand back and wait to be invited into that Great Mysterious Realm. He waits patiently, with his heart on his sleeve. If we are not careful, we can glide right past him and break his heart by not offering that invitation to help out. Grown ups forget what that feels like. Grown ups sometimes misinterpret this hesitance as disinterest, or a lack of desire to work. That's not it. He wants to do the right thing, and in his mind, pestering the adults is not the right thing. He is eager to do any task we ask of him, and the radiance of his face could direct ships as far away as the Bering Strait when we've given him a job to do. That radiance pales only in comparison to the one that comes when his efforts and creative energies are praised. He also looks to find the better, safer, more efficient route to accomplishing his tasks. He's seven, and while not as vocal in seeking approval, he still flourishes under it.
Smidge will sing. to. anything. Juice boxes. Walls. Pine trees. Himself. You name it, there's a song (and possibly a dance) to go with it. He can go for nine hours straight without a single whimper. He loves to swing, loves to climb, and loves to dance in circles. He'll also keep us in stitches with his deeply inflected snippets on the condition of the process. Ew. Blech. Ooooo. Ow. Hey!! He's going to be fine, I think.
Zorak is 'Da Man, I swear. He may not know this, but I think he can do anything. Anything. At all. He's my hero. Would you believe he filled five (5!) 55 gallon trash bags today?!? All out of the scary spot, and it's not even close to being done. He got the water turned off, the pipes drained, some of them crimped and soldered. He helped me with the kitchen sink pullout, set up the Fire Ring for the boys to work with. He examined and made "a plan" for the balcony, installed lighting in the scary spot, got the place well on its way to drying out. And he still had time for hugs and kissing boo-boos and run-by smoochings.
I ripped out all the kitchen cabinets, dishwasher and stove. That was my goal, and I did it. I have to confess, it's really quite fun to throw out cabinetry! I mean, how often can you get away with lobbing furnishings out a window?! If you ever have the chance to do it, without getting arrested or referred for counseling, go for it! I, um, also took out the internal doors and, um, well, that was about it. But it kept me busy for nine hours! (Tip: if you hire me for contract work, pay by the job, not the hour.)
We've pretty well decided not to post before pictures until we have after pictures to go along with them. One: it would scare off any potential visitors. Trust me. Two: it's so much more fun to say, "it was like this, but NOW LOOK!" So until we have the "now look" bit, yeah, we're not telling you just how truly disgusting this is. I will say, however, that if I ever buy another home, the cabinets are coming out - no matter how nice they look. O-U-T. I don't trust them, and incidentally, I don't think you should, either. Ew.
Day One was pretty productive! We had a good time, accomplished most of our goals for the day, and are feeling so very thankful that we have a home to work on. The setting is exquisite, and it feels good there - even with the house in its current condition. This is, definitely, a Good Home. And this is a great experience, for all of us. The boys, in particular, were out beyond recall by seven thirty tonight. Except for James, who stayed up until almost eight to read, but as soon as he flipped off his light, he was done for. They played hard, worked hard, and fell into bed with the exhausted satisfaction of a day well spent. May we all be so fortunate.
However, I do need to take an anti-inflammatory and go to bed before I swell up and fall over. So, on that note, as always, kiss those babies!
Friday, October 7
We gave the boys their own little pry bars and talked about some of the pitfalls of having a Very Responsible Position (splinters, nails, the temptation to beat one another about the head with the trim pieces... you know, the basics). Their little eyes were simply huge, and they're anxious to begin. But first, they get to gather up all the twigs and put them in The Fire Ring (ooooooohhh), which is also a Very Responsible Position. No, they don't get actual fire for it, but that's not really the point when you're five and seven. And two.
I think they *get* that we're doing big things to the house. It has begun to sink in that, somehow, it's not going to look as it does now, once we're finished. They don't quite grasp the magnitude of the change, though, and I'm so excited to watch as that awareness dawns and they make the connections. Oh, this is fun stuff!
Zorak and I have used the word "wow", as a sentence all its own, more in the past seven hours than we have in both our lives, combined. It's a stunned, euphoric, slightly panicked sensation that slips out involuntarily. Sometimes it's a whispered "wow", and sometimes it's a firm "Wow". The other one nods in understanding and we hold hands for a bit. Third party observers may speculate that we've been toking it up a bit, but no. This is just the blissful realization of a dream and a goal. It's... wow.
The boys are sound asleep - John didn't make it home awake. Smidge was in his jammies and half-asleep before I could get my shoes off. James tried very hard to pretend he was asleep (or at least too sleepy to walk) so Zorak carried him in. (We both remember as children how good it felt to be carried inside after a long car trip - that's one of the perks of childhood. How could we not indulge that warm, safe, loved feeling?) Zorak is on a Wal-Mart run for a few essentials and we'll be out at the house First Thing in the Morning (sure hope I can find that setting on the alarm clock!) Time to get to work.
Have a lovely Saturday, and as always kiss those babies!
Thursday, October 6
Where to start? Well, thanks to the bureaucracy that is our federal government, the presence of the mold was an issue that had to be dealt with before anything else (in this case, the causes of the mold) could be dealt with. Think of it as the medical model of home care: we don't care what the problem is, but we'll treat the symptoms, spend a ton of your money doing it, and then that rash will clear right up and you can be on your way! Oh, sure you'll still be sick as a dog, but you'll look and feel better (and we'll have your money).
The two thousand dollars spent (thankfully, not by us) to do the mold abatement was stoopid. Worse, it was a travesty of common sense perpetrated by Jackasses of the highest FHA Executive level. There is *no* mold on the surfaces of the inside of the home now. None. There were less than two spores per square inch, and the expected level is much higher than that. For that, sure I'm thankful. It makes the upcoming task a little less gruesome, visually. But not only was that not the cause of the problem, 98% of those surfaces are going to be ripped out this weekend, so that was an awful lot of money for nothing. I'll get the appraisal pictures and show ya. It was "ew", and now it's "not so ew", but the actual cause of the mold hasn't been touched.
Now, this bothers me, not because I feel we'd be better off living with small children in a mold-infested home. Rather, because I feel we are capable, intelligent individuals who take our role as parental units quite seriously and to be honest, our standards are actually higher than the G-man Standards. The difference is in the approach. We would much rather to have closed on this place before it was a Ch-ch-ch-chia house, thus saving our money on rent and utilities here, letting the other involved parties save their money, as well... and we would still have taken the same path I'll outline below.
Why? Because it's our home. It's also our blood, sweat, tears, and finances that are going into this place. So, we signed sixteen pages of mold disclosure papers two months ago. We received the Federal Mold Statement in three different forms (one including pictures, just to make sure we get it). We were informed by both the Mortgage Co. and Wonderful Realtor of all available exits and how to use our oxygen masks in case of cabin decompression. We were informed consumers who were willing to address the issue in the best manner possible, but you know, the holistic approach is just voodoo for the ignorant masses and gee-isn't-it-wonderful-to-have-a-gov't-looking-out-for-us-ignorant-plebes. That's where this whole hurdle sticks in my craw just a wee bit.
The boys will be exiled to the outside until the property is farther along its path and ready to go. In preparation for that, we're having the entire thing bush hogged tomorrow, and putting up a play area at the top of the hill. This will be their sanctuary, where the boys can play, picnic, and frolic in the relative safety of the out-of-doors. We'll BBQ and make sandwiches, and they'll learn that the cooler is a great portable fridge (and yes, you still need to shut the door when you're done!)
So, now that all the current mold is dead (and that's the stuff that was floating about in the house when Mr. Mold Inspector did his air test - he is confident that consistent airing and the corrective measures we propose will eradicate the issue), we'll have to work fast in order to stop the water infiltration (ie., cause of the mold) before the mold can regroup and launch another attack. We have, fortunately, had plenty of time to process our action plan and come up with some nifty ideas that range from decorative (ohhhh, what if we just don't put in upper cabinets?) to structural (that kitchen wall is comin' out, baby!), and on to health and safety (look, leaking pipes! probably oughta do something about that, eh?). It's been good. Before we move into the house, the actual problems that have brought mold into our abode will be addressed.
The problems as we have been able to identify so far are as follows, with corrective measures in red. First, we will turn off the water to the place. That, alone, will do tremendous strategic damage to the march of the mold. Then, it's on to corrective action:
1) Water heater leaks - replace water heater (also upgrade to propane at the same time)
2) Pipes leak - replace leaking pipes (also, switching to a PEX manifold system, swanky!)
3) There is an unfinished, vile, scary, SCARY dank crawl space sort of torture cellar thing behind the basement. It makes the landscape of LUD look well-ventilated and healthy - this room needs to be cleaned, dried, tarred, and then closed for all eternity. This room is also on the uphill side of the house, which leads us to the next problem...
4) The gutters dump ALL the water from the back two quadrants of the house right there into that uppermost corner, where the water seeps into the scary Koontz family photo studio - reroute gutters to improve drainage.
5) Every outside water faucet leaks constantly, leaving a mire of sludge to seep into the basement - we're capping these and will decide what to do with them later.
6) The house is on a hill and the drainage on the uphill side isn't an engineer's crowning achievement - we'll regrade the top of the hill (it's small) and put in a French Drain.
7) The doors to the basement don't shut properly - we will change that, then, won't we?
Truthfully, these are all minor issues that a little forethought and regular maintenance could have avoided. Once they're taken in hand, it will be easy, and these projects will be among our daily activities for the next three weeks. (Note: don't expect spectacular blogging.) They'll run somewhat parallel with removing all the interior walls, cabinetry, appliances, insulation, flooring and subflooring, checking/upgrading the wiring, and then laying all new materials from top to bottom. The two rooms which must be completely finished before we can move into it are the main bath and the kitchen. Two bedrooms do need to have drywall back up, but not necessarily taken to their soon-to-be exquisite state. That will come.
However, the short version is that yes, the boys will be safe. No, we wouldn't knowingly put them in a position that would harm them or cause their precious lives to be lessened. Honestly, we've seen worse conditions in fully approved rental properties (not sure if that's encouraging or not, but there it is). We do feel this is a good investment that is 100% do-able, as long as we're a team. I wouldn't touch this place with a 50' pole if I was alone in the world, but then, I wouldn't need a Forever Home for my wonderful family, then, either.
Tomorrow's going to be a busy day, so I'm signing off. Kiss those babies!
It failed by so slight a margin that the mold inspection guy isn't even recommending another test. He just says to run the air scrubbers for a piddly 24 hours and it should be good to go. But that stoopid test...
So, he is on the phone with the Hounds to try to convince them to let it close.
Our Wonderful Realtor is going to be on the phone with them, trying to convince them to let it close.
I am considering firing up the brisket and calling in KathyJo's Boys to do a little housecleaning.
Maybe we should move to Argentina and raise some of that delicious Argentinian beef?
You know, in my life before children, this would be where I started seriously considering submission of my application as a mercenary for the Rhodesian Militia, er, "Army". I guess one of the many (seemingly uncountable) reasons God gave me these children could be to keep me from getting sniped in a remote location because I had to go and throw an old-fashioned tantrum. Funny how He works with those of us less pliable souls...
And now we get to go to the outing and smile. When what I really want to do is go to Barnes & Noble and hide. But that's not an option.
I'll let you know more when we know more.
Kiss those babies!
OK, Wonderful Realtor called and said the lady at the Hound Pound said she can't see why it wouldn't close tomorrow!!! (said with cautious optimism, or optimistic caution, take your pick) She has to double check with her supervisor, who isn't in the office right now, and will get back with us with a definite answer.
We will know.
And the answer just might not be "no".
I don't know what to do with all these hormones!
Jo (Wonderful Realtor) just called.
It's a Go.
We close tomorrow.
When she told me the news, my knees buckled and I had to finish the phone call on the floor. I was torn between crying with happiness and laughing at the absurdity of being there on my knees, unable to get up.
Zorak said it well when he said, "This is it. Forever begins tomorrow." Yes, technically, Forever has been going for quite a while. But in our little microcosm, this is what we have worked toward, fought for, saved our funds and ideas to attain. It has been seven years in coming, and it feels ever so good.
We're off to the Official Thingy and then to Lowe's for some lime and long-handled shovels! Thank you, all, for your funny stories, prayers and positive thoughts, encouragement and mostly, just for your presence. Thank you for not telling us we are insane, even when you thought we were. I appreciate it. I appreciate that we haven't gone through this alone - both In Real Life and through our online friendships. Y'all have helped me keep my sanity. Thank you.
Kiss those babies!
~Dy, whose babies are afraid if she kisses them any more they'll bruise.
Wednesday, October 5
We waited on the maintenance man to come this morning, but finally gave up and left at eleven thirty. The morning was truly lovely. Intentional, as I originally meant it. When there was discord, it felt good to stop, listen, and then pick an intentional response. At one point, all that was called for was some snuggle time and some "kind words" for John to help him get his footing after a particularly sad outburst. I will not dwell on how many of those I have missed, but rather focus on how many of those are to come.
We finally made it to Mecca, er, um, the Library. It was heavenly. We hauled our milk crate into the entry way in three-foot spurts. I had Smidge asleep in the sling and the crate was too heavy for the boys to carry, or for me to nudge along with my foot. We had just stopped for the fiftieth time when the mailman came up, and evidently taking pity on us he, without a word, hoisted the crate from between the boys. The looks on their faces said that was better than spotting Santa Claus mid-way down the chimney. He laughed aloud when both of the boys burst forward to open the doors for him, shouting out in rounds of, "Oh! Thank you! Thank you SO much!" He deposited the crate on the counter and disappeared into the sunset while the theme song from The Magnificent Seven played softly in the background...
We had a fantastic three hours scampering like puppies in a field, rolling our heads in all the flowers, chasing metaphorical butterflies.
By the time we headed to the Mommy Section of the library, the crate was already too heavy to carry, what with the belly and the sling and the sheer weight of that many books. I inquired at the desk as to whether there was any twine to be found (thinking I could rig up a sled-dog style apparatus to which I could harness my two eldest...) No twine, but they let us use one of the Official-Looking Carts. Oooo. That was niiice!
Smidge awoke while I was digging up Cervantes (yes, don't laugh, I'm trying again) and he was so thrilled to see the boys had picked up a few Thomas books for him that he completely forgot his Library Voice. *cringe* They all quickly settled in on a low, tiled wall to read and giggle, though, and left me to wander the stacks and pick up some good 'uns. This trip was all fiction for me, simply because the non-fiction is on the second floor and no matter how well the day was going, I was not going to attempt that maneuver. I cut my losses, counted my blessings and herded the kittens over to the checkout.
We took our obligatory detour around the Local Artists' Display, where we were treated to a beautiful and interesting display of oil on canvas. The space is small, but we were able to lose another half hour just talking about the paintings. (Must remember to let the library staff know how very much we enjoy those displays!)
We stopped at Publix for some non-moldy bread and more fruit. The boys were mortified when Jacob began to eat his apple before we beeped it, but calmed a bit when I explained that yes, I know, but no, he's fine and they survived the same thing when they were two. They were tickled to pieces to see a "real soldier", in full BDUs, and even more happy when he smiled at their enthusiasm and said hello to them. (Thank you, sir. You have no idea what that meant to two little boys.) We spent a good fifteen minutes at the seafood display, discussing crabs and crawdads (crayfish, some would say - but I'm telling you, those were crawdads!) John said, "Now, those (pointing at the snow crab legs) look kind of normal, but those (pointing to the King Crab legs, with all their black-tipped pointy bits) are a little creepy!"
In line at the checkout, James asked if the lady behind us could go first since she only had a few things. (She had more than we did, but we try to make it a point of letting people go ahead of us just because we know we're slow and it's a good all-purpose exercise in chilvary.) I said sure, but she refused. Kindly, and with a huge smile, but she wouldn't budge. I think she was having fun watching the boys interact with each other, to be truthful.
We came home, ate, watched the maintenance guy (who was almost done by the time we arrived), then snuggled in with books all over the place and read together. John could not get enough (growth spurt? or have I been starving his poor little brain? Whatever it was, he was in heaven today!) Smidge stretched out next to James the way a kitten sprawls in a sunlit window and enjoyed poking James lovingly in the head while James read aloud to him. It was idyllic, but after a while I had to get up and MOVE or I was going to fall asleep and we'd miss Pioneer Club.
So. We had supper when Zorak got home, catapulted everyone into the car and made it to Pioneer Club on time. The boys had a great evening. I stayed with Smidge in the nursery (I need to blog about that - but that's an entry all its own...) We came home and now that I've stopped moving, everything hurts. It hurts bad!
But it was just a great day, and a lot of that was exactly what I was talking about the other day: it's going to happen, whether I'm ready for it or not. It's just so much nicer to be prepared. We laughed more. We talked more. We hugged more. We read more. How can that be less-than-ideal, no matter the peripherals of the day, right?
And on the peripherals, no word on the mold results. Either they came back and were bad and Jo hasn't mustered the strength to call yet, or he hasn't gotten her the results. Perhaps tomorrow? Hopefully it will be good news, and that would be a true blessing on top of many others.
Tomorrow is Organization Day at the Arsenal and Zorak wants us to go meet everyone, so I am going to collapse right now and see if I can recover before sunrise. (And yes, I am putting wheels on my little milk crate *this weekend*!)
Kiss those babies, and enjoy them. Remember, they will never again be as little as they are today.
Tuesday, October 4
Actually, it was a good, productive, intentional day. We had a truly horrible concoction for breakfast, but I had all this fruit we needed to use up... The boys ate two bowls of it, though, so it couldn't have been that bad. Right? Then we read, did some wash, and everyone took twenty minutes to play. Yippee!
Zorak returned to the abode for lunch, arriving to find three boys with their upside down bicycles strewn about on the grass (they have been forbidden to so much as eyeball the dirt beyond the grass for as long as we continue to live here). They were "fixing things". (No, nothing's broken on the bikes, but it's such fun to tinker!)
I was able to provide Zorak with a lovely lunch, except for the mold I didn't see on one edge of the crust. Ugh. I'm not trying to kill him, honest. I looked, even. Ah, well, he still seems to love me. I also had a list of things we had accomplished this morning: we found a dentist and have appointments next week; I spent some time getting the boys psyched about having "our very own dentist," and other propagandizing necessary to ensure that they do not have the same idiosyncrasies I had as a child, if you know what I mean; I spoke with the Bush Hog Guy and was to meet him this afternoon at the house; the boys and I began studying James 1:19-wherever-we-end-up-stopping; we'd rounded up library books (again) and would swing by there on our way back from the house; found an HVAC guy to check out; called on insurance; and played. It felt so good. So useful.
Then Zorak asks, "So, what's our 'intentional plan' for this evening?"
I froze. "I don't know!" I squeaked, "I'm new at this!"
The afternoon deteriorated a bit, I admit. My stamina has waned since I've given up living this life properly, so I imagine it'll take some time to get back into the swing of things. The two-hour delay getting the Suburban back sort of started the mental stuttering. Then, Smidge didn't nap quite well in the car, so I had to haul a cranky (HEAVY) child up and down the hills on the property with the Bush Hog Guy (ow, that hurt muscles that shouldn't hurt from just walking!) The Bush Hog Guy thought we were to meet at 2:45, not 1:45, so after walking around the property for an hour, I'd just left him a message that we'd try again some other time and was pulling out of the drive when he arrived. Through all that, I was maintaining pretty well, though. A good, deep breath can make a two-hour delay feel not-so-bad and remind you that it's not a plot to make you insane. Candy corn in the pocket can alleviate the Grumps in a two year old. Extra water bottles can rejuvenate two hot and tired boys. A smile and an understanding tone can make an awkward first encounter downright pleasant in the end.
Then we got to the library. And the book. The one book. I needed to return. Wasn't in the bag. I'd asked James to put it in the bag this morning. He hadn't said he didn't do it, but his actions had indicated he did. When I asked him where in the bag he'd put it, he said sheepishly, "I never found it. I'm sorry I didn't tell you that." Oh. That's where I fumbled. I didn't yell (thankfully), but I wasn't pleased. As Jill would say, I slipped into Lecture Land. I buckled back up and we left the library without so much as setting foot inside. *sigh* Not one of my more esteemed moments, I assure you. Here's where I could use some input - How do you dig down and find that extra back support for your camel when that last straw gets dropped on it? It's not like the Wee Straw Bearer came and thumped it onto my poor camel just to watch it suffer. It's more like the debris that flies off the back of a contractor's truck. He's got a lot of little straws, and since I'm in the back, herding the cats, the occasional straw is bound to fly off and hit my camel. I know that, and yet at three in the afternoon I could not have formulated that thought to save my life.
We were back on track by the time we arrived home. The boys helped fix a significantly less questionable supper than that breakfast I'd served, and we had a lovely evening talking, laughing, sharing, playing.
Smidge is speaking more and more each day, which is a huge source of hilarity to the boys. They encourage him and rejoice with him, high-fives all around. It's beautiful. Zorak and I bragged to the boys about themselves and enjoyed watching them beam. We snuggled, and then they enjoyed ice cream and play time after supper.
The boys helped polish the metal on the muzzleloader they're refurbishing. It's a huge Daddy 'n Boys Project. My home smells like gun oil. Personally, I was thinking something along the lines of cinnamon-apple, or perhaps a nice light vanilla. But this is a happy smell, and it's accompanied by the thrill of learning, the joy of success, and the pride of craftsmanship. I can handle that. We're blessed.
And now, the Wee Ones are tucked in and quiet. The maintenance men will be here in the morning to fix our faucet and ice maker. The house is in a condition that won't cause me to panic. I am going to curl up with the scarf and the hubby and give both some attention.
Kiss those babies!