Friday, January 25, 2013

Oh Joy :-/

It's the eve of our big Disney trip (that's right folks. . . we're going to Disney World!), our bags were packed yesterday, the house is all put together for our absence, and here I thought I'd have Friday to hang out with a friend and do whatever I wanted.  Wrong!

Good thing I was ahead of the game this week.  I had planned to do laundry for Thursday and Friday but had decided to do it earlier in the week, good thing because of what happened today.  I had just a few more loads to do (not really necessity, I just like to come home to fresh sheets and towels).  While the washer was draining, the sump pump kicked on per its normal habit. However, this time was different.  It sounded strained and unusual.  Then it was followed by a crash of gushing water.  Yikes!

I ran downstrais to check out what was going on, and lo & behold, water all over the ground in the sump pump closet.  Oh no!  After I finished panicking, I called Steve (I also stopped the washer!).  He talked me through where the wet vac was located and what I needed to do.  He also suggested checking out the circuit breaker & one of the breakers had been flipped.  So I pushed it back into position, but nothing happened.  Then I got the vacuum and sucked up the water, although a lot of it had drained back down.  I then turned to my dad form some more advice!  He talked me through all the possibilities of what happened and what would be needed to fix it.

While talking with him, I ran some water to see if the sump pump had in fact burnt out or if it were still working.  I heard it kick on and then saw a geyser of water shooting out.  Even though I wanted to run from the water, my dad told me I had to look and figure out where it was coming from.  I figured out it was coming out of a rubber seal on the pipe!

So this is what we're thinking -- it would appear there is some sort of blockage in the pipe that the sump pump shoots the water out of the house through.  The pipe is underground and comes out of a hill into our yard.  We're guessing that water in the pipe is most likely frozen and is building up water pressure in the pipe, which is why it's shooting out of the seal.  Especially since this past week has been the coldest weather we've experienced while living in this house.  I went outside and looked into the pipe, but couldn't see anything.

We're not sure what the next step is (other than stopping laundry and all other water in the house).  Our plumbing is messed up to begin with and we're pretty sure everything except for the toilets runs through the sump pump. On the good side, we're gonna be gone and won't be running water.  On the bad side, we're oging to be gone. Ha ha.  Hopefully, we can figure it out tonight and will feel content while we're gone.  Good thing we have good friends who are watching the house for us ;-).  Now instead of just being concerned about feeding Ramses, they'll have to make sure he doesn't go swimming either ;-)!!

(Yuck, look at the water backup!  There was only about a 1/2" of water above that plexi-glass covering/floor.  Believe me, it didn't smell good either.  Which it should have smelled great since a lot of the water came form the washer!)

(Here you can see that all the dark is water and the light is dry cement. The pictures don't really do the water justice.  These pictures were also taken after some of the water went down the first time.)

(So let me explain the situation:  The sump pump is attached to the pipe on the far right.  The black wire is the plug to the sump pump, it's taped to the pipe and then goes into the outlet on the back wall.  The pipe to the left is water coming from the washer.  The big pipe in the center is the radon pipe.   Before we bought the house, we had it tested for radon.  It tested positive so in order to buy the house, the previous owners had to have it fixed.  Whoever put in the radon emission system decided to put a plexi-glass seal over the entire hole in the ground. The white square on the right is a little opening to pour more water down/let air circulate. So to replace the sump pump -- which we thankfully don't have to do this time around -- we'd have to cut out pipes and peal off the plexi-glass cover.  Yikes!)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Hidden Secrets of Wallpaper

For the past month, I've been elbow deep in a new project. When we bought the house, we realized we really lucked out in buying such an old house without wallpaper!  However, one day while debating where to start painting in an extra bedroom, I discovered that there was wallpaper on the wall, it had just been painted over. (I've also figured out a couple more rooms have hidden wallpaper -- I knew the house was too good to be true!)

So back to the wallpaper -- I was just going to ignore the wallpaper and just paint over it like the previous owners had done.  However, I noticed a little bubble in the paint, and before I knew it, I had peeled off a big chunk of the top layer.  I'm not quite sure why, but the top layer that had been painted, peeled right off!  Although, it revealed another layer underneath that appeared to be stuck on the wall pretty well.

(All the paper removal started with a little paint bublle that I thought I could just "level out and spackle".  Ha ha, once I popped the bubble, this is what I saw -- at least 3 layers of wallpaper!)

(Within minutes, I had this much of the top layer peeled off.  At this point, I was still debating if I should keep peeling the paper.  I had no idea what endeavor I was undertaking!)

(With my little scraper, I was able to easily get under the first painted layer and peel it right off without any resistance!)

I had actually started this project before Christmas, and had gotten the whole top layer of wallpaper off within a couple days.  I returned back to wallpaper removal after the new year.  The next couple of layers proved much more difficult at removing.  I made a remover by mixing Downy fabric softener & warm water in a spray bottle.  The trick to the removal was saturating the paper with the concoction and stripping away each layer.  I'd spray an area, let it sit, remove some of the paper, resaturate it, go to a different section and spray, remove, resaturate, go back to the original area. . . and the process seemed to never end!  

(Corner area with all the wallpaper gone -- the white is the plaster.  On the left, you can see 2 layers of the wallpaper -- the pink pattern and the horse scene were 2 different layers.)

(I very carefully scraped away the pink layer to reveal a weird English horse/hound hunting scene.  Since this was the last layer, we assume it is the original wallpaper.  Although, only 1 wall had the hunting scene on it, while the other walls just had a subtle grainy paper that matched the hunting scene.)

(Upclose of the hunting scene.  There were two poses -- this one with the two horses leaping. . . )

(And this scene of the two horses standing still and the one rider blowing a bugle horn.  Notice the bugle player has blue glasses on -- that is because someone drew the glasses on him!  Ha ha, I can just imagine the first little boy living in this room and getting in trouble over drawing on his wallpaper.)

After a couple of weeks on intensive work, the wallpaper was finally all stripped away.  I even got help with a close friend. Amber (not my sister, but new friend in Lima) came out a couple of days and helped remove wall paper and clean the walls!  It's amazing what people will do for you for some Chipotle ;-).

(I think there were a couple bags of the first layer of paper that got thrown away before Christmas.  But here's the 2nd, 3rd, and even 4th layers of paper.  I felt really bad taking off the original wallpaper.  Who knows, that horse paper could be worth millions!  I was able to save a couple of sections of the pink layer and horse layer.)

(We found this signature -- P. Sorgnard Jr. Oct 11, 1937 "Pierre" Paperhanger.  Underneath the last layer of paper.  We at first thought he was the original owner, but after doing a lot of research, we figured out that Pierre Sr. was a French immigrant.  He lived in the area and was an interior designer.)

(We got intrigued and did some more research and discovered who the first owners were & we even found an original real estate advertisement for our house in a 1927 newspaper!  How cool is that?!  We've always been told -- as well as our paperwork -- that our house was built in 1935.  Nope -- definitely more like 1927!)

Ooops, I digressed.  Back to the wall paper removal.  Once all the wallpaper was removed, I've had to move onto step 2 -- wash the walls.  Not all the glue came off when I removed the paper, so I've had to wash each wall pretty vigorously in order to get all the residue off.  It's taken nearly an entire week of just wall washing.

(All the brown specs are pieces of wallpaper and glue stuck on the wall.)

(After a vigorous cleaning, the plaster is back to being smooth and ready to be spackled/painted!)

I still have another wall to wash, and then it will be on to step #3 -- spackling & smoothing the walls!  I had high expectations to have this room done in a month, but I'm looking at it more realistically and expecting another month or two until the walls are painted and the trim is repainted. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Christmas Coins

I know it's in the middle of January, but I just realized not only has the blog been neglected, but I also never posted about Christmas.

We changed up Christmas this year and stayed local.  Usually we fly out to New Jersey to visit Steve's grandparents and family, but we decided to stay home (especially since we had flown out to Jersey in the summer).  We spent the weekend before Christmas at my parents' house.  All of my siblings (and them some) were able to get together and celebrate our family Christmas together.  We changed things up with my family and opened/exchanged gifts before lunch!  Usually, we don't even get together until later in the afternoon, but we went crazy this year.

We cut our stay in Indiana a day short so that we could make it to Cincinnati before a huge winter storm was scheduled to hit!  We made it to Steve's sister's house just before the snow started.  Cincinnati only got a couple of inches, but my parents ended up with over 8 inches!  Good thing we left early :).

We celebrated a little Ackerman sibling Christmas (his parents were celebrating Christmas in New Zealand!) while in Cincinnati.  Even Steve's brother came to visit from California!  While we were all together, we had a great Christmas dinner (great job Ash!), exchanged gifts, went shopping, went to see movies (guys went to Django, girls to Les Miserables), played a crazy game (Ticket to Ride), and bonded over family coins.

Steve's grandparents were avid coin collectors and made a collection for each grandchild.  When his grandparents passed away, all the coins got taken to Cincinnati to be gone through and decided what to do with them.  They've been there for over a year, but this was the first time that all the siblings would be able to go through the together.  So in preparation for the siblings arrival, Ash's husband Scott made the coins his own personal project.  He bought several coin books, and even took some time off to go through them!

It was ridiculous the amount of coins that had been collected over the years!  Each grandchild had their own set of yearly box set coins.  There were also silver dollars, American Eagle coins, and so many more I can't even remember them all.  We spent almost an entire day going through everything, figuring out what we wanted to save, and what should just be sold.  Once everything was sorted, some stuff was taking to the bank to be exchanged, some was taken to a coin dealer to be assessed, and the rest was taking to Scott's new favorite spot -- CoinStar.

(Scott going through each box set by year, I'd record them down, while Steve -- not picture -- would look up the price in the book.  I think by this time, Ian and Ashley had checked out of the process.)

(Just 1 of the dozen lock boxes full of coin sets.)

(Way too much enjoyment was had at this CoinStar kiosk.  Everyone took their turn putting coins in the tray, but I think Scott got the biggest jollies out of it.  The highlight of the process was the machine rejecting all the "steelies" -- 1943 steel pennies.  The machine would get confused and would reject a lot of regular pennies mixed in with the steelies.  Scott wouldn't give up on the machine and would constantly add back the rejected pennies.  Ashley finally had to intercede and stop the process, deeming the remaining $0.50 not worth it.  Hahahaha.)

Maybe we should make CoinStar kiosks a new Ackerman Christmas tradition???

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Year in Review

It may seem very redundant to say, but man this year has flown by fast!  As I read back through posts from the year, part of me says - "Man, we packed a lot in!"; while the other part of me says - "It seems like just yesterday we moved into our house!"

This year has been pretty crazy for us.  It has been full of surprises both good and bad.

The best surprise of the year is the fact that we got to go to Europe not once, but twice!  Steve and I had been talking and preparing for the first Europe trip since before we got married.  The second trip was just sweet icing on the cake!  At times it gets frustrating that Steve has to travel for work, but we'll take all the Europe trips we can get ;-)!  Other than the second Europe trip, Steve had to travel to Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and Cincinnati for work this year, but I only accompanied the Cincinnati trip.

The worst frustration of the year has involved a mysterious pain in my side -- and no, this isn't a joke about Steve!  Since March, I've had a pain in my lower left abdomen/pelvic area.  I had several tests and gone to a couple of doctors but haven't figured it out.  Since giving up aspartame (from my beloved Diet Coke) and caffeine, I've gotten some relief, but it still isn't gone. Right now I'm employing the, "ignore it and it will go away" strategy.  Seems to be helping, but here's hoping to it disappearing in 2013!

The biggest blessings of the year have been the friends we have made!  For the first part of the year, we made friends with some of Steve's co-workers, but there weren't any other couples in that group.  At times it felt awkward to me that I was the only non-P&Ger at events, but being part of a group really helped our adjustment to Lima.  Our neighbors (regardless of their older age) have been a huge blessing.  I still maintain a biweekly date with one of them.  Once we found the right church, we found several young couples that we instantly clicked with.  Even though we've only met these couples in September, I feel like we've known them forever.  It is so great to have local people that we can share our hearts and desires with!

The most accomplishments this year are definitely attributed to the house. So far, we have the main floor completely repainted (minus the kitchen that hopefully will be getting an upgrade in the near future); the front landscaping, and part of the back, revamped; fixed the slate roof on the garage; repainted the front door a bold color; gutted out the garage; trees trimmed &/or removed; and begun wallpaper removal on the 2nd floor.  We know that the house will never be done.  Although, every time we finish a project, we feel like the house is more ours :).

The saddest disappointment is one we've kept pretty quiet about.  In November, I had a miscarriage.  We hadn't even gotten the joy of finding out about the pregnancy.  We wanted to stay quiet about trying to start a family, but God's plan is different from our own.  Sharing the miscarriage with others has been hard for several reasons.  First off, it's difficult to share such sad news when it is unexpected of us.  It's also hard because it is sort of a taboo topic.  Because every miscarriage is different no one really knows how to ask questions, or if it's even acceptable.  We've shared our news with many responses ranging from complete quiet to tears and hugs.  I have been debating writing about this on the blog, which has attributed a lot to the silence on the blog.  I don't have any problems talking about it or sharing how it has affected me.  It still just doesn't seem real and the feelings and emotions change everyday, so it's hard to put in solid writing.  But I plan on trying to capture those feelings and writing about it in another post.

Even with all the sadness and hard times, this year has been my favorite year with Steve.  Everyone usually says your first year of marriage is the best.  I'd have to disagree -- year 3 has been the best!  I think the 2 Europe trips may have helped, but not because we were on vacation and seeing places we always wanted.  Those 2 trips helped because it was just the two of us, on our own, with no internet/phone distractions, on adventures and making memories.

We had no idea what 2012 would hold, and are excited for what 2013 holds.  This year for the first time ever, Steve and I got to reign in the new year with friends in our own house!  We had all of our small group friends over for the evening.  Everyone brought food & games, and we had a great time getting to know people more and spending that special evening together.  So here's hoping to a Great 2013!