Category: House


Fall fell fast upon Door County, as the leaves began changing color in September. It never ceases to amaze me how fast the time goes by. This summer was especially quick. Ryan and I spent most of the summer chasing Mylo around as he explored and discovered life’s wonders. In-between each of Mylo’s milestones and discoveries, we began renovations on the cottage next to our house. So far, we have the inside gutted, old siding removed and most of the outer repair is complete. While we are hoping for snow this year, we pray that is comes sometime in December (before Christmas) so that we are able to get the new siding on before the first snowfall. The temperature has been dropping but that has not stopped us from continuing to make progress on waterproofing the cottage, which had a lot of water damage from insufficient exterior walls and draining.

We are so glad to have our downstairs bathroom whirlpool tub. It has come in handy many nights after long days of working hard. It has also created a lot of laughter during Mylo’s bath time.

I know this post is short and it’s been a while since I’ve written one but I hope this brief description will explain where my time has been spent, which has not been on the computer. I promise to post again soon; I’ll even include a few pictures!

 

Progress…

Time flies when you’re busy being a mom and finishing a bathroom. Mylo is doing awesome; he grows and is learning more everyday. He is starting to hold his head up, makes eye contact and smiles at us a lot, can “stand” and sit-up if you help support him, is gaining weight and growing tall, no longer needs to be on the apnea monitor, is happy and healthy!

Mylo likes to play and has started grabbing some of his toys. He also loves to have books read to him. He babbles and always wants to be where the action is happening. He gets up on his knees and, as soon as he learns to use his arms better, I’m sure he’ll be crawling.

Mylo was baptized on August 28, 2011 at the Ephraim Moravian Church. We had a wonderful party with family and friends after at our house.

Speaking of our house, we are almost finished with Mylo’s nursery and the downstairs bathroom. Mylo’s room only needs window trim and blinds to be complete. The bathroom was complete enough to be useful during our party. The tile floor is in, the walls and ceiling are painted, the door and trim are on, and the toilet and sink are installed and functioning. The only things we have left to do are cut, stain and varnish the shelves, cut and paint the window trim, put up the tile around the tub, and install the tub fixtures.

I am already in love with my new bathroom and can’t wait for the day I can gently glide into the whirlpool tub for a relaxing bath. It looks beautiful and will be finished in no time.

Ryan and I have made great progress on the bathroom and Mylo is making awesome progress with his growth and development. I am looking forward to more and more treasured memories to come.

Confined

Here’s a post I wrote last month but didn’t get a chance to post…will explain in the next post.

Well, there is much to say because a lot has changed since my last post. I was finally getting my energy back and started feeling absolutely wonderful when…complications arose.

First, I had two wonderfully amazing baby showers. One on April 2 at the Village Green Lodge, Door County thrown by my parent-in-laws. It was a co-ed shower and we were delighted with around 45 guests from all over the state. There was a taco bar, beer, margarita punch (with tequila to spike it), games, gifts and two beautiful cakes – one shaped like a teddy bear and the other a reminder of our wedding day, carrot. The second was on April 10 at my mother’s home for ladies and babies only. There were over two-dozen of my family members there and some friends to help me get ready for the arrival of baby “Chili.” We had a late lunch filled with a variety of delicious items made possible by my guests and enjoyed a couple hours of fun and games. Ryan was excited to come back and find a unique assortment of gifts for the baby.

It took us weeks to get all the new baby items sorted and put away. Especially since I made another large change happen before the showers – remodeling of the nursery.

Of course, I told Ryan that I just wanted him to do a couple of quick things in the nursery before the baby is born. Logically, having a remodeled nursery before filling it with a crib, dresser, baby toys, and more seemed the right thing to do. My thoughts about removing the closet, which made the room much smaller than it could be, and replacing the plaster and lathe with drywall before adding a new coat of paint and underwater mural were a lot simpler in my mind than in reality. My mom came a few days before the first shower to help Ryan remove the closet and walls because I couldn’t be in the room due to old insulation, which may have contained harsh chemicals harmful to both myself and especially the baby. In no time the “quick” project turned into a complete renovation. The closet was removed only to find that there were patches without carpet and worse yet, the carpet in the closet had been different than the carpet in the room. In addition to the carpet, we found that the wall with the window was moist and had to remove more and more of it in order to find the wet source. As it turned out, the window was not properly installed and had been leaking for some time. We also found that the walls we thought had drywall were actually plaster and lathe covered by drywall. Ultimately, three walls and the carpet were removed completely.

On a positive note, we hadn’t yet order the bathroom window so we were able to add the nursery window to the order and saved over $160 for both windows, which were both installed recently. Ryan did some research and found spray-in insulation that helps as a sound and moisture barrier in addition to keeping the temperature. We were also able to rewire the nursery and remove some very old cloth-wrapped wires that were truly a fire hazard. In the end, it will all be for the better that we took the time to do the needed repairs now before the baby arrives – despite my feeling a little guilty for adding so much work to Ryan’s list and forcing him to work on three rooms at one time.

I can’t tell you how thrilled I have been waiting to prime and paint the nursery, bathroom and laundry room once the drywall is installed. Since we decided to paint before putting any other flooring down, which will save us from worrying about spilling, we were finally getting to a point that my pregnant body could do without too much effort. Then it happened…

Easter morning we woke up at 5am to attend sunrise/cemetery service at the Ephraim Moravian Church. After service we had a delicious breakfast at church, helped clean up and then went to Ryan’s parents house to visit before 10am service. After the second service we went home and relaxed until going to brunch with Ryan’s parents, grandparents, uncle and aunt at the Log Den. When we returned home I was full from the days eating binge. I relaxed on the couch and ended up falling asleep – nap number two. When I woke up I was not feeling well but wasn’t sure why. I ate a little dinner and continued to relax.

A couple hours later, as Ryan and Colin were outside enjoying a bonfire, I went to the bathroom and noticed blood when I wiped. I immediately called Ryan to come inside and then called nurse direct. After speaking with the on-call doctor, Ryan and I headed south so I could be checked in labor and delivery at Ministry Door County Medical Center. Within an hour, I found out that the baby was very low and head down while I was having mild contractions and dilated 1cm. Quickly the doctor came in and explained that I would be transferred to St. Vincent Hospital, Green Bay in case the baby arrived early (they have a wonderful NICU). She also explained that they were going to be giving me IV medications to help stop the contractions, lower my high blood pressure, antibiotics in case I had an infection, and two steroid shots to help the baby’s lung develop. Without question I agreed – despite my dislike of taking anything while pregnant – for the record, I’ve only taken my prenatal vitamins and Tums since finding out I was expecting.

Just after midnight I was in the ParaTran ambulance heading to Green Bay. Ryan left me at the hospital to run home to get a change of cloths, his computer, and a few other things for an overnight stay away from home. Luckily, we had already asked Colin to take Gizmo to Ryan’s parents house – thanks Colin for putting out the fire and making sure our dog was cared for, we really appreciate it!

I had a sleepless night but just kept praying that everything would be okay. With each prayer my blood pressure dropped a little more. Late Monday afternoon the contractions stopped but my blood pressure had still not gone back to normal, although it was decreasing. Tuesday morning my blood pressure was almost back and I was taken off all medications. Happily, I was discharged by 3pm and on my way home.

Unfortunately, once you dilate you can’t undilate so I am on bedrest orders until further notice. I had no idea how hard it would be to relax but try to keep reminding myself that it is just the beginning of the sacrifices that I, as a mother, will make for my child. I am full of energy but have no way to use it – except for writing, reading, and thankfully working from home. The guilt I mentioned feeling about adding so much work to Ryan’s load with the remodeling of the nursery has doubled as he now is solely responsible for all household chores in addition to the few things I was going to do to help get the nursery, bathroom and laundry room completed. While he is the most amazing husband and has been handling everything well, it seems so much for one person to do. At least we are blessed to have family to help.

Spice Cabinet

We started tearing apart our downstairs bathroom in March ’10. Unfortunately the tree falling and rebuilding of our mailbox had to take precedence. With the bathroom gutted down to studs, sub-floor and in some areas joists, there is no insulation to keep the cold out as winter approaches. As the weather quickly cools, we are working to prepare for the remodeling.

First stage of demolition - Kitchen View

Ryan has been diligently planning the plumbing so that it will be easier to remodel the upstairs bathroom and kitchen. We have already purchased the floor tile, water resistance drywall for the tub/shower, toilet, sink and fixture, sink light, replacement studs, sub-floor boards, and electrical requirements. We still need to buy the whirlpool tub, tub fixtures, paint, plumbing supplies, a window and framing, a door and framing, and a fanlight.

First stage of demolition - Bathroom View

Ryan has a computer program that he has used to map our house. It is proving to be very helpful in planning the plumbing, electrical and remodeling. Aside from a few discrepancies, it is a great tool that assists us in staying as accurate as possible.

Old Kitchen Floor

Our most recent achievement was tearing out the spice cabinet in the kitchen in order to move the bathroom door, which was not only hidden behind the spice cabinet but also made both rooms smaller. When we removed the cabinet and drywall in the “hallway” to the bathroom, we found that the wall was hiding a foot or more of space.

After Demolition

We also removed a small portion of the floor down to sub-floor and again found 3 layers of old flooring (as we had found in the bathroom). We were also saddened to find that someone had painted the beautiful old brick fireplace black, which we regretfully can not undue because of additional holes made installing drywall around it.

As each day passes, we move a little closer and get more ideas. We have a long way to go and realize more everyday that there is still a lot to demolish, rebuild and remodel. Our thoughts are racing to construct the perfect house both on budget and within a reasonable amount of time, neither of which is easy.

Finding Windows

Our house is approximately 90 years old and has a plethora of character; nooks, crannies, odds and ends embrace its interior.

Original Bathroom

Original Bathroom

Since the downstairs bathroom was leaking, rotting, and overall in poor condition, we decided to remodel it. We thought it would be a great way to find out what lies within our ceilings, walls and floors.

We had our first surprise when removing the tub and shower walls. A  full sized window was hidden behind a layer of bright green wood. Somehow we never realized the small window in our bathroom was actually a full sized window, which was visible from outside. Regrettably, as with the rest of the room – all the way down to and including the sub-floor – it needs to be replaced.

Removing Layers

Removing the tub and shower wall

Our second discovery came when we trimmed and removed the bushes on the north side of our house (the same exterior wall as the mysterious bathroom window). We are working on completing electrical updates. To determine how we are going to run the new conduit we needed to remove a board at the base of our house. The board was wedged in and sealed with expanding foam. Ryan popped the board out with the crowbar and there was the top of a window.

Basement Window

Basement Window

We dug out some of the bushes and a large area around the two sets of glass. Unfortunately, we will not be able to salvage one of the windows; however, we are hopeful that we will be able to use the second window with a new frame.

New plans unravel as we decide how to rebuild the window into the basement. We are also excited to begin envisioning landscaping ideas for next year. The best part is that we intend to do all repairs thoroughly so our house will be like new!

Close up

Close up

Ryan and I took our beagle/basset hound, Gizmo, for a hike and swim in peninsula state park with our friend Colin and his dog, Logan. We had just finished a short swim with the dogs as the thunder rolled in. We packed up and headed back on the Eagle Bluff Trail towards the car. We were only halfway back as the storm surged. Thunder and lightening roared. The rain poured down on us.

We made it back to the car and tried to dry off. Our wet warmth fogged the windshield. We left the park and headed home. Just before turning onto our road, a large truck pulled in front of us with lights flashing and a rescue boat in tow. We followed behind until it stopped just north of our house. A police car pulled next to us and informed us that we could go no further because a tree was down on the road.

Tree on the Road

Tree on the Road

I knew instantly that it was our tree. We quickly found that the tree had fallen during the storm, along with hail and heavy winds. Luckily the only house affected was our own. The phone pole had snapped like a toothpick and our power-line was ripped from the house.  Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) disconnected and cut the power line before the Gibraltar Fire Department could remove the tree, which was blocking the road. In less than 45 minutes the fire department cut and pushed the tree aside and had the road cleaned up.

Aftermath

An electrician came to assess the damage to utility connection. Due to the age and condition of our power input, we needed to replace the existing meter box. Action Electric came out the next morning to upgrade our home to 200amp service and worked with WPS to get our power reconnected. A big “thank you” to the Gibraltar Fire Department for lending us a portable generator; you saved our saltwater fish tank.

We should have heeded our own advice and had the tree removed right away. We are no longer taking chances and had all of the trees around our house and cottage inspected, trimmed, cabled and some removed. We understand the risks associated with procrastination and hope to be more proactive in the future.

For more photos of the second half of the tree, visit our photo album.

That's a big tree

Wet and windy weather has caused unstable trees to fall, impacting houses and homeowners throughout Door County. My husband and I are no exception. A tree was our alarm clock on June 23, 2010.

The wind was docile and a few sprinkles persisted. An elongated rolling thunder shook our house as the massive maple tree in our front yard fell on it. A 10-foot limb pushed its way through the porch roof, greeting us at our front door. The cottage power-line detached from the siding and hung under the trunk. Our main house’s power-line was missed by a few inches. Wisconsin Public Service disconnected the hanging line. Tree removal was scheduled for the following day.

Removal

Storms continued into the evening. Plaster and lathe walls and ceilings in our bedroom had buckled. We were thankful to find our home standing the next morning as father and son team Dave and Todd Burke of Dave’s Tree Service arrived. Four ropes and a chain held the tree trunk while four men began sawing and removing “small” branches.

Todd prevented further damage by holding the remaining 50-foot trunk with a log lifter as two men sawed and dropped logs until they safely lowered a 30-foot section onto the front lawn. The largest section was cut into three logs, hoisted onto the truck like a giant claw machine and then hauled away.

We used a blue tarp to bandage the roof holes until all were repaired. The next day we split the wood and cleaned up the yard. The second half of the tree fell just over a week later.

The Trunk is the Heart of the Tree

Be mindful of what’s swaying in your yard because it doesn’t take a powerful storm to bring down a tree. It is more expensive to wait until damage has been done than to be proactive. Homeowner’s insurance only covers a portion of tree removal and home repair costs, especially with older homes.

We estimate the tree was over 100 years old. A nine-foot stump still rests in the middle of our front yard. We hope that someone artistic will create something wonderful from our wooden canvas.

There are no guarantees when it comes to nature, but here are some tree tips from Todd Burke.

Aftermath

Look Up:  If a tree has multiple stems or shoots close to the house, it will have problems sooner or later so check these trees on a regular basis. Big mature trees get rotten centers when branch intersections fill with water and wetness becomes visible, running down to the trunk base. If things are growing on the tree, like fungus, it’s a sign of rotting. A certain amount of dead branches are natural. If a lot of dead branches are visible something is wrong. Big woodpecker holes can be large enough for raccoons to get in!

Inspect:  Healthy trees should be inspected when they are full of leaves because it’s easier to see if there are dead branches or areas that need trimming. Old, large or suspected “sick” trees should be inspected when leaves are off because major cracks, splits, rot, holes and other problem areas can easily be seen. There are a lot of things you can do to prevent major problems just by going outside and seeing what the tree is doing. If you’re concerned about a tree, don’t hesitate. Have someone come out and look at it.

Hole Bandage

Care For:  It is important to have someone come out with a trained eye because every situation is different. Depending on which way the tree is leaning you can do things not requiring whole tree removal – such as cabling or removing certain parts. Trees hanging over the house should be trimmed and trees that are leaning towards the house should be removed. Keeping dead boughs to a minimum is best because it eliminates weight that could be hanging over your house. There are a lot of things to take into consideration such as power, phone and cable lines, roads, and neighbors. Dave’s Tree Service will thoroughly check the health of your trees and provide a free estimate.

Todd Burke is the Owner of Dave’s Tree Service Inc and certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) as an Arborist and Utility Specialist. Dave’s Tree Service is member of the Wisconsin Arborist Association and ISA. Visit them at www.davestreeserviceinc.com or call 920-823-2259.

To see additional photos of our tree ordeal, visit our photo album.

New Mailbox

In winter, we received a notice from our mail-carrier that we needed to raise our mailbox. We could do nothing about it until the weather was warmer. Spring came, as did another note.

There was no way that we could salvage the existing mailbox so we started to make plans for a new one. We bought a new box and began drawing designs. Then, the maple tree came crashing down on our plans. We had barely cleaned up after the first half of the tree when the remaining portion fell. The incident took us about two months to handle and we still have a few things to mend.

As cool weather has been approaching, we realized the mailbox couldn’t continue to wait. We made our lumber list and purchased supplies. We came home and started building.

New Mailbox

On Thursday, we worked from the afternoon until the end of dusk; sawing and screwing. Ryan had drawn blueprints and we worked together to measure twice and cut once. We used 2″x6″ Cedar boards for the flower box, a 4″x4″ post, and 2″x6″ pressure treated boards for support. We dug and leveled the flower box base just off the shoulder of the road. On Saturday morning, we finished assembling the supports to the post and got them situated in the base.

One trip to Nelson’s True Value and we were ready to install the mailbox. A big thanks to Maria at the Sister Bay Mobile for an awesome lunch! We really enjoyed the short break before the final stages of building.

In addition to installing the mailbox, we also attached “The Sherman’s” sign. We are so proud to be able to display a piece of Ryan’s family heritage on our new post. It was his grandparents sign from their southern Door County home, High Cliff.

In the end, the project reminded me how much two people can accomplish when they work together. And what a wonderfully handy husband I have!