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Archive for "Home Ownership"

I am not a Handyman!

Posted on April 6, 2018 by under Home Ownership, Projects.    

So, the back door to the garage has needed some work for a long time now. If anyone remembers the Farmstead fiasco of a home, then you all know that I am not a handy person. I don’t really know how to fix things all that well.

Heck, I had to have my father-in-law come help me install two smart light switches because the switches were smarter than I was and I couldn’t figure out the wiring. If it wasn’t for him and his friend (Tito Arnel) I could have very well wired it and burnt the house down.

Back to the door! So, the door was water damaged and rotting because the previous owner cheaped out on the install and didn’t seal it properly. One of the sprinkler heads wasn’t ever adjusted right and water just pounded that frame and, well, we get a crumbling POS.

About a month ago I got fed up looking at it and called a professional to come give me a quote on installing a new door in my garage and, while he’s at it, installing a new front door too — because, if they are already here, it will probably be cheaper… Right? No!

After about an hour of his time and the price getting all the way up to $9000, I had to dial him back and tell him I wasn’t going to fork out what could be money for a pretty good vacation, for a couple of doors. We narrowed it down to just the garage door and that was still well over $1000. I thanked him for his time and looked at option 2, 3, 4, and even 5.

I looked at a few videos and found a door at Lowe’s for about $170. Add in screws and caulk and we’re looking at $200 max, plus my time. I managed to convince my wife that this was going to be so easy, a child could do it. I told her they made the doors idiot-proof and that even I could install one now. Heck, even my dad was convinced we could both tackle it and be successful.

Then one night I was playing online with my buddy and remembered he worked construction for like 15 years and knows how to install doors! So I buckled down, swallowed my pride and asked him if he would be willing to help. Without hesitation, he said yes. My wife has never been so relieved to not have to do something in her life. I think her exact words were, “Oh, thank God!”

Fast forward to this last Saturday. My friend and his son Eli come out. I already had the door and everything we needed. He gave me more information about installing a door than I could process. It wasn’t really as easy or simple as I thought it would be. But, in the end, we got it done and it looks great.

I honestly don’t think it would have been as good without him. I’m sure I would have done something to either ruin the door or mess up the install. I am grateful to have friends with skills.

Here’s some pictures of the new door and the old one we removed.

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Old, rotten door.

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New door, in progress.

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New door, trimmed up.

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Outside view.

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By the way, anyone need a door?

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What Happened Last Week

Posted on March 25, 2018 by under Events, Home Ownership, Life.    

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I walked over to City Hall last Friday to celebrate my friend Gavin’s retirement from WPD. They showed pictures of him from when he started his career in law enforcement 26 years ago. Many people came to wish Gavin well and the Police Chief said a few words before turning it over to Gavin to address the crowd.

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I didn’t partake of the cake and punch because I wanted to get back to work but I wanted to be there for Gavin on behalf of all of our Leadership Wichita classmates. The walk to and from City Hall and the reception itself was a welcome break from my workday although it was super windy that day and I thought I would be blown away several times.

Incidentally, this was the same day that Wichita State was eliminated from the NCAA tournament. In case you hadn’t noticed, I was sporting my WSU colors that day. I also wore my new Rothy’s flats, which are my new favorite shoes for work. More on them next time because I plan to post a video review.

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Saki and I took a super awesome selfie.

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I think this was on Saturday morning because I look like I just woke up. Speaking of Saturday morning, Brian went outside to take pictures of house for reference for the house painters. We are paining the house next month but we are repainting it the exact same colors so we don’t have to hassle with too many HOA approvals. If you keep the same colors, they tend to leave you alone.

When he was outside, he hollered for me to come out. Apparently, our new lawn service company completed spring cleaning on the yard earlier in the week and we didn’t even notice.

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Here are some pictures of the fabulous work they did.

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They trimmed the fountain grass, removed all the dead and dried up parts of the yucca and these plants that line the path that I can never remember the name of, and put fresh mulch.

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They also cleaned up around the day lilies, which are spreading like crazy. After our coffee chat today, I plan to pull the overgrown day lilies out.

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They did the same thing on the other side. They also pulled the weeds from the side of the house and put down fresh mulch. I don’t know why we kept trying to do this stuff ourselves when other people can do a much better job than we can. Plus, it didn’t take up any of our time at all. It was done just like magic. We didn’t even know when they came to do it.

Brian and I agreed that they must have come during the week but neither of us noticed until Saturday morning. If they did complete the work on Saturday morning, that’s even more impressive because we didn’t hear anything at all.

The company is called Commercial Lawn Management (CLM) and so far we’ve been really happy with their service. I think we may hang on to them. The spring clean up they did usually takes up so much effort on our part, not just in the time to complete the work but also planning, and we always end up putting it off and putting off and then the yard looks like crap all summer long.

We highly recommend CLM. They do all sorts of stuff and offer free estimates so if you need a job done, be sure to contact them.

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Making My Home Smarter Than Me

Posted on December 31, 2017 by under Home Ownership, Projects.    

I have been wanting to add smart devices to our home for some time. I wanted a Nest since they first came out but my wife wouldn’t let me because the local power company had their own program and she felt since she worked for them, she should honor that program and be a part of it as well. This did get us a really nice Honeywell programmable thermostat, but it wasn’t a Nest!

Several years have now passed and we’ve gotten off the WattSaver program, but we got to keep the programmable thermostat and it’s worked very well for us. But, again, it’s not a Nest. So after visiting a friend’s house and seeing all of his home automation toys, I decided it was time to work on Ching and see if I could finally swing a Nest. It just so happened that Amazon was having a huge sale and I was able to get it much cheaper than normal and Ching finally caved (because she’s a sucker for sales) and I got my Nest.

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This is a picture of me unboxing the Nest. It’s pretty simple when you get down to it and look at how they have everything set up for you. They even include pictures and labels. They offer a professional set up but, unless you are just really not handy (I’m close), I think you would be able to manage.

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Here it’s all installed and working. I love that I can control it from my phone, laptop or even my watch.

After that, it was time to update a coupe of light switches that we have really wanted to have on a program anyway but could never figure out how to do it. Again, my friend showed me some of the things that he had and they fit my needs perfectly. Thanks to Amazon again, they were having a sale and Ching could not resist, so we got three plugs and two light switches.

The plugs are very versatile, they just plug into the wall and there are some instructions on the app and then bam, they are available to be automated and controlled through my phone.

The light switches were a little different. These involved a little help from my father-in-law and a friend of his. I needed expert advise and installation. LOL.

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Here is a picture of all of us looking at the wiring and trying to plan the best way to install them without burning my house down.

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Here we have initiated the plan and we are conversing to make sure that we all agree to the final installation.

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Here is the final product installed.

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And here we have it all covered up with a nice smooth face plate. I like these face plates because you don’t see any screws like traditional faceplates. I think going forward, I may use these on all of my replacement switches.

All in all, I like the way everything functions. I like how it is automated and how I can, in the near future, tie them all to an Alexa and just use my voice to control everything.

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Garage Door Opener Saga Continued

Posted on July 26, 2017 by under Home Ownership, Things to Do.    

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Brian spent most of the day on 4th of July finishing what he and Chad started on Sunday afternoon: the partially complete garage door opener installation.

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He tweaked and tweaked and tweaked. I wasn’t much help except I got to push the button every time he was ready to test it. He would make some minor adjustment and then he would tell me to push the button and then he would make some more changes and then I’d have to push the button again. I suppose I saved him from having to go up and down the ladder multiple times so I was useful that way.

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Touchdown! He was so excited when he finally got it to work. Here’s a video of him explaining the whole thing.

While he was doing most of the troubleshooting — before my button-pushing part — I met Stephanie at North YMCA so we could take Melissa’s special 4th of July Aqua Zumba class.

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It was a blast! And, I’m happy to report, my Apple Watch survived it’s second water test (an hour of being submerged in the pool) with flying colors.

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I must say, I much prefer taking Aqua Zumba to teaching it specially when it’s 100+ degrees outside. If you’ve not tried Aqua Zumba before, come join us at Andover YMCA on Saturdays at 8:45 AM. We only have a few more weeks left before they close the waterpark. (SIDE NOTE: Hideki is filling in this Saturday while I’m at ZINCON but I’ll be back next weekend.)

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Later that day we went to Cory and April’s for a real-deal 4th of July BBQ, complete with ribs and deviled eggs! Mmmm, yum!

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April also served a bunch of festively colored food such as red, white, and blue jello, rice crispies cake, and cupcakes.

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And Cory made this delicious, fruity concoction called ambrosia. It tasted heavenly!

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Unfortunately, we couldn’t stick around for a second, post-fireworks dinner. We had to get back home to comfort our dogs. Not so much Molly, who we are convinced has gone completely deaf in her old age because not only do fireworks not bother her like they do most dogs but she pretends not to hear us whenever we call her so I’m thinking maybe she’s not pretending — LOL — but Saki gets really anxious that she starts shaking.

Honestly, I didn’t mind missing the fireworks portion of the festivities. I love watching the pretty fireworks in the sky but I’m not a huge fan of the loud, booming fireworks on the ground — specially the ones thrown at me. No thanks!

That pretty much concluded our holiday weekend. It was quite and uneventful, just the way we like it. We both still have our fingers and toes and didn’t incur any injuries. I call that a fantastic weekend!

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Our 4th of July Weekend

Posted on July 23, 2017 by under Events, Home Ownership.    

Remember when I wrote about hatching a plan to host a cookout at our house because we hadn’t had company in a while and an old friend from college was in town so that made the perfect excuse to have a party? That actually happened a few weeks ago on the Sunday before the 4th of July.

The weather was near perfect and it turned out to be a fabulous day for a cookout.

Notice that the word “cookout” is italicized. When Brian created the Facebook event, he originally called it a BBQ. I made him change it since we were only grilling burgers and there was no actual BBQ food involved. Apparently, to some people (like Brian), the word BBQ is a generic term synonymous with grilling or cookout.

Well, literal ol’ me, I think BBQ specifically means we are eating BBQ. I prefer to use the term grilling or cookout if no actual BBQ foods would be served. In my mind, if someone invited me to a BBQ and I they didn’t have pulled pork or ribs or brisket, I would be extremely disappointed.

I’d be thinking, “This ain’t no BBQ!”

Anyway, Brian relented and replaced “BBQ” with “cookout” on the event title. But that’s just the start of it. On Saturday, we got a surprise visit from Hideki and Amy because they thought the party was that night.

Hideki was like, “I thought it was weird that Facebook didn’t remind me because it usually does that before event but I thought nothing of it because – WHO THE HECK THROWS A PARTY ON A SUNDAY?”

Well, the Brubaker do when they’ve got Monday off. LOL. Since Tuesday was a holiday, I went ahead and asked for Monday off as a day of vacation to get a four-day weekend. Rune was out of the country and agreed to close his office on that day so Brian got the day off as well.

It was quite a productive weekend actually. My college friend Chad agreed to come over early and help Brian with the installation of our third card garage door opener. Our neighbor Raj gave the opener to us a couple of years ago because he didn’t want/need it anymore and it sat on our garage floor for over year. Brian never got around to installing it. It was either too hot or too cold or I had schedule too many things so there was no time. He also couldn’t get anyone (friends or family) to come over and help him. So I hatched a plan to rid him of his excuses and finally get it done. Chad is fit and strong and I figured that I should take advantage of this opportunity while he’s in town.

Brian’s been trying to get this garage door opener install done for over a year. I think he actually made a couple of plans with his dad for him to come up and help but all of those plans had fallen through for one reason or another. Our final resort was my dad who is also quite “handy” like his dad and doesn’t live that far away but I was really trying to avoid asking for either of our dads to help because, you know, how shall I put this delicately? THEY’RE OLD.

Chad was the prefect age and health for helping and, naturally, the opportunist in me kicked in and seized the opportunity to cash in a favor. He reached out to me out of the blue a few months ago to use me as a character reference for a job application. He has since gotten that job and, though I can’t really claim any responsibility for that, I figured that I was at least entitled to one favor, which I enthusiastically cashed in that weekend.

Brian was amazed that I got Chad to agree to help because he had no success with any of his friends. Not that he’s put much effort into asking for help. I’m thinking he didn’t really want to do the garage door opener install and not having any help was the perfect reason not to get it done. I even offered to help him complete the task on numerous occasions (an act of desperation on my part because I don’t really enjoy hanging out in our garage — that is Brian’s realm). However, Brian rejected all of my offers because he said I’m too weak and too short — my height being the biggest factor. Apparently, we don’t have a ladder tall enough to compensate for my physical shortcomings (pun intended). It’s a two-person job that requires specific skills and abilities, some of which I lack. This isn’t the first time I’ve been underestimated or excluded because of my physical stature or gender or how I look period so I’m used to it. It doesn’t even offend me anymore. At this point, I just want the garage door opener installed — DARN IT!

Brian was like, “How did you get Chad to agree to help me?” I told Brian that I mentioned to Chad how we were debating on how “handy” he is. “I told him that you (Brian) told me that he didn’t look handy and I argued that I thought he was handy because he restored a classic car years ago and he enjoys working on cars.”

Perhaps he agreed to help Brian with the garage to show him how truly “handy” he is. LOL.

Jokes and manipulation aside, I think Chad would have helped regardless because he is just a super nice guy. He told us that he appreciated the break from packing. This was the weekend that he was packing all of his stuff in Wichita in preparation for the big move to Kansas City for the new job.

Anyway, I was thinking he agreed to help but there was a small chance that he could still flake out at the last second. I’ve had friends do that. I didn’t think Chad would pull something like that but you never know. Not only did he show up to help as promised but he even brought Brian beer! Who does that? Usually the person getting help buys the beers. I suppose he felt like had had to bring something for the cookout even though we told him he didn’t need to bring anything.

I had to teach a Zumba class so I left the guys to do whatever they needed to do. Although, I kind of wish I stuck around because neither of them read the instructions. Our cookout started late because they spent so much time working on getting the garage door opener to work and I’m thinking that, had I stayed to supervise, it might have gotten done in half the time — and correctly.

I can tell Chad is an optimist because when he sensed my disappointment he was like, “Hey, it’s mounted and off the floor. I call that progress!”

They set the work aside for the evening because people were starting to show up for the cookout and we had no burgers. LOL. At this point, Chad’s part was done. All of the physical labor of mounting the garage door opener to the ceiling was done and Brian just needed to troubleshoot the darn thing and figure out why it wouldn’t work. It was sort of working but wouldn’t stay shut so we all figured that Brian just needed to make a few adjustments. Here’s video of Brian explaining it all.

SIDE NOTE: Zumba class was super fun that day. I had quite a few people despite it being a holiday weekend. Brynden was in Augusta with her cousins and she brought them to dance with us. They even wore pink, which was the color of the day.

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Even Alicia’s son Brandon, who has been coming to Zumba to represent the family while his mom Alicia and sister Kariana are vacationing in Panama, got in the spirit. He went all out for pink day!

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Back at home, Brian and Chad were both still alive when I returned. There were no injuries and, like Chad said, the garage door opener was off the floor and mounted. I guess that’s pretty darn good.

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This photo shows (from left) Becca, Misty, Chad, Jay, Jake, Meader, Holly, and Christina. They were playing my new What Do You Meme? game. We also had a some people playing yard games outside. We pulled out our old Ladder Golf game, which is always a favorite, and the new corn hole (bean bag toss) game that we got from Academy (which was extremely disappointing because we just bought it the day before, after dinner with Hideki and Amy, and the next day, after only a few rounds, it was already broken — I was told the store-bought ones are always made so flimsy that you are better off making your own — but that’s another blog post).

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Speaking of Hideki and Amy, these two are such great sports. It was a pleasure hanging out with them twice in one weekend (the first time by accident).

It was a pretty relaxed weekend (except for a bit of drama with Jenni and her boyfriend — some people are happy drunks and some people are angry drunks and I’m going to leave it at that — LOL) and people were in and out playing various games. I started out playing the What Do You Meme? game and then had Becca take over for me. Hideki had Jay take over for him when he and Amy went outside to play some yard games. I took a picture of Hideki and Jay because they ended up winning What Do You Meme? that night.

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The funny thing is, while Hideki and Amy were playing yard games outside, they decided to walk over to the Pok√©mon gym in the pond out back but then when they walked back, there was drama on the back deck so they decided to walk all the way around and came back in through the front door. I was totally confused when I let them back in because I didn’t see them leave. That’s when they explained that they didn’t want to get in the middle of the argument that was ensuing.

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Oh, I forgot to mention the funny thing about the beers! Brian and I went and got some beers to share with everyone. Nothing fancy: a 24-pack of 16 oz. Bud Light can, a 12-pack of Summer Shandy, and a 12-pack of the festive Smirnoff bottles. The Smirnoff thing was completely spontaneous. We had run into one of Jenni’s old friends from school Jennifer (Canare) who was doing a promo of the Smirnoff. The case consisted of four blue ones, four red ones, and four white ones. She let me do a taste test and they weren’t bad. I didn’t really care what they tasted like, though. They looked so festive that it didn’t take much to convince to buy some.

Most people are pretty specific about what they like to drink but we like to provide some options for people who are fine drinking whatever is provided. Brian was drinking the Fat Tires that Chad brought for him most of the night until that ran out and he moved on to the Bud Lights. LOL.

We had cooler full of bottled waters in addition to the beer cooler and, as we were getting ready for the party on Sunday, I remembered that we still had a bunch of those Cheap Date beers that Brian won (bought) at a beer pull at one of the fundraising events we attended recently. I had the brilliant idea of throwing the Cheap Date beers in the beer cooler so that we could finally get rid of them.

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This is what we had left in the cooler the next day. The Summer Shandy was a hit. I only found one left in there. Misty told me that the only reason that we had one left is probably because it ended up in the bottom and no one could find it. LOL. We still had a bunch of Smirnoff bottles and Bud Light cans left and, despite there being the fewest of them, three Cheap Date cans survived.

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I guess it didn’t take long for people to figure out these beers are horrible and to stay away from them. LOL. Generally, all beers taste horrible to me so I had no idea that people could actually distinguish the difference. Apparently, they can.

The cookout was so much fun that I toyed with the idea of throwing a Halloween party again this year and then realized that I will be celebrating my 40th birthday in the Great Exuma (Bahamas) so that won’t work. We will just have to find another excuse to throw a party.

I hope y’all are having a fabulous weekend. Until next time!

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