Sunday, August 28, 2016

Parks of Green

We love the parks in our new city. They are so much fun. We have been having as much fun as time allows when we have a whole house to unpack, garage to organize, school year to plan and routines to establish. I love all the lakes around and the scenery is divine.

We have been working so hard at home that it is becoming a little hard to get the will to go out. I took some special effort this past week to go out for a few days. Tonight we are going to have a family party to celebrate the end of our move and our new house. We have a barbecue and cake in order as well as sparklers, and games.

Summer has been long, and hot, and wonderful. We have been enjoying new adventures in the sun.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Something to Remember You By

These were the professional photos taken of our house for the real estate listing. I wanted to remember just how it looked in its prime state (that means perfectly clean with no kids around). This was the best we had it after 5 years. You can see how it looked when we moved in herehere, and for the most part here. Of course those posts only highlight the house. The gardens were probably the biggest visible change.

Some of the things we did in 5 years were; rip out old bushes and put in all most all new plants, dig up the back yard and put in gravel and gardens, revamp the sprinkler system. A new architectural roof with plywood sheeting. We partially tore out an obsolete chimney, and put in proper ventilation in roof. We also fixed the faulty set up with the bathroom fan. We installed a new high efficiency furnace to replace the old oil burning one, which included installing a new gas line to the house. We also got new hot water heater, and a new fancy schmancy dishwasher. We put in all new plumbing from the kitchen sink to the clean out in the basement where new plumbing had been put in to the alley before we moved in. This included jack hammering the basement floor and then putting in new concrete when we were done. We tiled the hearth around the fireplace and made it level with the wood floor again. I restored almost all the historical storm windows, as well as a complete restoration of the 4 over 4 pane historical picture window with accompanying storm. I also did a restoration of two other widows. We put in new floors in the kitchen and bathroom, and instillation of appropriate baseboards in the kitchen to replace the vinyl wrapping that was put in by the previous owner. We put in a new/old back door to match the existing doors and windows with a screen door on the back porch. We tore out a rotten deck and replaced it with a smaller new set of wooden stairs. We replaced most of the rotten basement windows and a picture window (that had been installed in the 70s in the enclosed porch that didn't open and was stained and discolored), with a widow to match the pane window on the front of the house. We rebuilt the missing medicine cabinet in the bathroom and stripped paint off the baseboards in the kids room and restored the woodwork. I refinished the wood floor in the kids room. We got the house and soil tested for lead and had all the woodwork on the outside of the house painted, and replaced some of the wood on the exterior that had been previously been damaged by ivy. I painted every room on the main floor. Hubbs tore out a bunch of cheap fiberboard paneling and drop ceiling in the basement as well as a bunch of 1x1. He also tore out a bunch of rotten framing in the basement, and disposed of it all at the dump. We took apart an old piano that was left there when we bought it and used a sledge hammer to break it apart so we could get it out. Tore out a strange door frame at the top of the stairs that didn't have a door to match, fixed the plaster on the stairs and repainted. We framed in a bathroom in the basement with existing plumbing. We insulated the belly band on the house in the basement and put up new insulation and framing in the laundry area. We painted all the trim and doors on the garage. We replaced the exterior scary aluminum electric panel from the 70's with a new one in the basement. Replaced the nob and tube wiring to the garage as well as have the entire garage re wired to modern wiring and up to code (that included digging a 12" trench to the garage through the yard). We built a picket fence around the two side yards with gates and tore out the old chain link. We had the house tested for radon, and had it looked at by a structural engineer to determine where the load bearing walls were and if the attic could be finished. I installed new 1930's reproduction light fixtures in the dining room and bedrooms. I stripped paint off of the original hardware in the kitchen. Hubs built a new hand rail for the back porch. I replaced at least 3 windows that broke while we lived there. I dug out the garage as on the backside it was buried by 3 feet from 80 years of garden debris composting down to earth. Hubs built me a clothesline. We built and tore down 2 chicken coops. Paint paint and more paint. This list is not in order, its just a haphazard remembering of our doom.

Phew. Typing up that list was exhausting. I can't believe we did all that work to the house. I feel a little sick when I read through it. I did so much of it by myself and I did it with three kids under 6. When we sold it the buyer had an issue about the air conditioner being old. I was so mad about that as I felt lucky that it even had central air. . No wonder we felt so poor all those years. No wonder I felt so overwhelmed and stressed out. I had absolutely no idea how much work that house was going to take. When we walked through it, it was the only one that was move in ready that we saw in our budget. Now that I look back it was not in our budget. I can't believe my credit came out better than when we started. No wonder I felt in over my head every single day of my life for the past 5 years. Its a miracle I am even still alive after all that stress.

Here is a list of the things we always wanted to do but didn't get to accomplish: refinish the wood floors, do some work to the chimney and bricks on exterior, re-wire the entire house as most of it is still knob and tube, finish the basement to include and egress window, bathroom, updated laundry, storage, and living area. Tile the floors in the kitchen, bath and enclosed porch. And finish the attic to be a master bedroom with a bathroom. I would look at all these blogs for inspiration and pin all this stuff on Pinterest that I was going to do to make it beautiful. I remember many nights lying in bed so excited about my dreams that I couldn't fall a sleep.

That list of stuff we wanted to do is much, much, shorter than what we did do. The lucky buyers get to do all the fun stuff of my dreams. Next time I vow to buy a house that needs less work. I am only buying something that needs aesthetic updates not an entire overhaul. I am happy I got to own an old house as I have always loved them but am not sure I will ever do it again. Now you can see why we are taking a break and renting. When we sold, everyone kept asking us if we were going to buy. We both almost yelled back NO every time. At least not right away.

Right Before We Moved

I had been very sad to move when it was all said and done. I had some days where I couldn't believe that we sold our house and although I knew it was too small for us I was mourning the change as I knew it was a beautiful old house. I was sad I was giving it up and it was hard because until the last moment I didn't even know where I was moving too.

We waited and waited for the squatters to leave the house we had lined up to rent. I still hadn't seen the inside. It was hard because rent is very inflated right now and everything is super expensive. We could have found something different if we wanted to pay twice as much for half the square footage and so we kept hanging on. The Sheriffs department was going slow and the property management company knew nothing and couldn't tell us anything. Then forty eight hours before we had to move they were finally evicted. But the bad news kept coming as the house was trashed beyond expectation. They property management company told us we could come help clean out the mess to make things go faster and so the day before we were supposed to be out of our house we headed out to get dirty and clean up our rental house. When we got there no one was around and so we went out to eat. While we were eating we got the phone call that the house was not fit for habitation. We didn't really know why and they still would not tell us much about it but they had something different that they thought would fit our needs. So we spent a good portion of the day finding the new house and checking it out. It was emotionally relieving to finally have somewhere to live that we knew what it looked like on the inside. We agreed to rent it as the price was right and the neighborhood was nice.

Long story short, I didn't expect to spend the last day before we moved away from home instead of packing. The following morning I had to go back over to the property management company and do a walk through and sign the lease. It took 3 hours. With the time it took to drive there and back I was gone much longer than anticipated and by the time I got back to our little old house it was empty and the truck was loaded. Many of my friends showed up and did all the work of packing the last few things and cleaning. When I walked in the door I was hit with overwhelming sadness as I didn't get to go through the steps of finishing packing and loading the truck. I get so attached to where I live. I was crying and it was very hard.

In the end it all worked out. Our new place, while not as beautiful as our last is bigger and we fit better. It is quieter in the morning and evening and there are more bedrooms. We have a few things to do that I wish we didn't such as putting up some fence in the back yard but the rent is just right. We should be able to save some money while we live here and it feels so good to be out of debt. Our little old house had so much work that needed done, and we were always under pressure to afford it. It feels so nice to just have something I don't have to worry about. We are almost done unpacking and I have some flowers to plant. I am looking forward to getting to know the new city we live in. Now that we are here I feel better and we are happy.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Fish Lake

We have spent many fun days at Fish Lake this Summer. We didn't know it was our favorite place until the year we had to move away. Lucky for us it is still close enough to get to if we can't find a new place closer to our new house, we can still go back.

Frogs, Tadpoles, Minnows, Bluegill, Crawdad you name it the kids tried to catch it. Most of the time they were successful. One day my boy caught a fish with his bare hands. Another time they played with a frog for hours while I sat on the beach with a friend and froze in the drizzling rain. Again there were water snakes found in the hands of one lucky boy.

This lake inspired my son to go fishing. On his first cast with his new pole he caught a fish. While walking off the fishing dock we could see a huge tadpole sunning itself on a rock just under the surface.

We found a rope swing but never used it. It looked like a popular place for the college kids to hang out. We love places like this where we can be close to nature and the kids can explore, learn and just be kids.