Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Moving Right Along

I really should be out running on this glorious 63 degree & very low humidity morning but blogging calls. 

Tile in the upstairs hall bathroom has been installed. The bathroom as of Friday afternoon.
And then on Monday afternoon - all of the tile was installed but was not yet grouted.
Some of the tiles in the mosaic (that Caitlynne selected) have the most beautiful pinkish/purplish iridescence to them.
The bathroom is almost finished. All of the tiling has been grouted and today, they will install the toilet, LED lights and the hardware in the tub/shower. Yesterday, the vanity was delivered and I selected the granite and the sink which should be installed Thursday or early Friday morning. 

It amazes me how quickly the hardwood flooring is being installed. It is almost like putting pieces of a puzzle together. Sort of. The master bedroom on Friday morning.

The master bedroom finished.
The hallway.
Since I took these photos, the hardwood flooring in Caitlynne's room, the hallway, the linen closet and the stairs has been fully installed. Today, in addition to the work in the bathroom, Mimmo and Dan will finish installing the hardwoods in Christopher's room and begin to re-install doorknobs, closet doors, switch-plate covers, etc. Everything seems to be on track for us to partially move in this weekend. Yay! 

While Mimmo and Dan are working inside, I have been busy trying to get the outside of the house and the yard cleaned up. We had the house power-washed about three weeks ago - cleaning all of the green gunk, spiderwebs and dirt off of the siding, gutters and the shutters made a huge difference in the home's appearance and curb appeal.

When we first arrived, the backyard looked like a jungle. And a dump. Seriously, how hard would it have been for our tenants to throw trash in the trash can as opposed to tossing it in the backyard? Ugh. Last week, I arranged to have all of the trash picked up, the brush cut down and removed, all of the trees and bushes trimmed, etc. It took a crew of 5 men almost 8 hours to get the yard back in order! It was that bad. It looked like a completely different yard when they finished. We are having a fence installed at the end of this week and the dogs will be very happy to have such a nice space for their playground. We have just over an acre of land and Sonder hasn't had such room to roam since we lived in Miami. I am sure he will go crazy for the first few days and enjoy the freedom of running unleashed. 

Speaking of playgrounds...early Saturday morning, I put a "free to good home" ad on Craig's List for this very dilapidated play-set and by Sunday afternoon, much to my relief, it was gone. It took the new owner and his son almost 2 hours to break it all down and take it away.
The front flower gardens are also a mess and I am slowly working on weeding them and trying to figure out where to relocate a lot of the existing perennials that have either become overgrown or have multiplied in the time we were gone. I think there is every kind of ground cover imaginable growing in this mess - Ivy, Vinca Minor, Pachysandra, Dichondra. There might even be a dead body in there somewhere! 
Before we left for Australia, this garden was full of many varieties of beautiful hostas. I think most of them have been overtaken by the ground cover but I find a few small ones every now and then while I am weeding. I meant to take a "before" photo but I got on a roll once I started pulling the plants out and forgot about it. Here is the garden almost 1/4 of the way cleared. I still have a lot more to go but, between the mosquitoes and trying to take it easy on my back, it is a slow process. 
The other side of the walkway after being cleaned up a bit and planted with some annuals...
The front entrance area. 
Kevin's mom gave us the bench below a couple of weeks ago. It is the perfect size for this space. Caitlynne painted it black and we added the pillow purchased at Lowe's. The front door needs to be re-finished and I have been searching on you-tube for some guidance. From the videos I have watched, I think this is a project that is within our Kevin's capabilities so I will be adding it to his "honey do" list.  
 Have a great Wednesday!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Running and Renovations

In the weeks before we left Thailand, my commitment to running was not the best. At all. In addition to me being very busy and the weather being very hot and humid, I was having a few aches and pains in the area near my Achilles Tendon. I decided to run the minimal amount possible (just enough to maintain my fitness) and cut back on my mileage until our return to the U.S. I have not progressed much in my transcontinental run over the last couple of months but every little bit counts. 

This is where I was this morning at mile 1648 in my transcontinental run...
1648.0 mi - 7.38 mi to Coyville, KS", Woodson County"Section: 8 Map Name: Verdigris River, 97"
Now that I am running in cooler and less humid weather and running on better surfaces, my weekly mileage is slowly starting to increase and I hope to run over 20 miles this week. In addition to being happy about my mileage increasing, I am thrilled that I feel so good during and after my runs. I do not even think about (and certainly don't miss) those hot and sweaty runs around Nichada. This morning, it was a glorious 62 degrees when I went out to run 5.5 miles. It was beyond amazing!

House renovations are progressing nicely and it looks like we are still on track to partially move in next Friday. Not that we have much to move in because our air freight shipment is still missing in transit. Very frustrating!

Caitlynne's room has been completely painted and is ready for the flooring to be installed. The ceiling is "Sweet Currant" and the walls are "Pretty Orchid". Caitlynne initially wanted to have the wall painted with the darker color but we saw some great painted ceilings on Pinterest and she changed her mind. We love the contrast and there is enough light in the room to keep it bright.
Christopher's room is painted with "Star Gazer". Dan asked me how I convinced Christopher (a Washington Redskins' fan) to paint his room "New York Giant Blue". Ha! I didn't even make the connection when we were picking the paint - in fact, I wanted him to paint the walls in a much lighter blue. I love this color though and am glad we went with the darker and brighter blue. It will certainly match the "New York Giants Red" area rug that I just ordered for him. Ha! 
I chose "Cream Delight" for the walls in the master bedroom. Our room looks rather boring when compared to the kids' rooms but neutral is good. All of the paints we used were Valspar (at Mimmo's request) and are available at Lowe's. 
With the painting completely finished, they were able to begin installing the hardwood floors yesterday afternoon.
By the end of the day, they had the floor of the master bedroom closet finished. We love how the hardwood looks!
The tile installation on the hallway bathroom floor was also finished yesterday.
The highlight of each of day is when Kevin and I go over to the house after dinner and take a look at what was finished during the day.

Have a great Thursday!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Doors & Dinner

We have four newly built door-frames and four new doors!

The hallway bathroom.
The master bedroom closet.
The master bathroom and master bedroom second closet.
And the last of the trash from the demolition...
The bedroom and hall ceilings and trim have all been painted. This week, the walls will be painted, the installation of the hardwood flooring will begin and work on the bathroom will continue. It is great to go over each evening after Mimmo and Dan have left and see PROGRESS! So much better than watching the demolition.

Jim and Jan made a delicious dinner Friday evening. 

A salad that was as delicious as it looked!
Grilled potatoes and corn on the cob.
Grilled pork chops.
Have a great Tuesday!

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Just in case our lives weren't chaotic enough...look what we added to the mix! 
Chester, a seven month old standard poodle, will join our family in about two weeks. 

Since we lost Simpson last April, my plan has always been to get another dog soon after our return to the U.S. My intent was to adopt a "rescued" labradoodle but, for several reasons, this did not work out. I had been keeping an eye on a few labradoodle rescue websites and, although I know there are processes and rules in place for good reasons, I did not have the patience for such a time consuming process. Applications, approvals, home inspections, dog-specific requirements (fenced yard, adult home during the day, no other dogs, other dogs, no kids, kids, etc.) that had to be met before I would even be considered to adopt a rescued doodle. In addition, because of Sonder, I wanted to be able to meet the dog and spend some time with him/her before making a decision about bringing him/her into our home and rescue organizations (at least the ones I was looking at) do not work that way. In fact, the one organization that had quite a few rescued doodles available would not even send the doodles to "forever" homes that were out of the state in which they were being fostered. In the 5 months that I had been lurking on that organization's website, only two doodles became available in Virginia and both were adopted very quickly.

I noticed a small ad for Chester in the Washington Post classifieds at the end of last week but I waited until Thursday to call. He was still available and, on Friday afternoon, the kids and I drove (almost to West Virginia) to meet him. 

This was only the second time he has ever been on a leash and he did so well!
It was love at first sight for all of us. I looked into his eyes and my heart just melted. He reminded me so much of Simpson and I think he is Simpson's soul mate for sure - very calm, loving and such a sweet, sweet dog. He will be a perfect addition to our family. All of the other puppies were going ballistic when we walked up to the field - barking and jumping like crazy - but Chester just stood quietly, patiently waiting for the gate to be opened. The breeder who owned him intended to use him for breeding but he is just too big (at 7 months, he is almost 70 pounds) so she had to retire him before he even began! Lucky us!

The breeder is willing to keep him for two weeks until our house is ready for us to partially move in to. We hope moving into the house with both dogs at the same time will reduce any territorial  inclinations that Sonder might have. Maybe he will just think that the new dog comes with the new house...

Sonder surveying his domain this morning...
Have a great Sunday!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Not A Good Start To The Day

Every morning, after my alarm goes off and before I even think about getting out of bed, I grab my phone and go through my emails. This morning was one of the few mornings when I regretted doing that. The following email sent by our point of contact at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok was one of the first messages I read...

"Please be noted that Mr. Keating’s UAB shipment is now missing during transit in San Francisco and we already asked United to trace this shipment since last week and await the outcome. Will keep all posted."

Someone asked me earlier today why I didn't seem all that upset. To be honest, until Mimmo and Dan finish the renovation of the upper levels of our home, we have nowhere to put anything. Right now, the later our shipment is found and delivered to our home, the better (and more convenient) it will be for us. Of course, if the shipment isn't found by the time the house is finished and we are ready to move in, I am sure my mood will be a little different. The UAB (aka air freight) contains almost all of the contents of my kitchen, our dinnerware and glassware, bedding, towels, tools, small appliances, clothing, etc. - all stuff that can be replaced if need be. It will just be a huge hassle. 

I am concerned that the notification that our shipment was lost was received by the Embassy last week and it still has not been found. That is a long time for 700 pounds of stuff to be missing - it isn't like it was one box or an envelope that was simply misplaced. Our shipment for our move from Washington, DC to Australia was originally delivered to a location in South Africa so who knows where this one might end up. It will be interesting to hear where it is found.  
Have a great Friday!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Long Time, No Blog

This post has been in the works (in my mind) for nearly 4 weeks. I have finally gotten things settled enough that I can write a post and, hopefully, continue to blog on a more frequent basis. 

I never intended to just disappear from the blog after our departure from Thailand and arrival in the U.S. but a variety of factors combined to prevent me from blogging for the past few weeksIn addition being incredibly busy with the usual visiting/catching up with family and friends, getting the kids and the dog settled in and completing numerous move-related tasks, I misplaced (not once but twice!) the notebook with my user name and password information. I couldn't access to publish a blog...even if I had the time and the inclination to write something - which I most definitely didn't. And, why not, you might ask? Well, in addition to being mom, wife, runner, blogger and organizer extraordinaire, I have taken on another hat...supervisor of home renovations! 

After being away for 8 years, we returned to find our home was desperately in need of many repairs, maintenance and upgrades. While we had planned on doing some work (re-painting and re-carpeting), we didn't certainly intend to renovate to this extent. However, since the house was empty and the work needed to be done, it was a "now or never" decision. We were fortunate to find two contractors that not only came very highly recommended by family members but were able to accommodate our "start and finish as quickly as possible" schedule. They are removing wallpaper from several rooms, re-painting the interior of the entire house, installing hardwoods on the upper levels, tiles on the lower level and in the sun-room and completely renovating two bathrooms. It is not pretty.
The contractors began yesterday morning and hope to finish the upper level in about three weeks. Once the upper level is finished, we will be able to partially move in while they work on the rest of house. We are currently splitting our time between Jim and Jan's (my brother and sister-in-law), a hotel and my mother-in-law's. While I am so appreciative that we have those options, not only are we living out of suitcases but we have stuff scattered between all three places. And in our cars. And at the house. It is way too unorganized and chaotic for my liking.

Much to our dismay, after the carpet was pulled up in the bedrooms on the upper level, we found that the carpet had been installed over hardwood flooring. Unfortunately, the carpet had been nailed directly to the hardwood floors and they were completely ruined. Believe me, I really tried to think of a way to salvage that existing hardwood but it was just not possible. So, not even 15 minutes after the contractors began the work, we had a slippage in the schedule and completion date. 
The demolition was finished today and everything is cleaned up and ready for Mimmo and his partner, Dan (our contractors), to begin the painting and the installation of the hardwood flooring tomorrow. 
The living room and dining room are filled with boxes of hardwood flooring.
Jim, Kevin and Christopher helped to defray some of our costs by replacing broken tiles in the kitchen. 
The kids and Sonder have settled in pretty well. Jan is totally spoiling Sonder with treats and lots of love and he has become quite attached to her. I am sure he is beyond confused with all of the moving around that we are doing. I try to take him in the car with us whenever possible so he doesn't feel like we are abandoning him. 
 Have a great Thursday!