Sunday, October 28, 2012

H is for House!!

We got it!  We are now the proud owners of a 1959 spacious ranch.  It has five bedrooms, a family room, HUGE kitchen, formal living room and nice size dining room.  It even has a three car carport and a single car garage.  Then there is the land ~ more than half an acre (completely fenced)!  To say we are excited is an understatement!!!!

Now comes the challenge of turning this house into a home.  As you can see from the above paragraph, there are tons of positives.  However, there are negatives too!  The house has had very few updates (ever) and much neglect in the last few years.  On top of that, there is the deliberate sabotage that the previous owner did during the foreclosure process.

The door that you can see in the picture is not really the front door.  The front door is around the corner and between the picture window and the window on the grey wall inside the fence.  It is hidden there on an indent.  We will have to work on a nice path to draw attention to it.  Any suggestions you might have for how to do this would be GREATLY appreciated.

We closed on the house at lunch time Friday and were in the house, ripping out cat and dog pee carpet, by 2:30 in the afternoon!  On day one we managed to clean the kitchen counters, clean the inside of all the cabinets, and mop all of the floors.  I also managed to get an ancient window open in each child's bedroom so that I know they can escape in an emergency.  That is a relief, since replacing windows will have to wait until we sell our current home. 

On Saturday we dug up/chopped down some of the easier trees (the house looks like it is about to be reclaimed by the forest), and started prepping the walls for painting. This picture below is after chopping down five trees.  There is still lots of work to do.  The previous owners did not understand about scaling your trees to your property and house size.  When we looked up the height potential of some of the trees, we found out they could get to 175 feet plus in size.  Yep, lots more trees to bring down.

For the next few days we will paint, work on flooring for the the rooms now bare of carpet and fix the plumbing.  Our contractor will upgrade and make safe the electricity.  We are also hoping to have a little bit of money left over to have our contractor refinish the bathtub or take down the trees that are too hard for us to do or replace a girder in the house that doesn't meet code (which our piano will be sitting on soon).

Well, I better get back to work!  Time to turn this house into a home!

I am joining Ben and Me and Homegrown Learners.

Blessings, Dawn

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Week 12

On My Mind ~ We are only 5 days to closing!!  We are very excited to be so close to taking possession of the new house.  There is so much work to do and we are itching to get our hands on the house.  First up will be ripping out all of the cat pee carpet in the basement ~ Ewww!  Then we will have to seal the concrete slab to get rid of the smell.  What a yucky chore.  We have many plans but limited funds, so we will have to take our time and be creative.  The kids are very excited with their new rooms.  I am so happy that three of them like the current color of their rooms, so I have less to paint!!  I can't wait to show you all before and after pictures.

I sure would appreciate it if any of you could look at the post below this one and give me some advice on my current kitchen.  We think it is the hang up in selling our current home.

In Our Homeschool ~ We are rowing The Clown of God as part of our child led unit study on the Middle Ages and Renaissance.  The kids really enjoyed reviewing how to mix colors in shaving cream.  They also tried their hands at juggling.  We will continue to learn more about the Middle Ages this coming week.  The kids also listened to the book on tape, The Whipping Boy.  What a wonderful story.  We did a lap book and lots of math games this week.

Family Fun ~ We had the opportunity to get out into nature several times this week.  I love seeing the changing leaves and being out in the woods for a little while.  We found a tiny little waterfall, and the kids had a great time sailing leaves down into a tunnel that went under the road.

Counting Blessings ~ We were blessed this week to find many resources on the bookshelves that will save us money in the coming months of homeschooling.  Goldilocks was blessed to have a few hours with her one-on-one this week.  I realized she is so freaked out by this move because this will be her first move where she does not lose a family member.  (Her first move she lost her birth mom and her second move she lost her birth sister).  We are working with her to process these feelings of loss in her past.  We are blessed to have caring people around us who are looking out for our best interest.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Wacky Kitchen

This post is mostly for my sister-in-law who has a mind for fixing wacky room issues.  If you are not interested in wacky kitchens ~ come back another day.  If you want to stick around for this post ~ I would love your two cents.

We are getting good feedback on our home (which has been on the market for one month), but several people have complained that the kitchen is strange, wacky and quirky.  If you were looking to buy this house, what aspects of the kitchen drive you the craziest?  The counters are new but more narrow than most modern counters and the windows are new and double insulated.  The appliances are working but 10 to 11 years old.  The portable dishwasher moves across the room to hook up to the sink.  The floors are hardwood (but could use refinishing, just as could the floors in the rest of the house), and the ceiling and crown molding is brand new (2012).  The cabinets are in good shape but original to the house (circa 1931).

Looking from the dining room door.  There are cabinets to the right and the doorway is narrow.
Looking from the breakfast nook.  This is the dishwasher and fridge with a wasted space corner.
The cabinets go to the ceiling.

The sink area--double extra deep sinks were new in 2011.

The breakfast nook is 65 x 65 inches with the end of the kitchen counter jutting into it.

The laundry room and basement doors.

Another view of the wasted space by the fridge. 
(It is usually cleaner for a showing.)

There is a swing door in the basement which creates a formal divide between the kitchen and the dining room.  We took it down years ago, but it could be rehung.  We found it always in the way and catching little baby fingers.  

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pretty, Funny, Happy, Real ~ Homeschooling Through a Move

Fall has arrived and the leaves are changing.  We are blessed to live in a lovely area and we are trying to remember to stop and look at our stunning surroundings in this very busy time.  We enjoyed a lovely nature walk on a wooded trail this week.

We had a showing right at lunch time on my husband's birthday this week.  Instead of throwing together a haphazard lunch, I decided we should go out to a local eatery that was a short walk away from home. It was a double treat because the pool tables were open and my husband got to play several rounds of pool with the kids.

Many people think that it is funny (or crazy) that I am still homeschooling two weeks out from moving.  However, I really find that my kids thrive on structure and that keeping a few hours of school helps them cope.  They also love their classes out of the home.  Tom Sawyer and Little Red are learning so much in chess.  They play for hours outside of class.

We sure have our work cut out for us at the new house.  Buying a foreclosure is not for the faint of heart.  The bank fixed very little and the repair list is very, very long.  Since our current home has not sold yet, we will not have money to put straight into the house.  I am a bit overwhelmed with where to start.  The picture below is my soon to be kitchen.  I love the layout.  My love ends there.  The prior owner took all of the doors off (which are still there) and also took many of the drawers with her.  It is painted with a primer and nothing more.  We need to get a fridge and attach the dishwasher which they took all of the screws out of (crazy)!  I don't know what to do about that dated ceiling!  The floors and counters are original to the house (1959).

I am joining Like Mother, Like Daughter this week.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Week 11 ~ Paint, Cow's Eye, and a Birthday Girl!

On My Mind ~ We close on the other house in two weeks!!  I have to start packing for real ~ but when do I have time?  We had a slow week of showings and then two Friday, one scheduled for today and an open house tomorrow.  We dropped the price this week and hope that will trigger an offer.  We are also busy painting the most offending rooms a neutral color.  I am so tired of painting already, and I have an entire house to paint on the other side!  We are going to go with less colors in the new home.  A huge point to this move is to simplify our lives.  I am considering only painting one wall in each child's room their preferred color and the rest of the walls in each room a neutral color such as antique white.  No more two walls pink with two walls purple, such as in Goldilocks' current bedroom. LOL

Family Fun ~ We had two extra fun events this week.  The first was a fun day at the nature center's fall festival.  The kids made lots of crafts, watched the animals reactions to pumpkins, and met the nature center's newest arrivals ~ twin mountain lions.  The mountain lions are really cute and big (for being not yet a year old)!

The second fun event was Little Red Riding Hood's 9th birthday!  Oh my, where do the years go?!  Little Red Riding Hood's birthday happened in a day with two showings, plus painting rooms, and general chaos!  We had to be creative to keep her day special.  We started the day out with a nice breakfast at a local restaurant.  I will miss having places within walking distance that Tom Sawyer can get safe food.  This side of town has lots of local businesses and lots of health conscious restaurants.  It will be one of the few things I miss about our current neighborhood.  The side of town we are moving to has chain restaurants, fast food places and big chain retailers.  After breakfast, we returned home and cleaned the house like mad while Grandma and Dad painted one of the offending bedrooms.  Then in the evening we had Little Red Riding Hood's best friend over for dinner, cake, presents and lots of play.

In Our Homeschool! ~ We finished up On the Shores of Silver Lake.  We decided to dissect a cow's eye this week to go along with our study of blindness and the blessing of sight.  The kids did great with the dissection.  We also kept up with all of the basics.  I am hoping to keep up schooling for two more weeks before taking an extended break.  We shall see whether we can keep schooling, despite packing and moving.  Yikes!  Once I feel like our school days are becoming poor quality for two days in a row,  I will stop.

Counting Blessings ~ So many blessings to count this week.  We seem to have everything complete for closing on the other house.  We have been blessed with a really caring lender who is very hands on.  She is such a kind yet aggressive woman.  We got tons of packing boxes and a gorgeous 8x10 rug for our new home off of Freecycle (thanks, Mom, for watching Freecyle so closely).  Our family survived another crazy week with love and some grace.

I am joining HomeGrown Learners.

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Cow's Eye!

Dissecting the cow's eye is perhaps my favorite dissection item.  The piglet is a close second.  I have enjoyed teaching my children biology with dissection for years now.  Tom Sawyer has been pressuring me to do a dissection each quarter this year.  I missed doing a dissection with them the first quarter, so I either have to do two this quarter or forgo my promise to him.  Perish the thought!  We are finishing up On the Shores of Silver Lake and have had many conversations around blindness and the blessings of sight.  I thought this would be the perfect time to start catching up by dissection of a cow's eye to give a hands on look at the eye.

We studied the eye and found the optic nerve on the bottom of the eye. Then we cut the cornea away from the eye. We also identified the iris and the pupil.

The children then studied the lens.  The lens can be put on a paper with printed words to show it's magnification powers.

Little Red Riding Hood was a bit grossed out at first but really got into it before long.

The eye is really very beautiful.  The kids got so much out of this lesson.  Goldilocks was our photographer today.  She was having nothing to do with wearing gloves and touching any of this lesson. LOL!

I am joining Friday Fun School!

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, October 5, 2012

Week 10 ~ Moving Right Along!

On My Mind ~ We still do not have an offer on our current home!  I am a little disappointed, but most of our friends think we should rent anyway.  We really do not want to do that.  We would rather have a chunk of money to put directly into the new home.  However, I am at peace and know that God will take care of us.  We will hang in there on the market for a few months.  We had the appraisal on the new house and now will have to see what repairs we can get Fannie Mae to make.  We are pretty sure they will do the electrical repairs (missing switch plates and fixtures ripped out of the ceiling).  A Homepath foreclosed home is supposed to be safe and livable so exposed wires won't be approved.  We will be talking to the realtor over the weekend and see what we can get them to do.  We would love it if they would prune back some of the trees from the house, but they are not likely to approve that.  My favorite things about the new house this week is the playground, basketball hoop, and the wood already stacked and ready for the wood burning stoves (there are two in the house).
Our Homeschool ~ We had a good week.  We did homeschooling with an emphasis on de-cluttering.  I am attempting to go VHS free in the new house.  For the next week or so, the kids will be watching an hour of educational videos as part of their education.  In this way, I will be able to get rid of some videos that I have been hanging onto for the right moment.  The right moment has come.  The kids watched Rossini, Little Lord Fauntleroy, and Tall Tales and Legends Davy Crockett.  Goldilocks finished another workbook.  She loves workbooks and gets very excited when she is nearing the end of one.  She also loves to do school in strange positions.  She recited her spelling words while hanging upside down this week.  I am okay with her goofy ways as long as she is getting the school work correct.  Tom Sawyer will be done with his current level of "Teaching Textbooks" next week.  I am going to have him take a break from "Teaching Textbooks" while he gets his times tables memorized. Tom Sawyer is also reading and enjoying a graphic Bible right now.  Our family has started reciting the Jabez Prayer each day.  It's a nice prayer and is very comforting in this time of so many unknowns.  The highlight of the week was making balloon animals and buildings.  This was another activity that has been collecting dust on the shelves.  We also kept up with our unit study, On the Shores of Silver Lake.
"Oh, that You would bless me indeed,
and enlarge my territory,
that Your hand would be with me,
and that You would keep me from evil,
that I may not cause pain."

Counting Blessings ~ We had several more showings this week.  For the most part, people are pleased with what they see.  I have a feeling we are priced a bit too high.  We will make a decision on the price after our open house next weekend.  We are blessed to have many people praying for a smooth transition.  I am so thankful for all of the resources I have found recently.  Also, I have been blessed to pack some precious memories this week.  It was delightful to go through old papers and pictures from my college years.

I am joining Homegrown Learners.

Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Looking Back ~ Timothy's First Surgery

One of the more fun parts of packing is finding things you forgot you had. I wrote this paper when I was in college about 20 years ago. I really enjoyed this writing class.  It was very therapeutic for me to process through writing all I had been through in the two years prior. It amazes me that we are approaching the 22nd anniversary of my son's open heart surgery.  Coincidentally, our closing date on our new home is October 26 which was the day of his first pacemaker surgery in 1990. His open heart surgery is the same date as my husband's birthday.

I stood and watched as the nurse carried away the little boy.  He was just six months old and was oblivious of the trauma he was about to undergo.  He smiled at me and put out his hand.  I could do nothing but pray that I would see him again. 

As he and the nurse went out of sight around the corner, another nurse asked me to sign one more round of hospital release forms.  I did and was quietly directed to the pediatric intensive care waiting room. The next four hours were to be grueling hours in which I would experience much doubt. Had I made the right decision?  Was he big enough to survive major surgery? Should I have waited two more weeks until he was a few ounces bigger?  The doctors had said his chances were good.  Open heart surgery was done every day on children all over America they told me.  That may have been the case, but we were talking about my child who was barely more than nine pounds and had spent the first six months of his life drifting in and out of congestive heart failure.  He had always been a shade of grayish blue.  My greatest fear was that he would suffer a stroke.  The doctors feared that as well.

During those hours I never felt more alone.  My parents were there to support me, but they could do little to reassure my fears.  I ended up snapping at them and saying things I didn't mean.  They understood my abrupt manner and tried unsuccessfully to speed up the time with jokes and funny stories.  It did not work.

Finally, the surgeon's assistant came in and told me that my son was doing well.  He would be arriving on the floor in just a few minutes.  I went out in the hall in the hopes of getting a glimpse of him as he went by.  What I saw was a tiny body with at least twenty tubes and hundreds of pounds of machinery coming out from every part of him.  He was surrounded by six people from the operating room, one of which shoved me back in the room and told me that someone would speak to me when they got the chance.  I was too scared to even feel anger at my dismissal.

An hour later I stood by his bed.  The two nurses assigned to him worked fervently to keep up with his needs.  I had been told I could touch him but they had neglected to tell me where.  Every part of his body was covered with bandages and tubes.  I finally settled on caressing his forehead and assuring him that I was there and that everything would be all right.  As I said this, I realized that the difficult times had just begun.  A new feeling was surfacing as well.  My brain was telling me to run.  That seemed almost silly.  I was, after all, experienced at dealing with hospitals and crises.  I had stayed with him 24 hours a day during his previous hospitalizations, learned how to feed him by putting a tube down his nose, and even dealt with him coding on several occasions.  All of those things seemed like small feats now.  Beep Beep went an alarm and adjustments were quickly made.  Watching the nurses and doctors work was like sitting in on an operation.  The atmosphere was tense, and it was almost impossible to stay in the room for more than a few minutes without feeling like I was being smothered.  As the hours went slowly by, more IVs were added to his already pin-pricked body and residents came in to have a look at the amazing baby.  You see, when he went into surgery they planned on fixing two holes and some pulmonary stenosis.  However, once inside him, they found that he also had other things that needed to be corrected.  Since they did not discover this until they were half way through surgery, they had to do it all in one surgery.  Usually, it would have taken two or three. 

Timothy was kept in a drug-induced coma for seven days.  His heart never began beating properly again so an external pacemaker did the work.  On the tenth day of being on the critical care list, the doctor came to his room to talk to me.  Although, his heart now beat at twenty beats a minute, they had little hope that it would ever return to full speed.  They would have to take him back into surgery.  Since it was a Friday and he was "in critical condition but stable" it would be in his best interest to go back into surgery immediately for a pacemaker implantation.  It was, after all, better to do it now rather than wait for him to become "in critical condition and unstable."

Less than an hour later, my baby was led away into surgery again and I once again hoped and prayed that God had another miracle for my little one and me...

UPDATE: As we wait for the most recent pacemaker surgery (which will be sometime in the next few months), I am reminded that he has been through much worse.  This next surgery should be a walk in the park in comparison.

Blessings, Dawn