The year 2014 can be best summarized as The year of home improvement for the Fedibblety organization. Figure 3 provides an overview of the work.
In the 2013 Annual report, we made several predictions, most of which have come true. The most important and exciting prediction of a new headquarters has indeed come to pass. We also have seen the Dibble parent organization frequently throughout 2014, now that they are both retired and we reside only about 1 mile away from each other. Spencer started elementary school, and is doing well. Meg is writing her name quite well, and is starting to recognize other words too. Rob continued to work on speech recognition for tvs, and also PCs. Clare spent a large portion of 2014 managing home improvement projects and the family.
The first quarter started out in a leisurely fashion, with a trip to visit the Dibble Arizona headquarters one last time before their move to Colorado. Meg and Spencer stayed a couple extra days with the grandparents in Arizona, while Clare visited Paul and April in California, and Rob went back to work. Dave retired from Shutterfly at the end of 2013, so he moved out to Colorado, while Ellen worked on packing and preparing their Arizona house for sale. Dave spent countless hours installing insulation, with some occasional help from Meg and Spencer.
In February, the Soule-Reeves organization finally fulfilled their promise to visit us in Colorado. We had a great time hanging out, watching them be interviewed on Fox news, swimming at the Apex, and visiting the Museum of Nature and Science, together with the Millerhof team (see Figure 2).
Just as we were about ready to give up on the idea of a new headquarters, all interested parties finally agreed to the terms on February 25th. After over 7 months of waiting, they now wanted us to close in less than 3 weeks! We quickly did an inspection, a structural engineering report, and some thinking. The house had a couple problems we weren’t expecting, like the need for radon mitigation and a new roof, but we ultimately decided that we could not pass up the view.
We were extremely fortunate to be in the position to fix up the new house before moving in. Clare already had contractors lined up before we even closed on the house. For the third year in a row, Rob missed Tao’s birthday party, because he was once again attending the annual Nuance research conference in Boston. He also missed getting to see the new house after possession. He left for Boston on Sunday March 16th. By the time he got home on Thursday, the radon mitigation was nearly done, and there was a new roof. The year of home improvement had truly begun.
The second quarter was by far the busiest of the year. Before the dumpster for the roof was taken away, the concrete guys arrived — on Monday March 24th. Once again, Clare’s diligent research paid off, in finding some hard-working, talented, and affordable concrete guys. The existing concrete on the driveway and in the garage had major cracks, and our insurance company said we needed to get it replaced within 30 days (along with the roof). While we were at it, we decided to add a second patio on the other side of the house, and put in some french doors, where there had previously been a window (this was Ellen’s idea). Rob was very suspicious of the french door idea, but it ended up working out beautifully.
We took a brief hiatus from remodeling to enjoy a visit from Sadie, Fran, and Harold in late April. Favorite activities included playing baseball, and the Coors brewery tour.
Although we still weren’t done with all the remodeling (will we ever be??), we decided that the new house was ready enough for move in on May 7th. The Schaffers came to visit from the 9th through the 12th. They were gracious enough to excuse the giant pile of boxes in the front room. Perhaps they were bribed by the views from the Georgetown Loop Railroad ride.
Once we were mostly moved into the new house, we started working on preparing the old house for sale. We took a lot of the standard realtor advice — we did a little painting, lots of cleaning, and finished up a few projects, like the final closet doors, and replaced the sink and cabinets in the master bathroom. . But we did not get an offer on the house until we installed baseboard in the upstairs. Multiple people who viewed the house said it looked “unfinished”, because it did not have baseboard. It did not have baseboard when we moved in, and since there was wall-to-wall carpet, it never bothered us. Installing baseboard was inexpensive compared to other home improvement projects, and took about 3–4 hours for Ellen and Clare to complete. We finally got the old house under contract on June 16th.
Incidentally, we put in new bamboo floors in the new house, but have yet to install baseboard. We hope to remedy this lack of baseboard in 2015, as it is nicer to get to live with your improvements than make them as you move out. Although we were working hard for most of May on home improvement, we did take a weekend off to go camping with Dave and Ellen, in celebration of Ellen’s birthday. Spencer learned to ride his bike without training wheels, and showed off his new skill at the RV camp ground. Dave also took the grandkids fishing at Stanley Lake.
For the second year in a row, June was marked by an epic RV trip, though this time, it was just the grandkids and grandparents. Dave and Ellen came up with the idea to take the kids out to Indiana. They were gone for almost 2 weeks, and it seems that they all had a great time. While they were gone, Clare and Rob finished unpacking all the boxes, moved some remaining stuff from the old house, and enjoyed some adult-only time camping in Pike forest with friends.
Just a few days after the RVers returned, we set off again to go camping in Golden Gate Canyon park for Independence Day weekend. The Fedibbletys came home so that Rob could get back to work, and were (un)lucky enough to experience a terrible hail storm on July 6th. Just as we thought we were nearing completion of home improvement projects, the damage from the hail storm gave us more to do. Our 4 month old roof was badly damaged, and needed to be replaced again. The siding and shed were also damaged. Fortunately we have good insurance, and the damage was covered. Upon inspecting the holes in the vinyl siding, we noticed that our next door neighbor with stucco did not have any damage. We also noticed in our old neighborhood that several “flipped” houses were doing stucco, so we decided to climb on the bandwagon and get stucco on our house.
The big event for August was witnessing the merger of Drew and Grace Dibble in Oakland, California. Ellen found us a beautiful house to stay in all together, and we had a great time. Spencer and Meg got to carry a sign in the ceremony (actually Meg got shy at the last minute, and Rob had to carry her down the aisle, in spite of her mentally preparing for several months). Spencer also appointed himself in charge of running the photo booth at the reception, snapping pictures and luring people in for much of the evening.
We had one final camping trip at a state park the weekend before Spencer started kindergarten. It was a big adjustment, especially since his best friend who lived around the corner, Tao, abruptly moved to the mountains in August, and started kindergarten there rather than in class with Spencer. We miss the Adams family quite a bit, but at least now we have someone to visit in the mountains, which we have done twice already.
As part of the hail damage recovery effort, we tore down the old shed, and got a new one. Spencer was a big help in tearing down the old shed. And the new shed is tall enough that none of us hit our heads when we enter or exit. Change is painful, but can lead to something better.
Although Clare started the process of getting stucco to replace the hail-damaged siding in August, we didn’t actually get on the schedule until October, and it was a fairly long process. It took 3–5 guys almost a week to take off all the old siding, install styrofoam insulation, then a 2-ply layer of felt, and then a metal mesh. Next they were busy with a different project for a bit, and then came back for another couple days to do the first layer of stucco, which is basically just concrete. Then after allowing that to cure for a week or so, they came back to do the final colored coat. Clare did such a good job finding the stucco contractor that it was actually cheaper than the insurance estimate for vinyl siding.
As part of the stucco project, they stucco’ed the fascia, which required removing the gutters that had been damaged some by the hail as well. So once the stucco was done, the gutters could finally be done. They finished November 17th, just before Thanksgiving. We declared a moratorium on home improvement projects for the remainder of 2014.
A couple years ago the Fedibblety organization decided that traveling for winter holidays was too expensive and stressful for its employees, but this year we made an exception. Spencer had the whole week off of school, and Southwest had cheap flights to Detroit, so we trekked off to visit the Felty parent company for Thanksgiving.
Our church has an annual auction as a fundraiser, and this year we purchased the right to cut down a christmas tree at the cabin of one of the members. We planned to all go, but unfortunately Meg was pretty sick, so Dave, Spencer, and I ended up going. Since Dave and Ellen have a full-size truck, and we have a tall ceiling, we decided to get a big one! We only put lights on the two story tall tree. Rob was kind enough to set up the fake tree to display our ornament collection.
This year we spent the Christmas and New Year’s holidays in Colorado. Since Dave and Ellen now live here, there was enough gravitational force to draw Drew, Grace, and Bret to come celebrate with us. It turned out to be colder and snowier than normal, which was fun for every one except for Chai Tea Latte (Grace’s chihuahua). We spent Christmas Eve at Ellen and Dave’s, with a variety of soups, in the Gallagher modern tradition. The kids waited patiently for everyone to finish the Felty-inspired egg casserole breakfast before opening their presents on Christmas day. After working up an appetite playing football, the day culminated in a non-traditional Asian fusion dinner, including elements from Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese cuisines. We took advantage of the winter weather and went sledding behind our house, went ice skating at the nearby Apex center, and did some skiing on Monarch mountain. Ellen rented a lovely cabin at Mt. Princeton hot springs. This was conveniently located near our friends the Adams, so we got to see them too. It was quite an experience to be in 105Fwater with 0F air temperature. We returned to the Fedibblety home base to say goodbye to 2014; our friends Greg and Mekayla joined our extended family for food and fun to welcome 2015 and the adventures that it holds.
In 2015, we plan to once again host several conferences with partner corporations — the Goolds/Feltys are planning to meet in the Denver area in early June, and the Wolfes/Dibbles are planning to meet in Estes Park in late July. We are planning a smaller but still substantial number of home improvement projects, including putting in a gardening. We missed the joys of gardening and canning in 2014 due to moving during the summer months. We are hoping for fewer hail storms this year as well.
Wishing you an excellent (rest of) 2015,
Rob, Clare, Spencer, and Meg