Friday, February 29, 2008

My breath

Last night Will slipped on the hardwood and hurt his bottom.

"What did you do?" I asked.

"I hurt my body!" he replied in tears.

Kidding, I asked, "Do you want me to kiss your bottom to make it feel better?"

"No!" He responded incredulously, "Because then your breath will smell bad!"

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Can toothpaste kill?

Let's hope not, because if so, Soph must have one foot in the grave. I keep catching her walking around the house sucking on a trial-sized tube of toothpaste. Each time I think I've confiscated them all, but I'm beginning to think she has a secret stash, since there always seems to be another. Add this to the fact that she would "brush" her teeth (i.e., suck on a toothbrush) all day long if I'd let her, and you have a serious case for fluoride poisoning.

Now, if I could transfer some of this interest in good oral health and hygiene to Will's little psyche, we'd be in much better shape.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Drive Happy?!?!?!

(I realize our vacation was OVER A MONTH AGO, and I am still finishing vacation-related posts, but I really think this is my last one! And on the positive side, the blog's been getting a lot of action this month, right?)

I don't want to dwell on a negative experience, but I have to warn everyone out there to STAY AWAY FROM ALAMO, the rental car company. For our vacation we originally reserved a standard SUV, and got an excellent rate due to my stalking the rates on I knew standard SUVs were generally five-passenger, but we'd rented one several times before and got upgraded with no problems. Also, it was the largest thing other than a minivan on Hotwire, and we needed 4WD. I figured something in that class would have an optional third row of seats.

I was wrong. Not only was I wrong, but the girl at the counter then told us our reservation was worthless, and now instead of the $20/day rate I'd reserved, we'd need to pay $63 per day "walk-up rate" for a full-size SUV. ($63 times 10 days plus taxes... you do the math!). They then remarked that the walk-up rate for the car we reserved was $60. Andy offered, quite logically, to pay an extra $3 per day (the difference between the rate for the car we reserved and the rate for the car we needed).

The Alamo people acted as if this was totally ridiculous. We talked to three different people at Alamo, all of whom were shockingly rude and completely dismissive. The location manager had the nerve to say to us, multiple times, "We are not having this conversation!" Personnel just walked away from us, mid-conversation. Our customer service rep tried to bully us into taking an SUV with five seats, knowing there were six of us including two small children.

We aren't unreasonable people. All we wanted was a car with four-wheel drive and six seatbelts so our family could be safe.

Thankfully, Andy is (seriously) an expert negotiator. He went up the chain of command until we talked to the regional fleet manager on the phone. He gave us the car we needed for an extra $11 per day.

We still think we should've only had to pay $3 but at that point, we'd been at Alamo for 1.5 hours, while my Mom and Dad and Will had been sitting, along with our two car seats and five bags of luggage, on a concrete island where the bus dropped us off from the airport, and Sophie had wet through her clothes in a big way (all this, mind you, in the freezing cold). $11 per day felt like a major victory after the war we'd been through.

Other customers were having similar problems, although no one else persevered as long as Andy. After one lady told an Alamo representative that they'd never rent from Alamo again, she was told, "Oh yes you will! We have the cheapest rates in town!" The customer responded, "So you're going to hold a gun to my head???" But truly, that's their customer service attitude in a nutshell.

I had rented from Alamo before with no problems, but most recently we've rented from Budget, where we always got upgraded just by telling them what we needed. No problems, no questions asked, no extra payment required.

We will never rent from Alamo again.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Better Late Than Never...

... a couple of cute Christmas pictures. Not too sure what's going on in the second one, but it was too interesting not to post.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The pictures of the new roof. Text below.

Better than New! Whispering Hills has a Roof.

I took the photos above this evening. As you can see, we've got a roof. The shingles were installed today. Dimensional shingles are the only way to go!

I've ordered windows and exterior doors, and they should be built by Thursday.

We should be able to start mechanical rough-ins, starting with the plumbers this week.

I didn't take a picture but we finished the "good neighbor" 6 foot privacy fence along the back of the lot today as well. It looks super nice. It took longer to build than I thought as I've never built one this way before. "Good Neighbor" is the style where the boards alternate side to side and both sides of the fence have the same appearance. It takes more wood to build it this way.

Let me know what you think of the new front elevation!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Fun In The Crawl Space!

Happy Valentines Day, everyone!

Lately Will is obsessed with crawl spaces. I think this has something to do with the fact that Andy and crew had to tear out the floors and subfloors to the Whispering Hills house, so for a while there was nothing left between the main level and the crawlspace there.

So his latest is tearing off all the couch cushions and propping them around the coffee table, making a "crawlspace". Alternately, when Andy and I are relaxing on the couch with our legs propped on the coffee table, Will requests that we "make a hole in the crawlspace!" by making room between our legs for him to crawl through on his head.

PS It goes without saying that anything Big Brother is involved with, Sophie will also be involved with. Hence her presence in the crawl space.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Where are my roof trusses? We could use them!

Well, I need to order my roof trusses. That will be Job One on Monday morning. The framers were so fast, I didn't get the engineering back in time to order them Friday. I need to order windows and shingles too. Anyway, all interior walls are complete and stairs are in. The framers rolled up at lunch time Saturday, having spent 2 1/2 days and completing what you see including the removal of the old roof. I'm impressed.

I spent Saturday working with my guys digging (by hand) the footing for the garage and spreading gravel. We also set 10 fence posts along the back of the lot for a privacy fence. I rented a backhoe to dig the footing for the new bigger front porch and electric and plumbing ditches to the garage.
Will rode with me Sunday afternoon while digging. He likes the backhoe! I also used the backhoe to remove some old fence posts set in concrete which had been cut off close to grade. They looked like they could have caused the demise of countless lawnmowers. And I removed some stumps and weedy trees at the foundation. I think I'm going to throw in the white flag on the garage concrete... more to come.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Miscellaneous Vacation Photos

Here are the photos that didn't fit into any of the other posts, but that I still wanted to share.

Sophie LOVED the pool! Will loved both the pool and the hot tubs.

Our rental car, a Buick Enclave, was AWESOME! Andy had previously started campaigning for the model to be my next car, so when we had the opportunity to rent it, he couldn't resist. He wasn't disappointed, and I liked it too. However, I think it's a couple of cars away since it's such a new model - I will not be buying one until they are at least three or four years old.
Papa and Sophie watched the planes come in while waiting for our flight out of Denver.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Flip File - Southlake Drive

We closed on Southlake on 2/7/08!
I don't want to be too sharing here, but everyone knows that the most interesting part of "Flip This House" is the flip file at the end. While I personally think most of the "Flip File" numbers are pretty bogus (they rarely deduct realtor commissions, for one thing!), I thought I'd post an ACTUAL Flip File.
Southlake Drive:
  • Renovation time: 3 months
  • Marketing time to close: 2.75 months
  • Original budget for construction and holding costs $28,500
  • Projected value after renovation $125,000
  • Profit goal $20,000

Sales Price (after seller concessions) .................................................$126,900*

Purchase Price ...........................71,500

Construction Costs .....................24,557

Holding Costs ..............................4,354

Commissions and closing costs .....5,425**

Total Expenditures .........................................105,836

Net Profit (before taxes) ...................................21,064

*The house actually appraised at $135,000 after renovation
**Not including Kathy's commission

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Roofy gone bye bye

The latest and greatest: When we remodel we remodel! Note the new lumber delivered today. The new construction begins tomorrow. What you see, the removal of the roof and put in dumpster, cost us $800 bucks! (Lumber $2800)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Whispering Hills: Tearing it down the hard way.

Whispering Hills status update: We've got a plan. We've got a temporary power pole. We've got a huge mess.

The plan is to build a garage with a mother-in-law suite and add a second story to most of the main house.

We've had to tear into the structure pretty far, though. As you can see from the pictures we've had to remove all the 3/4" tounge and groove hardwood AND the 5/8" plywood subfloor which was all damaged beyond repair. This left only floor joists exposed. I believe the sub-floor damage was due to water. The plywood was completely delaminated which made its removal especially challanging - it just crumbled into tiny pieces. We have replaced the floor joists in the kitchen which were rotted and sagging and began to replace the sub-floor with 3/4" OSB which can be seen in one of the pictures. Why didn't we just tear it down? Well we basically have... the hard way: piece by piece.

This week I've hired our framers to tear off the roof and put it in the dumpster in preparation for the addition. After this, we will finish the subfloor re-deck.

I have always wanted to try my hand at concrete forming and have began the process of forming up the garage foundation. This, I'm afraid, will not be a cost-effective decision due to the relatively low cost of the professional guys and my super-slow progress with my hourly guys... but I always wanted to try it. I'll keep you posted on the progress.

We were able to burn a lot of the oak hardwood Saturday keeping it out of my dumpster. Check out the fire!

The raging fire

The future garage

Sad shell of a house

Installation of new floor decking

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Will's Second Ski Experience

Last year, we put skis on Will and let him slide around one of the base areas of Winter Park one evening after close. We also purchased a ski harness for him.

This year, since he was three and potty-trained, we planned for him to take an actual lesson and start skiing in earnest. However, when we got to Steamboat, we realized they had full-day lessons only for those 3.5 and up. Will was a couple of months shy, and while we might have been able to sneak him in, we felt like it would be better for his first lesson to be only an hour or two. For younger kids, all they offered was an on-snow childcare program, where he'd be there all day but only spend one hour on skis. The cost was $260 for one day (over twice the 3.5-year-old price, where he'd actually spend a decent amount of time on the snow!). This seemed a bit outrageous since we had my parents there to provide childcare.

So we reversed our decision to put him in ski school and once again went after-hours to a little municipal ski hill in Steamboat, where he skied for $5 and our lift tickets were $7.50. After two trips down the bunny hill with the harness, Dad was exhausted, Will was happy and we called it quits. We felt like we'd made the right decision as Will really didn't seem quite ready to bear his weight on the skis. I think next year he will be ready for a serious first lesson. In the meantime, he thinks he skied and it was fun, and fostering his interest in the sport was our main objective.

I have a video of him skiing I may try to post at some point, but in the meantime, here are the pictures we have...
(That tiny little two-person blob you see in the middle of the picture is Andy and Will skiing down the bunny hill at Howelson Hill.)