Saturday, July 25, 2015

Plaster removal is......messy

Now that we have the financing on the house sorted we are able to really start tearing it apart! Finally, it is time for full scale demolition!   We began upstairs in the room that will be Wythe's room.  
Everyone will tell you that tearing out plaster is messy work but there really isn't a way to understand how messy it is without seeing it.  We seem to have a system that is working for us.  We smash and chisel the plaster off of the lath.  Then shovel the plaster into 5-gallon buckets to be hauled downstairs and around back to the ever-growing plaster pile.  
We had this idea for a chute that would run from the upstairs window down to the ground.  It seemed like a good idea, it probably was a good idea except for the logistics of getting it up to the window.   The idea was a frame built out of wood, with metal sheathing to form a chute for the plaster.  The problem was it had to be 32 feet long.  32 feet of wood and metal is difficult (impossible) for two people to manage.  So we tried to lift just the framing up to the 2nd story, thinking we could then nail the metal sheathing in place.  But we learned that we aren't as strong as we thought we were. We couldn't stand on the ground and lift 32 feet of wood into the air.  We tried using ladders to get more leverage, we tried jumping, we tried dragging it by rope from the 2nd story window.  Most everything we tried only resulted in me yelling at my husband "please don't die today!! don't you dare die and leave me with all this work!!"   So, we eventually abandoned the plaster chute and went back to the old fashioned method of hauling it out by the bucket full.  It is not a terrible option but you have to either go down 2 flights of stairs or one flight and then walk around the house to reach the plaster pile.  By the end of the day it feels as though you are walking up and down the steps of a high rise. 
Once the plaster is removed, then we start on the lath.  Once we have pried the lath off of the studs we stack it and carry it outside to be stacked on a pallet.  
The plaster removal on the ceiling is particularly messy because of the insulation in the ceiling.  Once you begin to pull down the lath large clumps of dusty, messy, insulation fall in your face, on your head, down your shirt, coating everything, turning your skin a greyish-black color.  

This is Wythe's room, before and after plaster removal. 

I'm excited about the space in the eves, I'm hoping to utilize as much as possible for closets, cupboards, or drawer space. 

We also learned a few more things about our electrical.  Namely, that the electric we had turned on upstairs believing it to be new wiring, was, in fact, the original wiring.  We had been using the overhead light fixtures until we saw what was behind the plaster.  Unbeknownst to us, the old outlets in the baseboards were also hot.  It was a little scary to see the old wiring behind the baseboard, the insulation is cracked and probably dry rotted.  There are singe marks on the wood from the wiring, it really makes you wonder how this house never burned down.
original outlet...still works...kind of scary

this is what the working switches look like

We moved onto Ainsley's future room, the room we will use for a time.  I was eager to uncover the section of chimney in that room to see what condition it is in.   We are hoping to leave the brick exposed on the chimney depending on the condition. 
first look at the chimney in the bedroom
Under a few layers of paint, over top of the plaster on the chimney, we found this wallpaper.  

knocking the plaster loose
one wall down to the lath
window in A's room
window in A's room
closet space in A's room
closet space in A's room

A's room, door to hallway
A's room, door to hallway

We were very grateful to have extra hands this past weekend!   My dad, his brother, and my brother-in-law all came to help!  My sister stayed at the house with the kids enabling me to work uninterrupted at the house.  It is amazing how much easier it is with extra hands, extra legs carrying loads of plaster up and down the flights of steps.  We were able to get the plaster and lath removed in the former upstairs kitchen and start on the hallway.  We have previously removed the tile floor from the upstairs kitchen but hadn't been able to get the sub-flooring up that was nailed into the original pine flooring. That job alone took several hours, Peter ended up having to cut it into strips in order to pry it up. 
This room was the kitchen for the upstairs unit.  We will use it for a bedroom for now, eventually it will be a laundry room and hallway to the master bedroom. 
Over the next few days we continued to work in the hallway removing the plaster and lath. 

Before-former upstairs kitchen
After plaster removal

before - former kitchen

After - will be converting into a bedroom

Before - upper hall
After - upper hall

Before - upper hall
After - upper hall, chimney exposed

upper hall

Removing plaster and lath isn't that hard.....just messy and time consuming.  But even 5 and 7 year olds can do it!
W & A, removing lath
Sometimes you have to pull really hard!
our little helpers!

  'til next time...

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

And then he was seven....

Seven years old.   It seems like a blink of an eye and seems like forever.  Forever, because I cannot imagine life without our Wythe.  A blink of an eye because the years are slipping by, how can it be that we have had seven years with him?  Admittedly, many of those years are a little blurry, years of no sleep can do that to you!  What a ride it has been!  This little guy has challenged us in ways we didn't think possible and has brought us joy we didn't believe was possible.  

"Birth" day

1st birthday

2nd birthday

3rd birthday

4th birthday

5th birthday

6th birthday

On his actual birthday he got to plan the day.  He was thrilled to get to "decide things"!  He woke up to balloons in his room and present on his floor containing a new outfit for the day.  Once at the table he unwrapped a set of Hess truck glasses while we waited for his waffles. 

Per his decision we spent the day at the children's museum, four hours...felt like a week.  But it was his birthday and he was having fun....and he got frozen yogurt for lunch!  As we were leaving the downtown mall he said "do you know what would make my birthday even more special?  Getting my own iced coffee drink!"   That's my boy!
When I asked what he would like to have for his birthday dinner he choose steak.  So, using a gift card from my grandma, we took him to Outback.  They sang a birthday song for him and....he LOVED it!   Those who know Wythe will know how unusual this is!  Maybe this is part of being seven years old!  
I did have a cake for him at home, he had picked it out at the store to go along with his new theme of a "United States party".  It was a win for me, especially considering it was a reduced 4th of July cake.  This change of birthday theme had just occurred and I was relieved and puzzled.  Previously, I had said to him, 
"hey bud, your birthday is next week. Do you want a cake? or maybe cupcakes?"  
"oh, I want a cake, and I want it to be rectangle shape, and on this side I want it to be a Star Wars cake with Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker when Darth Vader is telling Luke Skywalker 'I am your father' and on the other side I want Spiderman battling the Green Goblin and in the middle near the top I want a 7 candle and in the very middle I want Spiderman marrying his girlfriend. Yep, that's what kind of cake I want."
Needless to say, I was regretting that I had asked.  I did consider making the cake he requested, I looked into buying the figurines to use on the cake but that alone made the cake too costly.  So, I proposed some other options and he decided he would like to have cupcakes at his party and each person could decorate their own......YES!!!   *fist pump*  
I told him he could pick out whatever plates he wanted, Star Wars, Spiderman, TMNT, Minions...whatever.  When we were at the store he picked out some red plates, blue plates and white plates and said "I decided I want to have a United States party.  To celebrate President Obama."    This kid!!

A 4th of July cake on clearance worked for him!

I asked him if he wanted to play any games at his party, maybe Pin the tail on the donkey, musical chairs....he said he would like to play a game at his birthday...chess.  Pretty sure he didn't get that idea from Pinterest.  
For his party he had a couple buddies, his family, red, white and blue decorations, decorate-your-own cupcakes, and....presents!

"another Hess truck!!!"

He got lots of Legos...which is awesome!
 This was the first birthday that was free of melt-downs!   Maybe this is part of being seven, maybe this is us finally finding a way to celebrate Wythe in a way that isn't overwhelming for him.  Wythe declared it to be "the best birthday ever!!" 

I'd say that makes it a success. 

 'til next time...

Thinking of Paris....

In honor of Bastille Day I'm posting a few of my favorite photos from Paris.   It has been over 10 years since my trip,  I never thought I would stay away so long.  I'm hopeful I will visit there again soon, especially considering I have a child who is obsessed with the place!

I stayed near Sacré-Cœur and went by it a couple times a day.  Most mornings I would start my day with a ham and cheese crepe and cafe creme at a little place right on the corner. 

steps near Sacré-Cœur 

The Eiffel Tower was every bit as amazing as I had imagined it would be.  My first up-close look at the tower happened at night,  I stopped in the street and marveled.

Wouldn't you love to live here??

This Irish pub became my home away from home.  I know it seems corny to frequent an Irish bar in Paris but...I did.   I spent my days visiting museums, monuments, wandering from one neighborhood to another.  But at the end of a long day is was nice to go to a place where I could speak English, even the French were willing to speak English when in the pub.  So, I ended most of my days by having a nightcap here before heading back to my hostel.  In just a couple weeks I became a "regular", so much so, that they threw me a 'goodbye party' when I left Paris!
Corcoran's - Place de Clichy

And a couple more pics of the tower....just because...

'til next time...