Friday, January 30, 2009

A winter jam session

Deacon and Isaiah

I have one more post I must put up from when we were in Indiana last month. I figured getting it up before the end of January might be good, so here it is! I mentioned in the whirlwind post about our holiday trip to Indiana, that Deacon and Isaiah entertained us with their guitar playing. And, boy did they. Here's the full story. We had quite the artistic evening. There were just too many cute photos of the two of them interacting to not post them in their entirety. So, here we go.

Deacon had a guitar that he received either for birthday or Christmas a while back - I can't remember which - you'll remember his dad, Steve, plays guitar, so Deacon of course thinks the guitar is a cool thing. Santa brought a guitar to Isaiah for Christmas this year. Isaiah already has a drum set and takes drum lessons, so he was also very keen on getting a guitar to learn about as well.

Just so we're clear - there is no real guitar knowledge inside these two boys - yet - besides how to hold and strum. This did not deter them. And, maybe one day, when they're rich and famous rock musicians, these photos will be priceless. Ha! (Of course, in my opinion, they are already priceless. Sniff.)

Steve helped them get their guitars relatively in tune. Then they performed on and off for a good hour, I'd say, individually and together. This was guitar strumming, plucking and SINGING while they "played." Most selections were seasonal - being that it was Christmas and everything. Rudolph was represented, as well as Santa. And, I'm sure Jesus got a few shout outs, too.

Here's a few of Deacon solo:

And a few of Isaiah all by his lonesome:

Heck, even Steve got into the act.
Lori found this to be all too much, I guess. :)

While her daddy played, Cora danced...

...and danced. She loved it.

Then, the real party got started when the two guitar heroes decided to perform duets. Please forgive the sometimes wonky focus - I was still (and still am) learning to use that new lens I received from my wonderful husband for Christmas. That's why, sometimes, the best focus is on the TV. Oops. Anyway, the boys played together for a time:

While they played we did sing along.

And Cora took photos with my camera phone.

Following are some of Cora's outtakes - scroll on through, and I'll see you on the other side. I know some of them are very blurry - but, consider this - she's 4, she was shooting with a camera phone with no flash in low light, and there was a lot of movement. With all of that into account, they are darn good photos! And, I left in some of the most blurry ones because you can still see without a doubt the fun that was being had:

See what I'm talking about here?
Way blurry, but maybe one of the best photos in this whole post.
In my opinion.
Look at the action!

All tuckered out.

Thanks, guys, for sharing your budding musical talent with us. It gave me very interesting subjects to capture. And, thanks, Cora, for showing us your budding photographic talent. It was an artistic evening that I just had to share!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

We Need a New Fence

Coming to you today - another post on the joys of home ownership as "opportunities" for home improvement projects abound. If I only included the photo above, you would think I was crazy to say we need a new fence. You see, a few years ago, S replaced this approximate 8 feet of fencing across the front of our house with board-on-board cedar plank so it would match the cedar shutters we put up on the front of the house. It actually is getting close to needing another sealant coat on it.

But the above photo, and those to come tell the real story - this is the fence that was here when we bought this house in 2002. It is a cheap wooden fence with wood posts that has far outlived it's useful life. That photo and the next few are from the side facing our neighbor's doesn't look quite as bad from inside our yard, which is why until recently we were sort of ignoring the fact that one day we'd have to replace it. It didn't look too bad!

Something's been making lunch out of this rotting board.

The previous owner the house next door planted all that vine back there, I guess to cover up our fence. What a rat's nest it is now! I do think it also moved the fence's destruction along a bit.

Recently, one section has started falling into our back yard - the section opposite all that vine action on the neighbor's side. Hmmm. S nailed it back up with these really stylish scrap pieces of wood.

A close up of that patch job.

Seriously, though, we didn't have a clue how bad that other side looked until we started noticing the entire side of the fence has a sort of lean to it. Well, OK, it's not even sort of. It's leaning. And pretty severely into our backyard.

The back corner is still square though, back by the dogwood!

And in general, the fencing along the alley is not in as bad of shape.

But, that side fence is going to go soon.
And we need to replace it before it does.

So, because my husband is a "do-it-yourself-er" - literally, the first words out his mouth were, "There's such a mark up on fence installation." - we headed to Home Depot and Lowe's to make a materials list and get an idea of the cost of purchasing the materials ourselves. And, then, in this line of thinking, S would install the new fence. In all his free time. You know, because he has so much free time. And his time is worth nothing. You can't put a value on all that free time he's got. I mean, don't get me wrong, he's got the skills - he's very talented at home improvement projects, and really, after he gets going, I think he even enjoys them. But, where on earth will he find that time?

OK, so enough beating of that poor dead horse. We set out to the big box home improvement stores anyway.

First on the list - wood. Generally, Lowe's was cheaper on everything. But, let me break it down for you - I want to continue the board on board cedar look we started on the front of the house. I think, in our particular neighborhood, people will appreciate the fence not looking cheap, and it is good for resale value. Texans like their fences. I also think 6' is good - S thinks 8' is better, but just like I feel the board on board would be appreciated, I don't feel the extra two feet would do anything for us. Feel free to disagree. But, for argument's sake, we priced board on board cedar for a 6' fence. We did also jot down some 8' wood prices, but after that looked only at accouterments that would go with the 6' variety.

To get enough 5/8" x 5 1/2" x 6' cedar plank for our entire fence, at Home Depot, the cost would be $1205.88 excluding tax. At Lowe's, a slight savings of .60 per board would add up and save us some money.

Also on the materials list - metal posts - the fence currently has wooden posts, and we're pretty sure that at least along the side of the house they're done for. So, S feels replacements should be metal. 8 ft 15-gauge posts are $17.45 each at Home Depot - to do the whole fence, that's $349.

Connectors and end caps - $132 and $37.60 respectively.

Screws - exactly the same price both places - $89.74 for 25 lbs - yes, that's TWENTY-FIVE POUNDS OF SCREWS - 3" each.

Backer rails - again cheaper at Lowe's by about .50 cents each - approx. cost $357.30 for the amount needed.

Concrete to secure the new metal posts - 1 80 lb bag per pole - $3.45/bag - $69.00.

New gate latch - approx. $22 each - we'll need at least 2 - $44

So, that's:

1200.00 for wood planks
$350 for posts
$200 for connectors and end caps
$90 for screws
$360 for backer rails
$70 for concrete
$45 for gate latches

Materials alone - that's a grand total of around $2500!

Home ownership can be costly, no? I have convinced S to at least collect a few quotes on getting the fence installed - we'll see. In the meantime, as long as it doesn't fall over on us entirely, which could happen any day, we'll start saving our pennies for the fence project. I'll keep you posted.