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Building a Garden Shed – Part 1

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As is always the case on our homestead there is never an idle moment. If it is not working on building and finishing the house, doing driveway improvements, or any of the other homestead chores, I …

Source: Building a Garden Shed – Part 1

Blinded by Your Presence

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I had this huge epiphany last night when I should have been sleeping. Our newest child has been putting us through the ringer at night. She is 8 months old and has been waking up every hour or two since the day that she arrived in our arms. Due to the space restrictions while building our home, her portable crib was set up in our room, right next to our bed. We felt that this was necessary due to her frequent waking, so that she did not wake the boys. As a result, we have been severely sleep deprived for months, and everything else has been much more difficult a a result of our general fatigue. Two nights ago, we made the decision to set the portable crib up downstairs and put her down there so that we could attempt to train her to soothe herself back to sleep at night without needing our assistance. The first night she nursed at 10:30pm and did not wake up again until 7:30am. I, on the other hand, woke three or four times to check on her and make sure that she was still breathing! The second night, she woke up at 3:30am and then slept until 9:00am when the rest of us came down for breakfast. It was at this 3:30am moment when I realized that my tiny little daughter has much to teach all of us about presence. In our presence, she could not sleep.

As I was walking back upstairs to bed, I was struck by this hilarious irony. How many times in this process have we been blinded or frozen by presence? Because we are immersed in this madness of building a house, we cannot see the joy in what is all around us. Because we are in the presence of our children 24 hours a day, we have difficulty enjoying them and appreciating them the way we might if we had some absence from them. And just as true as presence, is absence. Because we have felt God’s absence in our lives, we have doubted, also, his presence.

My little Sophie taught me so much in these two nights. She has taught me that just because we want something does not mean that we need it. Just because we feel something, it does not always mean that it is in our best interest. Just because something seems good or helpful, or loving, does not mean that it is what we need. Also on the flip side, just because something is absent, does not mean that it is not present. I am always present for my little girl, but being absent has proven to be better for both of us. Perhaps this is the way with God. Not to say that his absence is better, but to say that if we feel his absence, he is still always present. I pray, as I go to sleep tonight, that my children will always feel my presence even when I am absent. That my children will always feel God. That my husband and I will never doubt God’s presence in our lives even in what feels like absence. That we will be able to look back on this time and see beauty, and growth, and success, even in times that feel ugly, and full of struggle, and pain. I thank God for using this tiny moment to teach me something that feels huge. Presence and absence bringing us to the same truth.

Two Years Later… Almost Home?

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Here it is, two years later.  It feels surreal that we even came here and lived in a tent! It has not gone as fast as we had hoped, and many things have changed in our realization of our dream, but in the past two years, we have gone from a tent to a travel trailer, and now, almost, to a home.  We are on the ‘home’ stretch, if you will, and this, in many ways, feels the hardest yet.  We have almost completed all of the drywall work, only a bit more mudding and sanding to go.  We have 80% of the walls painted.  Tomorrow we will begin preparing the tongue and groove to go up on the ceiling downstairs.  After that, we can finish the electrical work to have full power and lights downstairs.  The kitchen cabinets are on order and the cabinet maker is starting them now.  My son keeps saying that he remembers when things were not very nice, when things were not finished and that now, finally, it is beginning to look like a ‘pretty nice house’.  To me, it feels like there is still so far to go, and I know that my husband still feels extremely overwhelmed when he looks around at all of the projects yet to come.  The truth, though, is that we have come so far……

Tonight I spent a bit of time trying to get things set up for our last round of ‘roughing it’ before we are finished.  I want things to be more normal for the kids.  I want things to be more normal for all of us!  So I have spent the last few days cleaning and sorting and painting and moving.  When I look at the photos, I still see unfinished, but hopefully you can look at them and see progress!

I feel tired, but I also feel hopeful.  We have gone through so many emotions in the last two years and I cannot even begin to describe the many ways that our hopes and dreams have changed.  We are glad to be here and feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to do such an amazing thing.  We still yearn for the spiritual growth and fellowship that we left behind, and we keep wondering what exactly God has in store for us.  We cannot help but wonder what exactly he brought us here to do.

I find myself almost anxious for winter.  This summer has been one project after another after another, and when winter comes, we will settle in and be left with just the finishing touches.  This is the most exhausting, emotionally trying, difficult thing we have ever done, and I am just thankful that we are still together as a family to talk about it!  It is my deepest hope that this next year, the third year, will bring us closure on this chapter in our lives, closure on the building of this house, and that we will begin to grow the farm, grow our spirits, and grow closer again to God as we have the time and energy to again focus inward and upward.

The Grain Bin

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In typical Dave and Megan fashion, we decided on a bit of a whim to drive 3 hours with the kids to go check out a grain bin on Craigslist. The price was right and it seemed like a good cheap and fast way to get some storage space until we could build a shop.

The reality of doing this with three little kids was a bit overwhelming. We drove up in the evening, spent the night in a hotel, and got up early the next day to meet a friend for the ‘take down’.

 

 

After a dozen phone calls we managed to find someone with grain bin jacks. We picked them up and the boys began the arduous task of dismantling the bin one layer at a time.  I hit the road for the three hour car trip to pick up the trailer. When I came back, things seemed to be moving along!

It took them eight hours to get it down. We finally got home that night at midnight. Tired, dirty, and hoping this was a good idea, we fell into bed.  This project would be so much easier if we just had the ability to build what we needed.  Now we have to pour a slab, put this crazy thing back together, sprayfoam it, and then finally be able to use it for storage.  We certainly do not need another project, but we do need storage and we do need to turn our house into a home without the living room being full of tools.   To quote the five year old when he came downstairs one morning,  “This place is a mess. It looks like a garage in here!”.  Ah, the infinite wisdom and lack of filter…..

Another day in the crazy life at Simbow Farm….

 

How Low Can You Go?

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I am dating myself, but do any of you remember playing limbo on the roller skating rink?  I do!  We were out there roller skating with the lights flashing and the music playing and the announcer yelling, “How low can you go?”.  There was always a line, different for each of us, that meant the difference between rolling smoothly under the limbo stick, or falling on your butt on the rink floor.   I feel like we are in the throes of discovering where our line is and I am not sure that we are skating so smoothly these days.  We are tired of playing the limbo game and we are ready to just be skating across the rink with no more obstacles in our way.

It has been almost two years since we drove onto this property.  Everyone is tired.  We are tired of living in limbo, we are tired of having all our belongings in boxes.  We are tired of having our living room be consumed by power tools.  We are tired of coming home and not being comfortable.  I think the most difficult thing is not knowing when we will be out of this state of limbo and into the comfort of a finished home.  Today we spent most of the day moving back out to the camper.  It makes me tired and anxious to pack things up and move them yet again, even if it is only to move them thirty feet across the yard to the camper.   Tomorrow we will finish clearing out the downstairs so that we can finish the drywall, paint,  get the tongue and groove on the ceiling, and install the rest of the electrical outlets and lights.  We will get a quote for kitchen cabinets and hopefully get them installed by the end of summer.  I am apprehensive.  I do not know how much we will get done and we are both feeling really, really tired.  We need to finish enough by winter that we can stop living in limbo.  I want to unpack.  I want to have my clothes hanging in the closet.  I want to have carpet in the bedrooms.  I want to have a living room that has a couch in it instead of a band saw.  I want to cook on a real stove and use the Coleman Camp Stove for camping, not daily living.  I want to wash a load of laundry after the kids go to bed, not trudge everyone to the Laundromat and have it take all day.

I know that God will work in our lives to teach us to be humble, to be more patient, and to lose our pride, and selfishness.  I know that he wants to be the center of our lives.  I know that we also do not get any more hardship than we can handle, but I am really wondering right now how God knows where my breaking point is, because I feel like I am there.  I pray every day for strength, for stamina, for discernment, for guidance, for hope….. Some days are good, many are not.  Each time I tackle yet another challenge, it gets harder, because I am tired of playing the game!  I keep having to remind myself that we chose this path and it is our path to walk through to the finish line.   Praying and hoping that when we get to the finish, we will still feel like skating.  Joseph is my guide these days, as I think about how long he struggled before he was able to realize the true meaning of his dream and follow it to fruition, and how much loss and heartache he must have felt in the meantime.

From Cabin Fever to Spring Fever

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I was thinking the other day about the blurry line between cabin fever and spring fever.  This winter seemed particularly long to me.  Perhaps it was the new baby in December that made it drag on, or maybe it was the snow cover that remained into March, but it was well into March before I began to feel the stirring of energy and motivation.  It is still much to muddy to begin doing many outdoor projects, although I am slowly plugging away at the garden expansion.  The energy is being focused into finishing the house.  I am beginning to look around at the unfinished drywall, uncarpeted floors, doorways with no doors, and I want to see it finished!  We have come so far and it will be such an amazing feeling to see things come to completion.

It is difficult to believe that we are almost two years into this project.  Our  younger son was only seven months old when we came here, and learned to crawl in a tent!  He is now running, jumping, talking, and doing his best to keep up with his big brother.  This is all he will know- this property, this house, this way of life.

Spring is running quickly into Summer, and before we know it, Fall will be knocking at our doorstep.  I have such high hopes of getting this place whipped into shape before we begin another Winter in the harsh North.  The past two years have made me jaded, though, and anxiety creeps in when I think of the possibility of another winter without the comfort of having a home to relax in.  Yes, we have a house, but I am so ready for a home.  I know, realistically, that time and money will both restrict how far we can get on this project.  There was a time, when we were still suffering with cabin fever, that we looked around at this place, and hoped for a house fire while we were away at the store.  We have been beaten down by challenges, and have become much more realistic about the struggle and strife that come with the realization of a dream.  As we move out of the season of struggle and hardship, I am trying to keep my chin up and believe that the warm Summer sun will thaw out our dampened spirits and that we will be able to find the energy and stamina we need to finish our house and begin to make it a home!

Thinking Back on Crazy….

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For some reason today I sat in the house, listening to the rain, and I was reflecting back on the summer we moved here.  What in the world were we thinking?  How did we just drive 1500 miles away from ‘home’ and pull into our field with a cheap Walmart tent and think this was a good plan?  I am not saying that we made a wrong decision, but who does this stuff?  We had a plan, sort of, that consisted of building a house, but we had no idea how the details were going to go.  I just keep thinking back on how if any one thing had gone wrong, it could have been a disaster!  The rain, the mosquitos, the mud, the madness.  I would love to know what the neighbors thought as they heard my sons shrieks from his ‘time-out’ chair in the middle of the field, or what the locals thought of these crazy, homeless people living in a tent with their two little kids.  It rained so much that summer that when we stepped into the tent, it felt like walking on a water bed- with the rain water pooling in between the thick Mississippi clay and the tent bottom.  Our kitchen tent, 300 yards away, never got ransacked by critters, although we both lost 10 pounds each from having to go so far for food (kind of killed the late-night snacking problem).  Our younger son learned to crawl in the tent, and saw the outside world through a mosquito screen.  Our oldest son had to transition from just being potty-trained to using an outhouse and went from a cozy three bedroom house to sharing a 10×20 tent with four people.  I still hear the wind and think about the fear of losing our tent the first week we were here to the 70 mile an hour gusts.  I cannot listen to a thunderstorm without shuddering because of the horror of mud and muck invading our lives.  I cannot slap a mosquito without remembering the clouds that surrounded us everywhere we went. We laugh about it now but it was madness!  We are still a long way from finished and the house is still more construction zone than home, but it is getting there, in slow, steady little steps.  Someday it will be a nice, cozy home, and we will look back on the photos from the beginning and not even remember how crazy it was getting here.

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