Sunday, June 29, 2008

it has to get worse before it gets better!

i can't remember why at the moment, but for some reason i decided that all the plaster and lath needs to come out of the upstairs. now. so that's what the boys have been working on, and doing a mighty good job, i might add. also, it makes them tired at night. another good thing. we strategically started the ripping of 2 of the rooms- i've given it some thought, and tried to do it so we could shut off most of the house as needed, and not have plaster dust everywhere. sounds good on paper, anyway!

here's my work crew- D and G. see- i told you that hard work was good for them. they don't look like they are protesting too hard!

lowering the lath out the window. we'll burn it in our wood stove this winter. (remember the old saying- "he who burns wood warms himself twice")

knocking down the last bit of plaster from the chimney.

here they are dumping the plaster out the window, down the chute into the trailer. as you can see, i am totally deluding myself if i think that i can either #1- control the plaster dust, or #2- keep my house clean!

still a happy work crew!

this room is done, and just needs the plaster shoveled out the window. we call this the green room, and it will be A and B's room eventually. it's in the back corner of the house, facing the woods and field.

cutting the lath into 3 foot pieces, before taking it off the wall. that makes it easier to get off, easier to clean up, and it will also fit into the stove better.

standing in the green room, looking into the front bedroom. this will be the guest room, should we ever find any souls brave enough to tough it out with us!

and you can't feel too sorry for my boys- the obviously had enough energy to be creative enough to create this still life "tools of the trade"

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

it almost makes it worth it!

I've come up with an idea to save money on groceries that has been working well for our family. when i go shopping, i buy enough milk to last us 8 days. we mark it for the appropriate day, (that way the milk really does last that long!), and i theoretically don't go grocery shopping again until we've run out of milk. I've been doing this for several months now, and i can honestly say that it's really cut down on my running to the store for every little thing. especially with groceries being so expensive around here, that can make a big difference in our budget! it works for me!

if you want more great tips on what works for other moms, on all kinds of topics, head on over to shannon's site. every wendesday she hosts "works for me wednesday" (WFMW") and you'll find lots of great ideas- and something sure to work for you!

A is so cute with this little cart- it almost makes me want to go grocery shopping more! she loves to put stuff in the cart- apples, cookies, more bananas, yogurt... on and on. i really have to watch her- no telling what we'll end up with!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Guest Friday- M's Roadside Market

Time for another of our ever popular "Guest Friday". This time your handsome, debonair host is N W.

The best (and only) place in Monroeton to go for an ice cream is a little place called M's Roadside Market.

It is a widely varied shop selling an assortment of cool goodies. (Pool supplies, flowers/vegetable plants, custom built computers, pets, ice cream...) I happen to work there, in the ice cream part of things, with a girl named Tashia. I work about twenty hours a week, making sundaes, banana splits, milkshakes, cones, etcetera. Thankfully, it is much closer than my previous job in Lewisburg, and I can walk to work in case of flat tire. (It's only .8 miles away.)

Friends and family stopping by to have some ice cream. We have a LOT of different flavors of soft serve. 34, to be precise. Everything from apple pie and apricot to teaberry and watermelon. My favorite, that I've tried so far, is lemon. In a waffle cone, of course.

Lest you think that pets + ice cream = disgusting, allow me to assure you: it is all very clean and sanitary. For one thing, the pets are in a completely different building. For another, after almost everything we do, we have to wash our hands, as per PA health regulations. Sweep the floor? Wash your hands. Eat something? Wash your hands. Wipe down the tables outside? Wash your hands. Touch money? Wash your hands. Pick your nose? Wash your hands. (Duh...)

Enough rambling. I'm out.
Excelsior and ciao...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

plodding along.

in spite of the rain, missing workers and sickness among the family, things have been rolling along here this week. we have continued to dig along the foundation of the addition, starting with the other side on monday. the boys got quite far before the rain forced them to stop. i gave them the afternoon off yesterday- even I'm not mean enough to make them work in the hail! i assured them that i would get the work out of their hides another time. they laughed, because they thought i was kidding. here is the trench as of yesterday afternoon- in between the raindrops. dave said this side of the house is over 2" off square! he's bringing another jack home tonight, as well as some joists, and will work on this project tomorrow, which is his day off.

since it was so rainy, i took the time to play play-do with the girls. that was a special treat. A really likes play-do, and we let her play with it until she starts to eat it!

the high chair is done! D was able to finish it before he left on sunday morning for a week of sailing with sea cadets in baltimore, maryland. B is a real cutie- but in most of the pictures of her she has her eyes closed.

we also got 50 more peeps, and have moved them outside, as they were really stinking up the utility room. it seems every other day I'm running to the feed store to buy food for something. i don't want to keep track how much it costs us to raise these things to be big enough to eat... I'd probably be horrified! i do know, however, that the chickens we raise taste way better than the store bought, frozen things! so if it involves chicken, tomatoes or rice, we eat pretty well around here!

and here's my baby B, crawling! i can't believe it! she also has 2 new teeth- her canines. i guess she's going for the vampire look. dave keeps telling me that my baby isn't a baby anymore- but i don't need him to remind me- the days are gong all too fast!
the good news of the week is that the appraiser stopped by (finally) so now we can start ripping out the plaster and lath upstairs. we were on hold until he came, as we didn't want to make the house look worse than it already does. we still have all our wood to get in for the winter, and with the bank loan, dave will be able to get his tractor. since he picked out the new stove for our kitchen (and has yet to cook on it!) i told him that i will be picking out his tractor. seems only fair, right? we also have a load of stuff the get to the dump, several trees to cut down, and a huge pile of lath to break up into stove size pieces. i was starting to run out of jobs for the boys, but now we have that problem solved again. no rest for the weary!

Monday, June 16, 2008

where does the time go?

this picture is from last week, when i was still in the hospital after having M. i have 2 very vivid memories of her birth- the first is from immediately after she was born, and Dr. miller placed her on my stomach. i reached down to hold her, and her little hiney just fit into my right palm. the second is from that same night, after the nurse brought her in to me to eat. i was sound asleep, after just having given birth, and she bustled in, turned on the light, and handed me this hungry, rooting baby. the thought that went through my mind at that time was- here is this little life, this is my responsibility for the next 18 years.

this picture is from the day before yesterday, when M was all dressed up and ready to go to her first day of kindergarten. i made her dress, and she has a new backpack- so eager to learn!

this final picture is from her graduation party on Saturday- cutting the cake. my little girl is all grown up, and ready (eager) to leave for college in the fall. she will be attending bob jones university in south Carolina, studying to be a nurse. she will be so far away- and i cannot even begin to fathom how much i will miss her. i get teary just writing this, and thinking about it. through a miracle, and God's grace, we managed to raise a beautiful daughter- as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. she is thoughtful, compassionate and tender, eager to serve God and others, and follow His will for her life. i marvel that this beautiful young woman is my daughter. she will always be a testament to me of God's love, grace and mercy.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

all work and no play makes jack a dull boy

today in celebration of father's day, we went canoeing. we put in right at our house, and went downstream about 5 miles to the river. we took out at wysox. it was a little rough at first- towanda creek is low in spots, and we had to get out and walk. the little girls seemed not to like the bumpy ride, so it was a little loud and stressful for a while! good thing we took along pretzels! they both enjoyed munching on them, and it kept both the girls quiet. once we got to the river, they were both rather happy, and having a good time. we almost hated to get out! so now we know, next time we'll plan on going somewhere where there is a park, and everyone can just canoodle around, and the girls can play, too. it's just that creeks are much better than the river- like comparing a highway to a back country road.
just getting under way- not too many tears yet.

G scouting ahead

N was pretty relaxed on this trip

now that we're done, everyone is having a great time!

happy little canoer!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Guest Friday

Well, I swore up and down to my friends that I would never do this, but here I am, writing a post. Since it's not my blog, I guess it doesn't really count, but try telling that to my friends. Mom figured since this post is about the adventures of the C/W clan, we might as well get the whole family in on it. Open-Mic Fridays, so to speak. And the first joker up is...D! As a matter of fact, that's me in the white shirt, swinging' the mattock. By now you probably know all about the condition of the house on the inside and some of the out, but I'll give you a brief run-through anyway.
While the foundation of the main house is solid and not going anywhere, the addition is a whole different story. The foundation consists basically of three layers of decent-sized rocks laid in the ground and then a substantial oak beam laid atop them. (roughly the same size as the ones holding up all our floors) While I will give the builders credit for doing this entire house with nothing but strong backs and hand tools (no cordless drills!) that was not their smartest decision. The beam has been exposed to the weather for over 100 years, and has also been saturated for most of its life due to the lack of working gutters on most of the house. This means that the beam has deteriorated alot and now needs to be replaced. Since this family does not believe in sissy things such as backhoes that can do two days of work in roughly one hour, we decided to dig a ditch. We didn't really know what we were going to do yet, but obviously, if progress is going be made, a ditch must be dug.
So here's me and G doing what we do best, playing in the dirt. If any of you are familiar with the movie "O Brother Where Art Thou", we were swinging mattocks to the chain gang song, Lazarus. Not bad, once you know the words and get into the "swing" of things.
Before we can saw out the beam in sections and pour concrete, making a new foundation, we (meaning Dave, of course; we left all the thinking work to him) had to take out the old, rotten base plate (read: bottom board of a wall, to which all studs are attached) and replace it. So that means that Dave had to get in there and saw off the bottom of all the studs, chisel out the old base plate, then somehow get the new one in.

Swangin' and shov'lin', swangin' and shov'lin', thats what we do around here.

Dave getting the new base plate in. Apparently the house is only standing out of force of habit, because as soon as he took the base plate out, the wall sunk and he had to get the hydraulic jack out and push the wall back up to get the base plate in. And a sledgehammer, of course. Another one of our old standbys. We have a family saying, "If it doesn't' need a sledgehammer, it ain't worth doing." That goes for any tool requiring brute force, such as mattocks, sawzalls, and pry bars.

And the ditch (or trench, more like) is now finished. G's just cleaning it out, but it is now a mans' width wide and the requisite 32 inches deep. That doesn't sound like alot, but it is when it's by hand and in 90 degree weather.
So, now we have a good sized trench in which we will work hard, bracing up all the joists under the kitchen and utility room floors, and eventually (hopefully before someone important shows up to appraise or do insurance stuff) we will get a new beam in there, make some forms, and pour some concrete, thus making our house able to stand the next 200 years or so.
And for all you bemoaning the fact that this was our last ditch, take heart! We have to do the same exact thing to the other two sides, which means (you guessed it!) more ditches! I'm so excited, I just can't stand it....on the other hand, it's tradition. whoopee.

a word to the wise!

#1- clean up all the tools and stuff you were using, as you just never know who will get into it. drywall slurry is not toxic, but i imagine it doesn't taste too good- kind of like chalk!

#2- when feeding sweet and sour rabbit to your family, don't try to pass it off as chicken unless you've cleaned off all the fur. we may be homeschoolers, but my kids know that chickens don't have fur.

#3- on another note, the squirrel has managed to chase off A to eat his corn, even though she ate all his peanuts.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

we like to feed the wild life!

right before we moved in, dave built a bird feeder out of some scrap lumber. (he's so amazing, it took him all of 12 minutes!)anyway, we have it on this huge rock in our yard, and A keeps it filled with birdseed and sunflower seeds. we also put out peanuts for the squirrel, and yesterday i got some corn cobs for him, too. here A is sitting on the rock, pilfering the squirrel's peanuts! i guess if he wants any, he'll have to fight off this little scavenger!

everybody's favorite room

here are some pictures of our bathroom. it's the family bathroom (we'll eventually have our own master bath. can't wait!) this origianally was one of the 4 downstairs rooms off the grand hallway. we split it into 2 bathrooms, since the old bathroom was where the front door belongs. dave replicated our downstairs second bathroom from high street, so walking in gives you a real sense of deja vu!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

building character- one son at a time

one of the projects that i have for the boys this summer is to refinish some furniture for me. it's all part of the master scheme to teach them responsibility, the value of hard work, and respect for other's property. this stems from the fact that there is a shocking amount of furniture in my house that is carved on, painted on or written on- or a combination of all three. they each have a piece of furniture that they will be restoring to its former glory. D is working on stripping the high chair. he started on Monday morning, and it's coming along nicely, and will hopefully be done with it tomorrow.
this is what it looked like before he started working on it- painted white. we found it along the curb in lewisburg one Friday afternoon while doing papers. we brought it home and A, and now B, has been using it ever since.

now he has it stripped, and is working on scraping off the last of the paint. we will coat it with a clear coat of butcher's wax, which will really bring out the grain in the maple and oak.

i think i can speak for all the boys- if hard work builds character, then by the end of the summer they should be dripping with the stuff! and that's what it's all about!

my kitchen, again

i've posted pictures of my kitchen before, but not since we've moved in. this is the kitchen as it looks today. you can see that it is a little rustic, but it's totally functional, and has "counters" and "shelves". i'm not sure when we'll be able to get the cabinets and counters that we've planned on, but until then i'm able to cook for my family, and even have a new stove (gas) and a brand new dishwasher!

glad you stopped for a visit!

now that things are getting "finished", i thought that i'd give you a little tour. the main living areas downstairs are as done as they will get for awhile, and i like how it turned out. there is lots of room to spread out, and for the girls to play on the floor. also, i would just like to mention that my house is always this neat and tidy!
this is the front living room, and where you walk in the front door, from the porch, looking towards the left. it is the guest entrance. (the family uses the utility room door, which is nowhere near ready to allow people to see a picture of that-it's a huge, jumbled mess!)

standing in the same spot, looking towards the right. this is the back half of the double living room, and the schoolroom area.

if you walk through the front living room, you come to the "grand" hallway. the steps lead to the sitting room, and 4 upstairs bedrooms. the front door is behind me. (or will be, when it is put in.) the master bedroom is immediately to my left. the bathroom is on the left at the end of the hall. (the dresser is our diaper changing dresser. very handy!) the kitchen is at the end of the hallway, on the right.

if you walk down the hall, on your right you go back into the schoolroom.

here is the living room again, as seen from the hallway.

it really feels like home now, since we have the same color paint that was in the high street house, and of course the same furniture and knick-nacks. i feel like i've been painting 150 year old wood trim manchester tan for years now. (and i guess i have!) we still have pictures and quilts to hang, but first i have to find them in the attic!
oh- i guess i should tell you that i was just kidding about the part where my house is always this neat. it actually took 4 of us to take these pictures. the kids cleared all the clutter and stuff from the rooms, and then stood just out of camera range so i could take the picture. then they put it all back! just wanted to keep it real!

Monday, June 09, 2008

more than you wanted to know!

now that i have the vast experience of using over 12 gallons of drywall compound, i'm offering advice and how-tips for all my faithful readers. (all given tongue in cheek, of course.) we tried a new technique on the front living room, and i'm satisfied with the way it turned out. so here is the handy dandy step-by-step tutorial, for those of you brave enough to tackle a huge renovating project of your own.
first, you need to sand the drywall, and prep it for painting. no lumps, bumps or ridges, please. a younger, but not necessarily willing helper, makes this job faster. (but A is having a great time here!) we have found that one of the advantages of having many children is always having someone to draft into doing the dirty work.
here is the living room wall, all spackled and sanded.

there must be a name for this particular technique, but i don't know what it's called. dave read about it in a book at lowe's, and came home and told me that's what he wanted me to do. of course i was eager to do whatever he asked, even though it meant traveling around the room one more time. ( i counted, and to do this room from start to finish, i will be going around and around nine times!) anyway, it involves mixing up a very watery solution of slurry- (think chocolate milk) and then painting it on the walls. unfortunately, dave had not read the whole chapter, and gave me rather vague instructions over the phone from work, and then had to abruptly hang up. (pesky customers!) being the impatient person i am, i decided that i would just wing it, and get started on the room, as it was already 2pm. so off i go, painting on this very strange and messy stuff. dave called back a few minutes later to tell me that he had read the rest of the chapter, and wanted to tell me how to do it. too late!

this is what it looks like going on- kind of wet and furry. the whole purpose is to make the whole wall sort of uniformly drywall compoundy bumpy. that way you don't have any flat shiny spots, interspersed with dull papery spots. that's the theory, anyway, and at this point, it was all blind faith on my part.

here is that section of wall after i've painted on the drywall stuff. the paper gets a little wet, and that's how you can tell where you are, and if you've covered the whole wall. like i mentioned before, it was a helpful thing to do, as it disguises some small blemishes. it also dries quickly, and you don't have to be very particular about edges and corners.

so there you have it. i will try to get pictures of some of our completed rooms soon. it's starting to look a little more finished around here!


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