Tag Archives: home

need to get by with a little help from my DIY friends.

need to get by with a little help from my DIY friends.

so, i started what i thought was a little repair in the “mud room” and, as i’ve become accustomed to with a 100 year old house, it has turned into a much larger repair!

the drywall tape was starting to come apart in the corner of room and once i got up there i realized the whole corner could move quite a bit! once i started tearing it apart i realized someone had just put up flim flamy piece of plywood nailed to what was left of the decaying plaster and lath, covered it with a section of drywall and taped it all in.

i guess it was relatively secure until the tape started giving way over the years, which is to be expected since the mud room is attached to the main house, but “floats” on the ground. with the seasonal freezing and thawing cycle the whole room can shift and settle quite a bit ( insert rant about attaching “floating” additions in northern climes ).

the “daylight” is the easy fix with a judicious application of spray foam and eventually a little stucco work on the outside.

i can see why they did what they did since there doesn’t seem to be a corner “stud” to properly anchor a section of cement board under the drywall.

any home improvement DIY gurus have any suggestions?

and, yes, the room is pink. even though it’s the prettiest mudroom in town ( and is on the list to be painted after we finish the repairs ).

how do you remove a critter from an inaccessible section of a roof?

kris heard something shuffling around the ceiling of our “mud room” and, sure enough, upon further investigation of the back of the house it appears that a critter has destroyed a section of weather damaged wooden soffit and made made a home in the airspace of the flat roof above the room which, inconveniently, is inaccessible by any normal means.

i vaguely recall squirrels don’t like the smell of ammonia so i thought i’d try soaking some old socks in the nasty smelling stuff even though a googling seems inconclusive regarding it’s effect as an a deterrent. and i guess even if i put some sopping socks up in the hole, i’ll have a hard time knowing if any and all critters have vacated before patching up the holes.

so, how do i force the critter(s) out ( assuming the ammonia doesn’t work ) and guarantee they’re all gone before patching up the hold?

after removing the soffit i could clearly see that critter had chewed through the structural support leading to the airspace between the ceiling and the roof ( as you can see, there’s also some wiring from what was presumably an above-ground electrical line running from the house to the garage ). curiously, it doesn’t look like a new hole. regardless, it looks big enough for a squirrel but not large enough for a raccoon or an opossum.

assuming it’s not a large-ish animal that could do a lot of damage trying to get out, i suppose i could just cover up the hole and let it die slowly and inhumanely. but that doesn’t seem right.

what to do?

The Mysteriously Impervious Material in the cedar closet.

in a testament to my powers of procrastination, for – oh – about five years since we moved in, i’ve been thinking about putting shelves in a closet in our 100 year old house that was, curiously, lacking any. it’s a big space, about 9 feet long and 2 feet deep, and installing shelves could cure The Clutter Problem that continues to plague us. such a simple project! why had it taken me so long to just drill some holes and hang the shelves?

it never once occurred to me to ask why prior home owners had never installed shelves.

the answer quickly revealed itself when i tried to drill holes in the cedar to install screw anchors. after boring quickly through the wood, the bit immediately stopped against something very, very solid. i thought maybe the drill bit was dull so i went to our local hardware store and purchased a shiny, new titanium bit that advertised itself as being good for all materials except metal.

nothing. no amount of pushing, pounding or tapping could get the drill to make the slightest bit of progress. so, using Impeccable Powers of Logic, i went back to the hardware store i went to buy a special masonry bit on the assumption that if the titanium bit wasn’t working that i must be working against some sort of concrete or brick. our house has a stucco exterior and plaster interior walls so brick or concrete under the cedar would be a bit of a mystery, but sometimes 100 year old houses like to keep secrets.

since i learned long ago that there’s nothing that can’t be helped with an extra helping of elbow grease, i really leaned into the masonry bit with great gusto while drilling at high speed. but despite all my huffing and sweating and cursing i managed to produce nothing more than curious wisps of smoke around the cedar hole.

and eventually i managed to simultaneously break the 5/16″ masonry bit shaft and bend the end of the bit. not that’s talent. i took it back to the fine folks at nelson’s agri-center and they were so impressed they gave me a free replacement, though it was a headscratcher for the Nice Man behind the service counter. “you sure you ain’t trying to drill through metal? i’ve never seen a burnt and bent masonry bit. maybe try starting small and work your way up to 5/16ths.”

so armed with a variety of masonry bits i went home and started small with an 1/8th inch bit. which promptly snapped after i applied too much pressure and let it get too hot.

eventually after a few more trips to the hardware store i finally discovered the secret to penetrating the impervious mystery material – go slow, don’t apply too much pressure, don’t the bit get too hot and work slowly up through 4 bit sizes from 1/8th to 5/16th. patience is the key.

success! finally! nearly 50 square feet of shelving where there had been none. now i just need to come up with some sort of organizational system for the shelves. and a door for the 92 inch opening. ah, the joys of never ending projects.

the mystery still remains, though, as to the true nature of The Mysteriously Impervious Material. the cedar closet is in room that was an addition to house at some point after the original construction and it’s built on what would have been an exterior wall. all interior walls are plaster, but on a previous project when i was installing a new light in our bathroom, i discovered a hole under vanity on the exterior-facing interior wall. i was surprised to find over-sized bricks, right under the plaster and lathe.

i assume all the exterior walls are brick? perhaps the owners just put cedar over the brick in the closet and didn’t even bother putting up plaster? was our house originally brick and stuccoed over later? or is this some sort of special Magically Impervious Stucco Brick?

the eric update – day 96: welcome home, odin!

day 96: welcome home, odin!

psssst. i’ve updated the post – please scroll down.

he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home! he’s home!

( more later, lots to do )

time passes.

day 96: in the car seat!

we’re home. after 96 days in the nicu i still can’t quite believe that we’re actually home. and despite my slight anxiety that i’d be paralyzed by fear at not having a nicu nurse at close hand, i think we’re doing pretty well. actually, little odin is making things quite easy for us. he’s mostly just been sleeping the day away in the arms of family members that have come to visit. his monitor has gone off a few times, but they’ve all been false alarms. and while there was some concern that moving home might wipe out his “reserve capacity” and bring on another round of refluxing and alarms, he has only spit up a very little bit of food since getting home. so he seems to be handling the transition very well!

day 96: odin unexpectedly meets mauja!

regular readers might wonder how we were released so quickly without having any of the various surgeries that he may or may not need. in an amusing last minute twist the doctors changed the original plan that we discussed with them which involved eric coming home early next week after having surgery for his inguinal hernia. but it appears that scheduling for surgery is quite complicated and they couldn’t get a slot for him in a timely manner and they decided that they didn’t want to have him hanging out in the nicu waiting for surgery; they came back to us a couple of hours later and told us that we could bring him home today. as you can imagine we were, er, quite surprised. in a good way. mostly. so, due to the vagaries of surgical scheduling, we got to bring him home and wait for october 19th to arrive which is when he’ll have his inguinal hernia repaired. with each passing day that his reflux continues to remain under control they are increasingly confident that he won’t need any of the more invasive measure to stop the spitting ( woohoo! no gut tube! ).

day 96: auntie gina, ruby and odin

a large number of people have asked if i’m going to continue the postings now that we’re out of the nicu. i think the short answer is that i probably won’t stop posting any time soon. so if you’ve been following along, keep following along.

as a taste of what’s to come, some of you may remember that we bought a house for the snowdeal show ® with our sister-in-law and her partner and they are expecting their second child very soon. diane’s due date was within days of little odin’s original due day, october 16th, so things should even more exciting than ever, all the more so because she’s having a home birth, which long time readers might remember is what we originally planned as well.

it’s odd to think that within the next couple of days, odin – who just celebrated his third gregorian monthly birthday – will meet a cousin who is the same age, but not. or something like that.

But now, we sleep at home together for the first time! the Beginning of Many More Adventures to Come.

here are a few sights from The Very Exciting Day ( some dupes from above but with more description ).

day 96: next to the last nicu bottle

the whole discharge process took about 3 hours, which is two bottles in bottle time.

day 96: sweet ease

sweet ease is sugar water and it’s given to preemies in the nicu to calm them down. if a kid is screaming or uncomfortable, you’ll often hear a nurse say “just give ’em some ‘sweet ease'”. eric never fussed too much, so he never had much of the stuff ( some of the kids were sweet ease addicts ), which is nice because we never were too comfortable with training him to be comforted by sugar water.

but today it appears that they gave him some sweet ease while they were administering his vaccines, which needed to be done before he could leave.

day 96: last nicu bath

you can’t go home without smelling fresh and clean now can you?

day 96: new home monitor

despite being caffeine free, eric is going to go home with a monitor, so we can make sure that he doesn’t react adversely to the change in environments by slowing his heartrate and respiration.

we had to go to a “class” to learn how it worked as part of the discharge process, which was a little silly because we’re pretty familiar with monitors after 3 months in the nicu.

day 96: going home duds

he’s sleepy after the bath, a feeding an diaper change, but we decide to show off his very cute duds that he’s sporting for the ride home.

day 96: attaching the home monitor

the sensors for the home monitor are held in place on his chest with a cloth “belt”, which a much nicer alternative to the “sticky” leads. they’re cutting the cloth belt down to a proper size as they transfer him from the nicu monitor to the home monitor.

day 96: removing the pulse ox sensor

he’s has his pulse oximeter sensor on almost continuously from the the very beginning, so it’s a little odd to be taking it off for the very last time. what will i do with my time if i can’t stare at his blood oxygen saturation levels for hours on end?

day 96: in the car seat!

woohoo! normally they like to test kids out in the car seat, but we’re leaving on such short notice that we just cross our fingers that he’ll enjoy being in the seat.

indeed, he liked it a lot and didn’t make a peep during the entire process.

day 96: in the car!

that’s right! he’s in the car! he hasn’t melted in the rain!

day 96: odin unexpectedly meets mauja!

auntie gina greets odin when we arrive at the house. mauja hangs back for a bit and then decides that he really, really wants to get a closer look. it’s hard to tell, but if gina hadn’t stopped him, he would have had his front legs on the table and would likely have commenced with licking, which is probably not a good idea.

mauja loves babies and i think he’s going to have a hard time understanding why he can’t plant a wet sloppy tongue on odin whenever he pleases.

day 96: lounging with grandma snowdeal

gradma and grandpa snowdeal came along to help us with the transition from the nicu to home. they held eric for a long time which was nice because we had lots to get done. odin slept comfortably the entire day.

day 96: odin meets cousin ruby

cousin ruby lives in the house that we bought for the the snowdeal show ®, so she’s sort-of like a big sister. she’s been anxiously waiting to meet odin for 3 months. ruby was very thoughtful and brought a balloon along for a gift.

day 96: odin, ruby and grandma snowdeal

ruby is having a grand time talking to baby odin.

day 96: wired in a bouncy chair

we won’t be going anywhere without the home monitor and i’ve found that it’s a little tough to remember to not just pick him up and walk away without grabbing the monitor.

day 96: antiseptic hand wash and apnea journal

the antiseptic hand wash is going to be a very important fact of life for quite some time. anyone who touches eric must wash their hands before picking him up.

we have to fill out the apnea journal anytime the alarm goes off to give the doctors contextual information such as whether or not he changed colors and what we were doing at the time – e.g. feeding. so far, we’ve only have “loose lead” alarms which aren’t very important.

day 96: changing table

hey, it’s a sneek peak at his nursery! it’s sort-of a green-silver-blue with artwork theme. more pictures later.

day 96: first meds at home

eric gets his nightly meds for reflux.

day 96: auntie gina, ruby and odin

auntie gina also lives with us in the house we bought for the the snowdeal show ®, so you might be seeing many more pictures of her, if she doesn’t mind.

they were watching the presidential debate which obviously wasn’t doing much to help keep ruby awake.

day 96: sleepy time in the co-sleeper.  sort of.

it’s time for sleepy time in the arms reach Co-Sleeper®. the only problem is that he’s not so sleepy.

day 97: auntie diane, ruby and odin. I.

auntie diane is super duper pregnant and her due date is within days off odin’s original due date, so she’ll be having the baby very, very, very soon.

day 97: auntie diane, ruby and odin. II.

auntie diane was on the short list of visitors at the old nicu so odin is quite familiar with her belly. whenever auntie diane holds odin, her baby starts to stir, so maybe there’s some sort of baby-to-baby communication going on.