Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sand or Snow

Busy scooping and dumping, we have to have all the toys out.

Sand toys make great snow toys too!

Irons in the Fire

Whoa!  We've got too many irons in the fire.  We're keeping very busy with:

Family - raising Noah, being married, etc.
Jobs - we both are experiencing unusually busy periods at work right now
Home Improvement - I'm trying to keep you all updated on the bathroom project as it crawls along
Business Dealings - more on that later
Moving? - Buying, Selling, Cleaning, Showing, Negotiating, Financing, Marketing - more on that later too
Bike Team - there are a few meetings and promotionals that we are involved in during the off season

I can hardly keep up with it all!

Business Dealings and Moving-
We were working hard a few weeks ago to get a particular pizza deal to happen.  We got word that it was not going to happen and we closed that deal, cancelled the contract.  While we were "under contract" with that business, another one popped up that was interesting to Brian, but we were unavailable to pursue it.  Shortly before the pizza contract went south, we discovered that we were simultaneously drooling over a house on an acreage very close to the bike trails and a good ride to work.  We decided to go see it when we heard the pizza deal wasn't going to happen.  Fell in love.  It's not a perfect house (because we haven't "made it our own" yet), but the land and location are fantastic.  We heard that they had an offer, but it wasn't reviewed or negotiated yet, it was simply on the table.  Yikes!  We don't like to make decisions fast, but this couldn't be helped.  We would both mourn the "SE Farm" if we let that one get away.  So, we spent 4 days fighting to get the sellers to make a contract with us.  We are, of course, in the middle of a major bathroom remodel, on top of this all.  We have a contract now and it looks like we'll be singing "Welcome to the Farm" in mid-April.  On Sunday we did a "home inspection", made it a family affair, so it was fun and we had helpful feedback from a few other perspectives.  We need to make sure that we don't buy another money pit.  We still need to summarize our findings and decide if the known fixes are worth the expense and challenge of starting over and the price we settled on paying.  On Monday, we heard 2 business related things... The pizza deal could be revived if we want it to be (Corporate changed their minds and decided to approve us even though we won't quit our jobs??!).  The other business of interest to Brian is still available and worth a real consideration.  It would work nicely from the "Farm" and we could easily make the deal work into the finances associated with moving, as long as we sell our downtown house.  We're listing "by owner" until the bathroom is complete, so there is quite a bit of work to be done with that as well.  We made a flyer, have told everyone we know, have shown the house to a few buyers agents.  We are showing the house to a potential buyer on Friday.  It's just a single showing, but we want to be as prepared as if it was a full-fledge MLS open house.  It only takes one! 

We aren't sure what order to make these major decisions in.  We're just praying for clarity and that the puzzle works itself out.  We aren't even sure how we ended up in this tangled web.  Maybe we just need to pray for contentment, learn to say no, and not look for trouble (aka - houses or businesses), but that hasn't really been working too well for us for the past few years...

Saturday, January 28, 2012

CXC better make room

Noah's getting the hang of this skiing thing!

Bathroom Progress

 All the shower is missing is the glass door!
We have accumulated all the little things that need to go in to finish the bathroom.  Brian has spent hours making the door to the room work and getting it trimmed out.  We'll paint soon, then call the electrician out to do the final electrical!  We're only about a week out on the glass shower door and cabinet at this point.  We still need to figure out the vanity top, we know what we want to get, we just aren't convinced that we can install it ourselves...  We won't actually place the order until we have a better idea of how it's going to get from the car to the bathroom! We estimate that it will weigh over 200 pounds - whew!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bathroom design concept

When we were starting to figure out what we wanted our bathroom to look like, we had a bit of help from some friends.  Everybody who commented agreed that we MUST do white subway tiles in the shower.  Most of the images that we looked at had bathtubs and pedestal sinks.  We wanted to eliminate the bathtub due to the size constraint (to replace the tub, we would have to get one that was "mobile home" sized, doesn't that just scream luxury!).  This was the first image that got my attention.  Obviously, it has a bathtub and pedestal sink, but style-wise, it's definitely moving in the right direction. 
I like the flooring strips.  Black and white work well.  We could do something like this. 
I kept looking around on the web for inspiration pictures and finally stumbled upon this.
Love it!  It takes the black and white theme into a glass-door shower concept.  It feels like a pretty big space because of the glass door and color continuity in on the floor and walls.  By the time I uncovered this picture, Brian had already brought home the black spa rocks thinking they might make a nice shower floor.  Combine all these features and...
Here it is!  Never mind the fact that the white subway tiles look a little yellow in these pictures, they are gleaming white in real life!  I'm really pleased how the tile job turned out.  The vanity and shower door glass are both ordered.  We'll be ordering the vanity top this evening as well as buying a lot of the rest of the stuff that we need to finish up the job.  I'm starting to feel like we'll have a functioning bathroom by about the end of February...  Most of our special orders estimate the product to be delivered in 4 weeks, they better not be late on that estimate!!! 
Our latest debate, a small detail that we haven't yet decided is the metal color/type.  The vanity comes with satin nickel hardware, so we're leaning that direction.  We had discussed defaulting to chrome because it works with everything and we could re-use the towel bars from before, but that would require replacing the brand-new hardware that comes with the cabinet and we aren't sure if we will be able to find an additional matching towel bar for the other sink.  The vanity is white and the vanity top is "absolute black" granite.  We like oil-rubbed bronze, but think that it might disappear against the black surfaces, and it costs more.  What do you think?  What's the best metal for a really old space made new again?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Continued bathroom saga

We originally thought that we could easily wrap up the bathroom project within the fall, so have it done by about Thanksgiving. When you are dealing with structural changes, hundred year old plumbing and electrical, and very un-square, un-level, settled-old-house surfaces there are some things that are best left to professionals. Even the professionals didn't always know what to do. Between the time that the permitting process takes, getting people lined up and scheduled, and figuring out the order of these items, it's been slow going. In addition, we weren't really able to settle on a design theme for quite awhile. We figured, if we took it apart and forced decisions, we'd finally make them and get it done. We settled on white subway tiles for the shower walls - it's a bright, clean, classic look that just fits our space and has the bonus of being relatively cheap!

They did a nice job with this (with the waterproofing/shower floor factor and the crazy angles, we decided to hire out the tile job as well). Here it is before the grout went in. They did the walls of the shower first because of the shape/profile of our choice for the shower floor: black spa rocks!! I'm really excited for that shower. It looks really good, photos coming in the not too distant future.
Since we chose black for the shower floor, I didn't want to break up the visual feel of the room (which will have a glass door separating the shower from the rest). We needed to find an appropriate black floor tile as well. Spa rocks over the whole bathroom floor would be a bit too much for me! Here's the freshly laid black 6x24 strips that we settled on. I'm really happy with how it turned out! Black and White is the theme now. We just ordered a painted white cabinet, after MUCH deliberation. We talked about building our own because we were not happy with those available. We debated between stained wood and painted. We groaned at the plastic-y look and feel of the "white painted" ones available in the low cost category. Finally, we went back to the same cabinet we picked every time we went to Menard's. AND, when the procrastination ended, they happened to have a nice sale going on!! We scored the cabinet we wanted for the price we wanted. While we are waiting the 4 weeks for it to come in, we'll try to work on getting all the fussy little details cleaned up and picked out. Brian can start doing some trim. We can order the shower glass, buy a toilet, and pick out light fixtures for above the sinks. We need mirrors (which we'll probably buy cheap ones and build some frames for them ourselves). We did save the bathroom door and towel bars, but they need some re-hab if we'll be happy to re-use them. While good progress has happened, there's still lots to do!

Monday, January 9, 2012


Noah got fences for Christmas (inspired by http://ana-white.com/2011/11/plans/play-fences-3). I really like the idea of simple toys to inspire imagination play and creative development. We played "goaties" for awhile last Friday morning, then, since it was so nice out, I took him over to see the real "goaties" at Oxbow. It was a fun morning!

While playing Goaties, Noah made me, the momma goatie, a nice meal. He went over to his pretend kitchen (the slide), and prepared a "grass and leaves quesadilla", because goaties like to eat grass and leaves (and quesadillas are probably his favorite food!). He also grabbed some blankets and made me a nice rest place in my corral. Sometimes he was the shepherd, sometimes the baby goatie, and sometimes he was just Noah. He didn't usually know what to do when I got out of the fence (because he left it open). I was hoping to see some herding behavior to get me back in, but he just hopped around and said,
"No, you have to stay in the fence!" We have a long ways to go before he could be a rancher or shepherd!
I think these are his favorite animal at Oxbow. We did stop by the otters' place to say "hi" and he was a bit disappointed that the bear was hibernating. The "farm animals" area is always where we spend the most time, especially the goaties.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Noah 2011 development

In reverse order, just for fun... Noah making a silly face for the camera at Halloween. He got to play Thomas the train, it sure was fun! After just a couple of houses, he wanted to head back to Grandma and Grandpa's house to eat the yummy treats that he received.
After the big birthday party, the weather held up good enough to use the new toys out in the canoe. We had a number of fun outings in the canoe this summer. Noah's favorite is playing Walnut ball with Nate - finding walnuts floating in the river, and throwing them back and forth between the boats.
Noah insisted on having a "Scoop" cake for his birthday, since he's almost the worlds most dedicated Bob the Builder fan. It was a big challenge for mom, but managed to be pulled off successfully. At the end of the day, we asked what the favorite part of his birthday was, "My Scoop cake!" Worth every minute of it.
Noah enjoyed lots of rides on the big red bike this year. He got up to about 20 miles on a day and often asked for more at the end of a ride. We didn't end up doing a tour, couldn't figure out how to keep him happy either in the trailer or on the bike for that length of time (and didn't want to bring both!).
The neighbor boy outgrew his little pool, so now Noah gets to play with it all summer long! He had lots of fun floating his crocks in the pool and splashing in it!
Noah was a pretty good supporter of mom and dad's mountain bike team work. He came along with his bells and clappers to the races, ate the snacks, and had a good time. He liked to visit the dogs in the crowd.
We got a freak late snow in April that we were able to scoop up into a mini-snowman! There was lots of snow for winter fun this year.
Noah completely outgrew his hook on chair (among many other things). He now is able to carry full size stools around the kitchen to reach whatever he needs.
Noah loves to go to the river (or lake or pond) and throw rocks into the water! He spent quite a few "daddy and Noah days" playing outside like this.
Noah went to 2 year old gym classes in the late winter and spring to run off some energy and have fun. He also enjoyed going to the "jumping place" and many playgrounds.

Looks like he gets his camera face from mom and mom's side of the family... It's rare to catch him with a natural smile, so we'll make an effort to take MORE pictures this year and see if we can develop a more relaxed presence with the ole camera.

Story of an ugly bathroom

This room was scoring the ugliest in the house award, so we decided to do something about it!
In August, one weekend, we decided it was time. We started pulling it apart, taking everything out and breaking down the walls. We knew that if it was going to happen, it had to get done outside of heating season - spray foam insulation and radiator moving really can't be done when it's nasty cold outside.
It was yuck, gross, disgusting (Noah's recent phrase) behind the walls - at some point in the past, there had been a fire up there somewhere, therefore, in addition to 100 years of dust, there was nasty soot inside the walls.
The demolition seemed like it took forever! We just kept working and taking things out and working some more. How could such a little space have so much packed into it?? We took something like 6 carloads over to the dump, in addition to filling our weekly garbage for all of August and September.
This room was one of the first that we changed up when we moved in, we painted it to go with our towels and bathroom accessories. Unfortunately, we used Behr paint, more appropriately referred to as glue paint. Any place where the shower curtain touched the paint, it peeled off and looked nasty. The room is so small, that I don't have any
really good "pre" photos, we just couldn't get in there to take pics, not to mention that the bathroom isn't really a place where a lot of great photo-ops take place! The whole room was on an outside wall when the house was built, and had the gabled ceiling thing going on. There was only one sink on that 5 foot wall because the gabled ceiling would take up the headspace for the other sink (if there had been one). 50 or 60 years ago, another bedroom was added making the gable by the sink useless - it sloped only because nobody bothered to raise it up when the new roof went past it. The biggest motivation to tearing everything out was to get more headroom in this space, so we hired ourselves a competent framer (and we interviewed a few that left us wondering) and raised the roof!
You can see in the picture here the new studs heading straight up from where the angle started. The shower is still an exterior wall, so it gets to keep its unique angled ceiling.
We got spray foam insulation on the exterior wall, always a must when you only have 2x4 walls
and live in a drafty old place like this! Most of our projects start because we want to make our house more efficient (aka - reduce the heat bills), or at least include an insulation component.
With this small of space, we couldn't find a sheetrock crew that would meet our $$ expectations. They would have to come back to our house 5 times, but not for long enough to make it count for them. So, we ended up installing that ourselves. Good thing Brian is getting good at taping and mudding drywall. And, look at how patient he is... He welcomes a little learner in to "help" him with the work!