Friday, November 27, 2015

Our First Thanksgiving

We hosted our first Thanksgiving (which is actually our 19th Thanksgiving, Justin and I) in our new home yesterday.  Those of you who have been following our journey for a while will know that part of my planning of this house was especially for large events such as these.  We both come from large families and are creating a rather large family of our own.  We have come to recognize how important it is to have an area big enough for many people.  We've had a few birthday parties here and several spontaneous youth gatherings, but the kitchen was yet untried. This was to be the test.

The first order of business was this passive-aggressive sign.

It worked remarkably well, except for the fact that we weren't very good with following through with the punishment.  The message was delivered and generally followed.

I love this picture.  I love it because my Eliza is so beautiful, obviously, but also because of what is going on in the background. The grandfather is sitting attentively and the cousins are playing the guitar.
The day was a cacophony of music--we counted six guitars, an electric bass, a ukulele, and the piano, as well as random moments of vocal contributions.

Isaac used some of his earnings from his first paid gig as a ballet dancer to buy a 12 string guitar.
Here he plays with Uncle Kevin.
All photos credit of my mother dear, by the way, because I was busy and didn't think of it.
Thanks, Mom!

This was the scene in the kitchen at one point.  There were frequently four, five, six bums in the kitchen and there wasn't much interference. I was so happy!!  I thought it would work, but you just never know until you're in there.  
Parenthetically, I need to come up with some label for the garbage cans because the pull-out drawer looks like a regular cabinet.  

Here, my beautiful 87 year old grandma, a couple of my girls and my sister enjoy squeezing up together.  

Grandma's attendance tested another function of our house: wheelchair accessibility.  There are two stairs at the entrances, but beyond that, all of the necessities are on the main floor.  We were able to scoot grandma all around, even to take a nap on my bed at one point, without running into walls or door jams.  Yay!

My nephew sandwiching himself in the pocket doors that lead to the library.
We rolled up the living room rug and pushed the couches aside to make room for another table.  There was room and to spare.  After dinner, we put that long table in the adjoining library for games and to separate some of the happy chaos.
My brothers Zachery and Daniel
It was such a nice day!  My kitchen was entirely functional, even with 25 attendees.  There were places for people to go (once the basement is finished, that will help even more with that need) and we were able to really enjoy one another.

I know Thanksgiving isn't supposed to be about things, but our house made our celebration that much sweeter.  To see generations, five, actually, comfortable and full and having fun together, in my long-planned home, was really a lovely thing for me.

After everyone left, Justin and I took note of the things we needed to change or adjust, either immediately or over time, to continue to oil the machine.

It is good to know that even after these kids have kids, we'll have room for them at the party.

As long as they label their cup!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Black Out

A pretty serious windstorm blew through our region last week.  Winds were from 60-100 miles per hour, in our area (stronger in other places!), which is hurricane strength.  There is a problem with hurricane strength winds when you live in a forest. 

NOT my house. This is an example of what we saw.  Photo by Garth Davis
You see, pine trees do snow, they don't do wind.  They pulled themselves straight up out of the ground. 

Photo by Doug Clark
And when pine trees and power lines share airspace, things can get dicey!

We lost power, of course, but were prepared.
We had about a day to get ready because all the news stations were warning us about the impending storm.  We pulled out the oil lamps and candles, just in case.
I made dinner ahead of time.
We made sure we had water in pitchers and pots, in addition to the water we have stored long-term.

It was this girl's 10th birthday!  The power went out on her birthday a couple of years ago and I didn't get her cake made in time.  This year, I learned from my mistake and had her cake made well before the wind started coming through.

This picture cracks me up because, though we got a little cold, Justin's outfit may have been a tad overkill.

"What?!  I'm warm!" ha-ha!
We were without power for two days.  In many ways, the storm was a blessing for us.  We are in our new house, instead of the single-wide trailer still on wheels, we had no trees fall (I credit that to the slight valley in which we are nestled), and the fact that it never got really cold.  Being in a new house, it was a good practice run for us, since every house is different.  We discovered that we need to begin storing flushing water because, though we had plenty of drinking water, we didn't want to use that precious commodity in the toilets.  We discovered that having the foresight to build a wood stove CHIMNEY into the house is insufficient without a WOOD STOVE.  The plan all along has been to have that second heat source, but since building the house cleaned out our bank account, we were saving up.

We have two ways to cook during a power outage: our propane grill and our camp stove. We've had our camp stove since our first summer together (18 years now) and use it regularly.  There are several of the little green canisters stored in our camping gear and I really thought it would be no problem.
What we couldn't have foreseen, and certainly didn't expect, was that our camp stove didn't perform when called upon.  Justin opened the whole thing up and discovered the lines were filled with gunk.  Servicing the camp stove is a first priority before another storm hits!

Is it strange to say it?  I was a touch sad when the power came back on.
Everyone was together for 42 something hours.
No one was diverted by a video game, movie, YouTube, Facebook or other electronic distraction.
We played games, ate food, and read books (put book light on my list because reading by lamp light is too dim and a flashlight is too bright!).  There was a sense of togetherness and adventure, even though the Walmart had backup generators and the McDonald's never lost power; we weren't that far from civilization.

In all, it was a good trial run and we are grateful for how much we were spared.