A new front porch

First, I want to say that we have amazing friends.

Some friends of ours (two families) asked if there were any big projects we still needed help with and the most of obvious project was the front porch. It was one of the last really big projects other than the irreparable shed.

Parts of the porch were  not very safe to walk on–two to three feet back from the front edge for almost the entire length of the porch. And some of the support underneath had rotted out. I had mostly put off working on the porch for the simple reason that I really didn’t know how I was going to fix it.

This was actually a good section of the porch.

This was actually a good section of the porch.

It was a little like an old-fashioned barn-raising. People started showing up and getting to work. We tore out the old bad boards and replaced them with new; braced support beams that needed it; rebuilt railings; and built new steps on one side, and added supports to the other set of steps. Most of the kids even helped–at one point I think there were thirteen of them there.

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The difference between old and new

We finished all the work by dinnertime. Then we all had a bonfire at our friends’ house and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows.

It is very humbling to have friends who are willing to drop everything for a weekend to help you work on a project. When it is their idea, it is even more so.

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The internet problem

As I mentioned in my last post, our new house is in an internet dead zone of sorts. We are outside the coverage areas for all of the non-satellite internet providers. We weren’t really surprised by that, but we didn’t realize how difficult it would be to get satellite internet.

There are really only three choices for satellite internet in our area. We decided on one based on the plans and pricing and they came out to install it, but they couldn’t get a signal because the trees were blocking the tower. After a lot of waiting and investigating, we found out that one of the other internet providers didn’t use towers, but instead links directly to the satellite and eliminates the tree problem. Of course, they are the most expensive, too.

Tuesdays are busy days anyway (Todd’s weekly deadline is Wednesday morning; Mark has therapy), so we probably should have waited until the scheduled installation appointment on Wednesday, but they had a cancellation and we decided to take them up on it. The installer got there while we were all home for lunch, just before I left to take Mark to therapy.

About two hours later, I’m driving back from therapy, thinking how nice it will be to have internet when I get home. Then Todd calls to tell me that when the installer drilled a hole in the wall, he hit an electrical wire and knocked out power to half of the house. Yes, half of the house.

By the time I get home, the internet installer is almost finished and just checking to make sure everything is working. A few minutes later the electricians arrive and get to work. They start checking out the problem and decide that they can’t fix it from outside the house. They have to cut a hole in the wall in the living room (a wall I spent over an hour patching) to reach the cut wire and repair it. They cut the hole and discovered that the drill had mangled the wire into the stud and they would have to further cut the wire to get it out, leaving them with with less wire to work with. They decided the easiest way to patch the shortened wire (without further cutting into the wall) was to add an outlet to tie the two lines back together.

So, after all of that, we have an internet connection, a new outlet, and a nice new hole to patch.

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I’m still here

I’m still here! I haven’t abandoned the blog; I’ve just been offline.

For most of February and March, I was working about 30 hours a week at the new house, which of course, did not leave a lot of spare time for blogging. Then, the first week of April we moved into the new house, which we discovered is in an internet dead zone. We finally got connected yesterday–which is a story in and of itself.

But first, a little catching up:

We still have a lot to do on the house, but I finished my great big “Must Be Done Before We Can Move In” list. The painting is finished, the floors are finished, and the sink and counters are installed.

I have moved on to my big “Needs to Be Done Soon After We Move In” list. Most of these are smaller jobs or ones that can be done a little at a time. But, I have to admit that the list isn’t shrinking as quickly as I’d like. It’ll get done sometime!

Two steps forward, one step back

We are slowly making progress on the house. We have water and electricity hooked up. The painting and patching continue.

I had some big holes to patch, but I had a good helper for part of the job. Micah really enjoyed helping and did a very good job with the joint compound.

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And it only took two coats of primer to cover the red paint. Let me just say that I was not an OU fan before I started on this project, and I am definitely not one after painting over all of that red. The boys’ room is now a very light shade of blue.

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The white wall next to the desk is a whiteboard that they can draw on. It was a very narrow wall with a very large hole and we had some leftover whiteboard paneling, so it made for an easy fix.

Todd, Matthew, and I spent a very rainy afternoon working on the house. They planned to move the working toilet from the master bathroom (where the floor needs to be repaired to the other bathroom where the toilet flushed more water onto the floor than into the tank. I planned to touch up the paint in the boys’ room, because I always seem to leave a few thin spots.

I had already started painting when they realized that the cutoff valve for the toilet would not turn the water all the way off. Their solution was to turn off the power and therefore the pump. Did I mention that this was a very rainy day? I found myself with the lights off and very little light making its way through the gloomy clouds trying to find the spots that I had missed. These were places I had missed while painting on a sunny day with the lights on, so I decided to find something else to work on that would not strain my eyesight.

Of course, I needed to clean my paintbrush before the paint dried on it, but no water to the toilet meant no water to the sink. Then it hit me–there’s plenty of running water outside, falling from the sky. I found a good spot where the water was running off the edge of the roof and cleaned out the paintbrush.

 

 

 

Invisible work

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.

Amy

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.

Yellow

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.

Breaking out

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!