They really do get on the trampoline!
Maggie and I spent over two hours one day last month working at the new house, but I doubt that you would notice what we accomplished in that time.
Maggie put a fresh coat of paint on the ceiling in her brothers’ room. I pulled all of the weeds growing on one side of the carport (I had parked the van on the other) and cut down several small saplings that had grown up next to the house and other structures. Even if you had seen the place before Maggie painted and I cleared out that small portion of brush, you probably would only see what still needs to be done: the holes in the walls, the knee-high grass in the backyard, the broken windows, and all the other things we haven’t gotten to. The ceiling in the boys’ room is still white, just a little bit brighter. The weeds will grow back, probably before I even get to the ones on the other side of the carport.
It hit me (again) that much of life is spent doing the invisible work. We wash the laundry, clean up messes, wash dishes, wipe noses (and other places), and kiss boo-boos–only to do it all again tomorrow. But this invisible work is the important work. It is in the daily monotony of caring for our families that we are living out God’s grace and truth.
What’s new on our homestead
It’s been a while since my last post, so I thought I’d get caught up on all the things that have been happening around here lately. It’s been a busy summer!
We are slowly making some progress on the new house. Mostly we are finding more and more things that will need to be done, but that is progress in itself. The front porch is going to need more work than we thought as one of the support joists is rotting. The lower portion of the living room walls was covered very badly with an extra layer of drywall. I took that off and was pleasantly surprised to find that the walls were in very good shape with nearly all of the damage coming from the extra layer of drywall. I’m using the drywall I removed to patch some of the larger holes in the boys’ room.
Matthew has his learner’s permit. He was able to take driver’s ed through our local high school even though he is homeschooled. He enjoyed the class and Todd and I enjoyed not teaching him to drive. (He’s still learning, but mostly just needs practice.)
We got a dog. We were planning to wait until we moved out to the new house before we did this, but a friend of ours was looking for a home for her German shepherd puppy. Amy is almost a year old now and mostly well-behaved. We are still trying to teach her not to chase the chickens. She is under the mistaken impression that they need rounding up.
I finished the henhouse. Well, most of it. I built most of it about three months ago and the chickens were able to start using it–and more importantly stop sleeping in the bathroom. Matthew and I finished putting the shingles on the roof about a month later and it still needs a coat of paint, but the chickens don’t care.
We lost another chicken. Snuggles was our broody hen. She sat on her nest from dawn ’til dusk every day, rain or shine, with eggs or not. Her broodiness was in all probability the direct cause of her demise. We think that a Cooper’s hawk swooped down and tried to carry her off. I say “tried to” because we found her hanging in the fence. Any other daytime predator would have raised an alarm with the other chickens. I doubt that the hawk realized how big and heavy she was, just that she was an easy target–a sitting duck, if you will.
We have come to the realization that three of the six chicks we got were not pullets, they are cockerels. I don’t mind having a rooster, but three is too many for our small flock. I’m not sure what we will do with the extras. In the meantime, we are enjoying laughing at their attempts at crowing.
We are trying to settle into a new routine with church, school, therapy, and work while still finding time to work on the house. I’m thankful that we don’t have a deadline to have everything finished and moved in.
Yesterday afternoon I went over to the new house to work on some more painting. I had to take Matthew somewhere at 5:00, so I planned to paint a second coat on the ceiling in Maggie’s room and head home to shower before I needed to go. I got the paint all mixed up and poured in the tray. I took off my boots and set them in the hallway to keep from spilling paint on them. (I prefer to paint barefoot–it’s the best way to know if you have stepped in wet paint.) Then I turned on some music on my phone and set it in the hallway, too.
I started painting on the side of the room opposite the door and by the time I was about a quarter of the way finished, Todd stopped by on his way home from work. I told him I wasn’t planning to stay long, so he said he would run some errands and head home. I continued painting the ceiling and when I was about three-quarters of the way done, I decided to go ahead and paint the are behind the door.
Apparently when I painted the first coat on the ceiling I had only pushed the door out of the way and had not actually closed it, because when I tried to open the door after I had finished that corner, the knob just turned and turned without opening the door. I tried turning the knob some more and then tried to force the door open. It was at this point that I realized my phone was on the other side of the door. I thought of taking the knob off, but there were no screws on this side.
So I got back up on the stool and figured I might as well finish painting the ceiling. After the painting was done and I’d sealed up the paint can–yes, I had a mallet to put the lid on, and yes, it crossed my mind to use it on the door–I tried again to force the door open and turned the knob some more (it would almost catch when I turned it, but not quite). I realized that unless I wanted to wait for my handsome prince to realize I was missing and come rescue me, the window was my only option. This particular window is situated about six feet off the ground. It was at about this point that I realized my shoes were also on the other side of the door.
I opened the window as wide as possible and pried out the screen. I knelt down in front of the window and leaned out and down as far as I could and dropped the stool, praying it wouldn’t fall over. It didn’t. Then I swung one leg through and dangled it down in hopes that it would touch the stool. It didn’t. It was about two feet short. As I was debating about chickening out when I noticed there was a post (one of the roof supports) right next to the window. I grabbed onto it for balance, swung the other leg out, and jumped.
I landed safely on the stool and after walking barefoot around to the front of the house, and went inside to get my phone and shoes. I discovered that there were screws on the outside of the doorknob and there was a screwdriver right there in a bucket of tools. Needless to say the door no longer has a knob on it!
Our new homestead
Last month after a lot of looking at real estate online, trying to get our house ready to sell, and just not being sure what we could afford to do, we decided that we should probably just talk to the bank to determine what our options were in terms of selling the house and getting a loan, buying land and getting a loan to build a house without selling the current one, or anything else that was available. Todd is friends with the president of the local bank, so he went in to talk to him about our options. Todd explained that the main thing we were looking for was a few acres out in the country whether we found vacant land or a house. His friend mentioned that the bank had two foreclosures for sale.
We went to look at them and were not overly impressed with the first one. Then we went to see the second one. It felt like home.
It is an older mobile home on about three acres. It has a metal roof added on which covers the mobile home and the porch which runs the entire length of the house. It has a nice barn and a dilapidated shed. It has lots of trees (which is worth mentioning in this part of Oklahoma), but also has a large cleared area at the back. And the neighbors to the rear have llamas.
It’s going to need a lot of work, but we’re excited to make it our own.
Never a dull moment
They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but this one just begs for an explanation. Yes, those are our chickens. And yes, they are perched on the bathtub.
Last fall we lost several of our chickens to an overnight skunk attack. (I didn’t post anything about it because it seemed unimportant in the of other events at the time.) Matthew and I spent the next day skunk-proofing the hen-house to ward off any future attacks. While the hen-house is now skunk-proof, we have discovered that it is not raccoon-proof.
Thursday night we lost one hen and one chick. We initially thought that this was the work of the skunk, too, since we found a place where the wire had come loose. Saturday morning we discovered the door to the hen-house wide open with all five remaining chicks nowhere to be found. After fixing the broken door (more on that in another post) and thoroughly checking the hen-house for any other holes, we decided it was safe.
Oh, did I mention that we had severe thunderstorms (no local tornadoes) and torrential rains with flash flooding Wednesday through Saturday? Saturday night around 10:00 pm I heard squawking from the hen-house so I ran outside in the pitch dark in my sock-feet yelling for Todd to come out there as I ran. When I got out to the chicken pen it was too dark to see anything. (It’s around the side of the shed from the house, so the porch light did no good.) I was yelling and the chickens were squawking, when all of a sudden I see something streak past me toward the house and I realize that it is one of the chickens. By this time Todd has gotten out there, but we still don’t have any light.
I went back inside to get a flashlight and discovered the chicken that streaked by me (Pecker) was in the dining room–smart chicken, she knew where she would be safe. I yelled for Maggie to get up and go help and ran outside with a light. We determined that all of the hens were safe and whatever had attacked was gone. We found a place where the raccoon (which was kind enough to leave a telltale pawprint) had ripped several boards off the side of the hen-house. There was also a place where Pecker had ripped off the screen in her determination to get away from certain death.
Around this time the adrenaline starts to wear off and I realize that I am soaked almost to the knees (and still in my socks) from running back and forth through the ankle-deep puddles in the backyard. Todd and Matthew were outside trying to patch the hen-house in the dark. Maggie was inside trying to find Pecker (who had decided the dining room was still a bit to exposed for her taste and had hidden behind the piano). I realized that I would never get to sleep wondering if chickens were safe out there, so I decided that they could sleep in the bathroom for the night. Surprisingly, they settled right down and we didn’t hear a peep out of them all night.
Our newest additions
Painting, problems, and patience
It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here. I’ve been busy, but not with anything that has really been worth making a point to write about, so this is a post to sort of get caught up on what’s been going on. Most of the time has been spent painting. I’ve painted baseboards; I’ve painted molding; I’ve painted doors; I’ve painted the kitchen; and I’ve painted the kitchen cabinets.
Cabinets before and after:
We finally got the new floor put in the kitchen. It’s the same sheet vinyl that we used for the dining room. After all the work to get things back to “normal” after the flood, it feels good to accomplish something that was on our to do list before the flood.
Floor before and after:
While we were in the middle of installing the floor in the kitchen, the stove and microwave stopped working. We checked the breaker box, and found that none of them had been tripped (and turned them all off and on to double-check). About half an hour later, we noticed that the electricity to those two outlets had come back on. The next day it quit working again without anyone using anything plugged into either outlet (the microwave was running the first time it had happened), so we knew that it had to be unrelated to the microwave. On Monday, we called an electrician. The two of them spent two hours in the attic looking for the problem before they finally found the small section of burnt wire that was causing the problem. I’m very thankful that the electricity simply quit working, when it easily could have started a fire.
After getting side-tracked with the electrical problems, we did manage to finish installing the kitchen floor and was able to get all of the baseboards painted and put back in. The kitchen is now completely finished except for a few cabinet doors that need new hinges.
While I was busy (probably too busy) with painting the kitchen cabinets, one of the children–in an ill-advised attempt to “help”–spilled about a half-gallon of paint in the bedroom. Then after an attempt to clean it up, covered it up with toys and laundry–I guess in hopes that we wouldn’t notice. Being focused on the cabinets, I didn’t notice for three days. By the time I discovered it, some of the paint had already dried, but most of it hadn’t. We spent about two weeks trying to clean the paint out of the carpet (most of the work was done by the child who spilled it) before deciding that it was a lost cause. The actual paint came out, but the color did not. We are going to try to replace the affected area with a remnant that we saved from when the new carpet was installed. I’m hoping that I can work on it Saturday without any interruptions.
Our self-imposed deadline to finish the work on the house came and went. The house is not still ready to put on the market–mostly exterior things that need to be done before I feel like it should be listed–but we are continuing to plug away at it. And I am trying to be patient. I know that the timing is in God’s hands, but in the day-to-day work on the projects that don’t seem to be getting done and the new ones that keep cropping up, I’m finding it hard to focus on God’s timing instead of my own.
2600 miles, part three: Getting home
I never quite got around to finishing this post last month.
As our time in Florida was winding down, I started looking at the weather to find a good window of opportunity for our return trip. After checking the weather at home and along our route, I decided that driving home in the rain was better than coming home to an ice storm or a snowstorm. So we planned to leave Thursday afternoon and stretch the trip out over three days instead of two. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do the trip in two days again, it was just too hard with no one else driving.
Micah had been sick on Tuesday, but we hoped that it was something he ate or that it was a virus that only he caught since no one else felt bad. He slept all afternoon and was a good bit better that evening. He was back to normal by Wednesday evening, so I thought we were in the clear. We packed up some things on Wednesday, intending to finish packing on Thursday morning.
On Thursday morning, Mark woke up sick. He wasn’t able to keep any food or water down all morning just like Micah. The rest of us really didn’t feel good either, so I wasn’t quite sure if we should head home or stay. We finished packing and loading up the van after lunch. Mark seemed like he was ready to go to sleep (like Micah had), and I thought if I get him in the van, he can sleep while we drive. No one else was feeling any better, but we weren’t feeling any worse either so we hit the road.
As soon as we got in the van, Mark perked up and was fine. I, on the other hand, felt worse the longer I drove. We stopped several times just so that I could take a break. When we were almost to Pensacola, I knew that I needed to stop, not just for dinner, but for the night. I called Todd and asked him to find us a hotel room. It was such a blessing to have him handle all of that from home. We found a McDonald’s right next door to the hotel, so we stopped there and took our food with us to our hotel room. We settled in and found one of the college football playoff games on TV to watch as we went to sleep. I was almost asleep when Mark got sick again, all over the sofa bed that he and Matthew were sharing. After much cleaning up (and bagging up of clothes), we got to sleep.
Most of Friday was a blur. Matthew was feeling really sick (headache and congestion) so he slept most of the morning. Having your navigator go to sleep is not ideal, but Maggie filled in and after one missed turn, we accidentally figured out an easier route to take. (Take that Google maps!) We drove most of the day in the rain and stopped a lot earlier than I would have liked, but we made it to Texas. That left us with about six more hours to drive on Saturday.
We made it home around lunch time after all the ice thawed and before the snow (which ended up as just flurries) arrived. Home sweet home! I have to say that the concrete floors never looked so good!
House for sale
It’s been a while since I have posted anything. We’ve been busy working on the house. Since we have had to replace almost all of the flooring and baseboards due to the flood, we have decided that now is a good time to try to sell our house. Of course, we still have work to do before we list the house. The kitchen needs a new floor (this was one of the main things on our list before the flood), and the cabinets need to be repainted. The kitchen walls need a new coat of paint, and all of the interior trim and the entire exterior need to be painted, too. We are hoping to have the house all spruced up to put on the market in March.
When we sell the house, we are hoping to move out into the country in the same general area where we live. We like living here and have gotten quite settled into the community in the nearly seven years we have been here. We finally feel like we have really put down roots. But with things still up in the air with Todd’s job, there is the very real possibility that we could be moving somewhere else.
The newspaper that Todd works for was put up for sale last month, with the bids on it closing a few weeks ago. What this means for us remains to be seen. The new owner could keep things running more or less the same as they are (although they would almost have to hire someone else to handle some of the writing/publishing responsibilities), or fire everyone and close down the newspaper, or anything in between. We also don’t know what kind of time frame there will be for these changes. What we do know is that we will most likely be facing some big decisions about our house and Todd’s job.