Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Moving On Up...

Still kicking over here.

It has been a crazy time with the house, with the family, with life...

 I hope to get on here and truly write.

But it won't be tonight. I am fighting to stay awake. But I do want to update. And an easy update is a photo update. So, here is our progress as we move on up with our renovation.

January 15

We have "floor"!
 January 18...

We have walls!  Well, wall frames anyway.

Here is a bedroom.
 And another one...

And a bathroom
A corner of the "common area"

And a cute little dog exploring the scraps. She loves exploring up there.

We also came home to find our hallway entrance had changed which altered the door to what is now the girls' room and soon will be child 4's room.  Apparently this kind of stuff isn't as easy as just knocking a hole in the ceiling and building upstairs. All of that affects the downstairs too. 

January 21...

A hole cut in the roof.  And the framing of a future "dormer" window.

 We also came home that day to find a large hole in our hallway. Apparently the plumber had been working on tying the plumbing from downstairs to the plumbing for upstairs. A little sledgehammering was involved.
 Here is the window from the inside.  Unfortunately for us, about this time, the beautiful January weather we have had turned ugly and cold.  Nothing like a hole in the roof to add to the already "no heat" cold we were dealing with.  That plastic is nice but it doesn't keep out all of the cold.
 Oh, and a bathtub. Not in place yet but it is there and ready.
January 22.

The hallway hole (this is DOWNSTAIRS) is now fixed. Unfortunately my chore for the evening was to keep little feet out of the wet cement.

 And I managed for the most part. Except somehow (and I still don't know how) this little furry pup slipped past me and got one pawprint in.  I would love to have seen how she did it. I had it barricaded!
 Upstairs, the bath/shower was now in place.
 And the window area is more framed out. I think this was the night that we had FIERCE winds.  We woke up the next morning (still no heat) to find that the house was freezing. It was 39 degrees in the kitchen. I could see my breath as I made breakfast. We ended up eating curled up by the heater in our bedroom which was hovering around 50.
 This is in the common area. It started off to be a closet but we have since decided it will make a great seating area for the girls and their friends. So we are going to build it all the way down.

January 23.

And we have windows!  Woohoo!  Windows make a HUGE difference in house temperature, even without heat.  We just love the transformation on the back of our house.  (From the front, you would never know anything was going on except for the huge dumpster and port-a-potty in my driveway.
 Here is a window from the inside. We were very pleased with how it turned out. Really opens up the room.

We came home last Friday to find roofers. Our new windows are now "roofed".
 And the framing is mostly done. Here is a view of the common area. It isn't huge but it is more than we have right now. On the left side you can see the platform we plan on extending for a seating area.  The dark part in the back is the actual part of the attic we actually use. That is a door to get to it.  I am excited about that.
 Here is a view of Child 2's room.  That is her closet to the left.
 A view of the bathroom. It is actually larger than the one they have to all share downstairs.
 Here is one silly boy playing with ducts.
 Here is Child 3's room. Her closet is over to the side but you can't see it. It isn't quite as big as the other room's closet but we are going to add a little to it to help make that up.
 A look up to the common area from the landing...
 A look up to the landing from our front entrance.
 Here is the remainder of child 4's room. It will now be a small office.
 And here is the view from our living room.  To the left is the landing for the stairs. Under that is our storage closet.  Even the little part under the bottom steps will be storage. Woohoo!  To the right we will have some built in cabinets to hold our t.v.
That about catches me up on the progress thus far.  Sadly, since the framing is done, the fun stuff is also done. We won't see as many of the major changes now except for drywall.


We have heat (as of tonight!).  Not very efficient yet because they aren't all the way done with it. But heat nonetheless.

And the work continues...

More soon,

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Lessons Learned

Here is a house update along with a few things I have learned this past week.

January 12, 2014:  Child 2 looking at her new digs...
January 13, 2014:  We came home to find a "landing" for our stairs (which includes storage underneath).
Every night we pop upstairs to check out the progress.  This night it wasn't so obvious upstairs (very obvious downstairs), except for...
this. This is looking down at the "floor" upstairs. They are beginning to run wires!  Because of that, we had a night of NO lights (and very little power). But this is still another step to the finish line!
One other change we found was our coat closet was demolished. Because of the position of the stairwell, we will have to shorten our coat closet. And that is okay.  Other than the entire contents of my closet were on my bed.  We are running out of places to distribute displaced items...
January 14, 2014  We came home to find STAIRS!  No more skinny ladder in the garage to climb. We have stairs!  And we have light now!  Well, most rooms. Still without power in much of the house. But it is wonderful to have lights again...
Which leads me to this post.

I have learned a BUNCH of things through this whole week of renovation experience (only three or so more months to go... :).

So I thought I would share a few with you.

  • Expect the worst.  I would say "Hope for the best" but really, I will just stop with "expect the worst". I am not saying this has been horrible. I just realize I was terribly naive. I really thought this would involve Child 4's room and then the attic. I didn't ever dream that the living room would be confined to half of what it is normally. Or that we would be without power for a while (heat I expected). Or that I would find dust and insulation in every room of the house...
  • Keep life normal.  As normal as possible.  I come in daily and sweep the floor (as much as is possible). I try to straighten up the main rooms though it isn't easy since so many things are out of place. I am cooking, assigning chores, doing laundry, etc, as usual.  Yes, Child 4 is sleeping on a mattress in his brother's room.  He is reduced to one dresser. His toys are scattered here and there. But as much as I can, I am trying to keep it "normal" for him.  And for everyone else.
  • Expect dust. LOTS of dust.  Layers of dust.  I wasn't really prepared for that. Yes, I would have covered the furniture had I known. But I didn't.  One sweet child said, "You really need to dust, Mom."  I just laughed.  
  • Make the most of it.  We had no lights in our house yesterday. None. We had a few lamps/extension cords but we also have to use those for heaters since we have no heat.  So we ate dinner by candlelight.  
  • Laugh often.  It will keep you from crying.
  • Adjust your expectations.  Not every plan or want is going to happen. And usually there is a good reason why (like support walls...apparently they keep the house from falling in so any hope of removing them is dashed).
  • Let it go.  Ironically, this is a favorite song from the movie Frozen.  I am learning to let it go.  "It" meaning all sorts of things.  I am learning to let go the fact that my house looks like it was hit by a tornado. I am learning to let go of the fact that workers will be on your doorstep at 7 a.m.  Learn to let go when you come home and find out that your power is off.
  • Talk. Talk to your husband. Talk to your builder.  Explain why you need your power in the kitchen (that was an easy fix) or why you want your arch doorway to stay.  You may not get everything you want but some wishes might be granted.  Open lines of communication are essential to keep from having a breakdown. :)
  •  Compliment. Be thankful.  One worker brings me my newspaper in the mornings.  I came home one day to find the electrician working like crazy to restore some of our power.  Thank them.  And let the builder know.
  • Throw aside pride. Yes, I have a large trash dumpster in my driveway.  And a port-a-potty.  They are needed for the job. It isn't how I want the front of my house to look but it is temporary and needed.
  • Know that unless someone has been through this, they will NEVER fathom what your life is like.  I count it as a win if we get to school on time each day somewhat with matching clothes on.  One morning we were in a child's room with a candle trying to find an outfit to wear. Life is different. But unless someone has been there, they will have NO idea.  
  • Keep the end in mind.  We are living in chaos right now but it is for a reason.  And that is what helps me get through every day!
More to come,

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Living in Chaos...

If you are my FB friend, you are well aware of what we are doing and where we are in the process. And I think I have mentioned it on here a time or two.

But just in case you have missed the juicy details, let me catch you up to speed.

For quite a while, we have wanted/needed a little more room in our house.   Our girls have shared a room for 7 years now.  I have heard so many stories of how doing so brings families together. That sisters become the best of friends.

And I love those stories.

Unfortunately, that is not OUR story. 

Our girls are very different people. 

They have very different personalities.

And very different needs.

And very limited space.

I actually get claustrophobic walking into their room.  Too much stuff in one little place. (And it isn't because we don't declutter regularly).

Anyway, about two years ago, we started investigating how feasible it would be to add build up. We paid an architect to draw up some plans. We even talked to some builders.

And then Mark had an unexpected job change.

And the plans came to a halt.

The girls have developed a sort of friendship. But the needs are still there.

And that is what they are.


Not wants.

If they were just wants, I would use this money to take myself to Hawaii.

So we resurrected this idea this past fall.

We actually looked at other houses as possibilities.

But in the end, we liked OUR house.

One day I was up in the attic. I looked around and realized we really had more room up there than I thought.

So we started the ball rolling...

And several signatures later, here we are.


Here are a few pics of our progress thus far


Notice the "before" pictures only show the part of the attic that wasn't holding our piles of stuff. Most of that is now in our garage and storage as we go through it...

Last week we had some people come and clean up the insulation (it will be reused later)...
By the way, if you wonder how much of a difference that pink fluffy stuff makes, I can tell you.  The rooms under the "bare" area are significantly colder than the ones that still have it above...

This past week, we had a little demolition going on. This was Child 4's room. He is now temporarily relocated to Child 1's room (with protests of course) while many of his belongings are all over the toyroom/sunroom...
Yesterday I came home to this.  Temporary walls. Dust everywhere.  No heat and only partial power...
It has been an adventure to say the least!

I have a few more things to share but they will have to wait...


Monday, January 6, 2014

Just Say the Word!

The last few years I have had a "word" of the year.  Kind of. It was a word that just summed up my hopes and dreams for the year. And often it would change mid-year depending on the circumstances.

Earlier this past week, a friend of mine asked on Facebook what our "word" of the year was.

My wheels started turning.

The next day I went to lunch with a couple of friends. One of them mentioned having a word for the year.  She expounded on the idea by telling us about her sister's children (grown) choosing a character word to focus on. They would spend the year encouraging each other, praying for each other, sharing, etc.

And suddenly my spinning wheels went into overdrive.

I wanted not only a word for me but also for the kids.

I came home and shared my thoughts with Mark. Then we spent time discussing each child and selecting a character word for them.

The next couple of days, I spend some time writing (or in my case, typing) a letter to each child.  In the letter, I mentioned several highlights from the year past for that particular child. Some of the "highlights" were big things like making sports teams or school successes.  Others were a little more minor but still important like lost teeth.  I then went on to tell each child what we love about him/her (character and personality wise).  Then I concluded with a word we would focus on with them for the year. I brought in a Bible verse and then explained how working on these character traits would help them grow as people.

I won't say which word goes to which child but I will tell you what the words are...





I left the letters by their breakfast spots to find in the morning. They each quietly read their letters without much fanfare.

Since then, we have had many opportunities to share and talk with each child. Sometimes in a chastising way, "Are you being patient right now?", sometimes in a teaching way like "Let's stop and look at this from a new perspective", and sometimes in a praising way like "You did such a great job focusing on that moment rather than rushing through it!"

I hope to spend the year praying for those traits for our kids, encouraging them through notes and e-mails and texts and words, and finding opportunities for the kids to practice their words.

Hubby chose a word for himself...courage.

And me? My word for 2014 is intentional.

I want to be more intentional in my life, doing things for a purpose.

That doesn't mean totally ignoring myself or not taking time to relax. 

That does mean things like...
  • putting my phone up and out of sight more
  • spending less time on the computer
  • prioritizing my time
  • seeking opportunities to spend one on one time with my kids
  • seeking similar opportunities to spend one on one time with my husband
  • making quiet times with God a priority
  • doing a better job staying in contact with my grandmothers
  • decluttering my house
  • focusing on our finances and spending wisely
  • being a mom, a teacher, a wife, a daughter
  • praying more
  • seeking ways to help others (with God's guidance)
  • listening more, talking less
  • blogging more
  • planning ahead
  • creating memories
  • reading more (for pleasure and for school)
I know some days I will fail.

Most days I will.

But I hope to keep these words ever present in our thoughts, our words, our prayers. And maybe, just maybe, we will emerge in 2015 (if God allows) a little wiser, a little better, a little changed.

What is your word for 2014?

Happy New Year!


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Thankful in 2014

I have so many pictures and posts I could share.

But it is Thursday.

And it is a new year.

I need to start this year out right.

With thankfulness.

And when I say that, know they aren't easy words to write. I do have a lot to be thankful for but my house is in chaos right now. And this "break" has been hardly not a break at all...rather a lot of work and activity. That stresses me out. Sometimes stress blinds us to the things we have to be thankful for. 

Thus this post.

I need a reminder.

Or two.  Or three.

So what am I thankful for? (This encompasses the last couple of weeks)
  • A good visit with Mark's family in Mississippi. Our children were pretty well behaved. I can't say that they have all stayed that way but I am thankful at least for a bit they were. :)
  • A vehicle for Mark.  In December, he was hit by another vehicle while sitting at a stoplight.  The insurance company decided to total his vehicle which was highly disappointing. It was paid for.  But in the end, we found a very good deal (thanks to Mark's mom) and now have a "new" used vehicle for Mark to use.
  • The house renovation has started (thus the chaos).  I am not that excited about the process BUT I am trying to keep the end in mind. Trying.
  • A visit with my family this past week.  We finished celebrating Christmas (and New Year's, all in one) yesterday.
  • A full pantry. I am working on an "inventory" so we can save on some groceries this month. We have a lot of food to eat. And I don't need to buy pasta for a few months at least.
  • Our G-Fit trainer who has been coming to the school even over break to lead our workouts. Otherwise the first workout after two weeks would have been REALLY rough.
  • Another holiday down with clean eating for the chemical sensitive kiddo.  It does require extra cooking on my part but it is worth it.
  • Heat. Our heat hasn't been shut off yet. We had snow this morning I am thankful that it won't get turned off (for the renovation) until next week when I am back in school.
  • Packages...they all arrived for Christmas.  Mostly on time. And thankfully none were stolen from our porch.
  • Our little fuzzy face pup.  We left her behind when we visited Mississippi. I missed her like crazy.
  • Lego sets. They keep little busy children busy. In a good way.
  • Facebook.  It has its challenges. And I need to limit my time on there. But I am thankful for the connection it brings me to several people I wouldn't have contact with otherwise (including college friends, high school friends, and even some family members).  Not to mention, it has helped us find some heaters and electric blankets for our upcoming "no heat" period. :)
  • A "living locket" necklace from my husband. I wasn't really expecting a gift. I got that AND a new phone. 
  • Speaking of new phones, I am thankful for my new phone. I didn't realize how much my other phone wasn't working until I got a new one that works wonderfully. 
  • A gift I didn't get.  Not that I wouldn't have appreciated the gift, but Mark's mom told me about something she really wanted to give me but just couldn't. (It is something really pricey) I am so touched that she thought about me and took clues from FB posts to even think about it. (I was never asking for one...usually people contacted me to tell me where they had seen specials on it)
  • A time for giving.  I won't elaborate but giving truly is as rewarding (if not more) than getting.
  • New tennis shoes (thanks, Mom and Dad)
  • A temporary storage unit to hold all of our displaced items.
  • Running into a former co-worker (from my very much younger days) at a rest stop in Lake Village, Arkansas...very random but so fun!
  • Meeting with two friends this week just to share about life and our roles as followers of Christ.  The icing on the cake was when a lady near us stood up and told us that she wasn't trying to listen in but it was obvious we loved the Lord. Then she proceeded to utter a blessing for us all for the new year AND reminded us to pray for those who are lost no matter how hopeless it seems. Apparently she is living proof that God hears those prayers!
  • Chocolate.  Dark chocolate. Just because.
  • Blueberry pancakes. Yum.
  • My children. Even in all of their orneriness.  They make me laugh. Often. When I am not pulling my hair out.
  • Crayons and a coloring book. A wonderful way to relax AND connect with my kiddo.
  • Our candelight service on Christmas Eve.  
  • A little baby who came to earth to grow and later die for me.  Me, a sinner. Me who is undeserving.  Just so I an have eternal life.
  • Another day to share things I am thankful for...
What are you thankful for this week?