Sunday, August 30, 2009

Not for the faint of heart

WARNING: For those of you with weak constitutions, you may want to skip the end of this post.

Yesterday was a very progressive day for the project! Jeff had help from his friends, Chad and Rick (who also happens to be my cousin.) Not only did the snow plow work great, but look at what these guys managed to do for the house.

Chad is marking on the rim joist where the floor joists will be nailed in.

Can you see the hammer and nails there? Well, they actually used nail guns.

And after several hours of work...Taa Daa!!! All of the floor joist are in place!

Thanks guys!

(Isaiah had just taken a little tumble and was trying hard not to cry. He's a tough little guy. (My poor baby!))

The day, however, was not without incident. Don't worry Chad, I won't mention what happened. heh heh. (Good thing your wife's a doctor!) It just reminds me of another incident that happened to Ricky and I can't resist giving him a hard time. (This is the part where you may want to turn away.)

What man child can resist the temptation to goof around with a nail gun once he's become extremely comfortable with using one? Certainly not Rick! When Jeff was in the building business, Rick worked with him too and on one particular day he got a little too carried away. I won't go into all the details of how exactly it happened, but let you see it for yourselves.

Here's a hint. Take a look at his left hand.
That's only half of the nail. They (Rick and my brother-in-law Charles, who also worked with us at the time) for some reason that even to this day no one can understand, decided it would be a good idea to cut the pointy end of the nail off. Then, as if that wasn't bad enough, Rick and Jeff decided they would pull the nail (the head end) out themselves. So they went into the bathroom with a homemade medical kit and shut the door.

All I could hear was Rick making some unpleasant noises and talking about pooping his pants while Jeff kept telling him to "hang in there." Jeff however, was thinking that when Rick passed out and hit the floor, he'd be able to get the nail out for sure then. (If you're wondering, yes, they were all completely sober.) They finally caved, however, and went to urgent care. It was going to at least require a little anesthesia first.

Before they left though, Rick picked up his guitar and made up a little song about the experience. Enjoy.

My apologies to everyone who finds this post a little over the top and always, always practice nail gun safety.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Chickens, Rabbits and Snow Plows

Good Morning! We got up early for a Saturday (or any day for me.) 6:17 am to be exact. Yes, the rooster. We figured out a way to keep him quite that's effective...when we remember. Every evening, after all the chickens go to bed we just shut the coop door. He doesn't get out until sometime after the sun comes up and the girls let them out to feed them. We forgot last night so he reminded us this morning. Jeff bolted out of bed and put the rooster back in the coop...mid crow. I'm sure the poor fella feels completely unappreciated. Oh dear. It's 7:46 am now and, no joke, the rooster is crowing in his coop! I peeked over the fence earlier and it looks like the neighbors windows are shut. Never mind about our effective anti-crowing methods.

The kids are outside right now on a rabbit hunt. Someone didn't shut the door very well on one of the cages and now he's spent the night in freedom. This happens from time to time and do you know where the rabbits love to go when they're free? Six feet over into the barn. They get a lot of play time with the kids who like to let them run around the yard a lot so they must not hold a grudge against us for making them live in cages.

Jeff was the first one to check in the barn and he didn't see the rabbit so we sent the kids to hunt for him everywhere else first. All to no avail, of coarse, but as soon as they opened the barn door, there he was. He usually comes right to them but this morning he must be feeling a little frisky because he's giving them a bit of a chase. Right now the kids are in the barn trying out the "scream like a banshee" method of catching a rabbit and that may be why the rooster is crowing...competition.

Jeff has gathered up his things and left us to catch the little bugger ourselves. He's on his way to the land to clean up around the place and start the floor assembly. My dad gave him his snow plow accessory for the mower so Jeff's going to try moving around a little dirt and debris (aka trash) with it.

Jeff also had some lumber delivered to the land for the floor so hopefully he'll actually be able to get to that this weekend. It's supposed to be sunny and 75 degrees today and tomorrow so this ought to be a good weekend!

I'll be there to take pictures later but first I've got to go to the store and get a few things for baby #5. It just dawned on me the other night that I don't have diapers or anything for him/her yet and we don't have much time left before he/she arrives...I hope!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The piers are done!

Jeff and Isaiah finished the piers this past weekend and hopefully things will speed up a little now. This will give you a better idea of what 800 square feet looks like. In the finished stage it will include a kitchen and dining area, living room, bedroom, bathroom and laundry room. In a space this small, efficiency is extremely important but like most women, I want it to be pretty, inviting and comfortable too. Jeff would be content with a wood stove and an outhouse. What more do you need? Ha! I'm pretty sure I really need a little more than that. So, I'm constantly playing around with the floor plan checking to see if I can make it just a little better. I can't change the square footage but I can still rearrange the interior space. I only have about a week to get it all hashed out permanently because he'll be starting the floor and plumbing in a week or so. Any changes to the floor plan after that will most likely cost money.

Today we're trying to get back into the groove of things after a fun visit from my sister and her family. My mother, who has more energy than all her children put together, is exhausted I'm sure. She's been feeding the whole clan and chasing around grand kids all this time. (Thank you, Momma!) Monday we all went to a park in the city that has a "water feature" and we had a blast. (It's just a few blocks from the house we used to live in.) My other sister is the family photographer (she's really good) and she took a million great pictures that I can't wait to get my hands on, but for now, mine will have to do.

In case you're wondering, playing in the water is allowed. In the peak of the summer it can be hard to even get near the water because of all the people. And as for germs, don't worry, there was enough chlorine in it to give me a faint sock line from sitting with my feet in the water and I haven't worn socks all summer!

After finally getting the nerve to go inside the circle of fountains, Evie got doused and decided it would be safer to wear goggles. (You might be thinking Evelyn is my favorite since she's in almost every picture I post, but it's actually because she's the only kid I can catch on camera since I'm practically immobile right now.)

I think this type of "water feature" would be perfect at our new house. Maybe Jeff will make us one next summer and I'll blog about that. I'm convinced he can do anything!

Now I'm going to pour myself a tall glass of iced tea, put my feet up and relax for a while. Aahhh, that's better.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Houston, we have a problem.

Last night we decided to watch the movie Signs. You know, the Mel Gibson/alien movie. We also had iced coffees (decaf w/ stevia) and chocolate chip cookies (real sugar, real butter) to go with the movie. That wasn't the best combo for a restful nights sleep. The movie was a little much for the kids so they had a camp out in the living room and watched Night at the Museum to clear their petrified, alien invaded imaginations while Evelyn and I twitched and kicked in bed till 1am (after effects of cookies before bed) and Jeff, of coarse, slept like a baby. Now, here comes the problem. Remember how I told you we have city chickens? Part of that deal is that you can have hens but not roosters. They tend to be too noisy for most neighbors at the crack of dawn. Well, at exactly 6:11 am this morning, after what felt like only a few minutes sleep for everyone (but Jeff,) this lovely lady began crowing! We always thought she was a little bossy toward the other girls but assumed it was because she was the biggest hen with the fullest tail and the longest feathers and the tallest comb etc. etc... Nope, it's because she's a he. Once he started crowing this morning he didn't stop until everyone of his wives and concubines dragged their sleepy selves out of bed and got to work peckin' and scratchin' at the ground. Then he took about a ten minute break before he started crowing again! What to do, what to do... My great grandma would have marched right out to the coop, grabbed him by the neck and started swinging him over her head for all she was worth and grandpa Barbee would have probably gone after him with an axe or something. I just don't think I have any of that in me. Like most of my generation, I guess I'm too soft. We're going to see if we can come up with a good way to get the chickens out to the land a.s.a.p. We can't be there every day to feed and water them so to do it will take some planning. In the meantime, we may have to duct tape his beak every night before bed or something. Anybody have a more realistic temporary solution??? We'd like to keep him if we can but he might have to be put on Craig's list before too long.

Monday, August 17, 2009

We have water!

I need to try to make this one quick. My sister, Jennifer from Iowa and her family, will be in town in a couple of hours for a week or so and tonight we're celebrating our younger sister's birthday. Happy Birthday Erin!!! That means Springfield's famous and original Cashew chicken (Jen's favorite) and birthday cake (my favorite!)

Things are moving along out at the land. Saturday we loaded up with supplies like 6x6x12 posts and a pressure tank for the well and headed out to work. Jeff started with the pressure tank.



If you look closely you can see water pouring from the spigot. Now, check out this geyser!

That will eventually be for the indoor plumbing.

We also staked out the perimeter with string to make sure our holes were all lined up. (snicker snicker snort snort!) Here's a tip, stake out the perimeter with string for your holes before you dig them. (Strain your eyes and you might be able to see the string.)

Jeff knew the auger was jumping around while he was digging due to all the rocks but had no idea it was so bad. Let me show you our Missouri dirt.

That's not our rock pile. That's what came out of the holes! We buried the big rocks in the trench or in concrete before I thought to take pictures for you. They're small boulders and there was at least one in every hole! This leads us to Sunday's work which was a lot of digging. Very fortunately, Jeff's friend, Eric, came out and spent the day helping out. (Thanks Jen, we couldn't have done it without him!!!) They had to widen every hole to make sure the posts would be where they needed to be. Oh yeah, they dug them out by hand. Talk about exhausting work! They even worked right through the pouring rain!

Jeff decided to place a huge nail (nine inches, I think) in the bottom of each post to make sure the bottom as well as the sides of each post would be surrounded by concrete. We don't have to worry about the nail settling into the dirt because each hole is dug down to limestone bedrock.

Once I showed up (after the rain) they were just about out of concrete and were close to wrapping things up for the day. We only have four more posts to set next weekend. That will probably take at least all day Saturday considering it took two guys all day to set eight posts. It's really a lot of work.

In case you wanted to know, we have a concrete mixer and used four to six bags in every hole. Each hole is three feet deep, or as close as the limestone will let us get to that. We have a total of twelve post which range from about three to five feet above the ground and they're placed every ten feet around the perimeter. So, to let you know some things we've learned the hard way...stake out the perimeter with string as well as spray painting for a guide to where to dig your holes and use a large auger bit (18 inches or more.) We used a 12" bit which doesn't allow for wiggle room.
Thanks again Eric!!
Now we're off to a birthday party!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

the after...

These are pictures of yesterday's scary house from before and after we moved in. I'll be quiet now so you can just look.

Miss the tub but not the stairs (3 flights total!) Shhh!! Oh yeah, sorry.

That's probably enough pictures, huh? When we finished, it was a two and a half story plus a basement (four floors) with four bedrooms and three bathrooms. What a job it was! It's located in an historic district and when Jeff finished it, he won an award for best remodel from the city. Can my man deliver or what?? We were blessed to live their for a year and a half and experience down town living at it's best. As much as we enjoyed it we're still looking forward to country living.

I was going to show you one of the houses he built from scratch and maybe I still will but not today. Stick a fork in me 'cause I'm done!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ghosts of houses past

I'd like to show you a couple of our past homes that Jeff built. Well, one was actually a remodel but it was an amazing transformation! I didn't take any before pictures (or maybe I lost them!!!) so I got a few from my mom. Don't you love before and afters? I do. They're instant gratification!
This house was very ghostly when we found it. It had even been condemned by the city. scaaaarry!

It was built in 1912 and in the sixties was converted into three or four apartments then a family moved into the whole thing pretty much like it was. No one was living in it when we found it. Well, not people anyway. It had plenty of nasty little pests in it though. It was awful! I wish I had a picture of the kitchen on the 1st floor. You'd have to see it to believe it. When Jeff and I walked in the door I was thinking AIN'T.NO.WAY! Jeff however, fell in love with it! He has more vision than anyone I know and he's always so sweet to me I can't ever tell the man no so naturally we went for it.

This might be why I don't have any before pictures of my own. I was too busy trying to figure out how we were going to turn this nasty money pit into a house someone might actually want to live in. (See the pencil and paper in front of me? And I have to admit it was a LOT of fun for me.) That and I was, as usual, pregnant. So maybe I was a little distracted from my camera for a while.

The pictures with specs floating around give testament to how dirty a job it was. There was always dust in the air. Actually anywhere Jeff is there is usually dust in the air. The man never quits working! And it's not unusual for my dad to be right there next to him making just as much dust fly. He's always been Jeff's "go to guy" as Jeff puts it. (My dad's name also happens to be Guy, but no pun is intended. ;) )

Even my mom and sister got in on this huge undertaking. That's norm for them though. I'm always pregnant and they're always working on my houses! Am I blessed or what??

Now, let me show you where all this dust is coming from and why they're wearing masks around their necks... (Insert scary movie screeching noises here.)

This, believe it or not, would eventually become the master suite. But first there was a little work to do, some of which resulted in this..

Barrels of toxic waste (asbestos, which was appropriately disposed of.) The kids and I weren't around for that part but all those who were there, always laugh as they reminisce about all the dangerous fun they they enjoyed it or something!

One thing I heard more than once on this project was "It has a really good foundation." You know what that means, right? Nothing else was any good. Jeff tore that house up getting it ship-shape!

Oh, the humanity! I can almost hear you cries, begging me to stop. Okay, out of compassion for you I'll wave my magic mouse and present to you, the after....

Come back for more after pictures!