My wonderful parents flew in from Texas for a little home improvement trip.
When I was a kid, we used to plan stay-cations long before they were the cool thing to do. Some of our stay-cations included laying Pergo on the kitchen floor, tiling a bathroom floor, etc. Working with my parents on all sorts of projects was how we spent time together. We have always been a close family in part because of our affinity for working on home-improvement projects as a family. My sister and I tiled our first floor when we were 6 and 7. I remember Dad laying down the thin set and Bekah and I would lay down the tiles and the spacers. Mom has always done the grout-work since she has the most patience with the sponge. Even into high school when my grandmother came to visit, we had a project planned. It was a great way for everyone to keep their hands busy, to chat or not chat, just to spend quality time working together for a common goal. This week was very reminiscent of those memories. We worked together in silence or in friendly chatter as our moods dictated. It was especially neat to share in this longstanding family tradition with Stefan who has similar memories of working with his family but lacking the jokester that is my father and his partner in crime, my mother.
We got a ton done on this trip. My parents flew in Wednesday night and by Thursday morning, we had them working hard. The first task was to clean out the remainder of the plaster and lath from the closet room. The ceiling was already done so it was just the “easy” part, the walls and carrying all the debris down the stairs and out to the dumpster.
It looked great after it was all clean and empty. A little electric, some plumbing for the washer and dryer, and then some drywall and it will be a brand new room. We are leaving nothing except the floor which will get upgraded at some point in the future. This room and the bathroom are the only ones that will be completely gutted. The closet room had bad water-damage and by the time we cleaned that up, it was well on it’s wait to empty so we went ahead and took the plunge.
Thursday Afternoon, Mom and I primed all the lattice around the front of the porch. It looks so good even with just the primer. I can’t wait to get everything all painted. This porch is going to be gorgeous. In fact a man walking down the street was standing in awe of the porch and declared it to be “brilliant” in a great Flemish accent. He lives in a condo around the corner and has been following the progress of the house. Whenever we are out front of the house we are complimented on our porch and the progress of the house in general. We get a lot of foot traffic and it’s kind of neat how neighborly the walkers are.
While Mom and I were priming lattice, Stefan and Daddy were hard at work taking up the floor in the bathroom. The bathroom has been re-modeled no less than 3 times so all the floor joists have been cut every which way and there were probably 8 or more types of flooring. It was actually quite astounding that the previous remodel managed to get that cast-iron tub in the room, stable, and draining. Getting that floor up took all day and was quite a feat. The dumpster is full to the brim and once we get that ugly tree out in the front yard we’ll have it taken away for good! I’m so looking forward to the day when we can park our cars in the driveway with a passable distance between them!
In Zimmermann Family tradition no home improvement project is complete without a cat getting in the way. Vector LOVES walking around between the floors of the house. He gets all dirty but he has explored every inch of this house. When Daddy and Stefan were working, Vector climbed into the ceiling of the 2nd floor from the floor of the 3rd floor so he could watch the construction efforts. I wish I had a picture of that cuteness! Here he is dirty and exploring.
Friday morning the men worked on plumbing drain and then took an epic trip to Home Depot. Apparently they had an entire shopping cart full of PVC fittings but did they take a picture? Noooo. You’ll just have to imagine what $300 worth of PVC fittings looks like. While Dad and Stefan were planning and shopping, Mom and I drilled holes for electric and got wire strung between outlet boxes in the closet room. Drilling those holes is hard but I’ve recently gotten over my fear of drilling things and I’ve become a drilling fool. “Oh, Stefan, you need that hole pre-drilled, allow me!” Getting the holes in the studs ready took some work but it’s done and that’s my favorite kind of project. Daddy is going to mail us his right angle drill which will make things so much easier in the future.
In the afternoon, we worked on more lattice painting. We primed and painted the panels that the contractors hadn’t installed yet. I had hoped we would be able to spray them but I’m missing a piece for my sprayer 🙁 I’m usually so good about keeping track of that stuff but when I’m ready to spray, it’s no-where to be found. Stefan needs to call Wagner and see about getting me a replacement part. Note to Wagner: 1) I want to do a sponsored post on your paint roller (e-mail me!) and 2) you should stock more replacement parts on Amazon.
So, after the paint sprayer debacle, we got 6 cans of Kilz spray primer and went to town. We then painted the lattice the final color with Sherman Williams Duration which is too thick to spray anyways. I’m sure it can be done I just think I probably need an airless sprayer. Stefan’s brother has one…I’ll have to borrow it sometime.
The lattice looks great. I’m getting so excited about getting the porch painted and landscaped and getting the yard ready to go.
Once the boys returned from Home Depot, they got to work on the plumbing. Getting those 3″ drain pipes in place seems to be a lot of work. They drill and fight with the holes and then use the sawzall and circular saw to fix whatever didn’t go right. You’re trying to keep a nice drain angle so it’s a little tempermental. They did get things working eventually and over the 4 days they managed to get most of the drain work done.
In the evening, mom and I hung light boxes but didn’t bother with pulling the wire to them. We decided to wait for Stefan and his giant dewalt drill since drilling overhead is hard enough let alone if you need to use the heavy drill.
On Friday, Mom and I also ran to get a yard of dirt from Weiss Farms in Stoughton. It was a neat old farm that has turned into landscaping supply. We nearly killed the truck with the dirt but we needed it to re-grade under the porch. We are trying to fix our leaky basement problem and keeping the water from pooling under the porch next to the foundation was the primary fix. Getting the porch done and the gutters up is fix number 2 and that should happen this week. Operation get some dirt was rather scary and to top it off, the contractors didn’t get to shoveling it under the porch on Friday and it rained…a lot on Friday night. So Saturday morning, Dad and Stefan shoved about a half yard of dirt under the porch. Dirty, backbreaking work but they managed. Meanwhile, Mom and I worked on an arguably dirtier task of running wire. We ran electric up the chimney into the 2nd floor bathroom while the men were working. Getting it up to the second floor was the easy part. It was getting it across the basement from the electric box to the chimney that was tricky and dirty. 100+ years of dust and the beams across your attic ceiling get to be rather filthy. And when you’re working up there, that dirt falls onto you, particularly your face.
Mom and I ran maybe 800 feet of wire. 7 runs to the second floor and 2 runs to the third floor. We kicked the spool and Saturday night had to go out to get more. We also picked up mulch, gravel, more PVC, Grooved Plywood flooring, more electrical boxes, and even more PVC fittings. It was a $700 Home Depot trip. We should be good for a while though..I hope. We closed the ‘ol HD and the poor kid at checkout was not pleased to see us. We weren’t at our normal HD so we didn’t have our usual lady to check us out. She just finds our escapades amusing but this kid was less than pleased not that I blame him.
Sunday we visited a church nearby. So many young couples, good friend potential. Once we get a little more settled I’d like to start making some local couple-y friends and getting involved with a church in some fashion. After church, again in the Zimmermann Family fashion, we bolted as quickly as possible so-as to avoid small-talk with strangers and got back to work. To be fair, we did have a lot of work to do. The boys were quite productive on Sunday. They got another toilet and the shower drain installed.
Mom and I pulled a final 3 wires up to the 3rd floor.
We spent some time on the yard mulching a couple areas. My hydrangea is looking so good. I put down some weed-block cloth last weekend and just hadn’t had a chance to do the final mulching. It looks so good now.
Last week I had this brilliant idea that we should get rid of any vegitation next to the AC units. We have just about 12″ of space between the fence and the AC units. It’s not enough to even get the weed-whacker in. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it earlier but I just layed down some landscaping cloth and two 5lb bags of gravel and voila, a walk-able path. Mom helped me lay everything down and spread the gravel. Quick project that will make our lives sooo much easier.
Mom and I weren’t quite out of energy (Hah) so we decided to do some brick carrying. A couple loads from the 3rd floor and a couple more from the basement. If that wasn’t enough, we also caulked the entire front porch. It only took us about 2 hours which was quite a bit less than I expected. It looks so good. Mom could barely walk by the end of the day and I’m sure I’ll be sore for weeks but it felt so good to get so much accomplished.
Monday morning, we had the morning to get even more done. Stefan and Dad got their project to a nice stopping point and carried a bunch of things up the stairs, or up, over the porch and through a 5’x1′ window as the case may be. Mom and I painted the porch until the contractors came to finish things up. It looks soooo good in it’s rich creamy beige. We used a roller on the strait parts of the spindles and then followed behind with a brush to hit the corners. It actually goes pretty fast, espescially with two people. We got over 1/4 of the way done over the course of about an hour.
Then I had to get to work since I needed to work a full day on Monday. Mom was put in charge of making sure the men-folk didn’t hurt themselves (perhaps the hardest job of the weekend) and I said my good-byes and went off to work. Stefan dropped them off at the airport at 2-ish and the weekend was done. It was such a fun trip and the 4 days just flew by. If my entire body wasn’t sore, I wouldn’t have believed it was a full 4 and a half days.
We are going to try to plan another work-cation for early spring. If we can get into a 4 times a year visiting schedule I think we’ll be able to maintain the jovial, tight-knit family we’ve always had. Some families only spend time together in relaxing or sitting around talking but I hope my family continues to bond and celebrate being together with projects and purpose. I think it makes us unique and it has certainly made us very close. We don’t currently have anything project-y planned for Thanksgiving but Bekah, Mom, and I are dead-set on following in the Mommy-Grammy tradition of working on fun craft projects when we visit. In fact, one such unfinished Mommy-Grammy project may be basis of this Thanksgiving’s craft. More on that later as we get all the details worked out. I know Stefan will have a project. Computers always need maintenance and Daddy always needs a hand in the garage. I used to be that garage-hand but I like to see Daddy have a son-in-law to train.
The weekend was productive and solidified my belief that my family is awesome from the self-portrait at the airport to the last sheet of plywood precariously hoisted through the second floor window. Gotta Love ‘Em!