Friday, February 24, 2012

The House: 30 weeks

This has been such an exciting week out at the build site! Our "Very exciting thing" finally got started, though not our house yet: Siding! House 1 and house 7 have both got their siding this week. The rest are going to be started soon too. But let's go into detail about our house, since it's been a busy place this week. Saturday the mudding/taping guys finished the texture on the ceiling and the last coat of mud on the walls. Cody's dad was helping us that day, and asked them how they do the texture. They showed him, and let him do Lee's closet ceiling. They take a rag filled with mud and kind of squish it on the ceiling, then flatten it out with a trowel. Simple, easy, effective. It looks great too. Cody's parents also cleaned and organized our cold storage room where we've been storing our tools and extra wood, and Dad's tools that he's loaning us for painting are all ready to go. Yay!

Tuesday Cody and I spent the day at our house, getting things ready. We plugged in the construction lights. We wire them where the smoke detectors will go, then turn on the circuit breaker and voila! light!

It's been my job to design the closets. I've been thinking about this for weeks, asking for advice and looking at pictures, measuring our baskets and hampers and hangers and clothes, trying to determine exactly what will be best for our family. I had a good time with my measuring tape, level, pencil, and list of measurements laying out closets this week. It's tricky to determine exactly where the rods and shelves will go, but it's even tougher to see the 3D result from our lines on the wall. It took some tweaking, but I think I've got it figured out. One of the guys in our group came through then and put in some of the banding on the walls that will support the shelves.

Also on Tuesday, Cody and I carried all our doors over to our house. They'd been in the garage at House 3 for a week, since we were getting sheetrock while they were delivered and couldn't go directly to our house. So we had to carry them, one by one, up the street. On Wednesday, Cody and the same guy who worked on shelf banding put in all of our interior doors. Wahoo! They are beautiful.

After the doors went in, we're ready for trim! We pulled out our box of rosettes that we cut a few weeks ago, along with the bottom plinth pieces, and installed them on the corners of the doors. We made sure they were level, then nailed them in on the corners. Cody was sweet and saved me one to do on Thursday. :) My dad helped us put the pine trim around the door frames. It is pretty easy to do with the rosettes, since we just make straight cuts. After they've been cut to just the right size, Cody came through and nailed them in.

We're not entirely done, but we're really close. The result is so pretty! I'm loving it. We worked ever so slightly on baseboard, but there's still a lot of that to do.

But while we were working hard inside, something else arrived I am just thrilled with: our garage door!It was installed Wednesday morning, just before we started trim. This is so great, because we can put the saw in the garage with the door closed, turn on our little heater, and it's not too horribly cold while we work.

So that's what happened at our house. Here's the rest of the group:
House 1: Siding on! Sanding and caulk and vacuuming going on, getting ready for paint.
House 2: Stone and grout worked on some more, but there's still a section of grout that needs to be done. Getting closer on that. Also, spackling, sanding, vacuuming, and caulking is in full swing. Garage door on.
House 3: Needed some extra sanding because there were some problems in the caulk. Caulk is nearly impossible to sand out, so it's important we do it right the first time. It's been a tough week at that house, but I think it's starting to look a lot better. Also, vacuuming and getting ready for paint.
House 4: No change from last week. (waiting for spackle and caulk)
House 5: Trim and baseboard and everything finished, ready for spackle and caulk. Garage door on.
House 6 (ours!): Interior doors in, starting trim and baseboard and shelves. Garage door on.
House 7: Siding delivered and started being installed. Some vacuuming done and spackling
House 8: Doors in, trim mostly done. Baseboard and shelves worked on as well. Garage door on.
House 9: Sheetrock on, mudded, taped, and textured. Now, all 9 houses have been sheetrocked!

Exciting exciting things. Progress puts everyone in a good mood. So does sunshine. Today, we have both!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

See, I still have 3 kids...

I'm sure you've all noticed what I've noticed the past few months: building our house has been pretty time consuming. But I promise we're not neglecting our kids and the rest of life!

From Lee and Anna: We love reading stories with Grandma at night and we love playing outside, especially when mom lets us go way out in the weeds. There's a big mound of dirt at the bottom of Grandma's hill that we call Turtle Mountain. We like to hike down there. And if our shoes get muddy, well, we just take them off! Of course, Daddy kind of flips out when we do that, but it's sure better than trudging all the way back to the house (about a quarter mile) with muddy shoes.

From Katie: I learned how to climb up on stuff! I'm giving my sister Annalisa a run for her money on being the best maniac climber in our family. Some of my favorite places to climb are on the fireplace mantle, on chairs (which leads to the table, if I'm quick enough), and of course my all time favorite: the tub of Legos! We call that my stage. I like to dance when I get up there.
From mommy: I'm so grateful to all the family that has helped us through these busy busy months. I love spending as much time as I can with my children and watching them learn and grow. They are truly precious to me, and I am grateful they are so patient with their crazy parents. :)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Ribbon Rose Hairbow Tutorial

How about another hairbow tutorial? Yeah, I think it's about time.

Ribbon Roses

Preliminary notes: These roses are quite small. I used 3/8 inch ribbon, 100 % polyester (simply because that's what I had on hand). The fun part about these roses is that you could use any ribbon color or shape. For smaller roses, use smaller ribbon. For bigger ones, you guessed it--use a larger ribbon. Any color, any size, sounds good to me! Because this project is so small, though, I was grateful for my mom's glue gun which is a smaller size and a cooler temperature than mine. I could get a teeny dot of hot glue and could also put my fingers right over it without getting blisters. So, I'd recommend a low-temp gun for this one.

Alright. Here we go. To make the Ribbon Rose, here's what you do:

1. Firstly, know what we're going to do: we're going to basically just roll up the ribbon in a tight roll. But we're going to twist the ribbon a few times and we're going to glue it down as we go. So, to start the center, turn over one corner of the ribbon and glue it down.

2. Curl it around so the raw edge is tucked underneath the roll of ribbon. There--no fraying for us! By the way, I keep this attached to the whole spool of ribbon while working.

3. Twist your ribbon once, so it kind of folds in half, then wrap the ribbon around the center and secure the inside with a tiny drop of hot glue.
4. Watching as you go, keep wrapping the ribbon a little ways, twisting the ribbon before each glue-down. You can switch directions of the twist or even do a double twist here and there, whatever you want. Look at your rose and make sure you glue it right where you want it. The more times you wrap it, the bigger the rose gets. Keep going around and around until it is the size you want it. Mine are about the size of a penny.
Hm... the next time I make a tutorial, I think I'll give myself a manicure first...
5. When the rose is the size you want it, twist the ribbon once and pull it under the rose and cut it off of the spool, giving yourself about 3/4 inch extra ribbon.
6. Fold the extra ribbon back on itself once and glue it down.
7. Now fold it back on itself once more so that the extra ribbon is completely hidden underneath the rose, and glue it to the underside of the rose. This double-layer of ribbon will help give the rose some body and stability, as well as a great place to glue when you're ready to attach it to a clip.
8. Clean up your hot glue spider webs, and we're done with the rose!
Now the fun part: how to use it...

For this pink one, I made a couple other pink roses out of various pink ribbons I had leftover from Valentine's hearts.

I made a small green loop, then glued together my roses...
...glued my green little leaf to the back, and attached it to a green-lined alligator clip. Tri-roses clippie! Way cute, and very petite, which is great for small babies.

But why stop there? Here I dressed up this rose with some brown loops in the back and another set of pink loops in the middle (seven brown and five pink). I've used buttons for centers of flowers before, but this is a great way to do it too--especially if your buttons (like mine) are packed away in storage for another few months. :DHere's a black and white one I did already on a baby shower gift. The gift was wrapped in plain white wrapping paper, then dressed up with a black ribbon around the gift and the hairbow is the finishing touch. Great for a baby girl! (This black ribbon was 5/8 inch, not 3/8 inch. I folded it in half and glued it shut first before I made the rosette, which made it a little harder to work with, but gave me the smaller result I wanted.)
Happy Hairbowing!

Friday, February 17, 2012

The House: 29 Weeks and Happy Birthday to me!

Another week down!

Yesterday was my birthday. My awesome mom brought the kids out along with 6 large pizzas, 3 gallons of lemonade, and cupcakes. (I helped her make/order the food, but she did all the packing and hauling and moving and setting it up). We had a great birthday party. I felt so special and enjoyed a night of building and celebrating with all my new friends. If I've said it once I've said it a thousand times--we're building more than houses. We're building a neighborhood.

But we didn't just party this week, we got some good stuff done. Firstly.... SHEETROCK!!!!
(see the sheetrock over the front window? They cut it out later.)

On Saturday when the kids and I took lunch out to Cody and his dad, the subs were in our house hanging the sheetrock. They had fired up the furnace and Cody opened our vents (we had them covered with leftover shingles to help keep them clean) and were moving fast. They had it mostly done on Saturday, and finished it the remainder of the way on Monday. They're pretty quick with it, and I'm SO glad we don't have to do sheetrock by ourselves! It's very dusty, very heavy, and if you make a mistake it's an expensive one.

The dining room, as seen from the front door:Master bathroom:

The laundry closet/hall, as seen from Lee's room looking toward the girl's room:So anyway, they finished up the sheetrock on Monday. Tuesday they did the first coat of taping and mudding. We went in to see how it was going and learn a little bit about mudding, since we know it's quite the process. Like most things, it's easier with the right tools. But when we went in, they had our house being heated with a propane burner and they informed us that the furnace wasn't working right. The fan was running okay, but it wasn't heating well. So after they left, our group member who knows all about furnaces went downstairs and checked it out. He found a drain wasn't draining properly and some water had gotten into the circuit board. On Wednesday afternoon the heating guys came back and repaired the furnace and fixed the drain, and now it's running great. So we got our second coat of mud and tape on Thursday and are getting our final coat of mud today. (three coats, with drying time in between, followed by a good sanding, makes the mud nice and smooth.) We'll probably get to start our doors and trim early next week.

Meanwhile, around the neighborhood:
House 1: We spackled the nail holes on the trim, baseboard, and shelves, then went back and sanded them smooth. Also started on caulking.
House 2: Worked a bit on their stone which finally arrived. We re-tented half of their house. Their stone is all on now, just needs grout. Also, spackling and sanding.
House 3: Has 3 4x4 wood posts that will be for their hand railing installed. Spackling and sanding and caulking.
House 4: Front posts installed. Trim and shelves all done.
House 5: Trim, closet shelves, window sills, stair runners all done.
House 6 (ours!): Sheetrock done, mud and tape mostly done.
House 7: Trim, closet shelves, baseboard, etc all done. Back porch poured--yes, Concrete! Front posts installed.
House 8: Sheetrock, mud, tape all done. Interior doors installed (or at least some of them). Front posts installed.
House 9: Stairs re-built, dormer windows put in, sheetrock hung. Front posts installed.

One last note about those front-posts I was mentioning: some of the different floorplans have a handrail along the front porch. Ours does not. The ones that do have these big vinyl-wrapped posts on them. Cody and another guy in our group put them in. They're kind of tricky and very large and heavy, and they are bolted into the concrete and then nailed into the trusses above. That's a job that I won't talk about when it comes "our turn" because we don't have any, but I still wanted to mention because Cody did such a good job with it. :)

Still no estimated move-in date. So, were just working away until it's done. They're coming!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day, 2012 (Construction Style)

You know, looking back on the last few years, we really don't do big flashy things for holidays and birthdays. I sometimes wish I could afford nice trips or expensive dates or big gifts, but I'm really happy with our simple, easy, and fun perspective on holidays.

Yesterday was Valentine's, and like every other day for the last six months, we just kind of played it by ear. Cody got me 3 beautiful red roses and had them on the table when I went to get the kids breakfast. I bought him a candybar that I found a coupon for. We made chocolate dipped strawberries and we made homemade Valentines for Lee's class. But to top it all off, I brought out some LED tea light candles, a table cloth, a bottle of sparkling grape juice and some plastic cups (along with our regular leftovers in Tupperware) and set us up a little date dinner. The location was perfect: in our new house. (and yes, you get a preview of this week's big update: sheetrock!)

Sorry the picture is blurry. It was dark.

What I have learned from several years of scrimping and saving over holidays instead of splurging: you can still find wonderful, inventive ways of showing love that are just as meaningful as two dozen roses and a diamond necklace. Don't get me wrong: I love diamonds! But what I love more than diamonds is avoiding debt, having peace of mind, and most importantly--my husband and children. I love my family and I love getting creative and enjoying the simple moments (like a fake-candlelit dinner and toasting our love with plastic disposable cups in a dusty and drafty construction site). I'm definitely learning that life can be as special as you make it--in any place and on any budget.

Happy Valentine's day!

Friday, February 10, 2012

The House: 28 Weeks

These last few weeks have just flown by! It seems like only seconds ago I was writing up last week's post, and here's another one... wowser.

There were some fun things that happened this week. My mom--who is always so generous with her time and babysits for us quite often--was out of town, so I only went out on Saturday and not any of the weekdays, which ended up being a good thing because I am pretty sick. But here's what's been going on.

On Saturday, my dad, Cody, and I went out to build and spent the time at our own house getting it ready for sheetrock and siding. Dad and Cody added another set of 2x4's and some sheathing around our garage door frame. Apparently the concrete was too wide at the bottom or something (I'm not exactly sure why the frame had to be widened), so we had to fix it. That was a problem on all 9 houses, and ours was the first one to get it done, since it wasn't a huge priority. While the boys were fixing the garage door, I, Lisa, myself, insulated the framing around the stairs. If you can't tell, I'm very proud of myself. :) (But more proud of Cody and Dad for the framing job... insulation is pretty easy. Okay. Really easy. Just messy.)

While I was all dressed up in my insulating gear, we did a project I've been hoping to accomplish for several months, but wasn't sure we would get it approved (but we did!): We put some sound resistant insulation around the laundry closet. Cody and I bought this as one of my Christmas Presents, and we got the OK to put it in, so we did! I figure it's a $30 project now, but if we get sheetrock, we'd never be able to do it (unless we redid the sheetrock, would be over a thousand dollars)... you know the saying, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right?

We also tucked some insulation around the bottoms of the bathtubs. It helps keep the water warm when you're taking a bath.

While we had the nail gun over at the house, we also made sure all our blocking was really nailed in well. Our Project Manager helped us move our dining room light fixture location so that we can center it over our table. Lastly, we snuck in some CAT-5 internet cable. Shhhh, don't tell anyone!

That was all on Saturday. During this week, we've had another fun thing: we met with the lighting guy and ordered our light fixtures! He called Cody at noon on Thursday and set up an appointment for two the same day. Ack! Thank goodness I've been browsing the websites for weeks and already had written down what I wanted. I typed it all into the budget worksheet we had and printed it off for Cody to take out to the meeting, since we couldn't go together (no time to find a babysitter). I even put in any possible upgrades I would like (like a 4 light vanity instead of a 3, etc) and the increased cost. I was trying to be helpful. Well, apparently I was very helpful, because the lighting guy had never seen such an organized order. He was able to write everything down and get the order in in half an hour. It usually takes way longer than that. And the great news is that we were able to get all the fixtures I really wanted and stay within budget! (well, I should clarify: we were $66 over budget. But we just payed the overage out of pocket and it wasn't a big deal.) We got an extra $115 in our budget, however, because we already have lightbulbs. I'm so glad that those couple of years ago when Sam's Club over ordered on energy saver lights and marked them way cheap we went ahead and bought six boxes of them. They've paid for themselves ten times over already.

The electricity and gas got activated in the house this week, so Cody plugged in our microwave (that we carry around in the backseat of the car along with our other building tools. HEY! we're the smartest ones there! we don't spend $20 a night eating out, and we still get a hot meal. So don't knock it.) in our OWN house! I have mixed feelings. I always thought I'd be the first one to cook in our house. I'm just going to say that warming up leftovers doesn't officially count as cooking. And oh well--it'll always be "my" kitchen.

And lastly, we had sheetrock delivered on Thursday evening! There's a possibility they're even installing it today, but I don't know--we don't go out on Fridays. We may need to go out there tonight and check it out anyway. I'm just too excited, I guess. :)

Whew! Lots of little things going on! Here's how the other houses are faring.
House 1: Not much change, other than a little bit of trim and the garage framework being fixed.
House 2: Finally got stone delivered to finish up that last corner! But it hasn't been put up yet.
House 3: Same as house 1.
House 4: Trim, baseboard, stair runners, closets, garage frame, and all kinds of things going on. They're pretty much ready to caulk.
House 5: Starting trim and baseboard, interior doors, and closets. Last of stone delivered, put on, and grouted. Stone FINALLY done there! Tent came down.
House 6 (ours!): See above. ;) Wall insulation done, sheetrock delivered.
House 7: Starting trim and baseboard. Interior doors installed, closet shelves being designed.
House 8: Wall insulation done, sheetrock delivered and installed.
House 9: Had a big setback: the head clearance over the stairs was too short (by just half an inch... ugh). So we had to tear out the stairs. Nobody is happy about it. The poor homeowner had to take a lunch break while a couple of guys took the sledgehammer to the staircase-- it was just too hard to watch. The stairs will have to be rebuilt, slightly steeper than before, before sheetrock can be done. But meanwhile, their stone was delivered and finished. Their tent can come down now too!

Still no "really exciting" thing. It will be great when it does come, but right now I'm plenty stoked about what is going on. We're getting a house!

11 month old Baby

Eleven month old Katie Bubble... that's just nuts!

Katie is now a walker. She walks everywhere, climbs up and down the stairs, and is letting her personality shine. She's still physically so little that it surprises me how much she can do! She's started giving 5's and waving bye-bye. She babbles baby talk all the time, and says "boo!" (more like just makes the B sound) when she plays peek-a-boo. She will imitate motions and sometimes even sounds too. What a big girl!

The other day Katie heard the bathtub running for Lee and Anna. She loves bathtime more than anything. She hears the water and comes as quickly as she can. So on Wednesday when she heard it, she immediately went in. I was keeping an eye on her, but also scooping cookie dough, when I heard a splash and Katie was kind of spluttering. I ran down there and she'd climbed in the tub--clothes, diaper, and all! At first she didn't like that she got some water on her nose, but then she broke into a big grin as if to say, "Look how smart I am!" I had already given her a bath that day too. Oh well. She loves baths, she can have two a day if it makes her happy.

She still doesn't laugh much--just smile and kind of squawk. I wonder if it will always be like that, or if she'll ever figure out how to get a good ol' belly laugh out? hm. Only time will tell. But usually she's a happy girl, unless she is sick or teething. Or if you're trying to feed her baby food. She doesn't like baby food. She likes to eat what everyone else is eating.

And that's Katie! I am astonished at how quickly she is growing up. We love her sweet little bald head and her wobbly "zombie" walk and her bumpy little teeth and her sniffy nose and the way she blows raspberries and says "sss sss sss" and everything about her. We love you, Katie!

Monday, February 6, 2012

The House: Extra hours

Occasionally, we've been allowed to come in on "our own time" (non-required hours) and do some extra projects to make our house extra nice. Today, we're doing a really special project I thought deserved its own post.

We are cutting rosette blocks that will go above the corners of our doors and windows as a decorative trim.

We took the MDF board we have available for our trim. It is 6 inches tall and 3/4" deep, and about twenty feet long. First, using the table saw, we stripped it in two (not in half... one side was 2 3/4" tall and the other side was about 4" tall). Then we used the chop saw to cut them all 2 3/4" inches wide. We just set up a little clamp on the chop saw so that we can push the MDF right up to that and cut without having to measure every little piece. So, if you're keeping tabs, that ends us with two types of block, one 2 3/4" square and one rectangle that is 2 3/4" by about 4". Then, I take the router and round off the corners with a 1/8" rounding bit.

Cody takes the squares to the drill press, which we've fitted with more clamps and wood to correctly position the pieces, and using this awesome bit we bought on line, stamps in a rosette. It is a 2 1/8" diameter circle.

The last thing we do is make sure all the cuts are clean, and sand if necessary. The rectangles only get the routering on three sides and no rosette. The edge that will touch the floor does not get routered.

By the end of the evening, our box was full of rosette squares and plain rectangles. I think they will dress our house up very nicely! I am excited to get them installed so I can take pictures of the final product, so stay tuned for a few more weeks to see how it turns out. We made about 65 of each today, and that will be mainly for the doors. Eventually we hope to trim the windows and the basement doors (we will need to finish the basement first, obviously), but that will come in time. The good news is that we own the bit now and we have the measurements all down so we can make more if we ever need to. And before you feel all sorry for us spending our free time building (ha, as if you feel sorry for us! We took this on ourselves!), we only spent about two and a half hours total on this particular project, and most of the time one of us was running inside to get kids baths and check on napping Katie and stuff. Pretty spankin' awesome, I do say!