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.


Other projects while we wait

Since the floors are already torn up from the flood, we decided that now is a good time to take care of some of the other projects around the house while we wait for the insurance company.  We painted the dining room which was actually very easy without worrying about spilling paint on the floor.  The kids had fun helping, too.  The bathroom is on my list of rooms to paint, too, but the floor is still intact in the bathroom–it’s the only room in the house that doesn’t need a new floor–so it’s farther down the list. One of the repairs that we are in the process of making is to replace the door jamb for our bedroom door.  We noticed a few years ago that the hinges were coming out of the door jamb because the screws seemed loose.  Todd fixed it a few times, but nothing held for very long and it always seemed to get worse each time it broke.  This last time, there was nothing left to put the screws in for the top hinge.  We decided to take the door jamb apart to see if we could reinforce it or if we needed to replace it.  That’s when we found the root of the problem.  The door jamb was made of fiberboard, which while not ideal would have been alright if the heavy, solid-wood door had been attached through the fiberboard into the frame of the wall.  Unfortunately, the hinges line up in such a way that they were all screwed into the drywall except for one.  Three hinges, with three screws each, and only one of the nine screws was attached to anything solid.  Needless to say, we bought a solid-wood door jamb to replace the old one.  Now all we have to do is finish putting the molding around it and it will be better than new. We’re also considering an even bigger project while the floors are torn up.  When we bought the house, it wasn’t truly a three-bedroom house (although they listed it as one).  One bedroom was open to the living room through a large (5-foot) doorway.  We put up doors when we moved in, and it is now Maggie’s room.  What we want to do is put up a wall about two feet behind the doors (into Maggie’s room) and turn the existing (useless) opening into a closet.  Oh, did I mention that the house currently has only three closets total?  One in each bedroom, with no additional storage–yeah, I didn’t think that one through when we bought the house.  We are still thinking this project through, and we don’t want to go beyond the limits of our home-improvement skills. I keep having this nagging thought in the back of my mind that we are not fixing up the house for ourselves, so much as fixing it up to sell.  I don’t know if that means we may be able to get a place out in the country, or if it means we may be moving further, or if it just means that I have an overactive imagination; but I’m willing to go or stay wherever God wants us.

Three weeks ago

I’m not sure if I’m ready to write about this yet, but I need to get it out.

October 13th started like any other Monday. We got up and ate breakfast.  Todd got ready and left for work.  (He is the news and sports editor for our local weekly newspaper.)  The kids and I cleaned up breakfast and settled in to get started on our lessons.  Things were actually running pretty smoothly.

Then everything changed.

Around 11:00 Todd called and told me his boss (John) and his wife hadn’t shown up for work that morning and hadn’t called, which was very unusual for a Monday morning.  Then he said that there was a rumor going around (from people who weren’t likely to spread rumors) that there had been a horrible crime over the weekend and that John and his wife and daughter were dead. I don’t really remember what I did besides praying for the next twenty minutes or so until he called back and said that the rumor was true.  After asking a few questions that he didn’t really have the answers to, I got off the phone.

It didn’t seem real.  You read about things like the this in the paper and hear about them on the news.  Living in a small town, we are largely sheltered from such things.  Being home schooled, our kids are even more sheltered from such things.  But this wasn’t something that I could keep from them.  I kept it simple and explained to them what we knew and what we still didn’t know.  We prayed for their family, and ours, and our community.

Todd was obviously very busy and hadn’t had time to talk, and none of this was public knowledge yet, so I couldn’t just call anyone local to talk.  But I needed to talk to someone, so I called my mom at work and talked to her for a little while.  By the time I got off the phone with her some of the reality had started to sink in.  As awful as it sounds, I was also distracted by thoughts of what would happen to the newspaper (they were the owners as well as the publishers) and whether or not Todd would have a job–something I hadn’t really considered before talking to my mom.

The news of their deaths quickly became public, and I was soon able to contact friends from church so that they could be praying.  Todd was appointed by his coworkers as the spokesperson for the newspaper, so he spent a great deal of time being interviewed by the media.  (Even early on, the irony was striking to me: journalists being interviewed, the newspaper being covered in the news, the crime reporter (John’s wife) being the victim of a crime.)  I hardly saw Todd for most of Monday and Tuesday while he tried to do his job and part of John’s job, and handle the media inquiries. He mostly just came home to eat or sleep.

Late Tuesday night, their son confessed to killing them in hopes of getting his inheritance.  His motive strikes me as somehow even more tragic than the crime itself.  He cared so much for money and so little for the people who loved him most.

I didn’t know John or his wife very well, so I wasn’t personally mourning as much as feeling my husband’s grief and just feeling shock and sadness at the tragedy.  But Todd saw or talked to one or both of them almost every day.  There were only six regular employees at the paper and two of them were gone.

They were able to get the paper out on schedule Wednesday.  By Thursday, a lot of the media inquiries had died down.  There was a memorial service the following Sunday that Todd and I attended.  And slowly they are finding a new normal at work and we are at home.  We still do not have a definitive answer on what is going to happen to the newspaper and whether Todd will continue to have a job.  We are trusting God for that day by day.

I know that this post has been rambling and somewhat aimless because I have written and rewritten different parts at different time, but I needed to get it out and I can’t bring myself to go through it again to make it any more cohesive than it is. This is far from all I want to say on the matter, but it is enough for now.

As much as I debated about it, I wanted to post this here because it is a big part of what is going on in our lives and it has deeply affected us.




Homeschooling in the midst of chaos

It’s been chaotic around here the last couple of months (see prior post).  But to be honest, it seems chaotic around here fairly often.

With the flood and the ongoing clean-up and repairs, it was an easy decision to cancel school for the first week.  It’s not like we could hear each other over the fans that were drying out all the water. Or move around with all the furniture pushed into the corners away from the wet spots.

It was a more difficult decision to get back to our work the following week.  The fans were gone, but so was the floor.  Obviously, the flooring does not play a pivotal role in our school work, but we did need make some adjustments.  I do quite a bit of hands-on learning with my younger two.  And the concrete is not a good place to sit and work on puzzles or play with math manipulatives.  Sending two little boys who are finished for the day to their room to play while their older siblings finish up is not a good idea when only half of the room has carpet.  But sending them outside to play when they are going to be tracking all sorts of stuff in isn’t much better.  We thrive on routine around here. (Okay, mostly we I just don’t handle it well when something messes with our my routine.)

While there were things to work around in order to accomplish school work, I realized that there also wasn’t much else for them to do besides school work.  I had confiscated the Legos after the flood, because they were just too much to handle.  (Have you ever stepped on a Lego on concrete?)  Most of their other toys are things they play with on the floor, too.  And I certainly wasn’t going to let them watch videos or play on the computer all day.  So we got back to school work.  They spread their puzzles and math blocks and other things out all over the table.  They are learning to keep them contained to one area so that everyone has room to work at the table.  Matthew and Maggie are learning to deal with the distractions.  They are finding a new routine.

The hardest thing for me has been trying to keep from being distracted by all the chaos.  It’s really hard when it is visibly in front of me at all times.  I can focus on a lesson, but when it’s over, I start thinking about the floor.  Initially I would look online to see how much vinyl flooring and carpet cost, what’s available, do they install?  Lately it’s been more along the lines of thinking if we did this instead of that, or if we installed this ourselves then maybe we could make do with what the insurance paid without; but then if we do this, then there is this problem and if we do that, we can’t do this, etc.  And before I know it, I’ve wasted half the morning trying to figure out the same problem that I wasted yesterday morning on.  It’s become a part of our everyday chaos.

The everyday chaos in some ways is harder to deal with because it is so EVERY day.  You can’t cancel school because the toilet overflowed (again).  But you still have to clean up the mess.  And I have to find the balance between dealing with the interruptions that are part of life and trying not to let them consume my life.

How do you deal with the daily chaos in your life?

Day 71

I’ve thought about starting a blog for some time now.  I’d alternate between the excuses of not having enough time (Who does?), not having anything important to say (You may agree with me on that), and not really wanting to open myself up to others (I’m still not sure about that).  But the last 71 days have convinced me that I will never have time unless I make time; that I do have things to say; and that as much as I would like to avoid it, I do need to open up to others.  So here goes…

Why day 71?

Seventy-one days ago what we thought was a small leak from our air conditioner became a full-scale, water-in-every-room flood.  That was the day that the guys from ServiceMaster came and tore out flooring in almost every room and set up twelve industrial fans for us to live with for the next 5 days.

Seventy-one days of concrete floors for nearly half the house.  Over two months of waiting for our insurance company to get all their ducks in a row.  Two months of: “why should I vacuum my room when only part of it still has carpet?”  It’s always there right in front of me distracting me from the daily chores that need to be done.  And I don’t even want to talk about all the hours I’ve spent looking at carpet and flooring, figuring costs, and trying to decide if we should go ahead and do some of the work ourselves while the insurance company decides whether to readjust their adjustment.

The flood was a reminder of how quickly our “normal” can change. I’d love to say that I’ve been content through it all (I haven’t), that we’ve bonded as a family over this (we did at first, less so now that it’s become our new “normal”), that we’ve happily gotten rid of all the clutter in our home (some of it is gone, not all of it was parted with happily) and that we’ve seen God’s hand guiding us through it all.  All I can really say is that God has been with us through every moment of the last 71 days whether we have recognized it or not.  Does God have some big lesson that He wants me to learn from all of this?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that God is good.  He loves us and everything that He gives us is for our benefit. Everything He takes away is also for our benefit.  Every trial (however minor) we experience is for His glory.

We’ve dealt with a lot in these last 71 days.  The flood was really minor compared to some other things that have happened since then. And yes, God is still good.