We have floors!

When I set out for our trip to Florida, I was hoping to return to a house full of new carpet and flooring.  This was not to be.

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Concrete floors in the living room

The carpet installers came and laid the carpet in all three bedrooms without any trouble.  But when the installers came the next day to put down the vinyl, the told us that the concrete subfloor was not level enough for them to be able to install the vinyl planks over it. (Never mind the fact that I had been able to install them over the same subfloor two years ago.)  They told Todd that we would need to grind down the floor in multiple places in the living room, dining room, and hall; and then we would need to bring up the low places with self-leveling concrete.  I don’t know about you, but the last thing that I would want to do is pour out concrete right next to the new carpet

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More concrete in the hallway

We decided that we would wait until I got home from Florida to figure out our best option.  Our insurance (understandably) would not pay to have the floor leveled since it was not related to the flood, just the house being old.  We decided that it would not be worth the expense, and especially the hassle, of fixing the subfloor right now.  We chose to put down carpet in the living room and hall because the subfloor issues wouldn’t matter under carpet.  So we returned all of the vinyl planks to Home Depot and ordered more carpet.

I didn’t want to put carpet in the dining room, because we eat all our meals in there (we don’t have an eat-in kitchen), and let’s just say that peanut butter and jelly is a lot easier to clean off of vinyl than carpet.  When faced with installing the vinyl planks again, I decided that I would just go with the easier (and much less expensive) option of sheet vinyl.  The sheet vinyl was not very difficult to work with.  Of course it helps that the dining room is almost a perfect rectangle–I only had to cut a straight line down one wall and trim around the doorways.  The fun part is going to be putting in the baseboards.  I still have that left to do.

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New vinyl for the dining room (baseboards still on the floor)

Today they came and installed the last of the carpet.  We now have flooring in every room of the house.  It has been more than five months since the flood, and I have to say that I am much more thankful for the carpet and floors that I walk on than I was six months ago.

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New carpet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All lives matter

Today is recognized in many churches as “Sanctity of Life Sunday.”  A few days from now will mark the forty-second anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision which played a large role in legalizing abortion in the United States.

Todd and I have been involved for several months in an ongoing project to start a pro-life pregnancy center in our area.  God has truly blessed this effort through the people who have been brought together to meet different needs and fill various roles.  We are making progress toward our goal to open a center that will help meet the physical and spiritual needs of women and families in our community.  We hope to offer pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, parenting classes, and counseling.  The purpose of the center is obviously to meet needs, but most importantly to glorify God by sharing the gospel (when welcome) while ministering to our community.

As the mother of a child who has special needs, especially one with a genetic condition, the subject of abortion is very dear to me.  When confronted with a diagnosis that their child will lead a life with some type of disability, many women (and men) choose to end that life in the womb.  Some would say they made the choice because they did not want the child to suffer.  Some would say because they have other children and their needs to think about.  Some would honestly say that they don’t want the added burden of raising a child with special needs.  Some, I’m sure, are encouraged by their doctors or by family members.  The reasons given do not matter, a child with special needs is every bit as much of a person as you are.  They are the person that God created them to be.

A single life ended is a tragedy.  One abortion is too many.  All lives matter.

(This is not intended to make anyone feel guilty.  If you have made the choice to have an abortion in your past, I pray that you will seek forgiveness and that God will grant you peace.  If you are pregnant and contemplating an abortion, I pray that you would choose life for your child.)

2600 miles, part two: Three Christmases and a birthday

(For part one click here.)

We spent the majority of our vacation just visiting with family.   We went to church on Sunday; then two of my nieces came over to visit for a little while.  On Monday, the kids and I drove (in the rain again) down to Homosassa Springs where Todd’s parents and sister were staying at his aunt and uncle’s house. We had an early Christmas and the kids got to open their gifts. They enjoyed playing and spending time with their grandparents, although I think Maggie was a bit disappointed that it was too cold to swim. We spent the night there and drove (in the rain again) back to my parents’ house the next afternoon.

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Wednesday night Dad and I drove to the airport in Jacksonville to pick up Todd. (I wasn’t driving so this isn’t included in the 2600 miles, and yes, it rained at least part of the way.) It was so good to see him. Even though I talked to him every day while we were gone, it just isn’t the same when we’re not together.

Christmas Day was pretty laid back. We got up and ate breakfast and opened presents. That afternoon my older sister and her family came over and opened their presents from my parents and vice versa. (They do that every Christmas.) Todd’s parents and sister also came up from Homosassa.

On Friday Todd’s parents and sister came over one last time before they headed back home to North Carolina. And that evening my younger sister and her family came up from south Florida. This was the first time I had met her husband and his daughters, as they just got married earlier this year.

Then on Saturday everyone from my side of the family was there and we had Christmas part three with my younger sister’s family. It was kind of crazy with nineteen people there, but it was a lot of fun and we took pictures of the whole family together.

The next Wednesday morning we went to the Butterfly Rainforest at the Florida Museum of Natural History. It was cold and rainy so the butterflies were not really flying around, but we were able to look at them really close up and Maggie loved seeing the birds that were in there with the butterflies. Matthew was not impressed with the butterfly exhibit, but enjoyed the rest of the museum. Mom and I took a break with Mark and Micah in the kids’ Discovery Room while Dad took Matthew and Maggie through the natural history exhibits.  Wednesday night we celebrated Mark’s ninth birthday.

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The rest of the time we mostly just relaxed, played games, and explored Mema and Papa’s yard (they have five acres, so there was a lot of exploring).  And most of all enjoyed the spending time with family.

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2600 miles, part one: getting there

The kids and I hit the road early Friday morning, bound for our Christmas vacation in Florida.  To make things a little more fun, we decided to go with a little bit of a military theme.  Matthew was in charge of intelligence, logistics, and navigation.  Maggie was the personnel and supply officer (keeping little brothers occupied and handing out snacks and water as necessary).  Obviously I was in charge of transport.  Mark was primarily tasked with pointing out every single truck on the interstate and Micah was responsible for asking questions.

We drove eleven and a half hours on Friday and it was foggy for the first five hours and rainy for the last nine.  I know what you’re thinking: that doesn’t add up.  That’s because for about two and a half hours it was both foggy and rainy.  Most of the rain wasn’t more than a drizzle until we got to Mississippi, and it actually helped quite a bit since there was no one working in any of the construction zones that we passed through, and traffic was probably lighter than it would have been if the weather had been clear.

The kids are all pretty good travelers, so we had a long, but fairly uneventful trip.  That changed when we were trying to find our hotel.  I had made reservations ahead of time, partly to make sure we had a place to stay (I didn’t know how busy hotels would be the Friday night before Christmas), and partly to set a goal for myself so that I would get most of the driving accomplished on the first day.  It was dark and rainy, and I was very tired, so we followed the directions that I had printed off of Google maps.  Instead of our hotel, they led us to a shopping center parking lot.  Since we were right off the interstate, I figured that we would see the hotel if I just drove around the general area.  After about five or ten minutes of searching, I stopped in a parking lot and pulled up Google maps on my phone to see where the hotel was in relation to the business we were parked at.  It said it was just a few hundred feet away, so I headed that direction but still couldn’t find it.  I stopped at a different hotel and sent Matthew in to ask for directions.  We followed those directions to the letter, yet I still drove right past the hotel.  Matthew spotted the unlit sign in the dark and we drove back and I still nearly missed it.  (I later discovered that we had actually been right behind the hotel at least twice during our search, but couldn’t see it because the lights were off.)

As I pulled into the parking lot, I started to wonder if the hotel was even open.  There were a few random room lights on, but no exterior lighting on the building.  The sheltered entryway where you can pull in out of the rain was blocked off with plywood leaving just a few feet open through which to enter the hotel.  The desk clerk told me that she had no idea that the lights weren’t on.  We checked in, ordered a pizza, and pretty much went to bed after we ate.

Saturday’s weather was about the same as Friday’s.  When we were almost to Tallahassee, the sun briefly peeked out from beneath the gloom. Mark and Micah shouted, “The sun!” and I realized that we hadn’t seen it since before we left Oklahoma.  Saturday’s drive was a lot shorter than Friday’s and we got to my parents’ house around 4:00.  It was so good to see them!

To be continued….

Getting it all done

We are on a deadline.  We need to leave early Friday morning.  And it ALL has to be done before we leave.  All the packing for our trip, all the laundry, all the cleaning up and packing up to have the floor and carpet installed, it all needs to be done by Thursday.

Will we get it all done?  No.  Not the way that I want it done.  I would like to have everything packed neatly in labeled boxes so that we can find everything when we get home.  I want to finish sorting through things and cleaning them out before I pack them up.  I want to make a list of everything that we need for our trip and check everything off as I neatly tuck it into a suitcase.

In reality, the boxes are not labeled (except for one that says “fragile”).  They are neatly packed, if by neatly packed you mean that I have utilized the maximum amount of space in the box regardless of what things I am packing together.  I have cleaned out a lot of things, but not nearly as much as I would like, because I don’t want to regret a rash decision to dispose of something and I’m in the frame of mind to get rid of it all.  I do have a list of things to pack for our trip and have been checking things off–as I throw them into a pile in the corner next to the suitcases.  Neatness went out with the old floors!

Reality seldom turns out like what I envision it to be ahead of time.  And I can be frustrated by that–usually my default choice–or I can accept the differences as they come.  My plans are just that–my plans.  If things aren’t done the way I plan, it isn’t the end of the world.  If I have to hunt through boxes to find things as we unpack, then I will.  Maybe I’ll take the time to go through things as I unpack.  If I don’t get everything organized for our trip, we’ll make do; it’s not like they don’t have stores where we are going.  If I can let go of my frustration, I can appreciate what we have managed to accomplish instead of focusing on what we missed.

Pursuing peace

Thanksgiving is over and Christmas will soon be here, followed shortly by the new year.  For all our talk of “Peace on earth,” we often find this time of year to be the least peaceful.

Peace has seemed more elusive than usual for me this year.  As I have bounced from one crisis to another (big and small), I am discovering that it is much easier for me to be at peace through the big crises than it is in the small crises.  When something monumental comes up like the flood or the death of Todd’s employer, my immediate response is to rely on God because I see no other help in the face of a great trial.  But in the little daily “crises” that pop up, the unfinished project, the overflowing toilet, or the overcrowded schedule, I like to think that I can solve the problem.

Oh how wrong I am!  Obviously, I can complete the project, clean up the messes, and cut something out of a busy day, but those are temporary solutions to temporary problems.  Peace does not come from not having problems.  Peace is having God sustain me through my trials, big and small.  Any peace that does not come from putting trust in God to take care of me according to His good and sovereign will is temporary and unsatisfying at best and will only lead to more discontent down the road.

Philippians 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  The peace that comes only from knowing God, resting in Jesus as my savior, trusting the Holy Spirit to comfort and guide me.  That’s the peace that I am pursuing this Christmas.

Let the packing begin!

Let the packing begin!  No, we’re not packing for our trip to Florida, yet.  (I like to plan ahead, but I’m not that organized!) Before we can have the carpet and flooring installed, we have to pack up everything and get it out of the way.

It’s amazing how much stuff we have accumulated over the last six years.  We’ve never lived in one place for that long before, so I’m used to cleaning out every so often when we move.  And I usually try to be diligent about getting rid of things that we don’t use.  But with six people in our family, it adds up to a lot of stuff to pack up.

I’ve discovered that my biggest weakness in decluttering and thinning out our possessions: books.  I’m sure anyone who home schools can relate to this, especially if you home school more than one child.  So far I have packed 5 large boxes of books and still haven’t finished my books or started on Todd’s.  (I think the only people who accumulate more books than homeschoolers are preachers.)

In the midst of all of this packing, we are still trying to maintain as much normalcy as possible–keeping appointments, working on school work.  But I must admit it all of this has really been wearing me down the last few days.  In order to pack things up, you have to drag things out.  So now in addition to part concrete/part carpet floors in our bedroom, I have little stacks of things that didn’t quite fit into the box I was packing when I got them out, plus boxes full of things that I have packed up, but haven’t taken out to the shed yet (books are heavy).  All of this visible chaos makes it hard for me to concentrate on anything other than the clutter all around me.  I just want it all done.

And it will be.  Or it won’t be.  God’s grace is sufficient.  He will work things out in His timing, not mine.

Giving thanks

This year has been a rough one.  Especially the last few months or so. The flood and the subsequent ongoing repairs have turned my day-to-day life on its head.  And the death of Todd’s boss’s family have rocked my sheltered little world.

This year has also been full of reasons to be thankful.  I am so thankful for God’s sustaining grace throughout the last few months.  He has carried us through so much chaos and uncertainty. He has brought to my remembrance that whatever happens, He is sovereign.  He is in control, and He is good and just and wise and loving.

We are still living with a lot of uncertainty right now.  I certainly don’t enjoy it. (And often complain about it.) But I am trying to make the choice to be thankful for it as it draws me closer to God, into a deeper dependence on Him.  I still pray for answers, especially for a resolution to all of the uncertainty surrounding Todd’s job.  But for now, I am learning to trust God’s timing and rest in His assurances that He cares for us and will provide for us.

 

 

Update on the flood

Last Friday we (finally) received the check from our insurance company!  After 89 days of waiting, we finally felt like we were making some progress toward replacing the floors and carpet.

Todd and I spent Saturday afternoon at Home Depot ordering the carpet and vinyl flooring that we picked out months ago.  It should come a few days after Thanksgiving.  The kids and I are planning to leave for our trip to Florida a few weeks after that.  So as much as I don’t want to spend any more time with concrete floors, we have decided that it will probably be easier and much less stressful for all involved (okay, mostly me) if we have it installed while the kids and I are gone.  I’m sure the installers would prefer not to have Micah supervising them and Mark trying to help them.  We don’t know yet whether this will work out for us to schedule the installation then, but we are hopeful that it will.

This will mean a lot more work for Todd while we are gone, but it might break up the monotony for him, too.  (Although I think he might be looking forward to some monotony after the last few months, I know I am.)  In the meantime, I am trying to get as much cleaned out, cleaned up, and packed up as I can so that there is really only furniture left to be moved out the the way.

The main project that we need to finish before we have the carpet and floors installed is the closet in Maggie’s room.  (Which will be a general purpose closet.  Although it will sit inside the perimeter of Maggie’s room, but it opens into the living room and the back of the closet will create a solid wall–instead of just doors–between her room and the living room.)  Today Matthew and I started work on framing the long (back) wall of the closet.  I have built a few things, but have never framed a wall by myself before.  So far it has gone really well.  We are a little over halfway done nailing the studs to the base plate, so we are hopeful that we will be able to finish the long wall tomorrow and start on the short wall.

Here is a picture of our progress–and our mess.

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Choosing our words carefully

Warning: The following is a bit of a rant.

I saw a headline today that really irked me. It said that a particular celebrity couple had been told that their premature child might “be special needs.” (I had never heard of them, and only skimmed the article, so this is not really about them or about anything that may have been said in the article.) That one phrase in the headline is what bothered me.)

“BE special needs,” “IS special needs,” “IS autistic,” “Down Syndrome child” –I hear or see these phrases on an almost daily basis. My son HAS Fragile X Syndrome. (He does not HAVE autism.) He HAS special needs. He IS NOT special needs. Mark IS a gift from God. He IS and eight-year-old boy. He IS precious to us. He IS a child who HAS special needs.

I know that most of the people who use these labels (and that’s what they are) do not mean to disparage children and adults who have differences and disabilities. (And having a husband who is a journalist, I can certainly appreciate the need to make a headline fit.) But I think what concerns me the most is how many parents of children (and adults) with special needs use this terminology to refer to their children. And I can’t help but wonder how much this leads them to subconsciously identify their children with the special needs that they have, instead of identifying them as a person, a child, who has difficulties to overcome and compensate for, and simply to accept for who they ARE.

We need to choose our words carefully not just for the sake of those who hear them, but also for our own sake.

Alright, the rant is over.