October Reflections

Today we celebrated the life of my grandfather, just 3 weeks after the funeral of my grandmother. It has been a shock for all of us to lose both of them in such a short time. They were married for 65 years and had 5 children, one of those being my mom. I’ve reflected on the life they lived over the past few weeks and I am so very grateful for the blessing of family and the legacy they’ve given me.

My grandparents were people of faith. They loved God and loved their family. Some of my first memories of church and Sunday school were in the church where they were married, attended throughout their life and where Grandpa was remembered today. It was the church where I heard the gospel for the first time, where I looked for Grandpa to peek in the classroom door taking attendance and where I remember sitting with Grandma while she traced circles on my arm during the sermon to help keep me still. I was saved there and was taught from the time I was very small that Jesus was the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

After church on Wednesday nights, Grandma would take us to her house where we would share a snack of sour cream and chive crackers. She bought them for me from the vending machine at the hospital where she worked in the lab. I felt special knowing she thought enough of me to get them each week. I can’t eat one now without being transported back to sitting across from her at the chrome kitchen table having a snack.

Grandma and Grandpa’s house was a place the family gathered Sunday noon for lunch, catching up, and afternoon Faspa. We played Uno and other card games while Grandpa and my uncles watched whatever ballgame was on TV. I remember seeing baby cousins there for the first time and when I was really lucky getting to hold them on the gold recliner in the living room.

If you happened to show up after Grandma had ‘drawn the drapes’ for night, you’d have to wait for her to unlock first the wood door (both locks) and then the screen door. She’d open the door and exclaim “Well lookie there! Come on in, I didn’t expect to see you!” You could be sure she’d get a snack for you, heat up a cup of coffee for Grandpa, and then come back to sit down and talk.

My Grandpa worked for the post office for years. His route home for lunch took him right in front of the window of my Kindergarten classroom. When I saw his truck drive by, I’d wave my little arm as hard as I could just sure he could see me inside. Sometimes he would and he’d honk and wave back. It was my own personal parade most days.

As I got older, I could always count on Grandpa to quiz me on the states and their capital cities. He knew them all so if I didn’t, he’d be sure to tell me which ones I got wrong. We’d chat about the birds he’d seen at the feeder that morning and the tomatoes or beans growing in the garden.

My Grandparents loved God and it was evident in their daily lives. I don’t ever remember the kitchen table without Grandpa’s glasses, his Bible and the Our Daily Bread devotional beside it. As he got older and lost his eyesight, not being able to read the Bible for himself was something he grieved terribly. My mom bought him large print, extra large print, and eventually a digital option on his phone so she could make the font as large as possible for him to read.

I’ll never forget the way Grandpa prayed. He wasn’t eloquent, but spoke to God as though he was speaking to someone he knew well. He was straightforward and often told it like it was. I remember many family meals hearing Grandpa pray and his voice would crack as he would pause and thank God for his family and ask blessing upon them. We knew each child and grandchild was prayed for by name on a daily basis.

While they weren’t perfect (none of us are), they did the best they knew how to raise their children to love God and each other. I am blessed to have benefited from this love and purpose.

Death of a loved one, often prompts us to reflect on our own life and what we want others to remember about us. We ponder what they’ll reminisce about and what memories and traditions they’ll pass on. The things I remember fondly about my Grandparents were probably just ‘everyday’ things to them in the moment, but they are the moments that have stuck with me as I’ve raised my family.

I think of how I saw them live out their love for Christ, their church, and their family in the little things and day to day activities. I’ve come to realize that maybe those really are the big things that shape who we are and what we value in life.

In our home, we gather with family on Sunday for dinner together, I trace circles on my kiddo’s arms during the sermon but most of all, I pray that I pass on a love for Christ and family to my children and my children’s children.

So while we grieve the loss of my grandparents, I am deeply thankful for the life they lived and the way they showed me, in every day ways, what the most important things in life are.

In Loving Memory of my grandparents, Don and Frieda Quiring.

The last Firsts

My whole life I wanted to be a mama. My interests and desires changed many times during high school and college…I mean at one point I wanted to be a DJ for a local rock radio station. But one thing has been consistent as far back as I can remember…being a mom.

God has blessed our family richly with 8 living children and 4 awaiting us in eternity. We’ve made no secret that we trust God with our family size and would take as many blessings as He would give. I thought, though, in my humanness that when the season of us having additional biological children came to an end it would be a mutual agreement between me and God. That I would ‘feel’ done and give Him permission to not give us anymore biological children. Isn’t that silly? That God would need or want my permission to do so.

Lily was 5 months old when Kerry was diagnosed with cancer. The radiation on his colon likely removed any chance of us getting pregnant again, but yet…I held out hope. I wasn’t ready to be done. I held on to my baby gear, the newborn clothes and home birth supplies “just in case”.

A few months ago I started to have some health issues that took me to my GYN doc. We tried conservative measures to treat, but the problems were ongoing. Last month I had a sonogram that revealed a number of issues that needed addressed. While I was given different options for treatment they would all mean my days of having babies were officially over. I wasn’t ready. As we prayed about the options, we felt very much like this was God closing the door on that chapter of our lives.

This week I had a hysterectomy to address my health concerns. This obviously completely closes the door on me ever giving birth again. It is sad to think of never going through a pregnancy or labor again, missing those newborn snuggles and introducing a new baby to their older siblings. As I unpacked boxes last week, I came across all of those saved baby things. I pulled out the baby blankets, onesies and tiny baby socks for the last time. I thanked God that I’d been able to use these for the children He’d gifted us with. I thanked God for the beauty of new life, for the lessons learned and whispered prayers in all those midnight feedings.

God’s goodness in giving us 8 healthy children is not lost on me. The fact that any pregnancy ever makes it to term is miraculous. All of the things that must go right to get pregnant, grow a baby and then give birth to that baby…they are incredible works at the hand of our loving and merciful God. As I sit here recovering from surgery, I am at peace. I am at peace with this chapter being over and I am forever grateful for the children I have.

I am sad too, but in a way that you’re sad when you’re leaving something you love behind, but are turning to look to the future and opening a new door. Our home and arms will always be open to any children God wishes to bring to our family through other means. We have long talked about opening our home to foster care and adoption and, in time, we will work towards that goal.

For now, we are entering a season we’ve never been in before…a season of last firsts. The last time we will experience the ‘firsts’ with our youngest child. We will be in a season without newborns, diapers and sleepless nights with a restless babe. We embrace what God has in store for us. We will continue to turn our eyes to Him and seek prayerfully what He would have us do as we raise our family. God has been gracious and merciful to us. We rejoice in raising our children and looking ahead.

PS…thank you to my friends who are in the newborn trenches for letting me hold your wee babies. I appreciate it more than you’ll ever know.

Burning the candle at both ends

Do you know that country song by Brooks and Dunn? (Hard Working Man) The chorus has a line:

“I’m burnin’ my candle at both ends
‘Bout the only way to keep the fire goin’
Is to outrun the wind”

That’s what it has felt like for the last couple of months. It’s been busy season at work and busy season in life too. Every spare moment has been spent working on the new house, packing up the old one and all the things in between.

Kerry and I both took off some time in April to paint, lay flooring and do some of the interior finish work ourselves. We’ve also poured concrete countertops, installed pantry and bathroom cabinets. The lagoon was dug, rural water and telephone were all trenched in.

The electricians and plumbers worked hard to get the final touches done and we were able to move in this last weekend! We still have a few things to do like the island top and backsplash in the kitchen, but it’s all done enough for us to be here. We are so thankful! The sunrises are as beautiful as the sunsets and the kids are thrilled with the extra space to play.

We are still very much settling in and working to find a place for everything but it is good to be HOME.

A Long Overdue update

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an update…okay over a month. In reality, it’s busy season as my job and I spend lots of hours on the computer during the day…the last thing I want to do in the evening is be on the computer so I haven’t felt much like posting. And with the warmer weather we all just want to be outside anyway. Here’s what has happened over the last month…

Plumbing: All of the rough in plumbing and HVAC is done. They got rural water to our property, now all that is left is the trenching from the meter to the house (about 650 ft). We’ve had some rain so once it dries out hopefully they’ll get to it.

Insulation: Kerry and the older boys insulated the basement and the contractor came in and insulated the main floor. We used blown in cellulose insulation as it seals a bit better and is just a good as the rolled stuff.

Garage doors: Installed and openers working. They really helped finish the look of the east side of the house.

Sheetrock: Up. It took two guys two days to sheetrock the entire house. We couldn’t believe it. They worked 12-14 hour days, but were done quickly! It’s amazing how different it feels with actual walls and a ceiling! Now we are waiting for them to start mud and tape so we can paint soon.

Hearth: Almost ready to pour. Kerry is planning to pour the hearth top with concrete so he’s been reinforcing and forming to get ready to pour. Right now, the kids like to pretend it’s a stage.

Paint and flooring: Purchased and ready for when the mud and tape is done. The flooring should be in next week along with our kitchen cabinets…we can hardly wait.

Trim: Oh the trim! I wanted wider trim so we got pine boards and are sanding and staining them ourselves. It sounded like a doable task until our builder told us just how many feet of trim we were buying…it’s over 1/2 a mile! We’ve started sanding it and will take some to my brother in law’s to run through the drum sander this weekend to help speed up the process. I have stained all of the windows and started staining on the trim we are done sanding.

Sunsets: Amazing. It’s still one of my favorite things and I try to make sure my work is wrapped up in time to catch the sunset from the deck each evening. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of watching the sun melt below the horizon while hearing the birds sing their evening songs.

Week 7 — It’s a mess

This last week rough in plumbing and electrics started. Monday evening we walking through with our electrician (another former classmate) to place lights and outlets. I’ll just say wow…that was a little overwhelming. Mostly because I hadn’t given much thought to anything other than a few lights I knew I wanted. Otherwise I felt like I was saying “whatever is normal” in terms of outlet placement. It felt weird to see marking up the studs for all the switch and outlet placement. Imagine it when we were asked to draw our island on the sub-flooring and the wood stove on the concrete.

Once we did our walk through they started putting in boxes, switch boxes and all the other ‘fixtures’ that will hold the canned lighting and actual lights and ceiling fans. They’ve strung lots of wire this week and while it doesn’t look like BIG stuff, it’s a lot of progress and work.

Plumbing seemed to move quickly too. We even got tub/shower units in on Thursday this week. That definitely felt surreal. Lily is more than happy to show you where her bathtub will be (it’s in our main hall bath, but she’s certain it’s only hers).

Lily is a bit dismayed at all the wood chips from the holes for plumbing and electrics that are accumulating on her bedroom floor. She walks back to her room and says “It’s a mess”. She doesn’t seem to mind digging holes in the dirt piles, but apparently the wood shavings on the floor bother her a bit.

The weather was beautiful enough we had a few picnics on the patio and deck. We even had our first dinner guests this week when Kerry’s folks came to join us for pizza on the patio Saturday evening. The railing and steps were finished this week and it looks so incredible. I am just thrilled every time we drive down the drive way at how it’s all coming together. It looks better than I even imagined.

The weekend we went to pick out flooring, purchased vanity tops, island and dining room lights. We also bought some outside sconces…I’m not sure I like them. In the store they looked plenty big, but when I held them up on the wall, they look too small. We’ll see…

On to next week…I can’t wait.

Week 6 — Now we’re cooking with peanut oil

One of my band teachers use to say this all the time when we were practicing and were finally making progress. 🙂 After two weeks of bitter cold and unsafe conditions for our building crew they were finally able to get back to the hill and make progress. They worked hard this week and we were thrilled to out every evening to see all they got done.

Monday we got our first look at doors and windows! They had been delivered just before the cold snap so we could hardly wait to see them in. They also finished the south side of the deck. We look forward many evenings and good times with friends spent on our deck.

Tuesday we ate our first meal at our house on the hill. The weather was beautiful so we packed a picnic supper and ate dinner on the patio. We would have eaten on the deck, but it was a little windy. The stairs were done Tuesday and it was exciting for us to be able to walk to the basement instead of climbing a ladder or going around outside.

Wednesday the front door went in and the front windows for my office and living room were put in. The frames were built for the windows over my sink. I think I’m most excited to see these in. I’ve been dreaming about them for months.

Thursday the siding went up on the peak on the west side of the house. We could see it peeking over the tree tops as we were driving out that evening. There were audible gasps in our car when the boys saw it. The railing for the stairs was framed Thursday as well. I have visions of a built in bookshelf on the long side.

Friday the siding was finishing on the east side and the framing complete for garage doors. Doors and windows were installed in the garage. I’m pretty sure the windows have been waiting to find their home for the last 20 years as they were ones my parents bought when they were remodeling a house. For some reason, they were never installed and we’ve moved them from place to place not sure what we’d ever use them for. In fact, when we moved this last time I was so close to just tossing them. But here they are…installed in the garage of our new home.

Saturday Kerry and I had a busy day running errands and buying a few things for the house. We plan on staining our own trim so bought some stain (we’ll need more yet) and had plans to buy insulation for our basement (we’re doing that ourselves). But instead…we bought bathroom vanities. While we were at Lowes we found the vanities we’d like to use for 75% off! They had 5 in stock and we bought 4 of them. We also ordered our kitchen cabinets while we were there. I spent the rest of the day questioning if we’d measured correctly and worried that we ordered the wrong thing…what if it doesn’t fit? Kerry assures me it will. Kerry will be making an island for the kitchen so I’ll have plenty of counter space.

We also lined some things our for our woodburning stove in the basement. Kerry and his dad will be building our hearth so we wanted to be sure our contractor was good with our plans.

Week 5 — A late update

I realized today that I forgot to post about progress last week. I’ll start out by saying the weather this week is really as awful as was expected. It’s been too cold for any work to be done on our house. I am not a fan of winter…but even more so this year.

So we’ll look back at last week and wait for it to warm up above freezing maybe next week.

More siding and roofing was done last week. It was super muddy but we couldn’t stay away. One evening Lily walked right of her muddy shoes and was a bit distraught at stepping in the mud in her socks.

On Tuesday it was pretty windy so they spent some time framing the rest of the basement along the exterior walls in. It’s so neat to see the rooms start to take shape and really see it all laid out.

Perhaps one of my favorite developments happened on Wednesday last week…the west deck was added! We were delayed in town Wednesday evening so got out to the house just after sunset when there were just a few orange streaks left in the sky. But oh…the deck. It’s beautiful to stand there and look out to the West.

Friday they worked to frame the South deck and hang more siding and finish the deck roof. Our windows and doors also came in this week. I got a text during the day “I see the window truck at your house today” and sure enough there they were in the garage that evening. I can’t wait to see them installed!

The weather came in Friday night and it hasn’t been above freezing since. So we wait patiently for it to warm up at least a little bit before they can start working again.

Week 4 — Seeing Red and The weather stinks

The weather this last week was miserable. It was incredibly cold, snowy, icy and miserable. The first few days of this week there wasn’t much our builder could do.

Thursday there was movement! They got siding up on the North side of the house and part of the South. It was exciting to start to see the red walls going up.

Friday was cold and windy again. They can’t hang the siding when it’s so windy so they framed some in the basement. I forgot to take pictures though.

Saturday we got 1.5″ of rain and all I could think of was our sub-flooring getting wet. Hopefully this next week it won’t be so lousy so that the siding and roof can get on. Here’s to better weather and more walls!

Week 3 Progress

What a week! It’s been exciting to see all that Lyndl and team got accomplished this last week. We have roof trusses and deck supports! I love seeing our roof line from the road. And the deck! Oh my…I am dreaming of drinking coffee in the morning and sunsets in the evenings.

Monday a few of the roof trusses went up. A fork-lift issue caused a bit of a delay, but by Tuesday afternoon almost all of them were up!

Wednesday and Thursday they worked on adding the face-boards on the over-hang and deck roof trusses up. We were fortunate that the weather was fairly nice this week so we got to watch the sunset a couple of evenings.

I forgot to take any pictures Friday but the rest of the face-boards for the deck roof were up and it looks so neat and tidy. The weather is supposed to be lousy the first part of this week again. I obviously know nothing about construction so have no idea when they’ll be working on. It’s like Christmas morning going out every afternoon.

Week 2 update

This last week was crazy busy and I didn’t post day by day updates, so you’ll get it all in one here.

Last week the majority of the basement was framed and they’d started on the upstairs. This week the rest of the main floor and garage were both framed. It was neat to see it come together and walk into each of the rooms. It’s one thing to see it drawn on paper, but a whole other ballgame when you can see the walls and walk into doorways. I loved being able to ‘look out’ my windows and envision the layout of each of the rooms.

They also poured the concrete for the deck piers and the walk out basement patio. We are looking forward to many evenings and sunsets from the deck and patio.

We were delighted to see the roof trusses delivered on Wednesday. Every step makes it feel more real and we get more excited to live there.

Thursday and Friday were crazy windy so we knew the roof trusses weren’t going up. The appraiser went out to do a construction appraisal on Friday. This is the last step we’ve been waiting on to get all of our paperwork complete and in line. The appraisers have been busy due to the real-estate market in our area, so we were thankful she was planning to get it all wrapped up Friday afternoon and sent to our bank.

We can hardly wait to see what week 3 brings…