Friday, December 28, 2007

First Christmas + some misc. house shots

The boys opening the large climbing holds we bought for their bedroom loft. Since theirs is the larger (taller) of the lofts, there is a good 6-7' of wall space with soft carpet below - bolt on a few holds and voila, your very own climbing gym.

The all-important simultaneous open... snuggle blankets! (Immediately test-driven, of course.)

The big surprise gift: Playstation. (Yes, I know, hard to believe we actually bought a game system...more on that decision later.)

The on-going battle against incompletion: finishing up laying the tile in the entry/back hall/mud room.

Looks just as good here as it does in the kitchen. There's still a lot of tile left over...where else can I use this?

Our closet, courtesy of IKEA again. This is the STOLMEN closet system and it looks and work great. As you can see, it's a work in progress (like the rest of our lives...)

A view of the master bath. ("Master" is a bit misleading: it's tiny. But we DO have a separate tub and shower. Now that's luxury.

The kids' water closet. Love the tile (my WIFE'S choice, like all the tile in the house!)

The hallway sink outside the kids' water closet and separate shower room.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Yucky Chucky

"Yucky Chucky" - that's kids-speak for "Teppanyaki". Since I was a toddler my family has gone to eat at these Japanese steak houses every Christmas. This is probably the 30th or 35th? (mom? dad?) time I have been. I love that my kids now look forward to the tradition. Merry Christmas everyone.

'Tis the season

This came as a surprise. Having a metal roof I had always thought meant the snow would regularly shed itself and stay pretty much "clean" all winter. Well, I guess that depends on the snow you get and the weather, too. The first snowstorm we got brought about a foot of very light, fluffy snow and it DID shed regularly and DRAMATICALLY: on one occasion the entire south side of the roof shed all at once. I happened to witness it from inside. For a long three seconds all I could see outside the upstairs windows was white. It was like being underneath a waterfall. Cool. (I DID stop to ponder the idea of our kids being caught underneath such an event...)

However, subsequent snowfalls have been heavier, wetter snow and there has been ZERO sunshine. As a result we have seen the development of these slow moving roof glaciers which creep imperceptibly down the roof and then break off all at once like caving icebergs.

On a couple of occasions the overhanging snow has grown so long that it actually covers the windows completely, as you can see above. Cool in a way, but I kind of wonder if it's supposed to work this way. Anyone out there have any experience with metal roofs and this kind of snow build-up?

The fireplace has been running regularly and enjoyed by all. Now that we have living room furniture (a rug and two cozy armchairs) this space is a lot more welcoming.

We decided to have our annual caroling party this year, even though the house is not as "ready" for showing off as we would have liked. Ready ENOUGH! So we had four other families over (15 kids!) and christened the new house with the first party. It was great. The fire was roaring, good music playing, lights lit, and great food.

Our diningroom table opens up to accomodate ten - this was the first time we used it for so many. The kids ate upstairs...The one drawback (for me, anyway) of this wonderful new home is that its open plan means that you are never far away from the din of happy kids - which, lest I sound like a total scrooge, is not a BAD thing when you have three or four of them around, but FIFTEEN...

Opening presents with my brother and sister-in-law. We passed a truly wonderful afternoon together lounding in front of the fire, visiting, napping, talking. Great day - and one of the best parts of the holidays.

Yes, that's my niece inside that belly!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Updates come as slowly as the updates

Don't get me wrong, no complaints here, but since we have moved into The Project, projects have s..l..o..w..e..d d..o..w..n q..u..i..t..e.. a.. b..i..t... This is partly an apology for being so remiss in updating the blog, partly an expression of the frustration I feel at not being able to focus on *finishing* The Project. (Anyone remember A's famous line, "Just workin' on my project"? Yeah, well, this is MY project.) Anyway, here are some newer pics of the place:

"A Barn in the Snow"...kind of looks like a Normal Rockwell for the 21st century. The very first snowfall revealed the more unsavory side of the picturesque image you see here: getting out of our "driveway". Basically: we can't. Due to the slope (away from the road) and the surface of the parking space (gravel) we have had a very difficult time getting out in these snowy and icy conditions. Lots of spinning tires and sand...

The town wanted a more clearly visible number on the house so I found these cool "modern" ones. Nice!

This is the steel brace we had fabricated at the town's insistence. In the end thought, I think it looks great and fits with the whole program.

The kids' loft is a MESS - we still need to set up all our organizers - but the kids have moved in and seem to love the space. I do too. It is really cozy and warm and makes a great place to sit and correct exams. We all curled up in front of the TV and watched "Christmas Story" last week up in the loft. It was great.

You can see I have finished setting up the IKEA cabinets that are going to become our bench seat in the living room. This was our architect's solution to inexpensive bench seating: take five IKEA wall cabinets, set them on their side on a base, build in some structural supports, and then cover with cushions. It was easy to do, cheap (realtively speaking) and will tie together visually the kitchen and dining and living areas of the upstairs.

Our view. I am aware of this every day, due to the brilliant siting of the house. The view has become part of the whole experience of this house. I can't begin to explain how much I love it.

Stay tuned for an announcement of the "Big House Warming Party". We are leaning towards holding it soon after the New Year.

Monday, December 17, 2007

All I Want for Christmas...

This post is under construction. More to come...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Sorry for the hiatus: We're In!

Apologies to all my regular readers out there! I am sorry to have abandoned you these past exciting two weeks. I lost both my internet connection and my camera (actually, I know where the camera is -- it's at my in-law's house: Mom & Dad J., can you make a special delivery?) So, the images above were taken by my own mom, Mom L., that is, and emailed to me just today. They date from THREE weeks ago yesterday, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, when we had a big shindig at the site attened by all manner of family and friends. It was a GREAT day: sunny, cold, but the house was transformed into a HOME by the smiling, laughing, happy masses who showed up to help us make the last big push. THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO ATTENDED THAT DAY! We have been so humbled and blessed by the outpouring of help these past couple of weeks. The fact that I am sitting here right now, in a warm house, surrounded by empty and half-empty and as-of-yet-untouched boxes - actually RESIDING here - is a testimony to your help. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I can't begin to tell you what a relief it is.

Let me back up a bit. After that big work day, we were really getting close. We were still waiting on the final electrical and plumbing inspections before we could call for the final FINAL inspection. And there was still quite a bit to accomplish. The biggest obstacle was just to get the subs HERE to finish the job: the hot water heater had to be installed and wired, the boiler was installed, but had to be wired, and there were a couple of sinks that needed finishing. Then there was a small list of odd tasks for the builder (some of which STILL haven't been finished as of today!) Oh, then there were the Four Red Flags. The building inspector, who has been to the house on a number of occasions, announced the week before we were to call for out final inspection that he had serious issues with four areas: the deck, the metal roof overhang over the exterior stairs, the way the LVLs were bolted together, and the wooden "wing" that projects out from the front facade. He wanted the engineer and architect to sign off that all of there were to code and would not pose a hazard (such as the metal roof blowing off in a storm or the "wing" flying away in a stiff breeze. "No problem," I thought, "The engineer has already looked at all these things and signed off on them - over a YEAR ago!" Silly me. The architect brought these issues back to the engineer and wouldn't you know it, on second thought, maybe there WAS some need of additional reinforcing of the wing and maybe that metal roof DID overhang just a bit too much. To cut the story short: we had to shear off all but 8" of the unsupported metal roof overhang (as I write the steps are freezing up with sleet that would otherwise have been deflected off the stairs by the more generous overhang (#$*&^#*^&@*&!!) and pay a steel fabricator $1500 to make up a steel brace to secure the wing. *sigh*

Friday Nov. 30 at 2:30 the building inspector was scheduled to come for his final inspection. At 2:00 the plumber STILL hadn't arrived to finish up the last details. He showed up at 2:15, the building inspector at 2:30 and the plumbing inspector shortly there after. The long and the short of it was that we passed both inspections (by the skin of our teeth!) and got a temporary certificate of occupancy. Actually, we didn't get the actual certificate, but we passed the inspection...and moved in that night. I am hoping to get my camera back soon (or borrow someone else's) so that I can give you some truly up to date images...More to come!

Thursday, November 22, 2007


There's been a bit of a pall cast over this year's approaching holiday season, mostly due to the following prospect: we are leaving our temporary housing as of Sunday and the house is not ready. Even if it WERE ready to move in to, "ready" is SUCH a relative term. The prospect of moving in right now involves accepting a living environment closer to camping out than moving into a finished dream house. The house is a complete disaster area with inches of saw/plaster dust covering every surface, tools spread out on every floor (the living room, office, and basement all have their own "workshops" set up on them), unfinished cabinets without shelves or doors or handles, floors that need tiling and some that need finishing, and miles and miles of finish work to be. Oh, and did I mention, no doors to any of the bedrooms? So, even IF the plumber comes Friday and gets the heat working and IF the carpenters finish the stairs and railings and IF we pass inspection...

...OK, OK, snap out of it, Ben! Get some perspective: we HAVE a home, albeit an unfinished one. Think of all the people in the world (in our own state, even) who don't have ANY housing, or whose housing barely meets their needs. Do you even hear one of those stories on the news about some place in the world where the people are experiencing such unimaginable suffering that it snaps everything into perspective and you realize you have NOTHING to complain about? And so much to be thankful for. So, here I am, snapping out of it. Stepping back and seeing the big picture, taking a deep breath. We have so much to be thankful for (come on, join with me here) family, friends, employment, plenty to eat, clothes to wear, a safe and warm place to live, a country that prizes freedom, tolerance, and justice. For all of these, I am grateful. Happy Thanksgiving.