Tuesday, February 28, 2006

OUCH! I'm in the wrong buisiness!!!

I just had the plumber finish the job. Less than 1 hour of actual work and routing a gas line less than 10' = $280.00!!! That one hurt really bad. I'm kind of upset for not doing it myself. It really was basically what I thought needed to be done.

I guess the good thing is the dude actually quoted me $358.00. I talked him down to $280.00. I have no idea how these dudes sleep well ripping people off. It's my own fault though. Alene took the bad news well (she always does).

I did most of the electrical wiring this morning (before the plumber came). I just need to add the plugs and switches and I've got all the base electrical done. Then I need to add the recessed lighting too.

Kitchen Remodel Day 3

I skipped class tonight (we were going over an easy section) to work on tearing out the floor. The floor had about 3 layers of other flooring on it, so you can imagine I was in for a treat! Needless to say: it SUCKED!

First, there was a layer of linoleum that was laid around the early 80's. Then there was another layer of linoleum that was this greenish color that was laid around the 60's. That stuff wasn't too bad. I used my brothers (Russ) big 50 lbs. iron pry-bar and it just popped the stuff right up.

The tough part was the 2.5" wide hardwood floor slats that was under the linoleum. That stuff took FOREVER to pull up and alot of sweat (which was replenished with 64oz of Gatorade). If anyone knows how hardwood flooring is nailed down (at an angle and about every 16") that made it extremely tough to get pulled up.

I finally finished pulling up the hardwood flooring about 9pm or so (so it took me a total of about 3.5 hours to pull up the flooring). I now have about half the sub-floor pulled up and will pull up the rest of it tomorrow (or today? It's actually 4:45 in the morning, but I can't sleep because I have a cough and I'm bored laying in bed).

Tuesday's plans are to get the rest of the floor pulled up, the joists leveled out, and the new sub-floor nailed down. I'm also meeting with a plumber to have him move the gas line, that is, of course, if it's in the price range I'm looking at. I'm sure they'll try to rip me off, but I'm having someone else do that part for piece of mind that I won't blow up my own house. I totally know how to do it, but I don't have the confidence of doing it correctly. A plumber will.

Here are some picturs of the days work:

This is the 2nd layer of linoleum. Not sure what era that is, but I'm guessing late 50's/early 60's. This stuff came up really easy (notice the 50 lbs prybar in all the pictures; this item truly was a BIG help).

This is the hardwood flooring strips that were a pain in the butt! I hated it so much and was thankful this was the last time I had to do it in this house (I also tore the same stuff out of our bathroom, but it wasn't as big of a room and it was 5 years ago, so I don't remember how tough it was).

This is the last of the hardwood strips. YAY!

This is the sub-floor coming up.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Kitchen Remodel Day 2 (more)

I can't believe I forgot to mention these fun-filled adventures.

First of all, when Alene and I were shopping at Home Depot, this dude came up to us and asked if we wanted to buy a gift card off him (since he could tell we were obviously spending a lot of money). He had $800 on his gift card (he owns a cement business and returned some items to Home Depot without a receipt, so they gave him a gift card with the credit on it). He said if we gave him cash, he would knock some money off the cost. I had thought about how all the banks were closed and that the only thing I could get was $500 out of the ATM. He said he'd give it to us for $600. Ummmm, trade $600 cash for $800 credit? Sounds like a no-brainer to me.

I then thought about some additional cash we had at home in a safe. Alene and I agreed to buy it from him and she ran to the bank, withdrew the cash, then went home and grabbed the extra $100. The dude just waited up front while I continued shopping.

It wasn't until 10 minutes later when I realized that I should make sure to verify the funds are on the card and that we don't just give him the money and let him run. DUH! But man, that would be a horrible scam. I wonder if anyone else is doing that out there? "Hey, sir, I have this gift card that says $100. I'm not going to use it here, so I'll sell it to you for $50". The dude then goes to use the card and finds out it's used up. That would suck.

So I went and found the guy and told him, no offense, but I want to make sure the money is on the card before I buy it. He was really cool about it.

So Alene got back, we verified it, exchanged money and he went on his way. It was nice to get an extra $200 for pretty much nothing other than having to run to the ATM. In all, we spent around $2000, but we had a 20% off coupon I bought on ebay for $6 (which gave us $400 off), then the $200 we saved with buying the dudes gift card. We basically got $2000 worth of supplies for $1400. Not a bad deal!

The sucky part was our trip home. We loaded the truck up with TONS of stuff (we spent over $2000 that day. I was suprized to see that we were able to fit everything on except the ten 2x6x14' boards we bought. We loaded the back of the truck up with 5 sheets of 4'x8' sub flooring, multiple cabinet door backs, 16 2'x4' studs, 50' of 1/2" copper tubing, 130' of door trim and base boards, and 18 sheets of drywall. In addition we put 4 bags of ceramic tile mortar and a heavy cast-iron sink (which was in the box). This doesn't include the stuff we put up in the back seat of the truck (which included an over-the-stove microwave/range unit).

We live only 3 miles away from the store and everything felt pretty solid, so the "all-knowing" man in me figured everything would be safe if we left it as it was. I drove the truck very slowly and carefully. We got about 1/2 mile from our house and stopped at an intersection red light. Upon my taking off (which was slow), Alene screamed out to stop. I did and looked back as all the stuff just started sliding backward. THAT SUCKED!

So we had to put the hazzards on (luckily the weekend traffic was nothing) and a guy pulled over to help us. We had to take all 18 sheets of drywall, the sub flooring the trim, basically everything but some of the smaller items, off to the side of the road. Luckily nothing was seriously damaged (or so I thought, we found out later that our tailgate is all bent up and only one side locks in place, while the other side won't even reach it's lock; oh well, it's a truck). We then loaded everything back up (again, not tying it down, but distributing the weight a little better) and we got home just fine. I have no idea why it all decided to fall off. Most of the weight was in the bed (only 2' of the 8' sheets of drywall and sub flooring were hanging over).

Anyway, THAT sucked, but we were very thankful for the guy who helped us. The stuff was HEAVY and we worked up a sweat getting it out of the road. A police officer came up and put his lights on for us so people would go around him. That was nice of him. At first I thought I was going to get in some sort of trouble or ticketed for some reason, but he was cool. When we got in the truck, I apologized to Alene for being so dumb about not tying it down. She then played the comforter and said "dude, it's not your fault". You're so nice sweetie. I know the truth though :-).

Anyway, I'm glad we got it all home. We have a few more items to purchase still, but we pretty much have everything we wanted (and then some, we have money left over for some new lights for the kitchen and dining area).

Kitchen Remodel Day 2

We basically finished the demolition of the cabinets on the south wall. This is how nasty that lath and plaster is behind these old cabinets:

There was a LOT of wood that was taken out from the cabinets, the old baseboards and door casing and door trim, so instead of letting it rest in a landfill, we separated it from the plaster and burned it all in the fire pit we have in the back yard. That will also save me another trip to the dump; it was a lot of wood:

(This is the last of the wood we burned)

Here are some pictures of the kitchen with all the walls torn down:

We then moved on to cutting a hole in the wall between the future dining room and the kitchen (note, for those of you that are familiar with the house, the front/entry room will now be a dining room, but it will be separated by a wall with a domed entry)

Next step will be tearing out the 3 layers the floor has on it, leveling out the joists, then putting down the new sub-floor. Once that is done, we are going to really get rolling!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Kitchen remodel: Day 1

Alene, Caiden and I spent the morning shooting the crap out of the bare walls of the kitchen with my paintball gun. It was fun.

Here are a couple of pictures of the bare kitchen before we shot it up.

Here are the pictures of the aftermath.

We then took the innagural beating of the wall with my framing hammer.

Now it was time to get to work. We got most of the walls knocked down. We just have half of the south wall, which has the wall cabinets.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Kitchen is about to go bye-bye

We're going to be tearing the kitchen apart tomorrow. I wanted to use my blog to update the progress. We plan on tearing the complete kitchen apart down to the bare studs and the floor joists. We will be moving a gas line and water/drainage lines as well as some electrical. It's going to be a blast!

I'm going to post some before pictures. I must warn, they are hideous and we have had to live with this kitchen for some time. Remember, I warned you!

In addition to this, we decided to turn our front room into a dining room. We will accomplish this by building a wall in the front room to separate it. We will also have an open counter from this room to the kitchen where we can put a couple of bar stools. This is going to look WAY different by the time we're done.

Here are pictures of the "before" view.

The dining room will be on the left of this picture. The wall will extend from the left of where this picture was taken, all the way to the wall where those book shelves are. There will be an arched opening to be able to enter it. We will also cut an open area/counter top right above those book shelves to create a section where you can serve from the kitchen easily.

This is the view looking the opposite way from the first picture. The dining room will be on the right with a wall and arched entry way to enter.


I forgot to mention that I did Yoga last Friday and I plan on going again this week. I know it's best to go on a consistent basis (i.e. 3 days a week or so), but once a week will have to do.

Alene has been going for quite a while and has always asked me to come. To be honest, I was just intimidated by it. I know there is a lot of stretching and holding certain postures, so I ditched out quite a bit. I finally gave in last week and really enjoyed it (although I was pretty sore the next few days).

Alene is AMAZING at it. She never gives herself credit, but she is SOOOO Bendy :-). I worked up a good sweat doing it and it did feel good. The hardest part was keeping up with what everyone else was doing as well as knowing when to breathe in and out. I think I'll catch on if I go more often.

I'm going back tonight, so we'll see if I can keep up.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

It's official........

You can now call me "brace face". I had my braces put on my teeth yesterday (Tuesday). They're not too painful, but if I bite into something, they really bother me. So, it looks like I'll be losing weight, which isn't a bad thing. No, I won't be starving myself, I'll just be eating less-frequently.

I find that with my braces, I wait until I'm really hungry, then I eat only for the sake of getting the food on my stomach, not to enjoy the taste of it. I already envy people that get to sit there and chew their food, to get the flavors in their mouth and wait a bit, then swallow it. For me, I just get the food in tiny pieces, put it in my mouth and swallow. Not much flavor and nothing fun about it. Oh well, I guess that is how it should be. Shoot, maybe I'll just start eating bugs?

Life has been pretty busy/hectic, but I've enjoyed it. Alene is very loving to me and shows me all the time that she cares about us. I love that about her. She truly is the "glue" in our marriage and she teaches me every day about love and the importance of the bond a husband and wife should have with each other.

Caiden teaches me many things too. I don't know why, but I never feel like I'm an adequat parent to him. I know I love him dearly and I care about him, but I find myself always "in the moment" when I get mad at him too easily, or I'm quick to discredit his fears. The hardest part with him is getting him to bed. He will take AT LEAST an hour before he falls asleep. During that time he is up every few minutes, calling me into his room because he saw a shadow or he heard a sound. Most of the time I get frustrated and tell him it's nothing (and during that time I'm tired/grumpy, so I REALLY over-react) when I know I should have patiently given him a hug, looked around the room for anything scary, then showed him it was OK. Still, I know he loves me and I know he knows I love him, I just want to have a strong impression as a father on him.

We recently signed him up for Soccer, so that should be fun. He does Karate right now, but that is more of an individual thing. This will be his first opportunity to be on a team of some sort. I can't wait for him to start.

Alene may be working for a new employer soon. She was contacted by someone in her MBA class about a job opening with Echostar (which is basically Dish Network). She interviewed and they offered. It's a great opportunity with less stress and a more relaxed environment for her. She gets to work from home on Monday, then Tues-Fri she is out and about on the road in the Utah, Salt Lake, and Davis County area retailers for Dish Network products, providing updates and training to each location. I'm really excited for her to start this as I know the Travel coordinator job has been really wearing her down.

We are both getting ready for a re-model of our kitchen and we've also decided to do a little more re-model into the front room of our house, making it into a dining room. It's going to be a HUGE change and I can't wait to have it done and for everyone to see it. It's going to look WAY different than things have in the past. I'm seriously ITCHING to get started on it, but I'm sure Alene can wait :-). I look forward to working on it with her and being able to teach her some of the things I've learned with home remodels.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I'm getting braces

I just got back from the Orthodontics office. They did all the X-rays, molds, etc. They followed it up with placing these rubber braces between my back teeth. They didn't hurt when they were first put in, but now they are starting to give me a headache! I have to keep them in there for one week! Oh well, this will all pay off in the end. I've always HATED my teeth and now I'm able to do something about it. I want to be able to smile with confidence, not smile and wonder if anyone is freaked out or disgusted by my crooked teeth.

Valentines Day

I've always said how much I really don't like this day. My reasons are for myself, but it basically goes back to me thinking Halmark corrupted it. Anyway, I'm really not a "hopeless romantic" type, but I do like romance (although I hate the word, that's weird). Alene left me a card this morning before she headed out to work. I LOVE reading her feelings. She seems to express herself better in her writing and I really feel it's an opportunity to hear how she feels. I am that way too (easier for me to write, than to talk) and I think it annoys her a bit.

Either way, she wrote some things in there (private obviously) that made me read it over and over and over again. I love that woman so much.

The past 9 months of marriage have not been "bliss" or in the typical fashion of most newlyweds. We are both very busy and sometimes we need to realize we need to slow everything down and not be so busy. It's so hard to NOT be busy though, with both of us having large families, each within 1 hours drive. With our full-time work/school schedule, and with our responsibilities within the church as well as the responsibility of being parents. You get kind of lost in all that and forget about each other, or forget how to show love to each other. Needless to say, we've had our "moments" when things weren't looking the best. However, even through all we argue (we don't yell at each other, just argue), I still love that woman even more than the day before.

Thank you Alene, for being so good for me. Thank you for teaching me so many things about love and feeling. Thank you for being supportive and doing your best to be patient with marriage. I love you honey.

Alene and I got a new truck

It's a 2002 Dodge Dakota quad cab 4x4. It's fully loaded with leather seats and about every other thing you'd want in a car. I dig it. It also has a 5.9 liter V-8, so it's got a ton of power. The gas mileage sucks, but we have Alenes car to take on longer trips if we need to. The only negative to buying it was that it has a dent in the drivers side rear door. It's a pretty nice-sized one, but I think I may be able to pull it out myself.

Here are some pictures of it:

Monday, February 06, 2006

How do you prepare a 4-year old for death?

This was posted by an aquaintance of mine on Cougarboard.com. Being a parent, this hit me hard. Children are so precious to me, all of them, but the ones you make sacrifices for daily (wheather tiny or large) are even more special to you.

Before I post it, I also was saddened by a portion of the book "1776", which goes into detail of the beginning of the Revolutionary war. One section described the Americans Bombing Boston (where the Brittish had the town under seige) and the American soldiers wrote that the worst part about initiating war was hearing the women and children screaming in fear and pain from the bombing. They were only bombing less than a mile away, so they could hear everything. I cannot fathom what it would be like to have a child have to live through war, and yet I know it happens on a daily basis.

Here is what my friend posted:

Our good friends are about to lose their 4-yr-old son to brain cancer. This courageous, amazing little guy has been fighting the good fight for over a year now, but the cancer has become too invasive to battle any longer. The parents have brought him home, and are making him as comfortable as possible for as long as possible...

How do you prepare a 4-yr-old to die? How do you explain what is happening to him? How do you teach him what he should be expecting over these next (and last) few days/weeks of life?

And how, as a parent, do you cope with this?

Give your kids an extra hug tonite, and thank God for these precious gifts.

Alene posted this on her blog

and I REALLY liked it:

Benjamin Blood.

Today I was processing the visa for a young man with the name Benjamin Blood. I don't know why, but I thought it was a cool last name. Blood is life, love, death, God and heaven.

The Maya buried their dead in coffins that were painted red inside for blood and shaped like a womb to symbolize rebirth. They believe the earth was connected to heaven through an umbilical cord. That is such a vibrant and alive notion of heaven and God I love it.

When I was in Israel we went to where the Samaritans worship. They still perform animal sacrifices and my instructor went into detail about how these were done. At first I was repelled by the vulgar description, and why would God require such brutality? Then I thought of something else that is so bloody, but so incredibly beautiful, and that is childbirth.

Isn't it fascinating how bloody everything is?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

And life goes on

A lot has happened, but at the same time, it has all flown by so quickly.

The Sundance Film Festival came and went in that time. Alene worked it as a manager for the ten-day period. She was cold. Still, I was able to get out and see a few movies.

I saw the Shorts Collection, which was basically about two hours of short films. They were all great, so it was hard to say which ones I liked the best. The funniest one was called "Robins date", which starred Sam Rockwell as Batman and some other dude as "robin", who was out on a date with a girl. Batman (Rockwell), intervenes and starts trying to put the moves on Robin's date. They both end up finding out that the girl has a boyfriend and the boyfriend shows up to basically be-little batman and robin. It was hilarious.

I also saw a movie called In Between Days, which was about a Korean girl living in America and her relationship with a boy who she likes, but won't admit it and it drives her to do something she will end up regretting. It was awesome because it was shot on an extremely low budget (I'd guess under 20k) and it got some good reviews. All the talking was done in Korean, so there were subtitles. Another cool thing was that the lead girl had never acted before (and she did a dang good job). The director met her while she worked in a bakery.

The last film we saw was American Hard Core, which was a documentary about punk in the early 80's. It was awesome because it focused on a select group, the dudes that were really NUTS and just vented pure agression. They showed old footage of bands like Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Black Flag, and others. It was a loud, awesome documentary.

School has been OK. I'm only taking one class because I was not able to get into the others I needed. I basically have two more classes to take (Math 1050 and Biology 1010) this summer and I'm done with my Associates degree. I used to hate Math, but I'm actually kind of enjoying the class. Not that I'd want to get into teaching it, but for the most part, it's not as painful to sit through as it was last semester. I think the instructor makes a big difference though.

I love Alene to death. She is an amazing woman. We have our marriage problems here and there, but it's never something I don't think we can't work through. I deeply love and care for her. My issue is that I'm not showing it enough. I often spend too much time working on things that only I enjoy, when I need to focus more on just dropping what is going on and pay attention to her. I think I'm getting better at it, but other times I think I take two steps backward (OK, maybe 1.5 steps). Either way, Alene is always willing to talk about things, so I'm comforted by that.

Caiden is growing and doing the things that 6-year olds do. I love him to death and there isn't a minute that goes by that I don't worry about him and how he will end up. It's sad, I know. I need to not worry so much, however I feel this total sense of MAJOR responsibility for him, his life, and his soul. I want so badly for him to have every opportunity to learn and grow. I want him to learn to be selfless and help others too. It's so hard to not worry and just let life happen. Oh well.

Anyway, Alene and I had fun last night. We spent most of the night making sugar cookies for a Valentines day project she is doing with her Sunday School class tonight. I felt bad because alene said I rolled and cut the cookies better than she did and it frustrated her. I guess I mostly feel bad becasue it frustrated her. She is amazing at other things that I admire about her, but for whatever reason, I'm not frustrated by it? Anyway, it was still fun because I had powdery hands and I placed two powder hand-prints right on her butt. I also kissed her when she had her back turned to me, and in the process, rubbed powder all over her face :-). It could have gotten messy, but we avoided that :-).

In the process of making the cookies, I kept staring at our map of the world (which hangs on our kitchen wall) and I had an idea for us to write down every corner of the earth we would like to visit, even if the places seemed impossible or too expensive. We came up with TONS of places, so we're going to be pretty busy the rest of our lives trying to get to those places.

One place I'm particularly excited to get to is Montana. Alenes brother Brian is graduating from his Masters program this may, so we're taking a week-long trip up there. We plan on going to the East side of montana to visit there area of Custers last stand, then heading back across to the North-West of Montana to visit Glacier National Park, then south down to Missoula to visit Brian and be there for his graduation. I'm so stoked for this trip. I've seen so many pictures of Glacier and always wanted to go there. Also, since I'm a big history buff, I'm excited to see Custers Last Stand as well. We'll be camping for four of the days and staying in a hotel for 2-3 of the other days.

Work is going well. Our landlord gave us $225,000.00 to make improvements to our floor (they gave us the money because we signed a new contract with them). If all goes to plan, I'll actually feel like someone important for a bit. I'll get to over-see the construction of a new cafateria/break room, office relocations, and a newer-designed floor plan for our employees. The project will take 3-4 months, so I'll be busy, but it will be fun to see it all come together.

I'm getting braces. Alene's insurance covers 50% of the expenses, so I figure I better jump at it while I can. My first appointment is on Valentines day and then I get fitted with the praces on the 21st. I'm stoked because I've hated my teeth pretty much my whole life. We were too poor when I was younger to get them, and I was not ever in a position to afford them in my early adult life either. It will be nice to have a correct bite and have straightened teeth as well. I'm going to the same place that Jeff went to.

That is about it. I haven't had a ton of time to sit and write my thoughts, so this has been nice.