The internet problem

As I mentioned in my last post, our new house is in an internet dead zone of sorts. We are outside the coverage areas for all of the non-satellite internet providers. We weren’t really surprised by that, but we didn’t realize how difficult it would be to get satellite internet.

There are really only three choices for satellite internet in our area. We decided on one based on the plans and pricing and they came out to install it, but they couldn’t get a signal because the trees were blocking the tower. After a lot of waiting and investigating, we found out that one of the other internet providers didn’t use towers, but instead links directly to the satellite and eliminates the tree problem. Of course, they are the most expensive, too.

Tuesdays are busy days anyway (Todd’s weekly deadline is Wednesday morning; Mark has therapy), so we probably should have waited until the scheduled installation appointment on Wednesday, but they had a cancellation and we decided to take them up on it. The installer got there while we were all home for lunch, just before I left to take Mark to therapy.

About two hours later, I’m driving back from therapy, thinking how nice it will be to have internet when I get home. Then Todd calls to tell me that when the installer drilled a hole in the wall, he hit an electrical wire and knocked out power to half of the house. Yes, half of the house.

By the time I get home, the internet installer is almost finished and just checking to make sure everything is working. A few minutes later the electricians arrive and get to work. They start checking out the problem and decide that they can’t fix it from outside the house. They have to cut a hole in the wall in the living room (a wall I spent over an hour patching) to reach the cut wire and repair it. They cut the hole and discovered that the drill had mangled the wire into the stud and they would have to further cut the wire to get it out, leaving them with with less wire to work with. They decided the easiest way to patch the shortened wire (without further cutting into the wall) was to add an outlet to tie the two lines back together.

So, after all of that, we have an internet connection, a new outlet, and a nice new hole to patch.

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I’m still here

I’m still here! I haven’t abandoned the blog; I’ve just been offline.

For most of February and March, I was working about 30 hours a week at the new house, which of course, did not leave a lot of spare time for blogging. Then, the first week of April we moved into the new house, which we discovered is in an internet dead zone. We finally got connected yesterday–which is a story in and of itself.

But first, a little catching up:

We still have a lot to do on the house, but I finished my great big “Must Be Done Before We Can Move In” list. The painting is finished, the floors are finished, and the sink and counters are installed.

I have moved on to my big “Needs to Be Done Soon After We Move In” list. Most of these are smaller jobs or ones that can be done a little at a time. But, I have to admit that the list isn’t shrinking as quickly as I’d like. It’ll get done sometime!

An interesting Christmas

This Christmas was quite a bit different from last year. After spending last Christmas in Florida with both sets of grandparents, I expected it would be.

We have been sick since Thanksgiving, so I really didn’t want to plan too much for Christmas anyway. The kids have been passing around a virus for about a month, I was sick for three weeks straight, and even Todd was sick for about a week.

We typically do not have a “big” Christmas celebration. After many years of Todd working on Christmas Day, we have sort of settled into our own quiet traditions. We usually put up a Christmas tree with a variety of decorations that we have accrued over the years. I don’t do much else in terms of decorating. We make sugar cookies and decorate them, and make other treats–some to eat, some to give away. We usually have our main Christmas meal on Christmas Eve and just have snacks and leftovers on Christmas Day. On Christmas Eve, we read the Christmas story from Luke chapter 2 and then open our stockings. Yes, the kids often eat all of their candy before going to bed. Then on Christmas Day we open our presents.

Two years ago our Christmas tree had declined to the point that I decided we needed a new one. Last year we had no need of a tree, and I just didn’t feel like going out and getting one this year with everyone not feeling well. Since we had no tree, we strung lights across the piano. It was actually quite pretty! We did make and decorate some cookies. I mixed up the cookie dough and left the kids in charge of the decorating and baking, because I just felt awful.

We had our Christmas Eve dinner and read the Christmas story. Then the kids opened their stockings, ate their candy, and went to bed. (Surprisingly, we’ve never had trouble getting our kids to bed on Christmas Eve or with making them wait until after breakfast to open their presents.)  Then we went to bed looking forward to a quiet Christmas morning at home before we went to our friends’ house in the evening.

Christmas morning we had breakfast around seven (our normal time). Of course, Micah was too excited to eat much. Before we had finished eating there was a knock on the door. Our next-door neighbor was there. Normally I would not mind neighbors stopping by, even on Christmas morning. But this particular neighbor is crazy. After rambling on to Todd (who had gone outside when he answered the door) for a few minutes, he left. About ten or fifteen minutes later he came back and knocked on the door again. (I suppose I should mention that our dog starts barking like crazy every time she sees or hears him.) Todd went outside again and listened to him again and he left again. (This time he was talking about what the people who live in his attic were telling him to do–no, I’m not kidding.) The kids started opening their presents. And then there was another knock on the door. It was him again. At this point, although I’m annoyed with the interruptions, I’m starting to feel more and more apprehensive. (He has never come over repeatedly before this. He mostly yells things that don’t make sense. But he seemed to be getting more aggressive over the last few weeks.)

The kids finished opening their presents and were playing with their toys. Then he came back a fourth time and a fifth. After the sixth time, we called the police, just to let them know what was going on. (I’m not saying that he is dangerous, but I’m not convinced that he isn’t.)  They came and talked to him (and some of the other neighbors who have had problems with him) and he hasn’t been back over here since.

We had a wonderful evening with our dear friends, laughed a lot, and ate too much. It was an interesting, but a merry Christmas!

Two steps forward, one step back

We are slowly making progress on the house. We have water and electricity hooked up. The painting and patching continue.

I had some big holes to patch, but I had a good helper for part of the job. Micah really enjoyed helping and did a very good job with the joint compound.

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And it only took two coats of primer to cover the red paint. Let me just say that I was not an OU fan before I started on this project, and I am definitely not one after painting over all of that red. The boys’ room is now a very light shade of blue.

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The white wall next to the desk is a whiteboard that they can draw on. It was a very narrow wall with a very large hole and we had some leftover whiteboard paneling, so it made for an easy fix.

Todd, Matthew, and I spent a very rainy afternoon working on the house. They planned to move the working toilet from the master bathroom (where the floor needs to be repaired to the other bathroom where the toilet flushed more water onto the floor than into the tank. I planned to touch up the paint in the boys’ room, because I always seem to leave a few thin spots.

I had already started painting when they realized that the cutoff valve for the toilet would not turn the water all the way off. Their solution was to turn off the power and therefore the pump. Did I mention that this was a very rainy day? I found myself with the lights off and very little light making its way through the gloomy clouds trying to find the spots that I had missed. These were places I had missed while painting on a sunny day with the lights on, so I decided to find something else to work on that would not strain my eyesight.

Of course, I needed to clean my paintbrush before the paint dried on it, but no water to the toilet meant no water to the sink. Then it hit me–there’s plenty of running water outside, falling from the sky. I found a good spot where the water was running off the edge of the roof and cleaned out the paintbrush.

 

 

 

Breaking out

Yesterday afternoon I went over to the new house to work on some more painting.  I had to take Matthew somewhere at 5:00, so I planned to paint a second coat on the ceiling in Maggie’s room and head home to shower before I needed to go. I got the paint all mixed up and poured in the tray. I took off my boots and set them in the hallway to keep from spilling paint on them. (I prefer to paint barefoot–it’s the best way to know if you have stepped in wet paint.) Then I turned on some music on my phone and set it in the hallway, too.

I started painting on the side of the room opposite the door and by the time I was about a quarter of the way finished, Todd stopped by on his way home from work. I told him I wasn’t planning to stay long, so he said he would run some errands and head home. I continued painting the ceiling and when I was about three-quarters of the way done, I decided to go ahead and paint the are behind the door.

Apparently when I painted the first coat on the ceiling I had only pushed the door out of the way and had not actually closed it, because when I tried to open the door after I had finished that corner, the knob just turned and turned without opening the door. I tried turning the knob some more and then tried to force the door open. It was at this point that I realized my phone was on the other side of the door. I thought of taking the knob off, but there were no screws on this side.

So I got back up on the stool and figured I might as well finish painting the ceiling. After the painting was done and I’d sealed up the paint can–yes, I had a mallet to put the lid on, and yes, it crossed my mind to use it on the door–I tried again to force the door open and turned the knob some more (it would almost catch when I turned it, but not quite). I realized that unless I wanted to wait for my handsome prince to realize I was missing and come rescue me, the window was my only option. This particular window is situated about six feet off the ground. It was at about this point that I realized my shoes were also on the other side of the door.

I opened the window as wide as possible and pried out the screen. I knelt down in front of the window and leaned out and down as far as I could and dropped the stool, praying it wouldn’t fall over. It didn’t. Then I swung one leg through and dangled it down in hopes that it would touch the stool. It didn’t. It was about two feet short. As I was debating about chickening out when I noticed there was a post (one of the roof supports) right next to the window. I grabbed onto it for balance, swung the other leg out, and jumped.

I landed safely on the stool and after walking barefoot around to the front of the house, and went inside to get my phone and shoes. I discovered that there were screws on the outside of the doorknob and there was a screwdriver right there in a bucket of tools. Needless to say the door no longer has a knob on it!

Never a dull moment

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but this one just begs for an explanation. Yes, those are our chickens. And yes, they are perched on the bathtub.

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Last fall we lost several of our chickens to an overnight skunk attack. (I didn’t post anything about it because it seemed unimportant in the of other events at the time.) Matthew and I spent the next day skunk-proofing the hen-house to ward off any future attacks. While the hen-house is now skunk-proof, we have discovered that it is not raccoon-proof.

Thursday night we lost one hen and one chick. We initially thought that this was the work of the skunk, too, since we found a place where the wire had come loose. Saturday morning we discovered the door to the hen-house wide open with all five remaining chicks nowhere to be found. After fixing the broken door (more on that in another post) and thoroughly checking the hen-house for any other holes, we decided it was safe.

Oh, did I mention that we had severe thunderstorms (no local tornadoes) and torrential rains with flash flooding Wednesday through Saturday? Saturday night around 10:00 pm I heard squawking from the hen-house so I ran outside in the pitch dark in my sock-feet yelling for Todd to come out there as I ran. When I got out to the chicken pen it was too dark to see anything. (It’s around the side of the shed from the house, so the porch light did no good.) I was yelling and the chickens were squawking, when all of a sudden I see something streak past me toward the house and I realize that it is one of the chickens. By this time Todd has gotten out there, but we still don’t have any light.

I went back inside to get a flashlight and discovered the chicken that streaked by me (Pecker) was in the dining room–smart chicken, she knew where she would be safe. I yelled for Maggie to get up and go help and ran outside with a light. We determined that all of the hens were safe and whatever had attacked was gone. We found a place where the raccoon (which was kind enough to leave a telltale pawprint) had ripped several boards off the side of the hen-house. There was also a place where Pecker had ripped off the screen in her determination to get away from certain death.

Around this time the adrenaline starts to wear off and I realize that I am soaked almost to the knees (and still in my socks) from running back and forth through the ankle-deep puddles in the backyard. Todd and Matthew were outside trying to patch the hen-house in the dark. Maggie was inside trying to find Pecker (who had decided the dining room was still a bit to exposed for her taste and had hidden behind the piano). I realized that I would never get to sleep wondering if chickens were safe out there, so I decided that they could sleep in the bathroom for the night. Surprisingly, they settled right down and we didn’t hear a peep out of them all night.

 

We have floors!

When I set out for our trip to Florida, I was hoping to return to a house full of new carpet and flooring.  This was not to be.

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Concrete floors in the living room

The carpet installers came and laid the carpet in all three bedrooms without any trouble.  But when the installers came the next day to put down the vinyl, the told us that the concrete subfloor was not level enough for them to be able to install the vinyl planks over it. (Never mind the fact that I had been able to install them over the same subfloor two years ago.)  They told Todd that we would need to grind down the floor in multiple places in the living room, dining room, and hall; and then we would need to bring up the low places with self-leveling concrete.  I don’t know about you, but the last thing that I would want to do is pour out concrete right next to the new carpet

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More concrete in the hallway

We decided that we would wait until I got home from Florida to figure out our best option.  Our insurance (understandably) would not pay to have the floor leveled since it was not related to the flood, just the house being old.  We decided that it would not be worth the expense, and especially the hassle, of fixing the subfloor right now.  We chose to put down carpet in the living room and hall because the subfloor issues wouldn’t matter under carpet.  So we returned all of the vinyl planks to Home Depot and ordered more carpet.

I didn’t want to put carpet in the dining room, because we eat all our meals in there (we don’t have an eat-in kitchen), and let’s just say that peanut butter and jelly is a lot easier to clean off of vinyl than carpet.  When faced with installing the vinyl planks again, I decided that I would just go with the easier (and much less expensive) option of sheet vinyl.  The sheet vinyl was not very difficult to work with.  Of course it helps that the dining room is almost a perfect rectangle–I only had to cut a straight line down one wall and trim around the doorways.  The fun part is going to be putting in the baseboards.  I still have that left to do.

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New vinyl for the dining room (baseboards still on the floor)

Today they came and installed the last of the carpet.  We now have flooring in every room of the house.  It has been more than five months since the flood, and I have to say that I am much more thankful for the carpet and floors that I walk on than I was six months ago.

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New carpet