Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Family Photo

We don't ever seem to get family photos taken.  This is July 2012 (I think Nathaniel has grown 4 inches since then.)  Below are the boys at Thanksgiving with Patrick the dog. (Nathaniel may have grown an inch since then...)

Installing a wood floor

Before we moved into this house two and a half years ago, we pulled out the super-stinky, stained, sad, scary carpet that was in the big front room/dining area.  I scrubbed the concrete pad with bleach three times before we moved in to get rid of the odor.  And then, with so many other areas of the house needing more immediate attention, we left our furniture, covered with blankets, on the concrete pad for over two years. 

We had just lived the previous 8 years in a 2 bedroom (about 1500ft2 I think?) house, and had lived in smaller places than that before.  So what if three or four hundred square feet of this house weren't available?  We still had more space than we had ever had.  (However, I'm finding that there is never so much floor space that it can't be covered with all the socks and shoes we have in the house - they have replaced legos as the most common floor covering.)

Seriously, this is only some of the shoes that are left around the house.  How can only two boys wear so many shoes in a week.  To be fair, only one pair belongs to Nathaniel...
After I finished grading my fall semester finals, Chris and I started putting in the floor.  We bought the wood (engineered hickory) two years earlier and it sat in our entry "curing" until now.  It was good and ready.  First, we cleaned up the floor (the bare concrete has been a dust-generator for the past two years) and then primed and leveled it.  "Self leveling compound" is a misnomer unless it means that you have to do the leveling your "self".  Chris leveled the floor a week ago Saturday, and then after doing some grinding decided it needed more leveling.  So, Monday (after submitting my final grades) I went back to Home Depot and bought two more bags of leveling compound and a bottle of primer.  I primed the floor (just one side that seemed to be sloping) and gave it a couple of hours to dry so Chris could do the leveling after work.
Primer drying on concrete

Self-leveling compound (second round)
Grinding concrete
Tuesday morning the floor was level, dry, and after some grinding to get rid of some ripples, we measured, snapped lines, and Chris glued down some guide-boards for the first few rows.  The biggest challenge of putting engineered wood on concrete slab is the glue.  This was a tongue-in-groove floor, not a snap-in, so there was no "floating" a floor and we couldn't nail it to the concrete.  The glue was thick and would get everywhere.  Fortunately for us, someone at the college department party the weekend before had just finished gluing a floor in his house and had an extra jug of adhesive cleaning solvent in the trunk of his car.  We had bought mineral spirits and he had learned the hard way that mineral spirits did not work very well.  We each kept a solvent soaked rag hanging from our back pockets to wipe our fingers, tools, drips, or any glue that squeezed up through the boards and it went very smoothly.  I think he saved us a lot of trouble.  Chris said it was the best purchase he'd ever made out of the trunk of a car.
Trowelling out the glue
The first few rows were slow.  Chris did all the trowelling and floor laying and I handed him boards and tools.  We had to cut boards to fit the fireplace.  So, after the first full day of laying boards, we only had 6 rows down.  We worked each night when Chris got home from work and would lay some rows and then sit in the spa.  Our backs were so sore and our fingers were getting raw.  Eventually, I started trowelling some of the glue and laying the boards and we could go much faster.
Woohoo!  DIY Jen.
We finished laying boards on Saturday night.  Chris cut the trim to size, but with Christmas three days away, we've taken a break (so I could clean up the dust that covered the whole house, and make candy, bake and generally get ready for the holidays.)  We need to do a final cleaning of the floor to get rid of any glue spots, patch the wall around the base boards, do some painting, cut, stain, and install new base boards.  I think we will move the furniture in before all the base boards are done though, I'm tired of having the piano in the kitchen.

Piano in the kitchen?!

All done!  Yay!
Doesn't it look pretty?  I'm very excited. 

Friday, August 31, 2012

Running Away

I decided to run away.  I was crawling through "The Valley", 100 degrees on the Ventura fwy (The 101 for those in-the-know) with all the outbound Labor Day weekend traffic.  I was going to run away to the beach.  I'd just go straight there.  No stopping.  Stay there for hours.  Maybe until dark.  Maybe forever.

 Yup.  Just keep heading west until I hit sand.  That's what I would do.  No cell phone reception at the beach.  I'd choose a lonely beach too.  That's what I would do.
 S.Cal. traffic gives you a lot of time to think.  I'd already listened to NPR for more than an hour and it started over again.  What if I did just go?
 Oh yeah, that kid would be waiting for me at 3... and the kidnappers are out and about this week.  Maybe I could stop and change my clothes and go "run" at the beach.  OK, maybe that would work.  I'll run at the beach...miles and miles.  I'll walk into the water until the waves touch the hem of my shorts.  I'll watch for dolphins.  But traffic was still crawling.
 OK, maybe I'll wait and then I'LL kidnap Thanny and we'll both go to the beach.  The dog needs me to come home and let him out anyway.  Ya, that's what a cool mom would do.  But, what about that other kid?  He needs to be picked up an hour and a half later.
 And then Thanny's back-to-school "dance" is 30 minutes after that... and then I think an hour later Davis will ask me to drive him to the football game...and then an hour later Thanny's dance is over (it's 7th grade after all.)
 I finally got home, let the dog out, and sat down to look at old pictures of the beach.  I'm not very good at running away.
And now it's time to go pick up a kid.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Footloose and Fancy Free Vacation

Guess what?  Banana slugs are not banana flavored!

We took a vacation that I've always wanted to take - to see the redwood forests in Northern CA - but in a way that I'd never planned (literally).  We left on Saturday afternoon with a general idea of where we would go and only one reservation.  It was a road trip where we decided where we would go next and find a place to stay based on what activities we ended up doing and how far we wanted to drive.  I generally like to make plans.  I was a little apprehensive.  One week later we survived, saw some great places, did a few things we've never done before, and had a good time.

Here's the run-down:

Day 1: Drive through the valley of the shadow of cow death (there are cattle yards off I-5 that smell for miles where the cows wait for "processing".) Until about 11pm past Sacramento and stop a Willows, CA.  It's not a destination; just a place to sleep.  I did see something neat though.  When Patrick (yeah, we brought the dog ...grumble grumble...) wanted to go out at 5am, I saw shooting stars (Perseid meteor shower) and a crescent moon with Saturn shining above it and Mercury shining below it.  Amazing!  I guess technically it was day two, but I went back to bed until daylight.

Day 2: Drive to Klamath Falls Oregon.  As you drive past Redding, CA you climb in altitude and head into pine forests.  Crossing into Oregon we drove past Klamath Lake and stopped at a cabin on Crooked Creek.  No phone reception, no TV, no wi-fi...Aaahhhhh..... If we could have gotten rid of the ravenous mosquitos it would have been even more peaceful.
The cabin had canoes and kayaks which were lots of fun.  Nathaniel especially enjoyed exploring in the kayaks.

We tried to go for a hike in the Klamath Wildlife Refuge area to see the many types of birds that migrate through there - but after about 2 minutes we ran back to the car to escape the mosquitos.
Day 3: Crater Lake National Park was about 30 miles north of the cabin.  We stopped at Kimball State Park on the way up where the head of the Wood River pops up out of a rock.  There is so much more water in Oregon than S. Cal.
Crater Lake is a volcano covered with pine trees with a super blue super deep lake in the collapsed cauldron.  Very pretty.

Oregon had wildflowers all over the place, even in August when the weather was pretty dry. 
This is the phanton ship formation in the lake.

But, there is only so much "seeing" the boys are willing to do.

Day 4:  Drive to Eugene.  Patrick has a routine in the car.  Everytime we start up, he assumes a "ready position" on the center console near the driver.  He keeps a lookout for a few minutes until we are on our way and then goes back and instantly falls asleep by the boys.

Eugene was actually a fun place.  We stayed near the Univ. of Oregon so we could visit Hayward Field (the track where the olympic trials were held earlier this summer) and Davis could run on Pre's Trail (Steve Prefountaine - running legend from U of O).  Chris and I jogged on the trail too, but it wasn't nearly as satisfying as I had imagined (wish I were in better shape!)

Day 5:  Mountain biking on the McKenzie River Trail.  So pretty

but the trail was more than we were ready for.  We took a shuttle van up to the top of the trail head.  Chris and Davis started at the top (26 miles)

 and Nathaniel and I started half way down (13 miles). 

It was "mostly" down hill, but with lots of roots and lava rocks.  After covering 6 miles in about 2 hours I decided Nathaniel and I would end up with some sort of emergency if we tried to finish the trail (he was getting tired and the temperature was rising.)  We made our way to the highway and rode 2 miles down (SCARY!  Logging trucks driving by on a curvy road.)  We pulled over and then I saw a river rafting van pull over ahead of us to drop off some rafts and rafters.  We hitched a ride down to our car with the driver after leaving a couple of cliff bars on a trail sign for Chris and Davis to find. 

 We were hanging out by the river waiting for Chris and Davis to finish their ride, and the same river rafting van drove up with them in it!  Chris and Davis were going to ride down the hwy because they were so tired but then saw the cliff bars I left.  They decided to continue on the trail and when they passed a campground further down river, the river raft van driver had been checking on her rafters and saw them and figured they belonged to us.  They were worn out and she offered them a ride down to the car.  Nathaniel and I went about 8 miles total and Chris and Davis ended up going a little over 20 miles.  Phwew!

The temperatures were climbing near 100 degrees.  It was time to head to the coast.

Day 6:  Coos Bay is not really a vacation destination.  Of all the places we stayed, this was the only one where I insisted bringing the mountain bikes into the room overnight instead of leaving them locked on the bike rack.  But, it is a logging mill town and it was interesting to see.

The favorite activity of the whole trip was visiting the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.  We spent a couple of hours playing on the dunes that stretched for miles along the coast between the ocean and pine forests.  The sun was out but it was refreshingly cool (maybe 70 degrees?)

The dog ran like crazy.
And jumping contests took up a major portion of the time.

Then all three puppies had a great time digging.

We should have spent more time there.

 But, we had an appointment to take a dune buggy dune "tour", if you can call going up to 50mph over the dunes a tour.

It was scary-fun.  Kind of like a sandy roller coaster with an awesome view.  Unfortunately, Chris was woozy the rest of the day afterwards and then we drove in the foggy dark down the twisty coastal road to Crescent City, CA.

Day 7: Redwood National Park

Davis figures we were done with our vacation because this day was just "seeing" and not "doing anything".  We headed home down hwy 101.  We stopped to hike through fern canyon in Prairie State Park which is part of the Redwood Natl Park co-op.  Fern Canyon is sheer walls completely covered with ferns and was a "Jurassic Park" filming locale.

FYI - dogs are not allowed (oops.)  Mostly because of the Elk.

Then we continued through the "Avenue of the Giants"

And then we stopped in Ukiah, CA.

Day 7:  We drove home through Sonoma County and past San Francisco, but we were sight-seeing weary (well, the boys were.  I wanted to stop at a farmers market and Chris saw the fog covering San Francisco and shuddered with the bad memories of 9 cold months of living there so there was no chance of stopping there...)

We might have been a little stir crazy by the time we got home, but I think the trip was a success.