The temperature outside finally feels like fall. Love it!

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It’s just too hot outside. I love the iPhone forecast for this week. Ugh.


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I’m typing this entry at 9:15 a.m. from the comfort of our new outdoor patio furniture that I put together yesterday for our new back yard patio. Christine picked it up at Sam’s a few weeks ago, in anticipation of spending lots of time in the back yard this summer.

It’s a little chilly as I type this… the thermometer on the side of the house says about 60°F. (or as Jack calls it “six and oh … which means it’s very warm”). The wind is blowing ever so softly through the tree tops and slightly moving the hair on my legs.

The boys are up the hill just a little digging in the dirt and rolling their trucks up and down the hill. Jack took his pants off to pee in the yard just a minute ago, and Grayson is exploring the upper level of the yard while Jack looks for bugs on the middle level.

This photo isn’t the best, but it’s the best I can do with my laptop (Jack locked the back door when he came outside a few minutes ago… he came through the doggy door again).

side note: Jack just brought me a “rolly-polly” that he says is “Just for you… but you can share with Mommy if you want to…” and as he walked back up the hill he turned and said “I’ll try to find Mommy one too” and he joined Grayson a little ways up the hill, where they’re both standing with shovels digging in the dirt.

So, suffice it to say… I love our new back yard.

side note: Jack just brought me another “rolly-polly” saying “I got one for Mommy. Look Daddy, it’s big.” And as he walked off this time he mumbled “I’m going to find one for Lydia and Leo” and up the hill he went, purpose in mind.

I’m surrounded by limestone, sun, and the sounds of playing boys. Every once in a while the dogs in the yard over bark, but not for too long or too loud. We’ve been out here for an hour or two now, and Wesley is used to it, so he’s not barking back any more.

There are birds all around, though I haven’t seen any, I can definitely hear them all talking to each other. I can just imagine:

Bird One: “Hey Fred, got any good sticks or twine over there? I’m building a new nest.”

Bird Two: “No, Barry, no twine or sticks over here, but you should see this red-head I’m chasing… she’s a keeper.”

Bird One: “Fred. Concentrate. If you don’t build a nice looking nest first, you won’t have anywhere to take that red-head later tonight after we take her out on the town.”

Bird Two: “Damn, Barry, you’re right. Okay, back to work.”

Red-head: [to herself] “Thank God. That bird’s house is pitiful, I can’t believe he is so easily distracted. Doesn’t he know I want a big nest with purple ribbon running through it, and a little green moss on the sides? Sheesh.”

Where was I?

Oh yeah, the yard…

The Yard is now four levels. The first level is the patio. It’s made of sawn limestone and pea gravel. Big limestone blocks with pea gravel in between them. The “TV Room” opens right out onto the patio. The “Living Room” has brand new cedar steps that come down onto the patio. The patio is rather spacious, and we got rid of the cover over the old concrete patio, and it really opened up the space outside.

From the patio, you walk up three steps to the second level, and the first new planting bed. There’s a retaining wall that hols back the dirt, and helps with drainage. There will be sod on that first level in a few days.

Then up one more step to the third level, which is about the same size as the second level… probably about 100-150 square feet of dirt on each of those levels.

After that last step, you can also now walk up the hill just a little bit (maybe another two feet in elevation) around the new retaining walls to the top level of the yard… which is the largest. That level is about 700 square feet of yard, and is where the kids’ picnic table that Papa built is, and their sand box (need to go buy sand, and I’m not looking forward to carrying all that sand up the hill from the front yard). It’s also where we put the freebie table and chairs we got from Joel, a friend from the office.

That last level is also where all of the trees are, and I can just see the start of a tree fort that we’ll build in the years to come. For now, the kids just love running up there, and riding their tricycle and bicycles up there… oh, and getting pushed around in the Bobby Car.

Ok, enough typing… I’m going to play with the boys.

I love the new back yard.

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So, last Friday, we ended our option period by accepting the offer that we’d come to agreement on with the current owner of the house we’re buying.

We close on 9/5. On 9/6 we’ll start demolishing the kitchen, tearing out all of the carpets, cleaning and painting all of the walls, and more… Remodel here we come!

I’ve posted a “walkthrough” of the inside of the house that Christine made one day while we were over there inspecting the house for potential problems. If you want to watch, here it is:

Walkthrough of the new Engler house before it is the Engler house. (by the way, it’s a 200MB file, so let it download… it’ll also likely require a relatively new computer to watch it, and the latest version of Quicktime)

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The gentleman that owns the house that we made an offer on accepted our counter to his counter tonight. We’re inspecting the house on Monday, and then we have until next Friday (July 6th) to decide if we want to buy it.

Unless there’s a major structural issue with the house (crazy termites or foundation problems), we’re pretty sure we’ll be buying this house.

The closing date at this point will be August 31st, so we’ve still got a long way to go before we own it, and then it needs a total remodel… so it might be October before we move into it (hopefully we can get all of the work done that fast) but it’ll be a lot bigger and more spacious for us once it’s all said and done…

Now we just need to sell our current house 😉

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 186 user reviews.

Our realtor came by the house tonight at 8:30 p.m. We felt horrible she was coming by so late, because Christine was having second-thoughts about the idea of moving, and leaving our wonderful neighborhood.

After discussing it for about 30 minutes, we signed the offer letter, and sent Elizabeth on her way… then we went to bed and read remodeling magazines…

We’re both exhausted and hope the boys sleep in in the morning…

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 178 user reviews.

So, I’ve postd a video every day this week, and I figured I should treat you all to something really special today.

Here are five photo galleries I haven’t linked to yet:

  • Jack Playing – photos from this week, of Jack and his mom playing (they were “camping” in Jack’s room in a home-made fort, and then Jack was “taking photos” with his camera, and then playing with cars).
  • Furniture by Stan – Cyndi’s uncle refinished some antique furniture that my mom gave us a while ago. The furniture looks awesome now, and all the drawers work perfectly now mom! Now our guests (and the new baby) will have a place to put their clothes when they come visit.
  • Aggie Jack – the photos from our weekend Aggieland trip.
  • Jack by Erin – Erin took some photos of Jack with her mom, sister, Chrstine and I after church on 8/27. Too fun!
  • In the Sandbox – just some photos of Jack in the sandbox one afternoon.
  • Ben and Jack at Serranos – After church one day, we met Murphy and Amanda at Serranos by accident. We ate inside while Murphy and Amanda (and their guests) watched Jack and Ben, then we came outside and watched the boys while they ate. The boys had sooo much fun playing together.
  • Levy Party – Lori and Herbert threw a party for the kids one weekend afternoon. Lots of water splashing and playing outside.
  • Lakehouse Swimming – We went to visit Debbie and Raymond on August 19th, and I took these photos outside around the pool. Jack just loved swimming this summer!

And, here’s the double whammy… another video for today:

Have a good weekend folks! (We’ll be nesting!)

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 160 user reviews.

When I was growing up in Bellville, we lived in “a 100 year old house.” (It was built in 1910, so it wasn’t quite 100 years old, but it will be in 4 more years). That house had virtually no insulation, and no central air or heat.

We had gas heaters throughout the house, and a wood-burning stove in the dining room.

When it got really cold one winter, I remember my mom, my brother and I sleeping on the floor in the dining room with the wood-burning stove going full blast all night… and it was still cold in the house, but the stove kept the chill off, and my mom got up dutifully to keep it stocked all night.

We also kept the gas heater that was mounted in the wall running almost constantly that winter (and most winters for that matter). There’s nothing worse than stepping out of the bath or the shower onto a frigid floor in frigid air, freezing your frigid %@#&! parts off!

I remember getting out of the bath and then running over to the wall heater one time, and schooching up to the gas heater as close as I could get… and since I was soaking wet, I was cold… and, well…

I got a little to close, and burned my behind.

I think I was about 6 or 7 when that happened.

I can safely tell you that I haven’t burned my hiney on a gas heater since that time I did when I was young.

It’s with fondness that I remember those gas heaters, as they were our only source of warmth in that house, and we stuck to them like glue when it was cold. Sometimes we’d use them to warm up the insides of our jackets right before we put them on as we were heading outside to play.

There’s nothing like the heat that comes off a gas heater.

So, tonight, while Jack was taking a bath… I started up the gas heater in our bathroom, hoping that someday, Jack will have the same fond memories I do of gas heaters.

Our gas heater

Man I’m glad we bought an old house.

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This past weekend, I sort of helped Raymond reprogram his sprinkler controller for his yard’s sprinkler system.

I’ve been thinking about mine for a few months now, as it quit working at the beginning of the summer for some reason.

The system at our house must be 25 years old, at least… It was an old Weathermatic RM Series sprinkler controller:

The problem I was having was that the sprinkler system worked very sporadically. Zone 2 would work all the time in manual mode, Zone 1 seemed to only work before 7 a.m. and Zone 3 would only come on after 6 p.m. The timer and automatic controls were worthless, and none of the zones would shut off after 30 minutes like they were supposed to.

My solution for most of the summer was to just turn it off, and to water the yard by hand, or with a sprinkler I attached to the end of a hose or two.

So, now that I’ve lost some grass from the insane 100° months we’ve had this summer, I finally decided it was time to fix the problem last weekend.

I looked at the manual. No help… the manual told me a little about the wiring, but was no help on the servicing side (too bad I didn’t know there was a service manual available online a week ago).

So, I thought about just replacing the controller. I have no idea where the valves for the zones are, so troubleshooting those didn’t sound like an easy task, and besides, they worked, when I could get them to come on… so the problem had to be in the controller.

I took it off the wall last weekend, and looked at the wires… It was a big jumble of wires, none of them the right color, and also not labeled. The 25 year old wire coming from the yard had all weathered to be the same color, and none of it had any markings…

So I asked Raymond about it, and he agreed, I should replace the controller.

Christine and I stopped at Home Depot on the way home from the lakehouse on Saturday, and she drove Jack around the parking lot (he was sleeping) while I ran in and bought a $50 RainBird PC 506 Sprinkler controller (it looked simple to operate and was under the $50 limit I’d set for myself – besides Raymond had a RainBird controller, so it had to be a good brand, right?)

When we got home, I pulled the old one off the wall (after I disconnected it from the power) and nearly dropped it on my foot. That think weighed a ton. I deposited it in the trash, then tried to figure out the wires coming out of the wall.

No help.

I connected the wires, in what I thought was the right order, connected the power to the new controller, and made it cycle through one cycle of all the zones.

I blew a fuse on zone 2.

So, I disconnected that wire, and started cycling through all of the zones… and guess what?

It worked.

So, I arranged the zone wires like I wanted them, powered it up, set the schedule, and watched my sprinkler system run through a quick 1-minute-each-zone test cycle, and then stood back and admired my handi-work.

But there was a problem. I have one wire left over that’s not connected to anything:

I have no idea what that wire is for, but it seems to not be needed… maybe I have a 4th zone I don’t know about? I’ll leave that job for another day.

Hopefully now I’ll have greener grass in a few weeks without any more work.

Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 272 user reviews.

Last weekend, Frank (Christine’s Dad) came down from Dallas, and Michael, her brother, stopped in Austin on his way from Houston to Dallas.

Michael brought some furniture up from my Mom’s house that we’re going to use for a while… great antique furniture pieces… thanks Mom! He also took the green monster couch that Christine and I have lugged all across the country for the past 6 years. Christine’s grandfather built that couch a long time ago, and it weighs about 5, 000 pounds. Love the couch, but we just didn’t have room in the house for it anymore.

Frank came down to help us fix up the house, and finish getting it in shape, so that the house is decorated and ready for a baby that’s coming in November.

So, starting last week and ending today, we painted the ceilings in the remaining rooms in the house (7 rooms) and the walls in 5 rooms. Michael did some heavy lifting when it comes to painting, and filling holes, and the like. Every room in the house has been painted now, except the master bedroom (but at least the ceiling is done in there).

Michael went home last weekend, but Frank stayed the whole week, and boy did we get a lot of work done with him here.

Frank’s biggest job was replacing our old linoleum floor in the Kitchen. Frank ripped out the floor and subflooring, and then leveled the original linoleum and plank flooring before laying down some individual linoleum tiles that Christine picked out at Lowe’s. I think the floor job took the better part of 3 days to complete, spread out over about a week, and boy does it look great now!

Along with replacing the old Kitchen floor, Frank also fixed both screen doors be completely refurbishing them, installed a door on a closet in one of the bedrooms, and installed two doors on the baby’s bedroom.

I think Frank replaced just about every light switch and electrical outlet in the house (most of them at least) as well as two new light fixtures in the main bathroom of the house. He also helped us uninstall every piece of window dressing hardware that was in the house (we hated most of the stuff on our windows)… He also hung a ceiling fan in the baby’s bedroom.

I’m sure there are a few million other small things Frank did to our house while Christine and I were at work this week (a house built in 1949 presents plenty of little things that need to get fixed if you just look a little) and for all of his help, we are extremely greatful.

Oh yeah, and Frank also cooked most dinners this week… We ate two really good smoked chickens, a garlic chicken, some waldorf salad, chicken soup, and it was all gooooood.

Debbie and Raymond stopped by on Sunday afternoon to drop off some furniture we bought and help install some window treatments Debbie had made for us. We assembled the furniture, installed the window treatments and ate a late lunch from Freebirds.

So, the house is almost done. We’ll have a house-warming party in the coming month now that we can decorate and organize properly… nothing like waiting 4 months to get your shit together.

Thanks Frank, Michael, Josh and Elise, Mom, Mary (for letting Frank come help), and Debbie and Raymond for the help getting our house to where it is. Give us a couple more weeks and we’ll post a few pictures of the interior (still a little cleanup and decorating to do).

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Saturday night, Christine and I went over to Stafford’s new house. Christine works with Stafford, and his older sister is one of her best friends from a past life. Stafford just bought his first home, and threw a little party to celebrate becoming a home owner.

We got there around 5 (after priming a room that we’re painting in our house) and immediately joined the group in teh backyard. We played dominos, ate some bar-b-que, and enjoyed the conversation long into the night. I took a few pitcures throughout the night.

Towards the end of the night, Stafford showed some real class, and offered to let me borrow a few golf clubs, since I’m just taking up the game. He said there’s no reason to buy any clubs yet, if I can borrow enough to start off. So, I’m now the proud care-taker of a 5 iron, 3 iron, a wood and a putter. Good clubs too. Now I just need a bag and a glove, and I’ll be set for a while.

On Sunday, I painted. I primed the ceilings of three rooms, the dining room, and the kitchen. I then proceeded to paint the dining room (two coats) and all three ceilings. I was done, and tired. I’d been painting for 5 hours or so.

Christine came home after spending the day shopping to decide that she didn’t like the color in the dining room, so she went out to Home Depot, bought a gallon of paint, and we painted the dining room again. Sound familiar? It should, we did the same thing a few years back in Fort Worth.

Next weekend? More painting, but that should be it. Should be done after that… unless ‘we’ decide on a different color.

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 164 user reviews.

Christine and I have spent the last two weekends getting the house in a livable condition.

Our first task was to paint the second bedroom. We only changed our minds on the color scheme once (okay, maybe twice)… After two (or is it three now?) weekends, the room is painted, and we’ve moved the furniture into it.

I finally got around to installing the water filter on the line running to the ice-maker on the refrigerator. But, after installing it, I realized that the brass pipe running to the fridge was a) connected to the hot-water (bad according to the filter paper-work) and b) was crimped, meaning the pressure through that line was too low. So, after two or three trips to Home Depot, I finally got all of the pieces that I needed to tap a new line into the cold-water, and run a new line to the fridge filter… Good news: we have filtered water and ice again.

As spring rolls around, I’m looking to get a ton of top-soil or so delivered, so I can spread it across the yard… The yard is generally in great shape, but there are a few bare spots in the back under the trees, and I figure a good coat of new top-soil will help the grass grow in better this summer.

The house is finally taking shape, and feels like a home (instead of a small old house filled with boxes). We still haven’t found our silver-ware, and so, we’re eating with plastic forks and knives, but they work, and they’re pretty easy to clean up.

One last thing we’ll have to do soon is buy some dainty ‘grandmother’ type furniture for the front living room… the house just seems to want an antique couch or chair in the room.

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 244 user reviews.

Christine and I moved into our new house this weekend…

We’re both pretty tired, even though we hired movers… we both had really busy weeks with work last week, and then we stayed up until 2:00 am on Friday night packing for the movers (they showed up at 8:00 am on Saturday morning).

We were about 98% moved in on Saturday and got the rest of our stuff thanks to Josh and Elise (and her use of El Arroyo’s CMV). We now have a house that was built in 1949 and is full of boxes… We’ll get around to unpacking everything that we need over the next couple of weeks (I hope).We’ll have a house-warming party in the near future I’m sure…

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 232 user reviews.

Like I said below, today was Yardwork day.

At 4:00 I found out that my one neighbor with a truck that I wouldn’t feel akward asking for help wasn’t going to be able to lend me his truck… so I called Joe again and asked him if he wouldn’t mind going to the Plant Shed with me in the Jetta to buy a tree or two. Joe said “okay, but we’ll look stupid, ” but he was willing to look stupid with me… that’s all that mattered.

So at 5 or so, we left for the nursery, I was fully intent on buying two trees (remember that Christine still doesn’t know about this), one for the front, and one for the back.

You see, last weekend, when Josh and Elise were up, Josh said to me late Saturday night as we say on the back porch (really its just a concrete pad) “Man, you really need some trees.” That hit me sort of funny, because he’s right and we’ve been putting it off for no real reason. So, this weekend I decided it was tree time.

Back to today:

So, we went to the nursery, and I bought a Chinkapin Oak for the front yard and a Bald Cypress for the back yard. They were having a sale (25% off) so I bought 10 gallon trees for $50 each instead of 5 gallon trees. I also bought some composting material and some more pine bark mulch. Joe picked up some periwinkle ground cover to hold the soil in place along the side of his house.

When we got home, I decided we needed some beer, so I made a quick run.

I pulled up to see Joe getting out his shovel (he was planning on helping me, which was cool). So we unloaded the trees from the trunk of the Jetta (yes they looked dumb, but what do you do without a truck) and got to work deciding where to put the first tree in. We moved it around a few times, finally deciding on the location and digging out the sod.

After two beers (a man can tell time by how many beers he’s had) we were done planting the Chinkapin and Joe’s wife was ready to go to dinner, so I moved the second tree and the materials for it around to the back of the house, put everything up and watered in the Chinkapin.

It looks really good, and when Christine gets home (if I’m not too drunk) I’m going to get her to help me figure out where I’m going to put the Bald Cypress tomorrow. She’s got a really good eye, and the backyard is totally bare, so I figure I’ll need her help. We were planning on making a large landscape plan before we bought trees, but Josh touched a nerve in me. I’ve got to have at least a start on one tree in the back. Thanks Josh.

It’s now 8 pm and I’m going to sit on the couch, drink another beer or two and play some PS2 while I wait on my lovely wife to return from her all day scrapbooking marathon. I love that girl.

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 275 user reviews.

Today was a day for Yardwork, with a capitol Y.

I awoke around 8ish, put on some shorts and came downstairs until about 10. Christine was heading out to go do some scrapbooking with her friends, and I heard my neighbor, Joe, out doing some yardwork. I noticed that he was edging my yard (probably because he knew I was going to borrow the edger from him later anyways), so I walked outside.

Joe looks up and says “John, you’re right. It is harder to edge your lawn than mine.” To which I replied, “probably because you actually edge every time you mow, so there’s less dirt and crap in thw way of the edger when you edge.”

At that precise moment, I decided it was outside day for John. Christine was just coming out of the house, so I told her to go have fun, and didn’t mention that the yard might look different when she returns.

After she’d driven away, I went to the Plant Shed, the local nursery, and bought some edging for my flower beds and two bags of pine bark mulch (to pay Joe back for edging my yard). I came home and started digging the grass out of the front flower bed. I then installed the edging. Total time: just over an hour. And it looks great now.

When I was at the Plant Shed earlier, I saw some really nice trees that I’d like to go buy and get put in the ground today, but I have to find a truck first… more on that later, if I find one.

It’s now 2pm and its hot as hell out side (85 – 90 degrees) and very windy, so I came inside to cool off. Karen, Joe the neighbor’s wife, just ran to Sonic to buy us all lunch and I ate over there with them in their backyard. It was a pleasant break, but boy is it hot.

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 182 user reviews.