24 June 2010

Trimmer giveaway at This D*mn House

In honor of her (adorable) pup's 13th birthday, NV over at This D*mn House is giving away a Black and Decker lawn trimmer. She wrote a great - and honest! - review about it on her blog and is now offering one up to one of her readers. I've been a follower of her blog for close to a year and always look forward to her house projects. I don't hate yardwork nearly as much as she does, but any product that makes it go faster is alright in my book. To enter, just leave a comment on the giveaway post. But if you heard about it here and end up winning, at least let me borrow it sometimes, k?

Ode to my mom

Clara has been sick the past few days (nothing serious, but enough to make her want to be held and comforted more than usual), so I've neglected the blog a bit. I wanted to mention all the AWESOME help my mom provided while she was visiting her newest grandbaby. I had spent my last week of pregnancy ripping out more of the subfloor in the kitchen area, and she and Tom were able to lay down several sheets of OSB to cover the holes. There's still more to be done, but it's much safer now to walk around downstairs.

Basement skylight = greatly reduced.

We also picked up a sink base cabinet and have a temporary countertop set up for food prep. We still haven't installed the sink, but that should be happening pretty soon (I wanted to wait until I got the garbage disposal and under-sink water filter in-hand for installation all at once. We're washing dishes in a bucket right now, camp-style).

One lonely cabinet.

We hauled up the kitchen table and chairs out of the basement, gave them a good scrub-down, and now we have someplace to eat breakfast and dinner. At least in theory; it's mostly covered in mail and paperwork right now.

Okay, so I was ashamed of the mess and cleared it off for the picture.

Mom also bought some ferns to hang on the front porch to make our home look occupied. Happily, I haven't killed them yet. Yes, Mom, I'm watering and rotating them as promised. She spent hours and hours pulling weeds in the yard and edging the front sidewalk while I lounged lazily in bed with the baby.

The flowers on the steps were a gift from the neighbors.

She also helped me get started on hanging blinds downstairs. I got the cheapest blinds available (less than $5 each at Lowe's) because these are not permanent. Our insurance company wanted us to cover the windows downstairs until the house is completed; and though mini-blinds aren't really my style, it was the most cost-effective solution. They're not quite long enough for our 6'6" windows, but we didn't want to spend the extra $15 per blind for the longer length. That may have been reasonable for 1 or 2 blinds, but we had 11 to hang. It is much darker downstairs now, which is a good thing with the heat we've been having.

Not quite full length.

She also did lots of general clean-up and organization around the house, including putting together a mostly functional kitchen. Perhaps the most important thing she did was to help me learn how to care for a new baby. I've been babysitting since I was 12 and thought I was familiar with babies, but I've never been responsible for anyone under 3 months old. My mom had six kids of her own and now six grandkids, so she's an expert at all things baby. Those first few nights at home were a little rough, and she helped me decipher all the baby cries and fussiness. And after feedings during the night, she'd stay up and burp Clara so that I could get some sleep.

Thanks, Mom.

17 June 2010

A/C update

The guy that originally installed our HVAC last year says he'll be able to replace just the coils for the outside units rather than replacing the entire thing. Fortunately, the compressors and electrical components - which make up a considerable amount of the cost of the unit - are still in good shape and were probably not harmed by the thieves. He was supposed to price out the parts today and give us an estimate tomorrow. I'm sure it will be considerably less than the $3850 that the other contractor quoted. Having to pay anything at all is not ideal, but our insurance doesn't cover it. (Since our house is incomplete, traditional insurance companies will not insure us. We have a government-underwritten plan called the Ohio FAIR plan, but it doesn't cover theft.)

To prevent this from happening again, we've talked about different security measures we can implement. Our former insurance agent, who now owns his own security-system company, dropped by the house yesterday and said that it would be easy enough to hook up the air conditioner to the house system. We also talked about setting up cameras for the side yard and alley. We might still do one of those, but neither would necessarily prevent another theft, only make it easier to catch the thieves. Tom found this product that seems to be a pretty economical solution.

Provided that it does what it claims, a couple of hundred bucks is a small price to protect our investment.

08 June 2010


We finally got appointments set up for today for our roof and air conditioning to be repaired (we noticed last week that the condensing units outside weren't coming on; 41 weeks pregnant and 90-degree heat don't go together very well). Apparently whoever replaced the roof on the house in 2004 reused the old flashing around the chimneys, and it must have gotten blown off or damaged by a windstorm recently. The repair will cost just under $600. We're OK with that.

The air conditioner is another story. When we were investigating for ourselves why the condensers weren't kicking on, we noticed that the refrigerant line was pinched like someone had tried to cut it. We were thankful that it otherwise was intact - just solder on a small piece of copper tubing to replace the damaged part and call it a day. When the air conditioning guy showed up this morning, however, this is what we found:

Both of the condensing units were completely stripped. We filed a police report but they didn't seem optimistic about ever finding out who did it. The officer said that if they catch a person in the act, they'll often confess to all the thefts they've committed as part of a plea. Even if our address is mentioned, we have little hope of ever getting any money out of them. I guess this happens around here all the time. In fact, there's a law office behind our house whose air conditioner is surrounded by a tall chain-link fence topped with barbed wire because of a previous theft. And Tom's brother has a rental property that was stripped of all its copper over the weekend, too.

After we filed the police report, I went to the local scrapyard to see if they could help. Unfortunately, they get dozens of these things in on a daily basis. We filled out a standard form, but they seemed unable or unwilling to really do anything about it. It seems like 2 brand-new, identical coil assemblies being brought in as scrap would be cause for alarm, but they'll buy them anyway. Cost of replacement for the condensers (there's no way to possibly repair them): $3500. Purchase price of condensers as scrap: $30.

I don't know whether I should cry or register for concealed-carry training.

07 June 2010

Phase 1: Complete

The first phase of our latest DIY project is complete. It took about 41 weeks from start to finish, but we think everything turned out pretty well.

Miss Clara Grace was born on June 2, 2010, and weighed in at 7 pounds, 7 ounces. A featherweight compared to most babies in my family.

Can you tell she's a daddy's girl already? She takes after her mama in at least one regard, though:

You might have to count them to believe it. Despite the toes, we think she's just perfect.