Moving House – renovating our country home…


Well, first of all – I need to apologize for how long it has taken me to update everything.  Life has been NUTS.

For all those who are interested in my jibber-jabber:

The move went fairly well, though, it was incredibly hard and made for some very long days and nights towards the end of the stretch before moving day.  Moving day itself consisted of a night and a day.  The night we had help from Wes’ two friends from work (God bless those men!!!) who moved the big things like our fridge, stove, and big furniture.  And moving day was pretty much just Wes and I – and we had the kids too.  Yes, it was pretty insane.  It’s hard when you move on a Wednesday…

The night we settled in, Simon came into our room at 3am and promptly threw up all over my side of the bed.  Great.  And we had no washer/dryer.  And half of our belongings, including tooth brushes, pillows, and most blankets were trapped in the back of a huge moving van which was still FULL in our driveway…  it wasn’t a fun time.  Simon was sick all the next day, followed by Audrey, then Wesley.  So, our first 4-5 days in our new home basically consisted of fevers and stomach flu.  What a welcome!  I wasn’t a happy camper that first week!!!  I have a horrible phobia of vomiting and the over-all feeling in a home when everyone is sick like that makes me so disheartened.  It was a weird way to move in.  Luckily, Alex and I didn’t get it.  Thank goodness.

Things are much better now.  (Can’t believe that was nearly a month ago already).  We are really feeling at home.  There are no boxes in sight, most of the renos are complete (minus some smaller things that we’ll plug away at), and the Christmas decorations have been up for a couple weeks.  I’m feeling at peace with our decision to move here and so grateful for everything we have.  What a blessing to have such a sweet, cozy, warm home to raise our family in.  I thought I’d miss our old house horribly, but the truth is, I don’t miss it at all.

I’m overwhelmed by feelings of gratitude and happiness, actually.  Every time I walk into our new home, I smile.  This is the home I’ve always dreamed of.  Which might be funny for some people, because it is small, and in need of some work, and over 100 years old!  But, it’s perfect in my mind.  I can still remember Wes and I sipping tea so many nights, sitting in our town home and dreaming together of owning a small country home.  We didn’t want anything fancy or big or showy.  Just a home that was filled with love, that we could make warm, cozy and lived-in.  This house is all of that.  Our family spirit is all over this place already and I love how that makes me feel inside.

Doing a lot of home parties for Usborne, I’ve seen A LOT of houses.  It’s amazing, the vibe you can get the instant you walk into a house.  Sometimes it’s overwhelming – either to the positive or negative side.  I truly hope that when people come into our home they are overwhelmed with a feeling of love and comfort and that they feel welcome here.  To me, home is really where the heart is (as cliche as that is to say) and it should be your family’s safe-haven.  Your place to fall into, curl up in, laugh, cry, share, and experience openly and freely every other wonderful emotion.

We had 2 family get-togethers last weekend, one with Wes’ family and one with my side.  My sister came home from the University of Victoria for Christmas and saw our new house for the first time – which was neat.  We’re really looking forward to sharing our home with family and friends during the holiday season – to me, that’s another thing that makes a home special… the memories.

Of course, I wanted to share some photos of our place as it is now.  I’ve only included some of the rooms and will post photos of the others in the coming week.  ENJOY.

Special thank you to my Dad (especially), Mom, Dad-in-law, Mom-in-law, Uncle Tony, Frank, and all the family and friends who helped us on this journey.  We could not have done any of this without you.  And thank YOU for reading and sharing our excitement!

My favourite room of the house – the kitchen:

A reminder of the kitchen BEFORE-

 

The kitchen as it was when we purchased.

 

Me - working on wiring in a dust-filled kitchen (before walls!)

Wall out... yikes, this is the day I almost cried. ha.

Kitchen - Nov. 6, 2010, new drywall up... getting better...

 

And *drum-roll please…*

NOW-

 

In the evening –

 

I LOVE our kitchen!!!!

 

And, day-time pictures… LOVE the sunshine that streams in the windows!!

 

Side 1 - took out the sink area and replaced it with fridge/stove and, of course, new cabinets.

 

Love how happy we are to play, eat, and spend time together in this bright, beautiful room!

 

Side 2 - completely new design - there was nothing on this side of the kitchen before - just a fridge. 🙂

 

 

Looking the other way.

 

Our "work" area - I love it!

Our kitchen is like the one I dreamt of having when I was young.  It is a pure-at-heart, country kitchen.  I love it and I love all the work that went into it.  It was my Dad’s ‘baby’ and no photos I can take capture how lovely, cozy, and sweet it truly is. (I guess you’ll just have to come for tea?!)

Being home-schoolers, we spend A LOT of time in the kitchen.  Our kitchen table is where we eat, play lego, paint, cut and paste, learn math, print letters, sing songs, play with playdough, do Science experiments, map out journeys, create projects, eat our meals, have our snacks, enjoy treats.  So, it was so crucial to me that we have a fun, bright, and easy-to-live-in kitchen space.  And, you know what, IT’S PERFECT!  I’m in love.  (PS. Thank-you, Dad!)

Some more pictures to give you an idea:

The Living Room:

Living Room 1

 

Living Room 2

Outside:

 

A glance at our house at dusk... Merry Christmas and WELCOME! 🙂

Thank you for reading… in the next post I’ll definitely get pictures up of our bedrooms and our bathrooms!  Total transformations there too!

God Bless in this beautiful season, Merry Christmas!

The attic my Dad spent hours in this week...

The past few days have been very long and filled with dirty, difficult, time-consuming HARD work.  The concept of “risk” comes in that we don’t know what we’ve fully gotten into – we don’t always know what’s behind that drywall or what is hidden in the attic… but when you jump into a fixer-upper, you take that risk.  And I was always taught the value of Risk and Reward – and I’ve tried to implement it as much as possible in my life.  It has yet to fail me.

This week has consisted of mostly the “risk” kind of work (at the ‘risk’ of sounding redundant!).  You know, the hard, dirty, crappy stuff no one wants to do.  It’s been long.  Thank goodness my Mom took the week off and was able to help with the munchkins!  (Often a risk in itself with the way they were this week… but that’s another blog post!  ha!).

When we bought the house, we knew a lot of the wiring needed to be fixed – it was old, ungrounded, and sporadic (to say the least).  Many rooms didn’t have outlets at all or had one functioning, ungrounded outlet.  The upstairs bathroom had no power to it beyond one light.  Audrey’s room had no light beyond a lamp plugged into the only outlet.  My Dad (with some help here and there) has rewired the majority of the entire house.  Everything is properly grounded with new wiring, and there are several outlets in each room and proper over-head lighting.

My Dad is an amazing guy.  He works hard – very hard.  When he asked me 3 weeks ago if I wanted more outlets, etc., throughout the house and mentioned that we should fix a lot of the wiring… I just said, “Yeah, sure!  That’d be great!”  Haha!   I had NO IDEA what kind of work it would entail.  I just figured, since he made it sound so easy, it would be easy!  But the entire process took several days of full work, including one night where we were all there until almost 4am.

Screwing in drywall and scraping old wall-paper at 11pm... FUN!

The wiring process is still pretty hazy to me.  I have full trust in my Dad’s abilities – so I do as he says.  He spent much of the time in our attic – fully face-masked, goggled, and clothed so as little old insulation as possible was touching his skin.  He was passing wire down through the wall cavities in the various rooms while I cut appropriate sized holes for outlets and shoved my hand as high up as possible and fished for the wires.  It’s hot, itchy, dirty work – the kind you HAVE to wear full “gear” for.  God bless my Dad – he had it worse of all.  I was in the rooms (not the attic) and I was itching and coughing like crazy.  (Yes, I was wearing a mask).  Some wires can take up to 2-3 hours to get right.  The nice thing is, once it’s done – it’s done.  NEVER again!

The very next day we had Insta-Insulation come in and blow insulation into the whole house.  They filled the wall cavities by punching 2-3 inch holes in the drywall and  blowing in.  They also did the entire attic.  Now, the house is so much warmer and we have the peace of mind of knowing it’s insulated properly (there was almost zero insulation before).  We’ll insulate the basement once Omni-Basements has done their work down there.

That same day, we had test hole dug in the backyard by a Bobcat – so a lot of holes were being made at the house on Thursday!  A little nerve wracking for my Mom to see a Bobcat pull-up… haha!  Especially when she wasn’t aware we’d re-changed BACK our minds about having the test holes done!  It’s funny, because I feel so clueless about most of the Septic business.  When the Septic specialist said he’d have to do a couple test ‘holes’, I envisioned a guy with a spade and a test tube…  HAHA!  I guess Septic test holes are slightly bigger… and require things like Bobcats and Diggers.  Who knew?  *snort*

An example of our indoor "holes" - here's Audrey's room pre-fixing... attic hatch up top.

Back inside – after insulation came drywall on the ceilings of the upstairs rooms.  WHAT a DIFFERENCE!  If you ever have a 1 1/2 story home that has the ceiling “tile” look, I encourage you – pay the money and do the work to properly drywall the ceiling.  I will take pictures in the next few days as the process continues and our plaster expert makes it seamless.

On a more personal level, today I walked into the house and was overwhelmed by a feeling of warmth.  Not temperature warmth, heart warmth.  When I went upstairs and saw the ceilings in our rooms, I teared up.  Sure, I was there until after 11pm last night helping to screw up the drywall – but it had received it’s first coat of plaster and it’d been 12 hours since I last saw it.  I was in awe.

It’s one thing to see your future home be torn apart.  It’s emotional and even gut-wrenching in parts… it truly is.  It takes a lot of trust in the people who are helping you to watch your home (literally) fall down around you.  But when you start to see those small, miraculous steps towards rebuilding – you’re over-come with elation.

So, I’m filled with joy and gratitude today.  For everything I have, for my Dad, Mom, and family and friends who are helping us and supporting us so much, for all you wonderful people who follow this blog and give me reason to keep writing and journaling this crazy journey, for our children who will grow up in this home, for God and His amazing love – just – for life.  I live a crazy, blessed, richly full life!  Can’t wait to live it a-top the Escarpment in Greensville!

The "after" - roughed in drywall in Audrey's room! What a change!

Well, as soon as we have a kitchen… and bathroom… and the power is fully connected… and the giant hole in our master bedroom is fixed… and….. OH, my goodness… we have less than 2 weeks!  But hey,  NO PROBLEM!

*snicker*

But, in all seriousness, we are really starting to see the “Reward” on the horizon and getting small glimpses of what will be… our cozy little Country home… the one we’ve always wanted.  What a dream come true…

Stay tuned!  This week – new flooring, the kitchen goes in, painting, new bathroom, and more…   😉  Right, Dad?  hehehe

 

 

 

 

 

A “small” project (as he called it) that my Dad did for us as a surprise – a new back step!  Love it!  🙂

New back step Dad built in no time at all.

THE OLD ONE ->

Yuck.

 

Updated Kitchen pic – haha… looking good, eh?  Use your imagination!

Hey... it's got a fridge! 😉

 

More pictures, for fun…

Post tile-tear down, pre-drywall ceilings.

Our master thus far .... lovely, isn't it?!

 

I need more pics of Dad… going to work on that…  wish I had of grabbed one of him with his head-light, face mask, and jeans tucked into his socks… DARN!

 

Thanks for reading!  🙂

There is constant progress on the new house – every day we’re doing something different.  Or, more, my Dad is, with a bit of our help.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow we deal(t) with some pretty big issues – basement water, Cistern, and Septic.

Our home is probably between 110-180 years old.  I think it’s really neat to have an old home, but it comes with lots of interesting twists and turns…

The black hole which is...

We have a Cistern for water.  A Cistern is basically a large holding tank for water that sits in the ground.  People who live in the country often use well water or natural spring water or they have cisterns (or a combination of some or all of these).  We have connections to a local well as well as a cistern.  This is still all Chinese to me.  I’m a city girl.  I’m used to taps – – they just turn on.  Water was never really something I thought much about, but that’s changing drastically now.  Our water was completely contaminated with E Coli and various other scary-named bacteria.  So, today, Adam’s Plumbing came and did a full out drain, shock, and cleaning and servicing of our Cistern, filter, UV lights, etc.

We found out through the process that our Cistern only holds about 1,000 gallons.  Which sounds like a lot – but, the average Cistern, apparently, holds about 4,000-5,000.  So, water has just become a precious commodity to us.  Sure, we can have it filled as much as we want with fresh, clean water – but it will cost us.  About $90.  Every time.

Now, I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit.  Because I like hot showers.  And baths.  And I like to use a dishwasher, and run water when I do dishes.  And we often let the kids play in the water and have full-to-the-brim bubble baths.  But I’ve also felt very guilty about my water consumption lately.  Just being in touch with people on the other side of the world that view pure, safe water as something precious and rare, will put things into perspective pretty quickly.  We take our water for granted in North America.  We just expect it to be there.  And it is.  Nearly 1 billion people do not have access to clean drinking water on this earth.  And yet, we frivolously water our grass and wash our cars with more clean water than some children have ever been able to drink in their whole life.  It just doesn’t make sense.

Perhaps conserving water and treating it with respect isn’t such an awful life lesson.  Perhaps we may choose to stay with the smaller Cistern and truly live being more aware of our resources than most people need to be.  So, we’re forgoing buying a dishwasher and planning to label cups, plates, etc. and re-use dishes throughout the day to minimize dirty dishes.  We also bought a purified water machine to use for drinking and cooking water to help with the cost (we can fill it weekly for about $5).

Now, if only it were safe to take water from the stream we have flowing in our basement and re-route it to fill the Cistern… that’d really be something!  But I guess that’s frowned upon – the basement specialist nearly fell over when I jokingly suggested it. HA!

A bit of history – when we bought the house, we knew we had somewhat of a basement “issue”.  In fact, there truly is a small flowing stream down there – no lie.  We could give the kids buckets and they could go to town!  So, we are completely water-proofing the basement and refinishing 1/2 of it.  I’ll post pics when the job gets done in a couple weeks.

Alex helps on the dig to find the top of the enclosed Septic Tank...

As for the Septic System – oh the fun!  We also knew before we bought our house, that the Septic System would need to be replaced, and soon.  For those of you who are City ‘Folk, like me, Septic Systems are what Country ‘Folk (which I’ll eventually be) use to get rid of water waste, sewage, etc.  It’s a completely in-ground system, that, if cared for properly (ie: not putting the wrong things down toilets and sinks) should last a long time and work flawlessly.  Ours is estimated to be at least 50 years old and has been abused badly.  The leaching bed is shot and the smell of sewage can seep up in the grass where the bed lies.  (All part of buying a complete fixer-upper!).  For now, we’re pumping it (you can pump the tanks to help the system run a bit smoother) and we are in plans to have the entire system replaced in the next month and if not, then in the spring.  The cost (for those of you who are nosy like me!) is anywhere from $8,000-$25,000 depending on soil and space.  Ouch.

And so, the saga continues!

Still to come this week – Insulation quotes, painting, more kitchen work, and Electrical plans!  Oh, and sleep.  Maybe.

Thanks for reading…. here are some pics from this week.

 

Real INSULATION in the kitchen wall - the only insulation in the house so far, yippee! 😉

 

Fun with a bonfire - the joys of the outdoors! We love it! (Notice my safety-rock line?)