Monday, September 24, 2012

Baby Goes to the Beach

We took a break from work and the house to enjoy some time at the beach.  This post mostly contains cute baby pictures!

Before we headed for the shore Chris, my dad, and brother poured the footers.  It didn’t take them long and now we’re all set to put the posts in the ground.

When we returned from vacation, my dad helped me apply some waterproofing to the bottoms of the posts.  We know that it’s not necessary but it makes us feel better since they will be in the ground. 

The condo we rented for vacation was right on the beach so we had a nice view from the balcony. 

Samantha loved the water and the sand – and she only tried to eat it a few times! 



One afternoon we went to Assateague and walked on one of the trails.

And of course saw several of the wild horses.

We went on another tour of Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware.  We went five years ago and it has grown so much since then.  I wore Samantha during the tour and her head was on a swivel looking at all the tanks, pipes, etc.  Perhaps we have a future chemical engineer or master brewer on our hands?

In the condo we found some new toys for Samantha and she was very happy to play with them.

We played a lot of miniature golf and Samantha wanted to join in – she wouldn’t let go of the club!

And a few more pictures from the week:


Next weekend is deck building extravaganza – we hope to share a lot of progress!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Footing Inspection Passed!!

After the debacle last weekend with the auger, we were slightly annoyed that we had to dig the holes for the footers by hand.  We had only dug half of the holes over the weekend and we were hoping to get the inspector out this week.

Chris worked Monday night to dig hole number 4 – and after all the work he did that night and over the weekend left him completely exhausted.  So on Tuesday morning (while Samantha napped) I dug hole number 5 and half of hole number 6.  Chris was able to quickly knock out the last half hole that evening.

The inspector came out Thursday morning and gave us the big stamp of approval.  We are so fortunate to have such a great building inspector (some of the others (*cough* electrical *cough*) we’ve had have been less than desirable!). 

On Saturday, Chris, my dad, and my brother poured the footers.  They used 2 full 80 lb bags of concrete per hole for a footing of at least 8" deep.  Now that it's set we can start putting in the posts to get ready for the big "deck building weekend!"  

We harvested Chris’ hops this week.  They grew very large and he’s excited to be brewing with them soon.

 Our food basket this week contained lettuce, kale, leeks, pears, apples, cucumber, potatoes, eggs, green beans, chicken, ribs, bacon, yogurt and bread.  Delicious!

 In addition to the basket, I harvested our beets and carrots from the planters.  I can honestly say that I've never seen either vegetable grow so small!  Chris cut them up and cooked them with the kale so at least they didn't go to waste.

Samantha had a very busy week.  We went to two play dates so she had a lot of fun with other babies.  


She is crawling with much more confidence - she's crawled from the den, through the dining room, and into the kitchen to find Chris.  Most of the time she's crawling just to get to her next toy/favorite pet/parent/etc.


I was looking at our photo albums recently and decided to take a couple pictures to compare looks at this age (Chris' picture is a guess to how old he is there!).  

Tucker is still being very patient with Samantha.  She has learned to be very gentle when trying to pet/play with him.


And we think she's just an all-around cutie!


The next couple weeks are all about the deck.  We look forward to relaxing on it in the fall. 

*Thanks to Megan and Amy for the photos at the play dates!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Can You Dig It?

The deck work has officially commenced.  Our lumber and materials for the deck were delivered on Thursday.  We had 84 Lumber deliver everything.  Before they could unload the lumber (by dumping it off the back of the truck) they had to unload 37 bags of concrete (that’s 2960 lbs – close to 1 ½ tons!).  Fortunately they were nice enough to put it in the garage for us.

There were a few mistakes with some of the hardware (lag screws instead of hex bolts, etc.) so Samantha and I will have to take a little trip over there to get it fixed this week.  But we’re happy to have all the big stuff here.

Using batter boards, mason’s line, and some bright pink spray paint we were able to layout the deck on Sunday.  It took a couple times to get everything square and measured correctly for the outer beam.

We have two beams and three posts per beam in our plan.  The one beam will be 2 ½ feet from the house so the post holes in that row are in the same location as the old back porch.  We dug through the rubble and dirt that were under that porch and we hit concrete – a lot of concrete.   We expected to find footers under the cinder block but we never thought that there would be a slab of concrete.    

One of the neighborhood kids mentioned to Chris awhile ago that there used to be a big hole under the porch.  He thought they were mistaken but I guess the previous owners filled the big hole with concrete.  So in order to dig the holes for the posts we had to either break up a LOT of concrete or move the post about a foot and a half.  Guess which option we chose. 

Once we figured out our new locations for the inner beam, we started digging.  I had rented a power auger to make the hole digging easier.  It sounds good in theory but when we tried…complete failure.  The auger would not go in straight and then if it hit even the smallest rock it would just stop.  We struggled with it for about 1/3 of two different holes before we gave up and started hand digging. 

We finished up three holes (and dug out a lot of big rocks) for the outer beam.  To pass inspection they need to be 30” deep (ridiculous for this area of the country) and they need to be 18 inches in diameter.  These are very big holes!  Once we finish digging, we have to pass the footer inspection before we can start pouring concrete.

In non-deck related happenings, I harvested our basil since it was starting to go.  I cut 7 shopping bags full and we spent a lot of time cutting off the seed pods, washing, drying, and pulling off leaves.  I used the food processor to chop them all up and then froze them into cubes.  The picture below is just the remains (we didn’t remove all the Thai or lime basil). 

Our food basket this week included cantaloupe, corn, apples, green beans, mustard greens, tomatoes, eggplant, pepper and onion sausage, chicken thighs, bread, yogurt and milk. 

The first night I made a great sausage risotto – my first attempt at risotto and it turned out really well.  I think I’ll have to make it again.

We have noticed a lot of bugs and spiders around lately.  The biggest invasion was moths in the bird feeders (we forgot to empty them after the winter).  There were so many moths in the sunroom that Chris hung a fly trap – it worked quite well!

Chris is growing a few grapevines in the back yard.  He was looking at them and noticed that one whole section was missing the leaves.  At first he thought maybe deer but on closer inspection he found this worm.  It was similar to a tomato hornworm but it was larger, purple, and was missing the horn.

Samantha had a big first this week…she pooped on the potty!  I got a book from the library about early potty training and thought we’d give it a try.  I figure that if it doesn’t work then we’re no worse off than if we wait until she’s “ready” (which for some kids is over 3 or 4 years old!).  She did it again this morning so we’re off to a pretty good start.  We’re not pressuring her into it – just sitting her on the potty when the time is right and having fun (playing peek-a-boo, singing songs, etc.).  Of course only time will tell if this works!

She has been doing a little more crawling lately.  She still doesn’t just take off across the room but she does work to get to a toy or something that she wants.  I don’t think it will be very long before she is more adventurous though. 

She also sat up on her own this week.  She only did it twice but she gets very close most of the time by getting up and leaning on one hand. 

She also likes relaxing on her side – this was after her weekly pictures.

And of course the weekly pictures:

We hope that next week we will pass our footing inspection!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Laboring on Labor Day

We got quite a bit accomplished this Labor Day weekend.  It was great to have a long weekend to work!

On Friday afternoon, I took the railing off the back porch to prepare it for demolition on Saturday. 

Friday evening we loaded up the truck with old fence posts, wire fence material, and an old tire.  Chris went to the dump first thing Saturday to get rid of it all.  It’s nice to have it gone.

On the way back home he picked up the “Cadillac of jackhammers” at the rental place.  This is the same jackhammer he used to break up the front sidewalks.  

We plan on keeping the step from the kitchen so he had to spend some time with the saw to score the concrete so that it would break off cleanly.  Once he started with the jackhammer it took a very short amount of time to remove the top slab and stairs. 

Of course I didn’t want him to be burdened with all the work so after lunch I took up the sledge hammer and demolished the cinder block walls that were remaining. 

On Saturday morning Chris removed the rebar and concrete columns.  We still have some rubble to contend with though!

The demolition was not without its casualties.  A piece of material hit Chris’ leg and put a decent gouge in it.  Fortunately the blood makes it look worse that it really was.  I got a huge bump/bruise when I hit the same spot on my leg 3 different times.  The first was when I was pushing the wheelbarrow with rubble and the front hit a hole and stopped abruptly.  The second was when Chris accidentally kicked it on Monday morning.  The third is when a piece of rebar flung back and whacked me. 

 Since Chris was going to the dump anyway, he removed the front porch railing.  It was not really good for anything because the bottom board was not attached.  We used the railing material that was on the back porch to replace it. 

Chris installed the post and a couple railing pieces and I followed up with the remaining railing and balusters.  It’s not perfect but it is sturdier than what was there and it is only temporary.  It was nice to be able to re-use material.

Labor Day weekend also brings along a lot of sales.  We really needed a mattress so we went shopping on Saturday evening.  Mattress shopping is something you have to do so infrequently that your memory of the experience fades by the time you have to do it again. 

We went to four different stores and in each one it felt like we were at a used car lot.  Some of the phrases heard during our trip included “what can we do to get you to buy a mattress right now,” “our competitor is in bankruptcy/court/being investigated/etc.,” “we are the only store that carries this mattress,” “I don’t have the authority to give you a price that low but I can call my manager.” 

We never expected to have to haggle over the price but in the end we got a great mattress (it was delivered on Monday) but we felt very dirty after the experience.  We hope this mattress lasts for the entire 20 year warranty so we don’t have to do this any time soon! 

On Sunday afternoon we went to a friend’s house for a crab boil.  It was very nice to spend some time relaxing.

Our food basket this week contained spare ribs, a whole chicken, sausage, jalapeno peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, zucchini, potatoes, peaches, honeydew, a cucumber, yellow squash, eggs, bread, and milk.  Yummy!

When I was pregnant with Samantha, at the first detailed ultrasound they told us that the umbilical cord had only 2 vessels (it’s supposed to have 3).  They told us that this could cause the baby to be small – nothing else was mentioned about it.  Recently a friend of mine was just talking about all the kidney testing her son had to go through because he had a 2-vessel cord.  Of course I had to ask her about it and then asked our pediatrician at the 6 month checkup. 

The pediatrician told us that it was not in the paperwork at all but that she did need to have an ultrasound of her kidneys.  I took her to the diagnostic imaging area at the hospital on Wednesday.  She was great – very little squirming and I think she really enjoyed watching the screen showing her kidneys and bladder!  We got the results today and everything is normal (thank goodness!).

She continues to thrive.  We went to our second Music Together class on Friday and she had a great time – constantly smiling, squealing, and laughing. 

She is trying to learn everything she can about home improvement projects.  While one of us was working outside this weekend, she wanted to be watching what we were doing.  She’s quite the spectator…or maybe a tough supervisor? 

Trying new food is always fun.  She’s eating more green vegetables and seems to like everything we’ve given her (except plain grains – but who really likes grain with no flavor?).  She likes to try to feed herself (and sometimes is double fisting!). 

She is showing her independence by wanting to do things on her own.  Any time we give her a bottle she wants to hold it all by herself – and even pushes away your hand if you try to help.

I did catch her misbehaving while I was trying to get her down for a nap.  She reached out of the crib, grabbed the curtain, and pulled it inside as far as it would go.  Of course now the curtain is definitely out of reach!

Here are her weekly photos:

We have a busy week coming up with deck work and deliveries.  Wish us luck!