Wednesday, July 30, 2014

fireplace demolition

I have been excited to write this post. I haven't posted hardly any pictures on facebook because I was afraid people would nit pick our decision to tear out our fireplace. But it's done and can't be undone! The only regrets I have now are that we can't store our guns back there (HA!) and I am going to miss the ambiance of a wood fire. But those things weren't enough to prevent us doing what we did.

Our reasons are thus:

1. The fireplace was terribly inefficient. Seriously guys. It was bad. It sucked air out of the house to feed the fire, air that the furnace had been working so hard to warm, air that we had paid to warm, air sucked out of the house and gone. And for what? To warm the air only directly next to the fire. As you can see from this photo, you had to be directly next to the fire to get any heat from it. Radiant heat. The rest of the house became colder and this room only slightly warmer. A fireplace guy told us you had to burn for 10-11 hours just to break even. 

2. The school room was always so cold! Firstly, because of the air sucking. Secondly, because the area behind the fireplace was very poorly insulated. The bricks were just a facade - the entire space behind the brick was empty! The space was mostly finished (drywall, texturing and even ceiling popcorn), but the hole that the fireplace pipe went up didn't have adequate insulation around it. You could feel the cold air coming out of the cupboard doors next to the fireplace. Brrrr!

3. Since we added a wall down the middle of that space for the boys new room, their bedroom stays warm! So the fireplace room is cold and the boys room on the other side of that wall is warm. Hmmm. Good bye fireplace.

4. The facade was really huge. It came out four feet into the room and went 12 feet of space lengthwise. We thought we could use the extra 48 square footage in space.

5. I thought the bricks were ugly.

So we were thinking that to increase the efficiency of our house and furnace it would help just to block off the whole thing. No more air sucking or air leaking. And after Terry tore out the old wet bar  that's now the boys closet in their new room (using only a hammer), we figured it wouldn't be too tough to tear out the fireplace bricks. And it wasn't too tough. Just terribly messy...

So the Friday after after our vacation when we were mostly healed with antibiotics from our terrible, lingering colds, Terry got started demolishing the fireplace facade. It only took less than an hour to do most of it and was pretty entertaining to watch. Evie thought it was too loud though. Ezra had to be contained and kept away from falling bricks.

Wah-cha! That's my sound effect for Terry's sledge-hammering of the bricks. He was just getting started here.

He should have been a model with those duck lips. Er, he was pointing out that he had just got the stupid shelf out of there (tell us how you really feel Eva. yeah, i didn't like the shelves.).

Progress: taking the mantle down. You can see the pitiful insulation around the fireplace pipe. Under the pipe was no insulation, just cold air in the winter.

After 45-60 minutes he had done all of this and we took a break for the night.

I lose track of what we did on what days... But I think over the next two days, Saturday and Sunday the 19th and 20th, we cleared out the above rubble. Terry and I dropped the bricks carefully out of that window for the kids to pick up and put in Terry's trailer. Terry's dad was here for a little bit and he helped a bit too. After that Terry busted apart the remaining bricks that were built around a box to form the outcropping where we used to set wood or sit in front of the fire. It was kind of like a bench. You can see the remaining frame below.

In the above photo Terry's trying to figure out how to take that board off the foundation wall. But he found all of these strange seed things! We have no idea what they are, if they served a purpose or if the house had a mouse or squirrel problem in the past. But they filled the area behind that board. Weird. It's a mystery. 

Here is the mess of bricks, shelving and iron framing on the trailer outside the window. See how weighted down the tires were? Yeah...

Terry could not go to bed that night (Saturday I think) until he had figured out how to take the pipe off the fireplace. And figure it out he did. Then he scooted the beast off it's support so we could rip those up later.

The following day, Sunday, we spent about an hour or so chipping motor away from the whole and half bricks so we can re-use them for a garden pathway. Plus we wanted to lessen the load that the poor trailer was suffering under. The day before the kids also helped me with this while Terry was sledge-hammering away at the rest of the brick bench thing.

There's the load once we took out all the larger bricks. Still heavy. But he filled the tires and made it to the dump just fine the following day, Monday.

There is everything torn apart. We had a friend over that evening, David, and he helped Terry carry the monster fireplace outside. Then all the remaining rubble and dust had to be cleared out. That Monday, the 21st, I filled up as many buckets of rubble as I could find and waited to deposit them onto the empty trailer the next day.

So the following day, Tuesday the 22nd, I tackled the remaining rubble in the photo above all by myself. I figured Terry had enough to do and the sooner this got done, the better. I don't like a projec to be left sitting. I just want it DONE. My secret? Having self-entertaining kids. And it helps that they're not all little like Samuel and Ezra. If they were, I could only work during nap time. But as it was, I cleared out all the remaining rubble in the morning and did another project (scraping the ceiling) that afternoon. I was pretty tired that evening though. Oofdah. Oh, and this photo was actually take a few days later (Monday the 28th) when Terry had removed the fireplace frame, hammer drilled those insulation support boards into the foundation and cut and placed the insulation to fit. He also put up a few new car siding boards (what I previously thought was wainscoting). Plus, he blocked up the fireplace pipe with insulation, covered the hole with boards and then stapled insulation over it to be covered by drywall (which is now done, but I'm saving that for another post). So yeah, we've been busy but it feels good and it's gonna look even better than it feels.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

paige and zach's wedding

The reason we ended our Nebraska vacation, and left Rachael's wedding, when we did was because we had to be back to Rapid to attend another wedding the very next day. 

Paige and Zach are youth workers of ours that who we've gotten close to, being their mentor couple and stuff.

We began to get to know them our first summer here in 2012, especially during the bike trip and disconnect, both of which they went on. I know this memory sticks out in Terry's mind, perhaps because of the sticky peanut butter Paige slapped on him during the bike trip. The punk!

Terry also fondly remembers when Zach and David stuck these yucca plants in their helmets for the final miles of the 2012 bike trip

Two months after the bike trip we went to Wyoming for our disconnect trip. Paige and Zach attended that and I have a feeling some attractions were starting there...

 They started dating December of 2012 and stopped by our house before Paige's senior prom on April 20, 2013, the same day that our kids were trampolining. I never posted these photos of them on the tramp so here are a couple. Wedding practice ;)

The kids had to show them the cool moves they learned earlier that day.  

Naturally, we had to be back for their wedding! It was the day after we returned from our vacation, Sunday July 13, and we were feeling pretty sick actually. That didn't stop us, though we didn't stay until midnight when it ended either. I'd seen weddings take place up there at Sylvan Lake (where National Treasure 2 was filmed) and it always seemed like the idyllic spot. Chyeah! Talk about beautiful photos!!!

The kiss :) 

After they got to the back Zach put Paige in a wheel barrow and wheeled her up to the reception. It was so cute with her little feet sticking out of all her dress fluff.  

We got to sit with all Terry's co-workers (who are our friends of course!) and another couple, Andrew and Alyssa (who are moving to Nebraska :( ). It was a beautiful and moving wedding. We felt so blessed to be a part of it. Love you Zach and Paige!
Alyssa, Andrew, Dave, me, Terry, Carol, Paul, Jana, Russ and Denise.

Monday, July 28, 2014

vacation: Rachael's wedding

The day after our visit to the zoo was Friday July 11. That morning we took it easy - let the kids play, cleaned up Dave and Kathy's house, prepared for more travel, and most importantly, let poor tired Ezra have a proper nap. Then we hit the road. We let everyone have a turn in front with Ezra. 

Noah's a good brother. He really likes Ez.

Once we got to Gothenburg, it worked out that Dave and Kathy were passing through, returning to Lincoln from their trip. We were able to meet up at the park in Gburg and have just a little time together. It was so great to see them.

That evening we had dinner and stayed with Terry's cousin, Tawnya and her family. The kids had fun with their cousins. Second cousins? We're not sure what to call the children of cousins...

The following morning was the event that we formed our entire trip around: Rachael's wedding. We sat in the back to keep our distractions to a minimum...ahem, Samuel and Ezra!

Noah's "best friend" Daniel, Rachael's youngest brother getting ready to get the party started.

Time to start mother of the bride! Yay! 

Here's what Ezra thinks of starting the wedding in the stroller ("Not the confounded stroller again! I will not have it!").

Pretty pretty Emily, Rachael's sister. 

And here comes the bride! Beautiful Rachael and proud papa Shawn. 

They got married under this beautiful, huge, spreading tree.  

Ez ate some dirt. 

Instead of a unity candle, they chose to have their families surround them and pray for them. Then Rachael gave Sam her purity ring.  

They saved their first kiss for this moment. Not gonna lie - Terry and I had tears. 

Married! Yay!!! 

Ez was also happy. 

We attended the reception for a couple hours before we just had to get on the road. It was truly a beautiful and moving wedding. So glad we were able to be there. 

Right before we loaded up we asked a friend to take a family photo of us. I always forget to do this when we're dressed up so I snatched the opportunity. Not bad! 

And...he's out. He napped for a good chunk of time, over an hour and we had a mostly pleasant drive home. It was a good trip. The only bad thing was that we were all sick with colds. 

vacation day at the omaha zoo

My last post was about how we finally went for a real family vacation. After we awoke at Dave and Kathy's, we headed straight over to Omaha for the Zoo. This was our second time at the zoo. The first was back in 2011 and funny enough, Kathy watched baby Samuel so we could go with a lot less hassle. She's still blessing us even though we've both moved. 

Our first stop was a quick run through the cat house. We had to move fast because we wanted to see the bears fed at a specific time. My only regret of the trip was that we didn't come back to the cats. They're my favorite. This leopard is stalking my kids.

Right around the corner from the cats were the bears. This is a sun bear who climbed to the top of it's tree to catch its food thrown from the trainer dude. We also saw a polar bear dive and swim and some black bears.

Next we went into the gorilla house. They were up to the usual monkey business - either napping or whipping around a shirt and then soaking it in water. Noah looks just enthralled.

After the monkeys we sat down and ate our pack lunch and Ezra fell asleep for about a hour. That's pretty good for him!  

I teased Terry not to take my photo since I forgot my mascara, but he broke my rule just this once. At least I have proof I was there too.  

After lunch we watched the koi fish fight over food. I thought it was so gross. Swirly, slimy mass of sucking fish! But now at home we joke if one of the kids is hungry (usually Samuel or Ezra), we call them a koi fish since they hold their mouths open just like the fish did, waiting for food to go in. 

After letting the kids play at the playground for a bit, we went over to the sea lions, ate some ridiculously expensive ice cream and watched them be trained and fed. It'd be fun to be a sea lion. 

Then we hiked all the way up the steep hill to see grazing rhinos.  

On our way to the cheetah we passed through this garden with little animal statues. My kids always sit on stuff like this

I think it's funny.  

Evie is especially funny! The goose.

Noah's favorite animal is a cheetah and we were able to see one, though he was far away by the fence. At least he wasn't sleeping. 

Then the tall giraffes.  

We went in the butterfly house mostly for Evie but it was really cool. So pretty. 

Poor Ezra had kind of a less than ideal time at the zoo. He did great, but since he can't walk yet he was confined to the stroller. But strollers weren't allowed in with the butterflies. So daddy had to clamp him down in his arms and he didn't like that. He wanted to play with butterflies! Or perhaps to eat the fruit they had laid everywhere...

I liked the turquoise color of this one. 

We saved the aquarium for the hottest part of the day at about 4pm, but first the kids had to play with the earth ball fountain thing. 

Ahhhh, the cool dark aquarium. I wanted to nap. The penguins were fun though. 

We spent quite a lot of time in the tunnel area. We let Ezra down to crawl a bit and just admired the pretty. Look at Samuel's face. Too funny! And you can see Terry's reflection, and Noah's too. 

My goofy girl. 

Noah looks extremely huge and stretched out in this picture. Can he be that big in real life? Crazy.

The eels, flotsam and jetsam. 

One last look at the aquarium.  

This little guy in the gift shop made up for missing the cats a little. I was enamored with his eyes. How do they glow like that?! 

We went to the jungle house last and were so done. After seven hours of walking and looking our feet and eyes were tired. We drove back to Lincoln and ate some good ol' Runza and went to bed.