Project: New stairways (and an ER visit..)

Saturday was windy, but Sunday turned out to be gorgeous.  We had highs hit 50 deg F.  Much of the snow is gone (if only for a few days before winter makes its return later this week).  Let the outdoor activities commence:

  • We let the goats out to free-range for most of Sunday and they loved it!
  • Our nine-year old managed to put together our trampoline all by himself.
  • We assembled our new utility trailer and hauled a couple of loads of firewood from the woods on into our wood bin to start drying out for next winter.

The nice weather also makes working on house projects involving dusty saws much more comfortable!

This weekend was all about working on our two stairways.  One set going to the attic and one to the basement.

The old stairs heading up to the attic were a bit scary to say the least.  A trip up did not guarantee you would make it up.  Each time you set foot on one of those steps, you could not tell if the cracking (Note: not creaking, cracking!) and groaning would be that steps last. They had to go.

The attic stairway went pretty smoothly but took most of Saturday (a testament to the fact that I am not a carpenter by trade).  I tore out each step, one at a time, building the new steps upward, in the old steps place.  All of that scrap wood will heat our house this week.  I used 2x10s and lots of reinforcement underneath the steps.  As we are not installing carpet, I also added plenty of R13 underneath the steps to act as a sound barrier.  This will hopefully dampen the inevitable noise our children will bring once they are allowed to enter the attic.

Here is a before and now comparison:

And going up the stairs:

Onto the basement stairway.  Here I attached bead board and framed up the wall to the right of the stairway (the basement portion of the wall).  This was one of those areas in the house we did not want to look at (or at least pretend it did not exist) when we first moved in, so we did not take any before pictures.  Let’s just say, you would not recognize this part of the house if you had seen it before..  The space was dingy (no windows or light).  It had lots of holes in the plaster walls and half century old newspapers haphazardly glued to the ceiling.

Here is an in-progress shot, before the R-13 was added behind the bead board.  I added 2×4 framing every two feet to attach the bead board to.

The bead-board will eventually get painted.  For now, the coat of primer will have to do.  It turns out I had not even one inch of bead board to spare, cutting it a bit too close for comfort, but completing the job.

Under normal circumstances, framing a wall is a relatively easy task.  With a remodel on a house like this, well, it takes a bit of unconventional thinking to get it done.  The space in the stairway is really limited and we keep a fridge and freezer downstairs.  So in other words, every half inch matters.  The fridge and freezer will inevitably need to come up some day.  Once the drywall is on, we will have about 31 inches of width.  Just enough for a standard fridge or freezer!

Needless to say, all was going quiet well, until noon on Sunday.  With the beautiful weather on Sunday, we had planned to enjoy the outdoors for a bit and grill out for lunch.  That ended suddenly, burgers still on the grill.

As noted above, we had let the goats out to free-range.  They had been enjoying a good meal by some ornamental grass planted near the woods.  The grass is tall, making it a great place to hide and play as a kid.  Our kids were enjoying the goats and playing in the tall grass.  My wife was grilling and I was cutting some boards for the stairs.  Suddenly our youngest comes running to the house, both hands covered in blood, completely red.

He had grabbed onto the grass while playing and sliced open his pinky.  Yes, the grass is that sharp!  Myself and another one of my boys had a similar, though less crippling experience last summer.  Shelly prepared the vehicle while I tended to and examined the wound.  It was deep.  We made the decision that glue would not fix this cut and he and Shelly were off to the ER.  He was a trooper and handled the stitches without being put to sleep, snuggled in the safety of his mother’s lap.

Five stitches and about five hours later, Shelly and I finally had a moment to stop and breath.  Even with the occasional emergency (there have been plenty of others), we would not trade our lives or our children for the world.  As long as we have energy to expel, we will always have children around our home.  Whether they are our own by blood, foster, or adoption, this crazy life is the life we have chosen (Psalm 127:3-5, Matthew 25:40).  Emergencies and drama inevitably follow, but so do blessings, comedy, and joy.

I am pretty sure a weekend can never go quite to plan, especially with children around, but at least everything came out okay in the end.

– Jeremy

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