Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Featured again

Over at MommyGiggles.com, Lee's goofydom is currently the star of a tagline contest. Go check it out! Come up with a silly tagline and you could win $15!


Yes, you heard me right, Kindergarten. How is this possible?
I feel pretty proud of myself. The only time I got choked up was during the traditional Father's blessings last night. Today, when I took Lee into his classroom, I barely even waved goodbye. He'd already been swept away by his teachers into the wonderland of learning and fun. He is going to have a BLAST.

Annalisa, on the other hand, is crushed. Well, I mean, as crushed as a two-year-old gets. All the way home she sniffled and pouted that she couldn't go to Kindergarten too. But now that we're home and she realizes she has the whole house and all the toys to herself, she's rallied considerably. Yes, little Anna, there are some major benefits to having a brother in school...

So, that being said, in the words of the big man himself:

Monday, August 29, 2011

Go Go Katie Bubble

She hasn't yet figured out the forward motion, but she's getting good at balancing and doing baby push-ups. I think she's going to skip the army-belly-crawl and go straight to hands-and-knees crawling. Just look at her go!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Take 41

41. Seriously. That is how many pictures Raychel snapped in order to eke out one decent family photo. She worked so hard at it too, making all kinds of noise and funny faces! She waited for the best shots! But it still took 41 tries.

So what I'm really saying is, appreciate the new title photo. Also, appreciate digital cameras and no wasted film. And Aubri, I miss you and your mad family photography skills.

Raychel, thanks again for the fun picnic in the canyon and for taking the pictures!

Friday, August 26, 2011

The House: Window wells and back-fill

One more work week down. This week seemed a little slower. It was really really hot out there--definitely the hottest week of the Summer--and everyone was tired. We even had a few setbacks, but we pushed through it and got some good stuff accomplished. Here are some night pictures:

On our house, we hung the window wells and chalked the garage walls where the floor goes. Once that was done, the subcontractors came in and back-filled, which means they pushed the dirt up around the edges of the foundation.

They also laid a layer of fine gravel on top of the visqueen in the basement. One more layer of protection before the concrete!
Here's a peek down in our cellar. On top of the cellar will be the porch.

Now, week 4 house-by-house update:

House 1 & 2: still waiting for roof trusses. They were delivered on Tuesday and supposed to be installed Wednesday. We were all so excited to see those trusses go up! But on Wednesday we found out the price we were quoted had been raised. The corporation opted to go with a new company, meaning some more paperwork and waiting on the roofs for now.
House 3: subfloor and stairs have been finished and the exterior framing is done. We're just starting the interior framing. It is a new floorplan--new to our group--so it's taken a bit of work to figure it out.
House 4: Rim board has all been installed, the basement load bearing wall is built, and the majority of the floor joists have been put in. This is also one of the new floor plan, which features a new staircase. It's really not a big deal, but it means the stairs have to be done before all the floor joists are done.
House 5: No change since last week.
House 6 (ours!) and House 7: gravel in the basement, window wells, and back-fill done.
Houses 8 & 9: No change since last week.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The House: Next few small steps

As promised, some of the "small steps" we take toward building our house happened tonight. We place massive sheets of black visqueen plastic over the whole basement floor. It will provide a moisture and vapor barrier. The large rolls of visqueen are very heavy, and have to be trimmed into place. Also today, the subcontractors sprayed the outside of the foundation with black waterproofing tar. I'm learning that there's few things in life that can't be fixed by a good whack with a hammer. :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The House: 3 week update

Last Thursday technically marked the end of our third build week. We are working hard, and seeing a lot of good progress.

First of all, here's what's going on at our house:
(This is the back of the house looking down in. Note the shadows from the metal brackets... I'll talk more about those later.)

The foundation was dug out and placed by the subcontractors. Also new this week: rough plumbing and sewage pipes installed in the basement. There's still a two or three foot hole around the edge of the concrete. First, we go down in the basement and clean off the edges of the walls, so that there's no rubble to detract from the waterproofing.

Also, subcontractors tend to be messy, leaving boxes of empty water bottles and soda cans down in the foundation. That's gotta be cleaned up. (They're fast and do a good job, so we'll forgive them for using our basement as a garbage dump...)

Then, you go around the outside of the house and using a hammer, whack off these little metal brackets that were used to hold up the forms for the concrete while placing. Some are up high and are really hard to get out, but you just keep whacking them until the metal breaks off. See the small metal brackets? I've kept one as a souvenir. I think I'll make a shadow box of all these building materials when I'm done.

Now, time for a full update on where we're out.
House #1: Ready for roof trusses! This means all interior walls have been framed, exterior walls are framed with the fancy offset stud system, sheathing has been installed on the entire exterior, and top plates have also been installed (they support the roof trusses), stairs have been built, and they even have the porch set and garage stairs done.
House #2: Also ready for roof trusses!
House #3: Rim board, basement load bearing wall up, floor joists installed, subfloor installed, stairs built, and just starting the framing of the exterior walls. Also, the owners got engaged. He proposed right there in their garage on Thursday evening. Waaaaah. :D
House #4: starting rim board, which is the wood that is bolted directly to the foundation. You'll learn more about it when it is finally our turn.
House #5: Basement and garage floors are placed.
House #6 (ours): see the first part of this post.
House#7: same status as ours.
House #8: hole dug and footings placed.
House #9: Hole dug.

It's hard work out there. We come home hot and hungry and tired. But it is absolutely amazing. I'm so glad we're doing this.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The House: A little epiphony

Do you have a measuring tape? Do you know how to read it? I've used measuring tapes all my life. Today I finally realized why all the 16" marks are red. (16, 32, 48, etc) Wall studs are 16" apart. It's a heck of a lot easier to stretch out your 30' line across the whole wall and just quickly walk down and mark all those red lines!

Now, class, raise your hand if you never knew why 16" were marked red... :D

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cody the Hero

Cody was driving home from an appointment about an hour ago when he noticed some smoke coming from the side yard of a house. He thought they must be grilling, but realized it was too much smoke for that. When he got just a bit closer he realized the side of the house and the fence were on fire. Nobody was outside, so he immediately stopped and grabbed the sprinkler from the front yard and started dousing the flames, pausing only to throw open a door (no knocking politely this time) and yell at the people inside to get out. He kept working on the flames while the residents called 911. Fortunately, he was able to help them get most of the fire out quickly, but five more minutes and the whole house could have been lost. Who knows--someone might have even been injured, especially considering the fire started from the outside and was getting into the attic when he arrived. It would have been a massive fire before anyone even smelled smoke or the fire alarms went off. The residents of the house said they suspect the fire was started by a cigarette butt.

Cody came home just as I was putting dinner on the table, a little disheveled and smelling like smoke; but I think he is a real hero. I love him so much! He said the moral of the story is not to smoke, but I think the true moral of the story is to be aware and willing to help, just like my husband the Hero.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The House: Getting a foundation

Out of the nine houses in our group, ours is the seventh to get a foundation. (Five are already placed, and there's one next door to ours at the same stage as ours.) So, we know exactly what is going on and have seen it done several times already. But anyway, here's pictures of ours!
Wednesday 8/10: We have footings! Kind of a different angle for the picture of the footings, placed down in the hole. They have to let those dry for a day first. You can see the rebar poking up out of the footings, ready to receive the rest of the foundation. To give you some perspective, the lower right corner of the picture is the garage and behind it is the master bedroom (well, not in the basement, but on the main floor it will be).

Thursday, 8/11: The subcontractors are placing the forms for the foundation. The big truck in the forefront of this picture is holding the forms, but you can see the men placing the forms down in the hole. I'm sure today they are placing the rest of the foundation.

So... week 2 of the build is done. We enjoy building so much. We are making some great friends and love being out there working hard. We now have another house with a subfloor and the first few beginnings of framing. The house we started with is almost ready for roof trusses--with interior walls framed. I'm learning there are a lot of little steps you might not think about. I'm glad we have a few people in our group who have framed before, because I would be lost with out them! I'll go into detail on all these "little steps" later. Until then...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Little Lady at 5 months

My goodness, how this last month flew by!

Katie is now a whopping 5 months old. She is developing very quickly. This month, she started laughing and is attempting to scoot around on her belly. She has mastered a sort of face-plant-bum-lift that pushes her forward a bit, but since her face is in the ground, she can't see where's she's going. Then she usually gets mad and gives up. But she is learning!

Katie still is breaking our family records for the most clingy and most crying baby. She wants to be held constantly, and absolutely cannot stand to be left alone for any period of time. If I'm doing dishes and set her in her bouncy seat, she has to be pointed so she can see me, or she will wail, even though I haven't even left the room. I'm not exactly sure how to fix this issue, or if I even should. Since she is still less than a year old, I'm not really concerned. I give her as much tummy time as I can every day, and sometimes she just has to wail it out while I get things done. But we both love our snuggle time, so I indulge her a bit too.

I am still so so grateful that she is a good sleeper. It is simply astounding how much I can do when I get a full night's sleep!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Anna's dolly

Why is it that we spend so much money and effort on toys for our kids, when they'd prefer to play with mom's shoes? And Why oh Why must it be Mom's nice shoe, and why must she hide it from me? And most of all, why must she get mad when I finally ask for it back so I can leave the house?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The House: 1 week down, umpteen to go

Tonight we finished our first full build week. We had some help from volunteers (my parents and Raychel: THANK YOU!!!). Here is a recap of what has been accomplished:

-5 houses now have foundations.
-2 of those houses have window wells, water proofing, concrete flooring, and have been back-filled, and have the exterior wall supports installed.
-2 of those houses just have the window wells, water proofing, and backfill done.
-and one of those houses also has the basement load-bearing wall built, floor joists installed, subfloor installed, and at least 3 (I wasn't there to see if they got another one) exterior walls framed and lifted into place.
-2 more houses, including ours, have been staked out and have been dug, but there is no concrete yet. Here is the pic of our empty lot, being used only for extra gravel and dirt:

And here is the picture of our freshly dug hole!


We are making progress. At times it feels like we are going excruciatingly slow--especially when we are overmanned and underworked. But now that we all know what we are doing, and we have more than one house to work on, we are able to keep busy for the whole work time and get lots done. Our group seems to be working together very well so far. We know there is still a long way to go, but we are all willing to work hard and be happy. There are a couple of guys in our group who know what they're doing and are patient and kind enough to explain things to those of us with less experience. It's really nice, especially considering our project managers are more like inspectors. They show up a couple times a night for maybe ten minutes, overlook things, and leave.

Well friends, that's that! Time to go to bed. After this long hard week that Cody worked through, I'm tuckered out. Goodnight.

The House: Lots to Learn

I've said this to Cody at least twenty times: It's not about expertise; it's about attitude.

But when it comes to building a house (and this could easily be a metaphor for all walks of life), you at least need to learn what you're doing! There's plenty of projects to do and work to get done if you go looking for it, and then ask questions when you get there.

Yesterday we built an exterior wall. I left before they lifted it into place, but it was still fascinating (for me, at least) to learn about. We're using a somewhat new technique of off-set studs. I found these diagrams online. In traditional exterior-wall framing, you have all 2x6" boards that line up like this, right?:

These types of walls are fairly easy to build, but they're not very energy efficient. The heat/cold can pass right through all the studs, as they directly connect the outside to the inside. Also, to run wires through the walls, you have to cut a hole through each stud. So instead of using that method, we're using this one:
(this is a cross-section view if the wall) We have offset studs. They are 2x4 instead of 2x6, so they don't extend from back to front. Instead, we have more studs that go about 2/3 of the way through the wall. This means that there is much less direct transfer of heat through the walls, more room for (sprayed) insulation, and no need to cut holes in the studs for wires, since they can just snake right through. Cool, huh!

Another nifty trick I learned was to apply the outside sheathing to the wall (big solid pieces of particle board that surrounds the outside of the house, between the studs and the siding), while the wall is still on the ground, before you lift it into place. That way you don't have to hold up the sheathing while nailing it in. Of course, though, if you place a solid board on top of the wall, how will you know where to nail? Well, we had a group of people mark all the sheathing with 16" chalk lines that would line right up with the studs when we placed it down, so the guys could just nail it on super fast. It's at moments like those that I'm grateful a few of us know what we're doing--or at least think things through well in advance so we don't end up with stupid mistakes.

We're still just a few feet into our very long marathon of building. But it sure is fun to learn and try new things!

Monday, August 1, 2011

The rains came down and everybody cheered!

Only one thing to do on a rainy Summer day: go play outside!