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Well, the house had a busy weekend. Three men with stilts and ladders and buckets full of plaster attacked it. First they taped and floated the cracks between gypsum sheets and did a very thin layer of plaster to hide the other screws.

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It was pretty ugly for a day or so while that was going on. I went through a few bags in the shop vac and wore a shop broom clean through. Messy stuff! Then the first layer of plaster dried and the guys came back raring for more! The second layer of plaster was a bit thicker, and left a fairly smooth pattern on the walls. It’s dry enough to touch already, but still much too wet to paint. I am running the kerosene heater a few hours a day to help it along, and at night the small electric unit is going to maintain a warm-ish temperature.

I went up today and spent a couple hours tidying up, taking pictures, and trying to figure out how to install new door handles on the front and back doors.

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I had success with the front door! Then the back door kicked me down and called me names. I sat there for the better part of an hour reading the directions and trying to figure out how to reverse the handles because the back door swings open in the opposite direction, only to find out that once I switched the handles the inner mechanism was thrown off because the lock was now upside down. Ugh! Tomorrow I will tackle that back door handle and I WILL win because I just can’t admit defeat.

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I will probably grout the tiles for the wood stove hearth, too, tomorrow. Baby steps to a finished house. So close now I can taste it!

Today it was 24ºF out when I dropped my boys off at school. I could tell by looking out the windows that it was below freezing by the thick layer of frost covering every surface. When the weather starts to get this cold, that’s when I break out the winter gear: hats, mittens, winter coats, scarves, boots, and in my case earmuffs. It’s a no-brainer. Cold outside? Wear something warm. We’ve been wearing winter gear for a couple weeks now.

I am appalled and a bit frustrated at the lack of concern over this cold weather from other parents. Each morning I drive to school, I see well over half of the student population in nothing more than a thin sweatshirt. No coats. No mittens or gloves. No hats. Heck, there were kids getting off of the school bus in nothing but a tee shirt! I saw one enterprising youth in a tee shirt with a fleece throw pulled around her shoulders instead of a coat.

Seriously, parents?

So here’s a reminder to all of us living in cold areas. It’s BELOW FREEZING outside right now. Our highs are only getting into the low 40’s, which is just a few degrees above freezing. It’s cold! And on top of the cold, it’s going to be raining and snowing. When you don’t properly dress your child for this kind of weather, you run the risk of exposing your child to hypothermia, frostbite, chilblains, frostnip, and trenchfoot. Among other things.

Hypothermia is when our body dips below acceptable bodily temperatures. Normally, we sit at a cozy 96-100°F. Hypothermia begins when our core body temperature falls to 95°F or lower. It is caused by excessive heat loss due to improper covering of skin exposed to cold and/or wet. While hypothermia just means a drop in temperature, it can come with some horrifying side effects like cold shock. Cold shock is when breathing becomes uncontrolled and rapid, blood pressure increases dramatically, and cardiac strain occurs that may lead to cardiac arrest or panic. Cold incapacitation may also happen. This is when the body becomes so cold that it begins shutting down the peripheral muscles of the limbs in order to protect the core and keep it warm. Blood flow may become restricted to fingers, toes, arms, legs, and the brain.

Which leads us to frostbite and frostnip. Frostbite occurs when blood vessels in a specific area exposed to extreme cold constrict. The reduction in blood flow causes the exposed tissue to freeze, causing itching and minor pain. The skin may develop white, red, and yellow patches. This is the beginning stage of frostbite, known as frostnip. It effects only the epithelial layers of skin, and usually doesn’t cause permanent damage. If left exposed, however, the skin may freeze and harden, causing blisters and blackness within days of occurring. No damage to core tissues has occurred yet at this second stage of frostbite, and recovery is usually full within a month, though parts of the exposed tissue may lose sensitivity to heat and cold afterward. The third and fourth stages of frostbite are the most concerning. This is when muscles, tendons, nerves, and blood vessels freeze. Deep frostbite results in the loss of effected digits, limbs, and effected tissues. It can lead to gangrene and other infections. It’s not pretty, and it’s so easy to prevent with proper protection from the cold.

Chilblains is a medical condition that effects genetically predisposed individuals when they repeatedly expose their tissues to extreme cold. It causes superficial ulcers on the skin, itching, swelling, redness, blistering, and inflammation. The condition is usually treatable with steroids and protective clothing, but it will reoccur if an individual continues to expose their skin to cold temperatures. Not pleasant, folks, and again… totally preventable.

Trench foot, or immersion foot, is when the feet are exposed repeatedly to wet, non-freezing temperatures. Say, a child walking to school in the rain or snow with wet sneakers on day after day. Affected feet may become numb and turn red or blue as a result of poor vascular supply, and feet may begin to have a decaying odour due to the possibility of early stages of necrosis setting in. As the condition worsens, feet may also begin to swell. Advanced trench foot often involves blisters and open sores, which lead to fungal infections; this is sometimes called tropical ulcer or jungle rot. Unlike the previous ailments mentioned, trench foot can take place in temperatures up to 60°F. The condition can occur in as little as 13 hours exposure to wetness. Have  you ever stepped in a puddle or wet snow and your shoes were still wet that night? That’s all it takes, and it’s not uncommon for a child to wear the same shoes from early in the morning until late at night. Prevention is easy, however. Give your child a pair of dry, clean shoes to keep at school or in their backpack. Let them wear boots (winter boots, galoshes, hiking boots… whatever) to school, then change into their clean, dry shoes while at school. On the way home, they can wear their boots again, then the boots can dry by a heater overnight to be ready for the next day.

For me, those are some compelling reasons to keep my children dressed warm and dry. It’s my job to protect them, and that includes from cold weather. Please, parents, remember to dress your child appropriately for the weather. If there is ANY reason you are unable to, please get assistance. Don’t let your pride lead you into exposing your child to these horrific cold weather ailments. Many schools have a stock of used coats, hats, and mittens that they are happy to give to families who need them. There are charities and organizations that will give you winter gear at little to no charge. Protect your children from the cold. There’s really no excuse.

The entire house was insulated in one night by one man. Rock on, Eric!

The entire house was insulated in one night by one man. Rock on, Eric!

The half wall in the basement got some insulation, too.

The half wall in the basement got some insulation, too.

Jasper installed our pipe for the wood stove. He'll come back November 4th to help get the beast into the house and attached. Hooray for wood heat! I can't wait!

Jasper installed our pipe for the wood stove. He’ll come back November 4th to help get the beast into the house and attached. Hooray for wood heat! I can’t wait!

Got the Micore 300 down on top of some good bracing and a layer of OSB. Starting to dry arrange the tiles.

Got the Micore 300 down on top of some good bracing and a layer of OSB. Starting to dry arrange the tiles.

Drywall crew came through and got about 90% of the walls hung. They left a BIG mess for me to clean up, including this pile that had to be moved before our excavator could grade around the house. Tsk tsk!

Drywall crew came through and got about 90% of the walls hung. They left a BIG mess for us to clean up, including this pile that had to be moved before our excavator could grade around the house. Tsk tsk!

A closet above the stairwell behind the wood stove. Perfect for bedding.

A closet above the stairwell behind the wood stove. Perfect for bedding.

Future kitchen! The ceiling will be tongue & groove pine in the great room.

Future kitchen! The ceiling will be tongue & groove pine in the great room.

The washer and dryer closet in the hall, and the door into our bedroom. So much light from the sun!

The washer and dryer closet in the hall, and the door into our bedroom. So much light from the sun!

My little kerosene heater. This puppy can heat the entire house from below freezing to balmy in about an hour. Now I just have to find a place that sells bulk kerosene so I don't get raped at the hardware store.

My little kerosene heater. This puppy can heat the entire house from below freezing to balmy in about an hour. Now I just have to find a place that sells bulk kerosene so I don’t get raped at the hardware store.

The new tile saw. We put up some plastic in the future shower and went to town cutting tiles.

The new tile saw. We put up some plastic in the future shower and went to town cutting tiles.

That's me cutting tiles! I only broke one... my first one. It got easier after that. :)

That’s me cutting tiles! I only broke one… my first one. It got easier after that. 🙂

Finishing dry setting the tiles. Had to make sure they were all going to fit right.

Finishing dry setting the tiles. Had to make sure they were all going to fit right.

My dad drove up to help today. I think he was excited about tiling. His job was playing in the mortar, and he had a grand ol' time of it!

My dad drove up to help today. I think he was excited about tiling. His job was playing in the mortar, and he had a grand ol’ time of it!

All finished! Now it has to set up for at least 24 hours before I can grout between the tiles. I'll probably go up to do that Friday.

All finished! Now it has to set up for at least 24 hours before I can grout between the tiles. I’ll probably go up to do that Friday.

The ground is all smooth around the house, and sloping away for drainage.

The ground is all smooth around the house, and sloping away for drainage.

There were so many rocks we just stopped picking them. Limestone. Everywhere.

There were so many rocks we just stopped picking them. Limestone. Everywhere.

It’s been a busy week! I’m usually better about updating, but it’s been crazy. Not only have I been up at the land working on our house every day, but I also spent last weekend helping my dad get his entire new garage insulated and putting OSB up on the walls. I think tomorrow will be the day to tackle the garden site. I need to get more post holes dug for fence posts and lay down some plastic to get all the grass and weeds smothered out. Or I’ll attack the remaining piles of unstacked fire wood. Or I’ll haul trim for the house into the basement and start painting it.

Tons to do! Winter is coming!

Had a big oops with the hearth, so I took down my previous blog entry until I can fix my mistakes. There were a few, and they were all pretty major.

1. I failed to put OSB beneath the layers of hearth material for support.

2. I got my clearance wrong on one side, so I have to knock the frame a bit further out.

3. I used fire-resistant gypsum sheets to build up the floor. This was a huge mistake. While it is fire-resistant, it is not approved for use under a wood stove.

To fix my mistakes I will tear off the drywall layers, pull the existing frame out about 16″ from the wall, build an extension to fill the new empty gap, install a sheet of OSB cut to fit the top of the frame, then cover the entire thing in a 1/2″ layer of Micore 300 that I ordered from a fireplace company online.

I’d like to thank the local staff at Menard’s. Three gentlemen at the contractor’s counter spent well over an hour trying to locate hearth-rated materials for me. They called every local and not-so-local building supply store in Wisconsin without luck. We had many leads and suggestions, but after calling the representatives of the companies who made the various suggested materials, we found that each and every one was not for use in a hearth application. Many suggested Durock cement board, but after talking directly to a Durock rep, I found out that Durock changed their formula two years ago to the improved “Next Gen” and as a result their product is no longer safe to use in a hearth installation.

I found out the hard way that there is A LOT of misinformation on the internet about this subject. Not only that, but dealers and specialists who should know better… didn’t. Many people seemed to have missed the memo that Durock is no longer safe for use in hearths, including the company who will be installing my wood stove next week.

So the lesson here? When installing a wood stove, don’t just take the word of a salesman that the product you are using is safe. Call the company who makes that product directly. Talk to their representatives. Better to be safe than sorry. And always double check clearances with the company who made your wood stove. Sometimes their diagrams can be misleading or tricky to interpret. It doesn’t hurt to ask for clarification if there is something you can’t figure out.

My materials should get here sometime Thursday. I’ll post a new blog once I get the hearth rebuilt correctly.

Geez! That only took… what? Eight days? At least now the wood is protected so if I don’t get to the actual paint until next spring, we’ll still be in good shape. The primer is tinted a lighter color of our final paint color so that I’m not painting over glaring bright white.

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Once I finished up the primer today, I went through and cleaned up the interior of the house a bit to get it ready for inspection. The plumber and electrician have been through and made their rough-ins for everything, so the next step is to have it all checked out to ensure it meets code. Once that is done, my builder will come through and insulate in preparation for the drywall crew that is scheduled to come in some time next week.

With the interior tidied up ever so slightly, I got to work on the next item on my to-do list: the shower pan. As my plumber was getting ready to rough-in the shower, he noticed the directions for the shower pan said that it needed to be mortared down to the sub-floor. Well, I figured this was a great way to get intimately acquainted with mortar. It was good to have a little practice because pretty soon I’ll be building the hearth for our beautiful wood stove and tiling the bathroom.

My tools all ready to go. See that sublime tile that the paper toweling is on? That's a sneak preview of what's to come for our hearth!

My tools all ready to go. See that sublime tile that the paper toweling is on? That’s a sneak preview of what’s to come for our hearth!

I swept the bathroom as clean as I could, then tilted the pan up to give myself an easier work surface.

I swept the bathroom as clean as I could, then tilted the pan up to give myself an easier work surface.

Smoothing on the mortar. Took two gallons to fill that monster. Thanks to my oldest son for taking photos of this process because I was too messy to handle the camera!

Smoothing on the mortar. Took two gallons to fill that monster. Thanks to my oldest son for taking photos of this process because I was too messy to handle the camera!

Nearly there! I had to constantly go back over what I already spread on because it wanted to fall downward. Once it was all evenly coated, I added a few extra trowels full and used the serrated trowel to make some grooves for purchase.

Nearly there! I had to constantly go back over what I already spread on because it wanted to fall downward. Once it was all evenly coated, I added a few extra trowels full and used the serrated trowel to make some grooves for purchase.

In place and ready for inspection! I walked over it and banged it tight against the back wall before I left. It's snug as a bug in a rug.

In place and ready for inspection! I walked over it and banged it tight against the back wall before I left. It’s snug as a bug in a rug.

Another preview of what's to come with the hearth tomorrow. *wink wink*

Another preview of what’s to come with the hearth tomorrow. *wink wink*

So that was my day today. Priming and installing a shower pan. Tomorrow I am going to attempt to build a hearth pad and maybe start tiling it. We’ll see how far I get! Friday I am taking the day off to go on a field trip with our youngest son’s class to a local pumpkin farm. It should be a blast!

To finish up this blog, I’ll leave you with a few random interior shots of the rough-in work.

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