On April 15, 2008 we closed on a 1955 Mid-Century Modern home in Merriam, KS that was custom designed by the late Donald R. Hollis of Hollis + Miller Architects. We will be sharing our journey as we update the house to make it our own, while trying to stay as close to the original design as possible.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Much Needed Facelift!

After 57 years, our house was very much due for a facelift!


Close-up of 2008 version with the vinyl siding!

We hired StudioBuild to help us give our house a facelift.  One of the first things we wanted to address was replacing the vinyl siding that was installed by the previous owner.  LD and I both hated it!  The house still had the original cypress, but we did not know what kind of shape it was in.  If it was bad, we would have to put on new siding.  Jerad convinced us to take part of the vinyl off to see what kind of shape it was in.

Vinyl siding coming off!

They removed the vinyl from the front of the house, and much to our surprise it was in pretty good shape (with a few exceptions).  So we gave them the green light, and in a couple of days they had the rest of the vinyl removed.

Sayonara vinyl!!!

We then had to decide on a house color.  LD wanted to go with a really dark gray more like charcoal.  I was a little apprehensive, so we went through about 9 color samples before finally deciding on one called cracked pepper.

We also took the opportunity to replace all 6 bathroom windows, and a couple of awning windows in the master bedroom.  Once the windows came in, StudioBuild and Fosters, Inc. went to work.

Rod and Charles installing the windows.

New bathroom windows!

They also did a quick job of replacing some of our damaged siding and support around the garage door.

LD spray painted our original mailbox from black to silver, so that the mailman would be able to find it.  We might replace it in the future once we come across the perfect one.

After they caulked, repaired the garage support, installed the siding, it was time to paint!

New windows in the master bedroom and new paint!

Then we finally installed our new house numbers, which we had purchased four years ago, and were waiting for our house makeover.

We love how the house colors turned out, and StudioBuild got it done just in time before the rain, snow and cold weather!!

Woohoo!  Thanks StudioBuild - we can't wait to get the rest of the house done in the future. For now it's just the front siding.

Morgan, Phoenix and Katy wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Little McBaine-Penn Vet Working Dog Center

I got a call yesterday from a friend who works for the Penn Vet Working Dog Center (, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.  They will be naming one of their new puppies after my McBaine as part of their Puppy Program and their 9/11 Search and Rescue dog study! 

McBaine on the rubble-photo taken by Cathy Schiltz.

McBaine getting his medical check after our FEMA certification in 2000.

McBaine, "Jr.", is a field bred Springer Spaniel who will join their Program in January.  He was donated by Sharon Deputy from Breezy Hollow Spaniels in Fleetwood, PA.

And in the video below, the pups in his litter are going through their ophthalmology examine.  Can you tell which one is little Baine?

This is a great honor and wonderful birthday present.  Thanks PVWDC!  Good luck little Baine, I'll be keeping my eye on you!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Reveal of Garage Door and Front Door

We finished the work on the garage door!  We used Sikkens SRD translucent stain teak.  It turned out spectacular, and it was so easy to use!

Next we worked on the front door.  We thought about buying a Crestview kit and putting in some windows, but there were several concerns that we had:
1.  it's a north facing door, and would it be a location for cold air to seep in especially if we plan to remove the storm door,
2.  if we put the window inserts where we wanted (4 horizontal windows from top to bottom), then that would be perfect eye level for the dogs, which means it would encourage them to look out and scratch up the inside of the door when they see cats, squirrels, raccoons, deer, other dogs, etc.
3.  Our door is mahogany-I can't bear the thought of cutting up my door!

So all this boiled down to painting the door and keeping it solid.   (Still not sure if we want to remove the storm door.  It does serve it's purpose in the winter time!)

So we had several color ideas for the front door: parakeet green, pumpkin orange, or robin egg blue.  

Parakeet Green 

Pumpkin Orange 

Robin Egg Blue-this was the original door color when I removed the door knocker.

We decided to go for parakeet green!

We ended up spray painting the door knocker because bronze just wasn't cutting it.  

And here it is!  I think we'll wait for the house paint to go up before we make a final decision.  Delia already said it doesn't go with the inside of the house (ex/when the door is left open and swings inward).  I agree.  We walked around the neighborhood last night and early this morning with the dogs, and it is loud.  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Garage Door Restoration

Well 2012 has not exactly been a good year for house projects, but we could not let it go by without at least doing one.  We got this crazy hair brained idea to strip all the paint off our garage door and expose the beautiful cypress wood that we knew was laying underneath.

I first tried the orange stripper with some success, but decided it was going to take forever at that rate.

In an attempt to avoid having to use a stronger chemical stripper, I headed to Home Depot and purchased a heat gun.  It worked pretty well, but after several hours and very little progress, I decided this was a two women job!

I got started on this while LD was deployed to Hurricane Sandy, and the first weekend she was back I went and purchased a second heat gun. I was right, work goes much faster with two women!

We spent multiple hours over the last couple of weeks working with heat guns, a citrus stripper, a chemical stripper, an orbital sander, and a Multimax with a sanding attachment to remove two layers of paint, one layer of  primer (primer from hell), and a gray semi-transparent stain off the door.

This morning we finally cleaned all the wood with a wood prep cleaning solution.

We are quite pleased with how our Cypress garage door cleaned up.  It was a ton of elbow grease, but we decided it was certainly worth the effort.  It will be a few days before we can stain it (we need to allow some dry time), which means we need to spend some time deciding on a stain.

Come back to see how it all turns out.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

From Virginia Beach, VA to NY!

October 27th weekend I was evaluating a FEMA canine test in Virginia Beach, VA, and I was supposed to fly out on Monday, 10/29.  All the flights were getting cancelled quickly due to Hurricane Sandy!  Once the testing was done, I got a flight out on Sunday to beat it.  I never thought we would get deployed!  Sure enough within 24 hours of getting home, we (Missouri Task Force 1) got the activation to head to NY and NJ!

Phoenix and gear

I decided to take Phoenix with me on her first deployment.  She's gotta do it at some point!  As I was getting ready, Phoenix knew she was going and was getting very excited!

Travel by bus

Between our days and searches, we stayed at Hicksville High School, McGuire AFB, and SUNY Maritime College.  Many thanks to them for opening their doors to us!

Morning meeting at McGuire AFB

Phoenix and Rock having a morning meeting at SUNY Maritime College

We conducted wide area searches throughout Long Island, Lawrence, and Rockaway.  We assisted 3,540 people, checked on 4,195 residences, and covered 34 miles in 3 days time!

Considering the conditions they were in, the communities and people were strong, resilient and resourceful.  People are truly remarkable and able to come together when its tough.

Shalom - Squad 3

My thoughts and prayers are with you all this Thanksgiving.

Squad 3-Dan, Chad, Phoenix, Casey, John, Jeff

Thursday, September 27, 2012

IKEA in Merriam !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I came out of the shower this morning to hear LD calling out to me with excitement.  She had just received a text message from our friend Mandy.  She could not stop screaming!  Mandy had texted her that IKEA was finally coming to Kansas City!  I went from happiness to disbelief, thinking that Mandy was just pulling our leg.  I asked where it was going to be built, and she texted Mandy to ask.  I could not believe my ears when she told me it was going to be built in Merriam right off Johnson Drive and I-35.  As in 3 miles from our home!

Do you think it is possible that IKEA executives might have actually read our blog?  Back in March 2009, I wrote about two potential great locations in Merriam for an IKEA.  Check this blog entry out:
My Selfish Idea = Bring IKEA to Merriam!!  They actually selected one of my two suggested locations, a Toyota dealership beat them to the other one.  I think IKEA owes us a finders fee, or an invitation to the grand opening. 

The weirdest thing is that we had actually scheduled a trip to IKEA this weekend (Minnesota), but ended up postponing it for later in October.   Now if we could only bring a CB2 and a Room and Board Outlet to Kansas City, we wouldn't have to go on that 8 hour trek! I meant to edit this post to add REI to my wishes, but then today LD told me that REI was coming!   I don't know how I missed that announcement.  

Here is an artist's rendition of the new IKEA, scheduled to open Fall 2014:

We can't wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  And if somebody is looking for a house only 2 miles from IKEA, check out our previous post below.

Friday, August 10, 2012

House For Sale

No we are not selling Robinhood's Hideaway!  We are actually selling the house we first moved into when we came to Kansas City.   We had it leased for the last three years, but when our tenants moved out we decided to put it on the market.

If you or anybody you know is looking for a cute two bedroom raised ranch in Merriam, please check out our listing.

Here is just a partial list of the improvements we have made since we purchased the house:
  • Privacy fence
  • Trex deck (low maintenance)
  • New interior paint
  • Replaced all windows to Energy Star windows
  • Installed new Energy Star front door
  • Installed 8' Andersen sliding door that opens up to the deck
  • New tiled floor in bathroom
  • New carpet
  • New garage door
  • New kitchen backsplash
  • New liner in fireplace
  • Upgraded electrical wiring
The kitchen is tiny, but there is opportunity for expansion. It is in a great central location, get to The Plaza, Downtown, The Legends, I-35 or I-635 in just a matter of minutes.

We were told it was the ranch house for Zarda Dairy.  Why buy a cookie cutter house when you can buy one with lots of character and history?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Phoenix Passes her FEMA Canine Certification Test!!

On June 7th, Phoenix and I flew out to Massachusetts to take the FEMA Canine Certification Evaluation Urban Search and Rescue test in Littleton, MA (outside of Boston).  It was her first flight ever and she behaved like a pro!

Friday we drove up to Maranatha Kennels in Maine to see how the Task Force dogs were coming along in their training, ate great seafood at DiMillo's Restaurant, and spent a little time in the Atlantic Ocean!

On the pier in Portland, ME

Then we took our test on Saturday!  Phoenix and I were scheduled to start at 1:40pm!  It is so hard to wait!  Ohhhh the agony!!!

For FEMA certification, the canine team has to find, alert, and flag victim locations on 2 piles.  Each pile has a different type of access: Full Access and Limited Access.  And the canine team has to find anywhere from 4-6 victims total on both piles.  We are not told how many victims were placed in a pile nor their locations.  False alerts are not allowed, and different types of distractions are placed in the piles such as food, clothing, toys, and dead animals.

Full Access Pile-scale pile size to humans and trucks in pic

Our first pile was the Full Access pile.  Full access means I can walk all around the pile with her freely. It was also the largest pile.  Phoenix found and alerted on 3 victims in that pile.

Limited Access Pile in foreground

The second pile is the Limited Access.  This means that I cannot go on the pile until Phoenix alerts.  I'm at the base of the pile in a location where I cannot see a thing-this means more waiting until Phoenix barks (that's the FEMA alert).  Once Phoenix alerts, I'm allowed on the pile to the location where she alerts.  After that, I cannot move anywhere on the pile (unless I choose to go back to Start) until Phoenix alerts again.  Phoenix found and alerted on 3 victims on that pile!

Phoenix is still barking while I explain to the Evaluator where she alerted.

Then there's more waiting until all the teams completed their test.  We were finally told our results at 6:40pm!!!  Turns out they placed 6 victims total, and we got them all correct!   Wooohooo!!!

Phoenix and I are now a FEMA Certified Canine Team!  FYI- Katy and I are still a FEMA Certified Canine Team too.  Yes, my two girls-I'm so proud of them!