Reno. Week 4- It started with a Rat and ended with a mouse

Imagine the scene. You are sitting at your dining room table one morning, soaking up the last of summer’s opportunities to sit and relax with your coffee and cereal, when something catches your eye out right outside your patio door. You turn quickly and notice a furry little creature peering in the door into your house, mere inches away from your dog. You think to yourself, as your dog snores lazily, “Wow, that is a large furry creature… I wonder what it could be.” You stand up to further investigate and it is then that you realize, it isn’t a cute little chipmunk or squirrel like you imagined. Oh no, it is not. It is your worst nightmare… a RAT. A FREAKING RAT! You panic internally and think you are hallucinating. Are you in a subway station? Are you in the back of a gross truck stop convenient store? No. You are standing in your dining room!! WHAT THE…!???!?


I couldn’t believe my eyes so I asked Seth to verify. Sure enough, he agreed, it was a rat. As soon as I reached for my phone to snap a picture, it scurried away. I stood there horrified, fumbling for words. Seth started laughing at me. His point was that I think mice are cute, and here I was so scared of a rat. I explained in the calmest tone I could (yea right, I was completely shrieking like a lunatic) that a mouse is cute but a RAT…a RAT IS NOT CUTE! They have scaly, nasty tails and big buck teeth and they carry the plague!!! Although the whole thing was nightmare-inducing, there was some humor to it. Here was Ted, while this whole thing was going on (the rat was literally right on the other side of the glass from him and he had no clue):


I had a pep talk with Ted and explained that it is HIS JOB to scare away rats from our house. I think he understood.

I was somewhat comforted when the next day I saw a family friend who lives a town over and they said that they saw a rat in their tomato garden earlier that morning. They also live in the middle of nowhere and have never seen one before. We determined that these must be wild-type rats, not city dwelling, garbage-devouring rats. Someone please tell me it isn’t the year of the rat or something. Are rats symbolic of anything bad to come? AH!

In spite of that horrific start to our week, we made great progress! This week’s theme was still definitely electric, but we got to do some more stuff in between. Our push to complete upstairs was spurred on even more by the events that transpired on the evening before my first day back to school with my students. Jordan has a bit of anxiety and is not a fan of sleeping in the living room by himself. The plastic drop-cloth sheet rustles all night and the windows by the patio give more of a reflection than a look outside in the dark.  Liam wasn’t home so Jordan begged to sleep in our “room”. I explained that because we were sleeping in a glorified closet, there wasn’t any room for him to sleep in there. Our feet and heads are up against walls and there is only a 13in. path next to the mattress for someone to walk on. He opted to sleep in the 13in. path. While this was all going on, Teddy also decided to retaliate against back-to-school and decided to pee on our mattress while I stood right next to him, something he has never done before. SO here we were, on the last night of summer, squished into a closet-room, sleeping on a sheetless mattress, with a scared (and farting) 13 year old next to us, and a dog in between us who had just peed on our parade.


This renovation needs to get done, like yesterday.

Our electrician friend, Dan, has been such a godsend. But he works full time so he can only come up on off days (he even put in a long day on Labor Day). So in the meantime, we started sheet-rocking whatever we could. This was my first week back at school with my students so I wasn’t of much help. Seth did pretty much every last bit of work this week without me, sadly. So that meant getting all of the supplies into the house himself. Clearly he needed to be creative. He got the system of bringing sheet rock upstairs down to a science, that he was more than happy to demonstrate when I got home from work…

The last pictures in that lovely series show him balancing the sheet rock on a single 2×4 and running up the stairs to catch the other side of it before it fell back down the stairs. I am glad I didn’t see him do this earlier in the day or I probably would have had a panic attack.


In addition to the work inside the house, this week we were also pleasantly surprised by a call from our septic crew that the Board of Health had approved our amended septic plans and we were okay to build a 6 foot wall instead of a 9 foot wall. How? I’m not sure. But we were good to go! The next morning the crew was out and by the afternoon they had the majority of the boulder wall built. It was amazing!


I call this “Teddy on Pride Rock”.

The next few days, the crew worked on digging the 10 foot hole in the front yard. When I say “in” the front yard, I guess I should just say, they dug up our entire front yard.

I will have to get a picture of one of the guys in the actual pit tomorrow so you can tell just exactly how massive this thing is. It is 10ft deep, approximately 35×30 feet wide. They have to put 7 feet of sand in the hole due to how thick the clay layer is (they have to get below the clay layer to get to permeable ground). The sand alone is costing $6500 or so. On top of the sand will be rocks and pipes and then topsoil. Pretty crazy.

While I was investigating the fresh dirt, which has turned up massive amounts of earthworms by the way, I noticed that Teddy was a fan of how the fresh dirt tasted. By the time I caught him, he was already sporting this dirt goatee. He got sick over it the next day, on our mattress…………


Teddy wasn’t the only form of wildlife not behaving. We also discovered these carpenter ants upstairs (I believe this is what they are), which Seth killed by freezing them with the keyboard-cleaner spray stuff (I think he enjoyed this a little too much).

In addition to that, Seth found some traps in the storage closet in the eaves of the one bedroom. No big deal except they were very large traps… perhaps for squirrels? Or…RATS?!?!? I dare not to think of it. Luckily we don’t need to even use this “closet” and it isn’t easily opened.

One awesome thing that Seth got done this week that I am SO excited about is the wall of our closet. We decided to do a “ship-lap” look for it, because clearly I watch too much HGTV. We will be painting this an off-white color and putting a sliding barn door on it. I can’t WAIT to see how it turns out 🙂 🙂



The most exciting part of the week is that we got the electric in Jordan’s room pretty much done, and Seth was able to sheet rock, spackle, sand and then paint the walls and ceiling. Tomorrow he will work on the flooring and by midweek, we should be able to get the boys set up in actual beds! We obviously still have a LOT of work to do, but this will be a huge step for us. The idea of having our kids sleep on couches for the beginning of the school year has been keeping me up at night (or am I not sleeping because there is a farting teenager next to me…).

The week ended with me getting sick (thanks for the school germs kiddos…) and another interesting encounter with mother nature in our house. As Seth and I were sitting on our couch binge watching Madam Secretary before bed (after he put in a 13+ hour day), I noticed a little mouse peeking it’s head out from behind a shelf a few feet away from us. I showed Seth and then we spent the next 20 minutes trying to capture the mouse in a bucket so we could release him outside. Our efforts were in vain. He is still scurrying around the house somewhere and I know what you are thinking, Teddy will get him. But no, the mouse was 2 feet next to him and there he stayed, sleepily peering at us from his comfy bed as we tore apart the living room. At one point he did get up and start sniffing around. He even stuck his nose right under the cabinet where the mouse had been hiding. But instead of pulling out a mouse, he pulled out a stuffed hedgehog toy of his, as seen here…


So after 4 weeks we feel like we have made a decent amount of progress. Still much more to go and a lot more stress to get through but hopefully within 2 more weeks, we might actually be able to sleep in a bed, an actual BED!

That’s all folks.

Costs this week:

Home Depot Trip #1 (wire stuff, more wire stuff, and some outlets): $61

Home Depot Trip #2 (sheetrock, paint, paint stuff): $236

Ship Lap wall: $183

Home Depot Trip #3 (ceiling fans, more wiring stuff, spackle, sander): $111

Home Depot Trip #4 (thermostat, baseboard heaters): $396

Total Costs: $987

MONTH 1 TOTAL: $4072


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