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May 2011
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July 2011

time for the guts

we've been explaining the build to harper in body terms:

the skeleton (frame) is finished. all the bones are in place to hold up the house. now we start on the guts to make everything run. the veins and lungs and nerves are going in (electrical, plumbing, hvac), the eyes are in (windows), the hair is on (shingles).

(i can't even begin to tell you how in love i am with this house now that the windows are in. as if i didn't love it enough before.)

rumor has it our cabinets will be set in about three weeks (we were told that so we could get our bums in gear and pick out soapstone slabs for the kitchen), which means insulation, drywall and flooring will be done within the next three weeks.

yesterday we went out for our electrical walk-through, to make sure we have lights and switches and outlets in the right place.

(marc, looking over the plans with our electrical guy, randy, while our building supervisor, billy (billy of the sparkliest blues eyes ever), supervises.)

while there, we noticed some other new goodies:

plumbing stuff ...

and duct stuff ...

and toilet stack stuff ...

(trying to decide is "sioux chief" is an offensive brand name for a crapper capper, especially given that we are building within spitting distance of indian land.)

tomorrow morning i have a meeting to pick out all of our lights, then i need to send a tersely worded email to our cabinet guy to suggest maybe he respond to the half a dozen or so increasingly tersely worded emails i've sent over the past two weeks, and answer the burning questions that only he can answer. answers i kinda need before i can move forward with other things.

cabinet guy is the one kink in this otherwise slick and enjoyable endeavor.

i have no idea what to expect by the end of this week, but at the pace these guys are going, i'm sure it will be amazing. marc's hoping that the wiring guys will be done by the weekend so that he can get in there and run all of the network cabling. i'm hoping he'll take henry with him for that; something tells me he would love the heck out of helping daddy wire the house for computery stuff.

oh, and i decided to split the build photo album into three parts, one for each month-ish of progress. you're welcome.

in other news ...

it's summer. which means the kids are home.

in theory.

the two weeks since school ended for the summer have been relentless. today is actually the first day that the kids and i are home ... with nothing to do ... since summer break began.

(and, in full disclosure, henry has a dentist appointment today. so, we don't have nothing to do, per se.)

so what's been going on?

well, the first week of summer break, harper attended a ymca day camp. she was hiking and canoeing and singing and swimming and crafting and fort-building from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day.

to say she came home tired and dirty and cranky each afternoon is an understatement.

but she had a blast. she even got to tie-dye, which may have been the highlight of the week for her.

last week she attended vacation bible school with one of her kindergarten friends. another week of driving - the vbs church was 20 minutes in the opposite direction of everything else i had to do last week. luckily, her friend's mom and i took turns, so that helped.

during this time, henry took a private swim lesson with one of his buddies. we had reached an impasse: he was fed up with swim lessons that took place in a small pool with too many kids in the lane, whacking into each other and slowing him down and goofing off, and he wanted to be done with lessons. i felt he wasn't quite where i wanted him to be. (ie i KNOW he could be a great swimmer, he has great natural ability, and i didn't want him out of the water without getting to the point where he could try swimming competitively, should he so choose.) his friend's mom called me about getting henry in with her son, so they could share a private lesson. the whole pool would belong to the two boys, and the teacher would have time to devote to henry's instruction. so i said yes, and he spent half an hour each day in the pool over the last two weeks.

this turned out to be a good thing.

he was finally given the room to SWIM. to move his arms and kick his legs and go. and he was never pushed for endurance before; in this pool, he HAD to swim the full 25 yards. and flip turn. and swim another 25 yards.

where his last swim school taught the basics of stroke technique, this lesson brought home the fact that he can put it all together and keep. going.

at the end of the two weeks, he had to swim 500 yards to test moving into the next level. the kids were allowed to swim any stroke they wanted, as long as they got to 500 yards. henry stuck with freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke ... no sidestroke, no elementary backstroke, nothing restful. he swam. and while he was swimming, his teacher asked me how old henry is. i answered that he was eleven, and she nodded. at the end of the lesson, while the boys were changing, she told he she'd never had an eleven-year-old student swim 500 yards as quickly as henry just had.

*heart* *swelling* *awesomeness*

that evening, i told henry that his teacher had said he was ready for swim team, that from here he needed to work on streamlining the mechanics of his strokes, and "lessons" wouldn't do much for him. i told him that i'm okay with him taking no more lessons (score one for him) if he agrees to try one season of swim team (score one for me). and he's also agreed to swim at the y with me and let me work with him on his technique ... the lure of not being in a "lesson" is strong now, and i believe he's finally acquiesced that mom knows what she's talking about on this one and maybe it's okay to listen to me. once he heard that his teacher thought he was a natural and could excel in swimming, things i've tried to tell him for years, he was okay with switching to competitive swimming.

i think all along, henry has been searching for a sport that he can do well. he has tried several different ones - a week here, a season there - but doesn't pursue it any further. if he can't be the best at it within that short time, he doesn't want to put forth any more effort. however, he's since decided he likes basketball (to which he has a natural affinity, thanks to his dad. and hopefully he also has his dad's natural ability.) and wants to pursue it, and now he's okay with adding swimming to that list.

here's to hoping he's finally willing to do the work and put in the time. i think once he starts competing and being a part of a team, it will all be way more enjoyable.

it's been a busy but good two weeks. now we have a breather, and soon more camps will start, and henry will begin summer band: the trombone looms.

god save our ears.


house update: week four

we didn't check in on the progress much last week ... our schedule was crazy. harper had y camp, henry had swim lessons and play dates daily, marc was in and out, we lost an afternoon to driving an hour away to pick out counter top slabs, it rained ...

but when we did finally go out, we were amazed to see walls had gone up.

i'm not sure why we were amazed, but we were. seeing this house go three-dimensional after all this time is sorta awesome. now we can walk the floor plan and get a feel of the space and the layout, and it helps solidify where we're heading so much better.

now that we have an idea of how the house is oriented and where the windows are, we're more convinced than ever that we have a great view, a great lot, and how on earth did we get so lucky that no one snapped up this piece of earth during our year of waffling?

speaking of great view, i may have gone overkill on the windows in my studio, but dang! i can only imagine what the light will be like! and when i'm not shooting, sitting in front of the window is going to be pretty peaceful.

toward the end of the week, we got the best surprise: stairs!!

(i've mentioned my lifelong quest for stairs, i believe ...)

to finally have an upstairs, a place for all the bedrooms so all the noises of house don't keep the kids awake at night and wake them early in the morning, is heaven. can't wait.

speaking of heaven, can i show you what we'll see first thing in the morning?


it isn't a direct lake view, but it's close enough. and those trees? how pretty will that be in the fall?

while we were wandering our new halls, henry decided the better entertainment was watching the guys at work.

can't blame him; this whole thing is fascinating.

we missed the progress of thursday and friday, but yesterday we drove out to see what had taken place and were giddy to discover framing on the second floor!

hey there, master bedroom closets and bathroom!

seriously, can someone tell me what we're supposed to put in those closets?? i think marc and i could fit all of our clothes easily into one of them and still have room to spare. maybe we should turn the other closet into a little evil lair? a disco? have another kid? i think each of these closets is the size of our first apartment's kitchen. and i'm really not exaggerating.

the kids are eager to have their little homework loft space. and i can't wait to put a window seat under this window!

we'd heard that the roof could be up this week and the electrical and plumbing could potentially begin, but now we're in for about five days of rain. so i'm not holding my breath.

regardless, our home is materializing. just ... wow.

we're still finalizing things like fixtures and cabinets and paint colors and carpet.

(which i'm second-guessing and stressing about waaaaayyy more than you think, mrs walsh!! ;o) )

i really don't want to move in and regret what color we painted something. or have to immediately repaint. and carpet? gah. that's stressful. carpet is a HUGE expense and a HUGE element to have to live with if it's wrong. in fact, i'm going to the design center today to change our selection for the basement. i got the swatch on friday and took it home, and it's way too dark next to the furniture we'll be using in the basement. back to the drawing board on that one. i kinda hate carpet anyway, so this one is tough for me. i know what i like when i see/feel it, but to pick from a little square is really hard. and the ones i seem to think are okay are, like, twice our carpet allowance. soooo ...

one thing we are sure about?

after much going back and forth and getting bids for various options, we decided to put this little pretty in the master bathroom.

not in a million years did i think we would/could do marble. so why are we?

well, we have a narrow detail in the shower and on the tub backsplash of this tile:


and i couldn't figure out what i wanted on the tub deck and vanity that would look nice with it. the rest of the tile in the bathroom is very basic and simple (ie within our allowance and cheap) white ceramic tile - 8x10s on the shower walls, 2" white octogon and dot on the floor. the stacked tile will give the master a bit of "something special," but it didn't look nice with the standard white cultured marble vanity that the builder offered. the color seemed ... off ... and the cultured marble seemed like it would not wear well. so we explored our options, and amazingly enough, the marble came in the least expensive by, like, half. who knew. so now i get to feel fancy every time i brush my teeth.

the master bathroom and kitchen will be our splurge areas. we've added some things to each of those rooms to make them a little more ... more. we can change and upgrade and mess with all the areas of the house over time, but we wanted those rooms to be as close to perfect as we could get them from the beginning.

can't wait to see it all come together.

this week we'll cross our fingers that it doesn't rain as much as they say it might! because i baked cookies yesterday for the builders, and if it rains and they can't work, i'll be forced to eat all those cookies. and no one wants that to happen.

house update: week three

we saw major progress this week.

namely, the first floor was framed.

and our project suddenly feels and looks like a house.

we were able to walk through the main level and get a feel of the space ... not too big, not too small. just right.

looking in the front door, through the dining room to where the sliding doors will be:


the back of the house, to the left, where my studio is (you can see the door coming in, the windows at the corner, letting in what will be great light), as well as the bathroom (the small, square window), the mudroom and mudroom closet:

next to the mudroom will be the kitchen (the double window will be over the sink), and the dining room sliding door:

the back right corner of the house will be the great room, with two piano windows flanking the fireplace:

off the great room, in the front of the house, is the tv room. in the center is the entryway (the center opening is the front door), and the crafty room, with the single window, will be through a barn door:


and soon we'll be able to walk through that front door, sit on a porch swing, and watch harper play with her friends (she's already made some) at the park, and watch henry play basketball with other boys (he's already friends with one, and we've heard there are others).

we've spent hours here in the past four days and have begun to meet other families, talk to other parents to compare notes on what we all do (quite a few techie dads), how many kids (2-4 is the norm; age range is comparable), where we've moved here from, etc.

we're mentally moved in and making ourselves at home, i believe.

this week in pinterest

"me time" during the week centers around a quick browse through pinterest. it makes me happy. there is so much creativity and beauty and inspiration and humor out there, and i love that like-minded people who appreciate all of that are in one place, sharing and redirecting and connecting.

a look at what i loved this week, per my pinboard categories ...

really cool stuff:


(only awesome if you love radiohead)


(most beautiful dress i've ever seen)

color story:


crafty goodness:

(fall project)

home of my dreams:


pretend my thumb is green:

22542492_GhjYVyDz_c   37965278_qdWQTTrP_c






thinky inspiration stuff:

like i said, pinterest makes me happy.


now i'm off to feed, bathe, and tuck in my children. then i shall pinterest some more whilst my husband heeds the "call of duty" on the sofa for three hours. let me know where you are on pinterest so i can add you to my circle of inspiration! and if you don't pinterest and want an invite, i'm always happy to help a brother out!

yesterday was a big day

first of all, there was this:

*commence sobbing*

she looks so big. and in the blink of an eye, she'll be graduating for real, and we'll be having a graduation party, and on a table with a big sheet cake from the grocery story will be this photo and a photo of her graduating at 18, side by side. although, i highly doubt there will be marker on her fingers in that photo. though, who knows.

(class of 2023?! oh, my ...)


they all head to different schools in the fall, but hopefully they will find each other again in middle school. dear friends.

the other big thing around here?


(the build album is always updated, even if i don't write anything.)

on tuesday we noticed a load of wood was delivered, but seeing actual walls go up was pretty exciting.

standing at the front door ...


marc's office. this door will have a sliding barn door ... can't wait to find that!

looking out the tv room window ...

pretty awesome.


now i'm off to meet with the designer and selections lady to finalize paint and tile and carpet. yesterday i finalized the kitchen cabinetry with the cabinet guy, and tomorrow we meet with the plumbing source for bathroom and kitchen fixtures. we're soooo close to just sitting back and watching it come together! what stumps me, though is the simpler i try to make things, the more the cost goes up. what's the deal with that??

regardless, it will be amazing. can't wait. we're in for an interesting summer.


(on a sidenote: a high school friend was asking about baby names the other day on facebook. he wants to name his daughter a specific series of names so that her initials are L E G O ... how awesome is that?! his wife is not so much on board ...)

a few months ago i saw an ad for the lego kidsfest that was coming to town and immediately got tickets. in our house, legos are a bit of an obsession. henry loves to see how fast he can build these amazing sets, harper loves to build little stores and houses, and marc can sit for hours constructing incredibly detailed spaceships. and i get to find little pieces all over the house and put them away.

fun for all.

kidfest finally arrived, and we spent several hours wandering through all the displays, doing all the projects, taking part in all the activities.

so insulting.

anyway ...

upon our arrival, the first station was the creation nation, a map of the united states filled in completely with small installations created by the kidsfest visitors.

everyone made their own contribution, then we got up on a long bridge to watch where the pieces were placed on the map.

there were some really amazing pieces that took the builders hours to construct.


we then wandered through the valley of dioramas ... amazing little scenes created by mushing together any and all sets and characters and creating a sort of "where's waldo" effect. we could have spent hours looking into these boxes and finding all the random, entertaining elements.

like greedo giving greedo jr. a boost ...

or chewbacca taking photos of miners digging ...

or a jedi-viking spa ...

or scuba divers ...

or a tubing party ...

or a wolf who doesn't appear too happy to be poop-scooping ...

then we walked throught the forest of life-sized figures.

the harry potter characters were awesome:

henry really wanted his picture taken with a droid:

marc wanted his man crush on boba fett documented:

i saw indiana jones and said, "ooh! i need my picture taken with him!" which my family promptly ignored and wandered way, further reinforcing my superhero ability to be invisible. so i made my own damn picture:

and then i obliged my daughter's wish to have her picture taken with a rock monster:

after that, marc and henry went to a monochromatic brick table, and harper and i headed to the mosaic wall.

at the mosaic wall, each person was given a small square base with a color code printed on it. at each table were buckets of single-space bricks in the colors needed to complete the mosaic.

once the base plate is complete, you take it to the mosaic wall and find the space on the grid that corresponds with the code on the back of the plate, and place your piece.

then you step back to see how your small piece contributes to the whole:

very cool.

over at the blue table, henry had constructed a large tower with a moveable elevator that slid up and down the outside of it ...

which quickly caught the attention of several people.

a little more wandering, some race car building and racing, more monochromatics, a table set with things built by the local lego club (of which i think both of my boys need to be a part), then one last glance at the progress on the creation nation ...

(don't you wish you could have seen who built that and what the reaction was?!)

and then we were out of there.

it was a fun morning, and the kids left the convention center inspired to run home and play with their own legos. which then gave me a quiet afternoon.

money. well. spent.