Sunday, June 26, 2016

river house #6: the cheap man always pays more...

Taking on (multiple) major home renovations at one time is not for the faint of heart.  Just when we were hitting a stride on the River House, we received an offer from a friend-of-a-friend to paint the exterior of our dilapidating 1820 rental house we purchased last year.  The work had to be done.  And it was one of those offers we felt we just couldn't refuse, especially since the price was so right.

BUT you know how that goes...

Growing up, my dad always told us, "The cheap man always pays more."

Well, let's just say this was a case-in-point example of Dad's proverb.  (which has been so ingrained in our heads that all he has to say is "The cheap man..." and we get it.)

Little Miss Sassy on the ladder
Because it turned out this "painter" wasn't actually a painter at all.  Granted, he was an excellent worker, and a hard one at that.  (Man, if only half of the contractors I've dealt with could hustle like this guy.)  He earned his pay, no doubt.  And he's a great guy.

But ultimately we, the cheap man, paid so much more in so many other ways in order to get this job done.   You were right, Dad.

(and it's still not complete...deep breath, Amy...)

We lost 2 weeks of working on the River House to personally attend to this new, unexpected painting project, but I can at least show you the front of the house that's finished....

new paint job on the 1820 house
Waalah!  I'd say it turned out beautifully, (the part that's complete, that is) and it's nice not to have a property that's literally rotting out anymore. 

(Ever seen a black house before?  The color, picked by the former owner, is called Lincoln Cottage Black, and we decided to complete his original vision!)  

Okay, so back to the Haunted House, uh, I mean, the River House... 

Almost all of the plaster in the main house has now been demo'd and it's down to the studs.  It's basically a barn: no electricity (don't let that old lightbulb in the picture deceive you), no plumbing, no HVAC, no walls, no cabinetry, no anything. 

But where we're really focusing this summer is in the basement.  We've got a female intern coming to work with Marc this August, and our plan is to rent this cool new space to her while we work on the upstairs main house. 

let there be light!

So here's the latest... we installed windows in the basement!  (previously there were none cut out- construction must have come to a quick halt in the previous owners' renovations... but hey, that gives us the ability to design it which is half the fun.)

We love Mr. Larry!
Meet Mr. Larry, contractor extraodinaire.

He's wonderful.  Jameson pretends he's Mr. Larry around the house.

Believe it or not, the previous owners were having an elevator shaft installed on this open concrete area.  Ten years ago, it was abandoned, cinder blocks, rebar and all.  Well, of course, we're not installing an elevator, so the question remained.  How will we use that space all the way up the house?

It's going to be awesome when it's all said and done, but for now I'll keep you in suspense...

We had a major loss of morale the other day when we discovered an ENTIRE CORNER of the house (2 STORIES) has become a snack-fest for an unwelcome, large community of TERMITES.  Cue all the "what have we gotten ourselves into" feelings.

Thankfully, the termite folks will be coming to the rescue, and afterall, what's one more check to write on a project like this anyway??  (please note sarcasm)

But good news is that we've got framing inside.  And the electrician came to rough everything in yesterday.

I'm in love with this old door I found laying upstairs.  (which happens to be just like the doors where Marc's dad grew up)  We're restoring it and will make it the pocket door into the bathroom.

Marc's working on plumbing, and anytime he's got a big drill in his hand, the kids are begging to join him.
And here's a sneak peek at some of the things I'm putting together for the bathroom vanity....can't wait to see it all come together!

Until next time...

Thursday, June 9, 2016

opportunities to fail...

Sometimes it saddens me that everything academically has always come so easy to my Caroline.  She was that kid who was reading the Bible fluently at age 3.  She's currently devouring the old Nancy Drew novels in less than 3 hours each. (!!!)  She's at the top of her class, and she's just a really bright little girl.

Sounds like a great thing, doesn't it?  In many ways, it is.

But since everything has always come easy for her, Caroline has come to expect things to always be that way.   And if something doesn't come easy, she tends to crumble and run off.  Perfectionism often keeps her from trying, and her mistakes can produce much anger and frustration within herself.

Thankfully, she has a mama that shares her struggles of perfectionism, though our responses to it are often opposite.  (I kill myself striving to get something just right, and after she explodes in anger, she flees the scene crying in total defeat...)  And for all the hugs and Gospel talks she and I have had over the years about accepting and laughing at our own mistakes, perfectionism still maintains its solid grip upon both of our hearts.

So, being the loving parent that I want to be, I think it's important that my daughter has opportunities to fail.  I don't think I need to shield her from mistakes and challenges just because she's afraid of them.  If anything, I need to provide her with more places to safely make them and work through to overcome them.

And since maybe school isn't that place right now, we're taking dance.

dance buddies
I enrolled Caroline in a jazz dance class knowing she'd be the youngest kid, knowing she'd be the only one without prior dance training, and knowing she'd have a great time, but have to work hard to keep up.

She's really liking it!  And she's really doing well at it, too.

I feel like it's not only teaching her skills of coordination and musicality, but it's giving her a fun opportunity to work through some deeper level life skills.

She can't run away when it gets hard.
She can't emotionally unload on her teacher if she doesn't understand something.

Instead, she has to keep trying, keep going, and do the best she's able to do.

So I can't tell you how proud I was of her at her second dance recital ever.  She felt unprepared and knew she wouldn't be "perfect" at this difficult routine.  She was super nervous.  And yet, she did a WONDERFUL job!...

I'm so proud of her confidence.

I'm so proud of her courage.

God fashioned her so uniquely and specially.

She has no idea how many mistakes she'll continue to make her whole life long.

And yet, she's got parents and a heavenly Father who will keep on loving her in spite of them all.  That's what grace is all about- despite all of our failures, that love never stops and runs away.

It keeps on keeping on.

And I'm so, so thankful she is mine.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

the river house #5: trash and treasures...

You work and you work, and in a huge project like this one, it feels as though it'll never be complete.  But there's excitement in the journey, I suppose.  Here's where we stand with the River House!

We now have gutters!  Super important for keeping water and moisture out of the basement.

 And our wonderful contractor and his son (pictured here) worked all week restoring and repairing the brick walls in the basement.
letting the cement ledge dry
On one side of the basement apartment, we had a cement ledge built over the original river rock to keep any dirt or critters from coming into the house.  It will be hidden by the kitchenette and bathroom anyways, so it didn't need to be left exposed.

 Voila!  The cement ledge completed!
(you'll have to wait and see what this will become!)
 And on the other side of the basement, our contractor cemented around all the stone, leaving the foundation of original river rock exposed.  (cool, right?)  This room will be a small bedroom for the basement apartment.
It'll be 3-4 weeks before we can seal the bricks with a finishing, matte sealant product, but even so, they look SO much better than what was there before!!

So now we're on to framing walls!  We bought our shower insert yesterday, set it in place, and started laying out where the bathroom wall will go with various objects on the floor.  I already had that little mint-colored table, and I'm seriously playing with the idea of putting a vessel sink on top of it and turning it into a farmhouse-type vanity!  

Meanwhile, here's what's happening UPstairs in the house...

The front entryway looks a little creepy gutted, doesn't it?
In this Fixer Upper, it's not #Demo Day, but it's #Demo Month!  We've already hauled off one dumpster full of plaster and lathe boards, and this second load should finish the job.

I'm saving enough of the lathe wood (those are the narrow boards under the original plaster to the house) in hopes of attempting to cover one wall in the basement with it!  Stay tuned for that project...

Here's the view looking towards the front door.  See that exterior window on the right?  Originally that would've been the outside of the house, but now we'll take out the window and turn it into a doorway from the kitchen into the hallway and half bath.

Guess who really liked swinging their hammers?  Oh man, these two went to TOWN getting to tear down walls!  On this particular day, I just took them over to the house to see what was happening, and before I knew it, they had already grabbed masks and hammers and were going at it!  

View from Great Room into the kitchen.  Demo is almost done.

 Sometimes, it's the small things that really make you feel accomplished.

Like after spending a gazillion years trying to figure out how to order the correct replacement window sash on a particular window that had sat broken for almost 10 years...

And then waiting a few more weeks for it to come in...

And then finally putting it in...

And suddenly, there's no more broken window anymore.


But even more rewarding than that window was knocking down all that plaster to find a gorgeous, floor-to-ceiling brick chimney that we'll restore and leave exposed in the historic front room of the house.  (the back side will be exposed in the kitchen where the stove will be placed!)  

I'm so excited about all the character this house will have! 

Behind that fireplace, we found a three page beautiful hand-written letter from 1946!   I asked my dad to do some research on the writer and recipient of the letter, and it appears they were pen pals during WWII.  They have both since passed away, but he was able to find out some pretty fascinating things about these people!  What an interesting treasure to find.

And just look at the rich color variation in the wood along the ceiling in that room, too. 

As always, to be continued!...

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

eight year old guest blogger: the snake at my house...

Hello, again!  This is Caroline.  I want to tell you about some crazy stuff.

So, my SC family came and my aunt was walking back to my house after she had put some luggage in my grandma's car, and she saw this 8' long black snake. She thought, "Marc has put a rubber snake on the doormat." And the "rubber" snake stuck its tongue out at her and from inside we heard her scream. The snake slithered off of the doormat and my aunt hurried inside.

"People!" she panted. "There is an 8' long black snake going to the dining room window."

There were several gasps and screams and "whats" and "eeks". She and my dad went outside and my dad was like, "Oh, it is looking in the window. " Mom said, "Caroline, go inside and look at it face to face." So I went inside but I hurried back to my mom and said, "I can't do it."  I was too afraid. And after I said that, do you see those bushes in the background? The snake slithered through those and my dad followed.

Here is a picture up close. Go on with the story. Okay! My dad found a stick and picked up the snake with the stick, thankfully. My mom and I went inside with my cousin, aunt, uncle, and grandma and laughed as my dad threw the biting snake (not venomous) over the fence two doors down from our house. (Nobody lives in that house.)  We thought the story ended there.

But there's more to go, people. (we experienced that)

And that night we were on a walk and when we got back to our house there was an 8' long black snake at our house on the porch AGAIN.  I saw it first. My mom said, "Marc! You gave it one chance and now it is time to kill it." "Alright." My dad said.  We went inside and he got his BB gun and shot it right in front of my window! Then he had the snake's burial service.

 Here is a picture of the grave for the snake. My dad asked, "Do any of you have a few words to say about  the snake?" I said, "Mr. Snake, I'm glad you're gone." My dad said, "I'll say good riddance." My mom and Jameson had nothing to say.  I changed the cross to an X the next day because I hated that snake

Well that's the end of the first part.

I want to change the subject so that you all won't freak out. Do you see Jameson's ADORABLE little guitar pants? I sewed them. My amazing sewing teacher, Mrs. Maria, helped me! Hey, people in the crowd who like to buy adorable stuff! These are absolutely not for sale. He loves the pajama pants so much!
Jameson went to play-group today and I made excuses to get him all dressed up. I said that all these fabrics would help him get extra super powers. Haha! 

And last but not least, we (Jameson and I) think that my parent's treadmill is a jungle gym. LOL. 
(For people who have no idea what LOL means, LOL means "laugh out loud") Well, I should expect that everyone knows what LOL means.        Haha! I'll see you next time I write to you! (NONE of that makes sense, huh.) BYE! boohoo. boohoo.