Sunday, January 22, 2017


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WEEK 15 // January 16 - 22 

This week we had many just continuing projects. Bryce continued to work on the water system (the fittings are giving him fits). He also replaced some drywall near the floor of the laundry room and I primed it today, so it's now ready for painting. (Fun color, here we come!) Bryce built a cabinet above the washer/dryer nook in the laundry room and it is ready for paint as well.

Here's the cabinet. (Started cutting in but changing the color...stay tuned!)

Continuing work on the kitchen counters--Bryce snapped off the forms (we used products from Z Counterform--found here) and then sanded the counters. They're coming along! Time to seal now.

Continuing the painting! Oh the painting just goes on and on. In the last four days, I've been over at the house about 15 hours. Thank you to Wendy for keeping an eye on the kids, and also thank you to Rachel, Danielle and Mema for blessing us with some help!

Behold the power of bright white trim paint. Also, the new gray is cut in!

My painting buddy on Friday.
And my painting friend on Saturday--Mema!

Fun color in the coat closet because why not?

Bryce picked up the dishwasher which I found second-hand but it's brand new (seen in the photo above). He also installed track lighting in the kitchen. On Saturday, he and my dad, Bruce, spent most of the day prepping the kitchen floor for tile: installing the backer board and patching the seams. They had another helper: our wonderful Miss S. 


They also installed the wood burning stove. Ready for step-by-step photos?

This is the monster that was in there before.

And the new one! The surround is being shipped to us.

I snapped this photo on the way out of the house this afternoon . . . it's the view walking in from the garage to the kitchen. Someday soon it will be finished and we will be able to walk in to stay.

Thursday, January 19, 2017


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A catch-up on the lives of our five children. Bullet-point style. Because who has time for beautifully crafted paragraphs these days. I still have 2 in diapers, buckle 4 in the car every time, pour 8-10 bowls of cereal every morning, and brush 5 sets of teeth every night. Five pre-schoolers is no joke, let's be honest.

Miss S, 5 years old
  • We celebrated her 5th birthday back in October. It was a Frozen party (we watched the movie, got her an Elsa dress, and had themed candles for the cake) and she was in heaven. So cute watching her giggle and smile from ear-to-ear all day.
  • She is our creative, artsy, dance all the time, live wild & free, always smiling girl.
  • At church they learned a Christmas song that goes "The best. present. ever! J-E-S-U-S is born!" We heard that song on repeat from all the kids but especially S for the entire month of December. Complete with crazy jazz hands and head shaking.
  • This year may have been her first Christmas to truly celebrate, given different circumstances the last few years of her life. What a joy to help her learn about why we celebrate and Who we celebrate at Christmas. She just loved every moment of it.
  • Right now she's going to physical therapy to help stop her feet from turning in. The therapist is always amazed at how hard she works at her exercises.
  • She has two loose teeth! The bottom middle two. And she's worried about sounding weird when they fall out. She laughed really hard today when I called them her baby teeth.
  • Going to church is the highlight of her week. If we don't go, something is terribly wrong with the world. If she can't make it because she's sick, then I have to go to her class to tell her teachers. It's one of her favorite places to be!
  • Favorite foods: pizza, any sort of meat, pasta, cheese sticks. Give this girl hearty food and lots of it.
Snowball fight!

Mr. Justus, 4 years old (turning 5 in 3 weeks)
  •  JD started playing with regular-sized legos this past month (Christmas gifts) and he's really enjoying it. His creations are perfectly symmetrical and thought-out. It's amazing to see his little mind working. It always causes a huge meltdown if anything breaks or doesn't go back together exactly as it was.
  • He is usually up between 6 and 6:30 but knows that he can't come down until the clock says "7:00" (for awhile he got confused if it said "7:03" or "7:06"). The girls' clock is set for "7:30," when the stoplight goes from red to green. Staggered wake-up times for the win!
  • At his yearly check-up last month, the doctor was impressed with how much he shot up over the last year--didn't stick with the curve but pretty much just went straight up, from 50th percentile to 70th. We have a growing boy! He's such a good eater--has a whole sandwich for lunch now and pretty much eats anything we put in front of him. (Gives us hope for the future for all of the other kiddos.)
  • When asked what his favorite foods are, he said: ice cream and peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches; he also loves fruit, especially apples.
  • I love it when he says "Good night. Hope you have a good sleep!" Now Silas says that too.
  • Very orderly, asks thoughtful questions, like to plan, quick thinking with responses. It's so incredible to see his and Miss S's very different styles in action when I do "learning time" with them three mornings a week. For example: when she cuts out 6 flashcards, there are paper scraps everywhere and she colors them in 8 colors in about 2 minutes; he cuts out the same 6 boxes and there are 4 pieces of extra paper and he colors them with 1 color and it takes 15-20 minutes.
  • His very favorite outfit to dress himself in: black sports turtleneck, black and neon green sweatpants, red and blue spiderman socks, black batman cape, and spiderman backpack on top of the cape.

Mr. Silas (Si, Si-Man, Si-Guy, "S-eye-s"), 3 years old
  • Our sweet, sneaky boy. Oh, I'm afraid he gets away with a lot because he's so quiet and happy about it. Stinker.
  • Still my morning buddy. I probably should teach him to stay in bed in the morning but I kind of don't want to. I like the cute company. I get my coffee ready and get him a bowl of cheerios to carry around, because he's starving--then I read while he sits by me and plays with toys.
  • Silas plays so well by himself--lining up cars, flying them around with lots of noises (one morning when JD was up too, I was surrounded by a constant barrage of car sounds!). 
  • He loves to sing. Throughout the day we get mini concerts of a wide variety of songs, including but not limited to: Tis So Sweet; Holy, Holy, Holy; Every Move I Make (which sounds like "every time I crush you" at one part); a variety of Christmas songs; Ho-Ho-Ho-Ho-Hosanna; B-I-N-G-O; and the list goes on. It's amazing all of the songs he remembers.
  • Of all the kids, he likes the dogs the best (two of them, because our in-laws have one as well and we're living with them at the moment). Let's just say they have a love/hate relationship with Silas--he really is trying to be friendly but ends up annoying them. 
  • He is talking up a storm these days and says the funniest little phrases. It's so fun to carry on conversations now and start to understand the way his little brain works. Counting is starting to click (although he gets 2 and 3 confused sometimes) and he can count to 23 (thank you to hide-and-seek). 
  • Dances with his shoulders, and it is adorable.
  • Not fully potty-trained yet but that's pretty much the mama's fault. I'm waiting until we get settled into our new house and then it will only take a day or two, I'm sure of it. 
  • This one loves technology. He's really the only one who messes with my phone, which means I find tons of pictures of random things.
  • Favorite food: yogurt & honey, hands down. If you ask him, he'll say: pizza and ice cream (yay for Costco!).

Miss A, 3 years old
  • This little girl is a secret spit-fire. She likes to pretend she's shy but don't let it fool you. When we're with groups of people she usually attaches to someone quickly and then makes herself right at home on a lap, giggling and being awfully adorable. Her little face and grin are hard to resist.
  • She and Silas play together almost constantly. Sometimes I forget that they really aren't twins (but being only 5 days apart sure is close!). They usually have their own little conversations and pretend-play going on. We've been trying to work with Miss A to learn how to play independently but it's really hard for her. They say at church that they usually stick together in their class.
  • She is our nurturing mama-figure--always taking care of someone, caring around a baby-doll, tucking someone in, making food and drinks, and being generally bossy. When the two older kids were gone for a couple of days, she took right over as play-leader and head-talker; Silas and Mr. D just fell right into line and played along.
  • Miss A is grasping colors now and it's fun to see it start to click. Yellow, purple, pink, and green are usually recognizable now. She loves to sit and do projects with Miss S--coloring, playing with their Frozen magnets, playing with stickers, etc.
  • Favorite foods: salty snacks of any variety and fresh veggies, especially if a dip is involved.

Please note: I did not pose this. They like to all sit squished together after dinner when I let them watch a show.

Mr. D-Man, 1 year old (turning 2 in April)
  • This is spit-fire number two. He does not let his older siblings get away with anything and gives Bryce and I some behavioral push-back. Oh yes, he's challenging, lots of fun!
  • He loves to sing! And it is so much fun to hear him and try to figure out what song he's singing. The first one he sang was "Let it go" from the Frozen movie since Miss S has a doll that played the song over and over. His current favorite song is "Jingle Bells" which he sings by saying, "jingle bells....jingle bells....hey!" He can also chime in for parts of The BIBLE and  Jesus Loves Me. 
  • So much talking these days. Words he says all the time (in his own way, of course): drink, snack, down, all done, milk, thank you, mimi, papa, no, more, please, hold you, mine, cookie. And he's starting to put together little phrases. Last night he was up for a little bit because of a cough and we had a little conversation--he said, "Where's JD? Where's 'hi (Silas)? Where's 'phe (Miss S)? More milk? Show?" He wanted to watch a show. What in the world.
  • When he gets excited or starts dancing or sometimes for no apparent reason at all, he starts jumping with two feet. The cutest little jumps, a bunch in a row.
  • He has a chipped tooth, one of the front ones. And we have no idea how it happened but it's not surprising. This dude is a fearless climber! We routinely find him on top of the piano or the kitchen table or playing in the bathroom sink. He even climbed out of his crib before Silas did. He attempts to climb up on the kitchen counter with his fingers on the ledge and gripping the straight side with his toes and with sheer upper body strength pulling himself up. We like to call him "small but mighty"!
  • D is a good eater! He eats everything the others do (literally--his lunch looks exactly like the 3-year-olds, he eats a lot!) but his favorites would be chips, cookies, olives, cottage cheese, blueberries and animal crackers.

All so unique and beautiful and a handful in their own way.
Such special children we are blessed with!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


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WEEK 14 // January 9 - 15

Three and half months into this project. We keep getting questions like: When were you hoping to be in the house? (A month ago. But it was always up in the air depending on the scope of hidden issues.) Did you know that it would take this long? (Does anyone who takes on a project like this know how long it will actually end up taking? I'm guessing not.) When do you hope to move in? (Soon! Soon! Soon!) We hope to be in by the end of January, but there's not a specific move-in date yet. We've reached the big push to make our home into a livable space, and then we'll finish it out slowly, probably over the next 3-4 years--ha! (...but really....that's probably true....).

Bryce continued to work on the laundry room. He busted out the peel-and-stick tile floor and then tiled and grouted. Justus was able to hang out with him one afternoon and helped with the spacers.

Old tile coming up (a Sawzall with a scraper blade and lots of elbow grease)


Done and ready for grout.

We changed our mind on some of the cabinet placement, so Bryce moved around cabinets on the fridge/pantry wall. This made room for a cutting board cubby and a spot for a wine rack eventually. He also installed the microwave. One appliance down, 3 more to go!

Cutting board cubby

Bryce did some more drywall touch-up and moved the light fixture in the half bath so it will be centered over the sink. He also started to install a whole-house water treatment system (eliminating the need for reverse osmosis and a water softener)--we hope this will be a good solution since we have well water and lots of iron staining.

I spent the day painting on Saturday, joined by four wonderful ladies: Chris, Liz, Lori and Kerri. Thanks so much for your help and company. We rolled a second coat of white in the kids bath + 6 closets, cut in the upstairs hallway, cut in and rolled the kitchen again, cut in and rolled the 4th bedroom, rolled the master bedroom again, and started cutting in the laundry room. Productive day! The upstairs is almost done! (No pictures...shucks. I always get too focused and busy working.)

Bryce had help from Tom & Jim Hurst on Sunday afternoon and they poured the rest of the countertops. He ordered a few more supplies after the first counter pour a week ago, so we were waiting on those. To make the process a little easier (since they fried a drill on the first go-around), we borrowed a portable cement mixer. It feels like really good progress to have the countertops poured and ready for sanding/sealing.

What? You don't mix concrete in your foyer?

Hard at work! It's definitely a job for multiple hands.

What a mess! This is why we did the countertops before the tile floor.

2nd counter done!

3rd counter done!

Sunday, January 8, 2017


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WEEK 13 // January 2 - 8

The drywall finisher was done with his work by Monday evening. Bryce got things cleaned up over the next day or two. Ready to jump into the next phase of the project! Bryce spent an entire day priming all of the drywall, walls and ceilings. He also painted the ceiling in the kitchen and dining room. It's amazing how much of a difference it makes to have a freshly painted ceiling. Same for the upstairs--such a big difference!

(I know it's hard to visualize the layout from the choppy photos. Hopefully I'll have a blueprint-of-sorts of the house soon so that you can better "picture" what angle the photos are showing.)

Kitchen primed and ready to go. (standing in the eat-in looking toward the dining room)

(standing in the Great Room, bathroom on the right, eat-in through the doorway on the left)

Odds and ends: The fridge was delivered and it's currently sitting in the living room--but it's a beauty! Bryce picked up the rest of the tile. And also picked up the kitchen window. On a warm-ish day (for January) he power washed the barn wood and set it up in the basement to dry. He also worked to organize the garage a little bit and hung up the old kitchen cabinets for tool storage, etc.

I spent three evenings painting at the house. (Three late evenings in a row is about all I can do. I'm about ready to cry and/or collapse after that and need a break--such a wimp.) The master bedroom needed one more cut-in. And I also helped to paint the kitchen. On Wednesday I picked up 6 samples of colors for the kitchen, painted them on the walls Wednesday evening (see them with Bryce in the photo above), met Beth (interior design friend) during the day on Thursday to look at the colors in the daylight and make a decision, picked up the paint on Thursday evening on the way to the house, and cut-in the kitchen with Chris that night. Bryce rolled it on Friday. Sometimes you just gotta make a quick decision and go with it! And we really like it!

More green!

We had wonderful help this week. Thank you to Chris, Mema, Clay, Tom, Jordan and Bruce. And as always, thank you to Wendy for her help with the kid-wrangling, dinner-making, etc.

Bryce installed the new window in the kitchen. We had to custom order to keep the same size of window and I'm so glad we did! Bryce also worked a long day on Friday to install all of the cabinets.

Cabinets in!

And the other wall with the new window (this wall is a different color since it's getting covered up).

Saturday was a super productive day! Bryce had help from the four men mentioned above and together they accomplished a lot. Tom picked up our new sink (which I tracked down that morning from a plumbing supply store downtown since we wanted a more modern design and big box stores don't carry them in stock) and my dad, Bruce, grouted the half bath

The guys installed the under-cabinet lighting in one section, installed the sink and the vent hood, and (the main job) prepared all of the forms for pouring concrete counters. They were able to pour one of the counter sections, the small one between the oven and the sliding door. Bryce worked late into the night to finish that part. It's a big project!

The counter form is going in and notice the under cabinet lighting!

Mixing, mixing

It's a messy process!

Oven vent hood and a poured counter