Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Sherri's Favorite Things

So, I had a bit of nostalgia today and was looking at my old posts from my first year of marriage in 2008. Oh my gosh life has changed. Have I changed? Hmmmmmm, difficult question.. Probably. I'm still slightly cynical, even tempered, working full-time, witty, and sometimes sarcastic. Otherwise I guess I am different. Marriage and motherhood does that to you.

Anyways, I found an old blog post about some of my favorite things in 2008.. and now I want to update my list. It was mostly kitchen stuff back then. So, here we go 10 years later...

Favorite Food Items:

Crystal Lite Pure Energy
Stevia-sweetened drink with caffeine. Delicious.
Kirkland brand protein bars.
It took a while to get used to the taste, but they have actual chunks of chocolate and are a good source of fiber.

Favorite Kitchen Items:

KitchenAid mixer..
You'll be my baby for always and forever.

Swissmar peeler.
This thing is CHEAP but freaking amazing.

Favorite Electronic Items:

Orbi wi-fi router
We got this for our new bigger house, but started using it already. It is wayyyy better than a wi-fi extender.
Qustodio app
It helps with internet safety on mobile devices and gives me peace of mind.

Favorite Home Items:

Ecobee Smart Thermostat
I'm so excited to use this in the new house for energy efficiency and the programmable/smart options!
Frigidaire upright deep freezer
We had to replace our old one in October, and this freezer has a ton of storage and keeps food super cold without frostbite. FYI, not my freezer. I mostly freeze my own meals and food I make, and of course the giant bags of vegetables from Costco.

Favorite Clothing Items:

Athleta hybrid tights
This are beyond comfortable and have a lot of support for my post-baby belly. I got the ankle-length tights, and guess what, they're exactly the right length for my stumpy legs.

Bandolino velvet flat wedges with bow
Again, super comfy, pointy-toe shoes with a little bit of a heel. Totally my kind of shoe.

Favorite TV Shows:

Black Mirror by Netflix/BBC
Dark, astute, relevant, creepy.. We love this show (although Season 4 was really lacking).

The Great British Baking Show by BBC
So relaxing--I love the things they bake and I love that it's not the typical ridiculous competition shows that are on Food Network.

Makeup Items:

MAC Matchmaster foundation
Nothing else compares on my face, and I mean it. I've been around, and now I've found that it's the only one for me. I've been wearing it for almost five years now.

CoverFX Highlighting palette
I couldn't pick just one eyeshadow palette, so I decided on one for my face. This thing is amazing and gives me all kind of glow.

Anyways, I thought this was kind of fun. Maybe I won't wait 10 years next time to update.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

I'm so tired

Ok guys, we have now been in the construction phase for SIX months (but officially the foundation was dug out SEVEN months ago--but who's counting??).. And folks, I am just exhausted.

That's it. I am done with this process. DONE.

It is March (technically in a few hours), and the foundation was originally poured in September. Let me catalog the things that have happened since our shearwall inspection didn't pass 100% on January 26th. We met with the project managers on January 26th, who both confirmed that the delayed framing schedule did not change the completion date of May. (That's right--May 2018--61 days away.)

January 29th--our windows and front door were installed and the roof was completed.



February 13th--the plumber did the rough-in plumbing, but he missed the utility sink, and the wrong shower was installed in our master bathroom. Oh, and the front door was taken off to allow big items to pass through.



The crawlspace vapor barrier was installed.



February 27th--the plumber installed the correct shower pan, but did not plumb the utility sink.


That's right. That's it. One month, only one big step done. It did snow two days this month. I get that snow really does slow things down, but come on. I've seen other houses start after ours and are moving along at a faster pace.

We were promised:
framing fixes, plumbing rough-in, HVAC, electrician walkthrough and rough-in,
garage slab, and siding.

We got:
plumbing rough-in and the crawl space vapor barrier (which we didn't know about until 
after it was done).

We are waiting for (still):
plumbing fixes, shearwall/framing fixes, HVAC, siding, garage slab,
and electrical.

We've been waiting for the framers to come back for "small fixes", but nope.. and now, under unfortunate circumstances (sad story really), the same framers are unable to come back. So, they are getting an "in-house" team to come and do the framing (shearwall) fixes. This will be the third week in a row that we've been told that the framing fixes should be done. Let me say this again--they cannot start the siding until the fixes have been done and inspected. As of today, the shearwall re-inspection is not yet scheduled. If the siding isn't completed, the electrical work cannot be completely done either (you can't put up an electrical box on framing wood prior to siding).

We were told in January that this work would be done in February.. And, February is gone and we are still waiting.

I'm tired of waiting.

I'm tired of worrying.

I'm tired of being angry.

I'm tired of stressing out.

I'm tired of paying over $1200 per month for the costs associated with building this house (yep--it's that and more).

Just yeah, I'm tired.

Our project manager has not yet updated our completion date.. so stay tuned.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Master Bathroom Decisions

So, when we were planning our master bathroom initially, we had a couple of ideas and requests:

--Here is the custom layout.

--A separate makeup vanity for me to sit at in the mornings with adequate counter space.

--Tile in the shower (instead of all fiberglass) with vertical accent tile.

--Tile on the ground. We originally chose a 12 by 12 "greige" non-descript tile offered by Lexar like below.

--Tile surround above the bathtub.

--Subway tile counter-to-ceiling backsplash with a herringbone-ish style design.

--White cabinets in the bathrooms.

THEN, we decided.. NO, we are not going to settle for crappy floor tile. Nope. Too difficult to remove and change in 5 years.. So, we picked a tile company called Daltile that Lexar can use, and we spent an hour or so picking out tile we liked. I love love love tile that looks like fabric/linen, so we initially chose the following tiles:

Shower square 12 by 12 tiles

Moroccan tiles as one accent in shower and around bath.

Blue-ish fabric art linen-looking tile for the ground in 12 by 24. (I actually still love this tile.)

But then, we went to Daltile again, this time in Seattle, and my husband saw these 3 tiles together and he no longer wanted our previous tile choices.

We like taupe, what can we say? Honestly, I do like the chevron accent tile, but I'm afraid it's too trendy and will be out of style very quickly.. but, Graham held very strong opinions for it, so chevron tile it is.

So, these are our final choices:

Shower tile in 4 by 12, stacked horizontally in Chenille White Limestone.

Stone chevron tile accent with one vertical line in shower and horizontal tub surround in Fusion Gris.

 Floor tile in Exhibition Tweed 12 by 24.

We are still considering wall colors, such as a slate blue, or a taupe-gray or violet.. but we will probably take our sample tiles to match paint colors. Our master bedroom colors are gray, cream, with blue/purple-ish accents, so we are looking for a coordinating color. We will update later..

Monday, January 29, 2018

Blowin the Roof Off!

We have a roof ladies and gentleman! Yes, we do.. and I seriously could not be happier about it. I have a day off during the week due to illness, so I finally was able to see the house in the daylight and take some pictures.

The southwest view of the house. Can't wait for the covered front porch.

 Front of the house from the dirt road. Look at that roof! Metal would've been nice, but oh well. We actually decreased the pitch of the roof from 6/12 to 5/12 as part of a cost-saving measure, and I actually really like the look of it. Less emphasis on the roof versus the front gables.

The southwest view of the house from the driveway. I'm debating on where to put the address number of our house--front or side of the house that faces the street? Also, I opted to not get shaker siding in the gables of the side of the house due to the cost, and now I'm regretting it.

Windows arrived today!!

Look at that beautiful ThermaTru door. We plan to stain it a natural wood color..

We are currently in the process of drying the house out with industrial fans, because man that wood was wet. Our foolish hope was to have a roof by October (silly me) before the major rain started, but January is better than February! Man, we just didn't really anticipate all of the set-backs or additional money.. But, I'll cover all of the things I wish I would've known in a later post.

Anyways, I want to be able to post more positive things, especially now that our house has some cover from the elements. But, I'm also trying to be honest about the process. People have no idea what they're getting into sometimes when it comes to building a house. Really, it all comes down to time and money, right? Maybe if we didn't have a tight budget, or that we didn't have to rent a duplex and pay 2 mortgages, or the kids sharing a room, or so many things go wrong, and maybe we could say we have had a good experience so far..?

So, Lexar has paid more attention to my blog and social media than I would have thought. **Hey guys!** Honestly, I started all of this because I found blogs about people who built with Hiline Homes, Adair Homes, etc.. but not Lexar. I'm sorry if my experiences don't portray a positive experience so far, but it has been realistic... and it's not exclusive to Lexar.. just so we're all clear here. One of our future neighbors built with a different builder, and they failed an inspection so many times that their building permit was suspended. There were other issues with their property due to the company's non-payment of their subcontractors. One of Graham's co-workers built with a different builder, and they failed final inspection 3 times because they put in the wrong windows, didn't correct it, and tried to fool the inspector. All of these builders have the same clause that they can raise the base price of your house if you don't have the foundation in the ground within a certain time frame. Price changes can happen with builders and even a private general contractor. So yes, anybody with any builder can have a negative experience.

I've also seen positive experiences. There's an Instagram network of us building with Lexar, Adair, Hiline, etc here in the Pacific Northwest. I've seen houses go up way faster than mine, and I've also seen beautiful results of their houses' interior and exterior details.

We met again with the project managers of Lexar of Tacoma on Friday. I was a little nervous because they didn't say what it was about. One thing that we have complained about is the lack of communication, so it was nice to be able to talk it out in person. We found out about some of the behind-the-scenes details that they didn't share with us initially, and it helped us understand why it took so long for framing to get done. We also finally addressed how they are going to make up for lost time for the next steps. Usually with building a home, the managers give their subcontractors a window of time to complete their part. So, when there's a delay, it sets everything back. So, according to the project managers, our house will have more priority and subcontractors will be scheduled as soon as they're available. We are going to clarify with them what the approximate schedule will be. We still have a completion date of May.

Let's talk about expectations. These things can really help make us happy or unhappy--unmet expectations. I expected our framing to be done in 3-4 weeks, and we weren't told until 26 days after our lumber was dropped that our framing wouldn't be done until the end of January... which would make it 8 weeks. However, if they had shared with us initially that they had to split a crew and it would extend the date, we would've understood and not been so disappointed. Also, I know nothing about construction while Graham knows a little, so when we found out our shearwall inspection was cancelled, it was seriously upsetting because we thought the roof couldn't go on until it passed. We were unbelievably relieved when Graham visited the worksite and the framers were there putting up the roof and finishing the interior. Again, we didn't know what to expect, so we were angry.

Now, we have better expectations of what the rest of the build will be like. We talked out a communication plan for a weekly email to let us know what's going on. So hopefully now that we know what to expect, we'll be able to make it through the next few months without major disturbances. Next up: HVAC, rough in plumbing, electrician, siding.

Last little nugget.. One of the project managers said that building a house should be a fun thing, and he knows someone who's having a great time. I said, yeah, this is the most stressful thing I've ever done in my life.. and I've gone to grad school, moved to places where I didn't know anybody, delivered a master's thesis to 4 straight-up doctors, and been separated from my husband. But then Graham said, well there are also some people that enjoy pregnancy.. and that totally brought it home for me. Building a home really is like having a baby. There's the planning, the detailed plans and purchases, the excitement, taking photos along every step of the way, the feeling of anticipation and anxiety, the moments of fear when you feel like what the hell have I gotten myself into, the delivery and the first time you see your baby's face, and then there's the time when you're confronted with the bill! But, when that baby comes, or when the house is done, there should be that miraculous feeling of joy and amazement... which I'm totally looking forward to. And yes, I'm sure there are some crazy people that like building their own house just like those annoying women who look and feel good during pregnancy... but I'm not either of those.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Quick Update

So, to all of you that don't follow my home-building account on Instagram, which you should (link is here), we have had some progress on the house..

December 1st: Our lumber was dropped for framing. We were told the framers were working on a house around the corner, and would be able to start the first week of December.

December 4th: Framers have not started.

December 6th: Meeting with our Lexar of Tacoma project manager, who said the framers would be starting within a few days.

December 11th: Homesite visit with the framers. They said they took another job out in Buckley near where they are located (far out from Puyallup and about 45 minutes from our house) to help keep them busy. This was not the same framing crew that our porject manager told us about because they said they haven't worked this far "in a long time" (aka they weren't the ones working around the corner). They were working on the under floor and pony walls on our house at the time.

December 13th: Failed inspection of the under floor as the framers left our house to work on a different project and didn't complete our under floor.

December 15th: Re-inspection of under floor. We were told trusses would be delivered the 27th.

December 18th-23rd: Exterior walls were put up.

December 25th-30th: Interior walls were mostly completed. Trusses were delayed and delivered on the 29th. Our project manager told us that the framers weren't coming back until mid-January on the 10th. Why? We don't know, except he told us that maybe our interior could be re-prioritized to make up for lost time.

December 31st-January 11th: Zero work done on the house. We were told there were delays due to snow (for 2 days) and that infamous Amtrak train crash near Tacoma, WA. We contacted our project manager on January 10th to see if the framers were there. Quick answer: NO. We asked for an updated schedule on the upcoming projects and how they were going to make up for lost time.

January 12-13: Some trusses were built and put up.

January 15th: Beautiful weather and no work. We are still waiting for the schedule and how they're going to compensate for lost time. 6-8 weeks for framing? Maybe if that was our expectation, but it's NOT. A house that received lumber at the same time as ours has framing done, roof completed, plumbing rough-in, and HVAC done. Another house that received lumber 2 weeks after us already has their roof! We don't even have the trusses up! Both of those houses are working with Lexar, but we know someone who is working with Hiline who started MONTHS after we did and are way ahead of us as well.

So, Lexar, if you're reading this.. Tell me why our house keeps getting the shaft and what you're going to do about it.

UPDATE: January 18th. Framers are back and should be done by the 19th. Shearwall inspection set for the 22nd.

2nd UPDATE: Shearwall inspection cancelled as the framers did not finish in time.. again. Possible re-inspection set for the 24th. Doubtful here.

3rd UPDATE: Shearwall inspection on 26th. Received partial approval, but need review from engineering for hold-down straps. I hope that's an easy fix.

Thursday, December 21, 2017


We have officially been married for 10 full years. I really can't believe it. I can't believe I am 35, ahem, 29 years old! These years have been the happiest, most stressful, most miserable, and yet most joyful in my life. I wish I could tell you how good things are. I wish I could tell you that we are riding on unicorns across rainbows in the sky. I wish I could say that our love is unconditional and unwavering. I wish I could report how amazing our life is.

Unfortunately, it's not any of those things. Life is hard. Marriage is tough. Raising kids isn't always fun. Building a home (as you all know now) is not a walk in the park.

I can say that Graham is my best friend. There is nobody else that I'd rather be with. He makes me laugh, he frustrates me, he calms me, and he has literally made me crazy at times. Our marriage isn't perfect, but it's been full of laughter and tears.

I wish I could share more about what's going on in our private lives, but I can't. It's not the right time. When we went through hard times ~5 years ago, I was pretty open about our experiences. Now, I'm a bit more hesitant to share.. especially considering how much more jaded I've become. I've been pretty sad--actually sad doesn't even scratch the surface of what I've been feeling--and I've had a few friends help lift me up. It's sad when you realize how little support you have left outside of your marriage. It can be kind of isolating at times. I've been on this crazy roller coaster, feeling like my life was spiraling out of control... with nobody to confide in.. mostly because I don't want anyone to judge me or Graham.

Anyways, I'll share our story sometime, somehow, in some way.

Right now, we are continuing on in holy matrimony.. bound together by our commitments to each other, to God, our family, and this gosh-dang house. We are committed to making this work, for better or for worse.

Maybe next time I'll share some of my favorite moments over the past 10 years..

Until then, I leave you with one wedding photo.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

I am fiery hot with anger

I wish I had more news to share. This process has been so painfully slow that I want to scream, or cry.. or both. I know we will have a home when this is all done, but right now that feels soooo far away that I can’t even imagine it.

Anyways.. FYI, I’m not in a good calm mood today. So please excuse my frustration.

This has just been delay after delay. So, the foundation was re-done late October, but there was another error made by the foundation crew—they left an air vent in the bottom of the foundation on one side, meaning water can seep into our crawl space from the surrounding ground. We are STILL waiting for the foundation guy to come back to get it done. I mean seriously—it’s been OVER a month.. WTF is the hold-up dude? Can you not just patch it with concrete to get it done??

Last week Graham and I had our breaking point. Graham and I usually balance each other out. We have a very nice symbiotic relationship where when one of us gets stressed, the other is calm.. But not last week. We built off each other’s stress and finally decided to email our project manager with Lexar. We have not heard a word on when the framers were scheduled, when the foundation guy was coming back, or even a general completion date for the house. We have not even met our new project manager at all. We don’t have the amended floor plans for a slight change for our storage room. I have been trying to arrange a new tile floor set-up for over a month, and a color change of bathroom cabinets.. and I’m the one who has to email and remind them to email me back.. Is it just me or is giving a week between emails being extremely lenient? In this digital age where we expect emails and texts back right away, a week is more than enough time to respond. So, we sent a firm and frank email to our project manager describing our frustrations and lack of communication.

To our project manager’s credit, he called us right away after receiving this email. It was 8:30 at night on a Tuesday, so that was unexpected. He said that the email blindsided him because he thought he had communicated with us regarding the hold-up with the framing crew. Surprise—NO, he didn’t let us know the framing crew may take a while to get out to our house. That really upset me, and it was quite insulting to not be notified of potential delays.. especially when the delays affect our house’s building schedule right now. We feel like the red-headed stepchild of our Lexar office, because it feels like we are being neglected. WE are not the ones who have made errors or caused delays. Anyways, he apologized and emailed us an update the next day.. but really, it was damage control because we were still both very upset.

Phew. Now that I’ve updated you on the negative.. here’s the positive: our foundation has been backfilled and the footing drains have been installed (although both of these were delayed due to the snow--in November--when the machines got snowed in). Our retaining wall has been built. We haven’t been able to take pictures of it because of the rain and our schedules. Our dirt guy is seriously the best. If you have excavating needs, Steel Justice with Justice Construction in Graham, WA, is awesome. He is honest and hard-working. We highly recommend him. We showed up at our house on Wednesday night last week before Thanksgiving, and he and his crew were putting up the retaining wall in the dark, the mud, and the rain. He made some further recommendations for the wall and for soil stabilization for our slopes. I will definitely take some pictures this weekend when we can see it in the light.

Our fire hydrant was installed a few weeks ago. The great and very petty thing is that none of the people that will buy the lots around us will be able to use it for fire code credits for building their new houses. It’s my $8K hydrant, thank YOU very much.

Our framers are set to come next week.. hallelujah. I wonder if they’ll be delayed too, but hey, the weather has been dry on and off for the past 3 days. So, hopefully they’ll get finished with their house now and move on to ours. I watched this framing video on YouTube and I got super excited because our house will actually start to look like a house! Our excavator plans to lay more quarry spalls past our construction entrance because the rain has been relentless over the past month and our lot is now pretty muddy (no standing water though—woohoo!). The rain in the PNW has not bothered me as much as it has now because of the house building project. I literally prayed on Sunday for the rain to back off a bit, and much to my surprise, it has!

I hope to have more positive posts in the future, but I’m just here wallowing in my misery and anger. Maybe it’s because I ate a protein bar and Granny Smith apple for breakfast—super lame.

Sherri's Favorite Things

So, I had a bit of nostalgia today and was looking at my old posts from my first year of marriage in 2008. Oh my gosh life has changed. Hav...