Posts tagged ‘being creative’

March 2, 2016

A Labor of Love aka ‘We can’t let shit go.’

Dealing with all the flooding caused by the City demolishing the house behind Hallie (the duplex we bought from the Landbank in Sept of 2013) had worn us out. I stopped posting about it because it seemed rather hopeless honestly. The more days that past, the more the hard work we had completed was getting ruined. The Land Bank stated we had to prove that they caused the damage and so with that and the fiery motivation that drives me, I set off to jump through some hoops.

After estimates, inspections, our insurance refusing to cover the damage (it was part of the process that was required) and SO MUCH PAPERWORK, we finally met with the City Attorney’s office in May of 2015. It was awkward coming face to face with the Head of the Land Bank, the villain of our story. He kind of reminded me of John Ritter from Three’s Company minus the humor , obviously due to the seriousness of the situation. Both Joel and I agreed though, it was hard to dislike the guy.

I had never felt so much like an adult as I did that day, spouting facts with a cool calmness while assuring the City Attorney that the building could still be saved once the water drained. It was exhilarating and completely freaky all rolled into one. In the end, an agreement was reached.

It was about a month before we received the deed to the adjoining parcel of land where the demolished house had backed up to the yard of the duplex. It was another month before a crew could come out dig up the yard and replace the pipes which did ultimately join the two properties. Another month, for all the water to drain out of the basement and for the house to dry out. Another month after that, dealing with all the electrical getting approved. You get the idea, a lot of time had to go by before it could be worked on again.

I cannot emphasize enough how much Joel completely busted his ass on the upstairs unit. I worked on it here and there, but mostly kept Cam from getting into everything. We did have some help for several weeks, when Joel’s friend, Geoff was in town and was looking to make a little extra money during his stay. (Shout out to you, Geoff!! I was glad I wasn’t helping carry out an original, extremely heavy clawfoot tub!) Our neighbor, Tim was also cool and helped Joel carry in the appliances. (Unfortunately, the new fridge didn’t work and I was helping carry the new one out and a replacement back in.) #agony

Without further ado, here’s the completed 2 bedroom, 1 bath upstairs unit of Hallie.

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August 27, 2015

Arden’s Mom

Owl bag puppet copyYesterday began the 1st day of the new school year.

I was nervous.

And excited.

And it wasn’t even me starting school.

Last year, shortly after Arden started first grade. Picking her up after school one day, she told me that her Art teacher was going to a different school and that she was sad. Upon clarification from her teacher, the students weren’t required to have art all the semesters. The Art teacher would be back at their school mid-January. So in the meantime, the kids would have nothing. Arden looked at me so sad.  Honestly, the thought of school without it devastated me. I realize that sounds dramatic, but as a kid, that was my life. I LIVED for Art class. Each of my teachers were amazing and I loved them. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without their guidance and encouragement. At that moment, I knew I was going to have to do something.

I approached Arden’s teacher with the idea, which she was all for. Lo and behold, I would also be able to bring Cam. I’d like to mention that her teacher had the patience of a saint. With 3 kids of her own and being in her thirteenth year of teaching, she was so laidback, but firm, we couldn’t have gotten any luckier. I walked into the classroom the first day and Arden’s eyes just shown. She could barely contain her excitement. I, on the other hand, was hugely apprehensive. I’m used to just making things with one kid, not 20. I nervously waited for the students to finish their assignment before I launched into what we were going to do. The room was just buzzing!  So many wound up little people, wondering what was happening next. At some point, introductions were made, but the kids paid no mind and simply referred to me as “Arden’s Mom.” A title I’d never thought I’d be so proud of, but has come to completely thrill me to the being of my soul. Mama with feather art head dress copyNative american head dress with feathers and paint tree art copy art turkeys copy

And so, for the next 3 months I came in once a week to do projects with the kids in Arden’s class. I had tons of scrap cardstock that I was finally going to put to good use. Most of the other materials I had on hand and the kids already had glue, scissors and markers. While Arden was a whiz at cutting since she was 3, a lot of them still needed practice. I’d make up templates and have some things made ahead of time, while still leaving them to work on the skills they needed.

Some kids were more than happy to follow my basic instruction, but most often than not, their minds and creativity took over. Everytime, they’d swarm around me like baby ducks, asking for assistance or proudly showing off their work. One boy’s paper bag owl puppet, became a Minecraft-type owl complete with a sword for an arm. One kid, instead of making the porcupine out of toothpicks, asked to make Sonic the Hedgehog out of toothpicks. One girl, no matter what the project, always managed to turn it into something with a dragon. I wasn’t an Art teacher and we weren’t technically in Art class, so why not? We had that freedom.

Then there was Cam. In his carseat, he’d either nap or rock himself. He never cried. Maybe because, at all times, at least 1/3 of the class would be out of their seats to play with the baby. Doing silly stuff to get him to smile or try to feed him a bottle. As time went on and he grew, they delighted in seeing the new things he was able to do. The teacher would remind them to get back in their seats and finish. They would, only to be replaced by new kids eager to make the baby laugh.

My time there went swiftly. Once the actual Art teacher was back, I cried. When I would drop off Arden to her classroom in the morning, I’d still have kids asking when I would be back to teach them Art. I was able to come in a few more times after that, for holiday parties or for science experiments, just so we could have an excuse to make things together and play with a baby.

I think of all this as I drop off Arden yesterday and feel a bit sad. I hope I will have some opportunity to come in and work with this new class. To get to know the kids and see some of the returning ones from last year. Just then, I see Arden’s teacher from last year and ask for a hug, which of course, makes everything better. porcupine from art class mrs uncaphers copy

January 8, 2014

Hallie-the-Duplex : Week 13

Well folks, this is no baby-is-on-the-way post, but I’m a bit behind on Hallie updates and have to play a little catch-up. This particular bit of work took place about the 3rd week of December. Previously, the old tub had been moved out and top layer of flooring got ripped up.

After that, Joel took up a bunch of the hardwood so that all new water pipes and electrical could be installed.

torn up bathroom pipes in floor copy

Here, all the pipes go up the wall for the shower. It’s crazy all the ground work that has to be laid before just putting in a new tub.

wall torn up, pipes put in copy

Once that was all taken care of, the boards went back over and the new tub was put in and we built a wall.

upstairs tub in and wall built copy

I am normally not of fan of making a small space even tinier or blocking out natural light. However, Joel in his infinite wisdom, pointed out that if we don’t frame off the shower, then residents will get water all over the wall, window and floor. You know it’s true. People do some crazy things when it’s not their property. So in an attempt to avoid that sort of damage, up went the wall. It is actually rather easy to built one. A bunch of 2 x 4’s, some drywall and nails and baby, you got yourself a stew! (Sorry, I was feeling a little Carl Weathers from Arrested Development there!)

Anyway, it is not a complete loss of light. It may darken this room a bit, but as you can see by the photo below, the upstairs gets plenty of glorious light. We’ve driven up before and the afternoon sun was casting it’s brilliant rays so dazzlingly inside, it appeared to have all the lights on upstairs. (Which is impossible, because there is no electricity yet.)

bright hall view of hallie copy

To finish up this week, drywall was put up over the holes and the walls were patched.
Not very exciting stuff, but it needs done.

drywall over tub faucet copy

Next post: Mimi comes to visit!!

November 30, 2013

Hallie-the-Duplex : Week 10

In rehabbing, there is A LOT of dirty work. So many individual tasks that join forces to lead up to an actual completed project. Not really fun to do, let alone write about. They are often dull and mundane. One of these is emptying the house of debris. Vines, broken drywall, busted up flooring, a bevy of tires that resided in the basement, all of it must go in order to make room to start fresh. By doing so, we’ve loaded up and disposed of 10 trailer fulls so far. It is definitely the unglamorous side of rehabbing Hallie.

Trailer of trash copy

Another thankless task would be overhauling the sewage drain pipes in the basement. Unfortunately, a toilet doesn’t just get placed in a bathroom and Voilà = usable! There is this enormous cast-iron pipe in the basement, that was (of course) ripped out by scrappers. (Actually 2 of them were.) This one, similar to the water pipe line debacle, was broken off at floor level, making the task of replacing/fixing it a tremendous pain-in-the-ass.

Hallie the Duplex Week 9 sewer pipe copy

See that black square on the wall? It’s the crawl space. It’s dark and creepy and fairly uncomfortable, especially because Joel is not small. He has bravely climbed in there numerous times to repair leaks in that portion of the pipe. Once one was fixed, another one sprung. It’s a vicious cycle.
It’s fair to say that the bathroom we’ve been working on is almost complete, but we have had to keep you in suspense just a bit longer as all the kinks are worked out.

In the meantime, here are photos from the 1st floor living room.

Hallie week 10 living room copy

Halliie week 10 , windows and fireplace copy

You can ponder to yourselves how we will fix this monstrosity. The ceiling damage was caused by a previous burst water pipe, which caved in both this room and a bedroom on the other side of the wall. All the warped flooring (both original and a layer of laminate) has been removed from this room, as well as a small adjoining bedroom to the right and the dining room to the left. It is safe to say that it is already looking a bit better than what this pic shows since this was taken a few weeks ago. I’m really excited about the windows and fireplace in this room and plan on really making them pop. Until then, hope everyone has a great weekend!

November 15, 2013

Hallie-the-Duplex : Week 8

Our first project since moving to the inside, is to get a functioning bathroom. It would just make us feel a little more human and make the whole experience working there just a bit easier. So here we are with the first floor apartment bath. It’s a bit dirty and disheveled to say the least. The shower pipes and faucet were previous taken. The shower especially is a wreck, since they ripped a large hole in the wall (where you can see into the kitchen).

IMAG1144 copy

There’s a lot of mold and mildew in here, so most of the drywall has to go.
All the electrical is extremely old (as in not up to code) and has to be rewired.
We use this as an opportunity to put lights where we want them (like in the ceiling) as opposed to just the little sconces that were previously by the sink.

Hallie the Duplex, Week Joel putting up board copy

Over by the doorway on one strip of wall, there’s a random bit of metal, painted covered tile that has to be removed. We will probably end up mudding over the old, dry adhesive instead of attempting to sand it down.

Hallie the Duplex, Week 8 010 removing tile copy

Here’s the new moisture-resistant dry wall that went up. We will be tiling over it.

Hallie the Duplex, Week 8 0 green wall up copy

Here’s a view of the cement board that went on the floor before it also will get tiled.
There is hardwood through out the entire duplex. After previous owners bought it, they covered it all with cheap Pergo which looked terrible.
Unfortunately, both floorings were destroyed in the downstairs when the pipes burst wracking much of the havoc that you’ll see over the next few weeks. This info was provided by the water company and we are left to assume that the previous owners called it quits after that.

Finally, here’s the new tile that will go in for the bathroom floor. I super love it and it has a great subtle texture. Sort of looks like grey tweed. Getting to pick out the materials is the fun part for me! Seeing it come together is what makes it all so great!

Come back next week to see how it looks in the bathroom. 🙂

Bathroom grey floor tile copy

August 27, 2013

Dude! My kid just started Kindergarten.

I should have been welcoming this, because it’s a much more effective working environment when I’m not being asked 20 million questions a day. If you know me, I do not welcome questions. I need focus and I need to make things happen. I can be amazingly patient unless I give a thoughtful explanation and then get asked the exact same question 5 minutes later. Which of course, happens all the time.

But my sidekick has gone and grown up. Relatively speaking, she’s still small. She just turned 5 last week. I didn’t feel ready to let her go. During the school’s orientation I was highly annoyed listening to the teachers discuss how well kids need to test. It’s upsetting. This is not the kindergarten I know. The world has changed dramatically since I was a kid. We didn’t learn to READ yet. You finger painted, you played, you took naps and made friends. Pre-school is the new kindergarten. There are so many more rules and I don’t know them and it’s weird.

It’s not that I don’t think my child will do well, I totally do. I just miss her saying UP!! at age 1, when she wanted on my lap. Her robotic voice at 2 ½ saying “Pick-you-up?” for when SHE wanted to be picked up. Then there was “I-help-you, Ma-ma. What’s-that-making-sound? Or “NO WANT! Each year more and more personality emerged. She has always been a stinker. Now she has to be a rule follower and my heart aches for her. I don’t want the creativity squelched by memorization. I want her to learn how to grow a garden, to transform trash into something amazing, to figure out new uses for old things instead of always buying new. To learn to sew and bake. To know that being smart doesn’t come from always knowing the answer from a textbook, but instead embracing the world around you and trying to make it better.   

For now though, I will let the teachers do their job. (It’s not like any of them are wanting to rule the kids lives with an iron fist.) And I will keep on being an awesome mama and sharing everything I know.ImageImage

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