Vernon Volumes text

Vernon Volumes text

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Christmas week at Omni

For our Christmas holiday, we spent the week at the Omni. The tennis club was hosting a kid's tennis camp daily from 10am to 1pm, and both kids went Monday through Friday. Andrea and I planned to do a tennis clinic daily as well, and did most days, except Monday when it rained.

We had a really nice relaxing week together and had fun reconnecting, hanging out, and working on our tennis. It was also a little extra special since Andrea was able to find a Beachwood villa that allowed us to bring Chloe as well. We had a couple options of people to watch Chloe, but it worked out nicely since Chloe was having some tummy trouble shortly before we left and she likely would have made some yucky messes for whoever was watching her. The villa we stayed at was ok, but was definitely in need of a little work.

I brought my computer, set it up in the dining area, and worked there throughout the week. After I'd finish up, we'd go on walks to the park or to Marche Burette for ice cream. As they usually do, they ran out of mint chocolate chip early in the week, but I talked to some of the ladies working and they got us some out of the back of the store a couple times. Connor brought his skateboard and Paige brought her scooter, and they were perfect for the short walks and they were fun on the hilly walking trails.

Andrea and I had fun playing tennis, although we did get tired of some of the drills where we were instructed to just hit the ball back and forth to each other. Some of the games were fun, and there were some fairly good players in attendance, so we did have good competition available. Michelle and Bill Jordan came up on Tuesday and did both clinics with us and had lunch with us too. We meant to take a picture with them, but forgot and also never got around to taking a picture of Andrea and I doing tennis.

The kids really enjoyed their tennis camp. They were always in great moods when they got home and Connor played well throughout the week and would often say that his favorite part of the days was the tennis. I'm really glad he enjoyed it. He is often good at sports, but doesn't always seem to have a lot of fun playing in organized sports, so it was good to see him looking forwards to it, playing well, enjoying himself, and being successful with it.

Paige was usually one of the youngest campers throughout the week and many of the drills were a bit advanced for her, but she hung in there with them and had fun as well. At the end of each day they were given a choice to swim or play some games and Paige would usually swim at the indoor pool while Connor would always opt for the game.

We had a great week! Already looking forwards to next year!

2016 Christmas day

On Christmas morning, the kids were up early, excited to see what Santa brought.

We let them loose to see their goodies and then we opened up our gifts together. When we got to the gifts from Grandma Genie, we did a Facetime call to her so she could see the kids opening them.

The kids posed with some of their gifts afterwards, and Connor took a nice picture of Mommy and Daddy together.

After cleaning up the wrapping paper and boxes, we let the kids play with their things. We started to get on a roll with cleaning and before we knew it, we were about halfway done taking down Christmas decorations. We decided to just do everything and in a little over an hour and a half, we had taken down everything. It was nice to get the house back to normal and to have everything put away before we left for our trip. In the afternoon we went to Amelia Island and had lunch and then took the kids to the park.

We took a pic with the Christmas tree outside the shops and it was extra cool since a falcon was perched on the top of the tree.

There was a beautiful live oak tree in the park that was obviously a favorite climbing spot. We let the kids climb on it a bit and they started to get pretty brave. I took a video of them on it, while I was halfway up a branch. Right after I stopped filming, Paige slipped and scraped up her back as she fell. Thankfully it wasn't a bad fall, and she didn't cry too terribly long.

In the evening, the Chiefs played and Connor was super pumped to wear his new Chiefs jersey while he watched. I'm glad that they won their game and Connor could be proud to wear his jersey. He begged to wear it every day to tennis camp the next week.

Our Christmas day was a busy one!

Christmas Eve in PVB

On Christmas Eve, we had some extra family time and decided to see a movie. We went to see the new Disney movie Moana together and then we went home and played in our neighborhood.

Paige hasn't gotten to drive her Powerwheels much since we moved, but we'd gotten the garage organized and she was able to take it out. She was enjoying driving around the yard and driveways, but I decided I'd get my Powerwheel (the golf cart) and drive in the road with her. We explored the neighborhood for a while and she liked being able to go for a long drive. Afterwards, we drove a little farther and faster on the golf cart and then wanted me to chase her while she jogged. We got some funny looks from passerby's, but she thought it was a wonderful time.

Once we got home, we went for a golf cart ride with the whole family including Chloe. We went to the park and played on the playground for a while. Chloe had fun smelling everything and trying to find disgusting things to eat.

When we got home, we decided it would be fun to open one gift on Christmas Eve. The kids watch a lot of Youtube videos of random people and so we decided we'd all talk on video like we were making a video for our own Youtube channel.

Connor went first and opened a phone case, from Mommy and Daddy.

Paige opened a present from Connor and the a little while later, the kids opened the gifts from Aunt Abby and Uncle Nate so Abby and family could see it on Facetime.

I opened a gift that Paige made for us at school.

After dinner, we maxed and relaxed and watched Home Alone, our favorite Christmas movie.

Before we knew it, it was bed time! We fixed milk and cookies for Santa and then the kids went off to bed.

Trevor visits

On December 23rd, the kids were out of school for the day. Andrea took Paige over to play with Kennedy in our old neighborhood and took the opportunity to drop Connor off with his friend Trevor. Connor and Trevor played Madden 2016 at Trevor's house and then Andrea brought Trevor back to our house after we ate at Cruisers for lunch. The kids played some basketball, football, and a little more Madden before Trevor had to leave. It was nice to see Connor's little twin again. Trevor is likely going to be moving to Seattle in the next year.

Christmas Decorations

This year we decorated our new house for the holidays for the first time. Donna helped up re-purpose our decorations we already had, and we were able to make things look pretty darn good I think.

On Christmas Eve, the kids got the milk and Cookies for Santa and did a quick pose by the tree and with Chloe.

They came up with this cute pose on their own.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

2016 a stressful year - house issues

This was a busy year, definitely a year of changes for us. I am proud of all the things we've accomplished, and surprised at how difficult it was at times. I honestly can't believe that this year is coming to a close. It's somehow managed to go fast, and take forever, all at once.

This year was a big test for me, and at times I feel like I did well. At other points, I reached my limit and my breaking point. There were many things I got done, but many things I left undone because I was so busy or distracted. I wanted to take "before" pics of the new house before it got done, but I didn't. I wanted to be more patient with the kids during their transition to a new house and new school, but at times I wasn't. I wanted to enjoy the good things around me, but too often I was so stressed out I could only see the bad things.

I wrote this all up so I wouldn't forget. I didn't want to forget how hard this was and everything that happened. I didn't want to look back on this year and wonder why I was so weak at times, or why I didn't handle it all better. I didn't want to forget. I worked on this list off and on as work on the house was wrapping up. At one point I had 29 things in the list, and was thinking that I should try to think of one more so I'd have an even 30. The next day, Hurricane Matthew was in the news and was clearly coming towards us and I had my 30. I won't wish for anything else to add! I put the list aside for a couple months, and now I decided I'd get the list done before the end of the year. At this point it's grown to 33. 

I also want to remember that this post is mostly just house stuff. There were many other things in our lives that were hard, that we went through, and accomplished. The kids started new schools, Andrea had surgery and started on a new tennis team, and I had a lot of work and business to take care of along with house work. Through it all, we managed to stay together, and I'm so proud of all of us.

The list below contains the stressful and difficult moments throughout our renovation process.
  1. Old house survey came back with issues - had to contact engineer, go to meeting, get documents signed and recorded
    1. A week before we were supposed to close on our Dumont house, the survey results came back and showed that our pool enclosure was encroaching into the drainage easement behind our property. We had to spend hours calling people and meeting with people to get it resolved. We were very fortunate that the group that decides on these things happened to be meeting that week, and were able to fix the issue. During this week, I was so busy and stressed out, we didn’t go out to the new house to check on things.
  2. Closing date on new house got moved because mortgage company didn’t get everything done in time - first bank rejected application
    1. The mortgage company we were dealing with on the new house didn’t get their paperwork done in time and because of the cost of the property it had to go to a secondary review, which took extra time. We had to move the closing date by a few days.
  3. Painters hadn’t done the important rooms before move in - office and closet
    1. After we got everything wrapped up with the survey and paperwork, I went out to the new house just a couple days before we were supposed to move in. We were dumbfounded to find that things hadn’t progressed appropriately in the important rooms. We knew that many rooms wouldn’t be done, but told the painters that the priority rooms would be the master closet and office. When we arrived, the painters were still there and were happy to show us how much progress we’d made in the living room and family rooms, which we hadn’t been concerned with at all. I’d planned to take “before” pictures that day, but was so upset that I didn’t even take one. We told them to focus on the office and closet. They were able to finish the closet before we moved in, but unfortunately the office carpet was installed before they painted, and we were worried that they would ruin it with paint. The painting of course was difficult since there was tissue paper painted into the walls and it required multiple sanding jobs and repairs to the drywall before it looked acceptable.
  4. Cleanup day - broke glass door by pool
    1. After seeing the lack of progress and the messy state of the house, I took multiple trips and stayed for hours to clean things up and to keep an eye on everyone working. There was trash and construction material everywhere. I decided to move some glass doors from the back patio to the side of the house. While I was carrying the second door, I held it by the handle, which was screwed to the glass. I think it put too much pressure on the hole in the glass and the entire thing shattered as I was walking next to the pool. I had some minor cuts on my arm and glass was everywhere. The pavers had grooves and holes in them and the glass shards were hard to remove. I tried with a broom for a while and thankfully someone lent me a shop vac. It took hours to clean it all up and I had to hire a pool cleaning company to vacuum the pool thoroughly to get it all cleaned out.
  5. Moving took entire day + subsequent day
    1. The move itself was a long process. The movers came and packed and did a good careful job in packing, but it took much longer to do everything than it should have. The actual day of the move, they had a large truck, but it should have been a bigger vehicle. They were so careful about how to pack it, trying to squeeze everything in like a Tetris puzzle, that it took all day long. We didn’t get done loading until the kids had gotten done with school, and we didn’t get to the new house until the early evening. I loaded my car and Andrea’s car, the big moving truck was loaded, and a pickup truck and trailer too. Still, it wasn’t everything and one of the guys had to go back and get more. We didn’t get done until well after midnight. The next morning we had to go back to the house to get the rest, and there were still things that we didn’t get.
  6. No hot water upon move in
    1. The morning after we moved in, we went to take a shower and no hot water. The company that owned the propane tank had shut it off and wouldn’t be able to get back to turn it back on for weeks. I called around and found a company that came out a couple days later and put in a temporary tank until they could schedule a time to dig out the old tank and put their new one in. For those days, we had to take freezing cold showers, or to the beach club to wash.
  7. Basketball goal broken
    1. During the dropoff of the dumpster, they broke the basketball goal. I told them to fix it or remove it. It took months of haggling before they finally cut it down and hauled it off.
  8. Directv installation didn’t work right, but thankfully they fixed it. Comcast cut wire when burying cable.
    1. The Directv installation was problematic. We didn’t have all the TV’s in the right place when he arrived and it was difficult to test everything and make sure it was working correctly. He had to come back multiple times. The Comcast installation went smoothly, however after a separate guy came to bury the wire, he broke it and I had to spend a lot of time calling around before they came back and fixed it.
  9. Dust and mess all over the house from cutting and sanding
    1. Throughout the process, we’d asked for all the messy stuff to be done before we moved in. We asked everyone to focus on that up front and be done with the messy work so once our belongings were in the house, the dust and mess would be at a minimum. This didn’t work at all. There was jackhammering, sawing, drilling, sanding, and horrible messes daily throughout the process. People had no respect for the fact that they were working in someone’s home. I tried to put cardboard or other material down for them to walk on, but they just stomped around in their messy work boots and didn’t care about the messes they made.
  10. Plumber broke pipe in master bathroom and flooded into new office carpet
    1. The day after we got the new carpet in the office, the plumber working in the master bath broke a pipe and water flooded through the wall and into the office. We had to pull the carpet up and run a fan to dry it out. It took over a week to get someone in to re-kick the carpet.
  11. Crooked tile in laundry room
    1. The tile pattern in the laundry room was crooked. The tile guy from New Creations was trying to eyeball it and it was crooked as it went across the room. It had to be re-done and it took forever to find someone to do it. We regretted doing tile in that room eventually because of the hassle.
  12. Air conditioners + energy efficiency expert + roofing contractors + insulation people
    1. We moved in during some of the hottest days of the year. The AC upstairs ran constantly. We had a few companies come out and review it. I paid J&G to service the equipment and to check everything and they thought the units were working fine, although the upstairs unit might be a little undersized. We had some quotes on solutions, but of course everything was super expensive. I had the utility company come out and the energy efficiency expert thought we should leave it alone and possibly just have the ducts cleaned in the Fall.
  13. Squirrel in attic + multiple companies bidding on process
    1. Shortly after we moved in, I decided to place some traps up in the attics just in case. I know the previous owners had some trouble in the past, so just to be safe I decided to put out traps. A few days after we moved in, a flying squirrel was killed by a trap. I called some companies and everyone that came through thought the previous work to seal up the attic was not sufficient and quoted $2500-$5000 to fix it. In the end, I’ve just left the traps and haven’t had more issues yet.
  14. New gas tank floating
    1. The new gas company finally put in a new gas tank in the yard. They had to dig out the old one and use a crane to put the new one in place. They carefully pulled back the grass and then replaced it when they were done. That day, it rained and I remember thinking that would be good for the grass. That evening, Andrea mentioned that they’d done a great job and you could barely tell where they’d done their work. The next morning the gas tank was halfway out of the ground. It had floated up from the rain and because it was mostly empty when they put it in. It took forever for them to fix it, and they killed a lot of grass in the process. The new installation has kept it in the ground, however it’s a little bit of dip where it’s buried now and it doesn’t look great.
  15. Pond draining
    1. We loved the pond view, which was a big part of buying the house. Shortly after we moved in, Andrea mentioned that the pond looked low one evening. The next morning the entire pond was almost empty. Just a tiny amount of water was left and all the fish were stuck together with their backs out of the water. I happened to be outside as one of the golf course workers came by. They turned the pumps off, which had drained the pond, and realized it had been an accident. There was no rain in the forecast, so the golf course workers setup a hose and over the next few days the pond very slowly started to fill back up. Most of the fish died. It was a sad and stinky affair. Dozens of birds gobbled them up, and we were worried that the pond would be a dead wasteland.
  16. Landscaping companies - multiple companies and old lawn guy freaking out
    1. We were hoping our landscape guy from our old house would come over and also take care of the new house. He actually cut the yard a few times and quoted us a couple hundred dollars to clean everything up and get started. We happily agreed and he came out one day and started the cleanup. Halfway through, it started to storm and he left. Weeks went by and he never finished. I was also wanting the trees trimmed back from the house to keep the animals out of the attic and texted him a couple times. He sent out some guys to finish the cleanup, and they did most of it, but not everything. He begged us to pay them the balance of the cleanup, and I did, and then he quit. I was very disappointed because we’d used him a while and he was pretty rude when he quit. We went through a few companies and it’s been difficult having to hire and then fire companies. In the end, I did a lot of the work myself. I bought a tree trimmer, did a lot of landscaping, and sprayed for weeds a bunch of times. The new company is doing pretty well, and I'm hopeful I won't be dealing with too much lawn work in the future.
  17. Entertainment center pushed back into nook
    1. We used the same carpenter to build our built in, in the new house, that we used in our Dumont house. He drew up the plans, we loved it, and then after we moved in they arrived with everything to put it together. As they started to put it in place, we were surprised that it was inside the Family room nook. We’d anticipated it’d be out from the wall a bit, or at least flush. Rich assured us that it would be when they were finished, but when they finished it was a foot or so inside the nook. We talked it over with them and thankfully they took it apart and put it back together again so it fit flush. There were some issues around the electrical setup and lights, but eventually it all came together.
  18. Kitchen cabinets needed to be repainted and caulked
    1. The kitchen cabinets were painted, and the doors were taken to the New Creations shop to be painted offsite. For a long time, we lived with the kitchen looking horrible, but finally they brought the doors back and started to put it all together. We were disappointed with the work though because they didn’t caulk the seams and the paint was inconsistent in the seams, sometimes sealing them and sometimes leaving unsightly seams. They had to take them all back and re-do them.
  19. Master bathroom cabinets needed to be repainted due to knob marks
    1. The master bathroom cabinets were taken offisite as well for painting by Corbella. They also brought them back and then realized that there were marks on them from the old knobs. They had to repaint them to fix the knob marks.
  20. Camera installation - multiple issues with cameras and extenders
    1. The camera installation took a long time. We used the same guy from our Dumont house installation, and were overall happy with his work, but it definitely didn’t go perfectly. He had to re-run all the lines because they had excessive static, then he had to spend a long time figuring out why the wireless signal and splitter weren’t working. It took around a dozen visits, but it finally got working eventually.
  21. Glue marks on fireplace stone
    1. The fireplace stone wasn’t checked well before it got stuck on the wall. Some of the most visible eye-level pieces had glue marks and other marks on them. It had to be cleaned up and re-worked.
  22. Wrong sized door ordered/delivered 8’0 vs 80”
    1. We mostly renovated the interior, but decided to replace the front doors. Andrea and Donna went and picked out a front door at a local company and put in the order. They sent a confirmation to Donna and she approved of the door order. When it arrived, we realized that the order was put in wrong and instead of an 80” door we had a 8’0” door. So, it was too large. We’d paid for half of the door and told them that we wanted to return it, but they were not flexible at all on the return and said no. We went back and forth and finally they took the door back, but did not refund us for the money we gave them. Donna took responsibility and discounted her rate to make up for the money we lost on the door.
  23. Stair railing broken
    1. Paige somehow broke the stair railing. I’m not sure how it went 16 years before Paige without breaking, but somehow little Paige broke a metal mount on it. I couldn’t find an exact match and ended up having to replace all the metal mounts so they would match. I took the opportunity to update them all at once, and it looks nicer now, but as usual it was a long and tedious process.
  24. Paid Mortgage with wrong account
    1. After closing on both houses, we had a lot of money in the bank account and wanted to send a large payment to the mortgage company. It was hundreds of thousands of dollars, and when Andrea called them for the address to send it to, they gave her the information and Andrea sent the check. A while later, Andrea called back to ask a question about it and was told that there was no way they would accept a personal check for the amount. They said that the check would be returned and we would have to wire the money or get a certified check. Andrea transferred the money to our local bank and went in and had them send the certified check. A couple days later she was looking at the account and we had a negative balance. The mortgage company had deposited the personal check after all, and the money had been transferred from our main bank account to our local bank. It was a big disaster and Andrea spent a lot of time on it. Thankfully a nice manager Andrea had talked to in the past at our main bank cleared it up and it all worked out after a few days of drama.
  25. Concrete in drain
    1. The cabana bath was a long multi-step process. We knew we wouldn’t have to use it much, so it stayed in a demoed state for a long time. When we got around to working on it, they had to jackhammer up some of the flooring to re-run some pipes and broke a water line. Water got everywhere, but eventually they reworked the floor and pipes. The tile guy came in and tiled the floor, shower, and shower walls. The plumbers came back out after he was done to finish up the plumbing and said that there was concrete in the drain. They said there wasn’t anything they could do about it except jackhammer it all up and re-run everything. The plumber and New Creations would not take any responsibility for it and the tile guy said he was certain it wasn’t from his work. Thankfully the tile guy was able to look at it, and after chipping at it for a while he was able to figure out that it wasn’t super solid concrete and there was only a thin layer in the pipe. He cleared it all up and it has worked fine ever since. I’m pretty sure that New Creations got the concrete in the drain when they did their work on it, and was disappointed that their plumbers weren’t able to figure out how to fix it.
  26. Leaking water heater
    1. At the end of the summer, we went away for a week. When we got back, I checked around the house to make sure everything looked good. I went to the attic space to check and make sure no animals got killed in the traps and just as I was turning to leave I noticed that the attic platform where the hot water heater was standing, looked wet. I realized that the pipes going into the heater were slowly dripping. Thankfully most of the water had stayed on the plywood platform that held the water heater. I hauled down all the junk that was on the platform. There were a few hundred pounds of old tile from the original house construction that I hadn’t messed with yet. I turned off the water, cleaned up the platform, and ran 2 fans to dry it all up. We didn’t have hot water in that half of the house for about a week until I had a plumber come out and put in a tankless water heater. We were happy not to have 50 gallons of boiling water above the master bedroom any longer, but it was $2500 I’d rather not have had to spend.
  27. Jack and Jill bathroom - promised 2 weeks, took 5
    1. The Jack and Jill baths were the last things on our list to work on. I was tempted to not even mess with them and leave them alone, but we’d already paid for countertops and fixtures, so we decided to just get it over with. New Creations promised that with everything else done they could focus on it and get it all completely done in 2 weeks or less. As usual, their estimate was terrible and it took over 5 weeks. Their workers would show up late in the day, go to “lunch” and never come back. If they showed up at all.
  28. Overordered building materials
    1. After everything was done, we were disappointed to find that we’d over ordered quite a bit of material. We’d paid New Creations for labor, and they’d told us how much to buy. In some cases, their estimates on tile were way way way off. For the kitchen, we’d purchased over three times more tile than we needed to, based on their measurements, and the tile was very expensive. Overall, we have a few thousand dollars in leftover materials. I asked New Creations if we could return it and they promised they’d check in to it. As usual, they never got back to me and it appears that we’re stuck with it.
  29. Marks on walls from people working after painting is done - painter paid extra to come back out
    1. Having everything painted was an important part of the project, but certain areas should have been painted last. For instance, everyone came in and out of the laundry room area and used the laundry sink for cleaning things. That room had been painted first, and eventually needed to be painted again. The staircase also had to be touched up multiple times and eventually completely repainted.
  30. Electrical plates
    1. There were a lot of old, broken, paint smeared, dirty electrical plates and switches. I had a handyman replace a lot of them at one point, but it took him a long time and we paid him by the hour. I decided to try to do it myself. I bought a bunch of switches and plates and spent an entire day one weekend shutting off power to rooms and working on it. I managed to get most of it done, but the process was kind of ugly. I ended up shocking myself a few times with live electrical wires after I’d guessed at the wrong breakers. In one case, I’d shut off all the power to the master bedroom, but didn’t realize one switch for the back patio would be on a separate circuit. Painful lesson to learn the hard way.
  31. Front door handle broken and lock missing screws
    1. The front door installation made a big mess, as did all the projects. Also, the front handle broke as they were installing it and they had to take it back to repair it. The person that put the lock on lost some screws, so I had to call the manufacturer so they could send replacements.
  32. Water softener
    1. The water softener didn’t work right. We could tell the water was hard and the salt level in the softener never went down. I tried to run it manually once overnight and it spilled salty water all over the garage floor. We eventually had it replaced with a new unit. They offered to haul off the old unit for $100, and I decided I’d just have the trash people take it since they took everything else. Unfortunately the salt tank had hundreds of pounds of salt and water in it. The first time I left it for the trash people, they couldn’t get it in the truck. I had to drain it, and then use a shovel to scoop out the salt. The second time I left it out, they took it. I should have spent the hundred bucks.
  33. Hurricane Matthew
    1. The hurricane was the worst part of the entire year. We were used to tornados, but the slow crawl of Hurricane Matthew towards our town was agony. On Wednesday, right after we had the front door installed, is when it became pretty clear that the hurricane was actually coming our way. I kept hoping it would weaken or change direction, but it just kept coming. On Thursday we started our preparations. Dad and I moved a lot of things to the second floor in case it flooded, and we packed a lot of things to bring to their place. We all stayed with them, and it was a hard few days, wondering what we would come home to find. Thankfully, it mostly missed our town, and we only had some minor exterior damage. It scared us, and made us question our decision to move closer to the beach. It also was terrifying that we’d just gotten so much work done on the house and hadn’t even been able to enjoy it.

Paige before school

Paige looked cute this morning before school so I snapped a pic with my phone. It's been getting cooler and she looked cozy and cute in her furry vest.

Chef Connor

Recently at dinner time I've had Connor help. He doesn't love to cook, but it's a good time to work on reading directions, being patient (both of us), and we have fun together. We've done macaroni, cranberry sauce, hot dogs, and ramen noodles so far.