Tuesday, June 28, 2016

It's The Little Things

Sometimes, the best home improvement projects are the relatively quick, easy ones, like a new kitchen faucet! Although, as with most "simple" projects, there is, of course, the requisite late-night trip to Home Depot for a 50 cent part. Mike's actually still there right now (probably wandering aisles for fun).

I love my handy man.

I didn't get a "before" picture, but trust me when I say that the new faucet is a definite improvement. This is the pulled out remnants of the old faucet.

And my shiny new one!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Coming Soon

We were on vacation all last week, which is why nothing new has been going on. But now we're back, so come back soon for some updates - we're planning on starting the living room redo this week. Popcorn ceilings, your days are numbered...

Monday, June 13, 2016

Priority: Play

We have officially finished our first project! (Well, for all intents and purposes. There will be a few more finishing touches). Before painting walls, or putting up blinds, or any of that jazz, we knew we wanted to build the kids a swingset/playhouse. So that's what we spent this last week doing.

But before we get to that, I have a few other pictures to post of a few other little fun things we've been up to in between all the craziness of unpacking and getting settled. (So. Much. Heavy. Lifting.)

This is what most of our house looked like for the first few days. A sea of boxes. Oy. We managed to get mostly settled within a few days, but I'll be happy to not move again anytime in the foreseeable future.

Kids' room done! They were so happy to see so many toys they hadn't seen in 3 months (we kept a lot of stuff in storage in between moving to Tennessee and buying a house).

Reed finally reached his goal of going to bed on his own, and the reward was a Build-A-Bear. He chose a teddy bear (named "Awesome Man") wearing a Kylo Ren costume and roller skates.

Taking a break at the splash pad.

Guys, there are fireflies in our backyard every night!! It's the most awesome thing. We LOVE watching and catching them! If you squint, you can see one in this bug catcher Rachel has.

Reed catching fireflies in a mason jar. Be still, my heart.

Reed just bein' his cute self.

Reed being a zombie. That's what he said he was, anyway.

Our massive yard sale to get rid of all the seller's old stuff. So much stuff.

Rachel just running around the backyard.

Helping Daddy mow the lawn.

Now, onto our project! 
 When we decided to build a swingset, Mike decided that he didn't want a kit. The wood in them isn't all that sturdy, and he wanted to build it the way he wanted. So instead, he researched it a ton and we just made it ourselves. We bought the lumber, screws, and slide at Home Depot, the swings on Amazon, and a bunch of beefy bolts off eBay. Mike seriously was so awesome in getting it all figured out and planned. He's so handy and did an amazing job!

Buying the slide!

All ready to get some lumber!

Helping push the cart at Home Depot.


It doesn't look like a lot of wood here in the truck, but trust me, it was a lot of wood. We rented the pickup from Home Depot to get it home, and it took us a good half hour to unload it all and carry it around to the backyard. A lot of two-by-fours, planks for the floorboards, and big solid pieces for the frame.

The build begins! First, Mike cut these pieces to size and assembled the sides of the frame for the playhouse portion.

Luckily, we had a neighbor outside who was willing to help lift and hold up parts of the frame. It was a three person job.

Once the frame was up, we got to work installing floor joists. A lot of playsets leave the bottom open for a sandbox or just dirt, but we wanted it to have a floor.

Floor in! This was the end of the first day.

The next day I worked on installing the top floor while Mike was at work. It was like 95 degrees out, but I secured the floor joists and got all the planks measured, cut, and down.

Who says building is men's work? Not this girl!

My day's work. :)

Rachel enjoying the new shade, reading her Minecraft book.

That night when Mike got home, we worked on the ladder, steps, and top wall slats.

By that night, we had something that was ready to be tested out!

Reed also utilized some leftover moving boxes. He would slide down and then punch and kick all the boxes over.

The next day, after being in the heat of the big yard sale for a couple of hours, I cut and installed the bottom floor railing and slats while Mike worked on the swings. He built the A-frame, drilled the holes for the swings, and then we leveled and measured for a support on the side of the playhouse to attach the beam to.

The finished product! It still needs a roof, and we have stain for it too, but we used pressure-treated wood, so it needs to dry out for a couple weeks before we stain it. 
The kids have had so much fun on this thing already (and the neighbor boy). And it's sturdy. Mike and I can be on the top, climb up the stairs, and swing all we want and it doesn't move an inch.

Side view.
Reading through this post myself, it sounds like it was pretty easy, but boy was this thing a ton of work! There was a lot of measuring, sawing, and drilling in screws. There was also a lot of trial and error in the details, and a few bonks and bruises along the way. It took us a full week to get it done, and it was super hot outside the whole time. But we're so happy with the finished product!

We're also planning on installing a bunch of fun things for imaginative play, like a steering wheel, telescope, old rotary phones, random switches and buttons, etc. 

Our backyard just got a whole lot more fun!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Blood, Sweat, and Tears

Well, we knew there'd be sweat, but I didn't think we'd have blood and tears already! We spent yesterday cleaning out the attic. Oh, the attic. I love that we have this attic, because in a year or two, we plan to finish it and have another bedroom, bathroom, and bonus room. But yesterday morning, all it was was a huge space filled with really old, really dusty stuff. As I said in the previous post, the sellers left us pretty much everything they owned, which included basically everything in the attic, including, but definitely not limited to: really old furniture, lamps, mattresses, stained bedding and clothes, a pool table, old Christmas decorations, and boxes upon boxes of random, dusty, STUFF. We sorted out anything that was yard-salable, and trashed everything else.

These pictures don't even do justice to how full of stuff this attic was.

Guys, we completely filled our minivan to the gills and took it to the dump THREE TIMES. So. Much. Garbage. We had to wear masks and use gloves. And we haven't even brought the yard sale stuff down in to the garage yet, because our backs are already to the breaking point from the last week of moving furniture and boxes (remember, we not only moved our stuff in, but we also moved all their old stuff out), so we're going to do it slowly throughout this week. 

And then there was blood. I was the first victim, and slashed my arm on a wire hanger while throwing a bag full of them into the van. A couple butterfly bandages, a couple tears (it wasn't that bad, I'm just a total wimp when it comes to injury), and I was good to go. Mike apparently didn't want to be left out, so he cut his knuckle really bad on a piece of glass while at the dump. We considered going in for stitches, but in the end decided just to bandage him up good and make sure he doesn't bend his finger for a couple weeks. I cried when he got hurt too. Note: You don't want me around in an emergency situation; Mike's your man. I'm a total basket case when there's blood involved. Mike took good care of me. 

We started at about 8:00 in the morning and got done around 3:00, so then we showered and headed to Home Depot, which is our home away from home lately. We picked up some blinds, a couple ceiling fans, light fixtures, a new kitchen faucet (yay!), and a couple other odds and ends. While we were getting into the car to come home, the kids were like "Ah! There's ants in the van!" We had put the booster seats in the garage while Mike was making the dump runs, and the ants hoarded to the kids' completely crumb-filled car seats and went to town, and I guess Mike didn't notice when he put the seats back into the van, which is similarly crumb-filled, because car cleaning is pretty low on my priority list right now. 

Well, I lifted off their seats and the seat cushions of the van were literally covered in ants. I freaked out, brushed off as many as I could, and decided to clean the van when we got home, regardless of how tired and sore I already was. Because ew. 

Oh, and did I mention it was raining the entire day? Yeah. At least the attic wasn't flaming hot while we were cleaning it, so it was actually a blessing. But in order to clean the van in the pouring rain, I had to back it up to the garage (which is full of yard sale stuff) and haul the vacuum in through the back. I vacuumed out the van (a huge job, since there was not only all the standard crumbs and mess, but also all the remnants of taking 3 loads of trash to the dump), and then got to work on the booster seats themselves, which I'm embarrassed to admit, I have never deep cleaned, only given a cursory wipe from time to time. And we've had these for years, because they're just the bottoms of the convertible seats the kids have been using ever since they were out of infant seats. 

Why, oh why, do they make car seats with so many little crevices?? Every little screw hole and indent was jam packed with crusty old crumbs. Don't judge me, just go out and look at your kids' car seats sometime. Lift up the fabric and really look. Unless you're a mom of steel who doesn't let her kids eat in the car (a great decision), I guarantee yours look the same way. 

Anyway, that's a hour I'd rather not relive, but I got it all clean with the help of a bunch of cleaning wipes and a little flathead screwdriver, which was great at poking all the junk out of the crevices. I threw the covers in the washing machine (wow, so that's what they used to look like!), and now our van is ant-free. I then put the kids to bed, did our weekly budget, and then collapsed into a heap. 

And that was my Saturday.