Sunday, February 18, 2018

Update Feb 18

I hope you aren't yet sick of house updates because that's pretty much the only interesting thing I have to share with you - and probably will be for awhile. Although with some awesome weather finally breaking through the winter gloom I have high hopes that I'll turn into a big DC-area adventurer in the last few months I have here in town. 

But in the meantime - more progress photos!

First off - the inside is getting a bit more polished. The drywall has been 'mudded' and some interior trim is being installed. 
Basically looking from the back of the first floor towards the front door - living room on the left, dining room and kitchen on the right. I like to see how much natural light is making it's way in - even with the covered porches.

Just to compare - before the drywall is mudded all the nail holes and seams showing.  I believe there's another step to finish out the process which they'll be wrapping up early next week.  

Also - we're getting some big items delivered.  Like the fridge and all of the kitchen cabinetry (I'll post separately on the Ikea kitchen planning process but let me just agree that while it's worth it in the end the online design program you have to use is maddeningly glitchy).  Oh, and not to forget my one and only 'must-have' luxury in the house - a clawfoot tub.  Every time I insisted on the tub I felt a little bit like the mom in The Client saying all she ever wanted was a white house and a walk-closet.  I've never been picky on closets but I do really love a clawfoot tub so when it showed up I was super excited.  

Looks like a pretty nice kitchen, right? Just a small amount of assembly required...

On the exterior they've started on the back stairs and two of the decks have flooring.  

Next up - railings and screens.  

And there's one more - somewhat random - purchase that pretty much made me jump up and down with excitement this week.  My somewhat wild and crazy mother made this discovery and purchased it before either of us had a chance to chicken out.  May I present to you - the long awaited VESPA!!!!!!!

It even has a matching helmet!  Topping out at 40-45 mph this little beauty will probably live in Florida but there's a remote chance I'll break down after a few months of being car-less in São Paulo and have it shipped there.  But I think it has more of a beach personality, no?

Saturday, February 10, 2018

House update Feb 10

It’s been another week of high drama at the construction site and I’m thrilled at how fast things are moving now. My parents and some family and friends all made the trek down to Florida to pitch in and they’ve been doing an awesome job on this home stretch.

As you’ll recall, in my last update the roof was just getting wrapped up and while insulation was done I hadn’t shared any photos of the interior in quite a while. I’m pleased to report that in the last week they’ve finished the drywall, done a bunch of painting on the trim, and all kinds of other hidden but important little tweaks.  Now that they’re in town I’m getting regular photo updates too which I love.

Just a word of warning, the clean look from when there was mostly just a shell? Yeah, that’s been replaced by mess. Good, productive mess though.


Upstairs guest room - facing the water (obviously)

Master bathroom through the closet and into the master bedroom

Kitchen - looking over the "island"

This is the dining room. 

Looking from the kitchen/dining area into the living area.

And exteriors

The posts and trim do look nice all painted, don't they? And you can see the panels (are these soffits maybe?) going in on the underside of the house.  

Oh, yeah, biggest news of all - there are now stairs! 
Sometime in the near future they may even have railings.  

Safety first, second, eventually!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

House Update Feb 3

Care to guess what the below machine is up to?

If you guessed - making roof panels then you're right!  Apparently roof panels don’t come pre-molded, instead they shape the raw tin right on site. Seemed a bit weird to me, but what do I know?

In any case, I'm happy to see the roof going in.  Not only is it satisfyingly shiny, it will protect all that hard work underneath.  This picture is actually several days old so I'm hopeful that the roof is finished now.  The insulation has already been done and they started drywall this week - yay! The next big projects will be flooring, and the installation of all the bathroom fixtures, kitchen cabinets and appliances.

My folks will actually be on site for the next few weeks, escaping the cold, supervising the kitchen and bathroom installation and doing some of the construction stuff themselves.  I'm lucky to have parents who spent my whole childhood doing one home renovation or the other.  Thanks in advance for all the help guys!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Portuguese - at the Midpoint

If my calculations are correct I’m about halfway through the Portuguese course at FSI. I’d love to provide a super meaty update, but frankly there isn’t a lot to say.  I go to class every day with my little band of fellow FSOs headed to São Paulo.  I should take this moment to say how lucky I’ve been to have fantastic colleagues and teachers since day one (the instructors rotate so we’ve had several by this point).  As you can imagine, you get to know your fellow students pretty well in six months of intensive language training so it helps to have a lot in common to start with.

It really does amaze me how quickly you can learn a language when that’s your full focus.  Maybe since bilingualism isn’t as common in the U.S. as in many other countries I think we have the sense that learning a second language as an adult is somehow impossible. And while native-level fluency may still be a distant dream, professional competence isn’t out of reach.

So, what can I do with all the sweet, sweet taxpayer funded training I’ve had so far?

I can hold a halting conversation, with plenty of grammatical errors, on most topics. I can read the paper and the David Baldacci book I checked out from the library (almost finished with it in fact). I can understand reasonably paced speech as long as the speaker doesn’t get all crazy with the slang or specialized vocabulary.  In short, I could muddle through day to day life.

What I’m not quite ready for is professional life in Portuguese - holding meetings, doing public speaking, conducting fraud investigations, etc.  That’ll have to wait til the end of the course.  In the meantime I guess I’d better keep plugging away!

And on a separate note I hope to have some more photos of the house for you soon - interior walls are going in soon, along with flooring.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Video of the week

Much like the real Brasil, the Brazilian Portuguese section at FSI is already making plans for Carnaval  (only on our end it’s more of a homework assignment and on theirs it’s a weeklong party, but you know, common theme for sure). I found this video of last year’s carnaval (I think) and frankly I can’t get enough of it. Macy’s has a lot to live up to now that I’ve seen this.

Get excited! Next year this could be you... visitors will be very welcome!

Click here for the video

Monday, January 15, 2018

Happy MLK Day!

I don’t have any pictures for you today but I wanted to post this link to MLK’s letter written to fellow church leaders about the civil rights movement.  The Washington Post has a thoughtful article as well, but don’t skip King’s actual words.  The disappointment in his letter seems just as fresh today. Disappointment that those who didn’t suffer discrimination themselves stood by and watched as the black community fought for civil rights - or worse, criticized their peaceful protests as disruptive and ‘rabble rousing’. I’ve heard almost identical words in the last few months regarding peaceful protests and seen communities that should be standing up for their fellow Americans shrugging their shoulders at the news of injustice. I’m sure we’ve all seen it. While our laws may be different today it’s  a shame to see how far we still have to go in our actions and attitudes.

On the other hand, two of my colleagues drove home the point that individuals can still make a difference - yes, even if they aren’t the targets of discrimination.  One colleague recounted the time when her children (at the time attending school somewhere overseas) had been dressed up in blackface and maid outfits by their teacher to ‘celebrate’ the local equivalent of black history month.  My other colleague asked what she had done in response. (A great question the next time you hear someone describe an act of discrimination they witnessed.) I think plenty of people would have just made some excuse for why they shouldn’t intervene or it why it wasn’t a good time, but my lovely and strong colleague took the time to meet with the school principal and explain why she found this offensive. She then bought the school some books on important figures in black history. Her actions influenced the teachers - and more importantly the students - at that school for who knows how many years.

So in honor of MLK, make a commitment with me to remember going forward (in the words of DC metro) “If you see something, say something.”

Saturday, January 13, 2018

House Update January13

Things are really flying along now with my house and it's SO exciting to be almost done making decisions. Or maybe that's not accurate, maybe I'm just getting started. But humor me, because it's been an intense few weeks and I'm ready to get to the fun stuff.  I do want to do a big post sometime soon for those who might someday be building their own homes with a list of all the decisions they will need to make.  Had I had a list like that early on there wouldn't have been as many delays or headaches as I tried to quickly pick out all the bathroom fixtures in one weekend (for example). 

Since the last update the house has had the HVAC system installed and some minor issues fixed.  We've also got the electricians and plumbers coming in (they may have already started, I'm not sure).  While it doesn't look much different we've made many of the most time consuming decisions and a number of big purchases behind the scenes such as: the flooring, the bathroom stuff (toilets, shower enclosures, faucets, sinks, vanities, etc.), the kitchen cabinets (which had to be designed with the Ikea kitchen planner, a very temperamental but ultimately really useful program) and we've started purchasing appliances.  For example I found a great washer/dryer set I got on sale for almost half off.  So yeah, it doesn't look like much but it's been an exciting time.  Next up, once the electrician and plumber are done: insulation and drywall, flooring, installing the kitchen and bathroom fixtures... and then just finishes. We're sooooo close!

And now for some obligatory pictures, apologies for the blurriness but I'm lucky the builders are sending me any update photos at all so I'll take what I can get!

Tubes or something!  I think this is the HVAC.... 

 A metal box! 

Maybe the fuse box? 
I don't even know where that's supposed to be come to think of it...

 More tubes!

I think this is in the upstairs bathroom so I'm going to guess it's for the sink hook ups.

Ok, is it obvious yet that I'm kind of a passive participant in the construction project?  Anyway, whatever all that is it looks great to me.  

They really are going to put in the stairs at the VERY end I guess.  And the balconies. I can't help but think ... "safety?"