The first big post from this house

It is a surreal feeling to be sitting at the table and writing The First Big Post since having moved in.

Our own house - something we've been waiting and working towards for several years.

In some ways it is very much like I pictured it: the log burner's going, The Dog's snoring, there's a fresh cup of tea on the table. But in other ways it's also very different.

For one, some of the excitement has already worn off. I did not expect for it to take two weeks to connect this house up to internet...

(To go off on a tangent: part of the reason there has been such a delay is because Chorus, the New Zealand communication lines company, is behind schedule laying fibre-optic cable in Wellington. Apparently, and this is going by information from one of their technicians who was laying fibre next to our previous rental house, the team in Invercargill are ahead of schedule, whereas the team in Wellington are three months behind schedule, so Chorus have sent a whole bunch of people from Invercargill to Wellington to help them catch up - and, therefore, the work they do in Invercargill is now on the slow side, hence a 2-week wait to get internet to a house that already has all the necessary cables in place and all that was needed was for someone to "flick a switch" on the street, but I digress.)

I expected there to be internet available almost instantly, and therefore did not plan for any moving-in-emotions to be written up offline, to be posted later - which is basically my way of saying that as I am sitting behind the kitchen table now, drinking my tea in a house that is mostly (and I am using a loose term here, guys) set up and only three or four boxes still to be unpacked, I don't actually know what to say to you.

I am relieved, and very, very grateful. I am also very tired, in a mostly physical way.

The move was arduous. Of the six days we had the two houses "overlapped", the first three were spent doing the most basic of things - cleaning carpets, fixing fencing, changing locks - and then the next three felt like a freight train of logistics, muscle power and toddler tantrums.

No, the kids did not take to moving very well. I mean, they loved running around half-empty rooms and shouting to hear their own voices echoed off walls, but they also started braking down impatiently over the most littlest of things and when they then spent several long days at preschool whilst me and The Man moved things, trailerload by trailerload, they also got clingy and... well, I don't really need to explain much further, do I. You understand, don't you.

Then over the weekend three of The Man's workmates came to help us lift the heavy stuff and, man!, I don't know where we'd be if they hadn't come. They were around for only three short hours until they all had to leave to their respective Sunday appointments, but in those short three hours they basically moved the bulk of the house, after which me, The Man and the kids ate burgers and chips at a local burger joint celebrating the momentous time of having almost got there (there were still rooms to clean etc, so it wasn't entirely done yet - but it was almost there) and also the fact that I had called The Man saying that I just couldn't stay holed up in a house with kids any longer, and therefore - we were going out eating someplace. Period.

And so we did.

The awkward lunch of burgers and chips, thinking... oh my God, we've done it. I think we've actually done it.

The house is... interesting.

I mean, it's solid. Totally livable in a sense that no part of it needs immediate work in order to move in, so there aren't gaping holes or missing doors or broken windows or anything like that.

But it sure does need work.

Of the rooms that remain to have carpet some of it is, I'm guessing, mid-80's beauty of flowery prints...

...and some a cat pee infested woolen flooring of smells galore.

Other rooms had carpets so threadbare we ripped them up straight up and one day these hardwood floors will be refinished and insulated - but not yet. At the moment it's just 1) pull up nails and staples so people don't injure their feet and 2) vacuum up that white powder which, I assume, is some sort of deodoriser?

The backyard grass - or let's call it hay - was cut down immediately prior to handover, so the land was a lumpy mess of decaying cutoffs on top of hard, yellow lumps.

We didn't even dare to take a lawnmower over it until we'd raked the entire thing, fearing we'd brake blades on hidden rocks or bits of trash.

And there was that - rocks and rubbish, I mean - but there were even gardening tools (!) we found over the most overgrown patches, and many, many plastic balls.

On the weekend, firewood started arriving. Heading into winter the prices are about to jump, so we were getting many trailerloads whilst the going was still good, even it for the moment in means there's a whole mountain in the middle of the yard, where trailers are unable to take the corner between the house and the garage.

In the background you can spy large yellow... I don't even know what it is. Foam? Insulation? Some sort of underlay? That we pulled from behind the house where we needed to get access to roof gutters - which had cabbage tree plants growing in them and were sagging from the weight.
The rooms started gradually going from this - to this.

Even the back yard is a bit tidier, though it is far, far from done. The land is so bumpy the kids are struggling to even wheel their three-wheel plastic trucks over it.

We are piling up greenwaste to be taken away at a later date (still loads to come!) and have unearthed a greenhouse previously overgrown with weeds. Now to fix the plastic so we can bring our little lemon plants in there over winter.

Overall I think it will be very much like which is a blog I have followed with interest over the last couple of years (they have Instagram, too), knowing full well that ours will probably be very similar: a slow renovation with hard-earned DIY skills, a modest budget and work done with intention and grace, whilst fitting in time for family and studying.

And at least in the beginning, with functionality well above aesthetics. Well above aesthetics!

Like a piece of galvanised steel bought from a scrapyard, cut to fit and installed in our bedroom so there would be somewhere to hang the clothes.

One day there will be built-in shelving and a wardrobe in that space, but for the moment - this is awesome.

I think it will be a while before walls start getting painted, or general "prettifying" taking place. Of course there's some already - there has to be, for comfort's sake - but for the moment making the rooms look pretty or "finished-looking" is well below things such as installing insulation, ventilation and a heat pump, repairing gutters (oh, did I tell you about the porch leak? During heavy rain it is spectacular!), building a deck, installing fencing and a gate, replacing the tap that is tapping our lives with a rhythm of tink, tink, tink all day long. Heck, even building a play fort for our kids is probably higher on our list, so that our kids can also finally accept that this is a place to feel comfortable, safe and excited in.

Firewood delivery

Choosing timber for temporary shelving

Stacking firewood

Scrubbing kitchen shelving 

Replacing locks
Talking of the kids: the whole family promptly came down with a heavy cold (most of the preschool has, by the looks of it) and The Kid, in particular, with a full-blown ear infection which has meant that nights have been short and restless, and crying plentiful.

Watching cartoons, trying to keep out of The Kid's way

We have joined a toy library - functions like a normal library, except for books you get to loan toys instead - and it is adding excitement to their days.

Pink. Pink. Where does she get her obsession with everything pink!?

Of course he chose the biggest, ride-on John Deere tractor digger, of course.

The Girlie seems to be taking it in her stride, as with most things (have you ever met another child so determined, independent, loud and high-pitched?), but The Kid is processing and trying to figure out why we're here, and what "the next house" is going to be like. We do tell him that this, now, is a house we're going to stay in for a long, long time, but he looks at us with a suspicious frown as if trying to figure out what the catch is.

Playing pretend bedtime

This window seat in our bedroom will be a wonderful place to hang out one day

Would you believe, it was one of the tools we found in the back yard, overgrown with weeds

And so all in all, this blog is not going to be like Young House Love at all! and instead, over the coming months, we are slowly going to tinker with things and hopefully blog about it, too, but even with that I will need to figure out what the new routine is going to be like as my school assignments are starting to come in so I will be spending more and more time on the computer writing about construction methods and material choices instead, and calculating budget estimates which is turning out to be an interesting, interesting choice of work.

I don't know what the other programs at SIT are like, but I do feel that architectural technology and quantity surveying have been well worth the effort of having moved down here where I can 1) study well, 2) buy a house and 3) still have a life at the same time, an option I feel is rapidly decreasing in other parts of New Zealand. I am still meeting people, again and again, who have moved down here in search of balance to their lives and I feel I am gaining mine. I like this house, I like studying, I like the support network we are building around our kids and in a few years time this place will be a beauty to visit, even if today the house's first visitor will have the elegant experience of sleeping on a spare bed in our spare room amidst bikes, garden tools, carpentry equipment and cardboard boxes.

But, hey!, we're getting there :)

We're here

The house is yet to be connected up to internet, so this is me on the school's wifi for 5 minutes before a lecture, but in brief, this is what we're up to.

We are entirely moved in, and the old house is empty and the keys returned to the rental agent - but that's not to say that the new house is unpacked and ready. There are still things in boxes, me and The Man are underslept and overtired, and both kids are ill with a heavy cold and look like about to come down with full-blown chicken pox.

The porch roof leaks, the kitchen is still sticky on every surface I am yet to scrub down with detergent and muscle power, and the living room smells of cat pee. The cat, by the way, is still hanging out around the house and insisting we let him in through the window, and I think, oh no you don't, mister!

There is mount Vesuvius of firewood in the middle of our back yard, waiting to be stacked into a shed, and we have pulled out *actual plants of cabbage trees* from our roof gutters which are sagging from the weight they've been bearing.

The kids are grizzly, we're all tired, the list of things that *actually need doing* - as opposed to just things that would be nice - is still long enough that we don't even need to write it down because it's kind of obvious what needs doing.

But we're here, and we're working on it, and my lecturer is here so I better put down my iPad and start working on contract administration :)

Photos to come.

Halfway there

Ever wondered where old crackers go to die?

In the creases of the back seat of my car.

PS. I'd write more, but I'm tired, tired, tired.

7 MARCH 2017

It's done.