Saturday, August 17, 2013

Slowly settling in

After the craziness of moving and trying to settle in, we took a couple of vacations and are now back in our new home. We've had two sets of guests already and are looking forward to more, though we're still getting things organized, hung, and optimized. In every room we trip over the art yet to go on the walls, and our first guest had a cool shower because we hadn't gotten the water heater recovery up to speed yet.

Jeff from Hammer and Hand came and took some beautiful photos of the house:

And Skylar set up energy monitoring for the house, which we can watch from an iPhone app. We have a new obsession (as does Sam, owner of Hammer & Hand)!

And Larry is molting. We were a bit concerned, as it coincided with our vacations and we wondered if he was stressed by loneliness (not likely!), but as it turns out this is completely normal -- and now we have beautiful feathers to give to our friends.

Larry is down to one lone long feather. We've been finding his feathers all over the property.
We have also sold our former home, so we can now focus all our energy on this house -- well, and the kids and their crazy activities schedule, of course. No rest for the weary!

Sunset from the deck.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Pooped, peacock and otherwise

We are exhausted. Moving stinks. We are completely, officially in and have been for nearly two weeks now; our first night here was Saturday, June 22. The days after that included many, many trips back and forth from the old house to move all the "little" things: artwork off the walls, stools, lights, a drum set, whatever didn't fit in the green boxes and everything in the garage. And then we got to move all the downstairs stuff from the garage, where it had been waiting while the floor was curing.

We have a lot of stuff. We lived and traveled in Asia for 10 years, so we consider that an excuse for having all our cool Asian stuff, but in reality we just have a lot of stuff. Thankfully, we also have some excellent family members who actually volunteered to help us move. Steph's sister and brother-in-law were with us for a day, schlepping our stuff up to the new place. Bryan's Dad, Nelson, and his girlfriend, Barbara, were absolute rock stars, doing whatever needed to be done for several days: packing, hauling, organizing, and, best of all, feeding us. Barbara's fun, bubbly personality disguises her true identity as an absolute workhorse (which she says comes from growing up on a farm). Somehow she managed to work for hours and still look cute and clean in a white shirt and flats. Gold stars all around!

In the ensuing days, we've worked day and night to unpack and organize. Having rented moving boxes was an excellent incentive to get unpacked; the rental package included two weeks with the boxes, and we knew we would pay extra for every day after that. We did pretty well; we only paid for two extra days! Most of it even got put away, although a few things ended up in piles on the garage floor. Watching those boxes go was a huge relief!

Our Indonesian and Korean pots work beautifully on their shelf.
Art is going up around the house.
The deck is where we pretend we're on vacation.
Although our determination to get moved in has us working like crazy, we still have to run kids to their activities (competitive soccer for both and marching band for Hayden as well), buy and make food, and, apparently, go to work. And return things. And buy different things to replace them. And make previously unplanned purchases, such as, say, a power washer to clean all the peacock poop off our beautiful concrete. And then Bryan spent most of a day cleaning the concrete -- which looks much, much better. We just need to learn how to train the peacock to poop in the garden ...

We are actually attempting to train him to stay off the deck while we're eating. He gives us some pretty forlorn looks while we shoo him off the concrete, but he seems to be learning.

Larry wore out his welcome on the deck.
Bits of the landscaping are gradually coming together as well: We have gravel for our fire pit area and memory garden areas, many plants are placed and ready for planting this week, and I'm planting the Stepable plants I bought to fill in the crevices between concrete slabs in the front. We're watering all our baby plants and realizing that, although we planned deer-proof landscaping, we didn't account for a peacock. And Larry likes the Irish Moss Stepables, Elderberry and Dicentra plants, plus our new apple tree, as well as several others. We'll be buying plant cages next -- or maybe having peacock for dinner.

Rachel has been taming and beautifying our yard.
The fire pit area has gravel ready to go and is waiting for perimeter curbing.
Stepables awaiting planting.
Yoda the cat meets Larry the peacock.
Where's Larry? He sleeps in these trees. Does his silhouette give him away?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Moving in!

The past week has been a flurry of activity. The house was supposed to have its final inspection this past Monday, June 17, so we gave it a few grace days and decided to move in Wednesday, June 19. Unfortunately, things didn't go quite as planned and we were asked to move the date back. We were able to go as far as one day -- and then have the movers for only a half-day, since they were booked in the morning -- but it is June, after all, and the movers are booked solid for two weeks. (Even my frequent calls trying to find a way to push back our moving date didn't help.)

We rented reusable, plastic moving boxes from AlienBox (which came with a dolly, labels, zip ties in five colors, and five rolls of packing paper) that arrived on Friday morning. The boys and I packed a little on Saturday while Bryan and our friend Fred, a retired carpenter, spent 12 hours building our master closet wardrobes. On Sunday we celebrated Father's Day with a nice family brunch followed by a torturous afternoon of bed, bedding and curtain shopping at IKEA and Bed Bath & Beyond. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, we packed. And packed. The boys went to bed, and I packed. Bryan worked and ran errands and picked up the bed that wasn't in stock at IKEA on Sunday, and I packed.

Fortunately for us, the movers called yesterday with a cancellation for this morning (all my calls must've gotten their attention!), so we got a whole day with them -- and boy did we use it. (Our movers, All My Sons, were fast, careful, strong and very hard workers. They did a great job!) Unfortunately, there was a previously unheard-of glitch with the downstairs concrete floor: The tape that secured the protective paper to the floor while the contractors were working actually degraded the surface of the floor, so the guys need to smooth those areas and resurface the floor, which then takes 48 hours to cure. Which means that, although we were moving our furniture and boxes in today, we can't actually put anything downstairs for several more days. So almost all of our furniture and boxes are crammed into the great room and the garage. However, Peter assures us that he and Val will help us move our stuff into the appropriate areas once the floor is ready. (He'll probably regret that.)

But at least most of our things are packed and at the new place, even if we're not allowed to sleep there yet (the final, final inspections should be tomorrow, followed by our Certificate of Occupancy). And I'm trying not to fret about the disaster of random things that still clutter the old house. Now Bryan is anxious and I'm feeling better. I have all summer to get the house in order, no school schedules to maintain, and all the little things left to fix in the house will get done in time ...

Plus, now, finally, it actually seems real. This is our house. Our stuff is in it. We get to live here. This beautiful, long, difficult project is now our home. Amazing! I am thrilled, excited, and beyond fortunate.

This amazing double-rainbow view from our house last night must be an auspicious sign. 
The deck is now complete with the lights, fan and railing. And we put some chairs out there today!
Code requires a railing at our upstairs opening windows because they open like doors. Peter built these beautiful cedar rails that can slide in or out and continue the horizontal lines of the sliding cedar shades for the downstairs windows.
The niche we added to hold our double-dragon carving is perfect!
Once our dining room table was in place, it really felt like home.
Thanks to our flooring glitch, the great room is cluttered with furniture that belongs both upstairs and downstairs ...
... and so is the garage, which also has our 100 green moving boxes.
Larry hopped into a visitor's car today and helped himself to lunch.  Beware of the hungry guard peacock!
Peacock butt. Larry keeps turning away when his feathers are extended so we can't see his front.
What does that signify in peacock body language?
He finally let us see.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Almost finished!

Wow! This house is looking almost done!
The wood flooring is going in upstairs; it really makes the house look complete.
The stairs, stair lights and rails are in, which also makes a HUGE difference in the feel of the house.
The deck and exterior stair railings are in, too.
The concrete guys are now working on our front walkway ...
... and still moving along with the master bedroom patio. They tiered the slope and poured the patio walls.
Even our rain-catchment tank is in place, though it's not plumbed yet.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

21,000 words

Because words can't do it all justice, here are the pictures:

We have most of the sliding sunshades in place on the lower level.
Between the concrete wall and the house will be a fern bed.
This eastern side was the last bastion for the siders. They are now actually, completely FINISHED.
Our front porch, with completed concrete walls. The concrete walkway will be poured next week.
Between the porch and the closer concrete wall will be a planter.
Prep for the concrete apron and walkway.
The footing for the master bedroom patio.
Framing is started for the water tank platform. (We're repurposing the old well tank that was half-buried near the original well-head for years. It will become a rainwater catch, and we'll use the water for yard irrigation.) 
The stairs are underway and looking good.
The guest room still looks bright and airy, even with the sunshade over the window;
it has a kind of southern plantation effect.
The deck tiles are going in.
The deck floor is concrete, fire-resistant, elevated for drainage and sealed so that the storage area underneath stays dry.
Almost as awesome is that this floor is much less expensive than a traditional wooden deck, no maintenance required.

Most of the upstairs lights are in.
Our cool kitchen pendants.
The guest bathroom mirror and lights complete the vanity.
The master bath vanity is complete with lights as well.
Master bedroom sconces.
Look at all the mechanicals!
No, we didn't forget Larry. He likes to hang out on the deck ... 
... and he's getting much more comfortable being close to people.