My Talented Mom: On Her 85th Birthday

In October my Mom turned 85! It’s pretty shocking to me…that’s a big number. But my Mom is really ageless in my mind. She’s vibrant, active and opinionated. She has friends of all ages, but the two common themes of her friendships? Church and quilting.

My Mom made over 2 dozen “mug rugs” as birthday party favors for her friends. These are some of them. She embroidered a design on one panel then sewed the oversized coaster together then quilted it. 24-plus times!

I learned a long time ago that church is a wonderful place to make lifelong friends. Right, Carole?! My Mom taught me that. All I had to do was watch her and my Dad as they welcomed folks from church into their home and into their lives. Those friendships survived time, distance and significant life changes.

And quilting? My Mom is a talented quilter. And embroiderer. She has done everything there is to do in the world of traditional quilting…right down to once owning her own shop! Her friendships span decades, yet she’s still making new quilting friends too. And she quilts. Every. Day.

Mom is a perfectionist. Can’t you tell from this embroidered machine cover?!

Mom threw herself an 85th birthday party and invited her friends and family. I was so buoyed to see and catch up with the folks who were there. I’ve attended church in AZ with Mom so some of her church friends are familiar to me, but others I met for the first time at her party. What a happy group. Some of Mom’s quilting friends were there too! They are women who take their quilting — and sense of fun — seriously. They attend classes, go on quilting retreats, have quilt-ins and support each other in ways that go beyond quilting into firm friendship.

Mom built an extended family from scratch in AZ, which is where she moved — far from her relatives and friends in NJ — after my Dad died. I don’t think that was an easy thing to do, but she made it look easy. I hope as my husband Mike and I settle into our new life in South Carolina that I can do the same…create an extended family. Way to go, Mom!


Posted in Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Birthday, Faith, Family, Friends, NJ Blogger, SC blogger | Leave a comment

Drumbeat of Change: Downsizing, Rightsizing, Getting Rid of Stuff

Items to be donated.

Do you hear the drumbeat of change? Downsizing, Rightsizing, Getting Rid of Stuff?

It started quietly enough for me — Think Huey Lewis & the News Heart of Rock & Rock: Less is more.

Then the drums got a bit louder a la Atreyu Do You Know Who You Are: Keep only what sparks joy when you hold it in your hands. Let the rest go.

Bags & bags of items donated.

Until the drums and the beat invaded my very soul — John Bonham’s Moby Dick: Give everything away except the bare necessities you need to function as a human.

The truck was full within hours.

Raise your hand if you are currently embracing any of the downsizing, rightsizing, getting rid of stuff trends.

<Eyes scan the crowd for raised hands>

Not really, eh?

I’m done, as in I’m finished, exhausted, ready for a rest done. Over the last year I joined the “less is more” band as I prepped our long-time family home for sale. I held thousands of my things in my hands to see if they sparked joy, and even the many that still did spark joy? I got rid of them too. I had to make sure me and my stuff would fit into my new abode.

At the end? I donated entire rooms full of furniture, boxes and boxes of my semi-precious items. They are gone. Shout out to ReStore of Morris for their enthusiasm for my donations and their volunteers’ willingness to work hard for a cause they believe in: helping homeless people become home owners.

Here I sit, much, much lighter in many ways, but still reaching for things I no longer own.

We Americans who grew up in the age of advertising and marketing learned from a young age to define ourselves, our self-worth, through the things we purchase. The drumbeat of change, of less, is slow to catch on with us, I think. We measure our self worth by the pound…by the sometimes valuable, but always shiny things we collect and save. We’ve been programmed from a young age to desire things., to use things to show how kind/happy/worthy/rich/deserving we truly are. Change is difficult, but necessary.

Will you be downsizing, rightsizing, getting rid of stuff anytime soon?

How does it make you feel?

Posted in Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Apartment living, Moving Day, NJ Blogger | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Drumbeat of Change: Downsizing, Rightsizing, Getting Rid of Stuff

Complete Upheaval: Moving

We moved over six months ago. I wrote this blog post before all the boxes were unpacked and while my right arm was still throbbing. Yeah, moving can do that to you.

Our beloved Victorian

Moving. We were moving. After 18 terrific years in our beloved custom-built Victorian home, I packed our belongings and we moved to an apartment in a neighboring town. It was a complete upheaval. We wanted to be out of our home when it was being marketed and shown for sale. We didn’t want the stress of strangers possibly frightening our pets or accidentally letting them out of the house. And honestly?  I didn’t want to risk the possibly of being home/just leaving the house and hearing a potential buyer say, “I can’t buy this house. I hate the color of the paint they used in the master bedroom.” I would have stabbed that potential buyer. And we all know that’s not conducive to a quick home sale.

Have you marketed your home while still living in it? With pets? We have. #welearned

I purged my precious (and not-so-precious) stuff over the course of more than a year. Then I packed a shit ton (technical term, of course) of boxes with the stuff that was left over. It took waayyy too long to pack.


My husband Mike repainted most of the walls in our home. I hated the colors he used, like with a burning passion I hated the colors, but our realtor and home stager (yeah, we hired a stager because “everyone” in our former town does) insisted the colors they chose were “popular colors” that “sell homes.” Did you know the color gray sells homes? Even when it clashes with gorgeous natural oak woodwork? The color gray depresses me, but if a couple wants to move into a home painted entirely gray and try to be cheerful, I say, “Ok!”

Mike also removed virtually every curtain/valence/drape in our home.  Why? According to our realtor and home stager, “Buyers don’t like curtains. They prefer bare windows.” I figure any buyer who love bare windows must have at least some exhibitionist tendencies. I mean our home has large windows. Full length, if you know what I mean.

These were just two of many “must dos” we had to do. We sought and found a realtor who gave it to us straight: what we needed to do to get top dollar for our beloved Victorian. Who were we to argue? By the time we replaced the Waterford chandelier and ceiling fixtures it wasn’t my home anymore, which was, I guess, the point. It was right around then that I realized just how exhausted and sad I really was. Mike looked like he was exhausted too, but he actually didn’t say, “I’m exhausted.” so maybe I’m wrong.

But, but, but. The fun had only just begun. The house wasn’t even on the market yet!

Move #1: Moving to SC

Next up was our dual move. I researched movers and moving companies. I narrowed down our choices to two, then got estimates from both. I wanted to bring most of my outdoor concrete(!) statuary and wrought iron tables/benches/chairs to our new “retirement home” in South Carolina. Did you know that most national and long-haul movers charge by the pound? HAHAHAHAHA. Those estimates were cra zy.

I chose a great family run company out of Bergen County, NJ that does both local and intra-state moves. The price was reasonable. They had all of our belongings packed on one truck without anyone else’s stuff packed on the same truck. The guys left NJ on time, arrived in SC as scheduled. And? I’m getting ahead of my story here, but trust me when I say they were terrific. So terrific that I used them to move the rest of our crap into our new apartment in the neighboring NJ town.

I packed and labeled hundreds of boxes: APT or SC and what was inside each box.

Choices! Crap, the choices. Choosing what furniture went to our apartment versus what would be shipped to South Carolina versus what the stager wanted us to leave  at our former home to help keep the cost of the staging within our budget. Jesus H. Christ. The logistics were enough to make me want to shoot myself. But like a good little soldier I just followed my lists (which I wrote down in a cute little notebook that our stager gifted us; I used every page of it.) and the checklist/timeline our realtor gave us, all the while chanting under my breath … “You can do this. You can do this. You CAN do this.”

Of course, I didn’t have a choice at that point since we did want to sell our home and we didn’t want to be living in it when it was being shown. Go ahead, tell me #firstworldproblems. Honestly? Come back after you’ve managed a dual move, 3 cats, 2 young adults, a husband and all their wants/desires/requests/crap and then we can talk.

I got it all sorted out. And my choices were mostly good ones.

Next on my checklist? I called house cleaners to come in and clean our already clean house. Because when I was looking at houses for sale in our town, most homes I saw in our anticipated price range? You could REALLY eat dinner off the hot water heater because it was THAT CLEAN. So I knew that’s how clean our beloved Victorian would have to be. To compete, you know. And I couldn’t do the cleaning. Nor could I wash the 65 windows in the house. I called a professional window washer to do it for me.

Why couldn’t I do the work I’d done for years on my own? By the time I packed the boxes for our moves I had a terrible case of golfer’s elbow. Repetitive motion injury. Tendinitis. As I put each moving box together then sealed it I used six pieces of packing tape. Multiply that arm motion by the 200 boxes I packed, and well, you get it, right? So instead of me cleaning  the house and washing the windows (and then jumping out of the third floor window to end my miserable life) we paid hundreds of dollars to have three women come for 5 hours and clean from the attic to the basement. And one man come in for 3 hours and polish the windows until they shone. God bless them. They did a terrific job.

And then? Mike and I flew to SC to meet the movers. And unpack the concrete, wrought iron and MANY BOXES over the course of 3 days. Yes, it was necessary, but sure, I think it was stupid. I could hardly move my right arm, let alone unpack the damned boxes. But unpack I did. Hour. After hour. After hour. Day. After day. After day.

Unpacking my clothes. And finding space for them.

And then we flew home, drove to our new apartment, parked the car in the garage (a novelty for us since our beloved Victorian doesn’t have one), walked up the flights of stairs and unlocked the door to our new NJ home. After we unpacked our suitcases? I unpacked MORE BOXES at our new apartment. For days I unpacked, injured arm and all. It was painful. I was sad. I cried a lot when no one was looking.

And then? We signed the papers to get our home listed for sale and hightailed it back to South Carolina to “rest.” Yes, I packed up one Siamese cat and more BOXES, and we drove to South Carolina. I didn’t even want to be in the same state when our home went on the market. I was too emotionally spent.

Brutus, our senior Siamese, was a real trooper on our 13-hour jaunt to SC.


Posted in Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Apartment living, Moving Day, New Jersey, NJ Blogger, Operation ReloSouth, ReloSouth | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

A New Stage of Life: Downsizing and Moving

A fraction of the stuff I purged.

During 2016 I purged a ton (really, a real ton!) of stuff from our Montclair, NJ home of more than 18 years. I was preparing to enter a new stage of life. I downsized in terms of stuff and square footage, but I’m not 100% ready to retire/relocate full time to South Carolina, which is where my husband Mike and I decided we’d retire. Besides, Mike hasn’t retired yet. And our son returned to college in 2016, which means he’s a poor student living at home with us for the next couple of years. Our daughter bought her own northern NJ nest nearby. So what about me?

Cue a life in which Mike and I sold our gorgeous single-family home and now split our lives and time between a NJ-based apartment and a home in South Carolina. Talk about a new stage of life!

Living in Northern NJ presents its challenges. We are a densely populated state with mostly old and often crumbling infrastructure here in Essex County. Our housing stock, at least the apartment buildings, are mostly old and, well, used.

Pia, my car, loves her garage parking space!

Finding an apartment to move into that suited our particular set of “must haves” was a challenge: We needed space to park three cars, we needed to be near the train to NYC, and Mike insisted he would only move into a brand new apartment, one that wasn’t “used.” Seriously. I loved watching Mike explain to friends that he wouldn’t move into a “used” apartment. Some people thought he was joking. After all, how many new apartment complexes are being built around here? Other people gave me the side eye, checking to see if it was really me who required “unused.”

I was charged with finding Mike’s unicorn. But try as I might I couldn’t find an apartment in Montclair that offered 3 parking spots. It doesn’t exist. And brand new? Well, the one apartment building in Montclair that’s brand new has very small apartments (a king-sized bed covers the entire floor space in the master bedroom.) And it is very, very expensive. Like I-put-my-foot-down expensive.

Mike, recognizing that he might be forced to live in a “used” apartment if he didn’t help with the search, jumped in at that point and found three apartment buildings in the neighboring town of Bloomfield that met our need for nearby trains to NYC and his requirement of “new,” but only one offered the opportunity for three parking spots.

The only problem? The 3-car complex was fully rented when we started our search, and the new building being built there wouldn’t be completed in time to meet our move-in date. And the listing agent doesn’t keep a waiting list because potential renters practically hammer his door in trying to score one of the apartments. I stared at my husband, waiting to see what he had to say about the situation.

“The buildings themselves are only a year old, which means that basically only one other person/family has lived there prior to us. I think I can do that,” he said. After I viewed the on-line virtual tour and saw how very nice the apartments are, I was ready to move there too.

I would LOVE a balcony, but it wasn’t meant to be.

We called. And we called. And an apartment came available. It was smaller than we wanted, but it had a balcony, which made me very happy. And the woman who lived there had never fully moved in so Mike was particularly pumped about how “unused” the apartment was. Plot spoiler: After we relaxed “knowing” we had a place to live, the person who was breaking her lease (which meant we could get her apartment) changed her mind. We lost that apartment.

Time was getting short. We were getting tense. Then Mike called and learned a larger apartment was coming vacant — almost 1600 square feet — but it didn’t have a balcony. I sucked it up and rushed over to view it. Two young women had lived in it for a year. The good part was that it is brightly lit and a corner unit, which meant we would only have neighbors on one side and above us. The bathrooms were large and the closets were plentiful and also large. On the downside, although easily remedied with some good old-fashioned elbow grease, the woodwork was covered in inch-high dust, the bedroom window ledges were lined with empty wine and liquor bottles, and the bathrooms were plain disgusting. I loved it! We signed a one-year lease that same day.

We have settled in.

And here we are six months later.

Posted in Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Apartment living, Bloomfield NJ, Cleaning, Home Manager, New Jersey, NJ Blogger, ReloSouth | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on A New Stage of Life: Downsizing and Moving

PNC Arts Center: Rock Legends Chicago & The Doobie Brothers

Chicago played for more than 2 hours!

Last evening my husband Mike and I attended a concert at the PNC Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ. We hadn’t been to a concert there since, I kid you not, college. Guess what? PNC Arts Center hasn’t changed a bit: It’s still a roof-covered concert hall with the sides open to the weather.

Thank goodness we could (now) afford to purchase one of the 7,000 actual seats, under the roof to protect us from the drizzle, and we also purchased an additional $39.99 VIP parking pass. I felt like a queen as I walked the mere half mile uphill to the main gate. And while I stood in the security line with thousands of other people, many with lawn chairs in hand? I didn’t need to double over to catch my breath. We were thatclose.

Last night’s concert experience was so different from back in the day when we lugged our lawn chairs and carefully hidden booze 1.25 miles up the hill to the main entrance and then chose a spot on the “lawn,” a bajillion acres of grass hard-packed dirt on which we sat cheek to jowl with more than 10,000 strangers, in the name of listening to our fave musical act.

The Doobie Brothers hits are part of my teen memories.

The bands didn’t disappoint. The Doobie Brothers played a tight 45-minute set that highlighted all the band’s greatest hits. Then Chicago hit the stage for more than two hours of horn-laced, guitar music. And the percussion guys? Rock music of the very best kind. Epic! The audience, including yours truly, sang along, frequently swigging from our cap-free water bottles. Yes, things have changed since we visited PNC (AKA The Garden State Arts Center) the very first time.

We got home at midnight this morning. And I couldn’t fall asleep. The buzzing in my ears was too loud. And song threads kept circling in my brain. And memories of high school antics attached to some of the lyrics made for a restless night.

This is me today.


Posted in A Blast from the Past, Humor, Let's Talk Music, Music, New Jersey, NJ Blogger | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on PNC Arts Center: Rock Legends Chicago & The Doobie Brothers

Hacked! Learn from My Experience was hacked, but now I’m back.

How to keep your blog from getting hacked:

  1. Make sure that the blog Theme you use is updated by its creators regularly. Hackers gonna hack. And I learned that hackers love to infiltrate vulnerable WordPress themes.
  2. Change your blog’s password at least monthly and make it really weird. Use symbols, lots of symbols.
  3. Do not let Google Chrome store your password (or any other personal information). It isn’t secure.
  4. Choose a hosting company that constantly updates its systems and security to keep ahead of potential new hacks.
  5. Run virus checks regularly, or arrange (for a fee) to have your hosting company do it for you.
  6. Check your bank account for activity daily.
  7. Check your PayPal account for unauthorized activity.

My Story

This is a small blog. Not famous. Not particularly “important.” But it is my blog. Yet someone took it as their own. He hacked into my “back office” and used my hosting account. My bandwidth. My everything. The hacker was comfortable enough that he created his own email address and password to my blog. My webmaster was amazed. She said she never saw anything like it before.


The hacker tried to access my bank account. Ping, ping, ping he went, somehow using my PayPal account, testing and trying to figure out the best way to obtain the money in my bank account. Guess what, thief? My husband watches our bank accounts like a mother lion protects her cubs. He notified our bank and I closed my business PayPal account.

My webmaster and I worked to take back what is rightfully mine, but it was mighty time consuming, money consuming and discouraging, very discouraging to me. WordPress, which is what I’ve used since I started blogging, is so popular that hackers constantly look for ways to target its themes, etc. My webmaster changed my blog’s free WordPress theme, since the one I’d been using hadn’t been updated security wise for a very long time (Live and learn, folks).

We changed emails. We deleted the email that hacker created in my back office. We changed passwords. We ran virus checks. All to no avail. We’d find the problem file embedded by the hacker. My webmaster would obliterate it. And the hacker would return, often within hours, to re-create his email account, etc. and resume operations.

The hack started shortly after my original hosting company, Liquid Web, sold me (and a bunch of other accounts) to a hosting company called Deluxe Hosting. Liquid Web is like the Fort Knox of hosting. Deluxe Hosting? Not. Back doors, my friends. This hacker came in through a vulnerable back door.

Deluxe Hosting denies it, of course. Says that I/my webmaster are responsible for running virus checks, keeping passwords complicated, etc. And that’s true. What is troublesome is that no matter what we did, the hacker resumed operations. The problem is in Deluxe Hosting’s vulnerability. But the company reps with whom we spoke had zero interest in exploring that aspect of the hack when I and my webmaster mentioned it in our numerous phone calls/emails to the company’s help desk. I wonder how many others have been hacked since they too were transferred to Deluxe Hosting?

I’m done with Deluxe. My webmaster switched my blog hosting to Go Daddy and I’m about to begin blogging again. Will you join me?

Peace Out, Darlene


Posted in Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Blogs and Blogging, NJ Blogger | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

When Sirius XM Rocks: Joel & Victoria Osteen Speak with Father Leahy

That's me in the middle!

That’s me in the middle!

Imagine my surprise when I, a long-time subscriber to the service, opened a recent email from Sirius XM radio that said if I click on a link in its email at precisely 8 pm the following night, I might (emphasis on the might) score a ticket to attend a live radio broadcast with Joel & Victoria Osteen at the NY studio! Well, I was free on the date of the broadcast so I though why not try for a ticket?!

Precisely at 8pm the following evening I dashed away from the dinner table to my computer, which I had left open on the Sirius email. I clicked the link. SCORE! I went back to the dinner table, bubbling over with excitement as I told my husband and son.

On Monday afternoon, I took the train into NY Penn Station (praying the entire way, given the tragedy that had occurred days earlier in Hoboken) and walked the mile to the Sirius studio. It was a glorious NY City kind of day: sunny, breezy and warm. Perfect.

The small group of us was checked through security and given our instructions. (It’s a live radio broadcast. I immediately felt the need to cough!) We were ushered into the studio, which is glassed in on three sides. We hustled into seats and waited. When I look at the couple of photos of me taken that day, I see my eyes are shining and I’m very happy. Why?

When I’m alone and driving, I fiddle with the radio stations and stop on whatever suits my fancy. Not too many months ago I found Joel Osteen’s radio station. He preaches on the positive. He is uplifting. He is comforting. He speaks to my heart. He speaks of our loving God.

Maybe you know me well or maybe you don’t know: I was raised Lutheran (Missouri Synod). My Mom was raised Lutheran and my Dad was raised Catholic. As an adult I joined the Presbyterian Church (USA) and have been a practicing Presbyterian for decades. Joel’s a preacher at a megachurch in Texas. Do we sound compatible? Well, we are.

I sat with another 15 or so people and listened to Joel & Victoria talk with Father Leahy of St Benedict’s Prep in Newark, NJ. Some of the students from St Benedict’s were there too. You can watch a recent Sixty Minutes profile on Father Leahy and the school here. We listened as they discussed how St Benedict’s prepares boys in the Newark area to fulfill their potential as emotionally mature, morally responsible and well-educated young men. This all-boys school in the inner city succeeds at an incredibly high rate while much of our nation struggles with effective urban education. Is it any surprise that God and community are the answers?

One of the phrases that the young men at St Benedict’s take to heart is “What hurts my brother hurts me.”

Why can’t we all learn to think like that?

P.S. Folks who attended the SiriusXM radio broadcast received a copy of Joel’s new book, “ThinkBetter, LiveBetter.” I’m on page 9.

Posted in Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Church Service, Let's Talk Books, NJ Blogger, Sirius radio | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Vegetable Gardening in Raised Beds

garden tools Adventures of a Middle Age Mom blogDo you vegetable garden in raised beds? I do. Over the years I’ve grown vegetables in beds made out of everything from pine boards to bluestone. The beds I’ve raised my organically grown vegetables in over the past 17 or so seasons are made of bluestone. The sides are 18″ tall and each of the two beds are like 10′ long by 2.5′ wide. The material, while expensive, won’t rot or taint your vegetables and will last “forever.”  And the stone looks gorgeous.

bluestone veggie bed Adventures of a Middle Age Mom blog

I’ve harvested plenty of fresh organic vegetables from these raised beds over the last 17 years. This year’s garden bounty includes kale, broccoli, green beans, radishes, grape tomatoes, plum tomatoes, parsley as well as my planted-from-seed-years-ago sage, marjoram and chives. Oh yes, and the self-sown-in-my-greenhouse creeping rosemary!

Here’s some of the bounty:vegetable collage from Adventures of a Middle Age Mom blog

Mama rabbit has not eaten the vegetables this year. I erected a fortress around the garden beds to prevent her from getting in. She’s a clever mom who thinks nothing of leaping up, up and over a 3′ fence I installed last year. This year I used a shorter fence and put a “lid” on it. Rabbit pilfering problem? Solved!

We will be moving South, to Hampton Lake in South Carolina to be more specific. I know that gardening there is different than here in New Jersey. I’ve been reading up on it! Anyway, I want to grow our vegetables in raised beds at our new home. And I think I’ve found the perfect material: galvanized metal!

galvanized planter bed Advenutures of a Middle Age Mom blog

The style of our new home is Low Country. To me, the home has a more casual, almost country look compared with our current Victorian home. I think the galvanized beds could fit right into a Low Country style home. What do you think?


Posted in Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, gardening, New Jersey, NJ Blogger, raised garden beds, Vegetable Gardening | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Operation ReloSouth: Raising a House Starts with a Foundation & Framing

SC Wish you were hereMy husband Mike and I were on the hunt — which I dubbed “Operation ReloSouth” — for the perfect location to build our retirement home. We found it — a no-snow, lower cost, more relaxed area of the country near water — in Hampton Lake SC. And this is our story.

We signed on the dotted line and David Weekley is building my husband Mike and I a new home in Hampton Lake, SC. This build is different from our previous two (Yes, we love us a fresh-built home.). This time we are building on a slab and the 2-by-4 framing is 24″ on center. Building is different in South Carolina.

With our brand-y new beautiful dock in place, John, our competent Weekley builder on site, and his team of professional electricians, plumbers, framers and more rolled in and set up shop. Raising a house starts with a foundation & framing. What does it take to make that happen?

I come from a long line of people who love heavy duty equipment and power tools: My people are loggers, miners, farmers, welders, long-haul truckers…Me and my people love powerful tools of the trades, the bigger the better. And if it runs on diesel fuel? Oh baby…that’s one of the many reasons I wish I could be watching our South Carolina home build: It started with moving dirt. And what better piece of equipment to level and smooth dirt than this baby:

After the site was graded and smoothed, the foundation framing was set. Do you see the white “posts” in the photo below? I can explain those!

adventures of amiddle age mom foundation pour

Before any concrete can be poured into the frames the plumber “stubs out” piping for drains and stuff that will be “buried” under the concrete. He has to know exactly where to install the pipes (that’s one of the many reasons the actual house plans are so important — location, location, location — and the builder and his crews need to consult them). We (and the plumber and his crew) don’t want to ask the plumber to come back and jack hammer the crap out of our freshly poured concrete slab to move something that’s inches “off” from plan*.

Once safety inspections were completed, the concrete slab was poured. And if you’re Darlene and Mike, that’s when the heavens opened and it poured for days. Such is our curse. We warned our builder ahead of time that we are “water disaster people.” <sigh>

After things dried out, the process moved right along. The framers got to framing and the weather cooperated.

We quickly went from framing,

adventures of a middle age mom framing 1

to plywood outside shell,

adventures of a middle age mom framing 3

to inner framing.

adventures of a middle age mom framing 2

At this point I would like to say God bless our neighbors for their patience during this process. Having lived next door to construction at various times in our married life, Mike and I know it isn’t easy listening to hammering and such all day long, six days a week. We appreciate our neighbors grace and patience (and photographs.).


*Side Note: Put in the time and study your drawings, refine them until you’re satisfied they are they best they can be. The plans are critical during the actual build. Your builder and his trades should all be consulting those plans daily, maybe hourly, as they build your dream home. If it’s on the plan, then that’s what they should deliver to you.

Mike and I reviewed, studied and refined our house plans over a many-week period in late 2015 to make sure they reflect correct dimensions, locations and our personal preferences. So when we arrive at the pre-drywall meeting (that’s the step in the Weekley process where you meet with the builder and his trades and walk through the framed-but-not-sheetrocked house to make sure what’s done already is correct and get a last-chance opportunity to discuss stuff like electrical switch placement before the insulation and sheetrock are installed.) you better believe that we will be snapping tapes and measuring everything. Why? If a sewer or drain pipe is “off” by even a few inches, then a cabinet (which was already ordered in a particular size) might not fit or the “correct” spacing between appliances may be less. This could cause delays in your build, among other issues. As with many things in life, if you work diligently and get each step correct along the way, then the end product is “perfect.” And if it isn’t?  Insist it be made right.

Up Next: Pre-drywall Meeting: On Site in Hampton Lake, SC

Posted in Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Hampton Lake SC, NJ Blogger, Operation ReloSouth, SC blogger, South Carolina, Water Disaster | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Operation ReloSouth: Lot Clearing & Dock Building in Hampton Lake, SC

SC Wish you were hereMy husband Mike and I were on the hunt — which I dubbed “Operation ReloSouth” — for the perfect location to build our retirement home. We found it — a no-snow, lower cost, more relaxed area of the country near water — in Hampton Lake SC. And this is our story.

We signed on the dotted line and David Weekley is building my husband Mike and I a new home in Hampton Lake, SC. This build is different from our previous two.

<deep breath>

We are far, far away from the build. We won’t be on site to monitor progress, trouble shoot or otherwise bother the builder make sure the build is going according to plan. We live in New Jersey. The build is in South Carolina. That’s 13 hours by car. We will rely on photographs, weekly conference calls and our new neighbors for reports and updates. The whole idea makes me itchy, but build we will!

We know the drill: You have to make space to site the house. And allow room for the construction supplies and equipment. This means lot clearing!

Video courtesy of Nancy Cantor.

Hampton Lake is the site of a former paper wood farm. That means the soft pine trees left on the property were grown in rigid rows and spaced closely together, not an ideal tree or configuration for a home landscape. The Hampton Lake Architectural Review Board advises builders in Hampton Lake about what trees must be saved and what trees can be removed. Guess what? I have three “must-save” trees in a rigid row in our soon-to-be backyard.  That’s one challenge for this N.J. Master Gardener.

Once the trees are cleared from the lot...

Once the trees are cleared from the lot…

Surprise!! We chose Alpha Marine to build our dock! And the dock must be built before the house. Harry and his crew at Alpha Marine need the open space to move their equipment and supplies in and out of the job site.

Before any building is started...

The dock will be built.

Scheduling is challenging in the Bluffton, SC area right now since building and the associated trades are booming. Fortunately for us, Harry Hussman and John, David Weekley’s super competent builder-on-site, communicated and coordinated very well.

May I present to you…Our Dock!

It’s a multi-step process:

Hampton Lake SC dock pilings in

Then it goes really quickly from that to …


And when we visited recently?

Gorgeous Trex dock built by Alpha Marine for us!

Gorgeous Trex dock built by Alpha Marine!

 Up Next: Operation ReloSouth: Raising a House Starts with a Foundation & Framing!  

Posted in Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Hampton Lake SC, NJ Blogger, Operation ReloSouth, ReloSouth, SC blogger, South Carolina | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Operation ReloSouth: Lot Clearing & Dock Building in Hampton Lake, SC