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!!