Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Progress

     Oh so slowly the house is coming along.  The basement has been framed and the trades are coming around again, but the most noticeable change is the exterior.  The siding is going on this week and even though the style is not what I wanted, we are happy with the result.  Unfortunately the decks, posts, and front door will have to wait to be finished until next year.  That should give me enough time to find the right stain :) I think very dark...expresso..ish.  Yes, I do teach my children grammar.  And no, I don't teach them words like that.



     Now, while the house is progressing, the shop is regressing.  My living space is becoming the drop zone for everything until the house is ready.  Example, I have two bathroom vanities put together and stacked in my shop because the plumber wanted to see what he would be working with.  Our plumber does great work so of course we want to accommodate...but that leaves me with two assembled vanities in my shop.  Bit by bit my floor space is disappearing.  Yesterday the big load came though.  We knew it was coming, I had time to prepare, but it was still overwhelming when the delivery truck brought me a 42 piece order for my kitchen.  Gord stacked it for me yesterday, but I needed to organize everything.  We will be hauling it out piece by piece eventually, and I need a method to my madness.


                                   
so this....

turned into this


Get the idea?  I am overrun with stuff

     I have a feeling the next two months will try my patience.  And that's okay.  Regardless of the chaos happening all around us, my job is still clear.  Meals and laundry still take priority on my list of things to do.  Stories will still be read.  Schoolwork?  Ah, yes.  Taylor's Lego skills will be used constructively.  I am recruiting him to help me put my cupboards together.  Gord has the kids doing lots of odds and ends in the house.  They are learning to work, and that is a quality that will serve them well all their life.  I still struggle with putting 'The Books' away for a bit, yet I honestly cannot handle everything right now.  I am thankful that my two oldest are proficient readers and work well independently so they can still squeeze some work in.  This season will be over in a bit.  There is an end in sight to the messy schedules and unplanned trips to town for house stuff.   In the meantime people are still welcome for coffee if they can handle the mess around them :)  On the bright side, the dust no longer bothers me!

Friday, 24 October 2014

Just a house

     Building a house is exciting and terrifying at the same, for me anyway.  There is so much to choose from that it can be overwhelming.  We do not have an unlimited budget, so that does help narrow the choices down, but there are so many things to consider.  I count myself blessed to have the input of many family members and friends who have gone through this as well.  Not one couple we know has done the same thing.  Everyone has different priorities and ideas so obviously we all put our money in different places.  Our last house had a more complicated roof line and physical footprint.  This time we wanted a very simple plan so as to save on the cost.  We are very happy with what we have come up with, and going simple was a big payoff.

     Our house will not be stunning in it's design or layout.  It will not have the 'WOW' factor.  It will not have marble, granite, or exotic flooring.  It will also be lacking the $14000.00 stove that I dream about.  There were a few things that I really wanted, but had to let the idea go.  Not big things, but little things that would have made me smile.  We had planned a wood storage area beside the living room and the door was to be a sliding bard door.  We ran out of room so that idea was tossed...sniff.  I wanted open shelving on either side of my stove, but I miscalculated the kitchen dimensions.  As a result I lost valuable storage  space.  To make up for it I had to replace the shelves with cupboards.  Another slight sniffle, BUT they do have glass doors...it helps.  I didn't make a fuss about either, after all, it's just a house.  Gord and I are both so determined that this house won't consume our every thought.  Our house doesn't identify us or determine our quality of life.  Goodness, if that was the case we would be in trouble now!

     "It's just a house" is a phrase we use often now.  I admit I've been rather pleased with myself in letting all the little things slide....aaaannnnd, pride goeth before the fall.  For the past 4 years I have liked a particular style of siding.  I would love Hardy siding, but, that was just far more than we wanted to pay.  See I am really practical that way.  The expensive siding will do the same job as the less expensive, so then I usually opt for the better price.  If it is a matter of quality and performance I could be swayed, but it's not the case here.  The only thing I've stood firm on is the style.  We put it on the first house, I loved it.  We put it on the shop, still love it.  So why not make it a hat trick and do it again?  Well, that's what we specified, but that's not what came.  Gord and I walked outside and looked at the label.  It was the right colour, but the wrong style.  And it's the style that I really don't care for.  Now you see it everywhere, but I just don't like it.  I walked back in the house and mulled it over.  I was NOT very impressed because we had been very specific.  But the next morning  I woke with a much different attitude and said again, "It's just a house."  Gord was eyeing me curiously and asked if I was sure about this.  Apparently he doesn't want to hear me complain about it for the next 10 years.  Remember Proverbs?  "A complaining wife is like continual water dripping."

     Yes I am disappointed, but  the colour is right, so the basic look will be the same.  To re-order would take over a month and that means we will most likely have snow.  Working with a bank doesn't really give us the luxury of time either.  And if we didn't take the siding, the Sider would be stuck with it and no house to put it on.  He felt terrible, and we could have forced him to take it, but really, it's just a house.  It also helps that he will give us a price break because of the error.  Hello lovely sofas!  For those of you who wonder why I keep commenting on buying furniture, it's because I have navy leather sofas....enough said.

     I am, however, so excited to see what we can do with our simple house.  Our siding is a very neutral colour, so the plan is to use a dark stain on all the decks and posts.  Most people would clad the posts and never have to worry about maintenance, but I do love the look of stained wood.  Besides, we will have kids at home for a long while yet and they need projects for cultivating their work ethic :)



     The one area that we put more money into this time is the windows.  I am looking forward to the natural light and the view of the trees around us.  More character building will be done with my children when it comes time to clean all those lovely windows.  I will be able to look out 9 windows while washing dishes!  9!!  Presently I can look out my garage door windows if I try hard enough.  The island is positioned in a way that I can view the living room as well as the kitchen.  In the picture above you can see a full glass door on the left, that's the dining area.  The big window on the left of the front is the living room.  And we will have to invest in some window covering, blinds or drapes, for the other large window as it is our guest room.  We put a large window in our room, 7'x5' which looks straight into our little spruce forest behind us, but I missed getting a photo of that.  And finally, my laundry room and bathroom both have large windows as well.  Wherever we could put a window we did, and we are so happy we didn't go with small ones.


 The living room

Dining area..there is a window seat opposite the door

The plan is to put a mini chandelier above the tub
  
  
    I wonder if much will change in our home once we move.  Yes some things will for certain, but nothing of importance.  We will have real walls that are straight and don't sit on a sloped shop floor, 2 washrooms, closets (Hallelujah!!!!), a basement, or to sum it all up, space.  More space and privacy, but that's about it.  What we take with us into the house is LOVE, family and noise.  I will still have to dust, the floors will still need vacuuming, and laundry will still be never ending.  In fact I will have all that space, and I don't like the thought of accumulating stuff to fill that space.  I will still be in the kitchen way too much, my children will still squabble, and I have a feeling they will still want to be where I am.  Friends will still be invited over, countless pots of coffee will be served, and laughter will still echo through the house.  Our life will not change and I am glad.  

     Home is so much more than what we own or where we live.  Luke 12:15 says "One's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" or paraphrased, "I am not the sum of my possessions."  So take heart all you mini-van driving people, you are not what you drive!  It's been a good reminder for me, and I believe God has been working in my heart to bring me to a place of contentment about what we have or don't have.  Our house is just a house, but our home is what I want people to remember.


 

Monday, 20 October 2014

How to earn the title 'Worst Wife of the Year'

    **disclaimer**  my husband knows about this post :)


     It has been a long time since I laughed as hard as I did driving home tonight.  The kind of laugh that worries your children as well as yourself because you feel like you no longer have control over your body.  Tears were running and my stomach was cramping...and I laughed hysterically.  The odd thing is what we were laughing about.  5plus years ago we were NOT laughing about the situation that we now find so amusing.

     We love our friends.  We are blessed to know them and make memories as our families grow up together.  One of the things I appreciate most is the easy camraderie that we have.  No one takes themselves too seriously, which is a good thing.  Tonight, while visiting with friends, a remark was thrown out into the conversation that comes out at least once a year.  Usually it happens around a fire when everyone is laughing and sharing good, clean humour.   I really ought to just expect it now...especially if I ever try to garner sympathy from the ladies about living in the shop :) I should not have brought up my living conditions because someone (a man) ALWAYS comes back and trumps my statement with, "At least I've never locked my wife in a trailer" or something like that.   And inevitably the story comes out all over again, and I watch grown men and women roar with laughter.

     Rewind 5 years and 3 months.  We had a family reunion at my parents house in BC.  Wyatt was only 6 weeks old and all my siblings would be together for the week-end.  It had been wonderful to see everyone and to finally have a proper family picture taken...and that was also the last picture Gord and I have of us and our children.   I know, it's time to take a new one!  But sadly the week-end didn't go as smoothly as we would have liked and when it was time to go home, I left in tears.  I didn't say much for the first hour, but I cried.  Somewhere during my weepy session Gord started to feel ill.  I just wanted to go home and now he wanted to stop for a restroom.  We had a toddler and a baby...unplanned stops were NOT on my schedule.  But we stopped anyway...sort of a necessity.  We drove on and within 30 minutes had to stop again.  I am ashamed to say I was irritated with the interruptions.  When I get in a vehicle I drive as long as I can without having to stop...it's been the source of much discussion when we go on trips.

     I don't remember at what point I realized that this was getting serious, but I finally snapped out of my self-centred pity party and took a good look at Gord.  He was very very sick.  My thoughts were going in every direction at this point,

     "Should we turn around?"
     "I hope Wyatt stays sleeping.  I can't nurse him while Gord is vomiting"
     "If only we can make it home"
     "This is a nightmare"

     And on and on my thoughts went.   We continued driving, but now Gord was in the passenger seat, Chloe was in the middle, and the three boys were in the back seat.  We were travelling with the truck and an inclosed cargo trailer instead of our van.  How I wished for that van at that moment!  We were hardly making progress because Gord felt so nauseous sitting upright, but the truck seat couldn't recline because of the boys sitting behind him.  We would drive, then stop and repeat.  It's usually a three hour trip, and there is no cell service in that area.  But we were 4 hours into it and had half hour to go IF I could drive non-stop for the rest of it.

     To top it off, Nathan was not handling this well either.  He started to vomit as well and thankfully 7 year old Taylor came to the rescue..he held the bucket for my poor boy while I drove.   I looked at Gord and started to panic.  He looked like he was having a seizure and we wouldn't respond to my voice.  I pulled over as quickly as I could and ran over to his side of the truck.  He started coming around and I realized he had passed out, probably because he couldn't lay down.  But in that moment I panicked and Taylor must have seen the look on my face because he started to cry and was wondering what was going to happen.  I told him we need to take dad to the hospital and we would go to a hotel.  His response?  "Do we even have any money?" And mine, "Taylor I have a credit card!"  Really, that's what I said to a 7 year old with tears running down my cheeks.  I realized that I better pull it together and not let my kids see the panic that I felt.   So I came up with a plan...and this is where I earn my shining badge.

     I knew that if he could just lay down flat he might be okay, after all, I didn't see how much more could be in his system after the excessive vomiting and diarrhoea that had been going on the past few hours.  So, I looked at the cargo trailer.  I knew that I had bags of bedding in the trailer so I thought maybe the best option would be to put my husband in the back and of course close the door..which locked him in.  At this point I don't think he cared where he laid down...and neither did I!  I just knew I had precious moments left before my baby needed to eat and I had to get somewhere quick.  I jumped in the truck and I drove.  I felt so bad for every bump we hit because I knew he was feeling it even more.

     As much as I knew he needed to get to the hospital, I knew I needed to get my kids out of the truck too so I went to a nice, new hotel.  I choose it because I could drive in without having to back the trailer up!  I parked and then left Gord locked in the trailer.  In hindsight I should have at least un-latched the door because it was hot and was rather rank smelling.   But I went inside with the kids and got a room, kids settled, and a bottle of milk ready for Wyatt.  I had made a habit of always having a bottle of breastmilk ready and I was so thankful because he was hungry...and I gave my 6 week old baby to my 7 year old son to feed while I went to collect their father.

     Now, Gord and I have left out details when telling this story  because...well, it's better that way.  But I will say this, it was not a pretty picture when I opened the door and helped Gord out.  The moment he crawled out, he then proceeded to lay down on a small patch of grass.  He looked stoned, drunk, and neglected.  He could have cared less that he was laying on the grass in the middle of the town.  I, however, was very aware of how things looked so I got him into the room as fast as I could.  By then I was feeling confident that I could handle things.  I managed to get a hold of my sister who was an hour ahead of us.  We had left long before them, but somehow we missed each other during one of those 'rest stops' so they passed us.  In their kindness, they turned around and came to the hotel.  My brother-in-law had been very determined that we could make it home yet if they helped us.  Then he saw Gord and changed his mind.  Gord needed a hospital.  Chloe and Nathan went home with my sister and I kept Taylor with me so he could help with Wyatt.

     I drove Gord to the hospital where he was admitted very quickly.  His veins had collapsed and they had a hard time getting in an IV because he was severely dehydrated already.  It had happened so quickly, but the Dr's believe that because he had just been diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis 2 months prior, his system just couldn't handle an extreme flu bug.  If it had been vomiting OR diarrhoea he would have been fine.  The combination was just too much for his body.

     I admit that I was all to glad too see him be admitted.  I talked briefly with the Dr. and then left him in the competent care of the professionals.  I have never been so glad to leave him behind!  I went back to the hotel with my boys and crashed in a king sized bed...it's the only room they had left and I didn't care what I paid for it.

     I did all the laundry...it was needed...and thanked God that we had made it.  It felt like the trip that would not end.  I still remember the panic I felt, the complete lack of control and then the grace of God to help me get through the moments.

     I fell asleep, relieved that Gord was getting proper care.   In the morning I drove up to the hospital and Gord walked out feeling pretty good, all things considering.  They had pumped him full of anti-nausea medication, and plenty of fluids.  The drive home was uneventful but we talked!  I think we were both so stunned at what had happened.  We also agreed that some things just did NOT need to be talked about..ever!

     Of course at some point we shared parts of the story...and people laughed.  Not at the fear, or panic, but that I would lock my husband into a trailer and drive.  It sounds terrible really, but believe me when I say it was very very necessary!  We found that WE started to laugh about it.  It's hard to forget something like that so we may as well see the humour in it.  Of course Gord's friends all think they have it rather good since their wives have never tried this on them :)  And they will never let me forget it either!

     It was so good to laugh without care or worry tonight.  God gives us joy in the most unexpected moments.  I only wish I could find more humour in situations that seem unbearable.  Granted not everything is a comedy, but I know that I often fail to see humour in things.  For example, Taylor accidentally shot an arrow in the shop from one end to the other.  The problem was that I was at the other end and it whizzed right past my shoulder and hit the wall.  I was not smiling then...but I am now :)

     As you begin a new week I hope you are able to smile and laugh about what would normally irritate you.  The faces we wear are so important to the children around us.  I want them to remember their mom as having smiled more than she frowned.   I want them to keep their easy smiles and eagerness to laugh.  The truth is that I have much to learn from my children.  And tonight when I laughed, it was with the freedom of a child.

   

   

   

Monday, 13 October 2014

1st time for everything

     This Thanksgiving weekend was one for the books!  It was a new experience for our family but one I hope to repeat in years to come.  We were asked by friends if we would go camping with them. Now we've gone with these couples a few times before and it's always fun and easy.  However, this trip would be without the comfort and cleanliness of my trailer.  This trip would require sleeping in a big (HA!) tent with a total of 17 people.  "Sure," I said, "I'll try anything once." "Really?" they asked...I think they were unsure of my response.  I understand why.  These ladies are pros at it.  And out of the three of us..well, I am the most squeamish.  I hate dirt under my nails, I really don't like 'natural bathrooms', and I like clean hair when I go to bed.  But, they are a great crowd to be with so I figured at least the company will be good ;)

our fabulous dwelling



beautiful scenery



 again...good scenery :)

       One thing I didn't realize, is that they were really serious about hunting that weekend.  I mean, I knew the guys were talking about it, but uh, I thought men went hunting alone...by themselves.  Imagine my surprise when we all head out Saturday morning.  6 adults and 11 kids...hunting and calling moose.  Kids were having fun driving quads or having rides and every so often the lead driver would stop and call. Obviously these kids knew the drill because they all managed to stay very quiet while the men listened.  At this point I finally clued in that we were actually waiting for a moose and this wasn't just a joy ride.  Who does that?  Who goes hunting with children, and people (me) who know NOTHING about it?  Our friends, that's who.

     We came to a little valley in the bush and just as the lead driver was going up the other side, arms shot up signalling everyone to be quiet.  We were at the back of the pack but knew that they spotted something.  The gun came out and the moose went down.  Then I watched as all 11 kids made a dash for the prize.  By the time Gord and I got there all the kids were inspecting the moose.  Hilarious!  Our four have helped butcher chickens but they've never seen a large kill.  And even though a few things grossed them out, they couldn't help but be fascinated by it.  Honestly, I was too.  Within 25 minutes of the moose being shot, it was loaded up and we were on our way back to camp.  These guys knew what they were doing and I just watched, curious and excited.


   LOVE the expressions on these faces


    I grew up Salmon fishing so I understand patience and the thrill of the catch, but this is on a different level.   I've seen animals skinned and gutted and I knew what was coming...but my kids didn't :) My two older boys were ready to help  while Wyatt watched in horror/disgust and gave us a running commentary.  Questions were asked and answered...some of you know what I am referring to.



     I am so grateful for these men that take the time to train and teach their children.   The amount of patience they showed is commendable and these kids are blessed for it.   I am also aware that these are their formative years of building interests and friendships.  What/whom we chose to surround them with will play a vital part in their childhood.  I may never have hunters, but that will be their own choice not because they were never exposed.  But something tells me a few of my boys will gladly take this up as a hobby ;) More important is the friendships they are building.  I love seeing them interact and I know that this could change as they grow older.  But seeing as how we aren't related...or very very distantly...we will be keeping an eye on them as they mature!  The thought has crossed my mind that one day some of these kids could potentially become..'my kids.'  Stranger things have happened.

    We only stayed the one night because it was Thanksgiving and we were looking forward to having my sister and her family over on Sunday so we headed out Saturday after the moose had been cleaned up.  We asked our kids if they liked the tent, and shockingly, they all said it was better than the trailer.    They haven't however, slept in a tent when it's raining or infested with mosquitos.  Still I am so glad that it was a great experience for everyone.  

     Sunday was another great day for us, in a completely different way.  I was able to spend a day with my sister and that's always a treat and never long enough.  And as an added bonus we got to cuddle the cutest/chubbiest/squishiest baby.  My niece and her husband stayed with us for one night.  The same niece that has come up to help me after a baby was born...I was now able to hold her boy and snuggle him.  How quickly everything changes.  I believe the first time she came she was 13 or so.  Taylor is 12 and it's very hard to imagine him with a baby in 8 years yet seeing my niece and her little family makes me aware of how fast these years go by.

     The day was filled with fellowship, laughter, and food.   Having my sister over is always a hoot...and I usually try to corner her youngest boy at some point and ask him ridiculous questions because he gives the best answers.  Yesterday I asked him how school was going and was he learning anything or did he know it all?  Of course he didn't disappoint me and said "I know it all already."  I would LOVE to be a fly on the wall in his class!

     On a more serious note, thanksgiving is not just about being thankful for blessings, rather it's about an attitude of thankfulness.  How hard it must be for people to hear others praise their blessings when their own lives are void of those certain blessings.  I try to be aware of how I use the word 'blessing.'  It's easy to give an impression to people that because I have children, I am blessed.  Because I am healthy, I am blessed.  Because I have a husband I am blessed.  It's tricky because children, health, etc ARE blessings but our lives are not 'un-blessed' or less important if we do not have those things.  Are Christians in persecuted countries not blessed because they do not have the freedom we do?  Are Christians living in huts less blessed than those of us who have modern homes?  Is a family with health issues no longer blessed?  It is a dangerous attitude for Christians to give off, and yet we do it all the time.  In church we stand and say "I am so thankful for my children....God has blessed me so much" and give no thought to the woman with a barren womb.  What we have just told this woman is "I am more blessed than you."  I realize we don't intend it this way, but I feel compelled to teach my children that these 'blessings' are not the real treasure we should seek out.  Peace with Christ, forgiveness of sin, and real joy are the blessings available to ALL men and women.  Everything else is temporal and will not last.  I will lose loved ones, I may lose my health but I know if I am secure in Christ then I am still blessed regardless of my circumstances.

     If you made it through this long post and need a bit of cheering up, then hopefully this picture of Wyatt and his precious ears will make you smile!  Happy Thanksgiving.

     

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Say what?

     I have an aversion to a few words.  One is 'hate' and the other is 'stupid.' My mom told me once that hate is too strong of a word to use casually and I've remembered that.  I've stressed that to my children as well. Sin is the only thing to really hate.  You do not say you 'hate broccoli' but you can say it's not your favourite.  It's easy to exaggerate using words that aren't suited to that situation, I've done it myself a time or two.  I want to teach each of our children to guard their words; once spoken it's hard to undo.

     So there's the background, and now I have a confession.  There was a particular day last week that was...challenging.  Squabbles over ridiculous things (the kids, not Gord and I), grumbling, whining, and chores were being done rather poorly.  I finally sent everyone to their rooms while I tried to think of a way to redeem the day.  At some point I was on the phone with a sister, and all I could think of to say was "There's a whole lotta stupid going on here today!"  Unrefined, undignified, and maybe slightly immature.  But I am also realistic, and well, some things are just stupid.

     I called my kids into the kitchen and thought maybe they needed an object lesson.  I pulled out a chair and asked my kids what it was (we homeschool so of course they answered correctly...smile).  I  asked them if the chair was useful, and again they were correct.  I then laid the chair on the floor and asked them the same two questions.  They all agreed it was still a chair, but it was no longer useful to anyone.   I explained that each one of them is a huge blessing, not because of what they do, rather because of who they are.  They are children and the Bible specifically calls children 'Blessings.' But just because we are something doesn't mean we always act like it.  I made sure to stress that as our children we are so blessed to have them, and not because they do everything right.  They can't earn their status,  they just are.  I told them like the chair, it's a chair no matter if it's useful or not.  I wanted them to see that as a blessing they also can choose to be useful...or not.  It doesn't change who they are, but it changes their usefulness to those around them.  In a nutshell, I told them to act like the blessing they are for the good of those around them.  I think they understood, at least I tell myself that.

     The funny thing is that after I sent them away God showed me the lesson on a more personal note.  As Christians we are the Children of God.  We cannot earn favour with Him, and even on a day when I am far from what I should be, I am still His Child.  My failures do not change what I am in Him.  Unfortunately it's easy to call myself His Child, but then not act like it.  My standing with Him hasn't changed, but how the world perceives Him, and me, does.  That's the sad reality of it.  What I do as His child affects those around me and maybe that is part of the reason why some people have no use for Christians.  We cannot think only of ourselves, we must live in a way that glorifies Christ.  We are used as a tool to show God to the world.  If the world sees a selfish, self-satisfying person, why would they want to know the God I proclaim?

     My children need to be taught this lesson in the safety of our home because they WILL grow up, and they will live in the real world eventually.  Our home is their training ground because imperfection and sin live here too.  I am thankful, so very thankful, for the time I have with them.  And maybe I should look for life lessons in the 'stupid' a lot more.

   

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Awkward moment #1

     To the kind fellow that knocked on our door this morning...I am so sorry you saw me in a dis-sheveled state this morning.  What you saw is not the norm.  What you didn't see is that my chores were getting done, boys were getting haircuts, laundry was on the go, and tomatoes were simmering on the stove.  Yes, it did look like I had just rolled out of bed, but I assure you that was not the case.  I just threw my hair back and forgot to check what it may have looked like.  The look on your face however, made me a little anxious.  At first I was too nervous to look in the mirror.  When I finally did, I saw what you saw.  And try as I might there was no way around the obvious....I looked terrible.

     Awkward, that's what it was.  And maybe a little funny.  It's good to laugh at myself and my mistakes.  Things have been far too serious around here lately.  But I think I may have to seriously consider making a change in my morning routine in order to avoid another incident ;)