Thursday, May 28, 2009

More progress

Ok, I obviously watch entirely too much HGTV which has left me with a strange desire to only post our house's before pictures and then wait until all the exciting stuff has been installed so I can post pictures of THE BIG REVEAL. Well, for the sake of those who are interested in the progress and not just the before/after, and because I'm sure the final product will still be very exciting, I will continue posting as we go along. This week has been so exciting, as you will see...

But first, for all you Iain fans, here's the cute boy in his newest outfit (picked out by Mark).
As always, he's such a trooper. Here, he's just woken up from a nap. I had been hard at work for hours, putting together our cabinets in the other half of the room. God really knew what He was doing when he gave us such a content firstborn!
Much to my pride's chagrin, this picture makes it look like Mark (rather than I) has just successfully completed our cabinet construction. To Mark's credit, he and I make an excellent team. He was able to assess and fix a few problems here and there that enabled the entire process to be a success. For any of you cabinet afficionado's, they are chocolate-glazed solid birch faces on plywood box/birch ply veneered - for the price, this is impressive considering typical cabinets are particle board boxes. If I haven't already mentioned this, we ordered them quite inexpensively (relatively speaking, of course) from a Christian company at as you might guess, we're big fans! :)On Memorial Day, our hardwood maple floor was installed in our kitchen/dining room. The first coat of sealant was applied to protect it, but it will be buffed and resealed before move-in.
In the above picture, you can also see that our existing oak floor was sanded and 2 test patches of sealant were applied. The left is oil-based and the right is water-based. We decided on the water-based, as it is a lighter finish and doesn't amber with age as does the oil-based. Below is a closer picture of our maple floor.
Moving right along, this is a picture of our newly-tiled tub-surround (minus the grout). :)
The other end of the tub, minus the faucet fixtures....oops, apparently I just deleted the other 2 pictures of the bathroom. Well, you'll just have to wait for those. Sorry.
I haven't seen this for myself, so you're seeing what I've seen in the following pictures. Mark took these for me this morning when he stopped by the house. Our kitchen cabinets, in the process of being installed!!! This is the north wall of the kitchen. In the west corner end will go our fridge and in the center space will be our stove and microwave.
Below is another view of the kitchen. In the southwest corner is our lazy susan. As an aside, we were originally going to buy 2 of those, one for each corner of the south wall, however we changed our minds about how we wanted to utilize the space on the "peninsula" and opted for a 3-drawer base cabinet that will face the dining space. Having assembled all the cabinets myself, I'm SO glad we only had 1 lazy susan. Two might have required a hospitalization for the sake of my sanity...though I still highly recommend the cabinet company!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

(One reason) why eavesdropping isn't a good idea

Ok, here's the accurate background to this story: Today I was sitting in the backseat of our parked car, feeding Iain breakfast. Mark was on his cell phone talking with a friend "Joe" who was in our house, checking on something for us. Apparently, while Mark was on the phone with Joe, some other guy walked into our house and started talking with Joe. Joe, not knowing who this guy was, asked Mark if he knew who this was. This is Mark's side of the conversation that I (mis)overheard:

Mark to Joe: "A foreign guy? He must be someone with our contractor"

- Betsy's thought: this makes some sense to me, as many of the people employed by our contractor come from Mexico and Russia. Therefore, the reference to "a foreign guy" just makes me think that it's probably the drywall guy we've run into a couple times when we've stopped by the house.

(Joe says something)

Mark to Joe: "Sure, put him on..."

(Apparently Joe gives the phone to Foreign guy)

Mark, to Foreign guy: "Oh, no thanks, we already have a foreign guy."

- Betsy's thought: "we already have a foreign guy"??? That seems a little tactless. I must be misunderstanding this. Now I'm a little confused and definitely curious about what's going on at our house - and glad Joe is there.

(Apparently Foreign guy gives phone back to Joe and leaves)

Mark to Joe: "Yeah, yeah, "Rob" is doing that for us"

- Betsy's thought: OOOooooooooh. I get it.

Turns out "Foreign guy" was actually "Flooring guy." I had a good laugh about that and shared it with Mark, later. He explained that apparently Flooring guy lives in the neighborhood and has seen all the work going on at the house and was just stopping by to offer his services. However, we already have a friend, "Rob" lined up to do our floors for us.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


This is our house! One of the little things that I absolutely love about this house is that you have no idea that it's actually quite spacious inside! From the front you can't tell that there is a walk-up attic that runs the width of the house (it's only got about a 5'9" head clearance, but that's just enough for me, and definitely enough for kids to play around in) and you also can't see the mostly-finished walk-out basement with a 14'x30' family room, or the fabulous 1/3 of an acre backyard. It's like a treasure buried right in front of your eyes. Anyway, sorry to get mushy; I love our house! For the record, this is a picture taken by the county, last year. Currently there is a giant dumpster in the driveway, no more side-front-door to the right of the garage and no bushes inbetween the two front doors. The useless side-door steps are still there, but hopefully only until Saturday.
Taking a break from the house, here's a picture from this evening of Iain (with his classic camera-face) and two of his friends, banging away on a piano while we had an end-of-the-year chaplain dinner.
Back to the house... This is a current picture of "the arch" taken from the living room, looking into the kitchen. The right wall of the arch used to be another door into the back hall (where Mark is standing, just out of view) and the entire arch space was all wall. What a difference!
A view of our drywalled kitchen, taken from the living room, through the arch
The main floor bathroom
The lower level family room with its newly drywalled ceiling. Mark and Iain are standing in the south-east corner, to give perspective. Iain is waving at me.
The north end of the family room, with the door to the backyard. Again, Iain is waving at me. He's so great! :) By the way, we're planning on painting the room a nice light sage green to brighten up the space a bit and complement the trim work (some of which has been temporarily removed for drywalling purposes).

'nother house update

The drywall is up and taped with the first coat of mud on it! We went over last night to set up our new dehumidifier and four 20" box fans in order to help with the drying process. It was none too soon as it was 92 degrees and very very humid, last night!

Sorry, I didn't get any pictures since it was really late by the time we got over to the house and I was holding a very tired little guy. Here's a quick rundown of everything that was done:

-Living room: ceiling crack repair and skim-coat for a smooth finish (was poorly-done "orange-peel/knockdown" texture), drywall over a previous doorway, finish the "arch" (not really an arch, but but that's what we've been calling it, b/c it's a giant space that used to be a wall that leads from the living room to the dining room. It has curved corners to match our coved ceiling in the living room, so we call it "the arch")
-Master bedroom ceiling: skim-coat for a smooth finish (was fan-textured and looked AWFUL!)
-Main bathroom: drywall walls, tub-surround ceiling
-Kitchen: drywall walls, ceiling, skim-coat part of existing ceiling to cover sand-texture
-Lower-level office: drywall patch to repair what was removed for plumbing work
-Lower-level bathroom: ditto office
-Lower-level family room: drywall ceiling (had been badly-done drop ceiling)

It was so exciting to see our house actually starting to look like the house we're going to move into! The next big question is, do we want our living room to be "whole wheat" or "tranquil sahara"? Gotta love paint color names.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A few pictures

Mark and I have had an extremely full few days at the house. After having a youth group service day at our house on Saturday, during which an incredible amount of work was accomplished, our contractor showed up yesterday morning when we were planning on simply finishing up our insulating before the inspector showed up, and gave us another mountain of odds and ends to get through before today arrived. Needless to say, having our entire day hijacked took a few minutes to get used to, but everything was necessary and in the end it was so satisfying to leave our house neat as a dusty pin in anticipation of the drywall going in, today.

As Mark commented, yesterday, aside from a few small projects, our demo efforts are pretty much done. Hurray! With the insulation in and the drywall being hung as we speak (hurray for contracted projects!) there is forward progress being made at long last!

Not only that, but our recessed lights are in place in the kitchen and lower family room, the cabinets are on a shipping truck from Alabama to good old Minnesota, we've tentatively picked out our paint colors, we thought we had chosen a mattress until we discovered horrible reviews all over the internet - so if you love your mattress, we'd really appreciate a note about what kind it is - the insulation passed inspection (that was my pet project, so yay for me!), our garage is cleared of debri and the HUGE dumpster in our driveway is nearly full, the lawn is closer to being stick-free, we were told that the "weed" in our backyard is a weed, but not the weed but can quickly take over and should be removed sooner rather than later, and Mark spent hours successfully removing our very stubborn bathroom floor and managed to not even fall through, a point I'm grateful for as 1) I love my husband and would like to have him around for the next 100 or so years 2) For a bit of that time I was in the bathroom right below, removing screws and such in preparation for today, and don't think my pregnant self would've appreciated being a cushion for a 200+ lb man.

Enough babbling, here are a few pictures, though they are already out of date, since they were taken on Saturday and since then the insulation was finished, the tub surround was durarocked, and today the drywall is being hung everywhere. I'm hoping to talk Mark into an evening trip to the house to see our house in it's freshly drywalled state.


The rest of the bathroom, before the floor came up:
Oh, sorry to bore you, I guess I included another bathroom shot:
A super great baby, sitting in our living room, looking through the cut-out wall into the dinnette and kitchen:
Iain and Mark a few weeks ago; I love how Mark is crawling and Iain's just standing there laughing at him.
Iain :)

Iain likes to sleep in the strangest positions. Recently, they've often involved his legs propped up against the crib rails:

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day and Yardwork

Mark bought me a lawnmower for Mother's Day. Ok, not really. Well, that wasn't his intention anyway. Last week we bought a used self-propelled, mulching lawnmower for $40 from a lovely older woman who was no longer strong enough to pull-start it (chaulk up another one for Mark and craigslist.) Yes, it has its quirks and using it yesterday for the first time presented a bit of a learning curve, but 5 hours, and 2 and a 1/2 passes through the backyard later (the grass was obscenely long and had to be cut in stages to prevent the blades from clogging) the yard looked amazing!

As an aside, I think the back fifth or so of our backyard is growing quite the collection of a particular herb that is used, well, er, medicinally, in many states though only legally in a select few - we can't say for sure, as we're too innocent/ignorant to really know what we're looking at. At any rate, it's not garden-variety lawn grass and therefore I'm adding weed-killer, no pun intended, to my shopping list.

Mark was completing the never-ending kitchen gutting while I did yardwork. Iain was with me, outside, sitting in his stroller. I'm convinced that child is part angel. I couldn't really attend to him, since I was busy with the lawn, so he just sat, napped, and ate some dinner in his stroller...for 5 hours, straight!!! When I was done, I rewarded him by breaking every rule in the book and letting him crawl around the freshly-cut lawn. Yes, his pants are grass-stained to high heaven, but it was worth it. Mark was also thrilled with our beautiful lawn and did a victory-lap around our backyard. I thought it was particularly funny because of the visible cloud of demo-dust in his wake.

This week is the beginning of major work on the house. You might call it a month-and-a-half-long grand finale. Last week we had quite a bit of plumbing odds and ends taken care of. This week is electrical work and lots and lots of ordering of exciting stuff: lighting fixtures, cabinets, appliances, paint, etc. After that it's insulating, drywalling, tiling, installing/refinishing hardwood floors, new windows, painting, installing kitchen cabinets, countertops and appliances, more painting, and some more painting. Mark would like me to add that most of this, and in particular the really nice stuff, is thanks to the generosity of family and the government. We would never even have dreamt of most of this a few months ago!

Have I mentioned how grateful I am that we don't have to live in the midst of all this demo/reno work?! At the end of a long day of work at the house, we can come back to our apartment and take a hot shower in a fully-functional bathroom and eat dinner in our fully-functional kitchen. We are very, very blessed.

P.S. My wonderful husband surprised me by taking me out to brunch for Mother's Day. Iain wasn't quite the angel while we ate. He still loves dropping things, reaching for any/everything he can't have, and trying to taste the most inedible things...though he did actually draw with the crayons for a second or two, when his pacifier was in his mouth.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Quick Takes, Ponderings

Due to a caffeine-induced rush of mental mania, I'm itching to write down some thoughts that keep buzzing through my head. Bear with me (or close this window now and spare yourself). :)

1. A lot of my "attitude of gratitude" is relative to my awareness of what could be, ie, the struggles of other people's lives. I believe I have been blessed with a deep awareness of gratitude for the large and small blessings in my life, but I need to improve my awareness of the silent "because" statements which follow my grateful praises. Examples:
- I am thankful that Iain is not a picky eater. Because if he were there would be no feeding him anything, thank you allergies.
- I am thankful that I am married to a wonderful man. Because our world is full of not-wonderful men and many of them are husbands.
- I am thankful that I have a doctor who is on top of my pregnancy and knows how to care for me and my baby. Because a lot of women have doctors who don't care or aren't as knowledgable.
This leads me to this conclusion: my prayers of thankfulness and prayers for the less-fortunate should probably go hand-in-hand more than not. I hope I do a better job in the future of not only being grateful but simultaneously interceding for those in less fortunate circumstances.

2. This is not an original thought, and I wish I could credit the person from which I first heard it, but I'm afraid that's lost information.

As I prepare to welcome baby #2 into my arms, as she is of course already present in my life, I recall how I felt shortly after Iain was born. He was a stranger. A needy, hungry, naked, ungrateful stranger. That sounds harsher than I mean it to, but at the same time, when you are sleep-deprived, the world doesn't look very rosy. Of course I loved him, but it was more of the "I choose to" kind of love than the "smitten" kind of love (a good life lesson on love, I suppose).

Having said that, a particular Bible passage comes to mind about welcoming the stranger, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked...etc. I'm sure you know the one. How much more clearly can this be lived than when we open our arms to accept a stranger into our very family, who will demand more of us than we ever thought possible to give...and then we do it all over again, (multiplied by ?).

I should add, on a positive note, that Iain paved the way of motherhood for me and I do believe I have grown quite a bit in the last year or so. When this little girl is born, helpless and demanding stranger though she will be, I am confident that my choice to love will come that much more easily because Iain has shown me where that road leads, and it is blessed!

3. There is a billboard not far from our new home that I absolutely love. Pictured on it is a large cardboard box and in it are 5 or so babies who look to be about Iain's age. The billboard reads "God's Stimulus Package." It makes me smile every time I see it.

I must've shared this before, but if not, I feel like I have to share this with everyone I know because our world is fighting so hard against it what with the bad economy, carbon footprints, and well, let's just be honest, selfishness: I become ever more convinced that people are our only eternally worthwhile investment. Let's break this down a bit:
- Can you take that new car, boat, house, to Heaven?
- What about that once-in-a-lifetime vacation?
- Well in your old age at least you'll have your prestigous position at that Firm that you worked for your whole life to keep you company and join you for Holidays, right?
- Or your generous retirement package, I mean, that will be honored in Heaven, right?
Ok, I think you get the idea: none of those things can go with us to Heaven. What can? Souls. So, let's invest in people: children, family, friendships. Let's all store up our treasure in Heaven by investing in the only thing that will last for all eternity: People! Besides, it's relationships and selflessness that brings true happiness, so what's to lose?