Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Merry Christmas!

We hope that everyone had a very Merry Christmas! We know that we did. Plus it was a whole week of doing absolutely nothing on the house.

Well the beginning of the week we had to take back the new dog. He seems much happier being with multiple dogs so we know that we made the right decision.

We drove up to PA on Wednesday evening and I had my 10 year high school reunion on Thursday. What an experience! There were a lot of people that I hadn't seen since graduation. It's amazing how in high school you could pretty much tell what everyone would do with their lives - for example I knew that Rajeeve would become a doctor and Mark would work with computers. Then there were the surprises - Gabe could either be a bum or do really well for himself (fortunately he did well for himself as an architect). It was great seeing everyone!

We spent Christmas Eve with my extended family. As usual it was very loud and a lot of fun. Now there are several kids in the family so it makes it a lot more fun. Here I am passing out presents.

And of course my Uncle Tom always falls asleep on every holiday - here he is getting some rest near the fireplace.

Christmas morning we opened presents with my immediate family and then headed to Columbus to spend time with Chris' family. While we were there, we went to the Ohio State Rec Center to get some exercise. The kids wanted to play with their new basketballs so we played a very short game. In the process, I jammed my index finger - now it's all bruised and very fat! Hopefully it gets better soon or Chris will be doing all the work on the house.

It was great seeing so many people over the holidays this year. Now it's time to get back to work!

Monday, December 20, 2010

What an Emotional Rollercoaster!

First, the good news – Chris won a major award this weekend! Fortunately for me, this was not in the form of a leg lamp! Awhile back, a local brewpub (Franklin’s) gave away 300 gallons of wort (their kettle broke and they either had to give it away to home brewers or throw it away). We picked up about 13 gallons of it. Chris made two types of stout with it – a sweet stout and a spiced stout.

The brew master at the pub wanted to get everyone together to see the different flavors they could get from the same wort. He made it into a competition and everyone had to judge based loosely on the BJCP criteria (aroma, flavor, mouthfeel, appearance, overall appeal). Out of the entries there were awards for the top three and a “Brewer’s Choice” award. Chris was chosen for the Brewer’s Choice award for his sweet stout! He won a growler, two pint glasses and refills for both the growler and pints. Quite a nice prize for making free beer!

Well, last week we introduced you to our new dog. This week, we experienced a lot of good things and a lot of bad things about him.

The two major problems we’ve been having have been with house breaking him and dealing with a potential abuse problem.

Since we’ve just spent the last year getting rid of the “pee pee soaked” smell on the main level of the house, we didn’t want to start him out on the main level when we’re away. We left him and Tucker in the basement with their big beds for a couple short days at the beginning of the week. Each time, he peed in the basement.

We decided to start with crate training until he learns our schedule. This also did not work – he peed in it two days (which they do not normally do) and destroyed it on Friday.

The other big problem is the potential abuse. We think that in the past, the dog has been abused by a man. Every time Chris scolds the dog with a “NO!,” the dog cowers with his tail between his legs and pees on the floor (or in one case our bed). He doesn’t do this if I do the same things. However, this makes it extremely difficult to correct any bad behavior.

We did so much laundry and cleaned so much of the floor that we were having some serious doubts. We didn’t really have a clue how to proceed and we contacted the rescue organization and told them that we’d have to give him back. Of course we felt so guilty that we went back and forth with this decision many times over the week. Let’s just say that our guilt won and his is currently lying next to Tucker on his bed. We decided to give him another chance and the big test will be when we have to go to work.

Here’s a summary of the roller coaster we’ve been on this week:
Sunday: Left in basement 3 hours – pees and poops
Monday: Left in basement 5 hours – pees in basement; jumps on master bed and pees
Tuesday: Left in crate 5 hours – pees in crate, shreds pillow that was on top of crate
Wednesday: Left in crate 6 hours – pees in crate
Thursday: Left in crate 7 hours – no pee but shreds sheet hanging on top of crate
Friday: Left in crate 3 hours – completely destroys crate and rug underneath
Saturday: Perfect angel
Sunday: Perfect angel (except when he growled and snapped at Chris at 3:00 in the morning!)

Here are some pictures from the week (you can see the “perfect angel” when we’re here and the damage he does when we’re not).

Because we spent so much time on the dog training (or in this case cleaning up after him) we didn’t get a whole lot accomplished this week. Chris did do a lot of work in the half bathroom including finishing the drywall compound, priming the walls, reinforcing the floor, and installing the backer board for the tile.

We know that with Christmas this week, we won’t get anything done on the house. Of course there is always the week between Christmas and New Year’s!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A look back…November

We decided that our house was in good enough shape that we wouldn’t be embarrassed if anyone came to the house so we decided to have a couple parties. Our first party was an open house with the neighbors and the second was with family and friends. In order to get ready for all of that, there were some “small” projects that we had to complete first.

We finally had to finish the staining and polyurethaning the hallway. This required a lot of work and inconvenience. We had to camp out in the living room for a few nights. It’s a great thing to have finished though! Once the floor was finished, we had to paint the ceiling, walls, trim, and doors and install the trim and radiator covers.

The house was full of incredibly dated, ugly, disgusting light fixtures and November was the month to get rid of most of them. We replaced the foyer, dining room, den, bathroom, and medium bedroom lights. Now all the rooms are bright and not cringe inducing.

Just before our housewarming party, we were able to finish most of the den – painting, installing trim and radiator covers. This was the room with the strongest odor of dog urine when we bought the house but now it smells nice and clean!

We also had some exciting unexpected things happen in November. The first was Tucker’s face swelling to twice its normal size. It turned out to be a bruise that became necrotic, turned into an abscess and caused fluid to build up in his face. After the vet drained it, he got to wear the “Red Babushka of Shame.”

The second unexpected thing was a deer dying in the back yard. A group of deer were scared off by Tucker – most cleared the fence, one jumped straight into a tree and broke its neck. Chris went to work and I field dressed my very first deer…in my suburban back yard while a bunch of contractors next door saw me running around covered in blood wielding a hacksaw and knife. My co-workers now call me “deer slayer”, Chris’ family calls me “Sarah Palin,” and my dad made me a “Deer Skinnin” sign. I’m never living this down.

Well, that’s all for our first year of owning a fixer-upper. Hopefully at this time next year the house will be finished! HA!

Friday, December 17, 2010

A look back…October

October was a very busy month. We performed a lot of outside work. My parents and brother came down to help us split logs – we had a ton left from our tree removal earlier in the year.

Our yard has been extremely neglected while we worked inside the house. We finally started clearing out debris (brush, bricks, metal, and garbage). The yard near the garage needed a lot of work before we could grow any grass. We removed roots, tilled the soil, incorporated lime and compost and finally seeded.

The plumber that put in the half bath pipe had cut giant holes in our joists. This is a big structural no-no. My dad and Chris installed a double header and two additional joists to fix the problem. To help prepare this are for work, I cut out a lot of drywall and in the process dropped a full 8 foot sheet on my head – ouch!

We were planning on celebrating our first wedding anniversary in Europe but we never had time to plan the trip. Instead we went to the Finger Lakes in New York – I know you can’t even compare the two but we were glad to get away from the house for awhile.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A look back…September

We “finished” some more rooms in September. We painted the small bedroom, living room, and dining room. This little bit of paint made it look like a whole new house.

We knew from the home inspection that our chimney needed work. So to determine what we would need, we hired a company to clean and inspect our chimney flues. The boiler flue was falling apart and the other two needed to be lined. In addition, we had to get the crown re-pointed, the chimney caps installed properly and get new ducting for the boiler. This cost quite a bit to fix but it was worth it because we know that it was done correctly.

At the end of September, we ran in a relay race from Cumberland, MD to DC with some friends from work. We barely trained for the race but our team still came in third in our division – Go AstroNuts!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A look back…August

Painting walls, ceilings, and doors was how we started the month of August. The master and medium bedrooms were painted and were finally “finished.”

Our awful contractor had installed plumbing for the new location for the half bathroom. He closed it up without getting it inspected and now we know why. When we opened up the wall for the inspection, we saw the way he supported the lines. My dad removed the inadequate supports and built a much sturdier structure.

Our plans for the future involve expanding the bathroom so we needed to remove the linen closet in order to install the floor boards properly. We had removed most of the walls back in February but never completed the job. In order to pass our electrical inspection, we needed to move the wiring and install drywall in that area.

Up to this point in our lives, we had both been living with hand me down furniture. There is nothing wrong with that except that none of our bedroom furniture matched. We searched for a long time to find bedroom furniture. After many stores and Craigslist searches we finally purchased a set. It was off of Craigslist and it was only $600! It is still sitting in our basement waiting to be re-finished.

It was about this time that we moved everything from one half of the house to the other so that we could finish the floors. We were able to stain and polyurethane the dining room, living room, and den. These rooms are very big and took a lot of effort to complete.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A look back…July

July was filled with staining and polyurethaning. We finished the floors in the master and medium bedrooms and half of the hallway. The hall had to be completed half at a time so that we could still get to the bathroom.

We finally took a long break during July. We went backpacking with my family to Pictured Rocks on the upper peninsula of Michigan. It was a wonderful trip – absolutely beautiful weather!