Saturday, April 26, 2008

Challenges and Blessings (Again)

Aric has taken to asking Jeremy on a nightly basis, "So, Dad, what was your problem today?" We have had some "problems" with the house recently, but we've also made some progress. At the moment (and probably during most moments for the next 2 months), the quick passing of time is at the forefront of our minds.

It's hard to believe it's almost May! We were hoping to give notice at the beginning of the month and be out of our apartment by the end of May. That may still happen, but we're not sure. This week, the initial plumbing inspection passed (positive). However, the inspector didn't want to do a rough plumbing inspection on all the drain/waste plumbing - he just approved the plumbing that'll be covered by concrete so Jeremy can start covering it up and finish the framing (slightly negative). The plumber we had been working with thought it would be a drain/waste inspection (as did we), so he had filled the pipes up with water up to the rafters. Since that inspection won't be happening until Jeremy is completely done running the Pex lines for the supply plumbing, Jeremy drained that water. He discovered that instead of running into the sewer system as it should, it was just draining into the ground in our backyard (huge negative). Thankfully, even though the work was done prior to our having purchased the house, he was able to get the original contractor to come back out and fix their error within the week (positive, I think!). However, it was a setback in terms of Jeremy's use of time (negative). We also had lots of meetings with potential contractors bidding on upcoming projects (HVAC, insulation, and drywall), so it was a slower week than Jeremy had hoped. We have another setback yet to be resolved in the form of a damp basement wall. We had a french drain installed and all of our exterior basement walls waterproofed, so we're not sure what's going on there. Jeremy's talked to both the excavating/french drain people and the waterproofing people (more time spent not doing what he'd planned). Hopefully they'll be able to come figure out what's gone wrong sometime soon. Jeremy was hoping to have all the Pex run this week, but he was only able to get it about half done. I checked it out today (sans camera, unfortunately) and I'm amazed at the amount he has already done. It looks like an impressive amount of work to me! I'm so thankful he's got such a mechanical mind and can "bang out" projects like this so quickly. I think we're at a point where the glass can be viewed as half-empty or half-full. Even though there have been some set-backs, significant progress is being made. (Way to go, Jeremy!)

In terms of our timeline, Jeremy's upriver until Tuesday night. Then he'll work on finishing out the Pex and the little bit of framing he has left. Then, assuming we resolve the problem with our damp basement wall, we should be ready for the plumbing inspection and structural inspection. We have purchased a heat pump and will need to figure out whether Jeremy's gonna install the ducting or whether we'll contract that out. Once the ductwork is in, it'll just be a matter of insulation and sheetrock and getting the final inspections. Then we'll be to what we keep thinking of as "the easy part" -- the kitchen, the flooring, the painting, the lighting -- the "fun stuff"! We hope these last few steps can go quickly so we can get to the fun part quickly. If we didn't keep having these little hiccups, I'd think it was entirely possible for us to be in by the end of May. As things have been going lately, I'm not so sure. We'll see how far we get during the coming week. If we can wrap up plumbing/framing and get inspections, we'll be doing well. Then if we can figure out HVAC ducting, insulation, and sheetrock before the month is over, we'll be so close. Time will tell and we'll try to keep you all posted.

In other news, Ascha's due date is only 58 days away. She still seems to be doing great. She's very active and at the moment she's fond of stretching her entire 16-inch body out sideways - quite a strange feeling (and strange shaped abdomen!). I don't recall the boys doing a lot of sidways stretching like this - they were more fond of angling their foot into the corner of my ribcage. I'm sure Ascha will do more of that as she grows and has less room to maneuver, but for right now, it's kinda fun and interesting to watch this belly changing shape and moving around so much as she flips and stretches. The boys find it mildly amusing when they're in the right mood. Taylor is actually so excited to meet her and take care of her. He sweetly lays his head on my belly sometimes and talks to her until he feels her moving by his cheek - he said the other day that he heard her swishing around. Aric won't wait for her to move, but every once in a while, he'll catch a movement anyway and that usually makes him smile. He told me yesterday, "Mom, even though I don't like baby girls, I'll be very gentle with Baby Ascha." Nothing like that kind of statement to inspire confidence, huh? This morning at the TBall game, he was sure I ought to unbutton the bottom of my shirt and show off my belly. He didn't understand why that ought to be private and why other people might not want to see a big baby belly hanging out in public at a Tball game, of all places. :-)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Sunny Baseball Pics

Taylor had his turn as catcher. The kids really can't see much with the mask on so they mostly just stand around, and if someone tells them to get a ball they jerk their heads up, down, and all around and usually can't find it anyway. It's a pretty coveted position, though, because what could be cooler than this outfit?

Last post, I wrote about Taylor being tackled by another kid. This game, more and more kids decided to get in on the fun and generally, there was a pile-up on top of any successful fielder. Taylor is at the bottom of this pile, and I love that I captured the action for little number 4. This is pretty much how the kids on our team are approaching "fielding" at the moment. Taylor likes this sort of wrestling/football/baseball hybrid and tried to get in on as much action as possible - he ran after EVERY ball, even if he was by 3rd base and the ball was headed to right field! We had a talk about not doing that any more, and he's going to try to refrain from going out of "his area." Now we just have to figure out how to define "his area" and we might be ok. :-)

Last game, Taylor was the last batter. This time, he was first. He's got running the bases down pretty good. :-)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Taylor's First TBall Game

Last night Taylor had his first game. He did great and seemed to enjoy it ok, given the rain and muck. All three of us were pretty muddy afterwards, thanks mostly to Aric repeatedly trapsing through puddles and slime. Taylor was relatively clean (especially compared to his teammate who fell in the slime in front of the dugout. His entire front, from shoulders to shins, was brown. Poor kid! Taylor had one "fall" but thankfully it was out in the grass so he didn't get too mucky because of it.

[Check out that "ready position"! Maybe a little exaggerated, but so cute!]

He was playing in between the first and second basemen (we have a lot of players and not much outfield, so there are additional players between every standard position) and he fielded the ball. The second baseman (also the coach's son :-) said HE wanted to get the ball 'cuz he hadn't gotten to field it yet. With that brief explanation, he tackled Taylor and tried to wrestle the ball away from him (in all fairness, Taylor and a number of other kids tend to do this to each other in practice, so it was not entirely unexpected or without provocation. :-). The coach, who was right there, took his kid off Taylor and Taylor threw the ball in with a sheepish grin. I think he was pretty pleased that he had managed to hold onto the ball (maybe he's prepping for football in a few years).

Although his form was pretty rough, he did a pretty good job at actually hitting the ball, and since we were the last to arrive, he was the last batter. In tball, they don't keep score and innings go until everyone's had a chance to bat, so every time he batted, he got to run around all the bases at once. I think he enjoyed that.

In the first inning, he took his sweatshirt off to bat and field and wore it while waiting for his turn at bat. I found it amusing that he and the other kid whose dad is from Montana were both in T-shirts. Every other kid was layered warmly. After the first inning, I decided I'd join the "Romans" and had him put his sweatshirt on under his T-shirt. No reason to let my nearly 0% body fat boy get chilled to the bone, but it just doesn't come as naturally to me as to these "wimpy Westerners" (or more sane people, as the case may be. :-) The wet cold out here is so different from the dry Montana cold - even when the temps seem fairly reasonable, if there's any moisture in the air, it feels significantly colder than I think it should.

In other news, the drain plumbing is pretty much finished up. I took pictures, but they're pretty boring and you can't see much, so I decided you should just take my word for it. :-) Jeremy's been upriver, but when he gets back, he'll be running the supply lines and then we'll be quite close to sheetrocking time. We probably want to run our ductwork first, and of course we'll need to wait for inspections before we close things up. We'll also have to insulate all the walls before sheetrock, but really, that's not very much left to do. I'm excited about how close we are getting. We really look forward to moving in and stopping the commuting business we're doing right now. Jeremy commutes up there every day to work on the house when he's not upriver, and the boys and I have T-Ball practices or games twice a week, church on Sunday, and a Bible Study on Tuesday, so usually we're up there at least four times each week. It's about a half-hour drive each way, so it's not too terrible (I keep telling the boys as they whine about time in the car), but it'll be really nice to actually live there and have all of our community events so close! I'm very thankful for the connections that we are making and think that we will really enjoy the community once we settle in a bit.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Great Long Weekend, Stairs, and Other House News

We had a wonderful few days with our friends. Jeremy had a lot of help with modifying the stairs (NOT his favorite project),

installing the last few windows,

and a few other miscellaneous projects. The boys and I had a wonderful time enjoying the company of our great friends. We played and played and played. We played at the parks, read, played games, went to IKEA and library storytime and Sunday School together, and generally had a great time. I think the highlight of our playtimes came during our last full day together. Our friends stayed with us for 3 nights and then at a hotel for 1 night with their younger two (the four biggest kids had a genuine sleepover at our place) and then all six of them stayed at the hotel for the last night. The hotel had a pool, so on our last day together, we took all six of the kids swimming in the afternoon. We had an amazing time. The pool was on the small side and was fairly shallow, so it was perfect for our situation. The hot tub was closed for maintenance, so we didn't have to worry about disrupting anyone's pursuit of more peaceful relaxation. We played and played and played. The 9-month-old (who hadn't napped much) ended up loving the water, and of course all the bigger kids enjoyed it, too. I spent a lot of time catching the kids as they jumped to me in the "deep end." After they were aided in "swimming" back to the steps, they would climb out and hurry back to the end of the line and wait for their turn to jump again. All the kids did great and got more and more brave throughout the afternoon. I was really impressed with Taylor's bravery. He puttered around floating on his back (important side note: lifejackets were worn! ;-) all by himself. Even though the kids both had swimming lessons last fall, the winter out of the water has taken a toll on whatever "skills" they may have acquired. Last time we went to the pool, they were both acting scared of the water and didn't seem to remember anything from their lessons, so I was encouraged to see that, at least in the security of his lifevest, Taylor was comfortable in the water.

It wasn't ALL work and no play for Jeremy, either. He and I got to go out on a date (what a novelty! :-). We went to Gustav's, a local German restaurant that we've always wanted to visit. We each got a sampler plate with six different items, so it was quite a culinary adventure. It was VERY nice to get out by ourselves for a little while - we are so thankful to our friends for keeping the rugrats for us. Jeremy and his friend also took Sunday afternoon off and went to Harbor Freight (a break from Home Depot, anyway :-) and then spent some time relaxing at Borders.

The whole visit was so refreshing for me - it's amazing what a difference it is to hang out IN PERSON with a dear friend rather than on the phone. :-) I also got to do a lot of cooking and baking (I know that sounds really weird, but in lieu of the nesting that I'm not able to do and the scrapbooking I ought to be doing (Aric's baby book has exactly 1 page completed), I'm fulfilling my nesting urge right now by cooking and baking, and it was great to have a large audience so I could bake a bit more than normal. I generally don't allow myself to make a full-sized dessert every day because I'm the one in my family who most loves dessert, so a cake a day isn't exactly beneficial. :-)

Here are the "big kids" hanging out the morning of their sleepover :-)

As far as the house project goes, Jeremy's doing a bit of the drain/waste plumbing and contracting some of it out to save some time. Hopefully, it'll be about done after our subcontractor does his part this weekend. Jeremy spent most of the day yesterday crawling around under the house replacing a smelly, partly clogged kitchen drain/waste pipe. It was not enjoyable in the least, but by the end of the day, he had it replaced with clean new pipes. Hopefully, he'll soon have that line of pipe tied into the washing machine drain pipe and then he'll be done with his portion of drain piping. Next week, if his supplies come in, he'll work on the supply-line plumbing, and I believe we'll be about ready for sheetrock once that job is completed. There are so many small "hiccups" inherent in this type of project that I don't really know a timeline for getting actual walls installed, but I'll try to keep you posted.

A few "miscellaneous projects":

Jeremy has finished furring out the basement walls.

He's also turned an attic access into a great big storage cabinet in our master bath. Eventually we'll have his & hers vanities on either side of this cabinet. It was a great idea (thanks, D!) and I'm thankful to have that added storage - it should be really nice!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

It's Electric! ... and the Arrival of the Third Trimester

We are very happy to announce that the electrical rough-in was completed last week. As always, the next sentence begins, "Now, if we could just get the ______ done, we'd REALLY be making progress!" For this week, you can fill in the blank with "plumbing." Hopefully we can get that project wrapped up fairly soon. Then, we'll be about ready for inspections and, pending approval, for installing sheetrock. Once the walls look like walls, it'll feel a lot more like a house. We're looking forward to that day.

In other news, we're all doing well. This morning, at my 28-week OB appt., the boys got to help use the Doppler to listen to Ascha's heartbeat. Aric got to squeeze a big blob of goo onto the microphone, then Taylor got to put the mic to my belly. He immediately found the heartbeat and we all listened for a while. Then the midwife let each of the boys listen to their own heartbeats. It was a pretty cool morning. The pregnancy still seems to be going along quite well and Ascha is certainly an active little girl! I'm officially entering the third trimester this week. That means that although she's pretty big, she's still got enough room to "wind up" and put a lot of momentum behind her blows! :-)

Jeremy's upriver for a few days, which is always an adjustment when he's been around for a while. We're definitely missing him. He'll hopefully be home sometime around Thursday. When he arrives home, he'll have some extra help on the house for a few days, courtesy of our good friends from Idaho. They are coming for a visit and we are looking forward to having them around for about four full days! Jeremy and my friend's husband will probably be out at the house most of that time, but my dear friend and I will be playing up a storm. (Sorry guys - someone's got to watch the kiddos! :-) We're very thankful the weather report is looking up, because there will be six kids (ages 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and >1) running/crawling around and the apartment might get to feeling awful small. Hopefully we'll get to go on many fun outings, and even if it's rainy, we will have SO much fun with our great friends. It's been too long since we've gotten to play and we love their company!

My time since Jeremy left Saturday night has been mostly spent trying to prepare for company. I have a hard time making my brain function normally right now (I'm really mourning it's loss, and am looking forward to that time, about 1.5 years or so from now, when it will return. I am already missing it sorely!), so thinking through meals and laundry and cleaning takes a lot longer than it should. Whenever I start something, I immediately find myself sidetracked and don't realize until two or three days later that I never actually did the first thing I set out to do. Oh, well. I am my own comic relief most of the time right now.

The boys are doing good. Taylor is in T-Ball so we're commuting to Battle Ground every Wednesday night and Saturday morning for practice. The weather hasn't been particularly conducive to outdoor sports recently, but it's been fun when we actually get to play with the other kids. I'll have to remember my camera one of these days and document the cute little ballplayers.