Hammering it Home

While the hammering is not underway at the lot quite yet, there sure are a lot of hammers currently employed along the back of my head. More of that later (it’s a scintillating read, just you wait).

  • House Stuff
    Dirt, gravel, and concrete, oh my!

    We’ve decided to decorate our hole-in-the-ground with gravel and concrete…didn’t the design come together nicely!? Our evening commute (Nick and I carpool most days) includes a lot drive-by more often than not. One day last week, we saw a cement mixer in the distance ahead as we approached our future neighborhood. Giddiness ensued as we put two and two together (to arrive at four).

    We broke ground much earlier than necessary for a December completion date, but our builder decided to cushion the timeline since we have that luxury. The point of this detail is that we’re in no great rush to push forward on progress at this point in the process, but it sure is exciting to see our little hole-in-the-ground come to life!

  • Pain Stuff

    So, it’s not something a person points out to people, and most of the time it’s just this invisible thing that’s there, but I have been in pain every day of my life for the majority of the last decade. It started with that lousy [surprise] surgery in 2006, and just never went away. I feel like I’ve been my own worst enemy at times. I tend to be stubborn, thinking, “I’m not going to let this get me down!” I do things that someone with a wonky back shouldn’t do—you know, like run 1000 miles in a year or walk a marathon (I just realized that I never posted about the marathon we walked…for shame! Here’s a link for the half marathon we walked the year before—just pretend!).

    I should berate myself for these efforts because they haven’t been the smartest choices physically. I look at accomplishments like these with a mixture of emotions. Regardless of the physical repercussions, they helped hold my frame of mind in a positive place. I was able to keep my chin up and feel like I’m still in charge of my body’s ability. I was still able to do anything I put my mind to (my mind over matter mantra lived to fight another day). I still didn’t have to accept the word can’t.

    I have been diligently completing my physical therapy exercises and hope that my condition will be livable again. As I posted last week, the rehabilitative exercises we’ve been working on for my lower back and hips have resulted in increased tension through my neck and upper back. The headaches have been increasing in duration and frequency, and I find myself completely sidelined when they strike. My physical therapist gave me a book to read on the psychology of pain to help me cope, and it has me questioning everything I thought I knew.

    I worked with an actual psychologist through my pain clinic earlier this month to determine if that branch of medicine would be a fit for alternative treatment for pain. What’s frustrating is that there are issues wrong with me that would cause pain, but the amount of pain I’m feeling does not have a smoking gun. I saw “CPS” (Chronic Pain Syndrome) on my chart recently and worry that it means the end of people trying to help me fix this. Meanwhile, my head aches, and I cannot think clearly…I cannot think at all.

  • Weight Management

    I started a new lifestyle (diet-wise) beginning today. I had an appointment at the clinic last Friday, and I am cautiously optimistic that this will help me get to a good place with myself and in my life. I don’t want to get into too many specifics on my food plan since it’s still so new, but I know I won’t be able to forge on if it actually makes my headache worse instead of better. Fingers crossed!

That’s all I have folks: disjointed and incomplete is a signature I’ve perfected! Have a great week!

A Hole in the Ground

This week in the adventures of house-building: flying dirt!

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We’re so excited to feel like progress is being made! Even though various resources have been working to get to this point for some time, this is the first time that it’s visible—seeing is believing and all that. I find my imagination running away with how it will feel to be home…the home where I hope to grow old and make many memories in the years ahead.

I was happy to have something so positive to keep my focus this week. My head and neck have been aching (I can’t think of an adverb strong enough to add to “aching”), and it’s certainly a ding to morale. I used to get bad headaches in my late teens, but they miraculously disappeared as though I grew out of them—but I’ve never known if there was a specific reason that caused the welcome cessation. My physical therapist, while sympathetic, acted like everything was hunky-dory and going swimmingly.

Forgive me, that was too harsh. She (physical therapist) took the time to explain why the pain has settled there and why she wasn’t surprised. Apparently since the head/neck and sacrum are two ends of the same system (the spine), it’s easy to create a teeter-totter effect. Since my low back and hips are usually the culprit, most of my therapy has focused on strengthening the muscles around my sacrum. There is a bunch of technical lingo that I could use to explain what happened, but I’d probably state something incorrectly. Essentially, the teeter up and tottered.

While I do appreciate the explanation and knowing that we aren’t creating pain that “doesn’t make sense”, I just really want the pain to go away instead of move to a different location where I don’t have as strong of a tolerance cultivated. Obviously I’m feeling discouraged, but I am trying to see this through. I miss the old, active me, and I’m afraid that she is fading away along with my memory of her. She was pretty awesome, but she didn’t realize it at the time. Funny (sad-funny) that works.

I am desperate to find an exercise that raises my heart rate but doesn’t cause my pain to flare. I may have to get over my bathing suit bashfulness and find a pool to work on my front crawl. My muscles beg to be used, but my joints seem almost frail judging by how easily compromised they become with simple movement. What a dichotomy: muscles that ache to work and joints that ache with work. It’s difficult to tell how much of my current weight gain is water retention (swelling) and how much is good old fashioned calorie surplus, but I know that the less I weigh, the easier it is for my joints to do their job (regardless the quality of the cartilage).

So yes, breaking ground on the house this week: a much appreciated distraction…

It's a ground-breaking kind of day!

Something to write home about.

Where was I? Oh, yes, yes: the lines of the house that started it all. (I wonder how many home idioms I’ll be able to come up with in the titling process…)

We bought tickets to attend the Madison Area Builders Association 2013 Parade of Homes to get the wheels turning (even though it seemed like that part of the process was so far away at the time).

We already had a builder in mind, courtesy of a conversation with my sister-in-law at a family gathering. I “researched” (use of quotation marks because I’m not sure that scrolling through pictures on their website counts as research) the company enough to know that I liked the way their houses looked—from the strong craftsman style that I love to the missing cookie-cutter vibe that some builders emanate, I was just about sold by the time we walked through their parade house anyway.

In case you’ve never attended a parade of homes, let me explain that attendees will walk through very nice homes that scale from excessive even for the upper class to polished affordability for the middle-class. Now, many people attend the parade just to see those excessive homes…

  • A movie theater in the lower level? Sure, why not? That’s normal!—yeah, normal people totally have a 15-person theater in their basement.
  • Speaking of lower levels, why not just throw a basketball court down there? Because kids completely know their minds and will never ever stray from the sport as they grow older—also, they will probably live with you forever, so go ahead and pay for a non-reversible design.
  • Seven—SEVEN—master-sized bedrooms all with their own en-suite bathrooms…you know, just in case you decide to convert the house to a B&B one day.

Hands off, it's going to be ours
I maybe would have enjoyed the ostentatious portion of the parade had I not been on a mission to gather design ideas that I found useful and stylish enough to add to my own middle-class home. I preferred the parade sites that were more similar to our future neighborhood—we already had a lot (both literally and figuratively I suppose)…so we weren’t completely unprepared.

I loved what I saw at both Rivers Turn in DeForest (the neighborhood adjacent to ours) and in fair Verona at Scenic Ridge. The builder I was “courting” (only I hadn’t made contact with anyone there yet, so I guess stalking would be a more accurate term) had a parade home in Verona.

After seeing their parade home, it was clear that we needed to take our stalking to the next level. Since I was traveling a lot for work through June and July last year, we didn’t get a chance to meet with Ryan (our liaison/general contractor with the company) until mid-July, almost a year ago exactly. This made my “research” decidedly less creepy.

Ryan has been a great ally in the process so far, and I hope his helpfulness continues into this final leg of the journey. We want to take the last few weeks of the year off from work so that we can make the house a home and enjoy a quiet Christmas and anniversary together. Even with this timeline, Ryan decided to move forward with the building now just to have a cushion for unforeseen circumstances that could delay building in the future.

We were supposed to break ground last week, but apparently there was a delay in getting the permits approved to make flying dirt a reality right after the holiday. The new plan is to break ground this week, so you know I’ll be driving by every day to sneak a look! How ironic that we are in no hurry to move before December, but we are chomping at the bit to get the ball rolling!

A place to hang my hat

This is the longest I have ever gone without posting since starting this blog in 2004. (I even missed my ten-year blogiversary on June 6th!)

I haven’t had a lot of nice, happy things to write about lately. I don’t know why it’s been such a blocker for me since I never used to shy away from pouring my heart out across the pages of this website. All I can surmise is that I was then dealing with a hurt that I had faith could be healed—or dulled, at the very least. Now, I’m dealing with issues from pain and poor digestion that I can’t seem to quell…and I’m beginning to lose faith that I will be able to dull them, much less overcome them.

Mowin' the lot...The thing is, I have an exciting reprieve in my stream of consciousness as of late! THE HOUSE BUILDING PROCESS HAS BEGUN! Well, the official, paperwork side of it, anyway. We are set to break ground in the next few days (!!!) though, and it is a welcome distraction!

We (by “we” I mean Nick while I sit in the air conditioned SUV and read…he just needs me to help load and unload the push mower that a friend has allowed us to borrow as needed) have been mowing the lot per neighborhood guidelines to keep the weeds on the lot looking lawn-like until our builder breaks ground (at which point, the weeds on our lot will be replaced by mounds of upturned dirt and no longer growing like…well…weeds).

The above paragraph is a bunch of run-on sentence nastiness that I’m not even going to attempt to straighten out. Please don’t judge me.

Anyway, a little over a year ago, we were still undecided what we wanted to build. I mean, we weren’t COMPLETELY undecided. We were pretty sure that the structure we wanted to build was a house and that it would have a door somewhere…but beyond that, we had nothing. I still had lingering feelings for the first house we walked through (that sold before we had the chance to put in an offer). It was a one-story ranch (new construction) with an unfinished basement. It wasn’t perfect layout-wise for us, but it was situated well on the lot with a grove of mature trees in the backyard. I remember walking in and seeing all the natural light filtering in…and feeling like I was under a spell.

After I got over the disappointment of “losing” that house (which was never ours to begin with…crazy sentiment, I know), I started dissecting what it was that I loved about it so much. I already knew that I wanted to live next to the conservancy in my hometown. I even knew the neighborhood (Hawthorn Point). When I really thought about it, what I loved about the house that we lost was as specific as I described it above. The one-story ranch wasn’t what I wanted: the land was what I wanted.

We jumped on a beautiful lot just down the road that seemed perfect. We couldn’t believe that it was still available. Two deer ran through the trees in the back when we viewed the property with our real estate agent. We joked for a long time that our agent probably whispered “CUE THE DEER!” into his fancy-looking watch as soon as Nick and I ventured through the snowy (at the time) lot.

With this blank slate, we headed out to the local area Parade of Homes last year (2013). We saw a house that felt like home as soon as we crossed the threshold.

AAAAAND, I think that’s a good place to stop for tonight (ooooh, suspense!). Look for more in the next day or two!