building our home

“Home is the nicest word

there is.”
– Laura Ingalls Wilder

The house rocks, Mom & Dad…

Posted by on Aug 8, 2012 in building our Home, motherhood | 0 comments

The first few days after we officially “moved in” to our house were admittedly tough. There were piles of boxes to unpack, we had to put the kids to bed later than normal because there were no blinds on their windows, and everyone was overtired and overstimulated. Parker was bugging his sisters like crazy, Fiona found an extra-loud decibel to scream back at him, and Madi…well, Madi was a bit harder to figure out.

She told us repeatedly that she didn’t like the new house, because it was too new, too fancy, and she didn’t like sleeping in a room by herself. She whined about everything, woke up crying because she was sweaty from hiding under her covers, and had an attitude that registered off the normal chart in every way possible. I didn’t know what to do, because she typically doesn’t act out this much, and I wasn’t sure if she was hitting a new cranky phase or whether I could blame it solely on the move.

How do you help your kids work through big changes while still parenting them appropriately? It’s tough, because you know that there are external forces at work and you want to be sensitive to those, but at the same time, you don’t want to send the message that every time things are tough, it’s carte blanche for behaving badly. Not the best lesson, in my mind.

So, we worked through some major temper tantrums, survived lengthy crying sessions, and refused to tolerate the attitude. It was only a week, but it felt like ten. I can’t imagine being a family that has to work through a really serious upheaval. To that point, it gives me a greater appreciation for what my parents had to deal with when we moved after my sixth grade year, and I acted just like, if not worse, than Madi…for almost two years. Yikes.

But then, today rolled around, and I came home from work to find two little cards that Madi had made for Ben and I…

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So sweet, in a perfect seven-year-old way. It did my heart good, and made me relax just a little bit more. Now…if I could just figure out how to get Fiona to sleep through the night?

Five Minute Friday: Here

Posted by on Aug 3, 2012 in building our Home, Five Minute Friday, perspective | 2 comments

This week’s 5 Minute Friday is all about “here”…just writing, no thinking…

GO

I perch on my stool at the kitchen island, gazing out the window and listening to the girls play in the basement. Trucks rumble outside, construction traffic that has become my new white noise, and shiny, new things surround me inside, things that seem like they belong in someone else’s house. I carefully peek out the window at our future neighbors as they walk their empty lots, visit their homes-in-progress, and I know how they are feeling. Anxious, excited, anticipating. We were them, what seems like just moments ago, and now we are here…ready to breathe life, memories, and experiences into every meal around the dining room table, every game we sit down to play, and every conversation we have in the driveway. Here is where we are staking our claim, wiggling our roots down into the sandy dirt, and building the next phase of our life.

STOP

 

 

coming out of the haze…

Posted by on Aug 1, 2012 in building our Home | 2 comments

I stopped by the rental house today to pick up our vacuum cleaner, the last thing to go. It was empty and clean, a few leftover towels and a dust covered pad of paper sitting on the counter, looking surprisingly large without all of our junk laying around. Our landlord loaded the vacuum into my trunk, and I backed out of the driveway for the last time.

As I drove away, I thought back to the swirl of emotions that enveloped me when we moved out of our house six months ago, thankful that I didn’t have that to deal with this time around. No time for sadness when you are moving into a newly built house with no blinds, new appliances to figure out, and twice as much unpacking to do. No time for self-pity when you have to help your kids deal with another transition.

Because it was still a rough week, one that I am glad is over. I was tired, cranky, and over it, but I think that I am finally coming out of the haze. I was actually able to make a dent in my pile of laundry today, our blinds are sitting in the garage, and our stove should be installed tomorrow. I even went for my first run through the neighborhood tonight, and spent some time relaxing on the couch watching the Olympics.

Installed tomorrow? I can only hope!

Ben installing our dishwasher…

It feels good to be home…and seeing my dear family tromping around in what was an empty space makes my heart happy…

Fiona contemplating her reading choices…

Parker insisted on sticking his head in the picture…to show off his missing tooth…

 

Five Minute Friday: Beyond

Posted by on Jul 28, 2012 in building our Home, Five Minute Friday, perspective | 4 comments

This week’s 5 Minute Friday is all about “beyond”…just writing, no thinking…

GO

The day drags behind me like a limp shadow. My muscles ache with every step I take up the stairs. Boxes strewn around me, filled with cheese graters, pancake griddles and steak knives, things that I packed months ago, and haven’t needed since.

My ears ring with the angry words that I spewed out after a mischievous little boy scratched his fingernails into the plush of our brand new couch. The bumper of the car holds a brand new dent, born out of my haste and distracted mind.

In a few short days, we will be beyond our move; we will be unpacked, unfurled, and undone. Why can’t I see past the end of my nose to what will be, instead of what is now? Fatigue swallows me, and I close my eyes. Beyond today. Beyond next week.

STOP

on moving day…

Posted by on Jul 25, 2012 in building our Home | 0 comments

Closing on our house felt like it would never come, but when last Friday rolled around, it was almost surprising. Thankfully uneventful, we signed our name in blue ink until it cramped, and then headed back to the rental to start loading up the trailers.

Once they were loaded, we all drove the now-familiar route over to the house. I just love this picture of Fiona walking down the street to the house. I can’t even think of how many times she will walk that same path…probably in a tutu.

The garage filled up [too] quickly, and we began to move boxes and bins to bedrooms and storage closets.

The kitchen took on a “lived-in” feel, with purses and bags strewn about, and the girls quickly found comfortable places to hang out and stay out of the way.

After Ben and the gang headed back to the rental for the second load, I decided to take a break from moving boxes, and instead headed out to the front porch, bottle of Windex in hand, to spot-clean the front windows. I’m not sure why that was my break, but regardless, I was out on the porch when the only other family that has moved in on our street walked by.

I waved hello…then we started chatting…then we moved to the driveway, with the kids running around in circles on the cement. By the time Ben pulled into the driveway with the second load, our future next door neighbors and a couple from the next street over had joined us and I was inside giving a tour to two of the women, while the kids ran up and down the stairs.

It might have surprised Ben a little bit, because as he said, “…we have only had the keys for a couple of hours”, but it felt good. It definitely helps that we all have an instant common bond, and building a house is an instant conversation starter. But you still have to start the conversation, regardless of your sweaty hair, dirty feet, and unpacked boxes. We wanted our home to be a place where people feel comfortable stopping to chat or kick off their shoes, and it was amazing to have that even on the very first day.

We have a lot to do before we are fully “moved in” – I am in the middle of piles of miscellaneous “stuff” that needs to be packed, but it was a good start…a very good start…

Substantially complete…but not yet a home…

Posted by on Jul 10, 2012 in building our Home | 0 comments

“Substantially complete.”

That’s how Ben described our house after our last visit, after we saw what had been completed. The foyer light was [finally] in…

the driveway was poured…

the shower & backsplash was done in our bathroom [minus the mirrors]…

the range hood was almost in…

and the kids are ready to play…

Still to go? Landscaping, a few more light fixtures, one wall to paint, and a good top-to-bottom cleaning…but not much more.

It is strange how months trickle through your fingers and then something you have been waiting for is all of a sudden only weeks away. A new house. A new neighborhood. A new beginning to the next phase of our life.

And yes, it’s “substantially complete”, but it won’t be truly done until there is laughter and tears filling the rooms. It won’t be complete until there are a few scratches and dings in the walls and doors. Because even though we have spent so much time and energy on building these four walls, that’s all they are – wood and nails, tile and drywall, carpet and pressed bamboo. What makes it a home is how we use it – to be a safe haven for our kids, to be a relaxing place for friends and family, to be a place where we can serve others. Home, to me, is a place of respite, relaxation, fellowship, and community, and that is what I hope for us.

Then…it will be complete…a home.

on tile backsplashes, chrome lamps, and chewed fingernails…

Posted by on Jun 19, 2012 in building our Home | 0 comments

When we picked out the finishes for our new house back in January, I fussed and fretted over the details. Did we pick the right paint colors? Will the dark floors and the dark cabinetry look okay together? Will we regret not getting granite in the master bathroom? What would it really look like, considering we never saw the floor plan built in a model home and our only perspective was this…

But that was nothing compared to the last few weeks when they have actually been finding their way into the house. For some reason, I have been royally stressed out, even though Ben kept assuring me over and over that it was all going to be okay.

But…WHAT IF IT WASN’T? I felt like a paranoid, insecure freak.

Plus, we started shopping for furniture and accessories, which is something I never do and is way out of my comfort zone. One…because who wants to go furniture shopping with kids, and two…I haven’t had the space or faith in my children to own any accessories that weren’t made out of kid-safe plastic. (That still may be a legitimate concern)

My fears were unfounded, of course, and every time we walked into the house, I breathed another sigh of relief when I saw how well everything was working together. It’s definitely a little more modern than our previous house, and I’m digging the vibe, from our light blue dining room…

to the kitchen…

especially our kickin’ backsplash…(just missing grout)

even the kitchen faucet makes me happy…

 and so does the beginnings of our shower…

furniture shopping got a little easier once we found the kid’s room (Thanks UBU!)

….along with some great deals!

Found this funky table and brown leather chair combo for our kitchen (minus the river rock runner)…

and Ben tracked down these chrome lamps…

along with a few more surprises to go with our blue leather couch!

It’s all coming together, despite my chewed fingernails, and as I rolled up this afternoon…it felt like I was coming home.

Only a little more than a month to go!

60 Day Warning…

Posted by on May 31, 2012 in building our Home | 1 comment

We received our official “60 Day Warning” last week, giving us a [better] idea of when our house will be move-in ready.

Okay, maybe it’s not really a “warning”, but I can’t stop saying it for some reason. Maybe I’m subconsciously nervous about another big transition for the kids and anxious about everything going smoothly and all the work that moving is and…and…and…

Don’t get me wrong, I’m ecstatic about our new house and how it is progressing. But I kind of wish that I could become Mary Poppins for a day or two so I can “snap” my fingers and everything will be purged, resorted, repacked, moved, unpacked, resorted, purchased, decorated, and maybe even a tasty meal bubbling on the stove.

But no one said that transitions were easy, right? I am just grateful that it is happening over the summer and not smack dab in the middle of the holidays or our birthday season. Plus, there are so many things happening at the house, that even though my brow is furrowed thinking about how I’m going to get everything done, I can’t help smiling…

A few glimpses…

Paint on the walls in the basement...

Kitchen in process...

My must-have for the kitchen...pull out trash can...

The beginnings of our mudroom bench...

Bamboo Forest bathroom, here we come!

Railing...being stained...

After 7 years of sharing one sink with all the kiddos, double sinks looks pretty sweet...

progress...

...and siding is coming up!

The walls are closing in…literally!!!

Posted by on May 11, 2012 in building our Home | 1 comment

Over the last couple of weeks, our house has taken on (yet another) entirely new look. One day we were looking at stacks of drywall…

and insulated walls with some drywall installed…

corner of the family room

view of entryway

Then we were able to show off the work-in-progress to family…

the fam...

the kids were more interested in digging in the dirt...

But then, a few days later, the stacks of drywall were gone, leaving behind a houseful of white walls…real walls!

view of the garage...ready to be filled with all of our kid toys...

the girls showing off the supplies...

view looking into the kitchen from the family room

looking across the entryway into the dining room

I'll be so glad when we have a railing...makes me a paranoid-crazy-person...

fun little hallway from the kitchen to the front of the house

It is amazing how different it feels to not be able to just “walk through walls” and see from one end of the house to the other. It is also rather peculiar to see something that was on a blueprint take shape, considering we never looked at a completed house that had the same floor plan. Surprises so far…the entryway seems mammoth (but our light fixture is going to look awesome) and our mudroom bench area looks like it will sit at least five adults (maybe four). But I was also pleasantly surprised that none of the spaces seemed disproportionate. Our table will just fit in the dining room, the master bedroom is truly one room instead of being too big, and we are absolutely going to fill up the garage with our outside “stuff”.

The progress has motivated me to start going through the gigantic stack of bins and boxes in our garage and basement…again…and purge even more. I figured that it might just take me all the way until August to get done…:)

 

on life…right now…

Posted by on Apr 21, 2012 in building our Home, memories | 2 comments

on the job front…

Even though I thought teaching a class wasn’t going to pan out…it turns out I am going to be teaching a Speech class in the fall at the ‘Stone. It is a 7:30 a.m. class, which should be perfect for student participation, and I get to start over with a brand new book, which should be fun for me. All sarcasm aside, I am at peace about it, and thankful that I can help out a tiny bit with the finances while still having time to pursue other things. Bonus…and bonus…right?

on the pain in my back…

I think today is the first day that I feel more like myself, which I attribute to being done with my round of nasty anti-viral pills. I’m still on a lovely romp with an anti-seizure medication to help with the nerve pain, but I’m not quite ready to leave those behind yet. The only unfortunate side effect is some…confusion. It’s been a little strange, losing school paperwork, leaving plastic wrappers in the caesar salad mix, and completely forgetting I have my sunglasses on, like I did today at Madi’s soccer game. I seriously must have looked like a crazy person, running up and down the field, yelling encouragement to the troops while wearing these giant shades? Bizarre.

on the house…

Over the last week, a bunch of work has been done on the house, but nothing really jaw-dropping, unless you are really into plumbing and electrical rough-ins. The kids got a kick out of seeing their bathroom, so that was fun to see. My biggest thrill this week though was when the windows were installed. Now I can stop being so panicky when the kids are in the house, because they can’t fall out of the window openings anymore! Huzzah! The insulation is slated to be installed next Thursday, so that’s another big step in the process.

on the kids…

They amaze me. Every day.

From the mornings Fiona and I spend together ballet dancing and playing games like Angry Birds (sometimes even at the same time)…

to Parker’s excitement about his very first soccer game and his equal excitement about the “sports parade” he put together for me…

to the time Madi spends hanging out with her BFF Kayla…

…it is a constant reminder that time just keeps moving forward. They are growing up at a furious pace, and I can either whine about it or jump on the merry-go-round and enjoy the ride. Tonight before bed, all three of them decided to participate in story time (sometimes Madi decides to read by herself) and we all jumped on the couch, legs and bodies and arms all intertwined while we read one of my favorite bedtime stories “Just Like You” by Jan Fearnley and then I had to catch myself before I got all teary-eyed and hiccupy so I could go on to read one of my least favorite books, a lift-the-flap collection of Valentines Day knock-knock jokes. (It’s as bad as it sounds) But it was cuddly and warm, my hands ruffling Parker’s thick hair, Madi’s hand resting on my knee, and Fiona’s head tucked under my chin…blissful.

on life…

Life is challenging, stressful, overwhelming, exhausting…and I have been reminded of that in so many ways this week. Life is also beautiful, life-affirming, rewarding, and meaningful…and I am so thankful for the ways that God has brought those things to mind this week as well. It gives me hope and courage…for whatever comes next.

 

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