26 July 2015

Basement Refinish

I happened to be thinking about the house we left behind almost six months ago (!) and I realized that I never posted about our basement refinish. We enjoyed the completed space for two of the seven years we lived there; not nearly long enough.

I think part of the reason I didn't post is because it never felt "finished." I meant to do so much more, but then two babies in a year and a half and a major move got in the way.

It was fascinating to watch the space transform from this:
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To this:
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To this:
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For months, our counters were covered with tile and grout and paint and carpet samples. Troy and I surprisingly made a good decision making team despite our very different styles.
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I had big plans to transform the open office space into something sleek and modern, where I could go to feel inspired to design. What actually happened was our black clunky desk got shoved into the corner and stayed that way for two years. However, I loved having a big closet to shelve our printer, kids' crafts, project supplies, etc. The closet wasn't in our original blueprint and I'm so happy we added it in as an afterthought.
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One of the main reasons for the refinish was to add in some extra bedrooms. Our contractor was racing the clock to get it all finished by the time Crew was born. We literally moved Blake's bed downstairs and shuffled all of the sleeping arrangements two days before Crew's arrival.
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I built Blake's headboard in our garage on one of the hottest days of the summer.
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The string art map followed much later, shortly before we moved away.
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We also added a guest room which all of the grandparents sorely miss now that we drastically cut our living space.
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We added in a full bathroom as well. If we were to do it again, we would make some different styling decisions. We got to the point at the end where we just wanted it done and we didn't have time to hum and haw over every little decision. And now that we don't live there any more, I guess those little decisions don't matter one bit.
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I have to admit, I'm getting a little torn up looking through all these photos of our old house. Every room has a hundred memories. I can picture Blake building machines in the open office area. I can see Nash jumping from the highest stair possible onto the beanbag. I can picture Crew tugging at the cords under the desk. I can see Troy relaxing on the guest room bed with his Kindle because it was the coolest room in the house. And I can picture Finn learning to roll over into the boxes as I packed it all up.

Don't get me wrong, we adore our new home and everything our new neighborhood has to offer. But we sure are missing that extra basement square footage.


24 July 2015

Finn | Ten Months

It seems like Finn has been reaching new milestones rather quickly over the last month.

At ten months, he is finally spitting up less and eating more. He only weighs 14 pounds which makes him a little peanut who still fits in six month clothing. But he is the happiest little peanut and I'm sure he'll start packing on some pounds now that he devours everything we put on his tray and keeps it down.

He keeps us on our toes with his lightning fast crawling. I live in constant fear that when I have him trapped in a room upstairs, one of his brothers will open the door and Finn will sneak out and tumble down the stairs.

He joins his brothers in the big bathtub and I actually got rid of our infant tub altogether. I rarely get emotional about eliminating clutter, especially when the item is taking up a significant amount of space. But it was hard to let go of that tiny tub where I gave all of my babies their first baths and hundreds of subsequent baths.

Finn gave up his dream feeding during the middle of the night which I should be happy about since I'm getting more sleep, but the truth is I miss the late night one-on-one snuggle time.

He loves to float in his inflatable raft in the pool, kneel against furniture, climb onto the dishwasher, eat real people food, suck his thumb, sleep in our closet where it is dark and quiet and watch his three older brothers' every move. 
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His poor feet have taken a beating from crawling on every possible surface. I never put shoes on babies during the summer, and even if I did, they would pop right off. But his poor tops of his feet are bleeding and scabbing so I've been trying to allow them to heal with band aids.
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Finn is so laid back and adds so much joy to our family. I'm not even going to think about how many months we have left until his first birthday.


23 July 2015

A Tale of a Dryer

This isn't my typical blog-worthy material, but it consumed so much of my life this month that I felt the need to document.

When we moved to California, we expected to hook up our electric dryer on move-in day. The dryer was a trusty appliance that had dried hundreds of loads of laundry over the years. It coordinated with our washer and was still in mint condition.

We learned immediately that there was a gas-only hook-up in our new home. So, the frantic search began to replace our electric dryer. I wrote about my crazy late night purchase at a random storage unit back here.

Once Troy and I maneuvered the new-to-us (but actually very old) beast up the stairs (and dented and patched some walls in the process), it worked like a charm for several months.

But one day, a ghastly shrieking noise began each time the dryer was running. In the beginning, the shrill sound would only last for a few minutes at the beginning of a cycle. But gradually, the noise starting filling our entire house every minute the dryer was running.

It was so deafening that I couldn't do laundry while babies napped, which is pretty much always. And if our windows were open, our whole street got to enjoy the piercing sound right along with us.

I didn't want to buy another dryer that wouldn't match our washer, let alone move those babies around again. Troy and I decided we'd rather wait and buy a complete coordinating and upgraded set in the future.

So, I watched a few repair tutorials and determined that I could make that horrible sound go away. I was pretty confident I could fix the issue, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I ran into so many setbacks along the way and the entire process stretched out over the duration of about three weeks.

I started by tackling the drum roller which I learned was the most likely culprit of the sound. I ordered a replacement drum roller that fit our model and after a week, it finally arrived. I successfully disassembled the dryer and started the replacement. Of course, I needed a special snap ring plier tool which wasn't exactly in my toolbox. One trip to the hardware store later, I snapped the tiny snap ring off the axel, only to lose it in all of the dryer lint.

I spent two hours searching through the lint for the snap ring. I tilted the dryer in all directions, hoping it would fall out. My last resort was to vacuum up all the debris and search through the contents in the vacuum dustbin. And what do you know, in the very last bit of lint I pulled from the cylinder, the snap ring was found.

Once I replaced the drum roller, I re-weaved the belt and reassembled the entire appliance, only to find that the shrieking was still completely intact. I noticed that there were two drum rollers while I was in there, so I ordered another identical part, paid for more shipping, and waited another week for it to arrive.

The next time I unscrewed dozens of screws to access the dryer innards, I poked around some more to pinpoint where the squeaking was coming from. I replaced the other drum roller without any pieces flying around, but I could tell just from the friction of the drum on the wheels that the squeaking still was not eliminated.

I kicked myself for not thoroughly searching the first time because the sound was clearing coming from the worn out idler pulley. This time, I smartened up and found the replacement part on Amazon Prime so I would only have to wait two days for it to arrive and avoid shipping costs. I don't know why I didn't think of that earlier.

Since the wait was only two days this time, I didn't bother to put the dryer back together just to take it all apart again. Crew thoroughly enjoyed crawling through the "tunnel," or drum, while the dryer remained disassembled.

Who knew that I would become giddy with excitement when the new idler pulley arrived? I replaced the idler arm and wheel and sure enough, once the dryer was put back together, the shrieking stopped altogether.

I put a lot of work into an old dryer that I didn't even like or want in the first place. But once I set my mind to the task, nothing was going to stand in my way until that awful noise was gone. Troy calls me stubborn; I prefer to say determined. Either way, I now know more about the inside of a dryer than I ever cared to learn. And I'm confident that this old appliance still has a lot of life left in it.

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21 July 2015

Normal Friday Night

Sometimes I have still have to pinch myself that we live here and hikes overlooking the ocean are just a normal Friday night.
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Photos can't quite capture just how high up we were and how the panoramic ocean was spread out below us.
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Crew decided to walk the trail which meant I stuck by his side the entire time, worried he might tumble down the unfenced mountain. It also meant my memory card filled up with pictures of just him since the rest of my family was either far ahead of us or far behind us.
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Crew sprinkled sand on a large beetle and then watched it crawl for a good ten minutes. And then he went running back to find it after I thought I convinced him to move on. 
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I didn't mind the distraction one bit since it meant I got to gaze out over the hazy sunset.
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We will definitely be frequenting this place.