Home

Garden Bounty

Leave a comment

Somehow, between all of the millions of things we did this Spring, we still managed to put in a garden.  We literally worked every day to get it planted the week before we left for vacation, and then we were gone for two weeks, and prayed that it would still be there when we got back.  We rigged up an anti-deer fence, anti,bunny fence, and watered the new plants.  We pulled in the driveway two weeks later and it was all we could do not to run straight out to the garden and see what survived.  Guess what?  EVERYTHING!  We have munched on snap peas, enjoyed fresh salad greens, and the boys eat the carrots whole.  Zucchini bread, zucchini relish, diced onion, summer squash  boats, radish and carrots dipped in sweet chili sauce.  The boys check almost daily for the emergence of green beans, tomatoes, peppers, and their beloved pumpkins.

I feel like there was some mistake, because the garden that I almost virtually ignored in the beginning has exploded into a crazy jungle of food-producing madness.  I can barely walk the rows between the tomato plants taller than I am and the various squash plants that are creeping across walkways.  I look for deeper meaning and hope that our spirits can grow this wild and wooly with little attention.  I love watching the kids beg me for fresh carrots while I am making dinner.  Looking forward to next year when we can add chickens and maybe goats to our funny farm.  As we enjoyed the cool evening by the fire, I feel secure in the knowledge that God is with us.

One Day at a Time

Leave a comment

We were laying in bed last night, talking, and I started looking around at our room.  I expressed my continual amazement to my husband that he has built every inch of our house with his own two hands.  He dug the forms for the slab.  He did the foundation.  He built the walls, wired the house, plumbed the house.  He did the drywall, gas lines, lights.  Every single thing that my eyes stop on, he did.  I have a memory of each and every inch,  every added comfort, every moment in time that our lives improved with some added form or function.  Many people have a house built, but not many people build a house.  When you hire a crew, things get done quickly and in the proper order.  Our house has been one upgrade at a time, which has made us appreciate each and every thing that most people take for granted.

When we moved here, we had no comforts.  Life was about as basic as it could ever be.  We washed our clothes in a bucket with a hand plunger-washer.  We upgraded to the laundromat, and now, after almost three years, we have our own washing machine.  We ate in a tent and kept our food in a cooler.  Our laps were the dining room table.  When we moved into the house, we were able to have a card table to eat at.  It took another year to get a proper table and chairs, and eighteen months to get a refrigerator.  After more than two years we upgraded to a proper kitchen sink and kitchen cabinets.  We began our journey with a solar shower, ‘bathroom tent’, and a bucket.  A year and a half in, we took our first showers in the bathroom with a makeshift hot water heater and flushed the toilet for the first time.  We just upgraded to a permanent hot water heater and no longer have to heat the kids bath water on the stove.     We have upgraded based on necessity.  When I could no longer make myself use a cooler as a fridge, we got the power running and received a gift of a fridge.  When we found ourselves tiring of emptying the water bucket and hauling water, we were finally able to get the water running and hook up the plumbing.  It almost seemed as if God gave us the financial resources and means to complete a particular project just as we were reaching the breaking point.  I know that there are going to be amazing lessons in all of this as we continue to look back and remember.  Each and every thing that we have been able to do has not only increased our comfort exponentially, but because it came at a time when we were feeling overwhelmed, we appreciate each step all the more.  We were blessed with a gift of carpet just as I began to worry about the baby having to crawl on subfloor.  I made just enough extra at work to get the washing machine, right when I was feeling like I could not bear the laundromat even one more time.  When our third child was born, I could not stand the thought of coming home to no power or running water.  My husband turned the water on 9 days after she was born, and the power came on a week later.

We are nearing the end of Phase One, and have found ourselves looking back on our journey on a regular basis.  We are both amazed and awed by what we have done here, and how God’s provision has allowed us to not only endure amazing hardship, but use that hardship to appreciate everything that we have.  Sitting on a couch, washing dishes in a sink, keeping food in a fridge, playing with the kids on a carpeted floor, closing a door to separate us from everyone else….these are things we do not take for granted.  We remember each and every painful step to comfort, and it has taught us so much.

The progression of the kitchen and bathroom……..

The living space metamorphoses…….

The kid zone…….

Laundry Day……

We are almost there.  The flooring is waiting to be installed.  The last two doors are on order.  The trim and upstairs carpet will hopefully follow, and then we can begin on the finishing touches to turn it into our home- photos, paintings, bed frame, medicine cabinet, towel rack.  Hopefully we can get finished up just in time for……the addition!

It is hard to believe sometimes that three years have passed.  At the same time, it feels like it has been the longest three years of my life.  As this chapter comes to a close, though, I know that God has been and is with us every step of the way- guiding us, providing for us, and preparing us for the journey ahead.

Happy Autumn

Leave a comment

Typically this time of year finds me feeling nostalgic as I look back on the Summer/Spring and all of the fun that I had.  I begin to feel some mixture of sadness and resignation at the coming of Fall and the long, cold Winter.  This year is proving to be very different.  The days are already feeling colder, and the leaves are beginning to turn.  I find myself looking forward to the Winter and the opportunity to snuggle up on the couch with a good book, or spend more time playing games and doing projects with the kids.  I am absolutely amazed by all that we have accomplished since Spring, but  I am also completely exhausted and overwhelmed.

I look back at what we have done and it seems unreal, but when I look at how far we still have to go, it seems just as overwhelming.  I never imagined it would take this long or be so difficult.  We installed our bathroom vanity at the end of March, and here is all that we have accomplished since….

We started off the Spring with just the utility sink and a working toilet and shower.  Dave spent March getting the bathroom vanity and sink installed, while working part-time and taking care of the kids when I went back to work after the new baby.  We spent the last part of Spring and early Summer doing drywall.  We hung the last of the drywall and Dave taped and mudded while I took care of the kids.  When he was done, I would do the painting on naps and after bedtime.  The tongue and groove went up in July, and the kitchen cabinets and sink were installed in September.  We also prepped a new garden bed and planted a full garden.  We have harvested and stored cucumbers (into pickles), zucchini relish, carrots, green beans, squash, and tomatoes.  I have yet to put away homemade ketchup, tomato sauce, salsa verde, tomato salsa, corn, and herbs.  We also stopped working on the house long enough to split 3 cords of wood (only half of what we need), build an 8×16 shed, and start on a 12×16 shop for Dave.  We still have to finish the shop, add some extra stove pipe to the chimney, install the range hood and hook up the gas lines to the oven/range.  Then we will finally be ready for winter.

Last winter I was facing this moment without running water or electricity.  We have come so far!  We are so exhausted and I will shamelessly admit that I am just ready for the snow.  I am ready to be hunkered down in the house with nothing better to do.  We can celebrate birthdays, enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas, and perhaps find a hobby that doesn’t involve our house.  There is still much to do, and it can wait until Spring, when the snow starts to melt and we begin to feel the yearning of finishing things unfinished.  For now, though, I long for the days when we can make homemade tapioca pudding, start homeschooling our Kindergartner, and enjoy a book by the warmth of the woodstove.

A Single Moment

Leave a comment

IMG_8558.JPG

I used to lay in bed at night after a particularly good or bad day and review the events of the day in my head- like a slideshow.  I would see pictures of things that happened as if I were watching a movie.  I would review the individual moments that made up the whole of my day and if they were bad moments, I would sometimes try to think in my head how they could have been good moments, or how the outcome could have changed.  I was thinking about that yesterday, as I was trying to survive another day at home with the three kids.  The baby screamed whenever she was awake, the two year old skipped his nap and screamed for two hours, and I was exhausted.  I had these MOMENTS during the day, that made it all seem okay.  The moment where the baby smiled at her brothers as they were cooing over her her and giving her kisses.  The moment where the boys were actually playing together instead of fighting.  The moment where my four-year-old came up and gave me an unsolicited hug for no reason.  It is the moment that perhaps defines us, or at least how we view the moment.  I have resolved to try and review these good moments each and every day and let the bad moments slip through my mind like sand through my fingers…..

There are days when the good moments are few, but it is the good moments that will make memories.  I cannot be a perfect mother.  I cannot be a perfect wife.  I cannot be a perfect ME, but God sees me and loves me where I am, not where I need to be.  If only I could be this forgiving of myself!  It is the moments that I will remember when I think about building our home.  It is the moments I will remember when I think back on the kids.  I do not want to let the bad moments define me or my memories.  What we are doing is TOUGH.  What we are doing is also AMAZING.

When I think back on the moments that have brought us to this place, this house, I see us driving away from our home in West Virginia with two trucks, two trailers, two kids, and a dog.  I see us so idealistic, pulling into our field and setting up a tent to live in with only vague ideas of how the house is going to get built.  I see the baby learning to crawl in a 10  x 20 tent.  I see our older son taking a bath in a storage bin and loving it.  I see my husband working hard every day to build this house.  I see my son running through the field shrieking because a cricket (or was it a frog?) attached itself to his Spiderman boot.  I see the MUD everywhere from the torrential rains that had to come the summer we camped in a tent.  I see my son learning from his father how to hold a hammer, how to light a fire, how to be a SURVIVOR.  I see our younger son sitting on the floor ‘carving’ with his papa.  I see the baby smiling at her brothers and completely, blissfully unaware of the unfinished drywall, the madness and mayhem of an unfinished home.  I see my husband and I up on a lift at 10:00 at night trying to put the stove pipe up by headlamp while the boys are sleeping inside- he keeps trying to move around on the lift and there is no room because I am so pregnant.  I see my older son riding his bike with no training wheels, racing down the driveway ahead of me while I walk with our younger son.  I see the boys running to the garden to pick the ripe tomatoes and bring them back to me, squished by their fat little fingers, but offered up as a wonderful delicacy.  I hear the boys giggling and playing in their bunks in the travel trailer and I want to be mad because they should be sleeping, but it reminds me of my brother and I in our bunk many years ago….  I remember playing cards with my husband by oil lamp and talking about what God wants for us.

There are so MANY things that I remember, and many of them are hard.  It is my hope that as a family, we can all look back on these years and remember the moments that brought smiles, laughter, and love and that these moments will hold more POWER than the moments that brought sadness, anger, or tears.  I never really thought about it before- how much power a moment can have, and how much power I can have if I choose to redefine the moment and make it something positive to help me get through my day.  It is interesting to look at the definition of the word MOMENT.  Websters defines it as 1. a brief period in time 2. importance 3.  a tendency to produce motion..  What a cool idea that a MOMENT can be an important period in time that has a tendency to produce motion!!   May the moments we play over an over in our minds at the end of the day be something that we choose to hold onto to help propel us forward instead of keeping us stagnant or held hostage to our fears and anxieties about what the moment COULD have been.

Mother’s Day with a Side of Poo

1 Comment

So, before I had children, I always thought I had this whole Mother’s Day thing down. I go out, buy a card, or chocolates, or flowers- some visual reminder to my mother that I think she is wonderful and I want her to remember how much she has given me and how thankful I am for all of her undeserving, unending love…… Then I became a mom.

I really do not remember either my first or my second Mother’s Day- but this year will not easily be forgotten! I woke up this morning at the usual Early ‘o’ Clock and made some french toast for boy number one. Boy number two had a mid-morning nap while we ate our french toast and drank our smoothies. I was able to trade with my husband at around 9:00am and take a nap while he hung out with the three-year-old. The rest of the day went pretty much the same as every other day- there were no noteworthy special events to remind me that this was in fact, a day to celebrate mothers. The afternoon was hot and we decided to put the pool up in the backyard. While it was filling, my husband and son splashed around and had a grand old time. Our son, for the first time in his almost three years, decided he would finally try to pee somewhere besides a diaper. Him and my husband stood side by side in the back yard, aiming at flowers. This was a monumental event and really was a wonderful gift for Mother’s Day- less diapers in my life will always be a good thing. He nodded in serious understanding while we explained to him the importance of trying again before going inside. I was just getting the hot dogs ready for the grill and the baby was beginning to fuss when the boy came walking around the corner with poo dripping down his legs. Awesome…….. Apparently, he decided to take a poo in the garage. And so why am I bummed about changing diapers? Bring on the diapers, I think to myself as I am scrubbing crusty poo off his legs. So the veggies got overcooked, the baby screamed for 15 minutes, and my husband ended up with a pile ‘o’ poo on his shop floor.

At the end of the day, when I am supposed to be reflecting, I guess, on this whole Mother’s Day thing, I am thinking how really sweet this day has been. It has been chaos, it has been screaming, it has been laughing, and playing, and napping, and peeing on flowers, eating hot dogs, cleaning ketchup off chins, time-outs, discovering new things, and to sum it all up, a pile of poo on the floor.

Isn’t that really what this Motherhood thing really is? It stinks sometimes. It is the hardest thing I have ever done. It challenges me in ways that I never imagined and makes me see all of my faults, all of my flaws. It makes my heart melt to see how they look at me anyway, how they love me anyway, how they accept me no matter what I say or do or whether or not I deserve it. It makes my days rich to see all of the things they learn and makes my senses full to experience things as they do. And when it is all said and done, sometimes it just all comes down to a big pile ‘o’ poo to make me see all the wonders of being a mom……………

IMG_7601

%d bloggers like this: