Sunshine and Sheetrock

Chapter 3

It has been 2 1/2 weeks since we moved, and I can’t decide if it feels like it has been 2 1/2 days or 2 1/2 months. The days here have flown by astonishingly fast and yet it feels like a lifetime ago when we were living in our little house, planning for this great adventure.
It has made a huge difference, these last few days, not only to be free of thunderstorms, but also free from catastrophe (knock on wood). Of course, it’s raining again now, but I feel as if we are better prepared to face it and are adjusting to the fact that living in a trailer means that the weather is just going to be in our faces a whole lot more. I hadn’t anticipated that side of things.
And as doleful as these first few chapters have been, the reasons and hoped-for benefits in moving here have not diminished in my mind. If anything they have increased- most importantly the benefits for my children.
So whenever I am tempted to bemoan the loss of hot water or my appliances or my full-sized kitchen, I watch my boys and am more or less content. Take yesterday, for instance.

We were all up early, and the air in the trailer was unexpectedly cold. But the forecast was for another bright and sunny day. The boys grumbled a bit, stumbling out of their warm beds, out into the chilly morning and up to the big house to use the bathroom, but they were soon back again, more cheerful and ready for breakfast.

Breakfast was also a little disappointing- our two options lately being toast and jam, or some form of eggs. But every morning, their sighs for the good old days of hot blueberry muffins or cinnamon rolls have grown smaller, and they are growing resigned to what mommy calls the ‘reduced menu.’

Normally, school begins directly after breakfast up in the living room of the big house where we have made things as cozy as possible with a few chairs and a table for writing. There is also a working fireplace in this room which has been very welcome on these cold mornings. James has already learned to build a good fire in it, and takes pride in this responsibility each morning.

But yesterday, I let the boys have the day off from lessons because something very important was happening. I myself wouldn’t let myself believe it until our old friend Mr. W. showed up on his motorcycle (oh the boyish thrill) to help us get started on our first project- sheet-rocking an upstairs bedroom.

I didn’t want to bother the men as they worked, but I kept an ear open from the trailer as I did the dishes, waiting for the sounds of power tools to start. As soon as I heard some, I quickly made a fresh pot of coffee as an excuse to go up and see their progress, even though they had hardly had a chance to get started.

As I neared the top of the stairs, I peeked through the railing and folks, I don’t exaggerate when I say I got a little misty. For there it was, in all its dusty white glory- our first piece of sheet rock up on the wall. But don’t laugh- you might have cried too if you had waited eight years to see such a thing. They made rapid progress after that, and it was such fun to see the boys up there, mostly getting in the way, but helping a bit here and there. I have so wanted them to be able to be part of this whole process.

Something I have also wanted for them is the liberty to roam free, both in our yard and the neighborhood. Both of these things were an impossibility in our last house, so much so that we have never even owned bikes for the boys (except for one that was stolen almost immediately after we had bought it). My youngest three didn’t even know how to ride a bike, and their recurring request for bikes had been perpetually met with,
“When we move to the big house, honey.”

Once we finally decided to move, it was nearly Etienne’s eighth birthday so at long last, we bought him a bike. He begged and begged to be taught how to ride all that first week, but we were so busy with moving and all. Finally, he just got up on the thing and taught himself to ride in about five minutes. His brother Sebastien asked for a turn and took about ten minutes to figure it out.
But one bike between four boys was a problem, so I went to the thrift store the next day and found some nice bikes for a really good price. Of course, the one I found for Sebastien was as pink and girly as possible, but I talked him into riding it by promising we would spray paint it soon, and in the meantime, he could peel off all the Frozen stickers and other paraphernalia that were plastered all over it. No Anna and Elsa around here folks.
So I’ve also gotten misty a few times these last weeks, seeing the boys tearing off on their bikes, exploring the neighborhood, meeting new friends and enjoying the park down the road. I have wanted that for them for so long. And they need it far more than I need a hot shower in the morning.

By late afternoon yesterday, the upstairs room was sheet-rocked. It still needed to be mudded, but I went and had a quiet moment in there with my baby girl, soaking in the sight of white walls instead of two by fours- white walls that were stained pink by the setting sun. We don’t mind pink so much, my girlie and I. And oh folks, it was a much needed morale booster.
Of course, we are only sheet-rocking this one room for now, as a place to store all of our belongings, which are currently strewn about the house, preventing the start of our next big project- redoing the electrical that was torn out and stolen all those years ago. But it was a beginning.

As I went back outside with the baby on my hip, I heard the sound of power tools again, coming from the backyard. Perplexed, I went to investigate, and up went my morale again. There was my hubby, surrounded by his four sons, finally able to grant them another of their recurring requests that had been answered with,
“When we move to the big house.”

Together, they were building a fort.

James came running down the hill, all excitement, a piece of paper flapping in his hands that he eagerly explained were his blueprints for the project. Etienne gave me a huge grin from a distance, waving daddy’s drill in his hand while Sebastien stood next to him, looking gravely important as he handed down screws and dropped every other one, bless his heart.

And Christian, fully recovered from his trip to the ER, piped up from across the yard,

“Wook mom! Wook! We’re finawy bildin’ it!”

“Yes, son,” I replied, more to myself than him, “We finally are.”

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