Weekly Photo Challenge: Split-Second Story

Weekly Photo Challenge: Split-Second Storyhouse demo

We sat, truck idling, windshield wipers flapping, watching in horror and fascination as the big machine went to take yet another bite of out of our old house.

There it all was.

The expanding road that forced the move, and the remains of our first house. It’s paltry insulation rests among the shingles we put on ourselves. The front door that never closed well enough to lock properly falls out the side as my favorite red shutters fall off the front. The bay window still stands as the remaining peony gets crushed under the mess. An un-grounded kitchen outlet lays exposed as my handmade curtains hide just beyond the window.

That was this morning. Tonight, it’s gone.

Nothing but memories now.

The Tour – Part 4

Continued from The Tour – Part 3

Oh you wanted to come in the house?

So sorry, please come on in!

Jane and Clara are all set having a snack at the table so I can give you a quick tour without too many interruptions.

So, here we go.

You just entered through the blue door and are standing just inside the kitchen.

You just entered through the blue door and are standing just inside the kitchen.

The house is a saltbox style with post and beam construction. If you walk on over to the other side of the living room you can see more of the beams. We met the man who built the place and he told us all about where he got the building supplies from. Some was reclaimed wood, other beams he picked up at lumber mills  and some things came from auctions.  It was fun to hear all about it but since it’s not your house I’ll spare you the details unless you really want to know.

The table with the girls at it is in the far corner of the picture and you are now standing in front of the back door.

The table with the girls at it is in the far corner of the picture and you are now standing in front of the back door.

Over this way is the way back to our bedroom.

Still standing by the back door you've now turned and looked the opposite direction. The hall way with the awesome built in bookshelves to your left takes you to the front door.

Still standing by the back door you’ve now turned and looked the opposite direction. The hall way with the awesome built in bookshelves to your left takes you to the front door.

Here is the office, or as John likes to say, the antechamber to our private quarters. (We’ve never had a “master” bedroom can you tell?) Sadly it’s my current least favorite room. It’s become the dumping ground for stuff from the move and the closet behind you as well as the space behind the door is full of boxes. I have visions of a new, smaller desk, a space for sewing and a closet full of craft supplies…. someday.houseAnd here we have the bedroom and in case you need it (since I left you standing at the door for a month) the bathroom is just through that door.

Doors from left to right: office, bathroom, closet.

Doors from left to right: office, bathroom, closet.

The other door is the biggest closet I have ever owned. There is enough floor space in there to hold just about all our dirty clothes without them spilling into the room- it’s huge I tell you! Oh- yeah, the bathroom is papered in maps.

I have no idea how to get a picture of a bathroom. It's your basic bathroom, toilet, shower, sink and lots of maps.

I have no idea how to get a picture of a bathroom. It’s your basic bathroom, toilet, shower, sink and lots of maps.

I thought it was funky when we moved in but it’s really growing on me.

Now turn around and you’ll see one of my favorite features – the greenhouse.

Yeah, I have a greenhouse attached to my bedroom, it's pretty awesome.

Yeah, I have a greenhouse attached to my bedroom, it’s pretty awesome.

Admittedly I’ve yet to do much with it but I’ve got ideas and plans. I’ve only got a few plants in it at the moment (basil in November anyone?) mostly I’m just enjoying the sunshine and warmth on these cool sunny days we are having. That’s it for the downstairs. Come on up and see the rest.


Heading up the stairs the back door is behind you again. (Also our back door is probably technically the front of the house but since everyone comes in the back of the house we call it the front… just in case you were wondering.)

We are still working on filling the display shelves. The teacups are a small part of my great grandma’s collection that I never thought I’d have a place to put out where they’d be out of reach of paws and sticky fingers but I think we’ve found it here!

Through here is Clara and Jane’s room.

It's a nice big room with a nice big closet and in ceiling radiant heat. Which is odd but cozy.

It’s a nice big room with a nice big closet and in ceiling radiant heat. Which is odd but cozy.

Then over here we have the upstairs bathroom. I can’t decide if I love having a spot for the girls to smear toothpaste around that’s not where I brush my teeth or if I just really hate having two bathrooms to take care of. Either way I love the tub and the girls have been getting bathroom cleaning lessons so that should help with the toothpaste issue!

Clara and Jane's room is on the other side of the stairs, Ivy's room is a sharp right just outside the bathroom door.

Clara and Jane’s room is on the other side of the stairs, Ivy’s room is a sharp right just outside the bathroom door.

And then we have Ivy’s room.

Ivy's room is much smaller, but still has a closet and crawl space access!

Ivy’s room is much smaller, but still has a closet and crawl space access!

That’s it!

Lets go check on the girls. If we can convince them to go play I’ve got brownies and Diet Coke here in the kitchen that we can share while we wait for Ivy to get home from school…

The counter on the left is the same counter that is in the foreground of the first picture.

The counter on the left is the same counter that is in the foreground of the first picture.

Thanks for coming over for a virtual tour!

These pictures were all taken two months ago when I started this tour. We do have a few more pictures on the walls, a few more boxes unpacked and things are looking a bit more like home. You’ll just have to come see the changes in person if you are curious what it looks like now. It’ll be fun I’ve even got real brownies and Diet Coke!


A picture from this week, taken from near the front door.


If you missed the outside tour you can find it here:

The Tour – Part 1

The Tour – Part 2

The Tour – Part 3

The Tour – Part 1

We moved.

We unpacked (mostly).

It is time for the virtual tour.

I wouldn’t want you to miss anything so lets start at the very beginning…

As you head up the driveway turn and look behind you, past the mailbox, across the field you will see a little grey house in the distance. mailboxWave and say goodbye, that’s our old house and it won’t be around much longer!

When you have said your proper farewells head up the long driveway.

down the driveway

This crew is walking down the driveway toward the road.

The orchard that you are passing, (along with the driveway) is not ours but our new neighbors and the barn you will drive by is where their 100-year-old cider press resides.barn

Note: If you are virtually (or actually) visiting in the winter please reflect on how happy we are to live far off the road rather than curse the length of our driveway which we hear has drifting problems.

Once you make it to the top of the hill, watch out for girls on wheels! Ivy bike

While the new place has it’s own small orchard, as well as a woods, yard with lots of gardens. a house and a garage to explore the girls are most enamored by the driveway.

The driveway.

The driveway which is on the opposite side of the garage as the house. The driveway which has western exposure, no shade, no lawn, just a nice chunk of pavement that resembles an oven in the late afternoon. The driveway is not everyone’s favorite part of the new house.

But, after a month of having a paved driveway even the littlest girl can now go faster than my focus!

Jane scooting

And the others are doing tricks – Look, no hands!

Clara tricycle - no handsIf you can manage to park your vehicle out of the way of the circus on wheels you will no doubt be pressed into watching a full “show” of the best and current tricks.  After managing to extract yourself from that situation (and before you protest remember the oven factor) ask Clara to show you the house. Then try to keep up as she runs past our two car garage (that only has room for cars in it in my dreams) and heads towards home… garage(and part 2)

We Need Ice Cream!

This morning we bought this house:new house

This afternoon I was in a moving funk.


I’m sure it was brought on by the conflicting emotions of the day.

The excitement of the new house.

The dread of leaving the old place.

The bored children.

The underlying panic every time I look at the amount of packing and moving that still needs to be done.


I’ve decided there is only one cure for such a problem.

Packing can wait we are going out to celebrate with ice cream!


A Line Drawn

It’s official, the line has been drawn and it’s no proverbial line in the sand this time.

For months we have been fretting about the proposed plans to the highway we live on. Widening lanes, adding paved shoulders, better drainage, wider right of ways, it all sounded fine, until we looked at the plans. The plans that showed our house sitting on it’s own tiny peninsula of land in the right of way. After discussions, tears, e-mails, phone calls, public information meetings, hope, despair, plan changes, and septic system explorations, we were offered the option of moving the right of way line through the house. This option, the option we have chosen, comes with demolition plans, relocation specialists, appraisals, options to move or rebuild, moving reimbursements and more hope for our living location than we’ve had in a long time.

What it does not come with is hope for our house.house with wreath

And while everyone who has ever lent a hand and helped with one of the many projects and updates we’ve worked on has cheered when they found out that our house will be reduced to a large pile of toothpicks I can’t help but be sad.

It’s true that our home has at times been a nightmare to work on, a hundred years of different owners fixing problems in their own “unique” ways. But the work we have put into the many upgrades that we’ve made- the almost finished projects that are doomed to stay that way – the ideas and plans only half realized of making our home just exactly how we want it – abandoned and unfinished- not for someone else to pick up and carry on – but to turn to rubble…

I find it hard to smile with the rest of them.

I know this is the right decision, I may be teary eyed at the prospective changes but the thought of leaving our house where it is is much worse. Soon we’ll have more meetings and e-mails, phone calls and appraisals, offers, and decisions and we’ll know the direction our lives will be headed. My mind will stop spinning in furious circles and I’ll be able to start to plan for our new home, where ever it may be.  The excitement will build and it will be easier to close the door on this one.

But now, right now, as we wait and decide, I feel we have failed to finish what we’ve started and more than a little homeless.

When Life Gives You Lemons… Get a Saw.

It doesn’t happen very often but every now and then I’m seized with a sudden urge that- THINGS MUST CHANGE NOW.  It wasn’t until a few years ago that I noticed the not so coincidental fact that those random room changes happened right when I felt that the rest of life was spiraling out of control.

Today it wasn’t until I had the saw in hand and was cutting a hole in my living room wall that I realized that perhaps my manic need to move the stereo into a separate in-wall shelf of it’s own and then rearrange the furniture accordingly had something to do with the rest of my day/week.

Tonight I’m feeling better, my couch is on a new wall and I have an in-wall-out-of-sticky-finger-range-stereo.

I’ve also learned something.

Know your target and beyond should also be a rule for falling drywall.

So, next time I get the urge to cut a hole in my wall I’m going to try not to drop the chunk of drywall on Clara’s head.

The Disease Part III The Sleep Crawler

By now you are perhaps wondering what did prompt me to move Clara into her unfinished room. I mean really, I’d held out for nine months and have written two long posts about how I thought it was a bad idea, why did I cave? I’ll tell you why, because she’s a sleep crawler, that’s why. Here is the whole story:

Clara started out sleeping in bed with us, then as she became mobile she took naps and started the night out sleeping in her own crib in our room. Inevitably she ended up in bed with us by morning. This is because I nursed her, and there is no point in staying awake when you could be sleeping, and so therefore she ate, I slept and she was still there in the morning.

This worked great for many months until Clara started doing this crazy thing where she crawls around in bed with her eyes closed then flops down when her head hits something and lays where she falls sleeping. Sleep crawling? I don’t know, but whatever it is it is not conducive to co-sleeping.  She would finish nursing then lurch around the bed between John and I like a really drunken sailor.  I would start awake when she would move, watch her flop down against John, immediately fall back asleep only to be woken up to her lurching back toward me and flopping on top of me instead.  For awhile I tried to just get up and put her back in her crib. This was difficult for two reasons. The first, I had to get up. The other was that once Clara was back in her crib  she did her crazy sleep crawling in there instead.  John and I are much softer to land on than crib rails so she would bang her head on the side which would wake her all the way up, then see us and want to come back in bed.   Back in bed it never improved. Once I woke up as she crashed into my knees, multiple times I grabbed her as she was headed for the edge. Our happy co-sleeping set up was suddenly missing the the oh so important sleeping portion of co-sleeping. Clara had to go. The girl needed bars, she needed walls, she needed her own room. So last Monday after an especially bad night because of the nighttime crawler I moved her into her own room lack of baseboards and all.

After a few nights of squawking  Clara settled in and sleep has more or less  returned for everyone. Some nights I still wake up and her her rustling around and then a distinct thump as she hits the side of her crib but she almost always goes right back to sleep.

In addition to all the of advantages that come from having a baby free bedroom we have also gained the peephole advantage. At some point someone replaced the door knob on Clara’s door with one that wasn’t the same and left a hole in the door. I purposely set the crib up opposite and now I have a perfect little spy hole to watch and see what she is doing when she is supposed to be sleeping. I can watch this: Turn into this, and so I’m conceding that moving her into her almost finished room was the right thing to do. I just hope the sleep crawler does not turn into a sleep walker or nights or going to get really interesting when she graduates to a bed!

I know in the picture above it looks like there are baseboards on the wall, but it’s just propped up behind the furniture!

The Disease Part II

I left off Part I with this picture :

This hole in my kitchen wall is a great example of why so much of our remodeling project is stalled right now and how the disease is spreading through the house. It’s pretty obvious how the spreading is working, stairs end in kitchen, therefore the kitchen has been infected. The stalling is a bit more complex.

You might not be able to tell very well from my picture but that wall has no insulation in it, and it is continuing to fall apart. Also the white thing in the wall  is a towel because when it rains really hard the roof leaks and the water comes into the house.  No doubt that has quite a bit to do with why the wall is falling apart.To fix this hole the remodeling disease is going to spread even further.

-There is no point replacing the wall ’till we fix the roof.

-The roof doesn’t just need fixing in that spot, it needs new shingles everywhere. (That project will be a spreading disease of it’s own I’m sure!)

-We can’t just rip out that chunk of wall and fix it without having half the ceiling cave down (it’s all plaster and lath in the kitchen).

-Which would be alright since there is a huge crack across the ceiling running through where the ceiling fan should be.

-I use the word should because I took the blades off when we did the electrical work  in order to access wires.  I had to get in there and accidentally messed with how it was anchored to the ceiling. Worried we would forget it was basically unanchored and turn it on causing it to crash across the room I just took the blades off. But it would be good to have a working fan again.

-There is no insulation in any of the kitchen anyway so after the ceiling comes down ripping apart all the falling down walls wouldn’t be a bad idea.

And all of a sudden we’ve gone from fixing a hole in the wall to re-roofing an entire house and ripping apart the kitchen… and as long as we are ripping apart the whole kitchen… I’m not even going to finish that, it gets too scary.

End result: After two years we still have a hole in our kitchen wall.

In addition to the hole, the pantry is still down to bare studs inside, (but with a working light), the stairs need to be finished, railings need to go up, trim needs to go on…

But lets not dwell on all that unfinished stuff lets talk about Clara’s room.

I had been stubbornly holding out trying to get the trim finished in Clara’s room until she moved in. Some people might argue that I was being unreasonably stubborn about this since it meant that Clara was still in our bedroom, but I had reasons.

You see the summer I was five my parents built a house.  When we moved in that fall we still didn’t have tile on the floor or many other finishing touches. Most of the important finishing work was completed fairly quickly, other things like closets not so much. Tyler and I each had a door-less closet in our room with holes in the walls on either side for a set of drawers to fit in.   My Dad put in drawers in about five years later. When I was in middle school  Dad did the drywall finishing work above them. I  had been used to having the wall open and had been storing things inside next to the drawers so that the finish work walled in one of my Moms birthday presents, but that is another story.  The closets never got real doors.  We begged my Granny for curtains that are still hanging today.  My point is that I knew that if Clara moved in before her room was done the odds of us ever finishing it would plummet. And the odds, lets just say it’s looking pretty ugly…

Trim and baseboards, the final step to a completely finished room, and not just finished completely, redone from the studs on in. Window trim and door casings went up in the last month… …but then we got to the baseboards, which of course led us to another nasty chain of events.

-The old baseboards do not fit anymore becuase we changed from plaster to drywall and took out a chimney from a corner, so we need to cut new ones.

-The baseboards in our bedroom are also off because of the closet work.

-It seems like someone ought to be able to figure out how to make all the baseboards fit on all the new walls  becuase we should have really close to enough and then we wouldn’t have to buy any new ones.

-I can’t figure that out. Math has never been my strong suit.

-One of the reasons I can’t figure it out is because we need new plinth blocks under the casing for the doors. For some reason those have been a favorite of teething dogs.

-The closets still don’t have casings or doors on them much less the plinth blocks on the bottom  making it very hard to determine if my math is right before I start turning 14 foot boards into toothpicks.

-The wood is a hundred years old, weird sizes and difficult to match to say the least.

Needless to say we did not get the baseboards done in Clara’s room before she moved in. Fortunately I don’t think there is any space to hide a birthday present behind them so if it takes us a few years at least we don’t have that to worry about!

Come back tomorrow for The Disease Part III The Sleep Crawler.

The Disease Part I

Our house has a disease.

It is a remodeling disease and we have been fighting it since July 2008.

Mostly the disease has been spreading and winning but this last week we had a minor victory when Clara at the age of 9 months moved into her own room.

You see in our old house we have some plaster walls. And some of our plaster walls were falling apart, really falling apart. Falling apart so that if you pushed a spot on our stairwell a three foot in diameter piece of wall would move and if you pushed too hard parts would start to fall off.  At the time Ivy was at the age where that looked like a good thing to eat. So we had a family friend (Alec) come out to help us rip out the old plaster and lath and then drywall our stairwell. Just one wall in the stairwell

But then the disease hit.

-So long as we are doing one wall, we should do all of them.

-Now we need to do the ceiling too, that caused John and Alec to look like this:

-Hmm, there is NO insulation in the walls, and the stuff in the ceiling is a million years old and only an inch thick, better take care of that.

-The pantry under the stairs is already half ripped apart and now lots of plaster is falling off the walls in there… rip it out too!

-Well, since everything is torn out should we make new stairs?

-We hit our head on the old ceiling above the stairs so now is a good time to cut it out and change it!

-Oops, accidentally made a hole into this bedroom (now Clara’s room) and look it has no insulation either, well it’s a little room… rip it out!

-There is a part of an old chimney in this room? Rip it out, throw it out the window, and try not to hit the dog!

-Now everything is exposed and we can see the old nasty scary wiring, lets re-wire everything.

-Now that the ceilings are ripped up lets put a real entrance into the attic so that we can use it.

-Can’t use the attic unless it has a floor.

-New lights in the stairwell, because  really at this point, why not?

-New light in the pantry.

-The old duct work is a catastrophe, everything is still exposed, lets do that too.

By the end of the summer we had taken loads of garbage to the dump, and made a lot of progress that didn’t really look like any progress.

It was awful hard to say to people, yes I know it looks worse than before and you can see the insulation but really it’s progress… You see our house was held up by, in the words of Alec, “Hope and Magic” insulated with nothing and powered by old electric wires with the insulation rotting off, and now it’s not. Progress.

One year, later we finally put up the drywall and discovered I was pregnant.

That caused some problems.  You see during the course of this disease Ivy had been moved out of the small bedroom that got ripped apart into what we call the attic room. That meant that all the stuff in our house that was in the attic room got moved into Ivy’s old room once it was finished.  So when we found out Clara was on the way we needed to do some rearranging. The problem was even with the now usable attic, there just wasn’t anyplace for the stuff to go having only one closet in the house and one pantry still in shambles. So John and I moved into the attic room with Ivy and we had two closets built in our bedroom. Hooray! John and I moved back to our room, the stuff was moved into one closet, we got rid of FOUR dressers we had been using and put our clothes in the other closet. The little bedroom was empty

This winter I painted, the little room twice. The first time I chose a god-awful color that looked like scrambled eggs barfed onto the walls. Since then I have gone back to my previous technique of color choosing which is that someone else does it for me.

This spring John refinished the floor while the girls and I were out of the house.

All that was left was left to do in the small bedroom was to put trim back up…

The to do list for the rest of the place is a bit more extensive.

To Be Continued…

The Disease Part II

The Disease Part III