Thursday, August 21, 2014

mark the mason

Mark Weaver of Mark's Masonry in Grafton did a great job on bricking in the upstairs door frame and the complete removal of the chimney. It was a very reassuring to us that the mason Dennis referred us to already knew about our leaning chimney from the grade A contractor we recieved a quote from on the entire roof job. Said contractor had already contacted Mark to see about subcontracting the job. While we could in no way afford the contractor, we were happy to hire Mark.
He is an older gentleman who comes in a huge shiny black dually with a huge golden retriever in the passenger seat. Mark used the bricks from the chimney for the door frame and did such a great job you can barely tell the door was there. He even left a stack of bricks neatly on the side of the house and told me to call him when I was ready to have the milk box bricked up. I love the milk box, but if I ever change my mind I will call him.
First picture taken immediately after chimney removal but before new roof.

After new roof. My fears of the thousand pound chimney collapsing are long forgotten.

Monday, August 18, 2014

my "old" man

(This post is in honor if my sweet father. The best compliment my mother gives me is when she laments, "You're exactly like your father!" I am so blessed to still have him here even if he is usually all the way down in The Villages, FL, that den of iniquity. He planned to assist us all summer long on our rehab but it didn't quite work out as planned when my mother dislocated her hip.)

My old man can wear a dust mask and frighten his granddaughter.
My old man can pick out wood that is straight with few knots.
My old man knows how to drill out a lock set with stripped heads.
My old man can parallel park a 12ft trailer.
My old man asks when he needs advice regarding tacking baseboards to structural terracotta.
My old man is particular about baseboards being plumb.
My old man can cart his youngest grandson to his baseball games and keep meticulous score.
My old man can fund a roof project.

My old man CAN NOT lift an 800 pound furnace and load it into a trailer.
My old man will not sand lead paint.

My old man will drop everything when his partner of 45 plus years needs him by her side.

I love you Dad.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

freezer meal exchange group experiment, or if I ever see another stuffed shell it will be too soon.

My darling husband nominated me for a freezer meal group starting up among his fellow school teachers. I'm not sure this makes much sense as he and a couple of our children are super picky and don't eat any vegetables. Most freezer meals are casserole or slow cooker type with everything put in the container already. But I'll try almost anything once.
So this time I am doing Thanksgiving Shells.

Recipe to follow. Makes approximately 40 shells. So I had to do this THREE times.
15 lb turkey or 2 rotisserie chickens (deboned/deskinned/cooked)
2 boxes of corresponding stuffing prepared as directed
4 roast potatoes
1 cup chicken broth
1 box cooked jumbo shells prepared as directed

To make: mix chopped meat, stuffing, diced roast potatoes, and broth in LARGE pan (I used large roasting pan.) Stuff shells to overflowing. Place shells on cookie sheet so they are not touching and cover with wax paper. Freeze then place 8 each into 5 Ziploc bags.

To serve: place shells in an 8x8 ovenproof dish. Spoon store bought gravy on top of shells. Seal tightly with foil. Bake at 350 degrees until hot. Serve with a side of green beans or corn and a big green salad.

Friday, July 11, 2014

nursing is going goodbye

I just nursed my sweet girl to sleep for what is likely the last time. Nighttime nursies have been few and far between and we'll be apart for five days next week while she spends some time out on the farm.
My sweet bold confident girl, I am so thankful to be your Mommy.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

the mission team, or why you should look a gift horse in the mouth

A few months back, I was told we had the opportunity to have a mission team come work on our house for a week. After much hemming and hawing and discussion and planning and figuring and collection, they have started their work today. They are supposed to be here 3 days this week and the project is the garage roof.
We have about 5 weeks til move in and still a mountain of work. Kevin wanted them to help with the inside of the house to help us meet our deadline but we were told it was a roofing crew and the only thing they could do was roofs. He went over to meet them this morning and our roofing crew is 2 guys who seem to know what they are doing and...8 high school girls. 8 high school girls who have been putting in roofs for "years".
Sigh, Kevin is slightly frustrated.
The weather today has not been the greatest for roofing. 2 short torrential downpours. And guess what? They are now helping with paint prep. They should not discount them because they are young. Their skills do stretch beyond roofing.
I am grateful to these young ladies who have sacrificed a small portion of their summer to help a stranger.
Now I have to pick a paint a hurry. But I have to do it carefully because I will likely be looking at it for the next 10 years.
What do you think of this?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

abc windows and more

26 windows were replaced at the beginning of April. 
26 times the cost of one custom made pop in replacement double hung window is...a lot. 

Overall ABC Windows and More gets high marks. It's not their fault it's difficult to caulk neatly between vinyl and brick. However, the mystery of the window weights lingers. Those sell easily for $10 a piece and supposedly ours were cut off and sealed into the walls. 

Hmmmm, 26 windows times 2 times 10 is...a lot.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

roof weekend

Exposed rafters
Tom wields the shop vac

New wood over the mud room

Kevin briefly considers a skylight

Dumpster: no household items permitted

Littles plus Bosco driving over to check out the progress

More new wood going up

Uncle Dick and Lukey Dukey were a huge help.

Container filling up.

So thrilled with the color choice!

God has blessed us with some amazing men in our life. These guys basically gave up their entire Father's Day weekend to help put a roof on our house. We are deeply grateful.

Friday, June 13, 2014

roof prep

Arrange delivery of 20 ft pallet full of roofing materials. Check.

Order materials needed for adding a ball to the hitch mount on the Outlook so we can pull a trailer with lumber and a very large tool. Complete in-store pickup at 9:30 pm with tired 2 year old in tow. Check.

Delegate lumber list to knowledgeable male who is capable of choosing straight boards with few knots. Check. 

Research dumpster prices, find a great deal, pay for and schedule drop of 30 yard roll off. Check.

Locate a 12 foot utility trailer to rent for 3 days, drive to Brookpark, debate adding insurance, add insurance, drive home with trailer. Check.

Reserve a very large tool called a siding break. Delegate getting this picked up. Check.

Clean coolers, purchase water and ice. Plan how to keep workers in food and drink. Check.

Oh, also (in the very same week) provide high quality childcare to all your clients, live through your parents relocation to your own front room for a two month duration, and help your daughter plan her wedding. Check. Check. Check.

Yes, it's been a busy week. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

hope house

Our new brick home is a cosmetic gem. It was built in the early 1900's of structural clay tile with brick veneer. It is filled with period details like built in corner cabinets, a milk chute, hardwood floors, a bedroom fireplace, and a built in gun safe in the coat closet off the foyer.
We loved it before we even knew about the grape vine covered pergola, the water garden, the strawberry patch, the peonies, the clematis or the fruit trees that produce with abandon.
We loved it before we knew how kind and helpful the neighbors were, even the one named Thor.
And even though mechanically everything is a disaster, we still love it. 
We need or have already replaced: gas lines, roofing, plumbing, HVAC, and electrical throughout.  We have also gutted the kitchen and bathrooms. 
We have neither money to pay skilled laborers to repair these things nor the knowledge to complete these tasks ourselves so we are dependent. Dependent on the assistance of God's people. Watch what happens.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Today the garbage men refused our refuse.

Call the whaaaaaambulance!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

work day number one

Work day session one was held last Saturday. We are so thankful to everyone who came out to help.

First thing in the morning the kitchen ceiling came down as Kevin waited for Cameron to arrive with his pickup truck. They made two trips to the scrapyard. The three large cast iron radiators, the boiler, the water heater, range hood, and some miscellaneous steel are all gone.
Sweeping up kitchen ceiling debris
Not really Cam but as usual, I missed a photo op

You know your friends really love you when they spend their Saturdays scraping loose paint off your basement walls. These ladies went home with a little something extra in their bras at the end of the day and they left my heart full. 

Baseboard heater with years of misc. small crap in it

The rest of the baseboard heaters were disconnected. The heater bordering the checkerboard floor was the type found in the rear addition. These are newer and made of copper with aluminum fins. These were easy to remove once you used the copper cutter to slice into the pipe near the floor.

This heater is completely made of cast iron. I didn't realize it would be so heavy until it fell onto my good knee with a BAM once I separated the pipe. Some screaming entailed but no one came to the rescue. Kevin has made a new friend in Mark who runs the scrapyard. Friend may be the wrong word because even though Mark wanted to make sure Emma's fiancé was employed, he did threaten to sic the dog on him if he returned to close to closing. So the baseboard heaters lie in wait.

Keeping the tub
Our nephew Abe came and made quick work of the bathroom. He and his two boys pulled up two floors and pulled down at least 3 levels of tub surround to reveal this beautiful window. 

The grapevines were cut off the gutters, fence and electric wires. A trench was dug to bury conduit for the garage electricity. Trees were identified(thank you Sharon) and pruned. 4 large brown bags of yard waste were collected. Bricks were pulled out of landscaping. A vinyl floor was ripped out if the first floor bedroom. A mailbox was repaired. 

Our roofing materials have been paid for at Willoughby Supply so once the weather clears our main roof should be replaced. We also signed a contract for 26 new windows which should be installed in May.

Still much to do...

All in a good day's work. Post work day family dinner enjoyed at The Unicorn in Grafton. I had wine.

Friday, April 11, 2014


How do 2 weary parents and one 8 year old move a 600lb 3 bay concrete utility sink out of a basement? 

One garbage bag at a time after Dad smashes it with a sledgehammer.

But there is nothing we can do on our own about this leaning tower of a chimney.

Calling in the experts for this one.

Monday, April 7, 2014

a house grows in south lorain

I don't remember a lot about my house in Brooklyn on E. 37th St. The few vague memories that I do have were formed during the summers that we returned to visit my mother's sister. I remember the heat, the rolling blackouts, the noise and the temple a few doors down with the imposing iron gate, but it was never really a home to me.

The majority of my first six years were spent in Westlake in a tiny yellow house on Hall Drive. I became a big sister in the yellow house. We had a fruitful pear tree out front. I nearly met my death when I choked on a lifesaver in the driveway. Once my dad caught a gigantic rat in the crawlspace and somehow convinced my mother it was a mouse. 

I was too young to comprehend exactly what it was that moving meant. I remember that I cried the day we left. My dad asked me why? But the only thing my six year year old self could express was that I would miss the pear tree I happened to be standing under. He promised me a new pear tree before loading us all into his Plymouth and heading out.

That house and those memories were soon left in my past with all of the excitement and adventure waiting for me at the almost new, big white house in a neighboring suburb. We moved in in 1975 and that house remained my home and my home away from home until my parents sold it to a friend 2002. Even though things are different, I love being able to stop by and reminisce.

Well, the time has come to move again. We are relocating to a new old house that is a better fit for a teachers salary. ( It is also so much close to Kevin's work and closer to the population of clients I serve in my home childcare. 

We have been actively searching and bidding on foreclosed homes for about 2 years. Fortunately, we were outbid on every one until we found our gem. An all brick, 4 bedroom colonial with an open floor plan. It even has a grape arbor, water garden, AND...a pear tree! We closed on it late last month and had hoped to get moving with a few repairs and be in by June. That plan hit a snag when the water department arrived and turned on the main. Soon after they left it started raining in the kitchen.

I called my very good friend, fellow loss mom and prayer partner Cass. I was lost. This home had been prayed for and prayed over by so many people. This home was going to be a place of ministry. Ministry to our life group and ministry to low income families in the neighborhood. Ministry to my husband's student runners. And now it was raining in the kitchen.

Cass lives not far away(location, location, location) so she arrived promptly and brought her pastor/tire salesman/hvac tech/all around handy husband with her. He is the kind of husband you would want on a desert island. It didn't take long for him to break it to me very gently that we had bought a money pit.
(To be continued I promise.)