For those who don't already know, we are thrilled to announce that we officially broke ground on our new house this week! (I've uploaded a new slideshow under "House Progress")
Yes, it really is an addition rather than a completely new building, but to us it's going to mean a very different house than we have right now. We'll go from about 960 square feet to around 1,830 square feet and we are being given the spectacular gift of a complete basement underneath the new part of the house. To double our space again, all we have to do is finish the basement. Our new house will be HUGE compared to the old one!
Originally, we were going to build on a crawlspace since a basement didn't fit in the budget; but we have wonderful friends who decided we ought to have a basement and therefore they're building one and doing some amazing things to make it work, such as advertising free fill dirt on Craigslist and then patiently hauling truckloads of dirt out to different locations to dump it. One of the bigger expenses in building a basement is hauling away all the dirt that came out of the hole. Everyone is also spending time searching Craigslist for other material supplies that we would normally just purchase new, but every little bit we purchase as odds and ends from other jobs is money we save off the total cost, giving us the ability to do a lot more than we would've otherwise. Ben is thrilled and intrigued with this - he's always really enjoyed bargain-hunting, but this is going to a whole new level we hadn't ever thought of.
He's also thrilled because he's gotten to use the mini excavator. When we did all the work on our house the first time, things were going so fast and we were trying to prepare for our wedding at the same time, so he didn't get a chance to help with a lot of the projects. He also felt like he would get in the way since he was always having to learn how to do whatever was being done. He's said for a year he wants things to be different with the addition: he really wants to be able to learn more and be able to help with the building - and one side benefit of having friends willing to build our house is that they're also ready to teach how to build our house.
We began digging the basement on Wednesday afternoon, though the work really got going in earnest on Thursday. One of the things about working with friends this way is that there can be a long period of waiting followed by a fantastic amount of activity in a short period of time. To anyone watching it probably looks like nothing is ever going to happen; but a good thing to remember is that we pretty much took the house apart and put it back together as a wheelchair-friendly place in two weeks - from the 14th of November to the 28th, the kitchen floor was stripped and raised, the wall between kitchen and living room was removed, a new bathroom was totally installed (including the new drain lines and the construction of a shower), extensive drywall repair was finished, the whole house was cleaned and painted, the stairway and doorways were raised in the kitchen where the floor had been raised, the electrical system was revamped and a bunch of new fixtures were added, all new interior doors were installed, and we moved Ben and I in. That is a LOT of work in two weeks. I tend to think the addition will be the same way. Kim asked us in April if we thought we'd be almost done when she came back in August and I honestly think there's an excellent likelihood of it.
In other news, Abigail learned how to roll over both ways this week. She also did something I've never seen done before: she's learned how to flip over while in her bouncy chair. She rolls herself around so her face is in the chair and her little bottom is stuck up in the air...and then she cries because she can't figure out what to do next. Actually, in order to roll over she yells the whole time. It's not crying exactly, just like she's yelling. And then she gets over onto her stomach and lifts her head up to look around in a sort of bewildered way - "Okay, I did it. Now what?"
She finds all the activity surrounding the addition pretty fascinating and will sit quietly for an amazingly long time watching the big machines out the doorwall as the excavation continues. Grandma is convinced all the loud machines scare her, but she doesn't look scared at all to me, just intrigued. She was even laughing hysterically (for her) when Benjamin was pounding up the concrete from the old sunroom. She's laughed more this week than I've ever heard. Her aunts have all been around a lot this week too, so she's been getting used to them hauling her around. When it's just me and I get tired, I put her down; but with all the girls around, when one person gets tired, they pass her on to the next set of hands. Now she thinks she really ought to be carried everywhere so she can see what's going on rather than being stuck in one place. She thought that anyway, but now it's even more pronounced.
Obviously, this has been quite a month. I didn't realize I'd left things this long! I have a new slideshow up on the Abigail tab.
After another relapse on Abigail's part, we are finally well aside from some various allergy-related problems now that we have some beautiful warm weather. We did end up going to a doctor for Abby's ears after she was up crying in pain all night and it turns out we most likely had RSV, which explains why we got so sick. When my brother Jonathan got RSV at Abigail's age, he was in the hospital for three weeks. Abigail didn't even get an ear infection; although Ben did and had his eardrum rupture - he's just now able to hear mostly out of that ear again. Yikes.
I've pretty much been waiting three months to reach the three-month mark, because it's usually at this point that many things get a lot easier. Babies and parents both learn a lot in that time. Babies usually have their digestive systems develop a lot better by three months and learn to sleep through the night, among other things. I'm happy to report that Abigail's now sleeping for about seven hours at a stretch at night, then eats and goes back to sleep for another three hours or so. Ten hours is a really nice night, folks. Plus, at three months Abby is starting to find things interesting besides just being walked around, so she can be entertained for ten or fifteen minutes trying to reach for the toy hanging on her carseat, for instance. And she laughed at peek-a-boo for the first time this morning. Which is good. What do you do with a little person who doesn't get the concept of a game yet?
Unfortunately, she hasn't grown out of her digestive issues completely yet. She can now handle me having some peanuts, but any dairy at all - and because it's the casein in the dairy, it means even sodium caseinate that's an additive in a lot of food - causes three days of crying and her little stomach gurgling uncomfortably every time she eats. It makes me nervous to eat away from home where I can't read labels because I always wonder what I'm accidentally going to eat without knowing it and have Abigail pay the price for days. Since I'm not dairy-intolerant myself, I don't get any stomachache or other warning. It's a little taste of what it would be like to have a serious allergy myself; and I'm glad I don't actually have it, so I won't have to be so very careful the rest of my life.
Thankfully almond milk turns out to be quite good, actually, and it makes a great substitute in baking so I can still make some good stuff like muffins and my favorite raisin bread. Also thankfully, I'm not doing a gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free, corn-free, peanut-free diet. If you have a kid with really severe allergies, that's what you'd get; and I think that pretty much means celery sticks and plain chicken for a long time. Good for the waistline...but boy, it'd get boring!
In other news, lots of work has gone on behind the scenes to prepare for our addition. We have an amended building permit now posted in the window and we're pretty firmly expecting to start excavating Tuesday - though this could always be changed, having a date to start is new and exciting. Ben and I have been working around the yard the past couple of days, cleaning things and getting stuff out of the way and moving the little peach tree a little further back so it's in a more convenient location...and also a little more out of harm's way when the big machinery comes through.
We had a little surprise pop up in the middle of our yard - the round circle garden that was so totally full of weeds last year that we pulled everything out sprouted a whole crop of tulips this spring. Apparently, they must've been choked by the weeds but sprang right up once they were exposed to sun and water. It's been a serendipitous occurrence; and it's entertained Grandma Lila for weeks as she sits at the breakfast table and looks out at their progress. I'm probably going to go cut all the flowers tomorrow so they don't get crushed; they're completely in the middle of everything and there's certainly no point making machines drive all over the yard to avoid a few flowers. But I'd like them to finish blooming on our kitchen table if they can't stay in the yard.
Ben and I have been attempting to put some order back into life so we can get things done. Abigail definitely slows us up, but we've been gradually taking care of things one at a time and venturing out of the house on little outings. We went to the library a few weeks ago and came home with a DVD collection of Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe. We watched one episode every evening after Abigail was in bed for the night (usually around 10:00) and got kind of hooked. It's not that all the jobs are really that dirty, but the show focuses on all the small tasks that people make their living at in order to keep what we know as "civilized society" functioning. One of the amazing byproducts of watching this show is that we're starting to look at our surroundings and say, "huh...I wonder who maintains all those lights on the side of the freeway and what it takes to do that job" or "I wonder what it's like carting produce around to all the grocery stores and making sure it stays fresh and getting rid of rotten stuff". There are literally thousands of seemingly small jobs that people spend their lifetime doing that we never notice because it all goes into maintaining the infrastructure we've built up and are familiar with.
I will caution that it's definitely not a show for the little guys. There are some fairly graphic bits involving breeding farm animals (yep, that's definitely a dirty job) and an awful lot of tasks involving what Mike always calls "poo". And I have to say, if I didn't already not eat pork, I'm not sure I could now.
All in all, this month has gone by really fast and I'm starting to see some light at the end of the adjust-to-the-new-baby tunnel. There may even begin to be time to sit and write more often again soon.
Then again...there's always construction!
Wife of Benjamin and mother to two wonderful little girls who are getting bigger every day. Enjoys writing down thoughts and discussions we are having within the family and sharing them with whoever is interested in reading.
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