Diggin' It

It’s been quite the process to get our house ready to live in. We knew it would be, and budgeted for it, but we keep hitting road blocks and I’m in the verge of turning into an enormous green rage monster. (Hashtag HulkSmash.)

We’ve done everything the remediation guy told us to do. We had the professional cleaners and air scrubbers in and they spent a week doing their job. We had the electrician in, who pulled a ticket to get the power turned on so that the cleaners could use electricity. We had the City turn the water on so the cleaners could clean and…there wasn’t even enough water pressure to flush a toilet.

(Matthew texted that to me and I replied with, “Did you find that out the hard way?”)

(He did not, thankfully.)

We told our new neighbors about our water issue and they said to use theirs for the cleaners, as they know how much needs to be done. Hooray for good neighbors!

We thought that maybe the water pipe damage was outside the house from when winter hit (the house was empty), and got a contractor in to dig down to the pipe. Dry as a bone. He then dug by the connection at the road and no leak there, either. The water guy from the City pulled out a map and the water line goes directly beneath The Tree. There is no way on Earth that we’re harming that tree, so plans were made to spend Tuesday having Matthew and the contractor digging a new water line that goes to the left of the property, around the tree. Once that’s fixed, we can move in!


The remediation guy took air samples last Wednesday and the results came in on Friday. All spore levels were in the low end of the good range, meaning really, really low. Regular low. Probably lower than most houses because of ALL THE CLEANING. Every test was green/good to live in. Yay! Except, he won’t sign off on it because the one spore type is a more dangerous one. It came in at the same level both inside AND outside, but he wants the level inside to be at zero. ZERO. We figure that the reason for equal counts is because we had other workers in the house (Natural gas guys, Telus, etc.) after the contractor dug up parts of the yard and the air scrubbers were gone. They tracked in the stirred-up dust.

Last night our restoration company (Owned by Matthew’s Dad) lent us the special vacuum and the air scrubbers, and we bought the cleaning solution. Matthew set up the air scrubbers while I vacuumed every surface, and then he started with the cleaning solution. The house is now locked tight with the air scrubbers running. They will remain running until the remediation guy returns Thursday or Friday to take another sample for the lab. When he returns, we’ll turn off the scrubbers and he can take the air sample.

Once he takes his sample, we’re moving in without waiting for results. The last report showed that the house is perfectly fine, and it’s time to live in our house. I’ve held it together and been patient well beyond my natural capabilities (Truth) (Don’t ask God to test your patience, because He will) and I just need to be home.

Mr. HazMatt

We are still very excited that we won our house in a sealed court bid by $111.20 (ONE HUNDED AND ELEVEN DOLLARS AND TWENTY CENTS). We knew that there would be a lot of work to be done to get it to the point where we could even begin to live in it and/or start renovating. All services to the house had been shut off, and there are steps to go through in order to make the house livable and to get an occupancy permit.

1. Hire a remediation professional. The guy we hired took a sample of the air (Spore count), and sent it to a lab. When he got the results he then gave us a list of things to have done to clean the house and get the air quality back to where it should be.

2. Do things yourself to cut costs. The remediation guy suggested that we hire professionals for most of his list, but was totally okay with Matthew gutting the downstairs bathroom. The rest of the basement had already been stripped to the studs, but the (nasty) bathroom still remained. We would have gutted it anyway, even if it wasn’t on the list. Matthew suited up (See above photo) and spent an entire day ripping out everything until it, too, was down to the studs.

3. Hire a restoration company. The one we hired spent three days cleaning the house — scrubbing every surface, vacuuming, and cleaning everything the remediation guy had on his list. While doing this, there were big air scrubbing machines pulling the bad air out and pumping purified air in. The machines run for four days after the cleaners are done. Today is the last day.

4. The duct cleaners come in. They come in tomorrow to clean all of the ducts and certify that they are clean and good.

5. Final inspection. The remediation guy comes back and takes another air sample. If the results are good, we get the City to do an inspection and grant us an occupancy permit. If the results are not good, we get the restoration crew back to keep scrubbing the air.

We’re in the final stages, and hoping to have the green light by early next week. It’s been quite the process, and will continue to be, but I just want to be living in my house, you know?

Miss Emily

Growing up on the north coast, our youth group would go to a week-long summer camp, starting at the age of 13. I still have many fond memories from that time, and know that camp is such a great experience for people of all ages. Four years ago, Matthew texted me to tell me that Graham could go to camp that summer. This seemed odd to me because he was only EIGHT. Matthew then told me that Graham could have gone the year before, as the youngest age that goes is those ending second grade and are eight or turning eight. We broached the subject with Graham who did not hesitate to say YES. He went to camp for six nights, loved it, and is currently there for his fifth year in a row.

Nathan went for the first time three years ago. He wanted to go, but his anxiety was an issue, so Matthew volunteered at camp to be a handyman, and Nathan had a blast. Matthew went back the next summer as the speaker, and Nathan would spend the day with his cabin mates, but sleep in Matthew’s room. Last year neither of us could volunteer, so Nathan opted not to go. This year, one of his good friends from school wanted to go and Nathan decided to go with him. He called us on the Tuesday night because he was crying and missed us a lot. We told him to get a good sleep, that we’d send an email to him through the camp, and to check in with us the next night. He called and was FINE. I’m so proud of that kid.

Emily was eligible to go last year, but had no desire to spent six nights at camp. Fine by me. A few months ago she asked if she could go to camp this year. I told her that I didn’t think she was ready. (She’s my baby!) Her reply?

“Mom, I’m ready. I don’t think that you are ready for me to go.”


We signed her up and paired her up with a friend (campers are allowed to request one friend to bunk with). Two of my friends volunteered that week, which made me feel better, knowing that they’d be there for her if she needed them. On the day we dropped her off, we discovered that not only did she have that one fiend in her room, the four other friends they have from our church (whom they’ve known since birth) we in the same room with them. AND, their room’s counselor was a girl who helps out at Sunday school. I KNOW.

I missed her a lot, but I knew she would be fine. When I arrived at her room to pick her up the following week, she tackle-hugged me and we both got a little weepy. But then, the stories started flowing. I was soon surrounded by a circle of girls who were telling me about their “shower party”, about how they did a funny skit, and about all of the things they did. On the drive home, I asked Emily if she cried at all that week. She said she did, just once, because she had an upset stomach. She’s a tough cookie (and social butterfly).

Nathan and Emily had the time of their lives, Graham is doing the same right now, and I’m thankful that we have the opportunity to send them to camp. I’ll still be happy when Graham’s back home, though. It’s weird not having him around, it was weird when Nathan and Emily were gone, but also interesting with the different dynamics that happen when one kid is away.

The Tree

We bought a house, and won it via a sealed bid by $111.20. ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN DOLLARS AND TWENTY CENTS. (CAPS LOCK forever!) We got the keys last week, and now we’re in the process of getting an occupancy permit so that the power and water can be turned on. They were shut off because of the house being a foreclosure. It was also home to a grow-op (Ganga!), and the basement has been ripped down to the studs, which means that we get to start at ground zero.


We have to get all of the trades people to work their magic and sign off on all of the permits. They have started coming through and we’re feeling hopeful that we’ll be able to  ”camp” there by the end of July. By “camp”, I mean living like we have been: Sleeping on mattresses on the floor, cooking all meals on the barbecue, and living out of suitcases. It’s a pretty glamorous life I lead.

Upstairs still has walls and floors, and there are three bedrooms. This one will be Emily’s:

Emily's room

I took these photos back in February. Those bare branches are now full of leaves from The Tree.

This one to the left of Emily’s will be our office/guest room (The boys will get rooms downstairs, but will camp here for now):


(These are all iPhone photos, but I’ll be going through with the big camera before we start making changes.)

Turning left again, a bathroom that has a shower behind the door. It will be updated eventually, but is livable for now:

Upstairs bathroom
(The one downstairs will be completely gutted. So gross. I’ll spare you a photo of it.)

Turning left again, and facing the backyard, is the “master” bedroom, that won’t even fit the bed that Matthew built for us.

The "master"

We are going to add on out the back about 12 feet, which will be our first major project once we get in there. There will be French doors leading out to the back deck and we’ll also add an ensuite bathroom, of course.

Here is the living room off of the kitchen. That door on the right is Emily’s room, and those are the stairs down to the basement. Our “master” is on the other side of the fireplace. (Photo and sculpture are available to the highest bidder.)(Or anyone who wants them.)

Living Room

Blonde brick! We know exactly how to tackle that. Been there, done that. To my left are the sliding doors to the deck and backyard.


We’re going to make the entire backyard an outdoor living space.

The last room upstairs, opposite the sliding doors:

The Kitchen!

My sweet retro kitchen, which is big enough and totally doable until next year when I make it into my dream kitchen. I want new floors, granite countertops, white cupboards, and black hardware and appliances. I get to shop for the appliances now, though, because as you can see, there is no fridge nor oven. I’ve been asking everyone I know one question, and I’m going to ask you guys:

Electric stove, or gas stove? Everyone I’ve talked to that has a gas stove tells me that I need a gas stove and we do have natural gas at the house. Any reasons to stick with electric? And if we go with gas, any tips or suggestions or preferred brands? And, go!



The Keys

We got the keys to the house! The house that we won during a sealed bidding process by $111.20. ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN DOLLARS AND TWENTY CENTS. (That will forever deserve to be written in CAPS LOCK.)

As a related aside, Amanda and Shelley (Great friends, and Realtors extraordinaire) treated us to a day on the lake yesterday for Canada day. All of our kids got to go tubing, we ate a ton of food, and it was a relaxing way to catch up with three of my best girls. On top of that gift, Amanda presented us with this gift:


($111.20)(BEST GIFT EVER.)

We got the keys this afternoon and spent some time walking around and looking even closer at things. It’s been gutted, and there’s a lot to do before we can live there, but the potential is amazing. The kids hadn’t been inside yet and they were dreaming right along with us. The coolest part for me is that now it’s really real. We may have won in court, but that was fifteen days ago. We gave our cheque to the lawyer on Monday, and we knew it was all happening, but it still felt like it wasn’t quite ours yet. Today, walking in without being led by a Realtor, it all sunk in. It’s our house, and soon it’s going to be our home.

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