Well, all has been quiet on the blog front. This is the result of the following:
- It is end of the year here… and for my job, this means it is crunch time. As we head into finals week the first part of June, we host review sessions after school each day for the last three weeks of sch0ol. So when my day runs from 7:30 – 5:30 at school, I find I cannot get on to post. I cannot even get to the bathroom really.
- It is baseball season, and 2 of the three boys are knee deep in weekly practices and games. And the man about the place is an assistant coach for one of the teams. So weeknights can mean me dashing in, grabbing a bite, throwing some food at the children, although they have usually eaten a PBJ on their own, and dashing off to make a 6 o’clock game with a 5:30 warm-up time. See above. Worlds colliding. Fortunately, most of the baseball burden is on the man’s shoulders, but I have been grading a lot of papers field-side.
- Then there is the tree. We are making progress on clearing it, but slowly. See the above 2 bullets.
- Then there is laundry, dusting, cooking, grocery runs.. normal life stuff, always getting in the way.
- And finally, there is the GRAND PLAN. I have hinted at it before, but now it is time to talk about it more.
When we moved here, 13 years ago this month, we did so planning to tear this house down and build a new one. It was our 2 year plan. But various things have gotten in the way. This house was built in 1914, and remodeled in the 1950’s. The 1950 remodel included putting in the one tiny bathroom on what used to be a porch. And aluminum siding. It did not include rewiring, replumbing, insulating, etc.
So over the years we have come up with plan after plan. We have talked about renovation. But, by the time you replace the copper piping that the hard water keeps pitting, put in a real bathroom, add a laundry room in the house (currently in the shed), update the wiring and make it safe, replace the leaking roof, reinforce the second story floor so it stops bowing when children run around in their rooms, insulate the outer walls, replace the leaking, old windows, you have sunk a small fortune into a house that has 6 1/2 foot ceilings throughout much of it. We cannot install ceiling fans, we have no subfloor, we do not have electrical service in the house that will support washer, dryer and hot water and furnace and air. The house does not have historical charm – there are some things we like, but not worth renovation.
So tearing it down and starting over with something energy efficient, with a bathroom my wheelchair bound mother can actually get into, so that they can actually stay with us when they come to visit, with some storage space, and room to move for 5 people and their teenage friends, has been on the books for the past 13 years.
We first drew our own house plans. But I am not an architect – I know what I want, and how I want it to look, and what I like, but I don’t know how to design a house that doesn’t need huge steel beams to support long spans and how to keep the cost down. So after talking with various professionals about our home drawn plan, we scrapped it.
So then we talked with builders. Builders of McMansions, of green homes, builders we knew others had used and builders whose signs we had seen. Again, it was hard to know what we wanted when we couldn’t really stomp around in a home.. so some of the builders took us into finished places and helped us narrow down what we wanted and needed and yet still, we could not find a perfect fit of what we needed vs cost we could afford vs green qualities we needed… And sometimes it was just tough convincing them that we really didn’t want marble countertops.
There was also the time factor. If we tear down the house, what will we live in while they build? We originally wanted to keep the house and build elsewhere on our property. But our county was requiring we do things to the property as a result that we did not want to do. Like the requirement that we had to let the edge of the pond naturalize. One side of our 4 acre pond is forested. The other side is the side we fish and swim from. What is the point of a pond if you have to have a 15 foot buffer of overgrown shrubs and brush? And there were other issues. So the house is going.
Modular…that appears to be the answer. So we have spent several weekends over the last 6 months traveling to various parts of the state to see modular builders and their model homes. Finally, we could walk around in a floor plan, see what we like and wanted, what felt too big and too small, prioritize and plan. And we have settled on a plan. And I think we have a builder. Now to get the county on board.
The tree falling has actually been a hidden blessing. We had been terribly worried about the construction around that tree.. we would feel terrible if the disruption of construction had killed that tree… now it is gone, it does allow us an easier building area. I would still rather have the tree, but it knew change was in the wind, and bowed out gracefully. With drama, but not too much drama. Just like an old friend would do.
The process is still full of figuring and planning and could come apart at the seams at any moment. So send us good luck vibes, prayers, happy thoughts.. we will take it all. And until then, this is what is going on in the house:
I have started the packing process. A bit early perhaps, but you never know. I am dusting and cleaning and packing away non-essentials. It is the ultimate spring cleaning. Sorting, tossing, streamlining, and packing. Trying to be ready. And if all falls through, well, we had a good clear out. I have started with the books. Vacuuming them off, packing them up, getting the duplicates out.
This is actually a tough process… how do I choose which good friends to keep out for the summer? I don’t. They all get packed. If we are living in a tent for the summer, we need to be very simply. After all, the library has more than enough to keep us busy, so these books can be put away, to be rediscovered in a new room someday.
It has also been fun to rediscover old favorites, and neglected journals. I think I will keep out one journal to document the process and the summer that could be the strangest of our lives.
So if posts seem infrequent, it is because of the list above…or I could just be curled up with a good book I have not read in a while. But hopefully, I will be packing. As you can see, I have plenty to do….
Stay tuned… plans and pictures coming soon. When things are a bit more certain!
Until then, happy Memorial Day to those in the USA. We will be having family time: cleaning up tree, moving perennials in the path of construction, mowing, packing – after the fishing tournament and 3 baseball games – but what a privileged life we lead that we have the freedom to do all these things.