Friday, June 29, 2012

Living the Life

This morning, my husband prepared his Sunday School lesson, changed the fluids in my car, helped with the children, got a haircut and chopped firewood.  It may not seem like anything special, but for a man who is used to not having days off (including weekends) for many years, a day with nothing to do but "normal" activities is so satisfying.

It isn't a fabulous picture because I snapped it from inside the house--behind the plastic-wrapped windows.  But, it was a sweet moment that needed capturing.  (I love how Patches is right there with him like he is an integral part of the work party.)

I think we're going to like our graduated dad.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Recent Events

Last weekend was A Midsummer Night's Dream.  Isaac had been cast as Puck and he pretty much stole the show (of course, I'm his mother so that may or may not be the actual truth). We took our oldest girl down with us this time.  We do our very best to not make everything all about Isaac, but I think she sometimes feels that overshadowing.  Upon questioning, however, she said she wished she had a sign that read, "I am Isaac's sister."  I am glad she is choosing to be proud of him and not jealous.

My little brother, Levi, also drove over 12 hours to come and see Isaac dance.  Levi always wanted to dance, but it wasn't in the cards for us when we were young.  He has been one of our strongest supporters in this unconventional parenting choice.  I told Isaac that all he needed to do was one pirouette and bow and Levi would be thrilled to tears.  Isaac, of course, did way more than that and Levi, of course, bawled like a proud mama through the whole thing.  

Before the show, Doug (Levi's friend who also made the super long journey), Levi and Dad.  I made everyone get there way too early so we could get the best seats in the house.  They were good sports.

It was also a great trip for visiting.  We got to meet up with several friends we left behind when we moved.  I'm usually in such a hurry to pick up or drop off that I rarely get to sit around and visit.  It was good for all of us to see our friends.

On the way home, we got a flat tire.  We had a spare, but no wrench or jack.  A little difficult to change a tire that way!  Luckily, we have roadside assistance with our car insurance.  They were remarkably fast and super nice.  It is totally worth that $4 per year for this kind of peace of mind!

Pretty, foggy, early, early morning.  We had to drive during the night because we wouldn't have survived the heat of the day.

My good mother and sister teamed up to watch our three youngest girls and our dog.  It is amazing how just two days away can make me miss my kids!

When we pulled in to pick them up, we were greeted with this:  Daniel putting on a super entertaining concert.  He's that guy who knows every lyric (not that you can understand him), but he can't carry a tune at all.  In fact his whole range is about three notes.  He makes up for it in style.

The good grandma with my youngest nephew.

And my adoring daughter with my oldest niece--vacationing from Hawaii.

We came home to this:

Summer is in full-bloom in our meadow and I can hardly force myself to get anything productive done.  I want to wander around and sing The Hills are Alive instead.

It has been a wonderful few days.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Sleuth Do-Good

Dear Sleuth Do-Good,

It has been months since we have gone to the library.  I love the library and we usually go several times each month, but we had been barred.

Somewhere along the way, we broke a DVD.  There wasn't even the 16-or-so dollars in our meager budget to cover the fine.  I kept getting phone calls (bordering on harassing) from some grumpy librarian.  Yet, there was nothing I could do.  We just stayed away from the library.

Yesterday, I finally went in to pay the fine--the amount was unknown, but I was sure it was getting up there.  The nice librarian scanned my card and looked at her computer screen.  Perplexed, she tappity-tapped over to another screen.  "There is no fine here," she said.

But I knew there was.  I asked her if there was another place she could look.  "Sometimes we send things to collection, but there would have been a notice of some kind on your account.  No, your card is in good standing."

Completely stumped, I pondered on it throughout the day.  Suddenly, an understanding dawned!  I had been griping about this grumpy librarian to a group of women at church.  I can't remember who was in that group, but I know YOU were.

I know because you paid off my fine.  

That is the only possible explanation.

Thank you, thank you for your generous and quiet act of kindness.  We checked out books for the first time in a long time--a much needed thing since most of our books are still packed in boxes.

And have been reading ever since.

Sincerely and with Much Love,
The MotherShip

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Hot Day

Spring has been temperamental in our part of the world.  

We've had everything from frost to pouring rain to sprinkler-hot all within a single week.

That may not seem hot to you Southern types, but it is plenty warm up here in the mountains.

Yesterday's high temperature was 57 degrees.  Tomorrow it is supposed to reach 81.

Which is good because one day in the sprinkler was just not enough.

Have a wonderful day!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Building with an Architect: The Cost Proposal

Shortly after our initial visit, John (our Architect), emailed us a Cost Proposal and I instantly got cold feet.

"Why?" you ask.  I can hear you thinking, "Didn't you do your research?  Didn't you know what to expect?"

Yes, the numbers he sent were exactly what I was expecting.  There were no surprises.  So why did I panic?  I'm sure it has everything to do with the fact that I have been feeding my family rice and beans for the last six years to stay alive.

Our cars are old, all of us live in hand-me-down clothes, and, to add an element of shock, our only television  has only a 19 inch screen!  To sign a legal document promising you will pay that much money is a mega-commitment.  Yes, even though we have been planning for it--hoping for it even!

The cost proposal came in the afternoon and I stewed about it all evening.  Will the amount of money we are willing to spend on this house be enough to get the house we need/want?  Should we tough it out in the trailer for another five or more years to pay off the student loans before we sign on any dotted line?  Why don't we enjoy having a little money in the bank before we promise it to someone else?  If we wait just a bit longer, will we be happier with the house we would then be able to afford?

The long and short of it is that we can't have the kind of life we worked to have until we have a house.  We are so crammed in this trailer.  No one has privacy or personal space--not that we need that much, but our two puberty aged children need a room with a door to close.  If we wait to build until after the student loans are all paid back, the oldest children will be nearly gone.

It is difficult to have friends over for dinner, book club, or birthday parties.  Now that it is summer, we can invite people over for outdoor events, but forget about entertaining indoors.

We can't have much of a food storage because the only place to store food is in the kitchen or in the mice infested garden shed.  There is no pantry, much less a basement, to keep large bags of flour or potatoes or cans of fruit.  And water storage?  Forget about it.

Many people lived their entire lives with more children in smaller spaces than ours, but the truth is that times have changed.  You can live without a computer and every space eating thing that comes with it, but we've determined that it is an important and useful tool.  You can live without shelves full of books, but as a home schooling family, we think that would be irresponsible.  Gone are the times when you can have only fourteen classics and still raise a well-rounded child.

We can live a simple life without giving up the God-given conveniences granted our society in 2012.

After living mortgage free for this long, it is difficult to think of owing that kind of money again.

This isn't the way we had planned to do it.  We had planned to buy a fixer to live in until our student loans were paid off.  But it was made very clear to us that THIS is where we are supposed to be.  We worked it out all weekend and this is right.

So . . .

taking pen in hand . . .

and taking a deep breath . . .

we are ready to jump.

Come what may.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Garden

I have been wanting to get a vegetable garden going for a long time.  Our trip took up most of my planning brain cells so I didn't dwell too heavily upon the planning of the garden in the early spring months.  I knew we would get home in plenty of time to get the garden going.

Two things got in the way; one, money and two, weather.  

Everything costs money--everything!  If I'd had the garden spot prepared, I could have purchased a few dollars worth of seeds and been in business, but it was not that simple.  Our ground is unworked and has been for decades.  The sod is very thick.  My original plan included covering the weeds and grass with newspaper, building raised beds complete with mole and slug deterrents, buying good soil to fill the garden boxes, then covering the aisles with bark.  That was going to cost about a billion dollars so it was scrapped.  

But I was determined, so I pulled out the shovel.  I worked and worked at tearing out the sod and succeeded in getting only a 6' x 30' space semi-prepared.  I even considered planting sod corn like Charles Ingalls did during their first year on the prairie.  I had been feeling sad and a bit guilty about having all of this gorgeous land, yet having nothing of nutritional value growing on it.

Then we got a late frost.  On June 6th.
All of our neighbors lost most of their gardens.
I no longer felt so bad that the seeds were not planted.

Our home teacher let us borrow his tiller.  My husband ran the thing over the garden area I'd already worked with the shovel.  With the assistance of a machine, I'd hoped to get a much larger area prepared--even if it meant making a big garden possible for next year.  

It turns out that those pull cord machines hate me.  I really, really, really tried to get that thing to start but it never even gave me a hopeful cough or half-start.  Grrrrr.

In the end, I was thwarted still.  And the whole time, Patches just lounged in the shade watching me struggle.

I'm pretty sure he was laughing on the inside.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Building with an Architect: Sharing Visions

After meeting with John (our Architect), we did a couple of things to help him get a clearer vision of our tastes.

Having this blog is helpful because I can post the pictures and make comments about those pictures about individual parts of a house.  I can write an entire post about what I'd like to arrange for the mail, the garbage and the cords, for example.

We have exchanged emails a bit about questions that weren't answered in our meeting.  He only asked a few, but I was entirely impressed with the questions he did ask.  It was plain that he had paid attention to what we were saying, but also had the sense to ask about things that might influence the flow of the household.

The last thing we did was set up a joint Pinterest account.  I have something like 1 Billion pins on my Pinterest Boards.  Obviously that is not super helpful or refined.  He doesn't need to know about the haircut I'm considering, the Times Tables Cootie Catchers I'd like to make the girls or the companion gardening article I've been studying.  

This shared board is where I can narrow down ultimate favorites--images I go back to time and time again.  This is where I can share a good idea I'd like to see implemented.  This is where I can share a specific product that I love and would like to have in my house.

Hopefully, by using these measures, we can come up with the perfect design--well, at least the perfect design for our budget!  Boy is this fun!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Post Wherein I Scare the Bejeebers Out of the Architect

It happened, it happened!  We had our first meeting with our Architect.  His name is John and you should get to know that because I'm sure I will refer to him a lot over the next year or so.

I fell in love with John's work last fall when I saw this:

 I still think it is the cutest stinkin' house plan.  It is too bad that those particular plans wouldn't work for us!

Back to my story.

I have been waiting for this day for a LONG time.  A long time.  I stay awake at night stewing over the oddest things (how far away from the trunk of my car can the kitchen be?) and I finally have someone who can do something about the thoughts I have.

John came on a rainy, stormy morning in June.  I could immediately see that he was a quiet sort--maybe shy, maybe just quiet.  Probably he is that one thing I've always wanted to be but can never manage; he was probably demure.

I really wanted to jump up and down and clap my hands.  I really wanted to hug him and hold hands with John and my husband and the three of us skip around the meadow ring-around-the-rosy style.  Alas, I had to settle down.

Still, I'm pretty sure I freaked the poor man out.  I can be a little over the top.

Okay.  For those of you wondering, I'm going to share our whole experience here.  John came in with his portfolio.  ALL of his homes were way too big for our budget grand.  We are definitely thinking more along the lines of cozy.  After a few minutes of him taking notes of the off-handed remarks we made (Love the windows here . . . Oh, look at the stone . . . Too big, etc.), we moved to the computer.

I had tried to have my pictures in order, but that didn't really work out in practice.  We would be talking about windows and I would show him a picture that illustrated my idea.  Justin would ask a question and John would give us an answer--always quiet, always subdued.

Then I would clap and squeal and my husband would give me that look that means, You are off your rocker and you're freaking out poor John.  So I would try to temper again.

This first meeting was all about sharing ideas and getting questions answered (from both parties).  We sketched out bubble diagrams.  He took notes and made quick suggestions.  We have a low budget compared to what he is used to, but he took it all in stride.  He wasn't at all appalled when I suggested faux timbers!  Awesome!

He looked at all of my pictures and drawings and didn't laugh at me once--even when I showed him The Seven Dwarfs Cottage as inspiration!  Now he will take all of the information we gave him and he is going to go back and get started.  He'll write up a cost proposal and send it to us for review.  

We hope to be in our house by Fall 2013.  I plan to write all about it here because I'm sure many of you are curious about the process.  Ready?  Set?  GO!

Someday House Master Bedroom

One of the major reasons we have decided to have an architect design our house for us is a common theme in the plans available on the web:  The Master Wing.

We don't want to put that much money and energy into bedroom/bathroom/closet.  (We'd rather use that money to put stamps in our passport, you know.)  What we would like is a bedroom large enough to have the bed not in the corner.

We would love a fireplace in our bedroom because we do have long, cold winters here.  

Just like the rest of the house, we prefer warm colors, natural materials and lots of natural light.  
Regular closets, though a his and hers would be super nice.
And a door that leads to our private garden.

The next two pictures are not master bedrooms, but they are pictures I love.  

Who knows.  Maybe those twin boys are still waiting to come.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Movie Recommendations

During my laundry folding this week, I watched two movies that were so good, I need to recommend them to you.  There is a third that goes along with them that I watched a little while ago.  But first I have to preach a bit.

There is a common theme in the movie industry.  I like to call it the Grease theme.  It is where the "good" person (the goody two-shoes, the pious, the stuffed shirt) has to unbutton, lower her standards, denounce her faith or otherwise join with the world in order to find fulfillment or have fun.  Frankly, it makes me furious because I consider myself one of those "naive prudes."  The difference is that I have found a great deal of joy and fulfillment ALL WHILE living my religion and adhering to a fairly strict moral code.

Here are three movies for those of you who are like me . . . that is, those of you who think marriage is forever, fathers are necessary parts of a family, and faith is bigger than social movements.

Arranged.  A Muslim woman and an Orthodox Jewish woman build a friendship because of their adherence to their faith. Yes, the brush of an arm can have the effect of lightening--you don't have to sleep with every person you date to know whether you have chemistry.  I know that for myself!

Fireproof.  I remember when this came out.  I remember that it was a surprise hit and was life-changing for many marriages.  I'm not sure why I hadn't seen it yet, but it was a great one; even if you have a happy marriage!

Courageous.  This movie single-handedly dispels the common Hollywood theme that fathers are unnecessary--so much so that they even get in the way.  All fathers must see this film.

These three movies are unabashedly religious, so be ready to hear testimony and many mentions of God . . . and not said in vain.  Find these movies and this week you will enjoy folding your laundry!  :)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Different Trip

It has taken a year and a half to do it, but I have had an awakening; a change of heart.  I have made the decision to stop complaining and start accepting.  Let me explain.

An Analogy

I was going on a trip to Italy.  I had studied out tourist traps and the stops that were off the beaten path.  I'd read books and watched movies to prepare for the trip--I'd even studied the language!  It was a place I had wanted to visit for many years and looked forward to the trip with a great deal of anticipation.  I got on the plane packed and prepared.  When we landed, I discovered . . .

I was in Brazil.

Now, Brazil is a beautiful country--just as amazing as a trip to Italy would have been.  

"But I don't know the language," I whined.  "I don't know where to go!  I don't have any guide books or road maps to Brazil!  Where is my Italian Vacation?!"

But there I was, in Brazil and unable to get to Italy.  As I looked around and became familiar with the place, I discovered that Brazil is just as wonderful as Italy, but wholly different and totally unexpected.

I have decided to stop whining about what isn't.  I am going to stop crying about my lost trip to Italy and start embracing my trip to Brazil.

Most of you have been following our journey with our dancing son.  He has just been offered, and has accepted, a scholarship to spend four weeks studying at Ballet West, a prestigious ballet academy in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Instead of being sad about the summer we thought we were getting together, I am choosing to celebrate his exceptional opportunities.  

Congratulations, Isaac.  What a compliment!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Another 1100 Mile Drop-off

It is Summer Intensive Season.  Isaac was invited back, this time to dance the roll of Puck from Midsummer Night's Dream.  But even though most of our trips are because of the boy and his dancing, they are not all about him.  This time it was our 6 year old's turn to go.

We decided it was time to get her ears pierced.



She was so excited to have a surprise to show her sisters when she got home.  

It is a blinkin' long drive and we were in my good husband's car.  It gets something like 40 miles per gallon, but it is not comfortable and has no air conditioning--in fact, the heat and fan only have two options: off or full-blast.  Most of the time it is not that big of a deal, but yesterday it was bad.  The sun was really beating down and the fan only blew the hot air off the engine.  We rolled down the windows and at 80+ miles per hour, it was LOUD.  At those speeds, it didn't do much to cool us down--even with all of the windows down, the wind mostly blew past us instead of in.  Finally, as we continued north, the clouds rolled in and we were blessed by rain.

It was only then that we knew we would survive the drive!

Looking on the bright side of this ballet adventure (I forced myself to write adventure instead of  garbage), I do enjoy my long dates with one of the sisters.

Monday, June 4, 2012

What I Really Want

During church on Sunday, I looked up and down our pew and smiled at my quietly-sitting children.  Then I furrowed my brow and did a double-take.  All of them were sitting quietly.  When the heck did that happen?!  How many years did I wrangle with my children on church pews wishing they would just. sit. still.?  How many church meetings did I listen to from the foyer of the church while I bounced, corralled and tried to hush my wiggly babies?  How long did I look longingly at the mothers of older children and envy their not moving row of children?  All of this ran through my head as I looked at my children, puzzled as to how it could be!  My head and heart knew this was supposed to be a great and grand moment.

But what I want, more than anything, is a wiggly, chubby, raspberry-blowing baby on my lap.

It was just over a year ago when the spirit of our sweet baby slipped quietly away from her developing body to return to the arms of her Heavenly Mother.  I am glad she is there, but I am also sad that she is not here.

I thought we would have another by now--or at least be expecting one or two.  But here I sit, empty.  I don't think another child could remove the sadness of losing our Eowyn, but I do think it could help fill up my emptiness.

It is something that the thing I prayed would end is now the thing I pray to have once again.

Dear mothers who are currently struggling with your little ones who fill up your row,

Change your perspective.  And pray for patience.  You never know what is coming.

The MotherShip Who Has Learned

PS  Moments after this train of thought, our youngest wet her pants.  She was sitting on my lap.  Well, you take the moments, right?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Kitchen Countertop

First, isn't countertop redundant?  Isn't the kitchen counter always on top?  Does everyone else in America say countertop and only people in my region say counter?  Is this a po-tay-toe, po-tah-toe kind of thing?  And why is my spell checker saying that countertop should be two words when everyone in the industry writes it as one.

I think I should have majored in linguistics.

Second, this most functional work station is what is on my mind lately.

My dearest love is wood.  Wood, wood, wood.  We installed it in our last house and I loved it.  It is warm and soft on your hands.  Yes, it gets dings and scratches, but I like that I Am Used patina.

It is timeless and beautiful.

Wood is kind of like your favorite pair of jeans; you can pair them with a t-shirt for a comfy day or dress them up and they always look great.

I know wood has some cons, but they whither compared to the pros.  For me, at least.

I hope to cover the island with that favored wood, but I'm thinking about other options around the perimeter.    The sink and stove surrounded by this surface so I'd like something a little more heat and water resistant than wood.  There are about 50 options.  Concrete (not water or heat resistant, but cheaper), soapstone or marble (water and heat resistant, but more expensive and soft), solid surface (water resistant and cheaper, but not heat resistant), stainless steel (water and heat resistant, cheaper) and granite (water and heat resistant, but more expensive).  No idea what we'll do there.  I used to not love granite, but then I felt the leather finish stuff.  I could touch that stone all day!

One thing I know I want is runnels!

Don't you always have a big pot or bowl or bunch of lettuce that you have drying on the counter?  I know I do!  I'd rather have this pretty drainboard than a dish towel or plastic dish rack.

Opinions?  Thoughts?  We're a long way from having to make a decision on this, but it is what is on my mind.  Go to the Home Depot and feel the leather granite today.  It is amazing.  (Too bad it isn't priced like Formica.)