Thursday, October 8, 2009

Rewind, Fast Forward, How do I Pause?

After several years of child abuse, our VCR broke. My kids are pretty hard on things, which is rather irritating, so I decided not to buy another one for a while and let the kids feel the effects of their mistreatment of the a/v equipment. That lasted about a week. I hadn't realized how often I use movies as a crowd control mechanism. So we bought another. None of the buttons were in the right places. We fast forwarded when we meant to rewind and rewound when we meant to pause. I was muttering about it when it hit me that my life has been just like that ever since we moved to Idaho. No wonder I'm so tired. Even though I've tried to plan things so they happen one at a time, they just spin forward or reel backwards willy nilly and I have absolutely no control over it. I guess I should be used to it by now, because somehow, everything always ends up happening at the same time. I'm still looking for the pause button.

Anyhow, since I last posted, Trevor finished his Eagle Project, the kids started school, I edited a dissertation and passed my CNA exams. I started my Pathophysiology and Genetics classes and started working two days a week in BirthPlace at Pullman hospital (I love working there and now realize that I really want to be a nurse. I was able to help prep a patient and watch a c-section on my second day - it was so cool). My parents came for a visit and they were an amazing help while we did our landscaping. I can't wait for our little orchard to bear fruit. We have three cherry trees, two pears, two plums, an apple and a peach. We'll plant another apple and peach tree next spring along with a windbreak, two more maple trees, a bunch of firs and spruce.

Trevor is loving his new driving freedom and is keeping his grades up so he keeps those privleges. He is also busy trying to raise funds for his band trip to Disney Land over spring break, so if anyone needs to renew any magazines, please let us know in the next few days. The fundraiser ends next Thursday. Lindsey is doing well in school and has suddenly discovered that when she brushes her hair and looks put together, the boys notice her. Jeff and I are not at all sure that this is a good thing because she is very pretty and a pro at manipulating boys (she's had lots of practice with her brothers). Jeff asked me if I wanted to home school her again. I just smiled and assured him that no, I'd rather not, and reminded him that keeping her home would not stop her from growing up. He's missing his sweet little princess who has been replaced by an imperious diva. I think we're in for a few painful years. The younger boys are all doing fine. Jared wants to go to school every day and gets really upset when he is left behind. Nathan loves kindergarten and doesn't like being picked up at lunch time either, unless I take him to the park or McDonald's. The kid has great bargaining skills. Tyler and Evan are enjoying scouts and Tyler still loves to draw. He also had a great time disassembling the broken VCR. He found a toy car, a penny, a dried up string cheese, lots of Legos, and a pencil inside. Hmmm...maybe that's why it broke? Sorry, no pics this time. I don't have time to download them to my laptop. I'll try to do so before my next post.

Monday, August 17, 2009

At Last!

YAY! We've finally moved in. The last month has been so insanely busy that I probably would've had a nervous breakdown if my mom hadn't come to help out for a couple weeks. But saint that she is, she booked a flight and came to my aid. Of course, her house sold the week after she booked the flight and the ticket was non-refundable, so my relief was layered with a lot of guilt. But I think they'll get packed in time for their August 30th closing date.

My 36-hour CNA clinicals were scheduled the same week that we were trying to finish the house, schedule bank and county inspections, and pack. Needless to say, we dropped into bed dead tired every night and I'm sure I wasn't the best company. But my mom was a saving grace, as were the friends who watched Jared and Nathan so we could actually get something done on the days I wasn't working 12 hour shifts for free (a serious flaw in clinical education as far as I'm concerned, but then again, most of my classmates are eighteen and don't have anyone to worry about except themselves). I didn't make much progress on the packing front until August and even then, it was mostly throwing things in laundry baskets and re-using them in nonstop runs back and forth. The result of all of this stress is the stranger in the mirror whose drawn, shell-shocked expression would be alarming if I had the time to care. I suspect that with more sleep, she'll go away.

Jeff started classes today and the two online classes I'm taking start next week. The kids don't start until September 2nd (happy birthday to Rachel). In between now and then, I'm hoping to finish unpacking and help Trevor get his Eagle project done. We'll see how it goes.

All the work has paid off though. The house is gorgeous. The appraised value is about $100K more than our cost, so I suppose sweat equity isn't as mythical as I was beginning to suspect. However, I don't want to find out what the difference is between appraised value and market value. If I have to move again anytime in the next decade, I will be a seriously unhappy camper. Anyhow, enjoy the pics. Dreaming about a new house and planning to build one is much more fun and infinitely less work than actually building it. But like all difficult experiences, once the pain has passed, the memory fades and the intensity of the experience softens. So now, I'm going to enjoy it. The coolest part is that everything looks better in this house. Even my old junky furniture looks somewhat respectable. YAY.

Now that we have a nice place to live, come visit anytime! Check out the view from the front porch.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Home Stretch

I never liked running much - the pounding in my poor knee joints and that stitch in my ribs just didn't do much for me. But the part I hated most was that I always had to run in circles around a track. I mean seriously, what was the point? If I have to go through a lot of pain, I'd at least like to arrive at a destination or see some concrete results.

Since my last post, I've been running against the calendar to get this house done. All day, every day, I run from one thing to the next towards that end goal, and then fall into bed completely exhausted. The upside is that I've been running towards something and I have concrete results to show for it; and I mean that quite literally.

We now have a concrete pad for our garage, back patio, and front porch. Yay. We also have the stone fireplace done, all the doors in (complete with doorknobs), the kitchen island finished, all the plumbing and electrical trimmed out, a balcony railing which makes the upstairs hall SO much safer for the kids and all the baseboards installed. Jeff will start painting the exterior tomorrow while the carpet installer puts carpet in the one room that still needs flooring. After that, I have to put the last coat of polyurethane on the hardwood stairs and then we have to install the railing. Then we clean everything while the garage doors are being installed on Wednesday and put one more coat of polyurethane on the hardwood floors on Thursday. Once the exterior trim is painted, steps are built from the garage to the house, and shelving is installed in the front and master closets, we're done. Hallelujah.

We're hoping to get everything done this week so the appraiser can come a week from Monday and we can close on Friday. Here's hoping it works out that way. We just have to make it through this home stretch.

We took a few minutes to memorialize our family on the edge of the front porch. Everyone pressed their hands into the wet cement by age. Jared gave me the weirdest look, like, 'you WANT me to get messy?' Then he freaked out as we pushed his hands into the cement. I guess we should've gone oldest to youngest so he'd know what to expect before his turn came.

Then yesterday, I found another nail in the gravel driveway. Or rather, the tire did. After working ten hours on the house, I got a flat. Frustratingly enough, the jack was too short to actually lift the tire off the ground since it kept sinking into the gravel road. Of course, I forgot my cell phone too, so I had to walk back to the house to get Jeff and the truck. I think I passed that patience test, though. I didn't yell, scream, cry, curse, or kick the car. I only sighed. But as I walked back to the house, I noticed the wheat waving in the breeze, the swallows chirruping as they swooped above the field, and the clear, bright blue sky and was reminded how lucky I was to be able to live here. It is absolutely beautiful. Maybe the flat was worth it after all.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Seeing the Light

Light at the end of the tunnel, light upon a hill, light in the darkness, light up my life - so many metaphors ran through my head as I stood in the chilly drizzle and watched the crew put in the power line to my house. A wide swath of smooth mud showed where the excavator tracks slid down the hill and nearly dumped the whole machine into the trench. It was tense. But as the crew drove away and I squelched my mud-caked boots into the garage, I could hardly wait to 'light it up.' Or not. I flipped the switch and...nothing. Did you know that there's a breaker before the breaker box? I didn't. But now I do. I also learned that even really good electricians sometimes mess up. So we have power everywhere except the upstairs because there's a little problem the electricians have to fix this week. After using a generator for power all winter long, it's amazing what a luxury it is to simply plug into an outlet. The same goes for water. After months of lugging water every day, we now have an operating well pump. And even though the plumber won't do the trim-out until June 8th, we can use the faucet in the yard to pull it, however reluctantly, out of the bedrock. I'm looking forward to having an operating toilet. Port-a-potty's stink.

The tile is completely done too - floors, tub surround, shower surround and master bathroom countertop. Hallelujah. If I don't cut another tile for a decade, it will be too soon. The master bathroom does look amazing, though.

We've set the cabinets and put on the concrete substrate for the stone face of the chimney. Jeff installed the shower doors and storm doors while I cleaned. Home construction offers a whole new definition of mess. We've hauled all the chimney stone to the front porch and most of the hardwood flooring is stacked and awaiting installation which begins tomorrow. Oh yeah, the pasture is now seeded in hay too. I'm going to bed. It's 2 a.m.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Holding Back the Spring

Okay, you know how I complained all winter about the snow and yearned for a bit of spring? Well all that snow has given me a lot a spring right now - about a ten gallon-a-minute spring to be exact. Yep, we hit a freshwater spring on Saturday when Jeff was excavating the utility trench. The real kicker is that the gusher wasn't thirty feet from the spot where we tried to drill a well last fall and never hit water. I'm smiling....still smiling...if I stop smiling, I might cry. We need power at the house and the electric company won't put in the line if there is any standing water so we have a real problem. The trench is a three foot deep pond right now. Jeff always wanted a pond, I just never thought he'd get one. Surprise!

Anyhow, I took a picture, but can't find my camera's transfer cable. Hmmm...maybe I'll organize my office. That is, if I can find the time. I have to get the tile laid in the kitchen and bathrooms this week so I can take delivery of the cabinets. I also have to finish packing the hardwood flooring into the house so the boards will dry out in time to install them. I'm just hoping that I'll still have skin on my fingertips by next weekend.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Birthday Boy and SuperBunny

I'm going to stop apologizing for not keeping up with everything and just realize that it's not going to happen in the near future. Oh well. I'm trying. The last month has been crazy - as always. My mom and a family friend, Dave, flew in on the same day at the end of March. Dave left a few days later, but my mom stayed to help me tile our bathrooms (they look beautiful) and then most of us got sick. Stomach flu, how fun. So Jeff spent his birthday hugging a trashcan and Jared puked nonstop and couldn't enjoy his birthday cake. They recovered, but then it was my turn, and let me tell you, I felt every aching joint in my body. I hope that wasn't a glimpse of what old age feels like, 'cause it wasn't much fun. Seriously, even though I know I'm not getting any younger, I HOPE that I'm spry until the very end. I want to be a globetrekking grandma. Yes, I still dream of traveling, but I need to get the house done first.

Jeff finished painting the interior of the house yesterday. It looks wonderful. So now on to flooring and setting the stone front of the fireplace. We're getting there, albeit a little slowly. Illnesses and bad weather haven't helped, but we're moving past both of those now.

This week Jeff's parents arrive for a visit and for Evan's baptism, I'll hand over the keys of our van to the couple who is buying it, and I'm hoping to finish up a grant that Jeff is trying to submit to NIH (I'm crossing my fingers on that one). The NIH grant process is a bureaucratic mess hidden in an unnavigable maze of forms and 100+ page procedure manuals. If I'm lucky, I'll get it all done and start on the floor tile, but we'll see.

Today, however, was fun. Nathan turned five and between Easter candy and birthday cake, Jared was flying high. Literally. He decided to be SuperBunny, who apparently, flies and plays the harmonica. Unfortunately, the harmonica happened to be one of Nathan's birthday gifts. No one got hurt (thank goodness) and when we finally convinced Jared to give back the harmonica and sit still, we enjoyed watching Tales of Desperaux as a family.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Working Spring Break

The house is taped and Trevor, Jeff and I spent the first day of Spring Break masking the windows and taping the electrical boxes. Trevor wasn't too happy. He got this bored 'yeah, figures' look when I asked him to work at the house, and he used the word 'whatever' a lot, but he worked mostly without complaint.

The big upside is that we've gotten this far despite the six inches of snow that fell last week. But it's snowing again as I type this, so I can only hope that I can make it up the driveway tomorrow. I was driving the truck, but unfortunately, the transmission died. So now we get to tow the truck to a transmission shop and fork over as much as the truck is worth just so we can keep driving it. Ugh.

Jeff primed the lid with the vapor barrier paint that we have to use for our rafter-type roof and then started to paint the walls. The paint sprayer jammed. He cleaned it and it jammed again. So, now we're a bit behind, but oh well, there isn't much we can do about it. Someone from the place we rented it from is coming to take a look at it tomorrow, so hopefully, we'll get the primer applied without too much delay. If not, I might be the one painting because Jeff is taking the Boy Scouts on a campout later this week. I'm just hoping for a week of dry weather sometime soon. It has rained or snowed nearly every day since December. I am SO ready for spring. The beautiful weather on my birthday was a big tease. It's been miserably cold and wet ever since. Having had a taste of what's to come, waiting is ever so much harder now.