Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Years and years ago (seems like eons ago) when Tom and I first got married, we lived in a little two bedroom duplex. It was sweet. We used to wash dishes together. One would be the washer; the other would be the quality control/rinser/dryer.

One day after doing the dishes, we were looking for a little clear plastic cup that went in the lid of our blender. We both remembered that it had just been washed and we were scouring around everywhere on the drying rack and on the floor looking for it. I remembered exactly where I saw it last. I remember I placed my hand exactly on the spot where I knew it had been.

After giving up hopes of finding it and turning around to make whatever we were making at the time, I turned around and there it was! It was right where I had placed my hand not even ten minutes before. I laughed and told Tom, thinking that he had just put it back, that he had played a good joke on me. wasn't a joke. He didn't put it back. It just reappeared. True story!

The only plausible explanation that we could come up with was that we had just witnessed an angelic joke. We called him, the KA - Kitchen Angel. Every since then, the KA comes around once every couple years or so.

Which bring me to the missing piano bags. I had looked in boxes several times. I had moved items. I had searched. Everywhere. No bags. The boys went to two lessons without their piano books. I was at a loss as to where they could be.

Well. They've been found. You want to know where? Right out in the open! Right on top of one the kids' school desks. A school desk that I know I had moved. I could not have missed them! KA strikes again!

The camera has been found too. It was just in a small box on top of one of the laundry shelves that I hadn't looked in. No miracle there. The other missing item must have also been found, since I still can't remember what it is.

So. There you have it. Keep an eye out for KA's in your home. Not all things missing or misplaced can be blamed on an absent mind. It just might be there's an angel lurking around who has a sense of humor.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Displaced Persons

Like I said, moving is hard. Moving into an unfinished space is even harder. I liken it to camping. Long term. Last week felt a lot like camping. At least how I view camping - I'm not that fond of it.

You have everything you need. Somewhere. You open up box after box looking for the one thing you need (or bin if you're truly camping. Cutlip camping anyway). You see lots of interesting items but not the one item in question. Finally after a long frustrating search, you find it. Hurray! Two hours later you are in search again for an item. You know you saw it in your first search, but you can't remember in which box so the process of searching is repeated. Several times. Every couple of hours. We have not located the camera, the boys' piano bags, and...something else that I can't even think of at the moment. They're probably together in a box mark lawn ornaments that won't be opened until spring at best.

Thankfully, unlike camping, we had a working refrigerator to keep the food cold and not soaked with melting ice cubes. Like camping though, for the first couple of days we had no running water in the kitchen, no dishwasher, no stove and no microwave. All to say, we ate on paper plates and got subway a couple of times. Tom and my dad quickly got to work getting the kitchen in proper working order so that we could have some semblance of preparing meals.

Within the first couple of days we got the kids' bedrooms all set up and unpacked. Within the next couple of days, I finally got the master unpacked. The bedrooms are the only finished spaces in the house, so we could actually get everything set up. It has been so nice to get those spaces looking and feeling livable.

The kitchen is the next almost finished space. This past weekend and then again on Monday, our cabinet guy, Dave (friend from church, in case I didn't mention that already), was working on installing the last of the shelves, pulls, and little extras. There's still some more work that needs to be done, but some items are on back order and it's Thanksgiving week - time to rest and relax with friends and family (for others, not necessarily for us). But the kitchen is looking fantastic and I pretty much have everything unpacked. I even found my favorite spatula - it was MIA until today.

The rest of the house is a different story. We're living on bare concrete slab for awhile. We have a couple of walls to build and part of a brick fireplace hearth that needs to come out before we can have tile laid. At least I am on a mopping reprieve!

Another big thing to be thankful for is brand new washer and dryer  - a gift. Thanks, Dad! The kids, especially Jon, our button-pusher, loves them! He's actually taken over doing the laundry. Livvy helps with the sorting of the clean clothes. They will be stacked as soon as Tom has some time, that'll give us more space in the laundry room now and when the room is enclosed.
Jon watched it for a full cycle the first one or two loads.

She's just goofy!

Tom still has some electrical work to do as well. We currently have wires hanging from the ceiling in several places - outlets, switches, and thermostat need to be relocated.  We also still have some demo to do. Everything takes time.

Last week most of Tom's time was spent at the Peaks house finishing up things that needed to be fixed, and/or replaced before the renters moved in. I joined him for two very late nights, painting, cleaning out the garage, and mopping the floor one last time. I was planning on cleaning the house all last week during the day, but Jeanita and her teenage kids (friends from church and fellow homeschool mom) blessed me by thoroughly cleaning every room in the entire house - they wiped down walls, mini-blinds, toilets, etc. They vacuumed the floor so that it left a cool pattern and even folded the end of the toilet paper into a triangle!! Wow!! So blessed!!

Ever since Saturday, Tom's been working on a place for the dogs. We were originally thinking we would just get an invisible fence. It turns out, though, that we live in an elk thorough fare and we don't think the dogs would mind a little jolt if they could go sink their teeth into an elk or two. We don't have time in the present to fence the entire yard, so Tom is building them a little dog run in the back corner. Hopefully it will keep them contained until we can build a proper fence. I'm half thinking these dogs are a little more trouble than they are worth, but I can't convince the kids or Tom of that.

Saturday was also the day that the renters moved into the Peaks house. It's good that we don't have to keep going over there while living here. Emotionally it was getting taxing. I miss that house. Everywhere I looked there were memories. Every mark on the wall, stain on the floor. A memory. It was home for eight years. When we first bought that place and fixed it up, we knew we'd have to leave it in order to get our sweat equity out of it. I just never thought it would be this hard.

It doesn't help that this house is not finished. That it's significantly smaller. That it doesn't back forest. It's a stepping stone house. It's a place to build a temporary house for Tom's mom and dad. It doesn't feel like home. I'm not sure it ever truly will. One of the kids asked tonight if anybody would cry when we left this house. Most thought not. Except from missing a tree or two that they've claimed as theirs. God may have a different plan than we do. We certainly want to be open to that. But we're hoping and praying that God has something else planned for us as far as living arrangements in the next 18 months or so.

So for the time being, I/we feel like one(s) without a home. I have nice house to live in. To fix up. To do life in for awhile. To make work. But it's not home. Not yet. Maybe it will someday. We'll see.

Until the next project is done, Happy Thanksgiving to all! I hope you all enjoy your day with friends, family, and turkey. Tom's working and we are just not set up for a big feast yet, so we'll be eating out. Maybe Chinese. Maybe Freddy's. It's all about making memories. "Remember the year we ate out for Thanksgiving..."

Friday, November 18, 2016

Moving Day

Moving day has come and gone, but I did want to share some thoughts and memories that I have of the big day. It was quite the day. A roller coaster of emotions: excitement, anticipation, fear, annoyance, frustration, disappointment, laughter, joy, etc. Moving is never easy on anybody. There are so many logistics, and opinions on the logistics, that make it tough. But we're so grateful for all those who came and gave of their muscle, time, and heart!

The day started off with donuts. What moving day doesn't include donuts?

It was a busy Saturday for lots of people, and so we only had a couple of friends show up to help, and most of those were kids. But those who did show up, really worked hard and blessed our socks off! Our friend, Cody, came for an hour or two in the morning. The Ketters came early and left sometime after lunch. Some Finneys came mid-morning. The other Finneys came at lunch time and stayed til well after dinner.

Our neighbor and good friend, Theresa, watched the two littlest for the day - it would have been extra tough with those two under foot.

My parents were at the new house getting things ready and cleaned - another wonderful blessing!

We are still surrounded by boxes, but at least all of our stuff is here. Now it's time for the real work to be done!

Friday, November 11, 2016

T-minus One

Well, it's begun. No stopping it now.

Our friend, Danny, pulled the trigger for us by coming over this evening instead of tomorrow morning to help move some of the big stuff. Gone are the couches, coffee table, end table, and piano. They've all been moved to the garage of the new house - the garage and not the living room because things aren't quite ready for us over there yet. Yet. Sometime tomorrow as we move, the living room will be cleared of tools and pieces and parts of the kitchen. Hopefully:)

The garage is full of boxes and bins.

The kids are "sleeping out" in the game room one last time (actually just the boys, Livvy wanted to sleep in her own room).

The evening didn't go exactly as I had hoped (like anything ever does). I was thinking one last night of all of us squished onto the game room couch to say prayers and hug and kiss everybody good night. You know. So we could remember the last time we sat there all together in this house praying before bed (the new house doesn't have a game room; the prayer couch will be in the garage). But when bedtime rolled around the couch had been moved and Tom wasn't home. I'm a little sad that we didn't have that last, but it's okay. We had years of sitting there and praying. Good memories.

Instead, the kids and I sat on the floor in the empty game room. We prayed, talked, cried...I sang their song and talked some more. Good memory.

Tomorrow's the big day. Here's hoping for lots of muscle and strong backs.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

T-minus 3 Days

So it's down to 3 days until the big move. Things are getting done slowly but surely.

Yesterday started out like this:

 The wall dividing the dining room into the school room is all down. A new wall will be built three feet over eventually.

The walls separating the laundry from the pantry and the school room were knocked out by our good friend, Brian.

I painted closets and the exposed parts of the kitchen wall.

The kids played all day outside! Key to playing all day outside? Not having any toys, books, electronic gadgets whatsoever! They made leaf beds, just like the one Abraham Lincoln used to sleep on.

Then, the highlight of the day! The kitchen cabinets arrived. These guys helped unload.

Today did not start out so productive. I did a lot of waiting and driving back and forth between the Peaks house and the Lene house. The carpet guy was supposed to come between 8 and 10. I waited while the kids hung out at home doing chores, doing some independent school, building a gingerbread cookie white house and watching an election DVD put out by Learn Our History.

I was supposed to be back to the Peaks house by 10 to meet the chimney sweep. But, because I was waiting for the carpet guy who didn't end up showing up until 2pm, my very sweet neighbor Theresa came over to the house to be with the kids while the chimney sweep was doing his thing. Just as I had gotten word from the carpet guy that he would be late and was in the car going back home, Theresa said the chimney sweep was done there and was ready to come to the Lene house to clean it out. So I stayed and waited some more.

Once the chimney was cleaned, I headed home to collect the children from Theresa. Of course I stayed and chatted with her a little bit. Just as I was heading out the door to go home with the baby to feed the baby, I got the call that the carpet guy was on his way. Gave Zac back to Theresa and drove back to the Lene house to let the carpet guy in. Like I said, lots of waiting and driving.

The rest of the afternoon was fairly uneventful - kids played, Zac took a nap, I packed some boxes, and made dinner.

Around 7pm, after the kids and I had eaten dinner, I took dinner out to Tom and this is what I saw:

Wow! It's such a rich looking kitchen!

The carpet guy is not quite done yet, but it's looking good so far.

Tomorrow there's nothing major on the to-do list, thankfully. I have a friend coming over in the morning to help pack, and my mom and dad are bringing the littles back. It will be nice to have a nice quite day at home - ha!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

T-minus 5 Days and Counting

We're really in high gear now. We've got five days until we are moving. Five.

This weekend my parents came up to help - they're amazing!! Dad worked on moving some wiring into the new location for the computers, as well as several other jobs at the current house that needed to be done. Mom packed boxes, watched kiddos, and cleaned. We are so blessed to have those weekend-warriors!!

Here are some more pictures of the mess the kids and I made:

Tom's been busy making a mess too. He had to cut and sledge hammer out some concrete to get power to the new kitchen island. Then he had to patch it back up.

Tonight, after going to bed at 5am this morning and getting up at 12:30pm, he's finishing the last of the wiring and re-wiring. The kitchen should be ready to have cabinets installed!

Speaking of cabinets. They are scheduled to arrive Tuesday. Our cabinet guy, Dave, is a great guy that we have really enjoyed getting to know better at our Grace Group (small group Bible study). He will be showing up Tuesday evening to start working on unpacking and installing our new cabinets - I'm so excited!!

Also this week:
Century Link will be showing up sometime Tuesday morning to see where cables will enter the house and get us set up with internet - very important stuff! 

The kids and I have been painting the bedrooms because carpet will be installed in the bedrooms on Wednesday. Painting is one of my least favorite things to do but it must be done, Since I'm not skilled in other trade, painting is one of the only things I can do without Tom - just don't look too close at the line between the wall and the ceiling...I did my best.

The chimneys in both houses will be cleaned and inspected also on Wednesday - I hope I don't have to be two places at once. Thankfully my parents have Jon and Danner. It makes things just that much easier to not have the littles to worry about.

That's all for now. I'll post pictures when we have carpet and cabinets in. Ta for now.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

We're At It Again

I started this blog eight years ago to keep family and friends up-to-date on the house that we had just bought and were remodeling. We spent weeks, months, and a couple of years in the remodeling phase of our current house getting everything just right. We have loved living here!! The house is great, the neighborhood is great.... It has been a fantastic eight years!

But....For years we've talked to Tom's parents about where they want to spend their remaining years, in Ohio or near us so that they can enjoy their grand kids more than twice a year. They chose taking a huge leap and move to AZ to be near us! Hard decision for them having spent their entire lives in Ohio.

We all agreed that just having them in AZ is not enough. We want to share a property so that we can "do life together" and help them in the years to come as health needs arise (thankfully right now they are both in good health).

Our current house has no room for Tom's parents. Because we are one of the largest houses in the neighborhood, we felt like adding on a guest space for them wasn't wise. We've been looking for raw land or a house that could work for us but also allow for the addition of a space for them.

After a year and a half of looking, we finally found something. It isn't exactly what we were hoping for (we were praying for something backing forest service), but it was a great price and God pretty much orchestrated the purchase. Long story, short: saw it Monday night on Zillow (first day on Zillow), called Tues morning to see it; looked at it in the afternoon, three offers already in; we offered, we were turned down saying there was an offer of about $10k over ours; we didn't want to go that high so we left thinking the place was not to be; on his drive back to work, Tom got a call from the realtor saying the sellers went with our offer. Crazy, I know!!

We're calling this house a temporary move - a place to live for two to three years (or less) that we can fix up, build a guest house for Mom and Dad C. and keep looking for the perfect spot.

The new house is a 1930 square foot home (yes, it's about 800 something square feet smaller than our current house - not the direction we were hoping to go) in desperate need of some TLC. It's on two and a half acres in a nicer neighbor than our current house (i.e. we can add on and still get our money out of it when we move to the next house).


Back yard

Side yard

Living room


The great routine that I mentioned in my last post, five weeks into school, is out the window (we're still getting some morning school done - especially me with Ben, but that's about it). The kids and I have spent several afternoons over at the new house ripping up carpet, padding, tack strips, banging down walls, and ripping out the kitchen cabinets. Tom's been burning the midnight oil (plus some) tearing down cabinets and walls the kids and I couldn't, re-wiring and re-plumbing the kitchen trying to get the kitchen ready for new cabinets.

I'm excited about how the kitchen will look, but we're all a little nervous about down-sizing. We're all, especially the kids, very sad to be leaving this home. I think if this was the dream house move then I think we would all be a little more at ease, but God works in ways sometimes contrary to our ways. It's our job to follow Him with a willing spirit and see where He takes us.

Our official move date is November 12th - yes, a little less than two weeks. Plenty of time to knock down the remaining unwanted walls, build the new walls, wire the house for the modern century, paint, have carpet installed in the bedrooms (we'll live on slab everywhere else for awhile until we have time to redo the fire place and have tile laid), install the new kitchen cabinets and counter tops, and install an invisible fence for the dogs. Oh, and pack, fix up, and clean this house for the renters to move in on November 18th. Piece of cake! 

Oh, man...I can't believe we're doing this!

I will try to do a better job of blogging so that any that are interested can keep up with the latest progress that we are making. I know it'll be good fun for me, Tom and the kids to look back in years to come and remember all of our hard work.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

School & Farmer Boy

We're 5 weeks into the school year so far. It's going to be another great year!! This year we're studying the 1850's to the modern times - I'm excited. Things are finally coming together and we're back into our rhythm, for the most part.

Livvy is in 6th grade this year. She continues to get up early to try to get it all done before lunch. Sammy, 4th grade, is not far behind her, not getting up quite as early, but racing to see who can get their work done first.

I've made time with Ben my priority this year - setting up everybody else up with something to watch so that we have uninterrupted quiet time to school (I'm not thrilled about it, but it really seems to be the best option right now). Even though Ben would rather be watching something too, it seems like he really loves the one-on-one time and is doing well. Technically he's 2nd grade this year, but he's a little behind in reading. We just added another thing to his school, a program called Fast ForWord. It promises to help rewire some foundational connections in the brain to help with reading, math, memory, etc. I'm very excited about it for Ben.

Jon is in kindergarten this year - he's doing a great job with his numbers/math and reading. And last, but not least, Danner refuses to be left out of school. As soon as I sit down with Jon, Danner sits down too and demands that he gets some school too - playdough,  "fishing" (cut-out fish with paper clips on them that he catches with a magnet on a string), or the tiny cars in one of the school-boxes seems to satisfy him.

The first book on our read-aloud list this year is Farmer Boy - what a great book!! I'm loving the book for its insight into parenting and life for farmers back in the late 1800's. I'm fascinated by the level of obedience, perseverance, and non-whiny attitudes about really hard work. Not that I want to go back in time or recreate Almanzo's life today - I love my dishwasher, washer and dryer, and store-bought clothes and groceries (lazy as all of those might seem to Mr Wilder), I love the natural self-discipline and self-esteem that all of that hard work creates. We are a society so bent on being comfortable and entertained that we whine about any kind of real work and have to manufacture self-esteem in our children with sticker charts and conjured up praise. It's really kinda sad. I want what Almanzo had for my kids, but honestly we have such little real work to do that it's almost impossible without selling it all and buying 20 acres out in the boonies somewhere.

Besides the chores, I love the wisdom that Mr Wilder has regarding what Almanzo can and cannot do. For example, when Almanzo's bobsled turns over, Mr Wilder just keeps going by (the first time when he knows that Almanzo needs to and can, with a lot of hard work, right the bobsled and learn a great lesson at the same time). Most modern day readers are appalled that a parent wouldn't stop and help his kid. But, by not helping, Mr Wilder allowed Almanzo to do something for himself, allowed Almanzo to accomplish something hard for himself - what an amazing thing to do for a kid! Sometimes by stepping in and helping our kids, we are actually telling them they can't do it, that they need help. By allowing them time to work it out for themselves, we give them so much more - an opportunity to do something that they might not even thought they could, building in them a great sense of accomplishment and to "know what they are really made of".

It  would be great to somehow meld the good from both the Farmer Boy and modern world so that our children grow up with the inner strength from not only knowing who they are spiritually (God's children, holy and loved), but also useful, hard-working adults that aren't afraid to really work at something without whining about not being spoon-fed.


The kids really love the book too. They seem to relish all the details about how things were built and all the work that had to be done. I can see their minds churn as they try to picture themselves on Almanzo's farm, milking the cows, cutting ice out of the river, planting the potatoes, and saving the corn-field from frost. They have especially enjoyed hearing about the food. So much so that we started our co-op early one Friday morning so that our good friends, the Finney's, who have also been reading the book, could come over and have a Farmer Boy breakfast together. In true Farmer Boy fashion, they had to do some work before eating - we had them pick all the apples off of our tree before breakfast - too bad we don't have a cow for them to milk. It was a very fun and tasty breakfast for sure!

Making doughnuts.
A tree full of kids.
Enjoying apple pie, doughnuts, sausage, biscuits and gravy, and preserves. 

More fun times to come!!