Sunday, March 30, 2008


We painted this morning. I was still feeling chipper and full of energy after that, so we decided we had time to tile the kitchen, too.

I have a chemical burn on my arm from tile mortar, a blister behind my right knee from the knee pads, and mortar stuck in my cuticles. We aren't done yet. I still have two full tiles and quite a bit of partials to go.

I'm not feeling a bit chipper. And my Italian Soda was flat.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

What's a Little Remodeling Without a Few Tears

The original part of our house is on a slab, this includes the kitchen. I was not surprised at all when the plumber declared that there was nothing we could do to reconnect the hot water except open up the concrete. The slab had been broken into before and a lovely patch job about a foot wide lay all down the length of the kitchen. This made it easy to see where we needed to open the floor to find the pipes.

That was of course nearly three weeks ago now. In the meantime we have had to stare at a badly done patch all down the length of the kitchen, a concrete patch that was raised above the rest of the floor by at least 1/4", which might as well be a foot when you are laying tile over it. More than one person suggested we just break open the patch all the way down the floor and redo it. Concrete is cheap and patching the piping mess really wasn't that big of a job. We even still had his dad's sledge hammer.

Saturday, we finally decided that's what we would do. I got out the sledge and started the job. Joshua and I got about three feet in when it was time for me to quit and get ready to go photograph a wedding. I handed the concrete breaking reigns over to Steve.

Steve begin breaking up the concrete and all went well for another foot. Then all of the sudden the concrete began to slide downward as he broke it up. It cracked and fell down. Down is not good when there is supposed to be dirt there.

There was no dirt. There was instead a big, big hole under the north end of my kitchen. The main slab was still solid and holding just fine, but we now had a 1' by 3' gap in the kitchen floor with a 7' deep by 4' wide hole under it. Don't ask me how the previous owners managed to lay a concrete patch over thin air. It baffles us to this day. There are no signs of support materials in the hole. No frayed burlap, no wire mesh, no cardboard, no wood, nothing. The last thing we expected when we broke open that concrete patch was there would be nothing supporting it from underneath. It's just simple logic.

Steve called me in to see the hole 30 minutes before I had to leave. He sat there on his knees, completely stunned. He had no clue how to fix this.

I did not cry when I had to downgrade my kitchen vision to cheaper cabinets. I did not cry when I saw how quickly we were running out of money. I did not cry when the cabinet guys mis-measured my cabinets. (although I may yell at them if I don't hear something from them soon.) That big hole in my floor brought me to tears.

Luckily, I ran over to a neighbor's after the wedding to borrow a sewing machine (another long, but more boring story.) Her husband happens to do construction work for a living. When I told her about our lovely hole in the floor, she suggested to her husband that he might want to go help Steve fix the floor. The neighbor had the perfect solution. He pounded in concrete stakes and put a support piece right beneath the slab. The guys screwed concrete mesh into the hole to help support it. It only took two cubic feet of concrete to fill the mess.

I have to say that was the worst moment in our remodeling venture. I'm sure it could have always been worse, but I'm glad I didn't have to see that.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Important Is a Relative Term

Coming home from Grandma's last night with a car full of Easter candy:

Rilla: Turn on the back light, Dad. I need to show Sarah something.

Dad: please.

Rilla: Please turn on the light.

Dad: ok.

and the light goes on in the back of the van.

Rilla: Sarah, what color is my tongue?

"It can wait" is not a phrase my children understand.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


This is Shawn. Isn't he nice? I know you don't know him but all you do have to know about him is he is installing my cabinets. That alone makes him nice, don't you think?

I have lots and lots of cabinets. I'm having a difficult time deciding what goes where. It's a good problem to have.
If you look at the first picture again, you will see some gaps in the lower cabinets and some big empty wall space. When Shawn showed up on Monday to install, he discovered that his boss mis-measured my kitchen resulting in four cabinets being the wrong size, two wall and two drawer bases. Boss guy immediately set to work figuring out how to fix it. Instead of two 12" drawer bases symmetrically flanking the sink, I will have a 15" drawer base on one side and a pull out spice drawer on the other. It won't look quite as nice as the symmetrical arrangement, but I know I'll like having the spice drawer. I was having a hard time figuring out what to do with all those drawers anyway. ;) The new cabinets will show up next week and Shawn will install them then. This means my dishwasher can't be installed until next week either, that I'm not so OK with.
The mistake cabinets we get to keep, of course, and we won't be paying for the correct cabinets. We still get to figure out where to put the extras. It will be a topic of great debate over the next few weeks I'm sure. Any and all suggestions are welcome.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

More info than you ever wanted

This was my house Friday afternoon. Do you notice there is no water heater? No closet? Yeah. That was fun to bust up. I busted up my pointer finger doing it, but I still like sledgehammers.

I like them so much that when the plumber needed to break into the floor to get us hot water to the bathroom and kitchen, (you should have seen Steve's face when He found that out. oooh boy.) I volunteered to swing it. I did a dang good job, too. See that nice big hole in my floor? I didn't care. I wanted a shower, dang it.

Steve says I look cuter swinging a sledge hammer than I do running a power saw. (Only he said sexier, but my mom reads this blog, so I edited that line for you. I'm nice like that.)

This is my dad helping out on Friday. He and mom stopped by to see the progress we were making and dad got roped into helping. Considering the fact that he got a goose egg on his head from a board falling on it last time he helped, we were feeling pretty lucky. Dad helped me tear down the closet walls and clean up the mess. Thanks dad. Love ya.

This is my house as of this evening. Not a lot more visible progress. We did get the mess cleaned up and the drywall is up on the beam wall with it's first coat of mud. Steve was knocking my mudding job this evening. He might get to do the rest. Dude. Don't knock my work if you don't want to work alone.

This is the view from the wall in the living room. That is the far end of my house. My house finally looks it's size. It feels big and open and even though it's a mess right now, I already love it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Easter Dress

Last week, on Monday actually, I looked at the calendar and realized that because of the remodel I was out time to make dresses for my girls for Easter. They need the dresses and I was looking forward to it this year. I expressed my disappointment to my spouse who promptly responded "oh you have to make them Easter dresses. You have time. You won't spend the whole week working on the house."

1st of all. ha. Yes I am spending the whole week on the house. Either working or trying not to fall over from exhaustion. Remodeling is hard work.

2nd of all. I listened to him anyway. Isn't she cute? I sewed that dress in a few hours. Rilla's looks just like it only her lining is yellow. If you can't see it from the picture, it's cotton eyelet with a broadcloth lining in pink.

My favorite part of the dress is that adorable bodice. I love the tucks. So cute. I'm going to have to use that pattern again.

Sarah's dress is also empire waist and eyelet. Her lining is a light teal blue. I'll be sewing that next week while I watch the workmen install my new kitchen (!!)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Never Sneeze Into a Dust Mask

Wise words from my husband, who is currently hard at work tearing down plaster board. What is plaster board? It's what construction people used in houses between lathe and plaster and drywall. Plaster board is actually a cross between the two. The boards are 12"x8' rather than the drywall standard of 4'x8' (or 4'x12' which I avoid using when possible because it's a bear to hang with two people, which is how many people we usually have around to hang drywall.) The boards on plaster board have 1" holes drilled all along the length so the scratch coat of the plaster would push through and create the key. Then they did a surface coat. Anyway. It's thick, strong (I think it's stronger than lathe and plaster) and a bear to remove. How much have we torn off?

Look and see for yourself:

That's my living room as of 2pm today. The water heater and the rest of the closet it's sitting in will be completely torn out. We have a new on demand water heater being installed in another part of the house where it won't interfere with traffic patterns. (Yes this cost quite a bit of money to put in the beam and move the utility closet. You try living for six years in a house where five children have to go through the middle of the kitchen to get between their bedrooms and the only bathroom and see how much you are willing to spend to make them STOP RUNNING THROUGH KITCHEN WHEN I'M COOKING ALREADY.)
This is my kitchen as of 2:03 this afternoon.
You will notice there is no sink, but I still have a stove and fridge. I can still cook even in the mess. This is what we call brilliant planning. (Brilliant planning is not what we call the multiple trips to the hardware store and Home Depot I'm making on a daily basis this week. )
I stood at my living room window (the one the termites ate) to take this photo. Picture lovely new cabinets along that wall soon. Six days from today actually. As of yet, I'm not hyperventilating about the time frame. I may if more doesn't get done tomorrow though.