Sunday, June 25, 2017


June has been a great month!  With graduation from practitioner school done I studied like a lunatic and managed to squeak by and pass my boards.  This means that I am a certified Family Nurse Practitioner and it means that I am ready to get my ass to work!  Last week I had my first week in my new job, but it was just hospital wide orientation.  Which is not directly as bad as water torture boarding but is in the same wheel house.  I have attention issues on a good day but sitting in meetings all day makes me really glad I chose to move my career toward being a NP instead of going into management.  Monday I start my real orientation in the office and I can’t wait to start taking care of pregnant addicts.  I have so much passion for this job that I feel like I might explode.  I am personally trying to reset my brain from “high alert” to “relaxed and collected”.    

Our house renovation is trucking along.  Slower then I really want, but that’s just because my expectations are based on HGTV renovation shows and my brain always being on high speed.  I’m still actively in love with my builders.  They have taken such good care of me.  They do a wonderful job with my crazy and they handle Josh’s actual concerns really well. 

Here is an update on what has happened in the last month around our little homestead.  This may get long so forgive my rambling. 

All the exterior brick and siding has been removed.  Most of the windows have been replaced, but a few were in good enough shape to survive and help save our budget.  All new doors have arrived and been placed.  I tortured my designer by making her show with 600 different exterior doors till we finally found the right doors in the right budget.  I love them, so it all worked out.  A side porch was removed and the concrete from that porch taken out.  Some of the backing board ended up being able to stay, insulation was added to walls, and the house has been wrapped.  All new attic insulation goes in next week.  Two layers of old roof (metal and shingles) have been ripped off for the new roof, which should go on this week.  Board and batten siding is coming up soon and I can’t wait to see it.  My favorite part has been that they have started on the front porch.  The second I saw this house she begged for her front door back and she needed a front porch.  Our early plans had wrap around porches but, even though the curb appeal of those would have been awesome, I’m glad to not have them blocking the natural light into the windows.  And the symmetry of this house makes my OCD heart sing.  The front of this place is perfectly symmetrical and looks so cute.  It’s not a big house, but it is cute as can be. 

So much has happened on the inside that this place is not recognizable.  All the rooms have been framed.  Rough plumbing is done, and I have lots of pity for that guy because that crawl space was rough.  Rough electrical is done.  Kitchen, mud room and guest/girls bath layout have been updated.  Every time we have to alter a plan I already love, I end up loving the new plan even more.  Our house is over 100 years old, it has been built with hand cut logs in many areas.  It isn’t plumb or square anywhere.  It waves and rolls.  Once the walls where roughed in we had to make some changes to work with the structure of the house that could not be altered.  Our contractor told me the other day that our house was 10 years away from just needing to be bulldozed.  When he said that I wanted to run up and hug our little house.  It made me so happy that we got to her before she couldn’t be saved.  I love this little house so much.  The new kitchen plan makes for an island that is over 6 feet by 4 feet.  We got a vaulted ceiling that we didn’t know would be possible.  The pantry is huge, and the windows to the back yard are gigantic.  I couldn’t be happier with the final layout.    

Out Buildings: 
 Josh has worked is tail off refinishing the show area.  He has painted every inch of it a few times.  The ceiling has been redone and insulated.  He gave up one room of his shop to be my studio.  It has the best light in the entire place and I am so excited to make it my own little space.  We are close to being ready to post our before and after pictures of the shop area.  We are ready to put concrete in the part of the barn we are converting into a garage.  We had our first little get together to practice for my huge 40th birthday graduation house warming celebration.  Our party barn area is very fun and going to be great for entertaining.  We plan to get that garage concrete and a new dog area done in the next few weeks. 

Our rental house is on the market.  We are on borrowed time with that situation.  We have been promised that our house will be ready for move in August 1st.  These next five weeks should go lightening fast for that to happen.  Fingers crossed.  

Thursday, May 18, 2017

::week three of full house remodel::

SERIOUSLY - some stuff has gone down in the last few weeks.  I managed to graduate from grad school (HOLY CRAP) and this house has made some incredible changes.

We let the boys and their cousin live their dreams and beat down some walls to start demo off right.  Just that little bit of work showed horse hair plaster covered with cheap paneling.  Quinn really loved breaking down walls.  Then the real demo crew showed up and ripped that place down to the studs.  

After ripping it all apart we found some very traditional log construction - and by traditional I mean late 1800's.  This house is way older than the official 1930 that it is legally listed as.  The floor braces are logs, the ceiling braces are logs, the beams in the walls that aren't logs are hand cut with wood pegs.  We are trying to alter the design a little to expose as many of the beams as possible.  

All the logs are in the front section of the house (which is the oldest).  The middle section of the house appears to be an outdoor kitchen/porch that was closed in at some point.  You can see some very old fire damage in this section.  We found an old chimney under the floors.  

We also found a super creepy headless doll under that section.  (Don't worry, we found her head eventually too!)  

The horrible drop ceilings all got pulled out and the damaged ceiling behind them showed their pretty faces.  I can not get over the fact that at some point someone wallpapered those plaster ceilings.  Speaking of wallpaper - THE WALLPAPER!!!!  Layer after layer after layer.  No joke!  We got ship wall paper, leopard print, roses, vines, colonial time motive, hand painted floral, and many more.  I tried to save a sample of every one, but I'm not sure I got them all.    

You can just tell that the lady of this house LOVED her some color.  The back-middle section of the house was added sometime in the mid 1900's.  The three layers of linoleum are AWESOME!  I swear to all that is holy that if I could have saved the floral flooring I would have found a way.  I have never seen so much color in an old floor and I really dig grandma's style.  I saved a sample of her flooring.

The football flooring got thrown in the dumpster, where it belonged.  

The old patio/car port has found itself into the recycling pile and the cement under it got torn out. 

All the exterior brick got removed.  I went back and forth on this choice, but I think in the end it will be correct.  And we found some rot that needed to be repaired hiding behind the brick. 

The master bedroom had a drop ceiling that was not to code, so it got ripped down and totally rebuilt.  

The old kitchen and bath have been torn out to make room for a living room.  

Max's future room
Under all the various flooring we finally got down to this amazing old wood floor - that is just jacked up enough to not be financial possible to save.  ~sad face~  I never dared hope that it would really be salvageable but it would have been cool.  

The back section of the house (which has been found to actually be three different build ons) got rebuilt and properly attached to the rest of the house.  Its raised floor got framed which takes this house from being five different floor levels to just ONE.  We are working on a cathedral ceiling in the kitchen area.   

view from new front door
The new floor plan has been roughed in, which was beyond exciting to see happening.   

Master Bath
Some quirks and twists we have had to be flexible on some things.  I lost my kitchen desk, but gained more pantry space.  The kitchen, mudroom, and girls bath may be changing around some too - but I think that is all going to be for the win.  Right this second the plumbing is going in. 

When will it be done?  - I don't know.  The builder doesn't know.  No one knows.  It will be done when it is done.  Maybe by early August.  

What else is going down?  We got two guinea pigs, that the kids and I adore.  They are so sweet and fun.  We put a deposit down on a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier female puppy that should be coming home in mid June.  I have no idea how that is going to work with out house not being done but I am done waiting for a new house puppy.  Something has decided to start eating my chickens, so I installed electric net fencing (all by myself for once).  Its working well - more to come on that.  I went from 18 to 11 chickens in three days and that had to stop.  I am studying my tail off to take my boards in mid June and start my new job.  Things are still running at full blast but should calm down a little once I start my new job.        

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

::hatching out some baby ducks::

I have been filling my time in the rental house making a few impulsive purchases in the animal department.  I had to sell my goats because my brother inlaw's dog killed one.  The goats have to live at his farm for now.  So - I quickly sold the remaining two off.  Not having any animals at our house right now is killing me.  I knew I liked having the animals around, but it is really hard for me to maintain a positive attitude without some creatures around.  In January I bought 12 chickens.  Then in March I lost my mind and bought three Pekin ducklings.  Then have since flown away, which is the usual routine with these guys.  They hang out for awhile but then they figure out they can fly for real and they go.  Then in late March I seriously was an idiot and bought six more chickens.  Now I have 5 Americana hens (lays blue eggs), 1 Americana Rooster, 6 barred rock hens, 2 Austrolop hens, 2 light Brahma hens, and 2 white Silkies (gender unknown).  WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING???  Lucky for me we are surrounded with family here so I will have plenty of people to eat all the eggs.

Yet - I still need to see some baby animals be born.  It's part of spring and I needed it this year.  I talked Josh into getting me an inexpensive incubator off Amazon and I bought 7 Cayuga duck eggs from a duck breeder I know on facebook.  The kids and I carefully researched how to hatch them.  We candled the eggs, after learning how from You Tube.  We counted days and crossed out fingers.  They are supposed to hatch in 26 days.  Ours hatched in 24!  Which meant I was out of town (with Josh and the two middle kiddos) and Josh's poor mother ended up babysitting Quinn and some ducklings that were still hatching!!  Thank god she and Josh's dad are such good sports.

Of the seven eggs 5 eggs hatched.  On day 28 we cleaned out the incubator of the two remaining eggs.  I watched them for a long time to see if they were moving around at all or showed any signs of hatching.  I was so freaked out to take them out of the incubator.  Lily and I wanted to see what was inside.  I did not take any pictures but inside both eggs where two dead ducklings that looked like the where fully developed when they died inside the shell.  Both eggs where totally intact.  I've been researching online but I am going to ask the breeder if she has some tips I can do next time to improve things.

Still - five out of seven is such a good hatch rate that you can only call it beginners luck!   I got to see three of them hatch out all the way and it was a magical experience.  Those babies are so strong and tough.  All five babies are doing such a good job!  They love to swim and are very vigorous.

They are five days old right now, so they are still very fragile - but I am so excited about having them here.  My plan is to keep them here at our rental for at least the first two weeks.  Then they will transition to the garage here to be watched closely for a few weeks.

Monday, April 24, 2017

::141 and project start::

We closed on our new farm with a conventional loan in November because the original seller didn't want to wait for us to close with a 203K loan.  203K loans usually take "longer" to close than conventional loans - we knew that coming in.  We were told 60-90 days.  It took us 141 days to close on the 203K loan.  We got so much bad advice about this loan.  Our mortgage guy was at best incompetent and at worst shady as hell.  I don't want to dwell on all the bad, I just want to move forward.  I originally wrote this post with a collection of all the many bad things they told us, but it's not worth it to put that kind of negative karma into the air.  It's time to just take the next step and get onto the good stuff.      

And the good stuff should start tomorrow.  I want to be realistic and not over react to the changes that happen as we roll along.  We got so crazy and over the top upset about our loan closing.  I can't have that poison in my heart anymore.  Remaining optimistic when you are really a nature pessimist takes daily disable and I refuse to let this drag me down.  Tomorrow the contractors come in and start the real demo (we let the kids break down a wall just for fun).  I need to keep reminding myself that this is going to be a great little house for us and we have years to get it "perfect".  It doesn't have to all happen in the next three months.  

Another thing I want to remind myself - I naturally want to fill space with too much stuff, but I prefer spaces that are NOT crowded.  I have to make sure that I take some Coco Channel advice when it came to accessories.  I'll put on what ever I want and then remove one thing (maybe two).  

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

::while we wait lets buy some chickens::

Nothing really important to report on the house right now.  We are supposed to close on the financing in about 2-3 weeks.  Once we close my contractor assures me that she is diving in full force.  She is predicting 8 weeks of work!!!  8 weeks?!?!?!?  Can that even be possible?  I feel like it should take way longer, but I have some mad trust in this woman.  Even if it takes 12 weeks that would be us moving in the last week of June.  I can't even cope with that, it is so awesome.  

This is such a dream for me.  We are not wealthy people.  We are not financially perfect in anyway.  We have dealt with some crazy credit debt from our 20's and learning to be frugal in our 30's.  Now we are transitioning into our 40's.  When I interviewed builders about building a custom house they told me we had to put 20% down just to talk about it.  It wasn't something that I felt like we could do quickly.  I thought we had five years or so of me being out of grad school before we could even talk about building or doing a major reno.  This newer 203K loan program makes it possible now for me to get the chance to do such an amazing project. 

BUT - what did we settle for?  We got a smaller house than what we really wanted.  This house will not be larger than our old house - which was on the small side for us.  The new house is 2,000 ft square and will not be getting expanding.  But this house has the kicker of 600 square feet for Josh as his dude room, and about 340 square feet of shed space that we are going to finish for the kids rec room.  Plus the barn space to play in and the green house for me.  It being one story is also good for us in the long run, once we are old we will be glad for the single story.  If you made me take truth serum I would tell you that I always dreamed of that HUGE two story farm house, but this place is going to do right by me.  I just feel so bonded to this place.  It's singing my song.  I know I am going to spend at least the next five years making the outside right, and I look forward to the work.  I have big dreams for this place.  Just wait and see.

While we wait for the farm to get going, spring has arrived.  I LOVE SPRING!!!  I must have babies in spring.  Which can mean all kinds of different things.  This year it means baby poultry.  In January I got 12 chicks, 6 barred rock and 6 americauna (which lay blue eggs).  I was shocked when all 12 lived.  Here they are nine weeks old and doing wonderful.  They have moved from the brooder and into a dog run at our new farm.   Soon we will start on their coop and runs at the new place. 

   Then the boys got me to buy them three baby ducks.  A totally spontaneous buy, but I couldn't help it.  Ducks are my weakness.  I just love them.  The kids named them Rock Jaw Crusher (Quinn), Lego (Max), and Mozzarella (Lily).  

They lived in our rental garage till they where old enough to move into the outdoor pen we have in the back yard of our rental house.  Big thanks to Josh for just building it and not being too mad about the poultry influx.  I am going to buy some of my favorite duck breed, Cayugas, to hatch and love on.  Wait till you see the duck pen I have planned that will drain into the garden.
Then yesterday I lost my mind.  I was in tractor supply to buy feed for every creature and I lost my marbles on 6 new babies.  I had zero intention of buying more chickens.  12 is too many.  Right this second I own 18.  I couldn't help myself.  They had some breeds that I love.  They had some Silkies (which I have always wanted), some Light Brahma, and some Austrolorp.  The only breeds I still want to have now are Black Cooper Maran (lay dark brown eggs) and Olive Eggers (obviously lay green eggs).  Maybe I will still add them after our coop and runs are done.  

Monday, February 20, 2017

::floorplan changes::

Well - we were getting much closer to closing on the financing on this project and we got a little kick in the teeth.  We needed to cut our budget down 25K.  And that was after we had already cut our budget down dramatically.  Something big had to go, and that something was the garage and the playroom (the parts we were building on).  I had to go through the cycles of grief, but really - it is not that big a deal.  We still get a really cool well updated quality house and we spend less money in the process.  I'm over the lack of space and on to the coolness of that space.  When the boys start marching closer toward teen-hood we will make a rec room for them in the barn.  I already have a rocking awesome space picked out and it should be beyond awesome.  We are also going to convert a part of the barn near the house into a 2-3 car garage.  I guess having 12k+ square feet of barn without much of a job yet is a good problem to have.     Here is the old floor plan
New floor plan.  

Note the larger mud room and the improved laundry room.  I feel like this plan is going to work even better for us.  It's even more ergonomic.  Bedroom two looses some space, but with the built in bed going in that room it is still going to be amazing.  I can't wait to post about that.  I have some crazy ideas for that room.    

Here is the new exterior view.  She's still the cutest little house in the land, even if she isn't going to be expanded.   


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