Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hoop Dreams

JP played on the basketball team in High School, and intramural basketball in college. He has been disappointed now for many years that we have not had the space for a basketball hoop. He made sure that basketball space was worked into this house, and the hoop is something he ordered well before we moved in. It has been taking up room in the garage in a giant box since I hauled it out here in April or May. The concrete pad in front of the garage was fully complete this morning, so after my success in building a storage shed over the weekend, I decided to tackle putting the thing together.

If you don't count the time I dropped a socket wrench on my toe, or the episode where the girls were playing "family" with the 4 rubber washers and one of them mysteriously disappeared, everything went smoothly right up to the end. The finishing touch with this hoop was to fill the base with 400 lbs. of sand. The manual shows a man pouring it in using a funnel. No problem. The only sand at our friendly neighborhood hardware/lumber store, however, was play sand (filtered, washed, packed together and more expensive), and I only bought 300 lbs, because I was afraid I'd break the van. Luckily JP was home at this point to help me, because we literally shovelled the sand in with one of the girls' sand shovels, scoop by scoop. It took over an hour, but that didn't prevent JP from trying it out in the dark! Basketball is now J's new favorite sport (passed up mini golf, which was a hit last week), and she can hardly wait to get out there again with a ball...it does her Daddy's heart good to hear that!

Of course, while we were playing with sand, the girls occupied themselves doing what they felt the concrete is best for...riding bikes...

and sidewalk chalk pictures.

I particularly like this one that J did. She says it is the sun yawning and stretching before it goes to bed at night.

Monday, July 27, 2009


I've been apprehensive about my parents living with us for the several months until their house is finished. I tend to be the "glass half empty" kind of person, who imagines the worst (when I used to go jogging as a young person, I would fill my time by imagining what would happen if I was struck by a passing car). While I realize that this experience has the potential of being very good, I have been worrying about all the things that can go wrong. I want my parents to feel comfortable here, but at the same time, the whole concept is pushing the limits of my own comfort zone. Don't get me wrong, I am THRILLED (as is the rest of the family) that my folks are going to be our next door neighbors. I grew up only seeing my grandparents every couple of years, so this is an incredible opportunity for the girls. I am also looking forward to gardening and preserving with my Mom, shared meals with my parents, and many other things.

Mom & Dad came out again this weekend with another load of stuff. Dad is having rotator cuff surgery tomorrow, and wanted to move some heavy things (this load was his wood working equipment and wood stoves) before he was unable to lift. He decided this time to erect a shed to store things in, so that we won't have to move it from the garage when we are finally able to clear it out, finish the floor, and at long last...park our vehicles in there! Mom, Dad and I worked on it together, with the girls running in, out and around, and erecting their own structures with found sticks and pieces of scrap wood. First Dad flattened out a spot with the tractor.

Then it went from this:

...to this:

With lots of this in between.

It ended up being a fun project. I really like to see things go from pieces into a finished product, that's partly why I enjoy sewing. It was hard work, and all of us got cuts and bruises (Wow! I know I was sore on Saturday night, can you imagine how my retirement-age parents felt??), but it was enjoyable to work together on this project. This weekend finally gave me the sense that everything was going to work out alright. We might have our occasional minor injuries, but the final product will be strong and good.

In other news, the builders finished the entrance last week. They are pouring the final bit of concrete as I write. I need to ask the builder how much concrete they used in this project.

My parent's septic went in. This is the guys unloading the tank to put into a huge hole behind the truck.

I finally got one of my hummingbird feeders up. Within a couple of hours, we had our first visitors!

As for the other visitors...the rodent ones...the exterminators were out last week and left nasty stuff around for them. The night scrabbling sounds have diminished, but not completely disappeared, and if the smell in the girls' rooms is what I think it is, at least one has perished. Hmmm.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Girls' Rooms

We finally got mattresses for the daybed in the girls' playroom yesterday evening at the Friends & Family 20% off sale at Big Lots, so we could finally finish the girls' rooms. They are very "girly"...decorated with flowers, butterflies and fairies.

I showed a picture earlier of the double pocket doors between their rooms. For now, these are open most of the time, but when they are older and want their own rooms, they can keep them closed. One of the rooms is basically a sleeping room, with bunk beds and dressers for the girls.

The other room is the playroom/overflow guest room. L calls the area under the canopy the "rain place", but J thinks it is a "sleep-over/fairy bed". JP also managed to unearth the hopscotch rug that has been in storage for over a year.

I will post more pictures later of the girls hidey-hole under the stairs when it is finished.

This morning I woke up to this out front:

...and this in the back:

Now it looks like this:

They will pour another section of concrete later this week to make it into a giant rectangle. Then JP will at last be able to set up his Basketball hoop. They had to pour it in 2 steps in order to have a way to brace the roof over the door.

This weekend we did some more clearing in the garage. JP pulled out all the deck chairs and I scrubbed them. I also cleaned some more mouse dirtied things: sleeping bags, and the extra parts for the pack'n'play. JP was looking for bug spray, and found the bin it was in had something leak during the winter, so we had to clean all that up too. SIGH...I am really looking forward to the time when "moving" means hanging pictures, and NOT cleaning up mouse poo and pecan shells!

We put the deck chairs and the picnic table (that we used for a dining room table in the apartment) out on the porch. The girls had lunch there today.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Rainy Day

The rain held off until L finished her final swim lesson of the summer before it let loose in earnest. She seemed none the worse for her experience yesterday.

J's teacher worked with her until she was able to pass Level 3.

The builder cancelled the concrete pour scheduled for today due to the weather. Instead, they worked on the cupola. Unfortunately, I didn't have the right hardware to install the weather vane, so the pig is still in the garage.

The excavator was only able to work until around noon, but got fill in around the porch and garage, and opened up the front yard some.

I stood on the porch and watched the rain today...it was a pleasant way to waste time. Our flock of turkeys stayed in the underbrush during the downpour, so I couldn't see them. Every time it thundered, they would gobble their displeasure. An Eastern Bluebird was flitting from tree to tree...what a treat to see him! I am anxious to put up my Hummingbird feeders, so I can watch those lovely little flashes of color this summer as well.

The girls wanted to go out in their rain gear, and came back caked in mud.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My Heart Stopped Today

We are nearing the end of swimming lessons, thank goodness! It has been a long week at the pool. I'm sure the girls enjoyed it much more than I did. I'm pretty disappointed with the lessons this year...neither of the girls has learned much at all.

L fell in the water over her head this morning. It happened while I was scanning across the pool to be sure J was doing alright, so I wasn't aware that she was under until my friend started yelling "L is in the water! Get her out!" I took off running into the pool fully dressed, but one of the lifeguards managed to pull her out before I got in past my ankles. She was across the pool from me, coughing and gagging and shivering...so close, and yet so far away. All I wanted to do was hold her in my arms. When I finally did, I realized how much I was shaking too.

This evening, L told JP how she "got in the deep end and got water in my eyes and ears and nose"...no big deal to a 3 year old, but absolutely terrifying to a Mommy!

We spent the entire day at the pool, and came home tired and feeling a bit like raisins in the afternoon. The crew was just about to leave for the day. They put forms up for half of the concrete pad, and moved things out of the way for the excavators tomorrow. They also cleaned the porch and patio and sealed them with something called "Shark Skin", to make the concrete less slippery when wet. They look a bit darker and sorta shiny now. The porch hasn't been this empty since it was poured!

The cupola arrived and is in a giant box in the garage. J and I managed to put the "whimsical pig" weather vane together last week, so it is ready to go!

The pig garden is in full bloom! We released J's preying mantis out there this evening, after keeping it in the bug cage for most of the week. I was worried it would die, since we were having a hard time supplying food that it liked. We enjoyed watching it for several days...good luck in the wild Timmy!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Ducky Bathroom

It has been quiet around here this week. Well, quiet during the day anyway. At 9 PM, like clockwork, the rodents begin gnawing on things up in the ceiling. I can't tell you how dismayed I am that my new house is already infested with mice. I was so looking forward to a mouse-free zone for a number of years, after repeatedly trapping 2/day every winter at the old house. These seem to be a different species of truly annoying rodents, unlike the last species that merely showed up smooshed in the traps periodically. I finally went to Wal Mart yesterday for battle gear: D-Con and glue traps. I can tell you, that at 9:37 PM, there is still one alive in the Library ceiling gnawing on something...probably a pecan.

The construction crew has been out this week on another job. They have promised to return on Friday to pour concrete in front of the driveway and for the stoop at our entrance door (so that we no longer have to use a packing pallet to step on). I assume that means that they will actually return tomorrow in order to get the forms set up. I hope that next week they can finish in the storage/utility area so that I can put the stuff that has stacked up in the Family Room away...it looks like a smaller, cleaner, rodent-free (I think) version of the garage in there!

We did finish the girls' bathroom. They requested that it be decorated with rubber duckies. I decided to use adhesive wall stickers so that when they tire of the duckies in a couple of years, it won't be too hard to change. There is a crack in the bathtub, which apparently happens frequently in construction. Someone is coming to fix it next week.

The counter is loooooooooooooooooooong! It will be perfect when the girls are teenagers and have piles of make-up and creams and doo-dads to put there!

In the meantime, it is swimming lessons week, so we are spending 2 1/2 hours a day at the pool. J worked on the back stroke today, and L played "Simon Says" in the shallow water.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"God bless us, everyone!"

We have had a busy weekend! My parents arrived on Saturday afternoon with a trailer load of lawn and snow removal equipment. They signed a contract of sale on their house in Central PA on Friday with an anticipated closing date of Sept. 26th. We had originally expected them to join us on the hill in early Spring, but this means they will be here by Fall. Dad will attempt to get the house under roof before Winter begins in earnest, so that he can work inside through the cold months. We have been trying to anticipate them joining us as we move into our house...trying to find the line between filling our space and giving them theirs. JP helped unload the trailer using the front end loader as a hoist.

My Uncle, my Dad's younger brother, drove with his wife on their three wheeled motorcycle today, and joined us for lunch and the afternoon. He was here when we first cleared the property, but before we did any of the improvements, so was eager to see the changes.

This morning, Dad and I watched the group of male turkeys in our yard. They have been around nearly every day for the past week or so. 4 males who meander through the property, stopping every now and then to peck at bugs or to take a dust bath.

The guy with the longest beard is a bit gimpy, so we've named him "Tiny Tim". You can see his swollen leg in this picture.

It is fantastic to sit on the deck in the morning and hear nothing but bird songs, and be able to watch a flock of wild turkeys make themselves at home in my yard. J caught a preying mantis today, and then caught grasshoppers for it to eat, and watched in awe as it did just that. It is even more fantastic to know that my daughters will grow up in this environment.

This week brings another round of repair men...cooktop tomorrow, bathtub Tues. The excavators should be back this week to move ground for the final landscaping. Our builder anticipates finishing up in the house and pouring concrete in front of the garage and for our entrance stoop on Wed. or Thurs. This week also begins swimming lessons for the girls, L's first year. We will be busy, busy, busy!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ducks in a Row

I'm having abandonment issues. As much as I've been dreaming of living in this place, and even though I've actually been living here for 2 weeks, it still doesn't seem like mine. I still have this urge to ask the builders if I'm doing everything right. The problem is, they aren't here any more. They have left me here to figure it out my own!

Some of the guys have been here to load up stuff and take it to the next place. J remarked yesterday that "all the diggers are in a row!" Today, only the "Lull" is left, since they need to put another coat of paint on the rafters under the prow next week.

I'm trying to get my ducks in a row too. We have our first guests coming tomorrow, and I still need to hang drapes in the guest room. I've cleaned the bathrooms and tried to organize the chaos as much as possible. We're still not able to claim the storage room, so stuff is piling up in the Family Room downstairs.

Yesterday, J and I swept off the deck, porch and patio. Then we found the pool and filled it up. Here are my two little ducks out for a swim.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Polishing the Silver

I felt quite hoity-toity today putting away the china. This was JP's mother's set, and is very pretty and delicate appearing. It has been in storage for a long time: some of the pieces were wrapped in newspaper from Oregon in 1976! In any case, the china is seeing the light of day again, and has a new home in the built-ins in our great room. I am determined to use it too...if it's here, it has to be functional...that's my new rule.

But I diverge...I opened 5 boxes of china and other fragile doo-dads today, and put most of them away. This means we are to that point of dealing with the not-so-necessary things, the finishing touches: we're polishing up the silver. Hooray!

The building crew is finishing up too. Over the past several days, they finished up the trim on the beams in the front of the house...

...and the porch. They also cleared a truck load of stuff from off the porch and out of the garage.

The trim is finished up on the garage too, and a new light was installed by the door. Today they worked on leveling out the area in front to ready it for the concrete pad that should be poured the beginning of next week.

I finally got around to transplanting my tomato and pepper plants in 5 gallon buckets, which have been in abundant supply around here lately. They are finally blooming, so perhaps we'll even get fresh tomatoes and jalapenos this summer to make salsa.

The central vacuum was installed today. I used it downstairs, but haven't had a chance to use the hard floor attachment up stairs, or to try out my "vac pan" in the kitchen to suck up the stuff I broom up. This is the unit in the garage. The clearish bit underneath is what we will empty every couple of months. There is even a hook-up here, along with another hose and attachments to use on the vehicles in the garage!

Tonight, we watched fireworks from our deck...a late celebration! And now I plan to go to bed before midnight for once, and finally use my beautiful new shower in the morning.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Haunta Virus, Anyone?

Friday I found that the mice had nested in my wedding gown during the winter. Not too much damage, but dirty with random poo stuck between the lace and the silk. I'm taking it to the cleaners on our next trip to town.

Today I opened the last wardrobe box and found the yuckiest mess of all.

The casualties: my favorite lab coat and my calf length wool coat, along with JP's leather coat and work sweatshirt.

Thank goodness the washer and dryer are functional for all the rest of the coats!


When it Rains, it Pours!

It's been raining quite a bit here in our neck of the woods. The downspouts from the gutters and the french drains are now connected to our rain water cistern, which is full and over flowing. (Any one want to bring their gardens over for a drink?) The crew has been alternating between working outside when it is not raining, to working inside or on the porch when it is. Our breezeway between the house and garage is nearly finished, just needs a door on the porch side and then we can fill it up with shoes and coats.

The builder promised to hook up a temporary source of hot water for us on Friday. I was looking forward to finally using the dishwasher and this beautiful shower in my bathroom.

Here's a picture of the entire bathroom, which is basically finished. Might hang a picture in there later...dunno.

We ran the dishwasher on rinse last night before going to bed, as a preview for the next day's dishes. It wasn't long before water was puddling out from underneath. I called Sears again...the first available appointment they had for repairs was NEXT Friday! GRRRR!

JP was the first to try out the new shower this morning. I was happily cooking pancakes when J ran up from downstairs, yelling "It's raining in my room!". Yes indeed-y, it was! Water was running out of air vent in the girls' ceiling..quite a lot of it. It seems that there is some problem with either the shower drain (although we used it when running all of that water to empty the cistern after shocking the well) or the hot water to the shower. **Big sigh!** I'll have to wait a bit longer to use that shower.

The repairman returned with the part to fix my washer on Friday morning. When we brought the dryer in from the garage to hook it up, we found that the plug for it did not fit into the 220 volt outlet that was installed. I had already washed 5 loads of clothes in anticipation of the dryer. JP replaced the plug on the dryer today while I was at the laundromat drying stuff. After emptying the pecans and mouse poo out of the dryer vent, I put the last load in. Ahhh...so nice to have working appliances!

One other little issue we've discovered...we can't reach the second row of windows in the great room to open or close them. We have a doo-hickey, well really a 9 or 10 foot long pole, that we use to close the window on the back wall way up by the ceiling. It's too long to use for the other windows. It's been a bit chilly at night, so, for lack of a better idea, JP put J up on the ledge to close the windows. L thought it looked like great fun and wanted to be up there too! Now they ask to go up every day!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Coon Huntin

Just a little update about life in the new house...

It feels so HUGE after living in that tiny apartment for 7 months! I am officially tired of moving. Good thing we are living here until the end, eh?

JP has been working on unpacking and organizing books in the Library. I think we had at least 30 boxes just of books. It is nearly finished and the wall of built in bookshelves is filled.

I have been working on the kitchen. There were a lot of kitchen boxes too! I was able to get rid of a bunch of items...after all, I managed to feed us 3 meals a day in the apartment with 30% of the stuff! Some things we are really glad to see again, like our ice cream maker...just in time for the 4th!

We got the girls' furniture set up, and I unpacked all their things (also managed to hide some things away for the Thrift Store Donation Box). They are overjoyed to have their toys back, and spend lots of time downstairs playing together. That is really helpful while JP and I are trying to get some things accomplished, but I hope once we are settled they will bring toys upstairs to play too.

The repair men were out in droves this week. Yesterday a man looked at the washer. Apparently when you store washing machines, you should fill them with RV antifreeze so the pump doesn't crack. We have a new pump ordered and I should have a functioning washer and dryer by the end of the week (no more Laundromat excursions I hope!) The refrigerator guy fixed the fridge and the men hoisted it back over the bar. The stove dude found that the problem with the 2 burners on the left is that the controls are switched: the left front control works the left rear burner, etc. He has ordered a part AND a new cook top (just in case) and will be back in 2 weeks.

It is interesting living at a construction site. JP and I are up until midnight or later every night, and then the crew arrives at 7:15 to begin work. They are mostly working outside, but along with the birds in the morning, we get to hear the heavy equipment and nail guns. I'm not complaining, honestly, I'm still sleeping better than I have for 7 months. Our builder actually pulled a couple of men off this week to start their next project. I'm a bit sad to see them go...they feel almost like family now (and L has a bit of a crush on one of them, and his blue truck.) This morning, when I came out of the bedroom, they were working on the soffit of the prow and were way up in the air!

This week they have nearly finished all the siding, soffit and gutters, and have the furnace/air conditioning almost ready to run. They started putting the drop ceilings in a couple of the closets downstairs, so that should be completed by tomorrow.

I am on the rodent rampage again...trapped 4 mice over the past 2 nights. The raccoons got into our trash last night and spread rotting watermelon rinds all over the garage. JP has seen them on the porch several times, and run out with his gun, but scared them away in the process. I think we need a dog and/or cat!

We are still waiting on hot water in the East side of the house. Thank goodness we decided to put a shower in the washroom off my Craft Room!

All in all, we love being here! We are so happy with the house, although when pressed we could recite all the places we had to compromise (I try not to though...stop me if you've heard it!) We love the quiet, the space to roam, the virgin walls where we get to make the first holes. J and I "went to town" today, and when we returned, our dining table was in the dining room. So, by her measures, we now live here!