Thursday, May 31, 2012

1001

What has...


1 quilt
2 pregnancies
1 house build
1 horrible hair cut
1 College Graduation
Lots of Hair Bows
5 Christmases
A Spattering of Weddings
 1001 posts (counting this one... I can't believe I missed rolling 1000!)

...and a lot of blabbering in between?

THIS BLOG!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hanging out



Wow, it's been a while since I last posted, eh?  Here's what we've been up to...
We went to the neighborhood block party and painted our faces, enjoyed yummy food, and played tons of games.  We're getting to know our neighbors and the area.







We're still unpacking boxes a little each day and enjoying the leisurely move-in. 


For the first time in months, we went on a vacation!  Well, tried to at least... Our weekend away was cut short when Anna started throwing up.  But, we had a good few hours visiting with family, and were thrilled to be able to spend last Saturday morning in the temple with ALL of Cody's family as his youngest sister, Alisa, received her endowment.  It was a very special time for everyone.

We're starting building our fences, so it's back to work we go! :)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Homeowner project day

We are LOVING being homeowners!  We love being able to change things and do things with our house that we had to ask permission for or just deal with before.  When the kid's drain backed up, I just went in there and pulled out all the toilet paper they'd stuffed down.  I didn't have to freak out about it.  We've already put up cabinet pulls and installed shower curtain rods and we picked the "good kind" because we can invest the money into our home instead of giving it away to a landlord.  I've even found a fondness for caring for my plants and landscaping--something that was such a chore before because I felt like I was wasting my time beautifying something wasn't mine.  But not any more!

Today was our first Saturday project-day.  We slept in until the kids were yelling so loudly that we HAD to get up, we made a big breakfast, and we went outside to do this:




The second half of the concrete... 10 80# bags, then 12 60# bags=1520 lbs of concrete!

I never really intended this sidewalk to be the first of our big projects, but it just kind of happened that way.  The story was this: we dug the hole and bought the stuff to put in a concrete slab for our Air Conditioning.  The sooner we get the slab in and cured, and then we finish the fences, the sooner we can have AC installed, so of course we wanted to do that as quickly as we could.  We thought--hey! while we're doing the AC slab, let's also put in the sidewalk to the garage door that we really want to do.  Consolidate the use of a mixer, you know.  And right now, while we're still doing projects on our loan contingency money, we can borrow the cement mixers from the corporation we built with.  Win-win, right?  So we bought the first load of concrete, brought it all over, were getting set up, and went to do the final measuring of the AC slab.  We asked a friend across the street if we could measure their AC unit just so we wouldn't have to make the slab any bigger than absolutely necessary, and that's when we realized the AC COMES with a base... *forehead smack.*  So we bagged the whole AC slab part and just focused on the sidewalk. 
Finished result

It took 2 wheelbarrows full of gravel and the better part of a Saturday, but it looks pretty good for being our first foray into concrete, don't you think?  And even if it cracks and falls apart (which I don't think it will)--you know what? It's OUR house. :)

Our favorite things

We LOVE living in our new house!  It is so fun to enjoy our hard work and see our house function.  When I asked Lee what his favorite thing about living here was, though, he had one very fast response: Riding Bikes!
 Lee got a bike last birthday from his Grandparents F and he has loved it since, but back at the house we were living in then, there was only a concrete pad to ride the bikes on.  There were no sidewalks and the road was very busy.  Then it was winter time and we were at Grandma and Grandpa's house, where the road is really too steep to ride bikes, so we didn't even try.  Too cold, too much moving, too dangerous.  But here?  We have long stretches of straight sidewalks, a quiet neighborhood filled with parents of young kids who we know and trust, and a great view of the road from our front porch.  Not a day has gone by that we spend at least thirty minutes riding up and down the street.  Lee's coordination on his bike has improved drastically in the last two weeks, and we have a goal to ditch the training wheels before the end of Summer.  I know he'll be able to do it, no problem.  Annalisa has an old tricycle that she zooms around on.  And when Katie gets the chance, she dashes as fast as she can across the lawn.  It's getting to the point now where anyone can walk on it, but a week ago it was still way too soft and Katie knew it.  She knew if she got out there five feet or more, that she could stand and squish her toes in the mud and there was nothing I could do to stop her, because I couldn't go on the grass.  Little goober.  It is hilarious to watch her throw her little head back, poke out her belly, and run for her life, laughing all the way.

Like I said, we love living here!

Friday, May 18, 2012

About Lee

Many of you are faithful readers of this blog, so you may remember waaay back about 18 months when I posted this about our awesome boy Lee and some of the concerns we were having regarding his education.  In case you didn't read it, and don't feel the urge to go back there now, I'll sum up: Lee struggles with school.  We work hard on his homework every day, sometime doing it twice so we can help solidify it.  We read stories every night, and earlier this year we set up an IEP (individual education plan) for him, which focuses on speech and language.  The hard truth is, however, that he is still behind and is having a very hard time catching up.  The academics areas aren't as big of a concern as the emotional and social areas, though.  Lee doesn't interact very much with the other students, is often spacey and lacks focus, can't follow more than 1 step, specific instructions, and just isn't maturing and developing at the same rate as the other students in his class, and this year of Kindergarten has not seen the improvement we were really hoping for.


After much prayer, thought, and conferences with Lee's teachers and educators, we've finally decided that next year Lee will repeat Kindergarten.  This is not because Lee is failing--he is very bright.  It's because his social maturity is behind.  It's actually very understandable; Lee's birthday is in July and he is one of the youngest students in his class.  We see so many benefits with this choice--next year will be much more stable for us environmentally speaking.  We won't be building a house or moving--something that was really stressful on all of us and Lee openly admitted that he chose not to make friends at his old school because he was going to move.  It broke my heart when he told me that, because I thought he was doing so well with the adjustment, and it's just one more reason why this house--while being a huge blessing--required more sacrifice than we ever thought we could give.  But anyway... keeping Lee in Kindergarten another year will be a very good thing.  Lee's teacher suggested this to us, and when she did, I felt overwhelmingly good about it.  She has had a chance now to work with Lee for a few months and wants to keep him in her class next year.  In fact, the way she suggested us talking to him about it was to say "Your teacher only got to be with you for two months and she loves you so much that she wants to keep you another year!"  When we told that to Lee, and pointed out that he would get lots more time to work on things that are hard for him, he smiled a big smile and said, "I get to do EXTRA Kindergarten!"  He is proud of himself, and so are we. 

If you live nearby us or are family or have children who interact with Lee, we ask that you please join us in our enthusiasm for this choice.  I'm not trying to shield him entirely from the more negative aspects, but I'm also not trying to thrust them in his face.  This was a choice between Cody, myself, and Lee's teachers that we hope will benefit him immensely.  I really do feel like one of the biggest problems Lee has is being younger than the other kids, and now he will be just a little bit older.  We'll continue with our individual study with him and his IEP. 

Ultimately, we love Lee.  We want him to he happy and healthy and well adjusted.  We think that this choice will help him a lot in the future.  He is such a sweet, tender, and fun boy.  We'd love prayers in Lee's behalf, and we'll keep you updated as time goes by.  Love, Lisa

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Parade and Parties

We took a little break from unpacking and moving on Saturday and babysat our cousins Shayden, Gavon, and Ashlin for the day.  We had lots of fun!  We went to a parade, played in the sprinklers outside, had a nice long warm bath after, and even got three of the six kids to take a nap simultaneously.  Not bad!

Singing "Wheels on the Bus" before the parade
 The Parade was a blast!  It was right in our new town, and we saw lots of people we know there.  It was so much fun to go to a random event and actually recognize people!  I love living here.  We cheered for everyone in the parade as is tradition, and we came home with way more candy than we thought we should have.  We split it evenly among the kids... well, we may have sent a leetle bit extra with Shayden and Gavon. :)
Can you find all 6 kids? Also pictured is our friend from across the street and her girls.

My favorite part of the parade: the Antique Machinery Association!
Somewhere deep down inside I knew life wouldn't really slow down after the build was over, but I hoped it would... oh well.  Life is good, and we are enjoying the ride.  I should go unpack some boxes now.  Cody and I have a 2-boxes-a-day-each goal and I missed my 2 boxes yesterday because I spent the afternoon helping Raychel and Paul pack their house to move and my mom clean, chop, and freeze 3.5 gallons of gorgeous rhubarb from her garden.  But no matter the reason, I didn't fill my quota yesterday so I've got some catching up to do!  OK! Enough blogging for now.  Peace Out! :)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The House: The end of building, the beginning of our new life

This is my final build post.  We are moved in--not unpacked, just moved.  Everything is set up in our names, and everything is going well.  There is lots and lots to do, and lots we have been doing--like hanging shower curtains, putting handles on cabinet doors, hanging our shelf and putting up our bench, etc.  I'll take pictures when I'm more unpacked, but for now, it feels so amazing to just be done.

It is incredible to think back at these last ten months and the 1900 hours we put in building.  It is just a memory, though, and it turned that way very quickly.  Our lives have been put together here, and it is time to live them. 

Welcome home, us.  We are done. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The House: The Open House

I am sitting on my recliner in my living room.  MY living room.  MY recliner.  MY internet.  (and by my I of course mean Cody and mine... I'm not that selfish...)  This is one of those weekends in life you never forget, along with getting married and having babies.  I will always remember this, and how I feel right now.

Peace.

I should back up a bit, though.  This is, after all, entitled "The Open House," which was a roaring success.  The houses were all sparkling and the yards were pristine (and done) and we power washed the curbs, gutters, driveways and sidewalks.  Over in the empty lots by House 5, a hot dog cart was set up and our lumber company sponsored that, so there were free hot dogs, chips and drinks for all attendees.  Next to the hot dogs was a big blow up bouncy castle, which was a blast for the kids.  Representatives from the corporation we built with were there answering questions, handing out maps and pamphlets, and directing traffic.  All of us new homeowners wore matching green T-Shirts that said "Ask me how I built my house" on them.  And, from just a few minutes before 10 AM until 2:30, we had an average of ten people in our house at a time.  I only had about a two minute break when the house was empty, which I used to quickly run to the bathroom.  The hot dog guys said they went through 370 meals, so we estimate about 400 people showed up.  Many were family and friends of our team, but many were people interested in the program or getting ready to build.  Our program manager said that this was, by far, the best open house they've ever put on.  (In previous groups, the open house has been a few signs put up and an email invitation, and maybe a hundred guests.)

We were exhausted by the end, but we still had a post construction meeting to attend.  We had pizza with our team and then got our homeowners book that includes a manual on homeownership, copies of all our receipts and contracts, and other things like that.  It's a hefty book!  We also got certificates of completion that stated all our hours.  It was pretty amazing--even though I got a sneak peek since I tracked and recorded all those hours--to hear each one listed off.  Everyone was over 1400, but our highest was 2030.  Cody and I came in second at 1906.  Required for the whole build was 1300.  Incredible.  After the meeting, it was fun to come back to the house and watch what people did.  Both our next-door neighbors rolled their already loaded U-Hauls and trailers into their driveways and instantly started unloading stuff.  One neighbor started covering his carpet and repainted into the night.  Some went back to apartments to take a nap.  As for me? I came inside, sat down on my floor and cried for a while.  Then we got our kids, got our beds, brought them all here, and went to bed.  As soon as I had my whole family in my house, that's when the stress melted away and I felt the peace I mentioned at the beginning of this post.  We are home now.

*sniff* okay, hows about something more fun?  Would you like your own little photo tour?  Okay!  Here's a bunch of pictures I took on Friday night, right before we left.  Everything is clean, everything is empty, ready for the open house.  All we did after that was put plastic runners on the floor to protect the carpet from all the foot traffic, put some pamphlets on the counter, and set up our laptop with a montage of the build.







Master Closet

Inside of Master Closet

Living room from top of stairs

Staircase

Dining Area

Kitchen

Front Door

Living room, stairs, master bedroom from the hallway

Entering the hallway from the living room

Girl's Bedroom, to the South

Girl's closet, and the hallway

Inside of Girl's Closet

Kid's bathroom

Kid's bathroom, linen closet

Laundry Closet

Lee's bedroom to the North, and looking back at the hall

Inside of Lee's closet

Hallway, laundry closet, and Girls' bedroom, from Lee's doorway

Master Bathroom

Master bathroom

Master Bathroom, linen closet

Basement

Coming back up the stairs
 And there you have it.  We love our new home!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The House: Building our Dream

Just for you today. :)

The House: Emotions about the end

It is 12:13 AM and I can't sleep, even though every part of me aches.  I am so full of emotion, and I figure this blog is the best outlet for it, so here it goes.

Tonight, Cody and I said goodbye to our house for the last time.  Tomorrow it is all ours and we will get to live there.  The end of this build has been so overwhelming to me, in such a good way.  I keep having these realizations that life is changing--no, life is going to go back to normal.  At Wendy's for dinner, Cody and I started talking about our schedule for next week, and I blanked out on things we have to do.  We won't be going out to build.  We'll be living in our house. 

The stress is also overwhelming.  We have been working so many long, hard hours, it is incredible.  As the secretary, I can say that this week alone our team topped 1000 hours (totalling 16000 for the whole build).  Many people themselves did 50, 60, even 70 hours--again, per person, not per family.  We had all-nighters and early mornings, and tonight when Cody and I dragged our tired feet to the car to go home, we were the first ones to go--at 10:45 PM.  Tired is and understatement.  Exhausted isn't even adequate.  The only way to describe this feeling: ready.

We are ready for this big change.  It has been a long time coming.  We are excited, and terrified.  Even as hard as it all was, it became a routine, and those things can be hard to change.  The biggest difficulty has been all the time spent away from our children.  We love them so much, and miss them terribly when we are gone.  They have been so patient and understanding, but I know we have asked too much of them.  The months of time we missed being with them are gone, and they will never come back.  All we can hope for is that we did everything we could, and that Heavenly Father will help us fill in the gaps, and our children will someday come to learn and understand that what we did, we did for them.  In the meantime, I plan on holding on to my kids now and not letting go for a very, very long time.

I know tomorrow at the open house I'll get two questions over and over: "Would you do this again?" or "Was it worth it?"  The answers: Yes, it was worth it.  Yes, I would do it again in a heartbeat.  But I did NOT build a house, or even nine houses--so if you think that is what this program was about, you're wrong.  We built a neighborhood of nine homes, each one with personalities and dreams and a future.  We rebuilt our lives.  We changed fundamentally, and that amount of change can only be wrought by the most humbling circumstances imaginable.  Yes, I would do it all again, absolutely.  No regrets.  But please, before I go start building houses again, may I take a nap?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The House: Wrapping up Week 40

 We have a mandatory work Friday, so this week won't be done for 2 more nights, but I wanted to post up my weekly house journal early.  I will put up a final post next week sometime, after the open house.

The whole team has been out almost constantly this week.  It has been very, very busy and stressful; more for some than others.  We have inspections today (Thursday, May 3), perhaps even as I am writing this, so there has been a mad-ditch effort to get all 9 homes ready.  We've been reminded that if even one house should fail, nobody can move in.  Everyone has been staying late and coming in early, and some have even pulled all-nighters.  Whenever someone says, "I think we're pretty close, just a few touch-ups and some cleaning to do," that's when you know they still have about eight hours of work left. :)  We took the kids out quite a bit this week, partly because it's very liveable, and partly because we didn't have babysitters for the whole time (Don't get me wrong--we had TONS of babysitting this week, but just not the whole time).
Anna and Katie had fun watching the window guy replace the cracked front window.  They also had fun taking naps on the carpet and playing with wonderful toys like plastic cups (see top picture)
Loose ends being wrapped up: touch-up paint, hanging towel bars and toilet paper holders, filling holes with putty, cleaning, hooking up stoves, laying sod, cleaning and more cleaning, putting in window screens, filling window wells with gravel and putting on covers, and cleaning again.
Cody hooked up the oven, even though we're planning to return it.  Yes, remember last year when we had to buy a new fridge suddenly?  We are planning to return both our fridge and stove now, put our nicer french-door fridge into the house, and use the money we get back to upgrade the stove (not that there's anything wrong with this one, but just that I can, so I'm getting c.o.n.v.e.c.t.i.o.n. :D).

Anyway, I think all 9 houses are ready for inspection now.  Tonight we'll probably get another list of things that we have to do.  Friday is another sod day.  Since we also did 2 houses of sod yesterday, there's just 2 left.  If our inspection list isn't too long, we'll be able to do our final cleaning and open house setup tonight.  If we have a hefty punch list, though, we will probably have a few more late nights.  BUT THEN, the house will be OURS!  Just 2 nights left!