weekend update and a step backwards on the house.

According to my schedule, this is the major pack week and we are major packing.  The boxes are accumulating, the stuff in rooms is disappearing and I have a ‘safe space’ for things not to be moved.  I said it before, but, my military sister with 10 moves in her adult life highly recommends emptying a single room and then putting in that room the things that you are personally moving in the car on the last day.  For us, that is Lars’s work, and everything going to pennsic.

What better thing to do the weekend before you move?  Go camping!  A very large part of me didn’t want to go but I’m glad I did.  I enjoy seeing everyone, Niamh and Zoe both won their fighting division, Zoe got a fighting award, and despite the soggy hot weather, it was a nice weekend.  Vacation mom made it 10x better by showing up and puttering with me at the event and then whisking the kids away in the morning so Lars and I could pack in peace.  I took zero pictures the entire weekend but a friend posted this one and I think it captures the beauty of the SCA.  Our social club with a renaissance theme. That is my tent in the bottom right, and, you are looking at the battle field where the kids enjoyed many pool noodle fights, bubble blowing, and general joyous noise.


I was actually not wiped out coming home, we got a load from the house to storage, I grocery shopped for camp week lunch and snack and then we just chilled.  Monday we got up extra early and got kids to camp and by 10 am, a time we are usually just getting motivated, I was already done with room #1 and rolling forward.  I’m so glad we did the camp thing, they are happy, safe, and come home exhausted so I don’t feel bad packing up all their toys.

We took a batch of things to storage yesterday and then went by the house and happened to be there when the builders came in to look at ‘a situation’.   I had noticed a ton of little things in the house but not the giant crack in the wall or the fact that the counters were no longer flush to the wall – the cement truck pouring our patio ran into our back wall…. You can’t make this stuff up!  He was stung by a bee and hit the gas.  The cement company is covering it all and I trust our builders to take down the wall and true up everything again but the worry is this will impact move in.  Given I had planned for *something* to go wrong I put our closing on Aug 13, a full 10 days after they said it could be done because if I had to be homeless, I want to go to Pennsic and that is 2 weeks long.  I don’t however, want to wait longer because then we run into hotel or staying with people and some legal deadlines on closing documents etc.  I am going to hope for the best.

Today my energy is still up, we have a plan and Lars is now working in an empty room on a folding table and I’m back to laptop life.  I hope to get the hall closet, kitchen ‘extra’ and clothing done today.  I think keeping out 2 weeks worth of outfits should work.  I’ll do laundry, it will be fine.  I’m undecided on how many towels to keep out, but, if that is the biggest problem in my life I’m ok with that.  Back to work for me, hope you all enjoy your day.


30 days to move in

I’m starting to count down instead of up because;

  1. we actually do close on Aug 13 and since it is July 13 so it seemed like fate
  2. we finally have toilets (and other plumbing fixtures!)

other countdowns of note;

12 days until we are 100% out of this house

2 full days the kids will have in the house they were born in

Pictures first!  (All photos in this post are taken by Niamh)


sink and light!  and me, looking concerned at the shower door size


Zoe touched it first!  She does the dishes 🙂


I didn’t know this fixture needs 18 lightbulbs.  It will be bright as the sun….


Our final selection for hall light, that was not an easy decision.


a bit blurry, but, kids have faucets too. 


The cute yet ineffective light – read below for the full situation

We have reached the phase of the project where things are getting complicated and annoying.  I’ve never built a house, who knew all the little things?!?  My complaints seem petty overall but this is not going to be an inexpensive venture – I’m compromising in my head by imagining if something would bother me if I walked into an existing house and just saw it that way – would it bother me then?

Yesterday in the middle of trying to pack for a camping trip I got the text that our patio was marked and since it would be made of cement and is of a pretty custom design, would we like to see it first.  Yes, yes we would!  One of the most hard things is figuring out size when out of context.  The patio looks teeny tiny, but, I measured and the 10×10 thing I need to accommodate fits just fine with room to spare on the *half* of the patio that it is intended to go.  Comparing the cement to the giant outside is unfair and makes my head hurt.

The nice surprise was seeing all the plumbing in.  I had actually forgotten what I choose it was so long ago.  The rain head shower is not as we imagined, we have to talk about that to the builders, and there is another odd issue with where they plan to put something in our yard.  With a quarter mile of empty space, I do NOT need our septic field directly behind our house.  “honey, look at our view from our upgraded windows!  It is a septic field!  Ooh la la so fancy”  I was under the impression it would be in the side yard, you know, the place that does not have 11 windows facing it.  It is a part-time job following the builders around, attempting to figure out what they are doing.

It is nice that all the things we were responsible for getting are now in.  More than half the lights are up even.  The appliances are paid for, the knobs and pulls are all labeled and waiting for install, and the lights… well, they are all there.  The 3 I got for the kids’ rooms are incredibly dim, so dim they are not lights, they are ceiling ornaments.  I got a refund yesterday at least but that does not really solve my problem.  I think I can fix it… just need a ladder and some time.  The pendants I ordered look great except somehow they don’t perfectly cover the hole in the ceiling where they electric comes in.  Finally, the kid bath has MASSIVE electric boxes to cover with their lights and the ones I got are normal sized.  Something about code and outside wall…. whatever, they really should have told me this in advance – I dragged the family out to get 2 new ones to cover, it will be fine I’m sure.  They also bounced my choice of light for the closet.  Be warned, you can’t have ‘exposed light bulbs’ in a closet per code.  Code that every designer ever seems to ignore in the pretty pictures.  Fine, the pretty light will be installed right AFTER we move in :).  If I sound a tad frustrated I am because while they seem to make all the decisions they feel like about where to put septic fields without consulting they are calling me constantly about minor things that have easy fixes?

And like I need another thing going on – last week someone reported our car in a hit and run.  The police called, it wasn’t us at all since the car in question was sitting in the driveway, and we thought it was over until yesterday we get a letter about ‘our accident’.  No, I wasn’t packing for a camping trip, and didn’t already detour an hour for cement review, sure I can spend an hour disputing the insurance claim against us.  A hit and run is a big deal, I don’t want that on our record.  I sent pictures of every angle of our car that is perfectly fine.  I hope that does it because I don’t have time for this.

So yeah, it is morning, I did manage to pack but now it is raining.  I’m not keen on rushing out to set up in the rain but we will be on our way soon.  I’ll have fun once I’m there and when we get back it is time for the packing phase.  12 days is not all that long,  send good thoughts that we can get it done with sanity intact.  If you are local and feel like coming to help you will have my perpetual gratitude.

Why blogging works for me

I have recently felt a little meh about recording things here.  Who reads?  Who cares? Do you really want to know about my weekend or what got done in the house?  I know there actually are a good bunch of people out there that read and I’m happy to share my life with you all but today I was reminded why I blog for MYSELF.

analysis blackboard board bubble

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

(cue the violin music)

This past week has been hard.  A holiday mid-week, kids hitting the wall of ‘summer fun’ and I’m looking at the pile of things I need to do and buy and make and what I’ve already let slip and my brains are starting to leak out of my ears.  Work is hard on Lars so he helps where he can but he is sometimes part of the problem too (husbands!).  Anyway!  2 feet under water here and suddenly the kitchen light starts to blink like it has decided to its life’s passion is the rave scene.  No kitchen light, no!  You are not a party machine!  However, I seriously don’t want to replace a light in this house….  #1 I just got 38 lights for the other house.  #2 I have gone to the big box home store every day for a week.  #3 I just don’t want to pay another $50 for another fixture that is practically new in a house I’m moving out of in a month (eeek! 1 month!!!)…

Let’s mitigate this – maybe it is under warranty?  ::search store website:: Yes!  it has a 5-year warranty!  Call store; “How do I do a warranty return?”  “with a receipt?  Ok…”.  Thankfully this store actually has a cute machine that will spit out receipts but you have to know the date.  ::Search blog for reference to kitchen light because I remember noting that we did that as a weekend project::  TA DA!!!! post found, Jan 16, 2017, I congratulated us on fixing our light by replacing it.  YES!  Score 1 for my blog 🙂

Nothing like a little validation to make yet one more trip to the store a little bit more ok.

Day 132

Current Situation; Siding is (finally) going up.  Floors at 99%, COUNTERTOPS are in.  Me- 100% of knobs/pulls now ordered and 28 of 35 light fixtures ordered/in the house

Next; (me) buy the last few light fixtures, (them) finish in process things,  get the driveway and patio put up lights and ‘trim’

Status; 900 of 1000 – My toilet mark might actually be the finish line, who knew they were last?

Progress pictures first;


storage room, the future home of our extra fridge and freezer and all my sewing!




Front hall floor, I happened to get a pic before they covered it all up like the other floors.  I like my Navy walls more and more


Shower.  still needs the glass wall but the tile is done

I was good to my word and on Tuesday, after putting in the laundry and telling the kids I had to focus, I hit the list of things to get done for the house hard.  There are so many categories of things but I’m making progress.  Luck was with me because I found a few great deals on knobs on Amazon – tip – look at the 10packs, they were all way less expensive than buying the single of the exact same thing.  For example, I needed 6 for a particular bathroom, 6 single pulls were $20ish and 10 of the same thing was $14.  If you only need one, get one, but I saved about $100 overall carefully over buying.  I know I could have saved more if I was willing to have basically the same thing in every room because the savings were even greater at 25 pack but I like different things in different rooms.

The fun continued with lighting.  We dropped the kids off with friends and went to Menards.  They weren’t really having a sale, but, we loved a few things that were ‘the last’ so we got the floor model.  The poor sales lady was very gracious even though it looked like she was tortured up on the ladder getting the fixtures down.  We kept finding great deals and by the end, we had all but a few on our list.  I needed to pump the breaks because I wanted to do a budget check, and, see some sizes in the house so we brought all the boxes to the house and put them in the rooms they belong for install.  It was a bit of a force of will by the end but I’m happy with our choices.  The last few are being tricky, I need the master bath and 2 outside lights and those ‘matter’ and we also need the laundry room, master closet, and a hallway – I can’t quite decide if I should get the ones that matter first and just make the other 3 work in the budget left, or, the other way around.

I also did a ton of paperwork.  I mentioned this in my vacation post but just in case you are building or moving it is a good idea 1 month out as you pay bills,  call or go online for each thing to update the address.  You might need to stop or start service and you might get a nasty surprise like your internet service isn’t available at your new address!!!  Yup, that’s us.  Well, we have a month to deal with it.  I’m busy now but less busy then I’ll be the week I’m moving so this is a thing I can more easily do in advance.  A mail forward will catch the stragglers but I don’t want that to be the only method.  I’m also planning on doing our Christmas card super early this year as a change of address note to all the family and friends.

Today is the 4th of July but our parade plans got rained out.  Instead, we watched Iron Man 3 and bbq tonight.  (and I might just go get 1 more light I saw at Menards…)

Vacation wrap up

I am very lucky to have the time, funds, and support to do some crazy trips and this one definitely counts.

If you recall, Lars drove out with us and then returned home via Frontier Air (new route and pretty good, hope it stays).  This left the kids and me in NY and we filled our time with friends and relatives and general good visiting things.  My mom volunteered to help drive us all back and I planned an alternative way back.


yeah, Mom!

So from our house in MN to my parents in NY is 17 driving hours with no traffic.  We have done the trip many times and it goes more or less straight west across the country and then go north at Chicago and North West over to MN.  The plan this time was to go North first and then drive West for a total of 20 driving hours.  We angled North and had dinner with relatives and they outdid themselves with a giant meal.  They also drove the extra 15min north to show us Lake Ontario, one of the Great Lakes.  We hugged goodbye and drove west toward Buffalo and spent the night at a hotel.


Lake Ontario

The hotel was not the best… it had issues but nothing I could not look past until poor Fiona rejected the giant dinner and dessert and car treats and threw up on the floor and on the closed toilet lid.  Not cool.  Not at all.  I called the front desk and apologized and asked for some supplies to clean and their offering was 3 washcloths and a spray.  yeah.  That was not enough.  Mom got them to hand over a bucket and a vacuum but hey, gloves might have been nice, or paper towels or a trash can?  I got it clean and as I was cleaning I got their floor cleaner then it started.  Oh well, they do not get 5 stars.  We moved on in the morning after a decent sleep to see one of the natural wonders of the world Niagara Falls.  We got super lucky with a 30min break in the rain right went we got there so short trip but worth it.


Bridal Falls, part of Niagara Falls; Great Lake Erie


Famous Hore shoe falls

I wish I had preplanned because it would have saved over an hour if we could have driven through Canada but we had no documents for the kids and given the policy right now I’m not even going near a border if I can help it.  The travel program kept telling us there was “a faster route” for over 50 miles and finally, quit when we had driven far enough around Lake Erie for it to give up and let us go.  The next stop was to see friends who are making a go of the homesteading thing.  They are clearing land and using the trees to build their home as well as using the land for naturalized farming (using what will grow there rather than clearing).  We saw their adventure and then went to dinner at a nice place nearby.  The hotel was 2 hours north so we reluctantly left at dark, and that far north it was nearly 10pm, and tucked sleeping kids into a nice little travel hotel at midnight.

The final day of our driving took us on the car ferry across Lake Michigan, the third Great lake in as many days.  I’m conflicted about the ferry.  It was a very nice ship with great fun things like movies and a kid room and bingo and trivia as well as 3 places to eat and a bar and lots of nice places to sit and watch the water.  These lakes are GIANT, I could see no land in any direction after we lost sight of the shore for over an hour and we were going across the shortest part.  The negative is that it is expensive and only saves about an hour of drive time, however, you are going the equivalent of 4 hours down the road with nobody driving.  Timing is also fixed and while it worked for us this time, it might not really in the future.  Still, worth the experience and by day three we could use a driving break.


Giant Boat!  Ship?  Whatever… 


Miles of nothing in every direction

The last little bit of the trip, a mere 4 hours, went well and we got home to a nice dinner and a tidy house thanks to Lars (and vacation mom).

We were not exactly ‘back to normal’ because my mom stayed with us for a week so we had a different sort of vacation where we want to maximize the grandma time.  We spent our time talking about things to come and house plans and getting some things planned.  We went to the Zoo and the splash pad and one night Mom watched the girls so Lars and I could go out for his birthday and on Saturday we drove up to Duluth to get our 4th great lake viewed.  Lake Superior is 5% of the surface water for the entire planet and is an impressive sight.  We did the lake walk that is a couple miles along the shore with various historical markers then visited a very short lighthouse.  Prima came along this time and was an icebreaker as everyone remarks on the cuteness and smallness of our dog.  She made the walk through and slept well that night.


might as well be an ocean; Lake Superior


big lake, little light house.  It is about 20f tall total

Mom left yesterday and today I moved into the next phase of the move where I really buckle down and get details done.  I updated addresses for next months bills as I paid this month and arranged for service switches etc.  Lars thought I was doing it too early but #1 its easier to just call as I pay each bill and #2 I found out it takes up to 2 weeks for the internet to be installed at a new construction.  Glad I started early!  This week we deliver the things we have been collecting like lights and hardware because next week they start installing things like that.  Pretty soon things will really look like a house in there.

There you go, 2 weeks travel in about 1000 words.  Time to get back to my to-do list and tomorrow is a holiday so if I want it off I need to finish.

Day 125

It was a coin flip to either talk about our epic journey back to MN, or, check in on the house.  For the record, we arrived on Sunday around 6 and after dinner, we went to go check the house because I could not wait longer!

Current Status; We have PAINT.  The painful decisions of paint color and location made with consults both near and far turned out great.  The stairs are also in! Trim and cabinets continue to get installed/finished.  Flooring prep work underway. (me) 15 of 27 lights procured, chosen exterior stone, doors, and siding finally confirmed for the 4th time

Next; (me) buy more light fixtures, knobs for all the things (81 total).  (them) floors, cabinet install finish, get the driveway and patio soon and all the fixtures come soon.

Status; 775 of 1000 – still no toilets! paint and stairs make a big impact but the fun finishes are coming soon.


We got 3 colors included in our quote, that is actually a decent number when you think about a more monochrome and cohesive design style.  We choose Agreeable Gray, Dover White, and Navy for our main floor and public spaces upstairs and each of us choose a bedroom color.  It was $100 per color but it was also a way for the kids to really love the move and be ‘ok’ with all the chaos coming in their near future.  My designer friend advised taking their choice and subtracting 2 numbers to get a lighter tone and I only had to do that for Niamh – she went for a really really strong pink but it looks much better two shades lighter.


Fiona actually really liked the color I choose for my room ‘secure blue’ so in her opinion she picked our room color and I’m ok with her thinking that since it saved $100, and, I obviously like the color. img_7148

Somehow I didn’t get a picture of the front hall in navy but it came out very sharp with the white trim.  I also neglected to take pictures of the vast spaces now painted gray or white but I did get a close up of the stain color “Koa” chosen half because we wanted it to stand out against our medium dark floors and half because it reminds me of Hawaii.


btw.  that is Agreeable Gray in the background

We also got back on track with selections and trecked up to the stone showroom to choose our exterior stone and address stone.  It was an easy decision because thanks to my designer friend I actually have a good idea of what to do with the exterior.  In brief; pick one color and one accent and stick to it – do not go crazy with all the color options of siding. img_7150

Finally, it is hard to take pictures of stairs but here is what I could do.  Imagine them without protective paper.


more agreeable gray and in the center of the picture you can see a corner of the navy hall.  Top right you see Dover White in the loft area

I’m getting a little tired of the process, the builders work is great but their system is very scattered and I’m constantly following up or reconfirming something I thought was set.  The story of the siding is annoying and long and I hope ends well, we will see…  There is one vendor I just don’t like at this point because she is so disorganized but small price to pay for the amount of custom work we are getting.  I’ll be on top of them again since I’m back and other than parenting, a 1-weekend camping trip and packing this house up, I’ve got nothing else to focus on.