Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Seasons...my version.

It's the last day of October, and that means several things to me. First, Lauren is officially three months old today. Wow. How the time has flown. I know that's cliche, but it's true. I feel like she is only a month old at the most, but she is growing like a little weed. She smiles all the time and even laughs when we're lucky, and now she's trying to talk too. No, she's not a baby genius. She just makes a lot of vocal sounds and you can tell she is trying to communicate. It's truly adorable, and we are loving it. Here she is just a couple of days ago.


Her dress has Minnie Mouse on it and says Miss Fabulous, which she is.

The last day of October also means that fall is over. Okay, that is false, but I don't care. To me, it is true. September and October are the fall months. November is winter, even if technically it is not winter for another several weeks. In fact, not until December 21st. Who determined the start dates of the seasons anyway? Somebody decided that each season was three months long. That person did not live in Manitoba. If I defined the seasons, this is what I would say:

Spring starts right about where they say, on March 20th. (I know it sometimes starts on March 21st, depending on the year, but my older sister was born on March 20th, so to us, her birthday is always the first day of spring.) Yes, some years it comes earlier, like this year, but March 20th is just about right. So we will leave that one alone. 

Summer starts on June 1st. That's right. That's when we start to feel some serious heat. I think it's perfectly reasonable to consider March, April and May to be spring months, but June is definitely summer. Summer includes all of June, all of July, and all of August. 

Fall starts on September 1st. No sooner, no later. Really, this year the change in climate was almost instant at the beginning of September. Fall should be divided into two sections. September is the first part of fall, where the leaves are rich golden hues and the sky is the deepest blue of the year. The temperatures are still warm and the bugs are all gone except for the flies. And there are millions of those. Ick. Anyway, the second part of fall starts about a week into October. Then there are no leaves left on the trees. The temperatures are getting cold. The nights are starting earlier and earlier. And it's rainy. And dark. And gloomy. And windy. 

Here's where my changes become really noticeable. Winter starts on November 1st. Period. Actually, in my memories it often started on October 31st. But that's beside the point. November is a winter month, and so winter starts as soon as November does. That gives us the following:

Spring: March 20th to May 31st. That's just under two and a half months long. 
Summer: June 1st to August 31st. That's exactly three months long. Hm. Not bad. 
Fall, part 1...the good part: September 1st to 30th. One month exactly.
Fall, part 2...the cold and ugly part: October 1st to 31st. One month exactly.
Winter: November 1st to March 19th. That's just under five months. And sometimes it's longer. But if I had to pick dates, those are the ones I would pick. 

And, being that tomorrow is the first day of winter, in my opinion, here's the final thought that has been triggered for me by today's date. We have not moved our house yet. That's right, we were going to move it in the middle of October, but we have not. I expressed some frustration about that in my last post. But on the bright side, there is a possibility that we might move next week. I am desperate to get this over with, but trying not to get my hopes up. Here is a picture of the new basement, waiting for the house to plop down on top of it.


It looks a little different today than it did in that picture, because the ground in front has been landscaped a little more. That's all pure sand, by the way. Softer than many beaches. It's quite amazing. Note all the trees with no leaves in the background.

And, just for fun, here's Radar. Just because he's cute. 


And now I'm off to feed Lauren. Jamie has a stomach bug today, so I'm trying not to think about that because I get very stressed when there is stomach illness around here. So far, he seems to be the only one not feeling well, and so far it has been mild. But I'm stressed all the same. I'm off for now.



Saturday, October 27, 2012

Death and Taxes

Life around here has been crazy. Maybe even crazier than usual, which is why I rarely post in here these days. The boys are into so much trouble I couldn't begin to record it all in here. Sometimes it's funny, and sometimes it's downright upsetting and discouraging. If I'm honest, it's more often the second option. But that's not what I'm writing about today.

Maybe you've heard the expression, "There are two things in life that are inevitable; death and taxes". It's a little bit negative, but I suppose it's true. True, but incomplete. I'd like to add a third item to that list, and that is delays. More specifically, delays during construction of a new home, or renovation of a home. I'm not sure which category our situation falls into right now. Construction of a new basement, which will equate renovations of our current home. We built this house starting seven years ago. We dug our basement in August of 2005. At the time, I was pregnant with our first baby, Cody. I thought we would be moved into our new home by Christmas. Some of you might be thinking I was naive and ridiculous to think we could construct the whole house in four months, but I had a reason for believing it. When I was seven years old, my family had a new house built. Construction began in May and we moved in at the beginning of August that same year. That is less than four whole months from start to finish. So you see, I assumed it would be similar or the same for us. I was wrong.

The beginning of such a project always appears to be going quickly. Our house was framed and completely closed in before the snow flew. But then came the delays. Lots of them. Our electrician was by far the worst in that department, but there were many other things that contributed. I had imagined setting up our Christmas tree in our beautiful brand new house. My heart was set on it. But at Christmas, our house looked like this on the outside:


And like this on the inside:


Yep. That's our kitchen there. Clearly not ready for inhabitation. Those pictures were taken on December 30, 2005. We did not move into our house until February 26, 2006, a month before my due date. And even then, our kitchen still looked like this:



And then this:


We had no countertops or sink for a couple of weeks after we moved in. Dishes were washed in the bathroom and meals were mostly made in the microwave. And the bathrooms looked like this:


Cabinets not finished, mirrors and light fixtures not even purchased.

My point? I learned something valuable from that experience that I have tried to share with everyone I have known since that began either a renovation, or construction of a new home. Delays are inevitable. Do NOT let yourself get your hopes up that you will be moved in by a certain date. The only thing certain is that you will be disappointed. Yep. I have passed that bit of wisdom on to many people. And then I fell into the same trap again. Here we are, preparing to move our house, and I knew the process would be a long one. Our original plan was to prepare the land this summer and then build the basement in September or October. Then we would wait until the ground was super frozen and do the move in January. But then the mover told us we could move this fall if we put down a lot of shale and gravel so the heavy trucks would not sink in our sand. So we did. In fact, our basement was built in the first half of September which put us ahead of schedule. This was so encouraging, and we were extremely excited at the prospect of moving before the deep freeze hit. The colder it is, the more complicated this process will be, as we will have to remove everything from our house that might freeze (ie: canned goods, and other food items that are liquid. Maybe even laundry detergent, shampoo...etc. We don't want to have to move all that stuff if we don't have to. I also worry about how my piano will handle the cold.

Anyway, the problem is that despite being ready ahead of schedule, we are now facing those delays that I have told everyone else are inevitable. And it sucks. I was prepared for delays at the onset of this project. But the further ahead of schedule we got, the higher my hopes got that we would be back into our house by mid-November. Now I'm not even sure whether we'll start the move before mid-November. In fact, now I wonder whether we will even make it before Christmas. If we don't move in November, we will have to wait until January. I'm sure of it. Because if we move even on December 1st, there is a chance we will be out of our home over Christmas and I know I will not be able to handle that. So the latest we can move would be mid-November, as far as I am concerned, and that is looking less and less possible. 

After we built our house, I said we would never do it again. Why would we? We loved our place, the house and the location. We had no desire to ever move again. But now we are forced to out of necessity. And again I am thinking, this will be the last time we ever have to do anything like this. I hope this time I am right. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sick, sick, sick.

The day of my last post, Cody came home from school at the normal time in the afternoon, but he came home sick. Again! He had a fever of 102 F, and he was complaining of a headache and a sore throat. Immediately I suspected the dreaded strep throat. We seem to attract it like moths to a flame. I was supposed to take Lauren to the doctor the next morning for her two month appointment and vaccinations, and I had everything arranged. Cody was to be at school. Jamie and Micah were going to stay with my sister, and I was going to take Lauren in. I even booked myself an appointment right before hers so I could get some blood work done on myself. But now I was going to have to make a major change of plans.

And Lauren is now awake and wailing, so I must go. Long story short, Cody and Jamie both have strep throat. Lauren seems to have a cold as of yesterday. And now I think Micah has strep throat too, which means another trip to the doctor tomorrow. And believe me, our last trip was difficult. I had to take all four of them myself. We were there for two hours. Two kids with two throat swabs each. Another kid with an exam. A baby with a complete exam and vaccinations. And myself, trying to contain them and hold it together, and then getting blood taken myself. Wow. It was a long and exhausting process. But I did it. And even so, I hope I never have to again. I have to take care of Lauren now. Maybe I'll have a better post this week some time.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The more I do, the more I have left to do!

It's nearly 11 a.m. and I have accomplished more this morning than I sometimes do all day. Today is Tuesday, but it's really a Monday because yesterday was a holiday, thanks to our Thanksgiving long weekend. Lauren slept all night, yet again, which makes two straight weeks. I can't even express how thankful I am for that. (Ironically, as I typed that, she made a sound in her monitor, so I guess her nap is going to be a short one!)

This morning started as any other school morning does. My alarm went off at 6:55 a.m., well before I was ready to wake up. I dragged myself out of bed in the darkness. That's right, it's dark now even when Cody leaves for the school bus. I stumbled to the kitchen to make sure he was eating breakfast and then I began making his lunch. Cody eats the same lunch every day. A peanut butter and jam sandwich, a little packet of crackers and cheese, and a Quaker Chewy Granola Bar. Before you gasp in horror, I am related to people with severe peanut allergies, so I have made sure peanut butter is allowed. So far, it is, but I dread the day they will announce that they are becoming a nut free school. For one thing, if it's nut free, none of my kids will be allowed to attend. But aside from that, Cody doesn't eat anything other than his PB&J every day. (At school, that is. Here at home all he wants is Kraft Dinner. Sigh.)

I gathered all his school stuff together and put the granola bar and the crackers and cheese into his lunch kit. Then I laid out a piece of wax paper to wrap his sandwich in. Only we had no bread. None. All right, technically we had some crusts in the freezer. Those are the ones I save for using in cooking. Nobody actually eats them on their own. I wouldn't really even consider them toast-worthy. I kind of panicked. And then I was annoyed at Mike, who made us all these really great "pizza sandwiches" yesterday at lunch. Because he used all the bread. Doesn't he know that the day before a school day you always make sure you leave at least enough bread for Cody's lunch the next day? I guess I'm the only one who knows that rule. So technically, it was my fault. In fact, I was really annoyed at myself. Another mommy fail. So the only thing we could find was a hamburger bun in the freezer. I made a "jam bun", which is a bun with butter and jam on it, and wrapped it in the wax paper, tossing it into his lunch kit and shoving the whole thing in his bag not thirty seconds before he had to rush out the door to make it on time for the bus. Which he did. Mission accomplished.

The sandwich incident started a bit of a panic to have bread in the house, so I did something I have not done in months. Possibly even a whole year, as I don't recall doing it at all since I got pregnant with Lauren. I made buns. Dough, that is. The buns are all rising in the kitchen. I also folded and put away two baskets of laundry, and everyone knows that when you're a stay at home mom, the laundry, though clean, rarely makes it out of the basket before it gets worn again. And then I did the dishes. Phew! So now I think it's break time. Or at least, I thought it was. But Lauren has other ideas, and so I must feed her again. And when I'm done I'll have just enough time to feed the boys before I have to pack everyone up and drive Jamie to school. There is just never enough time in the day! Gotta run!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Building a new basement, with pictures!

It was a cold and stormy day. Okay, not stormy, but definitely blustery. The first snowflakes of the season were falling and the yellow leaves that remained on some of the trees were the only bright spots in the gloom. Maybe gloom is too much. It's more chilly than gloomy. Hm. Suffice it to say, October is definitely making an appearance today.

I haven't posted much in here because we are extremely busy these days. Who isn't? September is always a busy month as people get their children back into school and those without school age children simply mourn the end of summer. Around here, it is also very busy with harvesting for the farmers. We are not farmers, but this year has been exceptionally crazy because of our house plans. I have not posted about this in a while, but we are definitely moving our house. For anyone who hasn't been following this blog, we had a terrible flood here last spring and summer and after much deliberation and prayer we have concluded that the only way we will avoid that scenario again is to move our house to higher ground. We also need to be able to finish our basement, especially now that we have four kids. Anyway, that whole process has been underway for a while now. I think I may have posted about it a while back...Ah, yes. July 23rd shows the beginning of the process. I thought I would update the situation a bit now.

And I started that post yesterday. I can't get anything done around here, especially blogging or any other writing! Today is a bright, sunny day and the boys are outside playing. Supper is already in the oven and the main part of the house is mostly clean. That means I can take a break and try to finish this post!

Okay, with pictures, here is the process, in a nutshell. (Descriptions below pictures)

July 19, 2012, the day we started the process. View from the front deck looking toward the ridge, before we started.
The day the bulldozer cleared the ridge.

The ridge after the bulldozer cleared it.

Digging the new basement, August 24, 2012.

More basement digging.
September 4-6, 2012: Building the forms for the foundation. I found it fascinating the way it was on multiple levels like that. It reminded me of a fish ladder. The reason it is not all on one level is because we are doing a walk out basement so the front wall will be totally out of the ground. The foundation has to be at least four feet underground, so that footing has to go lower than the rest and the wall gets extended an extra four feet under the ground. I find engineers amazing. How did they figure all this out? And how many disaster houses did they build before they got it right? Hehe. Kind of funny to think about.
September 7, 2012: We had to use a pumper truck to get the cement into the basement to pour the footings. You can see the cement truck behind the pumper truck. Because of our sand, the cement truck couldn't just drive up to the basement and pour the normal way, hence the need for the pumper truck. (Seriously, it's like living on a beach. The sand is amazing!)

Here you can see how the truck directed the cement exactly to where they needed it. They just had to guide that hose-thingy. (I believe that's the technical term.)

Again, they are pouring it into the footings and then using shovels to maneuver the cement around.


Here's Radar at the junction of our new driveway. This is looking from the site of the new basement down the driveway. To the left in this picture is where it goes down into our current yard, behind our row of pine trees. This is in place mainly so we can move the house up, though we will also have a driveway going in a loop in our current yard.

September 11, 2012: Walls of the basement going up. See in the front where there is a wall completely in the ground? That's what I meant when I talked about the extra four feet. 

The view from our deck on September 13, 2012.

September 22, 2012: This was fun. Mike's brother Russell drove this skid steer (I think?) in and out of the basement to move the gravel in and they levelled it so the floor could be poured. The machine barely fit through the opening in the wall (which we left temporarily so we could get in and out), and even inside the basement it was pretty tight.

Here is the floor that night after the gravel was poured and that machine there that looks kind of like a lawn mower kind of pressed the gravel together. I can't remember what it's called, but I think it basically vibrated the rocks and pressed them down so they would settle together. This is a great girly description, isn't it? Notice Tabu checking things out. At night I have seen her walking along the tops of the walls. Kind of like walking the ridge pole of Moody Sturgeon's roof. (For all you Anne of Green Gables fans.) 
September 28, 2012: Next Mike put the vapour barrier down. I forgot to mention, but the plumbing was also roughed in prior to the gravel being put down. Over the vapour barrier is the rebar.

September 29, 2012: The pumper truck came for another visit! It was extremely cool.


Here they are, levelling the cement one section at a time. 

This is hard work. I was glad to be the one stuck looking after the kids, for once! Haha.

After the floor was poured they still had lots of work to do on it, levelling, smoothing...etc.

And that brings us to today. Here Mike is bracing the walls in preparation for not only backfilling, but also for placing the house on top of the basement.

So as you can see, the process is not a quick one. I hope it will all be over a month from now, but it's hard to say. We hope to do the move in a couple of weeks. There is a ton of stuff left to do, and it's more than a little stressful, but there is no turning back now! I have to sign off now. Hopefully I'll have another update soon.