Monday, September 26, 2011

Some fabulous curb-appeal

Project #5 Ever since I learned about Liriope from my mom, I've been a little obsessed with it.
It's a variety of plants that I guess you could call "decorative grass" as it's a clumpy sort of thing with grass-like leaves of varying colors and patterns. Well, it turns out I have a bunch of this stuff in my yard and of all the plants that appear to be "landscaped in" at some point in the history of my house, they seem to be the heartiest as they seem to like growing just about anywhere in any conditions. A while back, Brad and I transplanted a bunch of these from the backyard to line our front porch with. Since learning about their hearty quality, I have been mulling over the idea of transplanting the rest of them from the back yard into a more landscaped setting. Specifically, I wanted to move them to the side yard bed which before was a dirt patch full of weeds and a couple small bushes. When my sister came to visit this past weekend I decided it was the perfect project to put her to work with. It's funny that every time a family member on my side visits, they get a project. Maybe that's why they don't visit often. =) Actually, I think they prefer it that way.  So Sarah (my sister) and I transformed this once forgotten and forlorn plot of dirt into a lovely and hearty and pretty much maintenance free curb appeal.
I wish I had taken before pictures but here's a kind of before in which Sarah and I were weeding the patch first.

And here's the after picture.

Once we had transplanted everything, I bought a bunch of mulch from Lowe's to make it all purty-like and also to help manage the weeds that are sure to grow in the future. I have a LOT of varieties of this liriope in my yard spread everywhere so this patch is quite a sampling. I also worked on getting those 10x10 border beams into a straight line instead of looking like they were just thrown on the ground (which is how they looked before).

Project #6
This is kind of a big one and ongoing. It involves a little packing, a little storing, and a lot of purging. Since we will be moving to ND to probably a smaller and possibly already furnished space, I have been whittling down what I think I will be bringing. Everything else is being put in the attic. The attic, consequently, is being gone through and stuff that is inevitably in storage for the duration of it's life is either being thrown away or donated to a yard sale which will happen and Novan and Beya's school (ABC of NC) for a fundraiser. Other items, which might possibly be of worth to the right person is going to be put on Craig's list. Purging is one of my favorite things to do. I just love getting rid of things. Except for stuff in my fridge apparently. Brad could tell you all about the crazy mold and fungus I've grown in there over the years. Anyway, I have loved going through things and getting rid of so much of it. A lot of the stuff I've forgotten I even had which is an excellent excuse to get rid of it. I think I'm going to single-handedly stock this yard sale. Packing is happening slowly as I mull over the necessity of everything. Almost all of my decorative items are being stored along with photo albums, pictures, and almost ALL of our HUGE book collection. My downstairs and upstairs is kind of turned upside-down at the moment but I actually have accomplished over half of these packing, purging, donating, bringing tasks. No picture. That would be boring.

Project # 7
Electrical Work. We had some odds and ends that needed tying up. I'll spare you the details. The most interesting part was getting a new ceiling fan in the kid's room. Obviously my part was picking out a ceiling fan and then buying all the things I needed for the other electrical odd jobs. Fortunately Shane Burgess from church did the electrical work for me for a reasonable price. Here's a pic of the fan. I know it's probably not that interesting to you but it just looks sooo much better than the piece of junk that was there before.

Huh... I wonder who's yard THAT is? I thought it was so nice that it deserved a close-up.

I'm kind of in love with this grass. I go outside just to look at it sometimes... mostly because it just keeps seems to be getting thicker and thicker with each passing hour. I'm feeling pretty triumphant... and possibly a little too prideful. I should probably go repent now.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

So many projects!

Melissa suggested I should post pictures of my porch handiwork and I figured the only thing that was going to be happening in my life in the next couple months is whatever project is occupying me and my daily thoughts are probably going to be about whatever the next project is. Well I strive to be a capable person and I think that I might like to show off what I've done. I probably won't take pictures of EVERYTHING though because some of it is mundane such as touching up paint. Who wants to see pictures of that? Not me. I don't even want to take pictures of something that boring.

Project #1 was actually touching up trim paint around the house, which I've done, for the most part, except for places behind heavy furniture I haven't gotten to yet. I finally got around to painting over the primer white shoe mold in my kitchen which actually gave it some pep and I was impressed. I painted the window trim in the kitchen which had previously only been primered... shhh! I don't think anyone ever noticed that. I also painted the front and back doors (inside) because you know, of all the things in your house, doors seem to take the worst hit with hand prints and general staining. Sometimes its just easier to paint over than clean, ya know?

Project #2 The porch floor. I might remind you that my porch was 100% replaced almost 2 years ago. We primered and painted the flooring (which is a tongue and groove type flooring in trying to keep with the original concept of the 1920s when it was built) at that time. It started to chip within a couple of months so we painted it AGAIN. Then it started chipping again some time after that. And before you ask, we bought floor grade latex paint so it was SUPPOSED to hold up to foot traffic. Not so!
So the question had become what the heck we were going to do about it. I had originally wanted to paint an oil based paint over it. I don't know. Oil-based, in theory seems like sturdier stuff. The Lowes guy convinced us that the best course of action was to strip the latex paint off of it and put down a stain. So I KNEW how difficult stripping could be and I told Brad, under no circumstances am I going to strip that thing by myself. Brad, having no experience with stripping, thought "Oh sure, I'll help! It will be a piece of cake!" Well I think he gets it now. It became clear, rather quickly, that it was NOT going to be an easy job. Fortunately, my mom came into town in the early stages of the project and pretty much took over the project with my occasional help. She got all the right tools and perfected a method that got all the paint off while, when Brad and I did it, we stripped most of the paint and sanded off the rest. So here's the finished product, after I put 2 coats of stain on it. I realize it looks like paint but its a very opaque stain. And I didn't get a picture right after so it's dirty from traffic while I was in the middle of project #3 which I'll show you next.

Project #3 The gutter downspouts. Long story short, I buried piping that led from the gutter downspout to the hole in the retaining wall around our front yard so gutter water can easily get to the street. Fortunately, the trench for the piping was mostly dug from like a year ago but I had to use a hacksaw to shorten the gutter downspout and the piping and then dig up packed down dirt to bury the pipe. Not much to see but this is after I buried it, plus the picture will give you an idea of what the yard looks like after project #4.

Project #4 I think it's a man thing to want grass because Brad has been trying for years to get grass to grow on our front yard. His method has pretty much been the same, throw seed down and water it. We had the argument over and over that I didn't think grass was ever going to grow because the dirt is packed down and seed is just washing down the hill. Since I took the project over I got some straw to put over the seed to hold in moisture and hopefully prevent some of the seed from washing away. Plus, despite the fact that I hate watering, I've been watering it daily. So the outcome of this project remains to be seen.

Oh and as she makes a sneak appearance in the picture for project #2, I thought you might like to see my most important and ongoing project.
Novan and Beya are in school for 6 hours a day and Iyov is always somewhere trying his best to stay in trouble. Keshet prefers to watch me... at least I hope she does as she doesn't have much choice. She spends her waking hours observing my projects so I guess you could call her my foreman, or forewoman, or maybe just forebaby. So cute!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Doing what it takes

One of my favorite qualities about Brad is that he is willing to do whatever it takes. I suppose the term is "tenacity" and it's no ordinary commitment he has to our family. It's more than working long hours or sleeping little. Brad's willing to look like an idiot, venture into the unknown, endure physical and emotional stress, and everything in between. I've never in my life known anyone who will go to such extremes as he will.
Brad was watching a special on CNBC about North Dakota and how it has 0 unemployment, how there are plenty of jobs, how there's nowhere to live because housing can't be built fast enough, and how salaries are incredibly competitive due to a large oil find in Bakken shale around Williston, ND. We began to consider our current financial situation... the same situation we always seem to be in, and how it would be really nice to have a cush JOB working for the man and paying off some massive debt we've accrued. Even in a seemingly forsaken place like ND, where it apparently gets 20 below zero (I don't even know how to imagine that), we would be willing to live for a period of time if we could just stop worrying about our bills so much every month. You get tired of it, you know? Considering how the stock market has recently given our income a downturn, it seemed somewhat like a call to action-- drastic action.
And so my DH, being the amazing man that he is, who is always up for any challenge, is off to ND, to seek our fortune (so to speak). It feels kind of like we are prospectors looking to find our fortune in the gold rush. I have been feeling a strange urge to don a bonnet, petticoat, and possibly pull a handcart ;-) So in the last few weeks, as we've been preparing for his departure, I've been resume tweaking, making home repair lists, and mentally preparing my children for their father's imminent departure. Not to mention undertaking some projects... like stripping and staining my front porch (I owe my mom BIG for helping me out on that project. I LOVE having such a capable mother).
People, who have known that Brad is leaving, have been asking me what the plan is, ie, where we will live, how long we'll be separated, what his job will be, where he will stay in the interim, etc. Well I just don't know. You may not believe me but it is IMPOSSIBLE to get a reservation at a hotel in Williston, ND. There is such a huge influx of people that the hotels stay booked as people are living there and paying 150$+ per night. There are man camps... tents, RVs, etc where the excess stay and my DH will most likely be in his car until he actually accepts a job offer. He actually has already gotten a job offer (which includes housing arrangements among other tantalizing bonuses) but we plan to see what else is available, in person, before accepting any job. Once he has a job, I will be working like a mad woman, trying to get our house ready to rent and then myself and the kids will be following Brad out there.
We are hoping that we will only be there 3 years max because, let's face it, working in oil drilling just isn't Brad's dream job and our agreement, when we decided to do this, was to do everything we could to keep Magnum Opus Financial alive in the meantime. We now even have a full-time employee to man the ropes during the trading day. Brad is good at that, and he loves it (most of the time) and it's extremely important to me that he has a career that makes him feel fulfilled.
So there you have it. Another crazy Kelly adventure. I'm pretty sure I'm going to write an autobiography one day. Every time I think about our life thus far, I think we must be nuts. But hopefully it means we just have a lot of faith, a lot of that "enduring to the end" stuff we hear about in church so much.
Today was a sad day though. Beya summed it up in the following picture that she drew of herself "sad because Dad left." Notice the very sad looking face.

Of all of my children, I worry about Novan the most. He gets the most bent out of shape when things change and especially when Dad isn't around. The following picture pretty much demonstrates his thoughts on the day:

One person seemed rather unaffected, at least (other than Keshet who was sleeping the whole time). Or maybe it was because he thought he could stow away. Either way, it's hard to be sad with this smile around.

Me? Well, I might LOOK like I'm taking it all in stride, but I was pretty much aching inside. It sucked. Big time. It pretty much gave me a new appreciation for military husbands who are deployed 18 months at a time. At least my husband won't be shot at... and something has gone terribly wrong if I have to wait 18 months before I see him again. So I suppose it could be worse. But it was still pretty awful. I am so fortunate though, to have a husband who will do whatever it takes. I seriously love this guy.