Thursday, April 18, 2013

First Post Post-Move

It's been a week since I last posted, but don't be too mad, because I have an excuse: we don't have Internet access at home.  Yet.  

Didja get that?  Home.  Yet.  Yep: we've moved in.  HALLE-FREAKIN'-LUJAH!

Late last week we said it was time to cut the cord, so we pulled up stakes from our DC house and moved almost all the rest of our stuff into the new place.  By Saturday evening a very good chunk of our belongings had made the six-mile trip north across the state line in three car trips, and by Sunday evening there were only a few things left.  (Actually, just as we've been living in the state of perpetual "just another few weeks" since last summer, it seems as if this week has been a state of perpetual "just another carload or two.")  By today, though, we officially have one carload left, which we'll pick up tomorrow: our tv and the aquarium.  And that's it.  We'll be moved.

What that doesn't mean is that we're living in something that would resemble a normal living situation.  We've got boxes everywhere, piled strategically so as not to block access to things the contractors will still need to get around.  And believe me, there are still a lot of things, which I'll enumerate at the end of this post.  But I want to focus on the positive, because, at least as concerns the house, this has been a great week.

So where to begin?  I'll go room by room and give updates.  In the kitchen, the countertop has been completed, including adding the extra hole at the sink for my beloved hot-water tap.  The sink is in, too, but no plumbing has been hooked up.  I believe that's the last step before livability, but since we have water in the bathrooms, we're making do.  (This very much resembles the "fancy camping" we lived through for such a long time with the old house, only this will not last nearly as long.)  The fridge is turned on and mostly stocked.  The missing cabinets still haven't been delivered, and Home Depot is going to let us know when they are.  We have a few extra cabinets that were mismade, and they keep calling to have them picked up and returned to the store.  But the timing on this is getting out of hand, and I'm going to insist to them that they put us out and we deserve to keep at least some of the misfits-- especially since a couple of them will fit really well elsewhere in the house.  The range is in but not on; the range hood is not in, but the hole for it has been cut; the microwave is in but not framed, and Isaac inaugurated it by reheating leftover pasta.  The dishwasher looks too small for the hole it's supposed to fit in, but we're going to wait until the cabinet guys come back for the final install because, who knows, maybe it will magically fit in.  I think, though, that we might have to get a new dishwasher and do something with this one... although I can't imagine what.  And all the lights are in, including the two pretty ones with the incredibly wasteful Edison bulbs.  Abby always turns those on, and I turn them off, because they cost a fortune to light.

Our bedroom is the room that's probably the most complete.  The closet had already been installed, and over the course of a few nights almost all the shelves and hangers and drawers were filled up with clothes.  I had to reinvent how I folded my tee shirts, because the old way was only filling the front half of each shelf; by folding shirts in thirds, I now get 50% more shirt per shelf.  I bought one of those tie hangers that holds like 40 ties, but it's hard to use and only gets about two-thirds of my collection onto it; similarly, I bought four of those five-pants hangers from IKEA and I don't like the work it takes to take a pair off without disturbing the others.  Both save space, but I'm going back to my regular tie rack and one-pair-per-hanger style.  Abby put the new bed together-- which is the same as our old bed, except a new frame, since West Elm gave it to us for free.  The bed fits right up to the windows, with both side tables in the room, with only a few inches to spare-- perfect fit.  The first couple nights in there, we switched sides of the bed to see which would work: on night one, I was on the closet side and she was on the window side; on night two, we switched.  Night two was incredibly awkward for both of us-- it's so weird, but after two nights, I believe we have decided what side of the bed we'll be sleeping on for the next couple of decades. (And it's neither the same as we had it in the old house or the way I had expected it to be, since Abby's usually freaked out being next to windows.)

The windows do freak us out a bit, but I think we'll survive!  We ordered custom-made cellular blinds, which arrived at the house on Saturday; just waiting for them to be installed.  Once installed, they'll not only help with shielding from onlookers, which seem to be everywhere, since the house is located pretty much in a giant fish bowl, but will also help with efficiency.  They're made to be pulled up from the bottom, so we'll be able to block off the bottom half or two-thirds of the window, but still let in natural light from the top part.  It'll be nice to be able to change my clothes in my own room, or to sleep without knowing everyone can watch me from the street.  This morning, for instance, I had my pants on but decided to change shirts, so I was standing there looking into my closet when a neighbor walked by.  I'm sure it looked like I was standing there naked, but, well, I wasn't, so there.  Next week at this time, hopefully the blinds will shield the neighbors from the less-than-flattering exhibitionist that is my pasty self.

The great room is pretty much the same, since it had been painted way back.  The up-lighting along the sides looks great, and even the workers agree-- I think they thought Abby was a bit weird for her choices in there.  Instead of spot lights or track lighting, she chose these little linked LED lights that were plug-ins, and had them hard-wired in so each light lighted the area between two of the rafters.  It looks really cool-- the only problem being that they were wired in a weird way, so if we want all of them to be on we have to flip four different switches, one in each corner of the room.  We put Anyu's dining-room table together and have actually been eating at an honest-to-goodness table, rather than on a trunk disguised as a coffee table in front of the TV in the basement with the kids sitting on the floor.  We don't have chairs yet, but since they're going to be a major purchase, we're going to wait with them until the construction is done-- don't want them to get scratched right away if we can help it.  Oh, and the fireplace is in and turned on.  Actually, it was so turned on that when we got back from Florida it was about 80 degrees inside, even though it was in the 50s outside.  We still have to learn how to make it work, because it's a little trickier than we had hoped, but I think we'll get it.

The front door has the wrong hardware on it, but other than that it's the same.  And the front foyer has been painted really nicely in the same gray color we used in the downstairs bathroom.  And what do you know: our wedding lily made it through our vacation and is still alive, so I rewarded it with a good dusting and a move into the bay window.

Downstairs, the kids' rooms are both moving along.  Their beds are semi-set-up, in that they're sleeping in them but the frames are not done altogether.  My sister came by this weekend and helped put together some of their furniture, so now they each have a desk and a book case.  Once all my clothes made it out of my old dresser, Isaac inherited it, we stuck it in his closet, and his clothes are also all put away; only Lola's remain sorted in a laundry basket and suitcase.  Both sets of closet doors have been delivered, but aren't up yet.  Abby even helped Isaac decorate his ceiling with a solar system set he got for Christmas (or was it Valentine's Day?  I don't know... Abby gets them presents for everything, which is a point of contention...)  Anyhow, it's coming along great, and more importantly they love their rooms.  There have already been more than a handful of times when they've disappeared into their respective rooms to play.  Alone.  Quietly.  (I know!)  However, one of those times?  Yeah, not so good.  I got back from picking a load up from the old house on Saturday and Abby was fuming, and Lola was pouting.  I guess the kids found their spin-art toy that takes paint and splatters it all around on a piece of paper that spins around... and started playing with it on their own-- and more importantly, on the new floor.  They had paint all over their hands, and got it all over Lola's floor, and we hadn't even slept there one night.  Abby was furious, and the toy has been banished.  Luckily, the mess cleaned up because it was caught early enough.  Phew!

The family room actually has a seating arrangement, and once the TV arrives tomorrow (we need to bring it when there are no kids in the car but two adults handy, since it's heavy and requires the seats to be dropped down) it'll go in.  We won't have cable yet, but that's only days away.  Last week I called Comcast again, and they again insisted they don't cover our house.  9610 and 9615 and 9620 Dewitt Drive?  Sure.  But 9618?  Yeah, no.  I insisted they were wrong, and implored them to come out to check.  36 hours later I get a call: "Mr. Wahl, we'd actually be happy to charge you $200 a month to watch ten channels and check your Facebook status."  Actually, that's not exactly what they said, but it's what they meant.  They're coming by on Tuesday to install cable, Internet, and potentially a security system.  We don't know yet whether we'll do that, since it's such a good neighborhood.  But Abby's freaked out by the windows-- understandably-- and the fact that the kids are on the ground floor, so my money's on us having it installed.

The laundry room?  Well, apart from being able to move the washer and dryer back from where they were perched so close to the door, nothing looks different.  But it's so incredibly nice to have in-house laundry back.  Those nearly five months of begging others to allow us to wash in their place, or going to a laundromat even though we own two washers and two dryers, was definitely wearing on our patience.  I have a load of laundry going as I type this, and no one's paying attention to it, and that's how it should be.  It's nice and quiet, too, and plays a silly little electronic song when it's done, just like my parents' does.  On the other side of the floor, though, things are not so quiet.

That's where the water heater is.  What, you didn't hear me?  I said, "THAT'S WHERE THE WATER HEATER IS!!!"  Yeah, this thing is crazy loud, and I'm not happy about it.  I'm wondering if it's the difference between having a gas water heater and an electric one-- our electric one in DC never made a peep, but this one sounds like an espresso machine gone berserk.  We don't have it enclosed-- yet-- but believe me you, that will happen.

The bathroom is great, and taking a shower down there (since we don't have a shower door upstairs yet) is really nice.  The water heater is directly behind the shower, so it's instantly hot.  The window fogs over in about 30 seconds, so there's no putting on a show.  (We're going to frost the window, so sorry potential peepers.)  And I managed to cajole Abby into letting me put fluorescent bulbs into a couple of the fixtures.  The toilets flush beautifully, and ridiculously fast.  And the door locks.  Did you hear that?  For the first time, we have locking interior doors.  It's magical, really.

So that's where we stand. In the morning, I've been getting up ten minutes earlier than in DC, and getting to work right on time.  The way home I can't judge yet, because this week I've had to stay later than usual, and the Metro at 5:00 is way different than it will be at 4:30.  One day I got home in under an hour, and the next it took me nearly 80 minutes because of a delay on the Blue Line.  (I couldn't get mad, though, because the delay would've affected my old commute as well.)  I'm definitely gonna get a bike to park at Forest Glen station on nice days, but for now, especially since I've got room on my SmarTrip card, I've been taking the Ride On bus to and from Silver Spring station, since its schedule lines up perfectly with mine, especially in the mornings.

Once we get settled, I'll be able to write with more frequency again, and will post pictures.  But for now, I leave you with an email we sent to Mark this evening, of things we need to discuss tomorrow.  (My more frequent readers will see the tone has changed a lot since the last letter of demands... for the better, that is.)  It seems like the closer we are to the finish line, the more things there are to do.  But we're moved in, and that's all that matters.  At least this week :)

Mark: here are the current issues with the house. We would like to discuss them with you on Friday, but wanted you to be aware of them as soon as possible. Thanks, and talk to you soon. -G

1.      Flooring issues: There’s a really weak spot in the great room just in front of the kitchen doorway.  Every time you walk by, your heel depresses the spot a lot; also, in the same spot ther's a nail sticking up.   Also, in our bedroom, just at the entrance on the right, one of the boards is split lengthwise, and will catch on your socks as you walk by,  Definitely just waiting to pull right up and out.‬

2.  After the inspection, your guys can come in and cut down that backsplash, which is still ridiculously high.  The electrician installed the outlets vertically on the backsplash, even though we requested (and he said he could do) horizontal.  The height of the backsplash is unacceptable as is.‬

3.      We’ve purchased a chandelier for the dining room and are waiting for delivery.

4.      We need to switch a couple pieces of the door hardware that were installed in the incorrect place.  We need the knob currently on the back door switched to the front door.  (I labeled all of the knob  boxes… don’t know why this one was put in where it was.)  Also, the deadbolt in the back door was installed improperly; it locks from the inside, but there’s no way to lock or unlock it from the outside—the knob doesn’t catch for some reason.‬

5.      I bought the lighting timer that I wanted to have installed for the switch beside the front door, to use for the front porch lights.  It requires a neutral wire, which is why I called you from Home Depot on Sunday.  Let me know if this is not possible, because then I’ll exchange it for the one one step down, which does not require a neutral wire… I just like this one better.‬

6.      We have an old-fashioned doorbell that we’d like to have installed on the front door.  It’s sitting on a box on the piano (which itself can be moved downstairs if you guys can do it) and the directions and hardware are all in the box.  Abby can show the guys where it goes; it actually gets mounted right to the door, I believe.‬

7.      Also, Abby will show the guys where we’d like the address numbers to go.  Apparently, not having them up is very confusing to a lot of people (FedEx, mailmen, etc.) so putting them up would be a good idea.  We’ve given up on finding the mailbox, so we’re just going to buy a new one to have mounted on the wall.  Both the mailbox and the address numbers will go on the wall to the right of the front door, as you look at it from outside.‬

8.    The water heater is crazy loud!  We will definitely want to have it encased once all is said and done.  I have never heard our water heater in DC make the noises this one makes—we can hear it in the kitchen! 
9. You can hear everything between the kids’ bedrooms. Abby installed her secret passageway and discovered there was no insulation in the wall. I'm very disappointed with this, since we paid more than $1000 to have this done throughout the house.
10. The light fixture in the mudroom is too low and needs to be raised.
11. The spigot outside is dripping.
12. The issue with the front door opening outward has not been resolved.
13. The paint on the stair risers still needs to be scraped.
14. The doors for the bathroom and upstairs closet can be installed.
15. What is going on with the PVC pipe looping out of the left side of the roof (as you look at the house)? Also, there's a pipe of some sort sticking out of the ground by the back door.
16. One of the great room ceiling lights (the one all the way to the left above the kitchen door) keeps going out.
17. What is the switch on the countertop for? There will be no garbage disposal, and the hot-water heater stays on all the time with a plug.

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