Posts Tagged ‘house’

home improvement

There is a reason–a good one–that I don’t usually tackle projects that require any handiness or know-how. Actually, there are two reasons.

Reason 1: I know nothing. Seriously, I have zero ability to do even simple repairs, etc. I can read (obviously), so sometimes I read a whole bunch of instructions and then take on some kind of project. I usually regret it, though, even if I don’t damage anything. (And I never, ever have the correct hardware/tools/parts.)

Reason 2: I’m generally working around the kids. Which means–well, you know what it means. Whatever the opposite of “help” is, that’s what you get.

Over the weekend, the flush handle on the toilet in our downstairs bathroom broke. We were busy and didn’t fix it on Sunday, and Conor made the offhand remark, “Looks like the toilet fairies still didn’t come.”

In case you don’t know any 5- or 6-year-olds, I should inform you that toilet fairies are the funniest thing in the world.

So, after teaching today, we decided that we should fix it. I stopped at the hardware store on the way home, got the part we needed, and headed home.

After making lunch, I started working on it. And this is how things went.

2:14: I take the lid off the toilet tank.

2:15-2:20: The kids stand around, looking in and marveling at the contents of the tank (“That’s where the water comes from! There’s a CHAIN in here! MOM! Did you know there’s a chain in here?”).

2:21: I read the instructions on the replacement part. I realize that I bought the wrong thing.

2:23: I fetch the kids back from the corners of the house (into which they fled when there was some prospect that I would want them to get in the car instead of pestering me). We drive back to the store and exchange our part.

2:45: We return home. (I am exhausted and haven’t even started the job yet.)

2:46: I pick up the new package and read the instructions.

2:47: Wesley says, “I’m hungry.” I fix him a snack. Mary does not want a snack.

2:50: I read the instructions again.

2:51: Mary says, “I’m hungry now.” I make her fix her own snack, but it takes longer than fixing it myself.

3:00: I read the instructions again. I turn off the water source to the toilet. The kids run into the bathroom to look at it. (“What did you do? Did you fix it?”)

3:05: I remove the toilet tank. Wesley stares at it and says, “I thought you were fixing it, not breaking it!”

…and so on. And so on. And so on.

I’m pleased to report that the problem is now fixed (at least, it seems fixed). It’s 7 p.m.


On the other hand…

…here is Mary’s picture of “the toylet fairy,” from the bottom of the note the fairy left for Conor:



that’s it–this heater is history

So, we have had nothing but trouble with our boiler from the first winter we were in this house (three years–can you believe that?). We’ve had people out to fix one thing, then another, then the first thing again, and again….the flame sensor, the thermocoupling (whatever the hell a thermocoupling is), valves, wires, etc.

About four days ago it conked out again. We called our repair guy (who is very good) and he said, “I think it’s the flame sensor.” (AGAIN!)

He got a part for it, brought it over, and discovered it’s not the right variety (our boiler is too old). So he showed us what part of the boiler to bang on to get it to come on. Seriously. “Just give it a tap here…or a whack, if that’s what it takes.” He said he’d get the right part and call us back. Well, the hit-the-boiler-with-something-hard trick worked for a day and then it stopped.

Then he called back. Turns out they’re not making this part this way anymore; the one we have contains mercury and new ones don’t. So, the conversion kit is $700 + labor.

We decided, upon about six seconds of reflection, that no way in HELL are we dumping $800 into this boiler. So I guess we’re getting a new one. This, however, raises two questions:

* How long is it going to take to get a new one? Since we’re currently without heat and the house is 40 degrees, this is important.

* How exactly are they going to get the old one out and the new one in, given that the people who installed the old one then built a wall in front of it with a door for boiler access–a door that is smaller than the boiler itself? Only time will tell.

In the meantime, I went to the hardware store and got another space heater (the one Conor and I had been using has gotten too scary to use; the plug gets hot if you run it, which is not something we want to mess with). I brought it home, put the kids down for a nap (in their room, which has a space heater…THEY seem fine with the cold house), and tested out the new heater.

In a moment of abstraction, I used the wrong outlet–the one that, for some reason, is on the same circuit as 3/4 of the house. The circuit blew after 5 seconds. Shrieking ensued from the kids’ room (their light is on the same circuit too). So I ran to the basement, reset the circuit, moved the heater, soothed the kids (I may have bribed Mary with a jelly bean to get back in her bed…don’t tell anyone), and then collapsed, exhausted. I will not miss this boiler.

I just fixed the furnace!

I would feel more accomplished about this if it had been in any way intentional. But who cares? The heat’s on!


I am trying to clean up. Here’s how it works here:

* I put away a few kids’ books.
* Mary takes out one of the books.
* Wesley gets three books out–net cleaning, I’ve put away -1 books.
* I put away the remote controls.
* Mary takes one remote and waves it around and pretends to use it as a phone.
* I pick up a tub of lotion and put it away.
* Mary demands lotion on her ankles.
* While I am lotioning her ankles, Wesley picks up a remote and begins trying to turn on the TV.
* I put away a few more kids’ books.
* Mary empties out her toy box.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

4th of July and update on the refrigerator problem

My handy husband came home and took care of it in about 10 minutes using a borrowed Skil saw. Thanks for the advice–I really had no idea what to do with that.

So, yesterday was the 4th–we went to a movie [Pixar’s “Up,” which I liked a lot]. The kids were pretty good, although Wesley cried when it was really loud, and there was no one else at our showing anyway so it didn’t matter.

Then we went to the fireworks over in the next little town.

We sat around for an hour waiting for them to start. Conor made a paper airplane to entertain Mary. Finally they began the show. The first fireworks went off. I said to Wesley, “Look, honey!”–but his face was already crumpling up and he just SCREAMED. Then I realized that Mary was also wailing. We beat a hasty and ignominious retreat to the car. Maybe next year.

this is growing in our yard

and we didn’t even know:

From end of May

Really, really good berries.

this week and last

A few pictures for your viewing pleasure!

first salad from the garden this year:

From May 17 2009

baby hands!

From May 17 2009

worried monkey:

From May 17 2009
From May 17 2009
From May 17 2009

Mary, freezing from her wading pool (note that she is wrapped in her blanket from Grandma Cal):

From May 17 2009

On Saturday we went to the strawberry patch at our local farm. They had nice greenhouses and delicious strawberries.

From May 17 2009
From May 17 2009

Mary, trotting between greenhouses:

From May 17 2009

Conor showing Wesley some flowers:

From May 17 2009
From May 17 2009
From May 17 2009

Wesley doesn’t seem to consider the flower trustworthy.

From May 17 2009

Mary carried the strawberries.

From May 17 2009

I really wanted to take a picture of both kids. At the same time.

From May 17 2009
From May 17 2009
From May 17 2009

Eventually I gave up on getting a GOOD picture of them together and went back to taking individual pictures, which is easier.

From May 17 2009

a ripening berry:

From May 17 2009

Back at home, my garden is flourishing so far.

From May 17 2009

Wesley, who wants to play in the dirt, is getting brave enough to leave the Blanket of Safety.

From May 17 2009

Also on Saturday, Conor cleaned the gutters (maybe Sunday…I’m not sure now that I think about it). Mary said, “Daddy is on roof!”

From May 17 2009

(She just saw the picture over my shoulder and said, “Daddy clean gutters. Ew.”)