Noon — Monday, September 11, 2006
We passed our last two inspections — Final Plumbing and Final Building — late last week.
After breaking ground on our renovations one month shy of two years ago, we spent our first night in our new bedroom upstairs last Friday night. The room smelled of new carpet mingled with victory. After primarily sleeping on an air mattress on the plywood floor or in our bed in the dining room for the last two years, it felt like we were sleeping in the lap of luxury.
After three years of planning, fixing, demolishing, building, losing steam, and racing to the finish, that elusive Certificate of Occupancy is "in the mail" and we will no longer be expanding upon our fashionable window decorations:
It's been a long haul with many ups and downs, and with much unpacking and finishing touches still ahead, but the burden of construction is finally being lifted — though we are both surprised how gradual the rate of freedom actually feels. At last, we are finally free to have people over and throw wild parties (haha) and sleep anywhere in the house we want without the fear of governmental interference, i.e. fines.
So what is it that we want now more than anything, after years of focusing on not much more than finishing the house?
Sleep. Lots of sleep.
Because today is three months to the day before our next, even BIGGER project is scheduled to begin... ;)
6:02 p.m. — Tuesday, September 12, 2006
We've had a ton of help over the past few years. We would never, ever be this far along without all the extra hands. I am, at some point, going to have to do a major overhaul on "The Thanks" section of this site, as it only applies to the help we had when we moved in three years ago. Talk about outdated!
So for the moment, I'd like to mention just the people who have been here within the last few weeks...
First, we had a "workday" on Saturday, August 26th, when two of my coworkers, WaiMay and Chris, came over to lend a hand.
Apparently, WaiMay was a little camera-shy.
She did a great job painting baseboards in the red room and master bedroom, while Chris sanded then polyurethaned our pine shelving for the linen closet. You should have seen how excited he got when he learned the hand sander he would be using was a power tool and not just pieces of sand paper. In addition, they both expertly handled any miscellaneous tasks we threw at them, such as unloading trim from our bedroom to the basement and heaving extra cement chunks and random rock debris into the trailer. They even had an assembly line going for that one.
Then at the end of the day, we relaxed with a game of poker involving some mighty pricey pretzel wagers. ;) Thanks, guys, for giving up your Saturday to lend a hand. I'm sure you would have done it even if it did not involve wonderful subs from the Great Wazu.
Then last Saturday, September 3rd, Aunt Ilse and Uncle David came up to offer their services.
They both helped paint trim and doors, and Aunt Ilse got the kitchen so sparkling clean that I'm still a little afraid to use it. She got stains off the hand-me-down stove that came with it! Never underestimate the power of a determined German armed with a bottle of Kaboom...aaaah, how we love the Kaboom. My dad also came up Saturday to grout the master bathroom walls.
The next day, Seth and his girlfriend Heidi (different than Ryan's sister Heidi, though they were both there at the same time...it gets confusing...when's my cousin Heidi coming?) put a second coat of paint on our closet doors, spread our pile of mulch over the rest of the yard, and heaved more rocks and cement into the trailer.
Ryan and his dad spent several hours sanding the stairs — the treads, banisters, and spindles, to be exact — removing nearly two years-worth of ground-in construction filth. I need to mention that Heidi — Ryan's sister Heidi — carefully tackled this same project LAST year when we originally thought we'd be refinishing the stairs. Sorry we messed them up again, Heid.
Then Ryan and his mom were up until [yikes] 2 a.m., staining the stairs...
...in preparation for Opa coming the next morning on Labor Day to polyurethane them. Opa had claimed that project as his own earlier in the week (what was I just saying about determined Germans...?), hence the mad rush to prepare the stairs for his arrival.
Actually, he wanted to "vanish" the stairs. I completely missed the typo in his e-mail until Ryan wrote me back, saying, "He's going to vanish the stairs?? Poof! Gone." Can't blame that one on the "nonexistent" accent, Opa.
My dad also came back on Labor Day to apply a second round of grout to the bathroom walls. The first had dried with hundreds of pin-prick holes throughout, making him a very unhappy camper. That job took many more trips to our house — and much more patience — than originally anticipated.
Ryan's mom and Heidi stayed up all week, helping us finish the myriad of random painting tasks we had left to complete. His mom was especially helpful cutting in along all the trim and ceilings that desperately needed touching-up — a task that's not our particular specialty, especially not mine. We would have gotten even MORE done had we not been distracted by this little cutie pie all week...
Sorry I stole the pic, Lor. I couldn't resist. She is certainly the youngest worker we've had at the house.
So thank you, everyone, for contributing towards our last big push and our successful inspections. We most definitely could not have done it without you!
Noon — Thursday, September 14, 2006
I can't get over how many things we've crossed out on our previous house to-do list. The projects remaining will probably take a loooong time to complete, as we're now focused on NEW projects, such as unpacking and cleaning and hanging curtains. In that spirit, Ryan wanted me to create a NEW to-do list.
Why oh why did I EVER think that we were done with house-related to-do lists? Silly me.
I suppose we are both very task-oriented people, which can sometimes be irritating, but in this situation I guess it's a good thing. It makes a lot of sense for us to have lists, because it helps us stay focused and get things finished. Otherwise, we would just walk around in circles (Ryan), overwhelmed and confused and not sure where to start. When there's a list, we can tackle anything we want in any order we choose and just cross it out when we're done. And boy do we both enjoy the crossing-out part!
Sometimes — and don't tell anyone this — I will ADD things to the list that we have done that weren't originally there, JUST so I can CROSS THEM RIGHT OFF. I mean, sometimes you forget to add things that should have been there all along, right? So what's the harm in adding them on after the fact, so long as you're getting things done??
And it doesn't hurt that it makes our list of accomplishments look longer ;) Haha. Maybe that's the REAL motivation...
So anyway, without further ado, here's our NEW list of FINISH projects to tackle...
Wow. It's longer than the old list. Yikes. Well, it DOES include the left-overs from the old list that we didn't finish, so that's gotta count for something. And this list is WAY more fun. Organizing the contents of our file cabinet beats painting trim any day.
I kid you not.
Noon — Friday, September 15, 2006
After two years of being lost in the basement, our winter jackets have finally been uncovered. Last night, I opened a bin labeled, "Bathrobes" and "Extra Blueprints" (makes sense, right?), dug to the bottom, and found both of our Columbia jackets. With hoods. That resist rain and snow and northeastern winters.
Details that would have been helpful during the last two winters, when all we had to sustain us through freezing temperatures were our leather motorcycle jackets. This includes when the house wasn't heated because there were no walls. Or insulation. And we were running wires through the studs until 2 a.m. in virtual darkness for a month or two, with the furnace running and the heat going right through the roof, and we could see our breath all night and never took off our gloves or ski caps the entire time we were in the house because it was just TOO COLD. Those were the Dark Days. Literally and figuratively.
Of course, we never bought NEW winter jackets (or let Aunt Ilse buy us new ones, ahem) because WE ALREADY HAD THEM — just in an unknown location — and buying duplicates would just be a waste of money that I could not justify spending. No matter how cold we got.
But now, it is going to be a warm and cozy winter, in our new warm and cozy and carpeted house. It's amazing how, at the end, it all comes together so quickly...
1:15 p.m. — Wednesday, September 20, 2006
In just 12 short weeks, we will be starting our newest project: Parenthood. Our first little permanent home renovator — I mean, baby — is expected to arrive around December 11th ;)
We have kept this news under wraps online for the past six months for various reasons, but those of you who know us clearly understood our newfound motivation to GET THE HOUSE DONE with a little one on the way, and we thank you again for all your help in this last big push. With the carpeting having just gone in, and finishing closet shelving in our bedroom, we were finally able to get our clothes out of the other closets and start setting up the room that will all-too-quickly belong to the newest member of our little family.
This is all we have so far...Look at the tiny little shoes! I can't get over the cuteness. I put one of my mammoth, size 9 sneakers in the pic for perspective:
Those black Addidas (yes, real Sambas) are from my Aunt Ilse. She bought them at the airport in Stuttgart this summer, and they have German flags painted across the soles. Does she know me or WHAT? The adorable duck slippers are from Ryan's mom, and I got the two pairs of white shoes and the green slippers at a garage sale for $1 a pair. They were brand new.
The teddy bear is a Steiff from my cousin Silke in Germany. If anything ever happens to it, I can send it to the Steiff Hospital in Germany for repairs, I mean, for treatment. The toy in the box next to it is from WaiMay, which she gave me the day after she found out I was pregnant way back in April or May. It was my first baby gift! Beneath that is a baby's-first-Bible I bought a few weeks ago at the Christian bookstore in town. It didn't have as many stories as some of the other baby books, but I fell in love with the illustrations in this one.
The clothes sitting under the book are from my relatives in Germany, and the clothes on the shelf beneath that are from the same garage sale, each for $1. They were neatly folded, sorted by size, and in DUPLICATE...the seller was a young mom with TWIN girls. My mom and I could have spent all day sorting through her bins of perfect little name-brand clothes, but A.) it was a really hot day, and B.) our husbands were waiting patiently in the car.
And we didn't want to test the patience ;)
The white towel on the bottom shelf is from Ryan's mom. It has a hood with a duck bill, two little duck feet on the bottom, and a tail on the back. It's very cute. Beneath that is a sling hand-made for me by my friend Brit, who is going to have to explain to me again how to wear it, once the baby comes. And finally, the pastel blanket beneath it all is from Ryan's mom. It belonged to Ryan when he was a baby:
See? That's my man. Thanks to Ryan's mom and babyblankets.us for this photo. ;)
The corduroy (I love corduroy!) dress hanging up on the left is from the $1 garage sale, and the overalls on the right are from Silke's mom Else in Germany. The striped sweater is from Lori (there is a cute Autumn-y outfit beneath it, which will be perfect for next fall), and the little yellow dress is something I bought all by myself. Years ago. Before a baby was a blip on our radar. I was shopping for someone else's baby and couldn't resist. Now it seems I'll finally be able to use it.
And since this is a HOUSE blog, here are pictures of the rest of the room, which was yellow well BEFORE any baby was on the way.
I think my poor computer has been moved around during construction more than we have. This location is temporary, as well.
(I still have to dig that lamp shade out of the basement...) Last year, my mom bought me two sets of all the fun bed linens you see here. Little did we know we'd be using this room as a nursery so soon, and not as a guest room, so we can only fit one of the two bunk beds from my old bedroom in here, and only one set of all the linens. Sorry, mom!
6:05 p.m. — Thursday, September 21, 2006
We still can't get over how different our whole house feels, now that the upstairs is carpeted. It's wonderful walking barefoot to the bathroom in the middle of the night, without tracking plywood grit onto the bath mats underfoot.
We got our carpeting from Empire Today, the company famous for it's "800 588, 2, 300...em-PIRE!" jingle. Not only did they do an excellent job and install our carpeting next day, as their ads promise, but they brought samples to our house the next day after we called, as well. We would have never thought to use them (after all, the ads ARE pretty hokey) had a neighbor not recommended their services. It's all about the recommendations!
The rest of the carpeting photos are in this Kodak album. Ryan's mom took a bunch of these. Enjoy.
6:11 p.m. — Friday, September 22, 2006
It still doesn't feel real. Here's how the master bedroom looked for the past year or so...
...Until two weeks ago. It's incredible what a difference some heavy cleaning, a bit of cool gray paint, and new carpeting can make.
The closet was a dark and rarely-entered holding cell for excess building materials:
Now it's shelved and full of SHOES...
...Amongst plenty of other things ;)
Can't wait to unpack our pictures and photos, to pick curtains, and to bring up our dressers, all which will make the room feel a little homier. Right now, the big empty space is kind of intimidating. I guess we've become accustomed to squishing ourselves into small sleeping spaces over the past few years, but surely we'll get used to this lovely, warm, CLEAN, large room...eventually. ;)
Noon — Tuesday, September 26, 2006
This room isn't COMPLETELY finished yet, but it still looks wonderful to me.
Not sure why that wall color on the right looks so blue compared to all the rest. Actually, none of these looks quite accurate. It's a hard color to capture — Behr Scotland Road.
Here are the master bath-related items remaining on our Finish To-Do List:
- Install shower doors
Wow. That felt like a lot less when it was just in my head...Funny how that happens.
11:59 p.m. — Thursday, September 28, 2006
We gained extra space for a linen closet in our upstairs hallway when the HVAC guys decided to run our central return up through the center of the foyer. The sheetrock guys, however, didn't quite understand the brilliance of our plan...
...and they sheetrocked right over the opening. Oops.
After that problem was corrected ("There's supposed to be a linen closet where?"), we were left with a gaping hole for quite a while. Ryan and I went back and forth for months on how to most efficiently use this space. (Isn't it funny how such little decisions can take so long?) Eventually, Ryan won — not because his idea was MOST EFFICIENT, mind you, but because no matter who was right, he was the one actually building out the space. So he won by default.
Yes, Ryan, you might have won, but I'm the one who gets to describe it however I want. ;)
Once the space was framed, sheetrocked, spackled, and painted (thanks for the painting, Lori!), we were feeling a little whimsy and nostalgic, and re-purposed some old shelves from the laundry area in the basement when we originally bought the house:
On the right. Holding the Tide.
So Ryan cut the shelves to the proper lengths, Chris sanded and polyurethaned the first coat, Ryan finished them off, and Voila!...
Beautiful new shelves in our beautifully-framed linen closet. To which we may or may not add a door. Someday.
Noon — Friday, September 29, 2006
Last Sunday, I was very excited to finally bring the crib home (thanks, Mom and Dad!) and get it set up in the baby's room — or the room formerly known as the yellow room.
"What's that? Leah has the camera out again? I'd better go put on a shirt..."
We've noticed a trend: Whenever Ryan is putting something together, he feels the need to be shirtless. Not sure why this is. Perhaps the fabric inhibits the incredible power of his brain.
We've also noticed that in most pictures of him, he is hunched over looking at something. Not sure why this is. He really does know how to stand up straight — his height was always very attractive to me, a short person, on whom such height is completely wasted. But I'm sure this apparent hunched-ness also has to do with the incredible power of his brain.
We're still working on solving these mysteries.
Anyway, it was at this point that we realized something wasn't right. If you ever see Ryan looking at instructions, you know SOMEthing isn't right. It goes in the same category as Ryan stopping to ask for directions. Or stopping at a garage sale.
"Oh look, Leah, there goes the garage sale...wave as we drive by..."
Sure enough, the crib was missing parts. Two stabilizer bars, to be exact. What a disappointment. So we called Babies 'R' Us — that terribly overpriced yet eerily necessary baby conglomerate — to tell them the crib box they had just sold us was incomplete, and after a few days of playing phone tag, they told us they would Fed-Ex us the missing parts. (See? Fed-Ex is a verb.)
We're still waiting.
So for now, the Babi Italia Pinehurst Dropside crib in Tea Stain remains sadly unfinished, and the Serta mattress with the rebellious counting sheep sits idly by, patiently awaiting installation.