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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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! 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?