Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Chaos, but good chaos.

Welcome to our chaos.
We have a new roof! We choose Landmark's Sunrise Cedar architectural shingles. 
I'll post better before and after pictures soon. 
Below is our bedroom. They opened it up yesterday to the addition, so I had to move our mattress to the den and remove everything from my husband's closet.
I don't have a closet in our bedroom yet, which actually worked in my favor this time.
Alan's clothes currently qualify for refugee status. 
Alan said our house looks like an episode of hoarders now. 
We went from 1250 square feet to what feels like a studio apartment.
Welcome to our den/bedroom/office/closet.
CJ is saying, "What the ....?!"

Friday, January 25, 2013


There's a four-year-old boy in our house who sits at the window for hours on end 
like he's watching an exciting, action flick.
He even prefers watching the crew work over playing with legos or watching the Wild Kratts, 
and that's really saying something.
Sometimes his sister joins him.
Sometimes he has the place all to himself.
And this is what he's been watching.
I should create a flip book of the process.
Check out the siding. Now you see it,
now you don't.
The walls go up and the dormer comes down. 

Ta da! We have a roof.
On Monday, the shingles arrive. 
The plumbers and electricians are also going to rough-in the plumbing and electric
....whatever that means. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Rain, rain, go away

Yes, we need the rain, but it sure is s l o w i n g construction down. On Monday, the city approved the foundation and gave the go-ahead to start framing, but it has rained every day since. In between storms, the masked asbestos removers did manage to suit up and take down the siding on our dormer. In the next week or two, that dormer will be removed entirely, the addition will be framed, the roof will be replaced, and the new insulation will go in. Hallelujah!

You can see from this angle what horrible shape our roof and gutters are in. I'm almost as excited about getting a new roof as I am about the second bathroom. Every time it rains, my husband grumbles about the inoperable gutters and I say a little prayer that the roof won't leak. Maintaining an old house has certainly been a lesson in patience. I'm the kind of person who files taxes in February. You know the blood test they require to obtain a marriage certificate in Georgia? I had to take it twice because I took it too early the first time. People assume living through a renovation is maddening, but waiting for six years to begin it was far worse.

In sunnier news, our talented neighbor, Matt Donald, used one of our old kitchen cabinets to make a Little Free Library

He also designs and builds these incredible custom playscapes. 

 Castles, ships, you name it, he can build it. He even designed two separate playscapes for next door neighbors which were connected by a bridge. That's some serious togetherness. I think I would need a drawbridge to maintain some boundaries, but I'm sure Matt could build that too.
You can contact him at

Friday, January 11, 2013

the foundation

It's funny to me how little most of us know about construction.
I figured they'd have to take down our privacy fence in order to get the proper machines into the back yard to build the foundation.
Oh, a hose! That makes sense. 
 Watching the kids put their hands in the cement made me feel sentimental. 
Our house was built 90 years ago by the Dukes family.
They had a radio and a piano. 4 boys shared a room. This was just the way things were.
The house must have seemed bigger without a fridge, dishwasher, tv, stereo, computer, washer & dryer. They had 5 children, some born in this very house. 
They lived here for 47 years. 
 One day the cinder blocks were delivered to our front yard.
I went to a friend's house to do laundry and when I got back they were all in the back yard.
 The next day the foundation was almost complete.
It's like magic. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Pit Stop

Alan was standing in front of our house on Saturday when a man in a three-piece suit walked across the street and made a pit stop in our port-a-john. As he left, he smiled and tipped his hat.

He's not the only one. A neighbor watched a bus stop out front and the driver hop off and use it. 
Maybe we should put some reading material in there to make people feel more at home.

The kids are having a blast in the back yard. They'd be perfectly happy if we just left the trenches, holes, and piles of dirt out there and forgot about landscaping altogether.

The foundation guys are making a lot of progress and we should get the o.k. from the city to pour the cement in the next day or two.

The picture above gives you some perspective. The large part of the addition on the right will be the expanded kitchen and new den. The smaller part in the middle will be the new bathroom off of our bedroom. I guess I could have saved thousands of dollars and just ordered a port-a-john instead of building a second bathroom. Apparently they're all the rage.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The yard

For 6 years, we've had this enormous koi pond right in the middle of our back yard. To the DINKS* who installed it over 10 years ago, I'm sure they considered it a focal point, a relaxing retreat, a place to unwind with an adult beverage after a long day at the office. To a mother of two young kids, it felt more like a gigantic, dark oval of death. For my husband, it was a time-consuming hobby he unwillingly inherited. Still, we kept it all these years because everyone else seemed to love it, including the kids. Plus, we had already spent so much time and money on it, buying koi food, algae control concoctions for maintaining the proper pH balance, replacing the broken pump, and regularly adding enough fresh water to hydrate a village in Ethiopia. Alan spent an entire day every spring emptying the pond and cleaning it with a pressure washer. Every time we left town, we had to ask our kind neighbors to "fish-sit" (say that 3 times, fast). 

Then there was the stress of having children running around a drowning hazard. We bought the house when Lilly was 2 and I never left her alone in the yard. She's such a cautious child that she didn't venture too close. When Jonathan came along and started sprinting at 10 months, it was clear that he was determined to swim in the pond at least once. He was so fast, and so daring, I had to be hyper-vigilant at all times. His friends were just as adventurous; top-heavy boys climbing on the rocks, leaning over the pond and trying to pet the fish. 

I'm happy to report that after six years, two months, and nine days, the pond is finally gone! There were a few close calls, but no child fell in the pond. The fish were returned to the home's previous owners, who were happy to take them off our hands. The kids will soon be able to play in the yard unchaperoned. 

Jonny can FINALLY play in the pond.

Alan is going to re-use all the rocks to build a fire pit and rock wall once the addition is done.

Yesterday, they started digging for the new addition

 and they filled the old hole where the pond used to be with the dirt.

It has to look worse, before it can look better, right? 

* DINKS - dual income, no kids

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Kitchen demo

Bye-bye cabinets!
 Adios black, laminate countertops and tiny, shallow sink!
Sayonara black and white tiles which show every single speck of dirt, dust, and dog hair!
 HELLO plumber, who is saving me from washing dishes in the bathtub for 3 months!
 There's now a utility sink in my dining room,
(along with a fridge,
coffee maker, 
slow cooker,
toaster oven,
VitaMix blender,
electric skillet,
and electric wok.)
It's actually much nicer than my old kitchen sink.
The plywood is covering the door to the kitchen,
so most of the mess will now be contained outside our living quarters.
For a few weeks, anyway.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Sneak Peek

This is what the back of our house will look like after the addition, drawn by our fabulous architect, Michelle Krahe. On the right, is our new den, which is right off the newly expanded kitchen. The middle section is our new bathroom, which is off our existing bedroom. On the left is our existing den, which is the room with 7 lovely windows (3 on the back, 4 on the side). I was determined not to change this room just for more square footage. It will soon be Jonny's room.