Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dream Saga Series: In the Fullness of Time

Timing is everything.

That phrase is something I've heard my entire life and after the last few months, I firmly believe it. 

For those who are following along with our journey to our "new, old farmhouse," it's been quite the ride, which you can read about here.

This last week or so has been a flurry of getting keys, driving out to the farmhouse from my parent's house (about 1/2 hour each way) and dropping off things, ripping out carpet and finding beautiful hardwood floors...

Our buried treasure under old carpet (some 70+ years!)

...which then required hours of pulling up carpet, levering up tack board and approximately 1000 carpet staples, and then yesterday, my husband used a drum sander on about 3/4 of the 1200 sq. ft. of flooring we have to do.

What was in the we had an inkling of what could be.

Before we can refinish, we had to pull up lots of tack strip and staples. Lots.

The machine Rylie was attached to for 36 hours.

I had to beg him to pose for this photo. At this point, he hated everything.

But, let me back up a bit. That first day after got the keys on a Friday night, we drove out here and it was magical.

The kids got right in the pool....and stayed there all day. The water slide was an instant hit, and I think they finally got out reluctantly six hours after they got in. It was such a joy to be working around the house and hear their shrieks of delight.

Seeing the joy on my son's face as he rode his bike around our long oblong driveway warmed my heart. This was something he was not able to do at our old house without me sitting outside and waving down cars that shot down the street like they were in a drag race.

That day, we put up our mailbox...

There was no existing mailbox on the property when we bought it.

I picked all of this (and some not shown) one morning.

...picked a bevy of fruit to take back with us and pinched ourselves multiple times. It was actually real. This amazing property was ours. Ours.

So while Rylie worked at a summer camp that first week, the kids and I came out every day. My mom helped me pull up and replace shelf paper and unpack a few kitchen boxes.

My mom hates putting down shelf paper, but she loves me more!

There are myriad of projects to be done and I found myself forgetting to eat and blinking and realizing it was 7 p.m. and the kids needed dinner. 

We planned to keep driving back and forth until the floors were finished...until we got out here last Thursday and found that someone has stolen our pool sweep and several other items out of the pool area. It felt like such a violation and an assassination attempt on our dream.

I called the police station, who then called the Sheriff's office (apparently we are county, not city....good to know), who took an hour to respond but were very nice. The good news is that there haven't been any reports on this property or street of theft or crime. But the bad news is that we were now without a very expensive pool sweep that the previous owner had left for us and I now had a creeped out feeling that someone had been watching us and knew the one day that we didn't drive out to the house and choose that one to come and liberate us of our stuff.

Stuff is not so important. But feeling safe is priceless. We decided that we needed to begin staying the night out here. So, my hubby drove out that night and stayed over and drove into work the next day. And I brought out clothes and toiletries and stayed with the boys the following night. (The girls had plans "in town" overnight with friends and Rylie was staying at my parent's house by the storage unit since he had to be up and over there early to unload it into a moving truck with some help from friends.)

I will admit that last Friday night wasn't my best night of sleep. I heard every noise -- every creak, every howl, every drip. And I was a bit worried. 

You see someone had stolen something from me -- and it wasn't someone in human form. It was the enemy trying to steal my joy. After that first restless night, I decided I wouldn't allow him to do that and that I would not be living in fear.

So, the next day (Saturday), I set up a tent inside the house for the boys to have a magical play/sleep area and I got to work. Our "moving crew" arrived and in about an hour, they completely unloaded the rental truck full of our stuff from storage and our POD into our garages (due to the floors being torn up inside.) The breakfast burritos that I found and purchased were consumed and given a thumbs up. They wished us well. They drove away and...we got to work. 

The washer and dryer were moved in and the refrigerator was hooked up. The kitchen table was brought in and set up and I let out a cheer when I unearthed my coffee pot and put it in its new rightful place (this blog is powered by that coffee pot, FYI).

That evening we were treated to a gorgeous painted sky and I got to see and hear the sounds of joy coming from my boys and their dad as they played on the lawn.

 (It can be difficult to see the splendor of the sun going down when you are surrounded by other houses.)

Sunday dawned and our plans to sand the floor seemed a bit ambitious after all of that moving the day before. So we went to church, grabbed some things at Costco, spent way too long in Lowe's, grabbed our cats from my sister's house (her family has been cat-sitting for three + weeks!), grabbed some things from my mom's house and headed home. It felt so good to say that.

Due to youth group outings and slumber parties, that Sunday night was the first night we all stayed out here and even though we were all in the same two rooms, it felt great to have all my "chickens under one roof."

Sleeping in a tent makes everything more fun!

A quality blow up mattress is well-worth the price!

Swimming all day makes for good sleep at night.

Through it all, we have had a steady stream of friends who have come out to see us, which I completely love. You see, I enjoy having people over and feeding them and chatting about life and whipping up dessert concoctions on a whim. I love hostessing. However, our old house didn't lend itself so well to that. Part of my dream for a country house was to offer a place of peace and rest to friends and family. "To slow time down," as Ann Voskamp would say.

On Monday, I had two amazing friends, Suzanne and Pam, drive out and work in my mud room to get old shelf paper up and out and put down new paper. They organized all my laundry and cleaning products in the cabinets too. To be able to walk in a do a load of laundry without tripping over boxes and bins was a gift.

The fruits of their labor. I got to reap the harvest!

Awhile later, another friend, Debbie, and her family came out to see the house, swim and stay for dinner. After falling in love with farm life after visiting Trevino Farms with the kids, we spent a lot of last year driving out to the Kimzey Ranch for horseback riding lessons for my daughter. I credit those hours with helping seal the deal of our desire to make this "country life" move. So, it was great to be able to show them around and see the appreciation and joy for us in their eyes.

That night, I cooked my first meal on my amazing "looks old, but is really new" stove. (Spaghetti and garlic bread).

This Elmira stove came from Canada and has convection capabilities. I'm in love.

We also walked down the country lane and Debbie pointed out some wild watermelons growing on a corner of our property. I was stunned. Just when I thought we couldn't possibly have more fruit out here, we find watermelons growing???

What is a summer without watermelon?

And there were five of them growing away and getting bigger each day. Today I realized there were more plants out there that were starting to flower. So it's possible we might just have a bumper crop of watermelon for all my hostessing needs.

And as we walked and talked, I thought about God's timing and how I am starting to see the big picture of the Grand Landscape of what He is doing our life as a family and in my own heart.

Has it been a bit of a bummer that all six of us are sleeping in the living room? Maybe a tiny bit, but when you have lived out of a tent trailer and had iffy running water issues for two weeks at the same time, and then upgraded to two bedrooms at your parent's house and running hot water, having a blow up mattress, pop-up trundle bed, camp bed and mattresses seems like luxury. Couple that with THREE bathrooms with ample hot, running water and you have yourself what feels like a day spa!

Is it inconvenient when you try to put on your make-up on a Sunday morning for church only to realize that you have left it at your parent's house? It can be -- but not as much as I would have thought after living almost make-up free for the entire last month as we sweated moving our stuff out of our house and into storage, camping out of the tent trailer, and then moving stuff out to our new house. When you do that, slapping on some powder and scrounging up some third-tier eye makeup feels a bit decadent.

Is it a bummer to have the $500+ pool sweep left for you by the previous owner stolen out of the pool? Yes, it is. But when you've never had a pool before and therefore are thrilled to pieces with even owning one, the notion of getting a good long hose, pole, and vacuum head and using some sweat equity seems like a good way for your youth-group-aged daughter to earn some money for upcoming events.

And yes, we are not paying for a gardener out here, but the small circle of grass that we have was easily mowed in about 15 minutes and I actually enjoyed the entire process (and yes, I accidentally left it out all night, and no it didn't get stolen!).

Looking back, I can see how the last month has been instrumental in removing us out of everyday city life and giving us a stripped-down basic version of how we are living currently. Had I left our comfortable suburban house and moved out here to live the way we are living now (albeit temporarily), it would have been a difficult transition. But, after the last month, having our own place and space feels like heaven and if we have to camp out in one room together while we do a few projects, so be it.

On Sunday, the sermon was about the Sabbath and how God designed a day of rest for us -- knowing we desperately need moments to pause from the madness and recharge. As my pastor father was sharing, I was so grateful to realize that our move to the country has been a decision to move towards that rest. Yes, there will be a good amount of work to be done to maintain the property. I have no illusions about that. 

But I am so excited for the day that my hammock is no longer buried by boxes and can be set up and I can lay in that thing and read and drink lemonade. Even sitting here at the table on my front porch and hearing the birds chirp, the hummingbirds buzzing as they look for food, and the sound of the pool pump running, all of that is causing my shoulders to relax and my breathing to deepen.

When the altar call was given to make a decision towards embracing rest, I didn't feel the need to respond. Because I've already responded -- gladly and whole-heartedly.

God has ordained this summer and this time of transition in our lives. And I couldn't have written the story better if I tried.

His Grand Timeline is more incredible than I could ever ask or think.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

When It All Sounds Good in Theory....Part Deux

Last time I left off, we were on the road to Portland to see Rylie's brother and family. However, there was one little problem. Or a lot of them. Lice. Infestation 2014 up in their business. Given the choice to delay our trip up and avoid exposing ourselves to it, we opted to switch our visits around and instead drive the hour to Cave Junction and stay with Rylie's dad for a few days.

Which was a good call because by then, I was headed to Sickville fast. When we pulled out from Michelle's, I got in the very back seat with a pillow and a blanket and passed out. I woke up when we arrived at my father-in-law's place and pulled it together enough to help get the trailer set up (faster the second time around), and then go into town with everyone for Wild River's taco pizza goodness.

However, half a box of tissues later, I was ready for bed and when the morning of July 4th dawned the next day, I "independently" realized that I couldn't get out of bed. Literally.

I spent all of the day sweating and shivering on the bed in the tent trailer with a fever that wouldn't stop. That was not a fun day. Most of it is a blur beyond bathroom trips and gulps of water and life saving cranberry juice.

Unfortunately, my father-in-law was having water issues at his house. As in, there wasn't any. Fortunately, there was some after dinner and while everyone else drove off in search of a fireworks show, I got to lay my weary bones in some hot water and enjoyed what felt like the best hot bath ever.

Thankfully that day in bed did the trick and the next day, I felt well enough to drive up to the Oregon Caves with my family (plus, my back rebelled against any more laying down at that point). We had lunch and then took a tour through the cave. This was the first time that *all* of us have been able to go on the tour. In year's past, one of us has always waited outside with some toddler or infant. We had a great time and the kids even became junior rangers and got honorary badges.

We had one more day at Grandpa Kurt's house and the kids enjoyed hearing him play guitar and drawing with him. It had been too long since we were able to make the trip up.

One of us had the bright idea to ask him to come along with us to Portland to see family. One of us is brilliant -- just sayin'. To our delight, he came with us.

Adding to that delight was an unexpected bonus of seeing friends from home who were also on the I-5 in their minivan coming south from Seattle as we were headed north to Portland. We pulled off the road at Carl's Jr. and hung out for a bit with the Tacchino family before heading on to our destinations.

And not too long after, we were in Portland. Because 5 hours in the car is nothing when you've spent 13 in one day. We were so excited to see our family and their new house. The cousins immediately started playing and exploring their "wildnerness backyard."

We set up the trusty tent trailer (getting better still) and had to laugh that although the kids started out sleeping inside the house, they ended up trickling back into the trailer. I guess all that togetherness really *does* make a difference.

We spent some fun days in Portland. We ate together and laughed a lot. We went to Powell's Bookstore and got some books for this  book-lovin' family.

We went to the coolest science museum called The OMSI.

I even got to sneak off to IKEA with my sister-in-law and do some scouting out for items for the farmhouse.

Great kitchen island idea from IKEA

I also got some good tips from her on how to refinish hardwood floors which has proven to be invaluable (more about that in future blog posts).

All too soon, our time in Portland came to an end and we drove back down to Cave Junction and dropped grandpa off at his house and then headed off to one of our favorite places, Ashland, OR. We had secured a great campsite outside of the city by the lake, set up the tent trailer and then headed to Lithia Park -- our super fun place.

There is a play ground at this park, but the kids prefer to play in the river

And boulder hop down the river too

After playing until the sun went down, we grabbed dinner and then headed "home" to the tent trailer where our neighbors had thoughtfully put up a huge screen and speakers and were watching "Pirates of the Carriberan". The kids clambored into their PJs and immediately laid down to watch the show...and eventually drifted off to sleep.

The next day after hitting up Rylie's old work place, Shop n' Kart, we loaded up on groceries and made the 9 hour trip down to our campsite in Yosemite. We pulled in late -- around 10 p.m. -- and go that tent trailer set up with lightning speed.

We spent four wonderful days in Yosemite Valley (another favorite place). We swam, we ate ice cream, we rode the shuttle bus, we played in the rain, and we drove up to Glacier Point.

My kids made the trek up the Mist Trail to Vernal Falls like champs (they were literally running and jumping off rocks) and they even wanted to go further up to Nevada Falls. It was a serious hike with an elevation gain of 1900 feet, a swim in the top of the waterfall, and then a bonus summer rain shower on the descent.

Going up the mist trail with Vernal Falls in the background

They loved seeing a waterfall up close

And then it was time to head home and after two weeks, and a lot of dirt under fingernails and in crannies, we were ready to sleep in real beds and have a long hot soak in the bath tub.

Again....after 9 and 13 hour driving days, 2.5 hours is a snap. We got home in what seemed like record time. We drug our tired, camp-fire smelling bodies inside and collapsed (after that long, hot bath of course).

And then...began the countdown for closing on our house. We signed our papers at Starbucks and I looked up and saw this...

And after a few close calls and glitches, we got our keys Friday evening.

And then, the real fun began.

Stay tuned for more posts about owning a farmhouse and getting it ready to move in (yes, we are still at my parent's house -- bless them!)

When It All Sounds Good in Theory...

*I wrote the words below in the middle of the night almost two weeks ago, intending to chronicle the move out of our house and "epic summer adventure" for posterity. But unfortunately, this was as far as I got sitting in front of Circle K before I spilled my coffee and had a 3 a.m. date with a friend.  Rather than delete it or let it sit in drafts, I think I'll publish it anyway. Enjoy.*


Sometimes it all sounds great in theory...but reality tells another tale.

What a week.

I never want a repeat of it again.

I never want to move again.

I never want to simultaneously move out a house and move my stuff into storage, pack up and send off two kids for summer camp, pack up everyone for a three week camping adventure, and then take off 24 hours later for another state.

Definitely not doing that ever again.

It sounded good on paper. My morning journaling was loving the idea of being free of "stuff" for several weeks as we are in transition from one house to another. It sounded wild and free. It sounded bold and adventurous.

The reality is a lot more....disastrous. And that is why I am composing this post at 2:52 a.m. sitting in my van outside of a convenience store in a coastal town of the state north of mine.

I'm good to go on coffee, thanks to the only 24-hour store in the entire town, so I'll tell you how I got here.


I don't know how we did it, but we ended up getting 14 years worth of stuff, memories and cockroach poop out of our house and garage. Without the help of my family and a couple friend from church, we would have been toast. I thought I was prepared for the task.

I was not.

We thought that we could trust the POD website that says that a 3-4 bedroom house can fit into their "largest size" POD of 16 feet. 

We thought wrong. 

We ended up renting a storage space that was BIGGER than the POD and we filled that too. And...we had already taken a bunch of stuff over my parent's house and filled up a good portion of their 3rd car garage space.

I never realized how much junk...I mean, stuff we have.

But we got it out and in and locked up. Eventually, I got my "moment" that I had been wanting where I could reflect on the years and memories of our little yellow house and shed a tear or two while pulling down some vinyl lettering off a wall that I wanted to save and take to the new house (providentially there was a random pane of glass in the garage just the right size).

I also was able to revel in hearing the happy sounds of the new owners and their one-year-old in the other room while I did it. That was a God-kindness for sure.

As it happened, this was the last word I took off the wall...and that made me cry.


And this would be the point where I spilled my coffee all over the floorboard of my van and by the time I cleaned it up, it was time to meet my friend Michelle on her couch (our tent trailer was parked outside of her place) at 3 a.m. Why 3 a.m.? Because she was leaving the next day for an extended weekend in Washington with family and our plans went very awry with van repairs and wiring repairs for break lights and of course we had to stop more often for gas hauling a tent trailer...also did I mention the very sllooooowww driving in the slooooooowww lane? 

Did I mention I'm not a "slow lane" type of girl? As a result, we ended up straggling in at 1 a.m. and then not getting the tent trailer set up until almost 2:30 a.m.  

Let's just say our first time setting it up was "a learning experience" where I got the sleeping zombied kids in it too early and they tipped it forward (oh yeah...bracing and jacks *are* important!). After they got settled in and were snoring logs, a good portion of the "wall" fell down exposing us all to the Oregon coast climate (which thankfully was fairly temperate). That repair almost send my poor hubby into fits.

So, 3 a.m. quickly turned to 4:30 a.m. and after retrieving a package that we had shipped to her house for a replacement vent cover for the tent trailer (yeah...we were the ones in a mini van towing a tent trailer up I-5 with the "top flapping"), it was time for her to get showered and ready for the road and me to get some sleep.

Yeah...that worked until about 6:30 a.m. when I couldn't bear the sound of traffic rattling and blowing the tent trailer parts and canvas as they flew by. Also, I just new a police officer was going to knock on the door and ask what the heck we were thinking and to move along.

Did I mention we had to set up literally right next to the street because the incline down to the perfect flat spot Michelle had figured out for us would never had withstood the scraping awfulness of our hitch down the driveway? (Instead we treated the neighbors to two horrifying minutes of high pitched squealing as we cranked the top of the trailer up.)

Low-ridin' at its finest

So, sleep was over for me at that point. I spent the morning going to Starbucks in a nearby grocery store, getting the van gassed up (three cheers for the state of Oregon who pays people to pump gas for you), reorganizing the van and cleaning out 13 hours of debris from our massive haul up through the top half of the state, into Oregon and then over to the west of the state. I journaled and read my Bible and was treated to a deer family parade.

By 10 a.m., I had sorted all I could sort. I was tired. I was grumpy. By then I knew I was really sick (having had the fun sensation of feeling my sinus' literally close and build a wall of pressure in there as we climbed elevation in Northern California and into the Siskiyou Mountains.) From then on it was a war between constantly blowing my nose or wishing the pressure would relent a bit.

I quietly suggested that my family get up so we could get on the road...or maybe loudly insisted and waved chocolate covered donuts around to bring the point home. Everyone staggered inside Michelle's house to do morning type stuff. We got dressed. We took down the tent trailer and loaded up (yeah, that took an hour to do what took me 15 seconds to assured, we did get better at it.) and headed out for Portland. be continued.