House Remodel Update {#2}

In just about three weeks we’ll have owned our shabby little 1860 farmhouse for a year. It’s hard to believe a whole year has come and gone and here we are still working away on this project. We still have a long way to go but it’s nice looking back and reminding ourselves of how far we’ve come over the last year.

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

Henry David Thoreau

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DSC_0129{Where we started}

3-23-14-edit{Where we are}

It took us most of last summer just to get all the permits and approvals we needed to move forward with our plans. Then it took a month or so to empty the place of trash and get it ready for construction. We also had to take down the garage/addition area because it was sitting directly on the ground without a foundation and was caving in.

plans{Darren sketching out plans over the summer}

dumpster

cleaning out

wheel barrow cleaningYou know you have some serious work to do when your house needs to be cleaned with a wheelbarrow and shovel.

By last September we were finally ready to really start building and my brother and his family drove all the way from Louisiana to help us raise the roof. We wanted a full second story and more windows so that’s why we decided to do something crazy like raise the roof :]

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After that we had a foundation dug and poured for the addition and the remaining fall and early winter months were spent framing up the interior of the house and adding the garage and new construction.

men pouring forms

bobcat foundation

front framing

kel framing

after framing

Progress was slow over the winter because we had an especially cold, snowy season. But now that the temperatures are starting to improve and the snow is almost gone, we’ve been able to get rolling again. Over the last few weeks the guys have put in most of the windows, added the front porch, and roofed the porch and addition so the outside is “all buttoned up” as Darren says :]

house

Next up is plumbing—happening this week hopefully. Then we have the siding, electrical, insulation, sheet rock, flooring, installation of the bathrooms and kitchen, and lots of lots of painting. Oh and the garage floor needs to be poured, and we’ll need trim and doors, and the back porch needs to be added, and there’s work needing to be done in the basement, and the chimney needs to be built, and…and…and…and there’s still a lot of work to do :] But at least it feels good to be moving again and seeing the place taking shape.

Right now I’m most excited about getting the siding on because it will look so much nicer and more complete when it has some clothes on :] Some grass wouldn’t hurt either but I think we’re going to have to deal with the muddy mess until next year when all the work is done and we’re able to reseed the yard. Patience, patience.

I’m still hoping against hope that we’re able to move in by August or September but we’ll just have to wait and see how things come along. Also, what the heck were we thinking building a house and a baby at the same time? That takes a special kind of crazy. I’m not looking forward to packing and moving with a newborn but c’est la vie…besides, these pictures I took around the yard last year always remind me why it will all be worth it in the end 8D

DSC_0820Some guy with a backhoe tried very hard to take this bush down on me. He kept saying the yard could be landscaped so much better without it but I crossed my arms and stood in the yard while he wheeled around tearing down every other green thing he could find and made sure he didn’t touch this bush. It’s not wise to mess with a pregnant lady even if you’re the one driving the backhoe ;]

DSC_0740I’m not tackling a garden this summer with everything else going on but I can’t wait until next spring when we are living here and I’m able to walk through my own yard and garden growing flowers and vegetables.

DSC_1053Relaxing under my favorite tree

tall flowers

DSC_0131Welcome home. This will be our view.

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Seeds We Plant

It’s getting cold here in New England; it even snowed a little the other day. Today when I went outside it felt so warm I thought it must be in the 70s but the temperature read only 48°. Regardless, I celebrated the heat-wave by leaving my coat home today :]

As warm as 48° feels, winter is still inching in around us and Darren and I were busy for a few days trying to beat the frost and get hundreds {or a billion} daffodil, crocus, and tulip bulbs dug up and transplanted for spring. That’s the thing about flowers and spring—you have to plan ahead if you want to see color and results when the world finally thaws out months from now.

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We got all the bulbs in the ground where we wanted them and then a few days later it was really warm and pretty so I kicked off my shoes, rolled up my pant legs, and went around the yard filling the wheel-barrow up with pretty round rocks to use as a border around the flowers. It took a lot of loads back and forth to wrap all the way around the area I wanted but it felt good to be outside tramping around in the dirt and grass. Darren called me Tom Sawyer the rest of the day but I think he meant it affectionately :]

I’ve been thinking a lot about those little bulbs we put into the ground and all the work and planning that goes into having a pretty yard and garden come spring. And I’ve thought a lot too about all the other seeds we plant, not in the yard and garden, but in our hearts and lives.

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Words, actions, thoughts, decisions—these are the seeds planted throughout our lives that carry with them the power to grow either beauty or weeds in the soil of our hearts and souls.

I think about the words we hear growing up and how those little seeds grow in us and shape us for better or worse all throughout our lives. I think about all the decisions we make and how they too take root and grow into either weeds or blossoms in the tender sod of hearts.

Once weeds take root, they are hard to pluck out; they hold on and keep coming back up over and over again. It doesn’t seem fair that just the opposite is true of flowers—they are tender, delicate, easy to root out and kill. Beauty and blossoms have to be nurtured or they will suffer and die.

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It’s just the same with nurturing beauty in our hearts and lives—you only need be told once that you are stupid or unwanted to have that weed planted in your heart—and plucking it back out will likely have to be done again and again as the weeds keep springing back up. But it seems we must be told many times throughout our lives that we are loved and wanted and worthy before those tender seeds take root and are finally settled into our hearts producing fruit.

So be careful of the seeds you plant—the words, the actions, the thoughts and decisions. Be careful of the seeds you plant in the lives of others and careful of the seeds you let take root in your own heart and soul.

Because once weeds take root they are hard to pluck out and blossoms easily die.

Beginnings.

Today I wondered what the first thing was I had written about on this blog so I went back and looked. My first post was on May 10, 2011; I put three posts up that day to kick the blog off. It’s funny looking back now and remembering how and why this blog started.

I’m always jotting down my thoughts and trying to capture what I was thinking and feeling in a particular time and place. I wanted to share those thoughts and moments of inspiration with others–and that right there is how this little blog got started.

In May 2011, I remember sitting at a desk by the window watching the cottony fluff of pollen float down from a tree in my back yard; it looked like it was snowing in the middle of spring. For some reason that day watching the cotton fluff float around outside moved me to start this space and start sharing the words and pictures that make up my little world. At the beginning I intended only to write about nature and the outdoors–that is why I named this space Outside Air–because the outside air was exactly what I wanted to talk about.

On that first day I posted three entries I had originally taken down in my journal when I was at the ocean and Walden Pond. These were my first words and pictures:

Hampton, New Hampshire

The dark, water-laden clouds billow above taunting with stray drops of rain. The wind is strong, violent, driving and throwing the sea. The temperature is perfect; the beach is our own. The sky and the sea are the same threatening shade of blue-gray, tossing and reflecting off each other as they make the tempestuous transition into spring.

Hampton Beach, April 2011

Westerly, Rhode Island

The ocean rumbles, crashes, swirls, and spins. The waves lap, roll, build until they smash against the shore. This is a place of constant motion, constant churning sound—and yet it is quiet, peaceful. The ocean with its billowing waves sings a lullaby of rest. It breathes it briny breath and kisses my face with saltwater kisses. A tiny bird hops and frolics on the beach in the shadow of the violent crushing waves. A ladybug works on her tan. The water rolls in undulating, ever-changing shades of green then brown before morphing against the sand into perfectly white sea foam.  The ocean is timeless and yet never the same.

Misquamicut Beach, July 2009

Concord, Massachusetts

Walden Pond

Even the birds are quiet in this quiet place; they sing below their breath, in a whisper, as if showing respect for the beauty of quiet. The wind rustles through the woods, across the water making the trees sigh and yawn with the motion—that is all, the rest is silence. The wind is cold but the trees flirt, taunting the warm air to come—blushing crimson in buds ready to bloom.

Walden Pond

Those three posts on the same day were my only entries in May and I didn’t write again until the end of July.

You see, on June 1st 2011, a tornado came through our town and over our house. We had moved out of a downtown apartment in a not-so-safe city just a year before and were looking forward to our first summer in our home in this small town. We had a backyard for the first time and it was wooded with lots of big trees and a little stream running through it.

I loved our yard. Every morning when I came down to the kitchen I would look out the kitchen window at the yard and the trees and honestly thank God for allowing us to live here. I soaked up the morning light reaching through the woods across our lawn and I was really, very happy. That morning Darren and I went for a walk around the neighborhood before leaving for work. By the time we came home from work that night everything we loved about this place was gone.

Nearly every tree in our backyard was taken down and the brush and debris buried the little stream in the woods. Our entire road was badly hit with many of the houses having to be taken down and a huge area of woods completely gone. Everything looked different without the trees and woods. Instead of enjoying our first summer here we ended up using it to clean up our backyard and put everything back together around here. Even after cleaning it up it has never looked the same.

I was frustrated and disappointed and for a while nothing about the outside air inspired me anymore. I had no thoughts on nature and the outdoors that I wanted to share here. I kept waiting for the inspiration to come back but after a while I just gave up and decided to write about other things instead. I started writing about my thoughts on life in general and opened up about my faith and family. These weren’t the things I intended to share here but that’s the direction life took me that summer.

And so here we are now. Two years later and I think in some ways this space has come full circle. I’m back to sharing my words and pictures of the beautiful outdoors and still continue to share about life in general. I never imagined this space would turn into what it has but I’m thankful for each of you who come along with me on this journey and allow me to share my little world with you here. I am so very thankful for the ways you both challenge and encourage me along the way with each post. Some of you have been here from the beginning and some of us our new friends…I’m thankful for each one of you.

This space has been good for me. Here I have been able to articulate and share my thoughts and feelings and find out what others think of the same things. I have made friends all over the world and grown closer to people who have been a part of my life for years. I have grown as a writer and learned a lot about photography too. So thank you for coming along with me each step of the way. I hope I can continue to share with you for a long time to come.

Here are my latest pictures of the lovely, inspiring outside air ;]

DSC_0820{Lilacs in the front yard of our new house}

DSC_0836{Stopping to smell the flowers on a walk yesterday}

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DSC_0729{Our first garden}

Thank you for reading along with me, friends :]

April Showers Bring May Flowers

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“And don’t think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter.

It’s quiet, but the roots are down there riotous.”

{Rumi}