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Thursday, August 25, 2005

Make Your Reservations Now

We are not going away for a family vacation this year. My eldest son is sorely disappointed, feeling that it is his birthright to be taken somewhere where he will relax, eat in restaurants, and have overpriced souvenirs bought for him. How this differs from his everyday life I am not certain.

But to make him feel better and assuage my own guilt and perhaps make some money, I am opening my own vacation destination : The Big Yellow House. Why go somewhere when we got it all here. The following is the description I am going to print out.


Tired of the same old vacations, relaxing on the beach, hiking in the mountains, cruising the Caribbean. Been to Europe so many times it has lost it's appeal? I have a unique opportunity for you.

**Ever wonder what it would be like to restore an old home?

**What sort of work is involved in removing old plaster and lathe walls and hanging new sheetrock?

**How to install ceramic tile in a room that is completely out of square and has not one 90 degree angle.

**Want to know how to reglaze old wooden windows?

**Do you wonder if you could rewire a house and NOT burn it down or electrocute yourself in the process?

**Ever wonder how much lead paint dust you can safely inhale or how hard you need to work outdoors in the sweltering heat before you collapse from heat exhaustion?

**Ever wonder if you have the fortitude to restore an old house?

**Or do you just want to use some cool power tools and invent new swear words?

Well, wonder no more. This is the vacation for you.

At The Big Yellow House you will get to participate in the process. No boring lounging around for you!

For seven fun filled days and nights you will get get to work on an *actual old home* Yes, not an imitation!

You will get to be an important part of rescuing an *actual old home* from a century of bad taste and disrepair. Not only that you will get to sleep overnight in this historic work in progress.

While you lay in bed at night you will get to experience the UNIQUE JOY that is original wooden windows. You can have the untold pleasure of trying to find something just the right size to prop the window up with, just like our forefathers did for so many years before this. Or if it is too cold, you can lay in your bed and listen to the windows rattle in their jams as the wind whistles though the cracks. You can use this time to ponder various types of insulation and weigh historic accuracy versus new thermal-vinyl-clad-never-need-painting-or-reglazing-again-windows.

You can have the fun of dropping something on the wood floor and watch it ROLL ACROSS THE ROOM all on it's own due to the house having settled about six inches on one side. It never gets old. Then you can mosey on down to the basement and turn the house jack, and the other one, and the other one. How many times can you turn it before you see a discernible difference in the elevation of the house? That is the question that has plagued old home owners since the beginning of time. Now you too can weigh in with an opinion!

We will also let you start a fire in one of the three fireplaces using dollar bills in an attempt to simulate the hidden costs on things no one will ever see involved in restoring an old home. Once the fire is roaring it will be time to throw in your larger bills, $20, $50, and even $100 would not be out of place as we endeavor to visually portray home heating costs. (note: please bring your own suitcase filled with dollar bills as these will NOT be provided, or several suitcases if you are striving for authenticity)

Where else could your vacation time go towards something so meaningful as bringing back a piece of history.

And remember these are just the highlights, there is much MUCH more.

There is also a companion vacation available for those who are contemplating parenthood. Hang out with seven wonderful young children who will demand your undivided attention.

Highlights of this vacation package include:

**Being woken up several times during the night.

**Walking through a pitch dark room, stepping on mislaid legos and trying not to scream or fall to the ground in pain, while holding a sleeping baby.

**Listening to and PARTAKING IN conversations about the Bionicles and their powers. Don't worry if it feels like your brain explodes and is oozing out of your ears after a few hours, it is normal and does NOT impact your ability to say, "Wow!", "Cool!", "That's interesting!" if you have practiced long enough.

**Grocery shopping with seven kids and two shopping carts. Extra points given for navigating the check out with no tantrums. Extra extra points given if you managed to remember everything and spend under $300.

**When you arrive home from the grocery store you will be instructed to throw away 60% of the food you just bought. This is an attempt to demonstrate the amount of food that will go waste once you have children.

**Reading any number of the Berenstain Bear books until your eyes bleed and/or you have the books memorized.

**Preparing a dinner when you have seemingly nothing to cook despite the trip to the grocery store. Extra points given if no one cries when called to the table and sees their plate of food.

**Learning if french fries with ketchup counts as two vegetables.

In this vacation package you will be encouraged to bring a suitcase full of dollar bills to use in lieu of toilet paper. This is to simulate the cost of diapers which will be cladding your child's ass for years.

By the end of your one week stay, you will either be ready to go forth and procreate or you will be signing up for sterilization. Either way it is a winning situation for you.

Sign up now, space is limited.


People are going to be falling all over each other to vacation here, don't you think?


Blogger Melanie said...

Chris, you have such a way with words, and I just love reading your blog. Today's post is one of your best! Growing up, I lived in 2 different houses, both over 100 years old. Your post brings back memories! We used to have boards cut with different notches in them so that it looked like a wierd sort of mini staircase that we used to prop our windows open at various heights. My parents' current house also has jacks in the basement due to the house settling at varying depths. Even with all these things, I still think old houses have a special kind of charm, and I'm guessing so do you (or maybe your DH?) since you live in one.

11:03 AM  
Anonymous TB said...

Sign me up!!!!! :)

What a great entry, you really can write. Honestly, I'm positive that there are people out there that would love to learn how to do many of the home improvements you have described, maybe you could hold classes at the Big Yellow House (you could advertise at that Big Orange Store).

Your poor son! His youth will be forever altered from missing out on a "real" vacation. Could be worse: when I was a kid, we went to North Dakota... EVERY SINGLE SUMMER. In a car. Together. With NO radio. Or A/C (my dad said it gave him colds).

11:17 AM  
Blogger TBG said...

Sounds like a blast but I think I am going to pass on vacationing at the Big Yellow House this year.

Sorry your son is having such a rough time with not being able to vacation and all. I hope it doesnt scar him for life. Kids they are too much personally isnt everyday a vacation for them.

11:19 AM  
Blogger halloweenlover said...

Ummm, if you have overflow for the house vacation feel free to send some guests my way. I am looking for people who would like to experience the joy that is tiling a basement.

Chris, you crack me up. If you'd like, send your son to me and I'll give him a "vacation". Do you think he will believe that weeding in my yard is a vacation?

11:25 AM  
Blogger nextcommercial said...

OMG, My husband would SO be making reservations for this. If beer is involved, this would be his ideal vacation.

I hope there is a beach nearby, and a hotel....with shopping. I will pick him up on Saturday.

12:32 PM  
Blogger Sleeping Mommy said...

I think I will pass on the vacation you just offered. Cough Cough.

However, I have a question. Have you ever posted a photograph of your home, and no I don't mean the small section of the outside of your home that we saw when you showed us you painting it.

I'd actually be very interested to know more about it as I have a background in Historic preservation. I'd love to see a photograph of the front elevation and hear a description of the layout. How many rooms etc. As much as you were able to convey the nightmare of restoring an old home I've always wanted one. Sigh...

12:35 PM  
Anonymous said...

Yup, we could offer the same thing and call it the big gray drafty house! Ours was build in 1790..I feel your pain sister...I can't imagine what it is going to cost to heat this year! BTW, I just replaced 3 of our windows and I finally broke down and put in vinyl. I thought I would hate it...WRONG.... I LOVE them. They go up and down so easily, you don't even need to 'unstick' them with your fist first! Who knew. Oh, and apparently mildew doesn't grow on vinyl so, I'm not spraying bleach on them like I am my other windows, all the time! I say go for the vinyl!

12:42 PM  
Blogger Annika said...

Is something wrong with me that this sounds like an ideal vacation?

12:55 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Oh and how could I have forgotten the fun of trying to hold the wooden window up with your forehead while you use both your hands to open the storm window, the whole while praying the window doesn't slip and come down on your arms.


I think weeding sounds like a perfect vacation for him... bwahahaha.

I'll shoot you an email later

we have some *authentic wooden sticks* that came with the house for just that purpose

Are you related to my husband, because his Dad still won't use the a/c in the car. And I hope you don't really have tb ;-)

c'mon, be brave, you know you to

next commercial,
Drop your husband off. You and I could find a beach somewhere that serves fruity drinks with little umbrellas and has shopping.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Chris said...


No nothing is wrong with you AT ALL. When should I expect you ;-)

1:04 PM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

We already have the rotting old wood windows? I hate going on vacation just to find things that we have here at home. :)

1:16 PM  
Blogger Sorka said...

Hey that sorta sounds like my summer vacation .. minus 3 kids and no home improvement projects allthough they scream to be done!

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is HGTV not banging down your door after that post? Certainly they could make a reality show out of it!

I'm still trying to justify to my son NOT having a big giant birthday party for him next weekend. Apparently, spending $130 on two tickets to The Lion King is not enough for five year olds these days.

5:30 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

That was very funny. I could come over for the kid part and then maybe I wouldn't complain about having to deal with my two . . . then again, I'm so good at complaining, I'm not sure it'll make a difference!

5:36 PM  
Blogger impromptu-mom said...

Wonderful Post!

You know, if you were really up to having houseguests all summer long, you could probably pull off your idea as the perfect lerning vacation! The Amish families around here do it all of the time. People pay them to stay there and work on the farms. They even have programs where you can send your children to "Amish Camp". You get to experience authentic Amish living with no electricity, back-breaking labor, and no indoor plumbing. All for the bargin price of a few hundred dollars!

7:53 PM  
Blogger Shannon said...

I have the sister house to your house! I guess it's the little sister since it's only 95 years old.

I second the vinyl wndows.... ip down, up down, up down ! I love it.

The kids new game is dropping balls and seeing if they can catch them before they roll under the furniture on the east side of the house.

so if you guys want to vacation on the other side of the US - you can have a virtually same expierience ( Diaper wiping, grocery shopping et al) in Oregon.

11:10 PM  
Blogger martha marmot said...

ROFL! But I think I'll pass...

8:43 AM  
Blogger Audrey said...

I am sadistically enjoying the fact that I am not the only one offering this vacation package. We have an 105yr old 3 story colonial with all the same lovely things that need to be repaired, replaced, re........whatever. I would suggest window weights. You know 15 pound fish louers (SP) to hold the windows up. We replaced all of ours and they work great. Theres nothing like dangling from the 3rd floor window while trying to reglaze the 100 year old glass and hoping that it doesnt brake as you see the storm rolling through and knowing its Sunday and home depot is now closed. Then hearing (CRASH) and a few swear words. I think you could even call it an action packed vacation. Scalling a 35 foot wall to paint the trim work, thats get your heart racing excitement!

8:56 AM  
Anonymous Karnak said...

Old houses seem to be great to live in as long as I don't. I can just imagine the work Chris, our house at 35 years old is having enouh problems with its infrastructure and my husband is not that handy

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Chi said...

SO do you think Extreme Makeover Home Edition would accept a story of "if it weren't for the ticks having caused lyme disease my house would never have gotten this far gone" Hell its worth a try!!! Not only do you get a vacation but they fix your house... two for the price of one!

11:01 AM  
Blogger Steph said...

Chris, I just love your blog and your writing style! You crack me up. I'd also love to see pictures of your home. My e-mail is

We could offer the same package, minus 4 kids! lol I can relate to the old house though. We actually started replacing a few windows at a time. We have 5 new vinyl window, which I love, but I want them taken out and the originals put back in. They just don't look right with the house. I feel like the house has lost part of it's soul or something.

12:35 PM  
Blogger buffi said...

Sounds like you have the makings of a couple of reality shows on your hands there, Chris!!

1:21 AM  
Blogger Laurel said...

If they can't afford the cost of the "Big Yellow House" vacation package, I'd be happy to offer the scaled down version of the "Little Run Down Farmhouse" here in PA. After living here for 14 years it's STILL packed with "potential"--a word we heard over and over again when people first saw it.

In addition to most of what you offer, we also offer an old sheep barn with poison ivy growing on one side and a home grown hole inside that they kids use as an excavation site (my youngest is afraid we might run into the groundhog's burrow one of these days)....

The one extra we can offer that you haven't is a lesson in "101 Ways to Use Duct Tape" in decorating...whether it be to hold the tile in place behind the sink, to cover the holes in the screens that the cats have shredded, or to hold up the cardboard pieces covering the holes in the walls...the list grows weekly!

Can't afford the BIG house?? Come on down to PA!! Just bring your duct tape!

9:49 PM  
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