The $2,000 Bunk Beds – Part Four

So, where were we? Oh yeah there was an electrical burning odor in the air, and the light was on but not turning off. What a great place to be! Sigh.

With militaristic precision, I called for my wife to flip the circuit breaker back to off. Knowing what I must do, I asked her to keep the kids out of the room while I ran to my favorite store, Lowes. About 5 minutes, and $5 later, I was walking out with a new light switch in hand.

Asking Kati to, yet again, corral the kids and ensure that the circuit was still off, I got to work. When the power is off, light switches and outlets are quick and easy tasks. This one was no different. I set the switch to the on position and put it into the wall. 

So we found ourselves facing, yet again, another moment of truth. With the kids in the living room anxiously awaiting the outcome I stood in the room. Glaring at the light I asked my beloved to flip the circuit. In a flash, the light came on and was bright! I walked over to the wall, confidently out stretch my hand, and flip the light switch. This time there was an exclamation for my wife as it was a pop at the circuit breaker and she informed me that the panel was now buzzing. Hearkening back to what my dad told me when I was eight, I knew what I had to do. 

Sometimes it takes me a little longer to realize that I am beat.

Begrudgingly I called Woodfin, a local electrician and HVAC company here in Richmond Virginia. They’ve done a lot of work for us in the past, and I’ve always been awesome with what they do. Thanks to the busy time of year, we were told they would be about a week before somebody come out. I explained that I have three children ages 5 and under, 1/3 of my house was without power, and the electrical panel has a horrible buzzing sound whenever power was running through it. Someone was there within an hour.

Electrician that came told me that he has seen it all, and this is actually pretty common here in Richmond. Between the houses built in the 70’s, a bunch of “fixes” and “upgrades” done between the 80’s and 90’s, and just general “craftsmanship”, having electrical issues is pretty common. He diagnosed that there was a long-standing problem with the circuit breaker. Apparently, I don’t know why, but installing a new light pushed the old circuit breaker beyond its breaking point. He helped sort out spaghetti monster like nest that I found when I remove the ceiling fan, it only contained one always live wire. In order to make sure that our house did not burn down he put in a couple of temporary replacement breakers. He also helped me make sure that everything was in working order before he left.

Woodfin descended upon my home two weeks later.

So after 2 weeks, over $2,000 later (beds $500, light $30, new switch and cover $5, replacing the entire electrical panel and breakers $1800), my kids now have an amazing bunk bed without a ceiling fan and light switch that works. I hope that this journey has brought some humor to you, in hindsight it has for me. I think the most important thing that you, my dear readers, can take from the story is the fact that you should always know what you can and cannot do. You need to know who you can call when you reach a point that help is needed. Most importantly, always over budget every single project.

This is my haphazard attempt at giving you guys part four, I had a really good one written the other day. If you look at the post from yesterday you can understand why I’m more than a little frustrated. As a father I’ve always come to expect the unexpected. This little project proved to be no different. I hope that never changes. Even through frustration and angst, it’s still so damn fun to be a dad.

Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.

The $2,000 Bunk Beds – Part Three

After working through the emotional distress of taking apart the beds that I had made, it was time to do something easier, but a little scary, electrical work. After taking exhaustive measurements of all the rooms in the house, we knew that there was no way we could have bunk beds AND a ceiling fan in the same room. Call it what you will, but we saw a trip to the ER as a very real reality if this was left as the décor.

I grabbed a step stool, being tall has some perks, and took to disassembling the fan. This task, in and of itself was easy enough. But, it should be noted that I do NOT like playing with electrical work. Need a wall built or taken down, sure. Want the plumbing rerouted, on it. But electrical is the one thing that I have always been cautious of. I think that my dad put it best, and the fear of God into me about it when he told me; “Of all the things that you can do around the house, electrical is the one that will most surely kill you”.  I was eight.

Regardless, the fan came down easy. As I removed the housing my nightmare began. A spaghetti monster of white encased electrical wires uncoiled like a serpent from the junction box in the ceiling. I was expecting two wires to be there, not six. So, I caught my breath, saying a few words that I most likely should not have, and began sorting it out. I had already turned off the light switch that ran the fan. But, I felt an all too familiar bite of my dear nemesis, 110 volts. With the power off at the switch, there were still live wires!

I quickly had my beloved find and turn off the circuit to the kid’s room. Fun note, the breaker that runs the light and outlets in my kid’s room also runs one hall light, an outlet in the master, the light in the family room and the fan, but not the light portion of the fan, between the family room and the kitchen. Yeah, have fun with that. That allowed me to finish removing the fan, and install the new light. Anxious to get the beds together I stood in anticipation as my wife flipped the breaker for the room.

I squinted my eyes as I was blinded and my ear picked up the electrical hum.

There was light! I let out a sigh of relief as I walked over to the light switch (or should I say slider? Dimmer? sigh, whatever). It was in the off position. I did not think that this was important as I slid the switch to on. Boy was I wrong. There was a loud “POP”, the telltale make you cringe sound of working with electrical, from the light switch. The light stayed on, and there was a faint electrical odor in the air.

Trust me folks, it spirals from here. Come back tomorrow for the conclusion of this saga. Missed part one, or part two? Feel free to read them. Trust me, this ends in a flabbergasted mess.

Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.

The $2,000 Bunk Beds – Part Two

I did it. I clicked purchase on the beds. It was at that very moment that I started to feel that this was not the right option. Chalking it up to buyer’s remorse, I did my best to shuffle it off. Instead I focused what I long knew what was going to be the hardest part, taking apart the beds that I had built my children.

Hovering around the mediocre level of carpentry, it is a passion more than it is a skill. However, I wanted to do something for my kids as they outgrew their toddler beds. I found plans, modified them to bring out aspects of each child, and I built them. They were not perfect, but they were perfect for them.  The joy and surprise on their faces when I put each one together filled my heart with joy.

But the day had arrived, and I stood there, in the silent room, looking down at the beds. Stripped down to the naked wood that I had built them from. I could hear the kids down the hall, playing with the heavy box that had arrived. I knelt down and began to take the beds apart. Making it even more difficult was that I put these together without the intent of having to take them apart. So, not only did I just have unscrew some screws and bolts, but I had to take a circular saw to my children’s beds to get them out the door. There must have been some extra sawdust in the air.

The beds were apart, and the project was underway.

As the time came to take the beds out of the house Zoey and David walked into their room. They saw that their beds had been taken apart. “Bed not there anymore” are the words that ripped through my soul. Kati did an amazing job and changed the mood. She turned taking the parts of the bed out of the house into a game. The laughter and screams of joyful competition filled the house.

But what would happen next would start the spiral of costs for this project.  Come back tomorrow for more. Missed part one? Read it here.

Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.

The $2,000 Bunk Beds – Part One

No, this is not some post about how I have gobs of money to spend on my kids. Quite the opposite in fact. This is the story about how trying to be frugal cost us quite a bit more. This is also the first part of this story. It all stemmed from this previous post. To be fair, these bunk beds were only $200. But those bunk beds were only the beginning. Or at least close to the beginning.

To bunk bed, or not to bunk bed, that is the question.

Not that long ago we decided that we needed to create more space. With three kids ages five and under, an amazing border collie, and two adults our home was feeling like a belt at thanksgiving. This is to say suddenly and unexpectedly too small and confining.  For some time my beloved and I have been debating about bunk beds for our older two. We both grew up with them, and we know our kids far too well. Based on the, um, exuberance that Zoey and David both have we knew what this would mean. That their bedroom would devolve into some Orwellian nightmare, with a little Lord of the Flies thrown in for good measure.

Regardless, we decided that it was time to make the move. My beloved bride was in need of a craft space, and I needed some separation in my office. The Dungeons and Dragons party that I have been running was growing, and we were outpacing the space that I had set aside. So, we begun making the many changes that were needed. Boxing up things, moving them around, making space. The plan was to purchase the bunk beds, and then move Jacob into the room with the older two. This would free up the smallest room in the house, the nursery, for my wife to have as a craft room.

We also knew that in order to not have a dire situation on our hands that the ceiling fan in the kid’s room would need to be removed. There is not a single room in the house that is suitable for bunk beds where a ceiling fan would not be at hand, or head, height. Little did I know that the moment that I clicked “purchase” on those bunk beds our bank account would be forever changed.

Come back tomorrow for another installment of the $2,000 Bunk Beds. Also, there are more updates to come. It has been a crazy last month and a half. This story, is only part of it all.

Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.

    Building a better home.

    Today is going to be an emotional day. I stood there looking into the room the ruckus of morning breakfast behind me down the hall, and sighed. 

    I built these beds for both of my kids with my own two hands. I found plans online and I modified them to help bring out some characteristics of each child. But today these beds come apart.
    The same hands that built the beds will now unscrew the screws. The wood will be removed from the room leaving a barren and empty. I’m almost certain that a war against the dust bunnies will be waged. In place of my two creations, a store-bought bunk bed will be put in. I have been dreading this day since the moment I clicked the purchase button for the bunk beds. I fretted over if I could just cancel the order and keep everything just the way that it is. But we are growing family in a very small house. We need space for things like a home office, crafts, and homeschooling of course.

    But having the ability to make things work, moving all three kids into one room, does not make this day any easier.

    There maybe someday down the road that my kids remember these beds. I want them to see that this decision to take apart something that I’ve gifted to them was not an easy one. but we often have to do things that are not easy. I’m sure they’ll be some pretty awesome memories about the time they will spend in a room together, all three of them. But for now I’m having a hard time letting go of the memories that we have created with just the two of them.

    Pictures we posted, hell I might even do a YouTube video just to help ease some of the pain that I’m feeling. Regardless, today is going to be an emotional day as I…

    Live big, love bigger, be kind, always.

    Parenting has turned me into a Machiavellian Masochist.

    As dawn broke over the cool spring morning the sound of my alarm resounded with its sharp, trill, beeping. I looked at the clock.  Why? Because, it is what we all do. We set alarms for a specific time. When they go off we still look at the clock, mostly in disbelief that this moment has arrived. As I prepared for the day, reflecting on the night before, as well as the weeks that have passed, this deep realization came to me.  Parenting has turned me into a Machiavellian Masochist. I had not even had my first cup of coffee yet.

    Right out to the gate, you should know better by now that I am looking at rather obscure meanings for those words. As a story teller, I also find it better not to merely define these words. To proof the statement based on definition alone ruins the ride. But, those are heavy words. Machiavellian Masochist. What in the world was my brain trying to tell me this morning?

    For the last couple of weeks I have been going non-stop.  Perhaps there is the part of me that compensates for what I see as a failure.  Getting sick… for me (not for others) that is a failure. Being sick for three months, we are near the pinnacle of epic here. Regardless, I have been busy.  Tackling projects like making a bed for my daughter birthday (how do we have a five year old already?), preparing the garden, editing vlogs, and working on a book (yep, it is happening) have kept me going at a breakneck pace. According to my Fitbit, and a little math, I am averaging less than four hours of sleep a night. And I am feeling it. Every day.

    But I am not doing these things for me. Sure, there is the creative and cathartic experience of taking wood, shaping it, putting it together, and seeing your creation come to fruition. This cannot be denied. But, that is not (purely) how I work. Since my daughter was born (HOW DO WE HAVE A FIVE YEAR OLD ALREADY?) I have pushed myself. I have pushed to be the dad that she deserves and needs, not the one that I was prepared to be.

    A  Machiavellian Masochist Tackles All The Things.

    Zoey's Bed

    This bed, it was for her, for her birthday. I knew that it would be something that I could do for her. Something that would bring immense joy.  Seeing that joy would bring happiness to me, satisfaction in the work that I had done. And it did.

    The garden. This is for my family. It is to help provide as well as to teach my kids how to grow their own food. After all, who does not like a little dirt and sunshine once in a while?  I know that as this year passes by that there will be a ton of teaching moments for my kids. Some will stick, others will not.

    The vlog, and the book. These projects fall in the same vein. They are both for legacy. They are for people to see now, and for my children to have long after I am gone.

    All of these things point to the kind of masochist that fatherhood has turned me into.  I enjoy doing all these things. Again, cathartic, joy, and legacy. But, they are exhausting. They are breaking me down, bit by bit. I can feel it most mornings, and think of more to do long into the night. Because of the joy that I feel.

    This, my dear readers, is also what makes it so Machiavellian.

    I know that these things are wearing me out. Heck, I am writing about it as we speak. Meanwhile, I think of more and more things that I can take on to achieve the same results. Therein lies the cunning that exists for me. As well as the duplicity. I mean, who would do such things to themselves? When given freedom, cannot one not take a break, rest, kick back and enjoy life a little?

    I know that I am doing this to myself, to bring joy to others, to have joy because of their happiness, at the expense of myself. However I discount my own knowledge of this, refusing to accept it, because I know that one would not do something like this to themselves.

    Parenting has turned me into a Machiavellian Masochist. Something tells me, I am not alone in this.

    Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.

    Updates, Updates, SOOOOOO many Updates

    We are STILL getting caught up on everything.  It does not help that we are at the busiest part of the year.

    We have started the slew of birthdays for our extended family.  We average one a week for the next two months. Seriously.

    There is also the garden, that is starting to come along nicely.

    Plus there is the general building, fixing, creating, making, that we all do.

    I also have some projects that should be starting soon, and I still need to share my most recent.

     

    Life, all-in-all, is awesome! We are not complaining, but we hope to get back to all the things soon.

     

    Thanks for hanging in there and helping us…

     

    Live big, love bigger and be kind, always.

    Something awesome happened to me at a crafts store

    I want to take a moment to share some awesomeness from last night. After dinner my beloved bride indulged me and let me take everyone to Michael’s so I could pick up some items for the D&D craft (that I cannot discuss yet). I strapped Jacob in the Baby Bjorn onto myself, while my beloved took the other two in a cart. We did our shopping, and all the kids did an awesome job. When it was time to go, she took the older two out to put them in the van, while I waited in check out. Behind me there was a woman and her grand-daughter. Here is the following conversation:
     
    GM: “See that man right there? That is what you need. You need to find you a man that one day will not be afraid to go craft shopping at night and caring a baby! Stop wasting your time with those knuckleheads and look for a man like that. If he won’t carry your baby, you should not carry his.”
     
    I looked back, the girl was obviously a little embarrassed and looked not a day over 16
     
    Me: “If it helps, I love carrying my kids, and the crafts are for me”
     
    GM:” Even better!, See honey, that is a real man”
     
    I just wanted to share this because it made me feel awesome. There is something warming about having it pointed out that carrying my son on my chest is what makes me a real man. Further to have this pointed out to a young woman as something to look for.
     
    Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.