Homeschool tour!

I like the beginning of a new school year. I often mentally feel like it is more of a New Year’s celebration than the one in January. And after this crazy summer, I’m really looking forward to some settled routines and or course, starting my cooking job back up again! 

Sometimes, when I get discouraged about how far we still have to go on our silly house, it is good for me to remember just how far we have come. And I am finding that very easy just now as we prepare to begin homeschooling again. 

Last year, as I ordered curriculum and made lesson plans, I was trying to decide between schooling in a trailer or schooling in a construction zone. It was a tough pick, but I finally decided on the trailer, mostly because there was less dust and more air conditioning. (why do we start school in August?). I probably don’t need to elucidate on how difficult schooling was in a trailer with three students, a four year old and a toddler.  You all have imaginations, right?   But we did it because we had to. And if there is one thing I have learned over the last year, it’s that you can do a lot more than you ever imagined possible when necessity demands it.  

We also did it so we could get to the point where I am now: trying decide which of the lovely and spacious rooms it would be best to do our schooling in. 

But really, I don’t have to limit myself to one small space this year.  James is starting a new adventure with Veritas Classical Schools which will help give him (and me) a little more challenge, structure and accountability in his homeschooling.  I can’t believe he’s in middle school already!  So I am giving him the whole upper platform in his bedroom for a place to study. 

Also, since he won the coin toss, he gets the awesome puzzle map on his wall. 

For my two middle boys (third and fourth grade) I am planning to teach a lot of subjects together.  So they get this nice, spacious corner in the upstairs landing.(thanks for the idea, Aunt Darcee!) I had a lot of fun putting this space together and am pretty excited for some of the curriculum we will be trying out is year.


And then there’s my kindergarten boy.  Heaven only knows how I am going to teach him anything since he “already knows everything, mom” but we are going to do our best. I’m hoping having his own personal space will get him excited.

I’m also thinking this adorable monogrammed backpack made by his grandma  and the world’s cutest little boy Alphabet Cards might help. I mean, aren’t these the cutest?!


At any rate, I’m super excited for school to begin this year and so thankful for how far God has brought us. Time is a strange thing.  In some ways, this year has been excruciatingly slow and painful. And in other ways, it has gone by faster than any before it. It’s good to look back and remember but now I am looking forward in hope- hope that those last hurdles before us will be overcome soon and hope that I might just be able to teach another kid how to read!  Wish us luck.

Summertime…..and the livin’ ain’t as easy as I’d like

Ah, summer, my least favorite season of all- at least down south.  It used to be my favorite time of the year, growing up in Washington, where you waited all year for the rain to stop and the glory of summer in the Norwest to begin.  But moving here, I’ve had to learn to deal with a whole new kind of summer- the hot, humid, noisy bug-filled kind.  Throw into the equation a windowless house with very limited AC and I knew we were in for a rough season.

But as we prepared to continue working on the house and sweating more than is usually desirable, life suddenly threw one of those unexpected hardships at us. Or as our pastor quoted on Sunday morning from P.G. Wodehouse- 

“and there, unseen in the background, Fate was quietly slipping some lead into the boxing glove.” 

I won’t bore you with all the details here. Suffice it to say, this summer has put us through the ringer several times and everything has been more than a a little topsy turvy.  I can’t say we are quite out of the woods yet, but I can very thankfully say that in the midst of much upheaval, several very bright things happened. 

God finally gave to my long suffering sister and her husband a beautiful baby girl. I got to be there for the birth and welcome little Jubilee into the world.  To help celebrate her birth, a good measure of my family came for a visit- even my mother. We got to celebrate her sixtieth birthday while she was here and it was good.  The hubby and I also celebrated fifteen years of wedded bliss with an epic evening out and dinner spread out in courses across three fabulous restaurants. Pretty great.

And since most clouds have silver linings, this particular cloud brought with it a burst of progress on the house that I didn’t expect to see for a long time.  Doors, trim work, back stairs, the beginnings of HVAC and a much more permanent kitchen set up, just to name a few.

 If you recall, a few posts back, I showed some pics of the temporary kitchen I had put together. Did this kitchen work? Yes. But was it built out of a hodgepodge of wobbly shelves and random furniture propped up by bricks and then covered with fabric? Absolutely.

We had purchased some beautiful ikea countertops several months back, but were saving up for the cabinetry to put them on, which meant I couldnt use the kitchen sink we had purchased as well. I was making do with the utility sink in my laundry room which was definitely a step up from the bathtub I had been using before.

  Realizing, however, that it would probably be a while before cabinets would make an appearance, we decided to think outside the box and see what the piles of lumber under our house could provide. Within a few short days, we had some rudimentary supports built and the counters and sink installed.  What can I say? My hubby is a wiz with 2×4’s.

Next came a bit of shelving.

Of course, the raw wood was a little, well, raw looking so I pulled out a brush and a bucket of stain. Much better, no?

Since we had decided on this course for ‘cabinets’ we knew we would have to figure out a way to enclose them so we settled on curtains as the easiest and cheapest method.  I chose green fabrics since that was what I had in a box from a rummage sale a few years back.  I also found these super fun little clip rings that made installation waaaay easier.

I’m pretty pleased with how everything turned out.  Sure, its unconventional, but since when have we ever been conventional- hah! Besides, those are the sturdiest shelves I have ever seen and there is so much storage space that I won’t even need upper cabinets. 

 To add to my storage and to help fill the enormous space in the middle of the room, the hubby managed to salvage this old Ikea island from a job site.  And wouldn’t ya know, the counter on top matched the rest of mine exactly. It was in pretty rough shape, as you can see- some broken shelves and missing screws.

So it was 2×4’s to the rescue again, to reinforce the bottom, hold the whole thing together and put it back into service.

And voila! I have a kitchen! A genuine, beautiful, fully-functioning kitchen!

  I’m a little overwhelmed at the sheer size of the space but I’m sure I’ll get used to it. And I’m just overwhelmed to have it at all.  I guess I really never thought we would get here. 

So I’m taking this moment to push from my mind the other hurdles still to be overcome in our lives and just enjoying it. We made a batch of cookies today, in spite of the sweltering heat and just seeing all my baking stuff in action again makes me wonder- do any of you locals need a cake? ‘Cause I’ve finally got a place to bake ’em.

Oh, my beloved Papa

About a month ago, if you remember, I went out west to visit my folks (who, by the way, have been married for forty years today!) and I went to check on my dad who is battling Alzheimers. I have been contemplating writing a blog post about that trip ever since I got back but it’s mostly a painful topic to write about and of course a rather personal one so I have put it off. But seeing as today is father’s day, I’d like to say a little something in his honor.
I went on that trip with dread in my heart, fearing that when I got there, we would have reached the point when he would no longer know me- that I would have to try to explain to my own father who I was. But as I walked cautiously into the house, it was instantly clear that he recognized me and there was even surprise and excitement on his face as he tried to figure out what was going on. He couldn’t quite remember my name, nor that a hug might be an appropriate form of greeting, but I took care of that for him.
It was a short visit- and an emotional one. He may have recognized me, but there was so much ground that he had lost since the last time I saw him. I had been warned, of course, but I wasn’t quite prepared to see my daddy unable to speak, unable to dress himself, to follow a game of baseball. I hated seeing him struggle to feed himself or even stumble over basic tasks like sitting himself down in a chair. And then once in that chair, it was painful to watch him sit hour upon hour with his hands on his knees, gazing into nothingness. Occasionally he would wake up to share a thought, but then, being unable to express himself clearly, would lapse into silence again. I knew he was sick, I had watched him declining from afar, but the last year and a half had taken a lot from him.
And yet, in spite of all the changes, dad was still dad. When I got there, the first thing I noticed was his ridiculously sun-tanned face- so brown and bronzed as to be almost orange. Dad the California boy has always been addicted to the sun, and clearly he hadn’t forgotten his love of sitting out in it, although perhaps he had forgotten a little bit how to go inside occassionally.
He also still loves a party and apparently my arrival meant a party, or at least a change from the normal. Everyone kept commenting on how perky and engaged he seemed to be all of a sudden, which made me a little sad since to me he seemed so distant and changed. But the last night I was there, his real old party spirit emerged. All of his children who could be there were there, mom pulled out all his old favorite music and he lit up from the inside out. There is a childlike, uninhibited quality to dad now which is actually quite endearing, once you can get past the fact that it is you father who is slowly reverting to infancy. He just stood there in the middle of the room managing to remember, at least in part, the lyrics to all his old faves- Stevie Wonder, Edgar Winter, Chicago- he was in a dancing mood that night too, trying to find the rhythm he used to have and even attempting to waltz me around the room a couple of times, laughing like a school boy. It made for some pretty awkward dancing, but also some pretty sweet memories.

And dad is still funny. That whole last night, he kept trying to remember funny stories and anecdotes and was even sharp enough for us to play a guessing game with him. Something would trigger a memory and he would ask,
“Do you remember?” and then were off with the twenty questions, trying to figure the memory out for him. More often than not, we would fail, but he has gotten to the point where he is less and less frustrated by his inability to communicate. He knew that the memory was funny, whether we pinpointed it or not, and he would laugh anyway. Dad really was a funny man and as I’ve been thinking about him this week, I did some of my own remembering. This is a story from my college days that no doubt was prompted by the endless remodeling projects in my life.
I think it was after my freshman year. I was twenty years old and had come home for the summer, bringing my boyfriend with me to stay all three months- that Frenchman that my family still didn’t know too well but who was hinting around at maybe marrying me some day. But that’s another story.
My mom and dad had recently decided to renovate the upstairs bathroom and I mean a complete overhaul. I can’t remember all the details- I’m pretty sure my uncle started the job and my brother in law was helping as well, but Steve (perhaps wanting to impress his girlfriend’s parents, who can say?) offered to jump in and do a lot of the work- for free. My parents agreed, and so the work progressed after a fashion. But predictably, it didn’t progress quite as quickly as they might have hoped.

Ahem

The whole situation made me rather nervous because I felt like an important part of my life might be hanging in the balance over this bathroom remodel. I felt like it needed to be a success, if you know what I mean.

There were other things going on that summer, of course. Both Steve and I were music majors, as well as another hometown friend and I can’t remember exactly why- no doubt prompted by the noble desire to share with our loved ones all the amazing things we had learned that year in college, but we three decided to give a big recital at our home church.
It was a mixed bag as far as recitals go- a violin sonata here, an organ fugue there and as for me, I pulled out the big guns. I sang some Puccinni. I was new to being a soprano- all my life I had only sung alto, or even tenor, so I kinda wanted to surprise my friends and relations with my new found upper range. But I wasn’t too cocky yet so I chose O Mio Babbino Caro, which sounds impressive but really only soars to an A flat. High Cs were (and still are) quite out of my league.
We printed out a nice program and I included a translation for my various songs and arias that weren’t in English, including O Mio Babinno. I chose the song for the aforementioned reason and because it is popular and beautiful. I didn’t really pay attention to the text at all, but this overly dramatic Italian song goes something like this-

Oh my beloved papa,
I love him! I love him!
I want to go to Porta Rossa
To buy my wedding ring.

Oh yes, I truly love him
and if you still say no,
I’ll go to the Ponte Vecchio
and throw myself into the river Arno!

I am anguished and tormented
So much so I want to die.
Papa please!
Papa have pity!

I don’t really remember how well the recital went- that was a long time ago, but I do remember after the concert, dad had gotten me some flowers and gave me a big hug. I could tell he had gotten a little teary-eyed during the event (no unusal occurence, daddy always was a big softie) but behind the tears he also had an amused twinkle in his eye as he handed me his crumpled program and walked away.

Under the words to Puccinni he had written,

Good grief honey. Enough, already. No need to jump in any rivers- I guess you can marry him. But can he at least finish my bathroom first?”

That was my dad then. And that is who he still is now, underneath all the sickness and forgetfulness, frustration and confusion. He is an unforgettable personality that might be fading a little now, but will carry right on over into eternity and there be renewed. Perfectly happy, perfectly funny, perfectly a joy to be around.

I can’t wait for that day.

So long, farewell, Auf widersehen, good riddance

So yesterday marked the end of an era in our little family.  The blot on our landscape that has been making our neighborhood classier for more than a year has finally gone.  The trailer has departed.

It was rather an emotional experience for me to see it go- not a lot of regret, mind you, but a lot of relief and happiness accompanied by much retrospection over the year past.

Last summer was probably the worst summer of my life.  I wrote what I could about it here, but there were many other things that happened during those miserably hot months that I wasn’t able to share on a blog. And as I watched that old camper disappear down the road, I felt as if it were taking all the strain of those months with it. 

Of course, we aren’t out of the woods yet- the house still has a ways to go and you never know what’s coming next, but when I think back to a year ago, well, you get the picture.  The trailer served its purpose as a lifeboat- the thing that kept us afloat during turbulent times and for that we are grateful- and grateful to generous friends who lent it to us freely. Without it, we would not be where we are today.  But you better believe we all watched eagerly through the windows as they hooked it up and cheered loudly as it passed out of our lives.

It was an adventure getting it out of our twisty, turny, hilly back yard. And idiot that I am, I planted our little garden way too close to the front of it, so the truck could barely squeeze in there. I was afraid they were going to have to run over all my tomatoes.


But they just managed to avoid it. There was a tree or two in the way so we had to take a minute to saw off some protruding branches.

Then there was just the fun of inching down the curved driveway and avoiding the fence.  Let’s just say I was glad I wasnt driving the truck.

I was a little afraid that they just wouldn’t be able to get it out and that we would be stuck with it forever. 

But it’s gone- gone back from whence it came, leaving nothing but an enormous, ugly scar in our back yard. 

I’m trying not to draw too many comparisons from that scar to my own emotional scarring after living a whole year in that tiny place- except to remember that scars heal. Not only that, but scars can serve as reminders of the difficult times that God has brought us through and assurance that he will continue to be faithful no matter what comes.

One miraculous week

I thought about splitting this blogpost into two entries or even three but after some careful musing, I decided to cram it all into one so that maybe you can get the same overwhelmed, amazed-at-the-suddenly-rapid-progress feeling I have experienced this past week or so.

I got back from my trip to Washington last Saturday and spent the weekend more or less passed out from exhaustion on my bed, not even able to muster up the energy to notice if any work had been done around the house. And even when I had gotten a little bit of energy back, I couldn’t see much difference than before my trip.  Still no kitchen to speak of, no functioning bathroom and of course, no windows, although some progress had been made there. And of course there was unpacking to do, laundry to be washed, grocery shopping to catch up on- when momma leaves for a week, there is always plenty of catching up to do. 

But I was wrong in my first surmise.  Things had been done around the house.  Plans had been made, parts been ordered and delivery dates for certain, important appliances had been set.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, you know and not without a lot of preliminary work, I am sure.  And so, somehow, this week decided to be the week where several things fell into place and allowed us to take a big jump forward in settling in.

Monday morning, the hubby told me that I should probably start cleaning out the trailer and moving everything that hadn’t been moved yet up to the house.  I was reticent to do so, since it seemed like tempting fate to presume that we might be finally be done with the trailer at last. Surely something would come up to hinder progress yet again, I thought, and if there were actually any real wood anywhere in the trailer, I would have been knocking it every few minutes as I scrubbed windows, emptied out cupboards and bleached the minuscule shower curtain.  Would it be possible, really, to say farewell so soon to my least favorite bathroom and kitchen in the world? While I pondered these questions, work really was going forward on better ones. It was usually late at night, after the poor, exhausted hubby got home from work, but slowly the bathroom went from looking like this 


To this




Of course, this is a temporary fix for the bathroom.  (And when I say temporary, I mean it will probably stay this way for the next ten years or so) We planned on tiling the majority of it, but tile in such large quantities started to add up rather alarmingly, so we had to settle for this hideous looking green, gooey, waterproof membrane rolled onto the walls and floor.

But it looks better on the walls than in the bucket, it does the job it needs to and I would take this bathroom over the trailer one every day.  My babies inaugurated the room by bathing in it tonight and I won’t tell you how excited I am for my shower tomorrow morning lest you think me ridiculous.

And then, there is my kitchen.  This is also going to be a temporary fix until we can save up enough money for cabinetry etc., but it is more than passable for the time being. What we had set up before (to try and avoid running down to the trailer and back and forth for every meal) was really atrocious- a lopsided old table with a microwave, a toaster oven and coffee making supplies piled pell mell on top.  This is what it looked like after I had been gone for a week. Don’t look, mother.

This side of the kitchen is where my good countertops and kitchen sink will eventually go, so I decided to get rid of the awful table and get creative using the other side of the kitchen for the time being.  But in order to move my kitchen stuff out of the trailer and out of storage and into circulation again, I needed some kind of shelving. I have a nice pantry but no built in shelves and not a lot in reserve to be purchasing shelving.  Luckily, my basement and porch are brimming over with scrap wood and even a few odd bits of furniture that came with the house. 

This particular hutch had been sitting on my porch for at least a dozen years- seriously.  It was unbelievably filthy and I wasn’t sure it was even salvageable, but I thought I might as well try.

I didn’t take any photos of the in between stages, but after a ton of sanding and painting and patchwork and a tasteful yard or two of fabric to cover up the less fixable areas, the  boys and I succeeded in shoving it into the pantry where it fit perfectly and I had something quite usable.  


That, along with my favorite technique of stacking board and bricks to make shelves, and my pantry was in business.  It’s a cute little room, but rather difficult to get a good picture of.

I did something similar with another old hutch,although this one was in much better shape and hadn’t been sitting outside for the last decade.  I just spruced it up with a cute piece of fabric and now my “red” collection is housed there.  

I like red and decided it would be my accent color, which was easy to do since most everything I already owned in my kitchen was red.  


This was the other side of the kitchen- a blank canvas, if you will.

I had a few more random pieces of shelving (one of which definitely needed to be covered with a tasteful curtain), a good solid piece of wooden countertop and my trusty old kitchen island that I rearranged twenty times over until I found an arrangement that worked and would give me at least some counter space.

As soon as I had finished that, my beautiful, fifty dollar Craig’s list fridge was delivered and finally filled that space that has been mocking me with its emptiness for so long.  Oh the delight!

And then, this morning, best of all mornings, some dear people delivered a stove- a completely free gift that, like so many items now in our house, were apparently just looking for a good home. So this is my “temporary” kitchen. 

We are very, very blessed.



It seemed fitting, somehow, that the first meal I cooked in this room should involve bacon.


So now, everything we need to function in our house has been installed- errrrr, everything but the kitchen sink. That’s still in a box. But she’s a beaut, no?

And of course, the windows and the heat and air and a hundred other little things that would allow us to call this place finished. But oh, we are so much closer to that goal than we were even a week ago. 

 We are looking at a hooootttt summer ahead of us but we are facing it with hope, joy, thankfulness and a fully functioning bathroom.

What a difference a year makes

So a year and a day ago I posted this.  I was just rereading it, remembering as if  it were only yesterday what it was like having just moved into the trailer and then getting attacked by that awful stomach bug. And even thou we aren’t technically done using the trailer and a stomach bug today would still be just as unwelcome as ever, I am amazed at how far we have come from that bleak and miserable birthday.  

There is so much value in looking back over a year, not only seeing how far God has brought you, but realizing that all miseries must come to an end sometime, whether it’s a 24 hour illness or a difficult living situation or you name it.  Of course, it is also helpful to remember the bright spots in the dark times- a helpful sister, loving children, unexpected humor in the midst of it all. It reminds me that most of life is like that- a mixed bag of struggle and joy and hilarity.

This last week, I did something crazy and jumped on an airplane with my baby girl to come and see my folks out in Washington. It was about as spontaneous a thing as I have ever done- the boys were done with school, my church job wrapped up for the season, and something told me I needed to go see my daddy before he wouldn’t know me any more.  And grandma needed to see her granddaughter as well.  

It’s always painful, heading back home, knowing that things are difficult and knowing there isn’t really a lot you can do to help.  But daddy recognized me immediately.  He was so surprised and excited- he couldn’t quite remember my name, nor even how to give me a hug, but he knew me just the same.  There is pain in life, but it often makes the joys just that much sweeter. 

I came out ostensibly to be a help, but taking a breather from my own crazy life has been more helpful for myself than I imagined. My family surprised me with a little birthday trip to one of my favorite places and we spent a few days just quietly looking at the waves.   I had some rare, sweet, one on one time with my daughter


And she has gotten that special time with grandma and cousins I crave for my children so often.


Then, this morning, not only did I not wake up miserably sick, but the gloomy forecast that had been predicted for my entire stay decided not to go through with it and instead, blinded us all with a glory of sunshine.


My jet lagged baby decided to sleep until almost seven AM, which may not seem like much but it sure beats four.


And even though it was mostly shrouded in a haze, my favorite mountain managed to pop out and say hello.


I’d say it made for a pretty good day.  

I’ve been spoiled, really.  Life may have thrown me a few curveballs and will probably continue to do so, but it’s a heck of a lot easier to take a brave swing at them when your fellow team members are an unbelievably fabulous group of sisters, parents, husband, children and friends. 

Who could ask for a better gift than that? 

Progress and patience

There is a scene in one of my favorite Narnia books that goes something like this-

“Quick! Quick!” shouted Aravis. “We might as well not have come at all if we don’t reach the city in time! Gallop, Bree, gallop!”

It was all Shasta could do to prevent himself from shouting out similar instructions, but he thought, “The poor chap’s doing all he can already,” and held his tongue. And certainly both horses were doing, if not all they could, all they thought they could, which is not quite the same thing.

But at that moment everyone’s feelings were completely altered by a sound from behind. Shasta knew it at once. It was the same snarling roar he had heard that night by the river- the roar of a lion. Bree knew it too. And now the horses discovered that they had not really been going as fast- not quite as fast- as they could.
At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, we’ve been feeling a little bit like those horses lately. Of course, we have had nothing so terrible as a lion on our heels, but let’s just say, a few months ago I thought we had a lot on our plates and now I feel like they were only half full. I thought we were stretched to our limit this past winter, but I’m starting to feel like Elastigirl from the Incredibles and hoping I can return to my normal shape some day. Just when I thought we couldn’t go any faster, we needed a fresh burst of speed.

There were many months, you know, where I sat in the trailer and just looked at the house, wishing there were something I could do to forward the work. Now, there is so much work to be done, painting, sanding, slowly and painstakingly making the downstairs habitable, that by the end of the day, I hardly have the energy to fall into bed.  

The hubby’s brother was here for another month long visit, to help push the business along, and let me tell you, starting a business from scratch is not for the faint of heart. It.is.hard.

They were both so busy, I felt almost like a single mom for the time, but I was so busy, I hardly noticed.  

The biggest project we tackled during the last month, on top of all their business craziness, was refinishing our floors downstairs. Having had some success with the sanding and floor painting technique upstairs, we wanted to see what we could do down below. It is the cheapest solution out there, but in order to make a sub floor work as your actual floor, you have a little bit of labor to put into it to make it look half way decent.  

The problem with our floors is that some of them are original hardwood (in very bad condition) and some are just sheets of plywood screwed down. We debated for a while what to do. Carpet was out of the budget and some kind of cheap linoleum went against our inclination, but floor paint would not hold up so well in such a highly trafficked area as we knew the living room and kitchen are going to be.   We tried staining the plywood, but it failed to cover the myriad of old paint splotches and other messes that nine years of construction had left behind, so we sanded off as much of all that as we could (oy, my knees are still sore) and decided to see what a brown floor paint would look like.  


We painted the old hardwood first, after much patching of cracked boards and gaping holes. The first color we chose was a kind of reddish brown, but we thought it had too much of a purple hue to it. 


so we tried a darker one next- it was called ‘black bean’ (which still makes me laugh.We liked it better, but the floors ended up looking kinda plasticky so my brother in law suggested we ‘distress’ them a little bit. (of course, he described his technique in French, so it sounded much more artsy and interesting). 


All he did was take the sander and run it lightly over the top of the ‘black bean’, to make it look a little more authentic, or something of that nature.  Anyways, the result was that the reddish brown of the first coat underneath peaked through a little and we really liked the effect. So we finished up the hardwood and headed to the plywood to do the same thing, hoping the two floorings would sort of look matching by the end.  


But man, there was a lot to do to the plywood first. Wood filler and a putty knife became my best friend as we filled in all the myriad seams and nail holes and cracks and tried to level out discrepancies with a belt sander between the different boards that had shifted over time. Then all that wood filler had to be sanded smooth again before we could finally put a coat of paint on. Then, once the paint had dried, it had to be ‘distressed’ as well. 


We liked the result, but had discovered the great drawback to floor paint. It shows absolutely every footprint and smudge of dirt and scratches ridiculously easily. I was trying not to panic, imagining how much of my future life would be spent scrubbing my floors and hiding scratches when the hubby just suggested we slap a little polyurethane on it.Eureka! It worked! Although the super fast drying poly we bought turned out to take much longer to dry than the can claimed, so we had to construct an interesting network of planks around certain areas for a while, so as to be able to access the toilet and avoid stepping on the floor. 

After the polyurethane had cured for several days, we were finally able to install what I have been longing for for many years- a second toilet and a sink with actual running water! Of course, it’s only the half-bath that is functional, but it’s a lot better than nothing.

As for a bathroom with an actual bath, I’m trying my best to be patient. There was a good weekend that we set aside to start working on it in earnest, but both the hubby’s work cars died on that day and so the days had to be given to fixing those vehicles instead. The old van is still dead. You could pray about that. The hubby really needs a truck. 

And then, as many of you have asked about, there’s my kitchen. We haven’t been able to install a sink there yet, since we have been working towards replacing some expensive plumbing parts that were stolen a while back from under our house. But we were finally able to reorder them today. I have a fridge and a stove, waiting to be delivered, but without a sink, there isn’t much point in cooking up there yet. So the trailer still continues to serve as our life line for food and (tiny) showers.  

We have also been busy collecting furniture from people. Folks told me that when the time came, we would have no problem filling up this giant space with stuff, but I admit, I doubted them. I was a fool. So.much.furniture has been given. I am overwhelmed. Beds, chairs tables, dressers, rugs- all in good condition and some of it absolutely beautiful. Some old friends gave us the most beautiful dining room set- hutch, buffet, all matching and the table that can extend to fit about 20, if we squished (and had enough chairs).  

I finally got it all moved in yesterday, and last night, in spite of plebeian paper plates and grilled burgers for dinner, we ate our first meal in our dining room. I might have cried a little. 

We aren’t quite out of the woods yet. As you can see, we are still without windows. We are going to need some prayer for what to do about those as well as the days get hotter and hotter and we have no HVAC installed. AC is fairly useless without windows anyway.   

And for those who have asked, our options for the windows are either the hubby continues to build them little by little as he has time, or we hire someone else to do it.  And unless things change, the first option is our only feasible one, which means p-a-t-i-e-n-c-e for me.

So all in all, lots to be thankful for but still lots to be done.   

I am torn most days between being gratefully excited at how much has come together and a bit overwhelmed at how much still needs to be done and praying, praying, praying that God will prosper the work of our hands, both with the house and the business. But I am finding that the more exhausted and overwhelmed we feel, we feel God drawing closer still, in new and unexpected ways, to strengthen and encourage. 

My mantra every morning as I face the day has become- “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.” And it’s a good one.