Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Levi’s Treasure Hunt

Clue 1:

Everybody like them. Their parents hide them. They are not there every day. We have to look after them every night, but nobody wants to. (Chicken Egg Box)

Clue 2:

Dad built it twice and had to remove it to move.  A bird made a nest here and a tasty treat for cat.  (Where the Shed used to be)

Clue 3:

Zoey’s favorite black treat!  (Black berries)

Clue 4:

Gobble it all up but some things we don’t like.  When we are done we deposit them here, the sight causing a fright. Rubbish to most but delicacy to one. Levi’s favorite place to dine after playing video games is done.  (Dish Washer)

Clue 5:

It smells like a skunk. But keeps the place neat.  Put your foot inside to protect your feet.  Off they come nowhere to be found.  If you put them here, they will always be around.  (Shoe Box)

Clue 6:

Good things are inside but are very hard to eat. A crystalline structure that looks really neat!  Put your hand in and it comes out all blue. Often hear dad say, “Get out of there you!” (Freezer)

Clue 7:

Eaten from hand, but despised on the ground.  Why wont they eat it even when no one is around.  Second to cat food so here it just sits.  Will nobody eat me?  This is the pits.  (chicken food bucket)

Clue 8:

My life is a mess, my casings do stink.  I am used all night tossing here and there.  Sometimes I feel like I am wrestling a bear.  When all settles down and the critter then sleeps, then comes the drool and I began to weep.  Why don’t you change me and make me all new?  The incentive is grand!  A new tag for you! (Levi’s Pillow Case)

Clue 9:

So close, you are more near then you think.  Have you checked under there?  Or where you get a drink?  Not there you fool you don’t drink from there!  You first need a cup, germs give us a scare!  (Cup Cabinet)

Clue 10:

This is the last clue and soon you will see what treasure awaits in one of the trees!  (Bird house)

Clue 11:

Ha, ha, ha! You thought you were done!  Look next to the boob tube where you watch Pok√©mon! (Cabinet next to TV)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Were In!

We finally closed on our house on Wednesday! I guess it is better late than never. We spend the days since our initial closing date (July 15th) looking for other options, but was unable to find anything better.  We did not waste any time getting to work.  Yesterday we loaded up the two minivans with boxes and headed down to our new/old house.  We unloaded the vans into the garage and began work on getting the house livable.

The house smelled old and dirty so we wanted to pull out all the carpet and old tile so we could start anew.  We also are planning to move a few walls around at some point and having no flooring makes this a bit easier.  Emma started on the carpets and Levi and I headed off to Lowes to pick up some supplies.  New toilets were a must.  The old ones did not flush very well and one of them constantly leaked.  We also wanted the low water usage ones and the old ones use about 5 gallons each flush.  2 Toilets… check.  We also wanted to build a garbage box so we would have a place to toss everything we were pulling out and thus picked up some .5” OSB as well.  We are planning to pull out all the cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms and need some temporary replacements.  We are planning on just framing up some cabinets out of 2x4s and plywood so we picked up the necessary supplies and are gleaming craigslist for replacement sinks and fixtures.  It only took about 2 hours to get all our supplies when I get a call from Emma.  It is after 2 now and she has not had anything to eat so we rush over to Subway and fuel up on our way back to the house.  After a brief lunch break we get back to work.  We were able to get all the floors up and knocked out the upper cabinets in the kitchen before we cleaned up a bit and called it a night.  There was tile in both the back bedrooms, the kitchen, and Family room.  I know what you are thinking, why would they pull up perfectly good tile?  Well, it was not normal tile.  It was the stuff you used to see in old school buildings.  It appeared to be some soft of paper/clay tile and was glued down with some sort of black glue.  We suspect that it may be asbestos so we wore face masks and are going to wet it down and buff off the black glue with a floor sander.  Which is what we are planning for today.  I also tried to install a new digital thermostat, but was unable to decipher the Lenox wiring codes so I could hook it up.  I called Robert Knox, a friend of ours from church, who works on AC systems and ask him what I could do.  When he heard that it was a Lenox system, he said that I should just leave the old one on until I am ready to replace the entire system.  Lenox is pretty cryptic with their equipment and do not use conventional wiring schemes.  I reinstalled the old one and made sure it worked still and left the house to cool down over night. 

Levi helped us all day and he was a real champ!  He did a great job with the tile scraper and helped us fill the trash can and cleanup multiple times.  He tried to help me lift the wood at Lowes to put it on the cart, but was a little under powered for the task.  He was able to help he lift the first 3/4” piece of OSB on before one of the Lowes employees stepped in to help.  A few times Levi got a little frustrated, but was able to recover quickly and happily continue work.  It wasn’t until the very end where he finally ran out of gas.  I hope that he does as well tomorrow.  He is a great help.

Today we are planning to remove the rest of the cabinets and update the plumbing a bit.  The shutoff valve at the street is the old style instead of the 90 degree ball valve so I may try to have the city come out and change that for us so we can actually turn off the water to the house.  I will probably swing by the Re-Store and see if they have some sinks and fixtures that will work for us.  We are also going to rent a floor sander from Home Depot and clean the floors today.  Emma has also been emailing Trevor her older brother and we are hoping to have him down in about 5 weeks to help us extend the back of the house 10 feet.  We have a few things we need to do before he gets here like make sure we have the plans and permits needed to do the extension.  We don’t foresee any issues since we are not in the Kyle city limits, but need to have all the documentation in place just to make sure.

Well, I had better get back to it, I need to load up my van full of boxes and go and get my trailer from Tom Stevens house.  Emma should be back from getting Zoey and Taya’s physicals and then we can load up her van as well.  We plan on leaving the majority of the furniture in the current house until we can get it sold so that it shows better.

I am a bit sore from yesterday, but no better way to make that go away then to do more of the same thing that made you sore in the first place.  Smile

Monday, August 8, 2011

House Update

So we just heard back from the Credit Union where we are trying to get our loan at and they told us that they could not loan us the money.  Apparently since no homes have sold in the area recently, they do not have any “comps” to estimate the mortgage insurance against.  Comps are comparable estimates based on the value of the homes sold around the area.  We ask why they could not use the values that the appraiser that they hired came up with.  So they went to the appraiser and ask how he came up with the values that he had and he updated his original estimate to $20K less than he appraised the home for the first time.  So the back came back and says, “I am sorry, we cant loan you the money for this home because we can only lend you 80% of the value of the home.”  So we are back to where we were before where we would have to get the owner to drop the price again.  Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have them drop it $20,000.  We initially chose the credit union because they were less likely to sell our loan, but the hassle is not worth it.  We are now trying to get our loan through the conventional means which means another 3 weeks before we can close on the house.  If these guys come back with the value of the home at $160K then either the home owner will have to drop the price or we are done trying to buy it.  It is a little depressing.  Anyway, in all my excitement of fixing up this new house I drew up some more plans of what we want to do if we ever move into the place.  Below is the before and after images.  I will update again when I get more information.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Well, our pre-designated close date on the new place has come and gone.  We were supposed to close on the 15th and come to find out that there was something wrong on the application.  We just got the appraisal back from the bank and they said that the house is not worth as much as the owner wants to sell it for.  He wants to sell it to us for $190K and it is only worth $183K so they will not loan us the money unless he drops the price.  Hopefully he will concede and drop the price for us since we have pushed it this far. Apparently when the whole process started, he assumed that the house was his after his mother died and did not do any paperwork to get it transferred into his name.  So he had to go through the process of finding a will or whatever the process is in order to transfer it to him before he can sell it.  Then the tax records and the title company have the land plotted differently so they had to hammer out the details.  The tax record had it listed as one plot with 5.7 acres and 2 dwellings on it.  The title company had it listed as 1 dwelling with 3.7 acres.  I would not have minded them giving us the whole mess for the same price, but I understand.  We ultimately want to purchase his 2 acres and the other dwelling from him to put storage units on, but we do not have the money to do that now. 

I am getting a little anxious to get things rolling.  I have a garage full of boxes that I would like to start moving down there and we just had our tile and carpet cleaned.  Emma has been doing a lot of work painting the house and fixing it up so we can get it on the market.  I think we are close, we just need to get all this stuff out of here.  I think we are taking the chickens to a friends house while we make the transition.  Not sure what we are going to do with our compost piles and garden.  Emma was talking about just taking the sides off the garden and spreading the dirt out over the lawn.  I was thinking of just transferring the compost to the flower beds and covering it up with mulch.  We may just leave them and let the new home owners deal with it though.  Since we are doing owner financing, we have a few more options. 

We are having an architect come down and look over the place today.  We want to add another room, a bathroom, an extension on the back of the house, remove the fireplace, redo the kitchen, build a room, bathroom, and pantry in the garage, and put a deck on the back of the house.  Emma and I cannot agree on how to do this so she is asking the architect to do it for us.  I mean come on, how much more creative can he be than we are?  I guess he will know the structural limitations as well so will save us some headaches during the building process.  The biggest stumbling block we have to face is were to begin.  I know we want to rip out the carpets and what is left of the vinyl tile, but we do not want to put new floors in until we move some walls and plumbing around.  If we tear out the back wall of the house, the things will get a bit drafty, but it would allow us to home the wall where we want them.  We would also want to do that when the weather is cooler.  Hopefully the magic architect will have some ideas for us.  Will update when I hear back from him.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Weekend Fun

Well, it is official, we are preparing to move to Kyle.  We had been looking for a place to move to since about February and none of the locations met our criteria until we came across this little place in Kyle.  The home owner was selling 2 plots, one with a 3x2 house and the other with a mobile home on it for $300.  We did not like the price, but we did like the land.  The plots combined mad about 6 acres.  We made him several offers, but he was set on the $300K for both places, the tax assessor thinks the 2 plots combines with structures is only work $200K.  Since we were not in a hurry, we ask his relator to notify us when he decided to drop the price.  It took nearly 4 months for him to accept our offer for the one house with the 3 bed 2 bath and 4 acres for $190K.  We would still like both plots, but figured the mobile home is not going anywhere and we should be able to pic it up in a few years.  The house needs a lot of work and we will probably end up putting in almost $50K in fixing it up.  We want to replace the floors and windows, turn the garage into a master bedroom and bath.  Combine the two bathrooms that are there into one big one and add another bath just for fun.  We are also redoing the kitchen and adding a sun room across the back of the house.


We are planning on closing in July.  We are trying to get our current house ready for the market.  We were debating on renting the place until the market turns around, but after talking to a few people, we think it may be better to sell it using owner financing.  Since there are so many people in the area now that lost their shirt in CA due to the housing crash, there are a lot of people that have a lot of money and cannot get loans from the bank.  A friend of mine just sold a house doing owner financing and got $30K down and charging the new owner 2% more than the bank is for his mortgage.  The nice thing is that the guy owns the place and so you don’t have to deal with the renter headache. 

I had to take my shed down that I just rebuild earlier this summer thanks to the HOA.  I have had a shed there for over 8 years and 4 months after I rebuild it, the HOA decides that it is time to start hassling me about it.  I think they are still mad because they told me I could not have chickens and I quoted our HOA hand book that said we could.  We are sick of Home Owners Associations and people telling us how to raise our kids and what to do which is why we are moving.  I will not miss the communist mentality.  We are slowly packing the house and moving things out to the garage.  I am selling my golf cart so we have more room in the garage and I am trying to get the yard looking good.  We will have to have all the carpets cleaned and do some scrubbing on the tile grout lines.  I wish we could just move everything out and have a cleaning service some in and scourer the place.

Levi has cub camp this weekend and I am in charge of the water bottle rocket station.  I built a few more launchers for the scouts.  I was going to do the same design as before, but the materials to make 2 was over $100 and I wanted to keep this as inexpensive as possible.  I did some research online and found a design the I think would be great for the kids and it is also cheap and more compact.

launchSupplies IMG_3059
New Cheaper Design Old Design that Costs too much

Here is a great site on the different water rockets launcher designs.  Air Command – Water Rockets

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Too Much to Buy but Easy to Make

Monday, April 11, 2011

Adventures at Grandpa's House

Another introduction to role playing using the "Shadow" RPG (role playing game) rules.  The idea behind it is that each kid has a shadow that tries to get them in trouble.  They have 2 dice and each time they want to do something, they have to tell everyone what they want to happen and what their shadow wants to happen.  They each start out drawing a picture of themselves and their shadow.  Levi drew a shadow that had horns and a hammer for one hand.  Olivia drew a shadow with scary eyes.  Julia said she messed up drawing her shadow and just went with a messed up shadow.  Taya spent the entire game working on her picture and her shadow.  I didn't get a chance to see her shadow, but I bet it was very pretty.  Each are given 2 dice, one representing themselves and one their shadow, and 3 tokens.  The tokens can be used to give to another player to try again in case they fail their shadow roll.  When the player rolls their dice, the higher of the two wins unless there is a tie, in which case the good wins over the shadow.

We start out with the kids visiting grandpa Ivin's house and are awaken from sleep by a noise downstairs.  They all wake up and decide to go down to investigate.  The sound appeared to be coming from the kitchen.  So Olivia lead the way to the kitchen and noticed the sound coming from the pantry.  Levi said he wanted to open the door and his shadow wanted him to slip on the wet floor that had just been mopped.  He rolls and the shadow wins. Levi slips and falls on the floor bumping his head on the tile floor.  He is dazed, but ok.  Olivia wants him to try again so she gives him a token.  He rolls and the shadow wins again.  This time Levi goes down and is out for the count.  Julia said she wanted to dance around with her arms in the air and her shadow wanted her to slip and fall like Levi.  So she danced prettily around Levi's crumpled mass.  Taya was able to open the door and they find a Super Hero tied up and gagged in the pantry.  His mouth it gagged and he is trying to say something.  They pull the gag from his mouth and he tells them how grandpa captured him and that grandpa is really a super villain!  Taya goes in to try and search him for something that may corroborate his story and her shadow wants her to have him head butt her.  She rolls and her shadow wins.  While Taya is trying to search him, the hero tries to look down to see what she is doing and inadvertently head-butts Taya knocking her out.  Olivia goes up stairs to try and wake up grandpa to see if he knows what is going on, but grandpa is apparently a heavy sleeper.  She jumps on his bed and yells in his ear but is unable to wake him so heads back downstairs and informs the others.  Levi groggily makes it to his feet and sees the super hero.  He really wants to untie him and his shadow wants him to trip and get knocked out again.  So Levi walks up to the man and trips on the mop, knocks the flour off the shelf spilling it everywhere and bangs his head on the shelf, knocking him out again.  Julia unties the "hero" and the man exclaims his gratitude for releasing him and says that he is really a super villain that grandpa had captured and when grandpa wasn't watching he had put sleeping powder in his tea.  

He tells the kids that he will not hurt them because they rescued him, but he cannot let them go to the authorities either.  The kids make a break for it and are able to get out of the house without getting caught.  They decide to head to the police station which is 30 miles away and get lost about a mile from their house in the woods.  There are a lot of trees in Washington.  They spend some time trying to figure out what to do.  July starts carving on a tree.  Olivia wants to kill some small animals and eat them.  Taya wanted to walk around aimlessly in an attempt to find someone to help.  Levi wanted to climb a tree to see if he could determine their position from a higher vantage.  They ended up liking Levi's idea and Levi rolled to see if he could climb the tree or fall out like his shadow wanted.  He successfully climbed the tree and determined that they were in luck.  Not using the road and getting lost in the woods put them half way between the police station and grandpa's house.  They made their way to the police station and talked the officer into going back to grandpa's house with them to apprehend the bad guy.  

The police man drove them back to grandpa's house and when they got out, they all started pointing to what appeared to be a statue in a running position on the front lawn.  The policeman thought they were crazy and went into the house to see if grandpa was ok.  The villains super power was super slow!  When the villain noticed that they were all standing over by the police car, he went back to normal speed and walked over to the car.  "HA, I knew you would not be able to resist my super powers!"  Julia decided to confront him and made a shadow roll.  If she won, she would do a sweep kick to his legs knocking him down, a punch to the face, and a kick to the side.  If the shadow won, then he would block her attempt and capture her.  She won the toss and beat the guy up.  The villain said, "What did you go and do that for?  I didn't do anything to you!".  Taya's turn to roll she wanted to get some hand cuffs from the police car and cuff the bad guy, her shadow wanted the bad guy to get away.  So he jumped up and while sobbing, ran into the forest.  When the kids got back into the house, grandpa was sitting in the kitchen talking to the police officer and was saying how grateful he was the they had made it home ok.  The kids were a little shocked to see grandpa awake.  They all tried to tell grandpa what had happened and had him go over to the pantry and see the mess.  There was no mess and no bad guy.  Confused, Grandpa shuffled the kids to bed and said that they would talk about it in the morning.  The kids talked about what had happened and slowly drifted off to sleep.

In the morning, Olivia jumped up and ran to grandpa's room to see if he was ok and he was gone!  His bed was made nicely and she could smell breakfast cooking.  They all went down to the kitchen where grandpa had breakfast for them.  Grandpa ask how they had slept and ask about what had happened last night.  They relayed their story to grandpa and he began to laugh.  "You must be talking about old Mr. McGregger", he chuckled.  "This is not the first time that something like this has happened.  Since we do not get a lot of visitors up this way, we leave our doors unlocked.  Old Mr. McGregger is a funny old man that has a wild imagination and a bad habit of sleep walking.  One morning I woke to find him huddled under the rug in the family room.  I usually just feed him breakfast and send him on his way.  In fact, he is joining us for breakfast this morning."  The kids look at one another in shock!  The bad guy is coming here!  No sooner had grandpa spoken then there was a knock at the door.  Mr. McGregger comes walking in through the front door.  "Hello kids," he exclaims in a creaky old man voice.  "These your grandkids?" he asks grandpa.  "They look awful familiar.  You sure I haven't met them before?"  He pulls up a chair at the table and as he scratches his head, a puff of what appears to be flour plumes out from his touch.  Grandpa sets down a bowl of oatmeal in from of the man and what seems like an eternity, he slowly picks up his spoon, dips it into the oatmeal, and makes its way to his mouth.  Must have taken 5 minutes to take one bite.  Grandpa winks and they all break out in laughter.

I am trying to get the kids to come up with their own storied and I had them choose the direction the story would go several times.  I would like to see them using the ideas in their own writing and while playing with each other.  I used to think pen and paper RPGs were only done by DnD cultists.  It got a pretty bad wrap when I was a kid, but I have come to realize the potential of allowing kids to express themselves and their creativity in a non-confrontational manner.  I was surprised at the original ideas that the kids came up with.  They wanted to help each other out and we had to make sure that everyone listened and did not "help" the younger kids when it came to their turn to decide what would happen next.  The good and bad ideas in this type of game helps the kids to see the separation between good and bad choices that they make and the consequences.  Prior to this, we did do a RPG type game with Goldie Locks and the Three Bears.  It has been awhile and I am going to try and play more often until I see them making up their own scenarios in normal play.  I am trying to encourage Taya to make up a story and share it as an RPD with the family.  I think she is as confused as I am at this point when it comes to writing a Role Playing Games.  So I think we will try to stick with stories we know and just alter them to allow the listener to make their own choices, until we can get the hang of it.