Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Remodel Day 28. Peeling.

I will admit it here. Freely.

I cannot leave well-enough alone.

I see a pan of brownies with a few missing? I'll take a knife and just "even out the line a bit". You know, to make the edge straight and tidy.

I break a nail? I'll pick at the rough edge, trying to "smooth" it until it's down to the quick, and I don't have to worry about whether or not to do a French Manicure.

I had to stop cutting my bangs. Why? Because I'd do the "oh, it's a little shorter on this side, I'll just cut a bit on this OTHER side, to even it up!" Yeah, you can bet that THOSE haircutting sessions went really well. I'm surprised I haven't driven myself to explore therapy!

Hangnails? Oh, don't start! They're not SMOOTH! So I snip at one, or pick at it, or scrape my fingernail over it, just trying to get it to 'lie flat', and the next thing you know, it's probably started bleeding.

And I think we don't even need to START talking about peeling sunburns...

Oh. The other day, I hot glue-gunned the living daylights out of my ring finger. And I thought this big white dangly bit was the glue, so I... (look away now, if you're squeamish)... PULLED ON IT! And took off a good chunk of the side of my finger. Turns out it was the blister that I pulled off, NOT the glue.

So this next story should come as no surprise...

When the guys put the new floor in the downstairs bathroom, they put a teeny tiny little ding in the wall. Chipped a WEE bit of paint off.

Look! It's hardly NOTHING! I could cover it with my finger. In fact, if I had nothing better to do with my time, I could just do my impersonation of the Little Dutch Boy, and keep my finger in the dike, and stop the flood.

But I'm not good at Leaving Well Enough Alone.

It had a rough edge.

I flicked at it with my finger nail...

Well, CRAP!

Ok, I can't just LEAVE it like that. I'd better peel off those pieces of Toasty Grey paint...

(had to step back, as it's getting too big to fit in the view-finder...)

Our Beloved Contractor came over the other day, and took a peek at the lovely flooring job. And then he squeaked a little bit when he saw what I'd done.

And then he called the Drywall Guys.

They've got a big job to do in the kitchen next week.

They'll just have a little bit extra to do in the bathroom.

And then he said "They can't do their job until all the loose paint is gone. But you'll kill yourself if you do all this peeling with your FINGERNAILS! Here.. have the Proper Tool"

And can I just say that this new tool? it's my new favourite thing!

Just think what it could do to a sunburnt back?

Oh, and for the record?

The apple?

It doesn't fall far from the tree.

"Hey, mom! This is even MORE fun than washing dishes in the laundry sink!!!!"

We should be finished peeling by the weekend. Drywall Guys start on Tuesday.

Remodel Day 27. Windows and window shopping.


I'm almost caught up.

Monday, bright and early, Maurice showed up and started getting to work on putting in the door and big window in the kitchen.

Our Beloved Contractor arrived about a half hour later, making sure to make lots of noise as he came in through the garage. Hah!

Ooh. You can see the great copper piping job under the window, there. Those plumbers really knew their stuff. If only they'd turned the furnace back on. I've still got a chill...

And while Maurice and Andrew got to work, Ken and I took the Littles (Skip was still asleep) out on an excursion to look at potential counter tops.

(What? Didn't YOU have yesterday off, too? Cesar Chavez, patron saint of California school children everywhere... everywhere that their teacher unions vote to take his birthday as a holiday, that is.)

So yesterday, our destination was DaVinci Marble, to look at slabs.

Ken had the cupboard door samples, and I had pieces of leftover floor tile.

Look! Fossils!!!!

And look how WELL they match the doors and floors!

Alas, the fossil slab is marble, and we've had a few people go absolutely NUTS, freaking out about how High Maintenance marble counters can be, and how you have to Treat Them Every Year!, and how they're So Freakin' Fragile!

And I won't deny that there was a bit of sticker shock...

But it was So Incredibly Pretty!

Much prettier than the soapstone that DaVinci carried, that's for sure.

Here. Let's take a closer look...

What's not to love about these fossils!!!

Help me out, peeps.

What would you do?

And then we got home, and the windows and door were in.


Oh whoops. The window/door manufacturer didn't include any of the hardware that I'd picked out.

So right now, we've GOT the door, but we just can't OPEN it. No worries. It's miles better than the plywood sheet that was there before. It'll all work out in the end.

Remodel Day 26. Like Santa

Friday night, I was up late, photographing a Youth Event with our church. The kids took over a local ice rink, and played broomball into the wee hours,

then had an over-night lock-in, with a rousing game of Grounders once the sun came up.

But in between the broom ball, and the Grounders, I was up for far too long loading broomball photos onto Facebook.

It was probably 1:30 or 1:45 before I headed off to bed. WAY too late.

We were late getting going in the morning. I vaguely remember Nate coming in and saying that the toaster didn't work (it was plugged into a dead outlet), and me telling him to move it to the front hallway to make his Eggo waffles.

I vaguely remember hearing Kelly chattering away to her hamsters.

And then, as I was staggering around, I thought I heard the garage door.

So I quickly got dressed, and went downstairs to see what the guys might be wanting...

...and found nobody.

It was tomb-like.


And the garage was closed.

Kind of like a twilight zone episode.

But then I started noticing things through the day.

There was a new piece of rosin paper in one part of the family room. And I think the laser level had moved.

Nothing really big. Just those disconcerting small things.

But there was Nobody Around.

Nate didn't see anything, and he'd been downstairs making himself breakfast.

The next day, the truth came out.

Turns out, Our Beloved Contractor HAD been in the house. He said "I came in through the garage, and shouted up "Hello! I'm here!", but didn't hear anything in reply. So I tried crashing around while I was doing the things that I needed to do. I thought I was making a lot of noise, but you didn't seem to notice. And then it started getting awkward, so I just quietly left."


I had to laugh. And I was tempted to say "Well, I'm glad I wasn't beating my kids, or anything. Now *that* would've been awkward..."

Monday, March 30, 2009

Remodel. Day 25. Plumbers and a window.

Ack! I'm falling behind again.

Time for the quick-and-not-terribly-eloquent, just so I stay on track.

Friday was Remodel Day 25.

Bright and early, two charming young Irish plumbers showed up with Our Beloved Contractor.

My husband has forbidden me from calling them "Leprechauns".

But honestly! They sounded Just. Like. Lucky!

They got right to work. One of them worked on getting the baking center piping moved into position...


And the other one was getting the main sink plumbed, and fixing the gas line to the stove, so that there's an accessible gas turn-off switch.


They were so good to clean up after themselves, but they turned off the gas while they were working in the kitchen, and we didn't notice that the furnaces hadn't come back on until about midnight on Sunday night, when the house dropped to a nippy 54F.

Later in the afternoon, while I was doing the 3-kids-to-3-events shuffle, Our Beloved Contractor came back to the house, and put in the smaller of the two kitchen windows.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Remodel. Day 24. Windows arrive!

Nothing much happened today. And that's a good thing. Kelly went back to school, even though she was probably sicker today than she was yesterday (when I kept her home, and we lounged around on the sofa, watching Dancing with the Stars and eating bonbons).

Oh wait. Maurice and Louis were here in the morning, while Kelly and I lazed around like Ladies of Leisure. They finished the cement board on the floor, and also finished framing out for the little-sink that will go on Ken's new baking center.

But then 4:30 rolled around, and Andrew pulled up with PRESENTS! He was carrying a pencil and hairspray (but not for my fabulous hair-do, nope. This was to draw the cabinet lay-out on the floor in preparation for the plumber's arrival tomorrow) So now we've got a bit of a rough-out for what the kitchen will look like.

And More Presents!!!!

A door!

And two windows!

Whoops. The big window was already put away when I figured out that the camera wasn't working because I still had the lens cap on.

Yes. Some days, I am made of SUCCESS!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Remodel. Day 23. More Framing

Today, the guys finished cutting the holes in the wall for the windows and door.

The header over the old window and door needed to be notched into a few inches, as the old window was low, sitting on the kitchen counter (and thus in a prime location for rotting out from any splash from the sink), and the old door was low enough that Ken had to duck ever so slightly as he walked out into the back yard.

In this shot, you see Maurice on our ladder, cutting the header from the outside. The big kitchen window hole is already boarded over, and much of the view on the left is blocked by the back of the fridge. Yeah. I'm the Queen of Framing The Shot. But you get what you get. And you can also see all the wires just dangling down on the right. That's where the new window is going to go.

Here's the view from the outside, once they were nearly done.

Every once in a while, I get all anxious, and want to say "Stop! Don't do any more work! Can't we go back the way it was?"

Yeah. Wouldn't the neighbours be thrilled with this view?

Also completed today was the cement board coverage of the kitchen floor.

The windows should arrive tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Remodel. Day 22. Bracing!

So, we last left our helpless heroine standing in her kitchen staring down a wall full of dry rot and old termite damage, while The Beloved Contractor was on the phone saying "If I were you, I wouldn't go upstairs over the kitchen. That wall's not really holding anything up."

No worries. The kids didn't need to be on the computers anyways. And we're not a 'jumping on the beds' kind of family, either.

Maurice and Louis arrived super early, and while the kids were still staggering through breakfast in their jammies, the men had made things safe again...

Take THAT, saggy wall!

Oh, the other fun thing:

The guys have had to go under the house, because our floor doesn't have joists. Just a few beams under the plywood. Certainly not enough to support a nice sturdy tile floor, that's for sure. Just to refresh the memories...

This hole is 4 feet square, and that beam across the middle is one that the guys put in to reinforce it. Until they went under the floor, we had "joists" every 4 feet. Not NEARLY enough.

But let's look up... way up... ("and I'll call Rusty" - Bonus points for recognizing that reference)

See our ceiling? EVERY TWELVE INCHES, people! Now *that* is over-engineering.

So, once the brace was in place, they were able to remove the window and old door. Because of the rot on the stud, new studs will be put in beside the old one, and that will move the large kitchen window a few inches to the south. Helps with my view, but may interfere with where the bar-height counter will have to go. There are a few inches of 'wiggle room', so I think they're dipping into that stash.

Then, to finish up, they just covered the gaping holes in the walls with plywood. It looks like we're ready for the hurricane. The windows are scheduled to arrive on Thursday afternoon.

As the guys were leaving, I mentioned that we'd not had power upstairs last night. I guess when they were shutting down power to do the demolition on Monday, they'd turned off a number of breakers, and then had only turned back on the ones that were labeled as 'necessary' in the scheme of things: Dryer, Master bedroom, furnace, garage, living room (TV is a necessity, right?). Poor Nate had to use a flashlight as a night-light. I'd suggested that he just go without a nightlight to toughen himself up, but that idea was NOT met with enthusiasm.

So after supper, Our Beloved Contractor came back over, and he and Ken were able to get power back to the kids' rooms, while his girls played with Kelly and Nate and the hamsters. He also was able to confirm that we did, in fact, have aluminum wiring in the house. Our house had been sold to us as "contains aluminum wiring', but our electrician couldn't believe it.

Tomorrow, the hole will be cut for the NEW kitchen window.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Remodel. Day 21. Demolition, Man!

Heh. I have that song going through my head now.

"I"m a walk-ing dis-as-ter, a Demolition Ma-a-a-a-an"

So, Monday.


Demolition Day.

Fortunately, it was also a Jazz Band day for Skip, so he and I were up at the crack of Still Dark, and while he ate his breakfast, I cleared up the last few things from the kitchen counters. (And could someone please explain the 'I leave JUNK on my counters until the Very Last Minute when I move/remodel" phenomenon? I swear, it happens EVERY time we move, too! We come to the end of the packing, and the things that are left on the counters are things like "Very Important Stuff that We Must NOT Lose!" and "Useless Crap That Should Have Been Packed Ages Ago". Case in point: Here is a list of what was left on the counters in the moments before the crew arrived for demolition. Let's play "One of these things is not like the others"! Here goes: a pack of Cat Themed playing cards, never opened. A set of glow-in-the-dark vampire fangs. A box of price tags from my knit-wear boutique (from TWO YEARS AGO!). A piece of rutilated quartz, an onyx specimen, a chunk of silicon slag, and a petrified dinosaur bone. The Property Tax Bill, due April 10th.

Did you find the outlier?

Whew. At least I know where it is this year.

So, Seven o'clock rolls around, and the guys arrive. They're READY TO GO! And I'm ready to take photos. (like there was any surprise there?)

Look! The Littles are still in their jammies. This is our "temporary kitchen". We've even decorated it with a Chinese brush painted mural of horses, salvaged from the 'we're going to throw all this stuff away' pile by a friend at a nearby rec. center.

The kids have front row seats for the show!

Maurice just kicked apart the little 'desk' at the end of the cabinets, but the tile-topped cabinets needed a bit more work.

And see how easy it is for the guys to demolish stuff, since Nate and I took off all the doors AND pulled out all the drawers? Yes, we all can do our part. *preen preen*

Bye bye, ugly poo-coloured tile countertop. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

See you later, overhead cupboards. Uh oh. Looks like Andrew got trapped between the fridge and sink.

Mighty Maurice with the reciprocating saw. It might take more than that to tear apart the peninsula.

But then again...

That counter top was plywood, CEMENT, chicken wire, and mortared tile. Heck, it's sturdier than the outside walls! (but more of that later...)

Hmmm. I guess there's no turning back now...

The dishwasher and the stove moved down to rest beside our 'temporary kitchen', where they'll just have a little siesta until the new cabinets are installed.

But that microwave-vent-hood thing was a bit of a bear.

Grrrr. Very grrrrrrr.

And then... uh oh... the sink pretty much just FELL out into Maurice's hands.

And that wall behind the sink? I wonder if the guys need danger pay for having to deal with that.

Quick. Everyone! Out into the sunshine, to breathe fresh air and think happy thoughts.

And now, let's get rid of that dropped ceiling. Did you know that Ken could touch the old ceiling with his ELBOW? Yeah. Kind of low.

But not any more!

(Hmm. I meant to ask the guys if they found any more treasures hiding in the faux ceiling...)

Work stopped in the afternoon, when they discovered that every time they tried to work near the window, the wall shimmied.

I guess there was more rot and termite damage than I initially thought. It's a miracle that the sink DIDN'T fall out of the counter, and the window DIDN'T fall out of the wall...

Yes. Before any more work happens, they'll have to brace the second storey. Wouldn't want the computer room falling through into the kitchen...

And now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a metric ton of dust to sweep up. It's true, it DOES settle on everything.

When you don't update your blog, the terrorists win.

Apparently, when I don't update my blog, I'm helping the terrorists win.

Actually, I think the comment from Our Beloved Contractor was "Hey! Kemma! You haven't updated your blog since Remodel Day 14. How will I know what I've done in your kitchen if you're not writing to tell me about it."

So here's the run-down from Day 14 to Present.

Remodel Day 15: Tuesday. Pick the Grout

Good grief, who KNEW there would be so many decisions! Of course, I could have agonized over it, or I could've just been smart and said "Maurice, what do you think?"

What do you think I did?

(A) Get the grout sample card, aka the "Grout Color Selector Tool"

(B) Get two tiles, and start pulling out samples.

Here's how NOT to pick a grout colour:

(C) Say "Ooh! If I get a nice light one, it'll be like a photo-negative of a chess board, and the kids can play games on the floor at night, while the grout glows in the dark!"

(for the record: The Dusty Rose grout sample was even LIGHTER, but, surprisingly, it was eerily similar to the highlights in the upper tile.)

Here's how to pick a grout colour:

(C)Watch Maurice slide a sample between the tiles:

(D)Say "That's my first choice!", and smile when you realize that he had ALREADY bought a bag of that exact colour of grout, and was hiding it in his truck, hoping you'd agree with him...

Louis spent much of the afternoon cutting tile in the back yard.

Remodel Day 15 finished with the tiling complete, but the grouting still half-finished. Apparently, it takes more than a single bag of Mocha grout to complete the whole Family Room, Laundry Room and Bathroom.

Remodel Day 16. Wednesday. Finishing the Grout.

The tile was completed, The grout dried. The guys moved the washer and dryer back into the laundry room, where one of my hoses promptly sprung a leak. They also re-installed the toilet in the bathroom, which, thankfully, did NOT spring any leaks.

Look how spacious the family room is with no clutter in it! Can I keep it like this?

Not a chance.

Remodel Day 17. Thursday The Laundry Sink.

I came back from tutoring, to discover that the big gap in the laundry room had been filled with a wonderful, perfect cabinet, complete with drawers and a lovely neutral countertop, and a deep, white sink. There was an issue with the drain, so it wasn't hooked up yet, but they were optimistic that I'd have a working sink before the weekend.

Oh wait. Maybe that was Wednesday. Grr. That'll teach me for not updating daily. The guys weren't here on Thursday, as they were repairing flood damage at another job.

Remodel Day 18. Friday. More kitchen floor.

The crew was working on another job in the morning, and showed up shortly before noon, bearing the bits that would be necessary to complete the laundry room sink.

They also installed the heating vent, which will go up through the new wall, and blow out near the ceiling, thus eliminating the problem of "where do we put the floor vent so it's not blocked by the banquette?"

The edge of the kitchen floor was falling away just a bit towards the family room, so they leveled it off with some 1/8 inch plywood, and then they mortared down the board, and mortared over the old heating vent hole.

I spent the evening emptying out the pantry closet, as the electrician would be putting in a new sub-panel the next morning.

Remodel Day 19. Saturday. The electrician.

Alex, the electrician, arrived bright and early on Saturday. Close on his heels were Maurice and Louis, who were going to finish reinforcing the kitchen floor. I understand that the electricians and the carpenters took turns going under the house. I'm just glad it was them and not me. Brrrr, I do NOT want to go under my house. Before we left for the day of rehearsals and errands, the little ones and I moved the kitchen table down into the family room.

And when we got home in the afternoon, BLAMMO! There was our half-wall.

Remodel Day 19. Sunday: Emptying the Kitchen

We expected to start the big demolition on Monday morning, so on Sunday night while Ken was out, Nate and I started emptying all the kitchen cupboards. And to keep us motivated, every time we emptied one completely, we *rewarded* ourselves by taking the cupboard doors off.

Yay! But the countertops were horrible to clear. Why is that?

But by the time Ken came home, we were nearly finished, and Nate was sawing logs, having toted and carried several times his body weight in canned goods and pots and pans.

Oh, but will we be ready for the demolition?