Monday, November 26, 2012

DIY Pour-in-Place Concrete Countertops

The day we had been preparing for for weeks was finally upon us - pour day!  I spent hours researching, studying, researching, reading, studying, researching before this day to determine what we needed for our pour-in-place concrete counter tops.  I wanted to do this correctly but not spend a fortune.  Unfortunately, there was no one place to gather all the info I needed.  Hopefully this post (and subsequent ones) will help others in their pour-in-place concrete counter top journey.  I will not cover all the info for making the forms for the counter top - that is easier to find online, I would say.  You can also look closely at our photos and learn what you can and you can ask any questions.  This will be a very photo heavy post but it was a good day and I was able to capture it on "film"!

Here are the forms all ready for concrete.

Then it was time to whip up our first batch of concrete.  I PROMISE I will tell you our recipe in another post when I can finalize the price breakdown.  This was the biggest stressor because NO ONE wanted to tell us how to make the concrete so it required lots of research and a little guessing.  I "hope" it worked out well - we will only know when we actually take off the molds.  Making the concrete required accurate measurements so we had a few scales and measuring cups in use - they worked great!

We were going for a consistency that was similar to a Wendy's frosty or thick oatmeal.  I think we got it.

Once it was all mixed really well, it was dumped into a plastic garden cart and carted over to the counters.  We did all the mixing in the dining room, right beside the kitchen where we were pouring.  This is easy to do in an unfinished house!

Then Mr.W and I shovelled the concrete into the counter top forms.  This concrete is sticky!!  It is certainly not a normal mix but we got used to it.  We filled a little test piece first and then went to work on the counter tops themselves.  The test piece helps us determine when to unmold and gives us a place to practicing grinding/polishing.

The counter tops will be 2" thick so we filled the forms halfway then added the expanding metal lathe we used for strength and support and finished by adding the remaining 1" of concrete on top of the lathe.  Seemed to work just fine.  Remember, this concrete is sticky with less water then usual so it is much more dense.  We had to be sure to embed that lathe well to ensure none would be sticking up later.

Before and after adding the lathe, I vibrated the forms using a reciprocating saw without the blade.  It worked really well.  I vibrated until I no longer saw little bubbles coming to the surface of the concrete.  I won't know how well I did until later this week but I hope I vibrated it enough! 

While Mr.W and I were working on the counter tops themselves, Jay and Mr.C (a guy we have hired to help us) worked on the next batch of concrete.  They always rinsed out the mixer before starting a new batch.  They got quite efficient at it after a while. They had to be sure to add each ingredient at the correct amount for each one.  Nothing could be left out.  The water was the only variable, sometimes using a little more than other times.  That one was the hardest to perfect since each bag of cement had a different humidity level to it.  They did such a great job.

After the first counter top was poured and screed, this is what it looked like:

It looked a little fuzzy due to all the fibres we used in the mix sticking up.  With more trowelling most disappeared but some still remained.  We are convinced they will completely disappear with grinding/polishing and, if not, we can always burn them off.  After a couple of hours of sitting, this is what the same counter looked like:

We continued to progress our way around the kitchen perimeter since all those counters are the same recipe, a nice dark charcoal.

Mr.W had to do a little playing around the sink opening in the perimeter counters because the sink form (Styrofoam) was about 1/4" lower than the outside of the counter top form.  I am still not sure how it will turn out when dry but I am convinced it will need a bunch of grinding.  Please be sure your sink form and counter top form are at the same level - it makes things infinitely easier (as is the case with our island sink - so much easier!).

Around each sink opening and for each cantilevered counter, we added in rebar as well as the expanded metal lathe.

It took many batches of concrete but eventually the charcoal perimeter counters were done.  Time to clean off all the tools and start on the island counter.  The island is a light grey color (bordering on beige) so we needed to be sure all the tools and the mixer were nice and clean.  I didn't want charcoal streaks in the light grey counters.  Once again we added in rebar and metal lathe on the cantilevered section.

We used long pieces of wood to screed everything smooth.

The island counter was filled with concrete and screeded smooth

before the very fun part of seeding the glass began.  While I seeded, Jay vibrated.

I used most of these colors, almost 43 pounds of glass.  I did not use the clear, the very light pink or the yellow/amber.

Once the glass was seeded, we needed to embed it in the concrete.  Remember, this is dense sticky concrete - the glass did not just fall into place.  It required some good strong muscles to work it in.  But, eventually, it was all covered by concrete.  The next day both Mr.W and I had very tired arms and my wrists and hands hurt, too.  It was totally worth it (well, I say that prematurely as we have not yet finished this counter.  It still needs grinding/polishing but I have high hopes!).

Then it was time to clean up all the equipment and start the very long process of steel trowelling the counters.  Obviously with the glass on the island, it was impossible to trowel so we left it alone.  The perimeter was super easy to trowel, leaving very little to no marks, thanks to the dense cement-rich concrete.

By the time 9:30pm rolled around, I was super tired.  I had been at the house 12 hours already and I was so done.  Everyone else had gone home a few hours earlier.  I was falling asleep, I was so exhausted.  The counters were drying slowly so I figured it would be okay to go home.  Thankfully, Mr.W could still trowel in the morning and the rest of the imperfections will disappear with grinding/polishing.  As for the island, it looks like a concrete security fence with glass shards sticking up!  We will figure out what to do with it later on this week.  But for now, we let them continue to cure.

Overall, the pouring of the counters was a fairly easy and enjoyable process.   The prep leading up to it was stressful and I imagine the grinding/polishing will be a steep learning curve but . . . so far . . . so good!

Owner Building a Home - Week 26 - Flooring Arrives, Prep For Countertops

I know it is already over a week ago that this should have been posted - sorry to be so slow!

This week was a super slow week for me.  I had a doctor appointment with AJ on both Tuesday afternoon and Friday afternoon so that meant I wasn't at the house at all.  I also had company coming over on Wednesday evening so I stayed home that day to clean and prepare some food.  Saturday was the day after learning of AJ's heart diagnosis and all I wanted to do was curl up in bed.  We stayed home.  So, given I was only there 2 days, I will just post some photos of some of the things we saw happen.  Jay continued to work each day but I don't always know what he has done.  However, things continue to progress, even it if it is slowly.

We crushed more glass for the counter top.

The guys continued to form the counter top form.

They installed the ceiling medallion in the dining room.

They also built a mock-up of the coffered ceiling in the living room.  The cardboard was just to get a sense of how deep we wanted the "beams" to be.

Jason went to the US to pick up our Brazilian Pecan flooring that I had ordered from Georgia about a month ago and had shipped to Pembina, ND.  It is a little nerve-wracking to order something this expensive from a company you have never been to.  We hoped the flooring was everything we wanted it to be and . . . so far . . . it is! It is so gorgeous.  Hopefully the installation goes just as smoothly as buying and getting the flooring.


While I was in the city with AJ on Tuesday, I went to many stores buying crown moulding, a dresser to be used as a vanity, colored glass to be smashed into itty bitty pieces, groceries, lighting, etc.  The van was super full but it was a good day.  On Friday I only made one stop after the 3-hour long appointment but it was to pick up the charcoal colorant for the counter tops we will be pouring next week.  It was necessary even if I would have rather come straight home.  Sitting in city traffic during rush hour after hearing your son has a serious heart condition is not my idea of a good time.  But God was faithfully with me and I am so thankful for that.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Beginning our Journey with CPVT

There are times when you can look back and see the hand of God at work and things make sense in hindsight.  Less often, though, for me, I see the hand of God at work in the midst of uncertain times.  Those are times of great encouragement.  That is what has been happening these past few months.  Let me start at the beginning of the story.

Back in July, during the heat wave we were having, AJ, our 8 year-old, and his 9 year-old brother were walking on the road to Grandma's house.  Their house is just a short walk away and the boys wanted to walk over.  I told them explicitly not to run because I didn't want them to overheat.  It really was a hot day.  I followed behind them a few minutes later in the van with the girls and found Pepe standing in the middle of the road, hands in front of him, motioning for me to stop.  I was frustrated with his seeming lack of concern for safety so I slowed down and told him not to do that, it was dangerous.  AJ was walking on the side of the road.  Pepe explains to me that AJ had passed out on the side of the road.  I loaded them both in the van, very concerned about AJ, and took them to Grandma's where I layed AJ down in a cool room and got him something to drink.  I asked Pepe what happened.  He said AJ just passed out but Pepe thought he was joking.  First he stepped on his arm to make him get up then he started tickling him.  Both got no response.  Then AJ woke up and Pepe realized this was not a joke.  AJ was pale and slightly sweaty but seemingly okay.  He laid there for while and then went back to playing.  I returned to working at the house and gave Grandma clear instructions to call should AJ feel any worse.  Though it may seem like I didn't care, you must know that my sister always fainted.  It was chronic and persistent and we learned to live with it.  I thought this was just a reaction to the heat and once he was in a cool room with something to drink he would be fine.  And he was.

On a cool August 25th, AJ was playing outside the house, running around with his brother and friend, when he stopped to catch his breath and promptly passed out.  His friend found him, called his brother, who ran to get his Nana and Papa.  Papa carried him into the house and realized his heart was racing.  We layed him down and tried to cool him off as he was very sweaty but with cold, clammy hands.  He was tired so I took him to the van to lie down and kept checking on him repeatedly.  He was doing fine, liked the quiet time and seemed totally okay.  Remember, fainting in my family is common.

Though it seemed trivial, I mentioned this to our family doctor a few days later on August 29th  and she immediately sent AJ for an EKG and ordered an EEG and a referral to a paediatrician.  The EKG happened later that afternoon while the wait to see the paediatrician was a little longer.  Just over one month later, on October 4,  I received a call that AJ could see a doctor in a town 1 1/2 hours away on November 5.  I declined, saying I would rather have a paediatrician in the main city only 1/2 hour away.  They warned the wait for that could exceed 1 year.  I quickly said a prayer, talked to my hubby, and decided to wait that year.  Later that same afternoon, I received a call from a paediatrician in that city that they wanted to see me the next day, October 5.  I say God had a hand in that, wouldn't you?  The paediatrician AJ now sees is a wonderful young doctor who is insistent on pursuing all tests possible to figure out the cause of AJ passing out.  On that first visit, he asked a bunch of questions then sent AJ for many tests - a breathing test, another EKG and blood work, muscle tone tests and coordination tests.  1 week later, on October 12, AJ went for his EEG to see if the problem stemmed from his brain.  He was a little trooper, having all those wires attached to his head but the technologist working with him was so great.

On November 1, AJ was running around a play structure when he came to me and told me he felt like he was going to pass out.  I made him sit and put his head between his knees and he felt okay after a few minutes.  I tried to keep him from running but he was annoyed with me.  Later that same morning, we did a very unscientific heart rate check.  His resting heart rate was 99 bpm and after running/walking for 5 minutes, I couldn't count it at all.  It was irregular and hard and unreadable.  Then I was a little concerned.

We had to wait a number of weeks to ensure all the test results were back but then we went to see the paediatrician again on November 13, this past Tuesday.  All test results came back normal.  His blood is normal.  His EEG was normal.  His EKGs are normal.  However, the paediatrician was still not convinced there wasn't something more so he referred us to a cardiologist.  He did warn it could take 3 months or more to see a specialist like that.  He also sent AJ for another EKG.  2 days later I had 2 phone calls asking if we could please come to the Variety Children's Heart Clinic at 1:30 on Friday, November 16, only 3 days after the referral.  What a fantastic God, orchestrating this all for us!! 

We arrived at the clinic but had no idea what was about to happen.  AJ had an ultrasound of his heart and it seemed, to me, that the technician spent a considerable amount of time looking at a certain part of his heart, listening to the way it beat.  After that, AJ had to have a stress test.  He was to lie on a bed so they could hook him up to many different wires and then lie there for a bit so they could get a good reading of his heart at rest.  Then he was to get on the treadmill and walk/run for 10 minutes.  Every 3 minutes it would elevate a little more and go a little faster.  His job was to not fall off the treadmill and keep up walking/running for the whole 10 minutes.  He really wanted to stop after 7 but he kept going.  After he was done, they sat him down, wires still attached and gave him a bright red Popsicle.  While he was eating it, more and more people came to see the printout of his heart's activity, just as they had been doing while he was running.  They also continued to ask him is he was okay.  Eventually the doctor we were supposed to see came to me and told me he had a colleague he wanted me to see that was a specialist in the area of what was going on with AJ.  He wasn't sure if the colleague was around or available but he would phone anyway.  Turns out he was around and willing to take AJ as a client, which is another example of God's hand at work.  He might not have been there any other day but he was on Friday.  They looked over AJ's results for a long time, talking with each other, measuring this and that and then sending us to another room for follow-up.  There I was asked a whole pile of questions by a resident about the history of AJ passing out, our family history, if anyone ever died suddenly or unexpectedly, if anyone fainted lots, etc.  Eventually our specialist came in, a Pediatric Cardiologist/Electrophysiologist and told us that the news he was about to tell us was not good.  In fact, it was very scary news.  AJ has a rare and very serious, potentially deadly, heart condition called Catecholaminergic Polymorphic Ventricular Tachycardia (CPVT).  It is a condition in which the heart beats exceedingly fast and therefore fails to pump enough blood through the body, causing you to black out.  AJ's heart reached almost 300 bpm while on the treadmill, about 3 times faster than it should.  Often times people do not find out about this condition until after someone in their family has died suddenly and unexpectedly.  It is a genetic condition and is often present in more than one family member.  It is a non-curable condition but completely treatable.  AJ will be on medication for the rest of his life to control his heart rate.  However, at this point, AJ is restricted from any physical activity which would raise his heart rate until they can confirm the dosage of medication he needs.  We also get to carry around an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) because we never know when his heart will need to be shocked back into rhythm.  AJ has named it "FRED" and it now goes with us everywhere.  AJ will eventually be able to do everything a normal kid does when he can show on a stress test that the medication is keeping his heart from racing.  As I mentioned, it is a genetic condition so the rest of us need to be tested as well.  In about 3 weeks, all the kids will go for a stress test to see if any of them also have this condition.  Jay and I will have to go to another clinic for our testing as the kids obviously go to a pediatric one.  Some of the kids are dreading it, some are super excited!

We don't know the whole breadth of this journey yet.  We do know that God has promised us in Joshua that we can be strong and courageous, we don't need to be afraid or discouraged because God is always with us, never leaving us.  It is the reason I was completely calm throughout the whole 3 hour appointment.  It is why I continue to be strong today.  I am relying on the Lord's strength and He is so faithful to carry me.  I already wondered what he had in store for us when all these appointments came together so well.  You begin to wonder what he is about to do.  But He is so good and loving.  AJ is still very much alive.  God sustained him through each fainting episode.  God sustains him each day.  And God is walking this journey with us.  We are surrounded by people that love us and pray for us and we give God the honor and glory for it all.  If you would like to pray for us, we would love it.  Pray for peace, for strength, that the side effects of the medication would be minimal, that the medication would be effective and that through this whole journey, we would continue to praise our God for the marvelous Sustainer he is and bring glory to his name.  Amen!  :)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Owner Building a Home - Week 25 - Countertop Forms, Dyed Basement Floor

MONDAY - Once again, I had to take AJ to an orthodontist appointment so that meant I spent the afternoon in the city.  I figured while I was out that way anyway and the kids were at Grandma's, I would run from one end of the city to the other getting house stuff.  First, I bought 14 DOZEN wine bottles (which equals 168 bottles!!) for $30.  I need these so I can smash them into little bits of glass that will be seeding on my island counter top.  So far, I have smashed 3.  Only 165 to go.  Actually, I don't think I will need them all but we will see.  Then, just a little way away, was the special water-based dye I ordered for our basement floor.  I ordered H&C Concrete Semi-Transparent Decorative Stain in Obsidian from the commercial Sherwin Williams store on the far end of the city.  I went and picked up the 7 jugs and added those boxes to all the boxes of bottles.  The back of the van was very full!  Good thing our back seat lies down flat and I only had 1 child with me.  Then, I was just around the corner from a flooring store so I ran in and picked out the vinyl for the kids bathroom.  They quickly cut it and I paid and then added that large roll to the van and we were off to the opposite side of the city for AJ's appointment.  We made it on time and he is now sporting a blue retainer.  After his appointment, I ran into Home Depot to pick out some trims for the recessed lighting on the second floor.  And then back to the house.  On days like this, I feel like I get nothing done.  I feel unproductive and like I have not contributed.  I know, if I didn't do those things I wouldn't have been able to do what I did the rest of the week . . . but, still.  I don't really enjoy those days.  I would rather work AT the house.  When I got to the house, I saw that Mr.W had continued to install all the lower cabinets.  They were well secured together and to the walls.  The kitchen really starts to take shape.  However, we ran into a little snag.  Our island is 8 inches wider than I had ordered.  The base cabinets were supposed to be 16" deep and were 24" deep instead.  It doesn't affect too much except the end panels.  I had ordered matching moulded end panels for the island (to match the drawer fronts) and they were now 8" short.  My lovely kitchen designer was just a phone call away.  She agreed that the company made an error and said I had two options to fix it - I could either have new cabinets or new end panels.  Since the cabinets were already attached together and the extra 8" doesn't bother me, new end panels it is.  What a great company!

TUESDAY - You must understand, when I get on site in the afternoons, generally I spend 1/2 hour or more talking to Mr.W about many different things, clarifying and verifying what is I want and how we should go about it.  This day it was about the counter tops.  Mr.W had started forming the counter top moulds!!  That is super exciting.  One step closer to counter tops.  To be honest, the concrete counter tops has been the most stressful part of this house building for me.  Finding the right ingredients, finding a company that has the right ingredients, learning how it is done, wondering if we can do it well, etc.  It has consumed ENORMOUS amounts of time and effort on my part so I will be thrilled when it is over. 

Before Jason took the kids home for supper, I got him to help me install the lounge light fixture.  It is big and heavy and totally impossible for me to do by myself.  But . . . WOW!!  Is it beautiful.  It hangs a bit high so I need to drop it about 6" but it is fine for now.  At least there is light.  Then I started installing more flooring.  The flooring in the lounge had been left undone due to casings being stored there but they were all gone so it was time to finish it up.  I spent the rest of the evening, until late, finishing up the flooring.  It went really well until the very last piece!  That last piece was a mere 3/4" wide so I had to glue it to the rest of the flooring.  It worked out better than I expected and now all the laminate on the second floor is complete (if you don't count the office).

WEDNESDAY - During the day the guys made sure the basement was vacuumed and free of dust so that I could start etching the concrete floor.  The difference between the water-based dye and an acid-stain is that the water-based dye is just sprayed on and colors the top surface of the concrete.  The acid-stain is a stain that has a chemical reaction with the salts in the concrete to color it.  You then need to neutralize the acid-stain before you can seal it.  After lots of research, we decided the water-based dye was easier to use and more likely to give consistent color.  Acid-stain will react differently to the concrete, depending on how it is troweled.  It is harder to get consistent results.  The first step in the water-based system is to etch the concrete to make it porous so it accepts the dye.  I used Klean-Strip Green Safer Muriatic Acid mixed according to the instructions on the bottle to etch the concrete.  I sprayed it on the 1300 sq. ft. (this does not include the cold storage or the utility room.  They can stay plain!) with a pump-style sprayer and let it sit.  It was supposed to sit for 10-15 minutes but that didn't happen.  While I was applying the etching solution (which hardly smelled at all thanks to the 90% lower fumes this particular brand has) the water supply was shut off completely so that the pressure tank and water line could be connected in the house.  That is a super important and really exciting event.  However, I couldn't rinse the floors.  So, I ended up taking the kids home for a late supper (which has become the norm) and then when the water system was all set up in the new house, Jay came home and I went back.  I could then attach a hose to the water supply in our house (which means we have water in the new house!!!) and flood the floor with water.  The acid had now sat on the floor for a couple of hours.  After flooding each area, I scrubbed it with a long handled scrub brush and then vacuumed up all the water with a shop vac.  Needless to say, it was a good workout and my arms and back were sore by the end.  That floor was so clean you could literally have licked it! 

THURSDAY - Now that the floor was etched, I could apply the water-based stain.  I mixed it 1-to-1 with water and sprayed it with the pump-style sprayer, using circular motions.  Because the color I chose was Obsidian, it went on jet-black!  This was the easiest part of the job.  I just sprayed the whole floor and then let it dry.

I only used 3 1/2 of the 7 bottles so I could always do another coat if needed.  It took a little less than 2 hours to do and by the time I was done my hands were all black and I had splattered dye on my face but the floor was done for the day.  I quickly went home to wash up and get ready for a concert Jay was taking me to - Philips, Craig and DeanIt was unreal, it was soooo good!  The praise and worship for our Lord was heavenly!  And I could listen to their voices for a very long time!  It was fantastic!

FRIDAY - The floor needed to dry 4-6 hours before applying the sealer.  With this dye, you can use whichever sealer you want.  I was a little alarmed at the fine powdery residue that is left on the floor after letting it dry but according the company's website, that is to be expected if the floor is flooded (which it was) and does not need to be removed.  It also changed from jet-black as it was wet to a grey color when it dried.  In an inconspicuous spot I applied a clear sealer to see if the color was good.  The black came right back so no other coats of dye were needed.  Mr.W picked up 2 large 5 gallon pails of Deft Water-Based Polyurethane in a satin finish for me to use as a sealer.  I stirred it up good and poured it on small sections of the floor and smoothed it all out with a lambswool applicator.  The lighting is terrible in the basement because there are no lights wired up yet so I couldn't see the best at what I was doing.  Plus the first coat absorbs into the floor so much.  It looked terrible when it was done. 

I waited about 2 1/2 hours and then applied another coat.  This coat went on so much nicer and I kept it a little wetter than the first coat.  Honestly, I have no idea how it looks because I left long before it dried.  While I was waiting between coats, I ate some supper and finished attaching the sub floor in the kids bath.  Jay had cut the 1/4" mahogany sub floor and installed it in the bathroom and had started attaching it.  I finished it up.  Now he can install the vinyl.  I also finished installing the small recessed light we have around the exterior of the dining room in the bulkhead.  Jay spent considerable time earlier in the week fishing the wires through the bulkhead and wiring the fixtures up.  They were left dangling from each hole and just needed to be pushed up, tightened and have the trim installed.   Besides one that is directly below a vent, the rest went in really well and it looks so lovely.   Now I just need light bulbs!

And that brings us to today, Saturday. The house we live in is a worst disaster than it has been in a long time.  It is long over-due for a day at home.   It was supposed to snow like crazy last night and it didn't.  We were preparing to hunker down for the day knowing that it would be treacherous to go out.   It isn't.  But we will stay here anyway.  Besides, after 3 days of either spraying or scrubbing or spraying or smoothing, my arms are SORE!!  Time for a day off!

PS:  You will notice I don't mention what Jay does very often.  Often that is because I don't even know what he is all doing.  For instance, when I work in the basement, I don't go check to see what he is doing because I am busy working.  But I promise you, his days are just as full as mine, if not fuller!  :)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Owner Building a Home - Week 24 - Doors, Millwork, Geo-Thermal, Etc.

It's Saturday morning as I sit and write this.  The house is quiet.  The boys are with Jay at the new house and the girls are playing a few doors down with a neighbour friend.  I am tired.  But, I usually am by this time of the week because I usually spend Thursday and Friday evenings working long at the house.  This week was not exception.  And that is why I ALWAYS have a Sunday afternoon nap.  Ooh, and today we get to move the clocks BACK one hour so if I am really smart, I will sleep 1 hour more, not work 1 hour more!  Alrighty then, the week in review.

Monday - My dearly beloved husband took a trip into the nearby town to pickup this beautiful secretary for me.  Surprise was that it doesn't come apart into 2 pieces as we were expecting (and as the seller stated) so I am not sure if we will be able to get it into my craft room like I want.  I will either have to figure out how to separate it without destroying it OR maneuver it down the stairs in one piece OR remove the basement stairs and drop it down into the basement.  As for me, I went to the orthodontist with both boys in the afternoon and then did some shopping so I wasn't at the site at all.  Mr. W started working on the casings around the windows.

Tuesday - A long-awaited day - hydro finally came and hooked up power to the house. 

We had limited power before with extension cords but now we can power up the whole house.  It is so lovely to work late at night and be able to turn on and off lights as I go.   It really helps to eliminate falling down the stairs or tripping over tools!  I think this is the day the interior doors started going up and casings continue. 

We also started installing  baseboards.  However, it was another short day due to small group in the evening.

Wednesday - Also another big day - the installation of the Geo-thermal pipes outside began. 

The excavator digs big trenches, lies 2 rolls of coiled up pipe in each trench and then covers them back up.  Those coiled up lines are all attached to another straight pipe which runs into the house.  All those pipes are filled with water which is either heated or cooled by the earth itself.  That is a really simple explanation for a more complicated Geo-thermal system.  It was fun for the kids to watch.  We have the perfect soil with no rocks at all.  Well, they did find one large rock, which they removed, but there weren't any other rocks at all - not even fist sized ones.  Perfect sandy/clay soil mix.  While they worked outside, Jay was working on the plumbing in the basement. 

Our other plumber/HVAC guy is too busy to get our work done so we are finishing it up ourselves and hiring some other help.  For now Jay is doing the plumbing.  I continued to work on the casings and baseboards while Mr.W continues to hang doors.  Hanging doors may look really simple but to get them exactly straight and level and closing perfectly can be a bit tricky, especially if there is any torque or twist in the doors.  Mr.W does a great job.  He hangs the doors so that I can do all the other trim work.  This was another short day as we went out for supper with the kids and then shopping to fill shoe boxes of toys/toiletries for Operation Christmas Child, a yearly tradition for us.  We went to Boston Pizza where they had this amazing deal that for a $5 donation, they would give you 5 free kids meals.  We bought 4 cards at $5 each ($20) and received 20 kids meals ($6.99 each).  It saved us $119.80.  Going out as a family the next 4 times to Boston Pizza will be very economical! 

Thursday - The outside work for the Geo-thermal was completed today and they will return in about 1 1/2 weeks to start the inside work.  Mr.W continued to hang doors.  Jay continued plumbing.  I stayed late and installed baseboards, casings and made some pretty crowns for the door headers.  Mr.W had made one crown header for me as a sample and I took it from there.  They are easy to make and add so much detail.  I made 3 headers on this day. 

Friday - Jay finished the basement plumbing for now and worked his way into the master bath where he is trying to get the drains for the shower and tub connected.  Mr.W hung a few more doors upstairs and then started making his way to the main floor.  He just started to install the base cabinets in the kitchen, ensuring they are level and well-stabilized for the concrete counter tops going in.  While they were doing that, I continued with casings and baseboards.  The pink room (little girl's) room is now done.  {When I say done, I mean all the casings and baseboards are installed - the filling of the holes/sanding/touch up painting on the mill work still needs to happen}.  The orange/grey room is done.  I was working in the purple room but getting frustrated at the mitered corners so I started working in the hall.  I also made 2 more crown headers for the master bedroom door and installed the headers I made on Thursday.   Mr.W painted them earlier and they were ready to go up.  I really like how they turned out.  I stayed late working on all those things yet again.

Saturday - That brings us to today.  It snowed last night - I am not sure I am ready for snow yet.  However, I am extremely thankful for our wood-burning fireplace at the new house.  It is what is keeping the place cozy warm.  We keep it filled all day and Jay fills it back up first thing in the morning.  The house is also well insulated so that heat is staying in the house just where it should.  I also believe we have much better windows in the new house so even without window coverings, they are insulated well, being that they are triple-pane, dual-argon, dual low-E.  They are some good windows.  At the house, Jay continued to landscape the yard with the tractor.  He was pulling clay away from the area where the Geo-thermal is located and putting it on the driveway.  The driveway needs to be built up quite a bit by the garage and clay is the perfect thing to use.  Either later this fall or next spring, we will bring in more soil to cover the exposed clay in the back.  I brought all the fixings to make french toast at the new house so we ate lunch there.  After lunch, I installed a few light fixtures.  I bought this one of the girl's room so long ago, it was fun to finally put it up.  It is so cute.  Super filthy right now but once we are done with all the dusty work I will clean it properly.  Plus I only put 3 bulbs in when it takes 6 but it looks super cute already!

After the lights I continued on the casings and baseboards.  I added a few here and there but the main work was to make a huge crown for the end doors in the hall.  At the end of the hall, as you can just see on the far left in the photo above, is Pepe's room and around the corner to the left are 2 hall doors and then around the corner again is AJ's room.  All those doors are in such close proximity that it doesn't work to make 4 separate crown headers.  Instead, I made 3 headers, 1 above each of the boy's rooms and 1 above both hall doors.  However, they are all connected so they look like 1 giant crown header.  With so many corners to consider, they were certainly tricky to make and they aren't perfect but they look great.  They will be painted next week and then I can install those.  I have now made crown headers for 9 doors upstairs and I have all the inside of the master bedroom/bathroom left to do.  These fancy crown headers will only be on the hall side of the doors on both floors plus on all master bedroom/bathroom windows and doors.  They are actually fairly simple to make and come together pretty quickly.  And that brings my week to a close.  What did you do this week?
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