autism,  creativity,  middle school

Retrofitting

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Thermostat deconstructed

We live in a house that was built in the late 1960s. I love it. I love the neighbourhood we live in. I love that our house isn’t a cookie cutter bi-level or rambler like most of the new-builds in Fargo. I love that (even though it was built in the late 60s) the “bones” and materials of the house are solid. I love the mature trees and the large yards and how close we are to the Red River (but high enough on the floodplain to still stay dry in the spring). There’s lots to love about our little house.

It’s when we’re trying to make it “our own” or make renovations or just replace worn out or broken things (like dishwashers, washing machines, etc) that little house becomes a little less endearing. I try to remind myself about the mature trees and the yard and the architecture and all of the great things when things don’t work the way they should.

Like this week when the heat wasn’t working right.

You don’t figure these things out until it’s minus frickin freezing, and that’s of course when we found out that something was up with the heat. At first we chalked up the chilly lower half of our split level to our newly removed jungle bushes that ran the span of the side of the house (and probably provided some extra insulation) but then I realized that the electric baseboards weren’t turning on at all. I had a theory that it might have something to do with the thermostat. We had the upstairs thermostat replaced this summer (because it was original to the house and just broke after 40-50 some years) and I thought that maybe the lower level thermostat had bit the dust too. They only problem was figuring out how a thermostat like this uses the same wires to hook up to something like this.

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Here’s the crazy thing. Thermostats nowadays have batteries–who knew!? And the new ones hang different than the old ones. The mid-mod thermostat hangs vertically, the new programmable thermostat hangs horizontally.

FYI–when you have an older house, no matter what YouTube video you watch, your house and your situation never match the person who’s modeling the repair.

Steve eventually got the new thermostat attached and still, no electric baseboard heat. We tried resetting it, we switched wires, we switched wires back again, we called Ace Hardware and Steve spent a good 20 min on the phone making sure we installed the thermostat properly (because since we have to retrofit everything, there’s always a chance we’ve missed something important as we make something with new parts fit something with old parts). After all those hours of fussing, with the new thermostat we came to the conclusion it wasn’t a thermostat problem after all.

We called Laney’s, a local heating repair place, and they verified that Steve did install the thermostat correctly and that we probably needed a new pump. Except that they didn’t have any in stock, and we’d have to wait until they got one in. Good thing they work on houses like ours all the time and they know how to install new things into old things. And good thing our house is still “warm enough” that our pipes won’t freeze until we get that new part.

This week we also had a kind of “retrofitting” moment with J. Friday the middle school had group activity pictures for the year book. Scherling Photography came to take the pictures and apparently J did just fine for the choir group picture. He was all set to take his middle school XC team picture, but unfortunately, pictures were running late and the XC picture was going to be taken during the beginning of J’s lunch. J (with the help of his para) tried his best to stay in the line, but the anxiety of missing lunch got to be too much and J decided he couldn’t make it any longer and left the group just as they were about to get their picture taken. J’s para (bless her heart) was pretty sad over this (because she knows how important XC is to J) and came up with the BRILLIANT idea of J coming back later in the day and asked Scherling if they would be willing to Photoshop J into the group picture. They agreed!

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Merry Christmas from 2011!

I feel like our house and our re-modeling efforts and our efforts to work with J (and help him work and function in the world we live in) run pretty parallel sometimes. J’s got working parts, but they’re not the “right” working parts to be compatible with everyone else. I feel like Steve and I read up and research and see great ideas “in theory” and then when try to apply that to our parenting it’s often a time-consuming struggle to make the “theory” work with what our reality is. J tries his best to “fit in” with everyone else’s ideas and expectations, but sometimes that’s just not compatible when you’re dealing with things like severe anxiety. It’s so nice when people pitch in to think outside the box and to make it work, often in a very nontraditional way. And it’s nice when professional heating technicians can come by and tell you what the real problem is. Now let’s just get that pump in!

 

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