Friday, July 24, 2009

Home Improvements

Wow! What a busy time we have been having lately.

On the weekend of July 11th, Andrea, Jake and Sophia moved back to San Diego. Now we have no family out here =( and have to fend for ourselves =( From what it sounds like, they are happy they are there and even went to the beach today! Here is a pic of Andrea and Clark the day they left.

Since they left, we've been pouring our energies into Clark's sleeping abilities (as written in the previous week) and working on our home.

Clark has amazing sleep powers now, and we are really proud of him. Because he can roll off of his back, it is now safe(r) to allow him to sleep on his stomach. So he is doing his sleeping on his tummy now.

We still go in and check on him quite a bit. He is happy to hang out in his crib and move around, playing with toys, his feet and sucking on his hands/arm. I am trying not to nurse him to sleep for naps, but he still misses the sucking and has been sucking on his arm quite a bit. We noticed some bruising on his sweet little arm and didn't know what it was. We now know that he is giving himself hickeys from all of the sucking. I honestly am not sure if I should be letting him do this or not. Will people think I am giving my baby an Indian burn? Any comments from other moms? It would be better maybe if he stuck to his hand/thumb.

This week Tom set up a rain barrel in the front yard!


This is the view from the kitchen window. He got a movable arm to bring the gutter over to the barrel. Then he prayed for rain. It poured last night and ......

We got water!!!!!!!! Here is a picture of the water coming out of the hose! yay!

After we took these pictures it poured, poured, poured and the 55 gallon barrel is almost full now! We will be going to the Pepsi distribution plant to get some more barrels and making our own. The one that you see in these pictures was purchased for bou coup bucks, but looks nice to have in the front yard. The other 3 barrels will be in the back yard. We get a $50 rebate per barrel from Montgomery County for having the barrels, plus we know that we are using less city water to water the plants in the garden and preventing the water from running off into the street and polluting Rock Creek Park!

Tom has also been working on his garden. We have a jungle of tomato plants in the backyard now, heavy with green tomatoes. I can't wait until they ripen! I know I posted a picture of Tom with his plants, but now at least two of those plants are taller than him, maybe even 6.5 or 7 feet tall!!! Here you can see the closest plant is almost as high as the roof eave.

Here is another plant, can you see the whole tomato plant? ITS ALL ONE PLANT!!!!

And here is its fruit!

I continue to contribute to the garden by composting all of our kitchen waste... and eating whatever Tom lets me eat! Thank you!!!

I have also been working on helping to make our house more energy efficient. I got these two books from the library and they have been my guide. For less than $25 at Home Depot, I have contributed the following:

A solar and thermal powered clothes dryer is now set up on our back porch.

Putting Sashes on the doors to keep the cold/warm air from leaking under them.

I insulated the hot water pipes under the house.

I turned the hot water heater down to 120 degrees.

My next DIY tasks are: figuring out what to do with these crawlspace vents that are under the house. Any suggestions? I heard that we should have them open in the summer and close them in the winter, but do we honestly need them at all? There are 3 under the house. They are icky. The crawlspace is also very cool and it would be great to insulate everything down there, but that's a future job.

My next big job is going to be putting up fiberglass insulation in the laundry/utility room and then putting drywall up over it. I'm not going to do it fancy and make it look good, I'm just going to do the insulation and then nail up the drywall, no drywall tape, no paint (at least I dont think so).

I also want to close off these portholes in the utility/laundry room that go into the house. The living room is on the other side and we lose heat/air conditioning through them into the utility room which is uninsulated! AHHH! The way they built this house is driving me nuts!

I have had contractors over this week giving us quotes for our heating/cooling issues of the upstairs. IT typically is 10 degrees hotter/cooler upstairs than downstairs. If it is 65 down in the winter, then it is 58 up. If it is 75 down in the summer, then it is in the 80s upstairs. IT looks like insulation will be over $15,000 and they will have to rip out our walls, the $15,000 does not include ripping out the walls, putting them back in, nor painting them. I dont think we are going that way. I've been meeting with A/C people and they have suggested putting in a few more returns and vents upstairs, this costs less than $1000. It looks like the way to go. I'm going to talk to a few more people and also look into getting a house fan that will suck the air out of the house and replace it with new air. This is a great idea, because the hot air keeps getting trapped upstairs when the downstairs is really nice and cool. I don't know how it will work in the winter, but we need more warm air upstairs so it sounds good for that as well.


  1. Is a solar & thermal clothes dryer a clothesline or one of those folding stands?

  2. we have both! but i installed the line! haha!

  3. don't close off the vents in the crawlspace. They provide needed a small amount of necessary fresh air ventilation, prevents gas buildup, conditions conducive to mold growth, moisture, etc.

  4. in your case, the whole house fan would just get turned off in the winter in place of running your central air handler which would circulate the air in the house (versus replace it like a whole house fan).

  5. Will - really? for the crawlspace? I heard it varies depending on what part of the country you are in. WE have a Radon Remediation system down there and the ground is sealed off by plastic.
    cold air from outside comes in during the winter and makes the house cold. It isn't insulated under the floor!!!

    What is the central air handler? I think I need to call you about this stuff. Maybe when you come visit you can do an assessment on our home. We are having our AC company come next week to check it out and give us an estimate!