The problem with re-pointing old brick is that some masons slap on Portland Cement, which is a very hard and non porous substance. Brick on the other hand is very porous and it needs to remain that way so that water doesn't get trapped between the layers of brick. Our house has three layers of brick on the periphery walls. When the brick expands the the Portland Cement does not expand which causes the brick to crack. Basically the new mortar must be as soft as or a little softer than the old mortar. There are labs where you can send the old mortar and they will analyze it and give you a breakdown of the original mortar ratio. However, it is also possible to estimate the mortar composition from the age of the house.
We have also had contractors over to get estimates on repairing the stucco on the back room (my office) as well. I think that we will go with a dark grey almost black stucco. Also, I have been dreaming about getting all the trim in the house, and the eighteen windows painted a deep black. Since dreams have no limits I have also been dreaming of getting a deck installed on top of the back room which will be accessible from Kiran's room. I think that it will be nice to have a sand box and have some toys for Kiran to play on that deck.
I have been having some problems with our computer so I don't have any pictures of the other million things that I have been working on. Instead I will leave you with this beautiful black house (and I will keep dreaming of my black/grey stucco):
Via Door Sixteen