Replacing a header…

When you take down all the walls you get to see what lies underneath. Which means you get to see that the header that is holding up the 2nd story of your house is bowing slightly. The big question is do you take the time to replace it (Dan says YES!) or do you just cover it back up and not worry about it (Sheila says YES, but what do I know?) What I do know is that the idea of taking it down and the possibility of the house collapsing kind of scares me!

First things first, you need to start hammering in new supports several days ahead of time so over the course of a week you can slowly raise the cross beams just enough so you can remove the old header.


Then you set up some type of pulley system so you and your 14 year old son can drop a header that ways several hundred pounds. Finally you start removing the studs that are holding it up. You also instruct said 14yp on the proper way to hold the ropes of the pulley system. Do NOT wrap ropes around any part of your body.



While I am taking pictures the whole time this is going on I am like a mother hen predicting dooms day. I was not comfortable with this at all!


Change of plans, Dan will hold header while Thomas removes a stud, it could start to drop any time now.


The first side has been freed, we’re expecting big things to happen. Surely the header will start to fall, any second now…


Hmm there is nothing holding this up why is it not moving?


OK maybe if we cut some of those nails, things will start to move.


Or if we get a pry bar and start prying the thing apart


Well its moved a little bit but it’s certainly not dropping on its own, who knew?


Switching things up again, Dan will hold it while Thomas pries it apart.


There we go, now it’s starting to drop.


And down she goes, slowly, slowly. No big dramatic drops here. I guess that pulley system did really work.


Man Dan is holding the ropes and the beam all at the same time, maybe I should put the camera down and help.


It really doesn’t look that heavy from this picture (side note when it was finally lying down on the floor, I couldn’t even slide it over an inch.)


Old header down and the new one is going up. Hey who’s holding the ropes? I thought maybe I finally jumped in to help but if I’m holding the ropes how would I be taking the pictures? Hmm not sure, but I did actually help a bit with this part.


And since things never go as easily as they should… We couldn’t quite get that side to lift all the way up, it was getting caught up on a piece of wood.


This process took quite a lot of time and lots of pounding. Both Thomas and Dan used a sledge hammer to try and pound this into place. BTW it is not easy work to pound a sledge hammer; upwards, over your head, over and over again!


Hold it Thomas, don’t let it fall!


Hey, there I am! Back to pounding supports yet again, this time to try and raise the header so it’s level. (At this point Dan started worrying that he was doing some type of irreparable damage to the foundation of the house. When the one person that is confident that what we’re doing is safe and secure, starts to worry, its not a good thing!)


We finally got the header raised and level, then Dan placed several 2X4’s on each side to hold it up and screwed it into place. At which point it occurred to him that it looks crooked,  not perfectly centered. After a quick measuring it was off by 2 inches on one side, so he had to unscrew everything and hit it over a couple inches. This entire project took all day to finish!

But it is finally done, level, centered, and cleaned up with no damage to any other part of the house!

We could NOT have done all this without Thomas’ help! He has been such a huge part of this renovation. I hope he is learning all the skills he’ll need to take care of his own house when he grows up.


Next job, insulating!

Circuit Bending at The Columbus Idea Foundry

Circuit bending is the creative customization of the circuits within electronic devices such as low voltage, battery-powered children’s toys and small digital synthesizers to create new musical or visual instruments and sound generators.

But before you can start on the circuit bending to have to make your “bending buddy.” During which you will learn how to solder, drill plastic, mount components, and work with hot glue (really?) these are all essential circuit-bending skills. Making the bending buddy took most of the 2.5 hour class. Nut now that we know what we’re doing we could whip one out in 15 minutes or so. Waiting for the instruction and tools when in a group takes a bit of time.


Once you’ve got your bending buddy all put together, it’s time to take your toy apart. Who doesn’t love taking things apart?

The best toys for circuit bending have some or most of these attributes:
– Battery operated and makes noises electronically through a speaker
– Looks easy to take apart and put back together
– Has lots of extra space inside
– Already makes cool noises
– Music toys like keyboards and drum toys
– Toys from the 1980s and 1990s
– Talking toys with voices that sound computerized
– Simple noisemakers like greeting cards or one-button noisemakers
– Non-motorized toys (can be done but makes for more take apart time)
– Something you can live without if the circuits get fried.


Then it’s all trial and error, keep moving around your clips touching different spots on the board trying to make interesting noises. Thomas didn’t have much luck making music but he did recreate many of the circuits and was able to make the toy make sounds without pushing its buttons.


The bending buddy in action:


Thank you to the circuit-bent rock group, CMKT 4 for driving all the way to Columbus from Chicago for this interesting and very noisy program.

We are looking forward to doing more classes at The Columbus Idea Foundry, it is such a cool space.

The Columbus Idea Foundry is Columbus’s own community workshop, DIY learning center and creative space. Our goal is to teach introductory hands-on classes in fields such as welding, silversmithing, blacksmithing, jewelry making, small and large metal casting, stained glass soldering, CAD/CAM/CNC, laser cutting, vacuum forming, screenprinting, electronics, and more. Once trained to use our resources, members may rent time on our tools to practice their skills or work on personal projects.

a slow (but exciting) weekend

We didn’t get anything done on the renovation this weekend. Dan and Thomas spent Saturday at a kids hunting event, skeet shooting, bow and arrow shooting and finally pheasant hunting. Thomas fired 3 shots but did not kill any poor birds. On Friday, however, Dan went pheasant hunting with a friend and did kill 3 birds. He brought them home for him and Thomas to skin and clean in the back yard. I’m not so sure I like this new hobby of there’s.

Then on Sunday we needed to get the yard cleaned up for winter. All the pots that were still sitting around needed to be put away in the lean-to. And the pond needed to be drained and dismantled. In the midst of cleaning things up Dan decided to pull out all of his stored wood from underneath the shed to see what he could use during the renovation. He got about 1/2 of it pulled out when something alive dropped down on his head. Let me back up and explain that to get underneath the shed you have to shimmy on your belly, so there is not a quick or easy way to escape. While I did miss seeing Dan reverse shimmy in high speed. I did hear enough commotion that I had to go outside to see what was happening.

After Thomas helped brush off Dan and Dan finished cussing and jumping around, they got flash lights and headed back to the shed to see what it was that attacked Dan.

And here’s what they found…a helpless, scared and huge possum! Look at how cool the ear is.



Dan then attempted to prod it out…


but that didn’t work.


Then they had the brilliant idea to go get our neighbor, Matt, along with his new paintball gun. They figured if they shot the paintball near the possum it would scare it out. Maybe if the possum just saw how crazy Matt looked it would have ran in fear.


No one wanted to be too near the opening/exit to the shed when the possum came running out.


But the possum hid, and not surprisingly did not run out while being shot at.


Then Dan went into full commando mode, shooting indiscriminately underneath the shed. His own form of “shock and awe.” But the poor possum just kept safe in its bunker and did not give up it’s new winter home.


In the end Dan gave up and the possum won this battle. Dan could not pull the rest of the wood out from underneath the shed and had to leave the possum to his new home. I believe step 2 will entail setting a trap.

Possibly this is Karma for killing those pretty pheasant on Friday.

Installing the windows

Our neighbors must be really sick of this renovation. Dan was up and working on the windows before the sun had completely risen Saturday morning. That impact driver is really loud when reverberating through a sleepy neighborhood!


Dan has been dreading installing the windows, more than many of the other arduous tasks he’s had to complete. But I thought the installation seemed to go without many problems.


And he go to go buy a new tool, which always makes him happy. Hmm a $200 level, really?IMG_4502

well it is pretty cool when it puts these grids all over the house, so you can line up all the windows at once.


Hey who’s that person helping with the renovation? It looks like someone new that has never been over to help work on the house before.


It’s my mom and dad, here for all the fun. They were here all day Sat and Sun helping with all kinds of jobs. Dad helped Dan get 6 of the windows installed. And mom helped me attempt to strip some interior trim (more on that in a moment) paint all the exterior trim, empty out the crawl space and finish off a couple bottles of wine!


And here we are starting to strip just 2 of the maybe 50 or so boards that I have from the interior of the house. Since we want to keep the old look of our house, we really wanted to keep all the interior trim and base moldings. Not only does it look really cool and go with the style and age of the house. But there is no way we could afford to buy similar wood and reconstruct it all ourselves. What we thought would be an easy task turned in to an all day cluster f&*%.



About 7 hours later and several more reapplications of toxic stripper, we were still not done with those same 2 boards. There has got to be a better way to do this!


Dad really seems to be enjoying helping us on the house. Or maybe it was just the promise of yummy food that was keeping him going.



The house had a very open and airy feel when the windows were removed.


Here are a few of the boards that mom and I were painting. This will be the exterior trim around the windows.


Look how nice that’s looks. So far only 1 window has all the trim up. But now that we know how we want it to look the rest should go up without a problem.


And here is the mess, or um staging area, that used to be my back porch. Since Dan needs to get into the crawl space to work on the plumbing and take care of some insulation it all had to be emptied out. The weather was so nice I decided this would be the perfect time to do it. We had an efficient system of Thomas handing us the crates out of the crawlspace, Dad and I walking them through the basement to the window and mom pulling them out of the basement and lining them up on the driveway. Then mom and I went through each tub and got rid of all the unnecessary stuff. What we found was Daniel had 1 tub of stuff stored away and Beth had about 10 tubs of stuff hidden up there. I guess it helps that Daniel has his own apartment to put all of his stuff in. We ended up with about 15 tubs that still need to be stored away.


Trick or Treating 2011

As is our tradition we all headed over to my parents house for trick or treating again this year. For the first time ever  one of the kids was not with us,  Beth, sadly was still in LA modeling. But Daniel and his girlfriend Megan were able to join us, even though they are now in their 20’s.

I’m not really sure what the kids were dressing up as, Thomas was just happy that he got to walk around carrying his sword. Since it is actually a real sword it is delegated to his bedroom and never allowed outside, normally.



There’s mom preparing our Baileys and coffee for the long walk. Mom, Dan and I still walk around with the kids, while Dad stays at the house passing out candy. The Bailey’s and coffee to-go make walking in the cold even more enjoyable!IMG_4453

And this is why the swords are not allowed out of the bedroom, you never know when Thomas may attack!


Here’s Daniel and Megan, aren’t they cute together? Daniel did make the comment that he thought this would be his last year going door to door for candy. Since he’ll be 21 next Halloween he thinks that’s a good time to stop. Dad will finally have someone to help him pass out the candy.


We were so happy Megan could join us, she lives in a little tiny town in Ohio about 2 hours away. Not only has she not been trick or treating since she was 12 years old (can you imagine?) but also she has never trick or treated at night since in her town they do it from 2-4. Now that’s just silly!


Thomas got all 16 pounds of his candy sorted by type. You wouldn’t want all that candy comingling!


Bethany in Glamour Dec. Issue

I got the text from Beth yesterday that I had to go get the Dec issue of Glamour magazine. I left immediately heading to Barnes and Noble only to find the Oct. and Nov. issues but no Dec. I went to the service desk to see if I was just missing it, the girl behind the counter asked if there was something I needed to see in the Dec. issue, to which I responded, “YES! my daughter.” That was fun to say. And yet it did not procure me a copy of the magazine. Thanks to Facebook I did get to see the pictures and I’ll just have to head back to B&N next week to pick up a hardcopy.