Friday, January 30, 2015

Eletrical/plumbing and an initial tour of the new upstairs

Also while Chris was gone, they framed in the opening into the new space upstairs and started on electrical/plumbing.

new upstairs hallway: with a bathroom on the left, a bedroom straight a head and another bedroom up to the right.


Then below is the first, smaller bedroom with windows facing the driveway. We're probably going to call this room the brick room since after seeing it initially framed in, we decided we liked the brick wall from the old exterior of the house and are going to keep it exposed but fix the one little section of roofing with a drywall arch. Its going to look nice.

The last, larger bedroom has a beautiful view of the backyard. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Heating/Cooling, EAVES and connecting old and new

One of my favorite improvements we're doing on the house right now is trimming back the extraordinary long eaves all around the house. These babies stuck out 4-5 feet from walls! It was insane. Anytime you look out any window almost 1/2 of what you saw was the underside of the eaves, the soffit. It was causing the roof to buckle and bed on the edges of the roof and maybe even some warping/ripples in the middle. They first cut away the part by the breakfast nook in the kitchen and it was like someone had turned on an extra light in the kitchen. Amazing! 

Also on the docket for this week was installing the new furnace in the attic space of the new addition and running the heating/cooling "worms" for the upstairs bedrooms. The current bedrooms are heated/cooled with vents in the floor which means there is some exposed duct work in the current garage. Now that we're making the garage into a playroom we want to remove that duct work. Also, to have all the upstairs rooms heated and cooled with the same unit is a good idea. 

This means that we needed to install an attic space in the upstairs hallway and so we loose the vaulted ceiling there.  That doesn't bother me at all. I think it'll help make the transition from the existing house to the new part of the house a little more seamless. But it does mean that the upstairs bedrooms feel a little bit under construction and its pretty inefficient to heat this space that is connected and open to the outside air. It can get kind of cold up there during the night and feels quite drafty on a windy day. 

It also means that we needed to move Gwen from out of her room and into the boys room so that we can connect the new addition to the current house! This was also one of those changes that the kids have been asking us about for weeks. Now we don't have to climb up a really tall ladder, creep across the roof and crawl in a window to walk around and inspect the new stuff! It is really amazing to see our dreams and ideas materialize. We can really get a feel now for how this connection will work... I think its going to be awesome! We're thinking of putting a little built-in day bed/reading nook against the wall where the closet was, so the room becomes more like a big hallway with a cute reading spot off to the side.


While Chris was gone at his conference, an exciting development happened at the house...we got the windows cut out of the brick and installed in the new playroom!! It really makes the that space feel totally different - decidedly un-garage-like.

Alec's baptism

Alec was baptized on Friday January 23. My parents and Chris' mom flew in the day before! It has been a while since we had parents from both sides with us at the same time. I LOVED IT. We were just talking and catching up the night before and looking forward to the time together. My parents could stay until Saturday morning and Dixie could stay until Tuesday.  We texted Thom, Chris' brother, with a crazy idea that they were welcome to come for the weekend and play with us and Grandma Dixie, even if they couldn't leave work in time to drive the 9 hours and make it to the baptism at 6:00. But we never heard back from them and I didn't think another thing about it since there was plenty other to think about to get ready for it. 

We had printed out a bunch of invitations to hand out to a lot of my friends, Chris' colleagues and Alec's friends and teachers. Alec decided that he would like Charlie to give a talk, Gwen to sing a song, Grandma Heather to play the piano, Grandma Dixie to say the opening prayer and lead the music, Grandpa Betteridge to give a talk and his friend, Benjamin to give the closing prayer. I think Alec liked the idea of being able to ask people to do things that he, himself, found uncomfortable. You should have seen the smile he had on his face when he said he wanted Charlie to give a talk. My dad was great and helped me get the program figured out and printed.

Since it was on a Friday night, I wanted to provide a nice spread of refreshments and it was so nice to have my mom and mother-in-law to help finalize the selections, shop and bake. We did two cheese balls, a meat and cheese platter, crackers, a big bowl of strawberries and grapes, a vegi tray, banana bread, fruit bread, and texas sheet cake. I had some friends who would bring cookies, lemon bars and a yummy punch. 

This would be the first baptism in the new building so we had to work out the kinks a bit. How long did it take to fill up the font? Where was the controls for that? How should we line up the chairs? How do you get the microphone to work in the podium? Where should we serve the food? Were their knives, pitchers and other serving utensils in the kitchen? I left my dad at the church to monitor the font, and start setting up chairs, while my mom and I did the last minute shopping, while Dixie stayed home with Gwen and Frederick.  It was SOO WONDERFUL to have family there. 

Then a few hours before the baptism we got a text from Thom and Brittany with a pin of their current location: Vicksburg, MS!!! They were coming and would be here in time for the baptism!!! Such a fun surprise. By the time Alec got home from school, we could tell him that his cousins Jackson and Graham would show up any minute. Haha. So So exciting. We're so blessed to have such great family and we love and appreciate them more than we can say.

I finished picking up the programs and the last minute shopping (stuff for the food, white underwear for Alec) and grabbed 6 McDonald's happy meals for all the children at home so they wouldn't be hungry during the baptism. I really wanted the evening to feel special for Alec and I think in that regard it was a huge success. There was a very sweet feeling in the room and just before it, Alec was giddy excited, grinning and giggling as he walked/ran around the halls in his white jumpsuit watching people come into the building.  My one regret was to get a family picture with all of our family who came. 

Grandma Dixie had brought Alec a "Baptism Notebook" that had a place for people to sign in, and I didn't quite get it set out in time before people started showing up, so I asked Charlie to go around and ask people to sign it...not really thinking he would but I thought I'd ask anyway. To my surprise, Charlie wasn't shy at all and took the job quite seriously and did it thoroughly.  Despite giving out LOTS of invitations, no one that we gave invites to actually came. :( Alec even asked, "When is my teacher coming?" But the room was still full with support from fellow branch members and family so that was nice. Frederick was pretty antsy the whole evening but I didn't want anything to ruin the warm Spirit I was feeling and just chose to not be annoyed while I held him/distracted him as best I could while listening to the program. 

Watching Alec and my Chris step down into the warm water with that cute giddy smile still on Alec's face and Chris' protective arms guiding and helping him electrified my insides. Then hearing Alec's name in that wonderful, simple yet powerful baptismal prayer made me shed a tear or two. Its hard to describe how incredibly special it all felt. I know this ordinance of baptism truly opens the gate towards returning to our Father in Heaven. I know that it is what God wants for all of his children and to see my son taking that step brought such a lightening feeling to my soul -- confirmation that I'm doing 'okay' as a mom, and that my kids might actually turn out decently. All these feelings strengthened my testimony of Baptism. 

I know Alec felt it too. Later that night I was talking with him about how he felt and I encouraged him to write in his journal about it and he wrote something along the lines of how he wanted to do it again because it felt so warm and good. 

My parents had to catch their flights the next morning and we were sad to see them go. Thom, Brittany and kids could stay until the next morning (Sunday), Chris actually also had to leave Sunday for a conference for a week and so we were all extra glad that Grandma Dixie could stay a few days more until Tuesday afternoon.  I really hadn't planned out any meals or activities for the weekend since I was so focused on the baptism so that brought a little extra last minute stress on but I would gladly take that stress in exchange for time with family.  Also, our plumbing really started acting up over the course of the weekend and by the time Chris, Thom and Brittany left, we only had 1 working toilet in the house and no showers or baths. Apparently a brick had gotten jammed up against a pipe, blocking it from being able to release its contents into the septic tank. Luckily, it was a simple (read: INEXPENSIVE) fix and by Monday night, things were running smoothly again. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Everyday moments

I love these sweet cheeks and kiss them maybe a hundred times a day. I will never grow tired of watching my sleeping children. I know my days with Gwen at home are growing short. She'll be in all day kindergarten next year and I know I will miss some of my quiet-house moments with her. I particularly love my walk to the bus stop with her. Frederick is often still sleeping in the house so just Gwen when I will run up our driveway and down the street a bit to meet the bus. "Time to go get the brothers!" We play 'I Spy' or 'Simon Says' or have a rock throwing competition in which she gets to stand 20 feet in front of me or some such rule until she consistently wins by throwing the rocks farther than I can. :)  

Sometimes Freddy is awake for the bus-pick up and he LOVES to run on the street. I totally wouldn't mind since our street is NOT busy and theirs good visibility but this little boy will fall on his face. EVERY. TIME. He rums faster than he can keep up with.  The boys still scream "Can I hold Freddy?!" the second their foot touches the ground from stepping off the bus. 

Frederick sometimes "talks" on a play phone by holding it behind his head and walking around.  Pretty much any game he plays involves walking or running around. This kid loves to move.

The favorite toys are called "Straws and spikey=bombs" and are SUCH a favorite with the kids and provide hours of entertainment...but they leave SUCH a mess! These toys are on two lists:  the "you-have-to-ask-mommy-before-you-play-with-these" list and the "Stored-in-a-hidden-location-so-the-kids-don't-see-them-and-ask-to-play-with-them" list.  But they are pretty fun. The kids love to make houses, bridges, umbrellas, etc and almost always insist on taking multiple pictures of their creations. 

These boys love their little brother and Charlie, in particular, is quite put out that Frederick no longer likes to be 'held.' The one except to this is when he drinks his milk. He still likes to be cuddled then.  The last pictures are from New Years Eve. Charlie asked to feed Frederick and I was busy with other things and for a few minutes forgot I had left the two downstairs. Frederick had fallen asleep and Charlie tucked him in a blanket on top, pillows all around so he wouldn't roll off the bed, and his new bear Fritz nestled under one of Freddy's arms.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

New Starkville Chapel

We have an LDS chapel in Starkville!!!!We've been driving to the chapel in West Point (a town about 25 minutes away) and sharing the building there with the West Point Branch. The construction on the chapel here got delayed a couple of years with foundation issues and other things. Our first Sunday back from Christmas break was the first Sunday services in the new building. The Saints here have been waiting and so patient in giving rides to people all the way out to West Point, and some of the members in our Branch from other towns like Eupora have been driving an hour to get to church! Words can't describe how happy and blessed we all feel to have this BEAUTIFUL building completed, and in our own town. We went over to the church the day before the first service to 'help' get it ready. HA. Mostly we just walked around and oohed and ahhed. 

Framing and roof!

All during our Christmas break, we kept dreaming about all the progress that would be done on our house while we were gone. We left the day after they poured the foundation for the new garage. Starkville had gotten a lot of rain over the break so not a whole love of progress actually happened. They did pour the little bit of concrete needed to raise the floor up a few inches in the current garage/new playroom and had some of the outside walls framed for the new garage. 

The framing went really really fast once it got started! That crew was really hardworking and worked from sun up to sundown and on Saturdays. They were really nice and helped push our little car out of the mud when it got stuck trying to get out of our driveway. 

It was really fun to watch the progress. Every day when I met the boys off the school bus they would ask, "What did the workers do today?" and then we would climb up and walk around the new parts. Here are the kids standing on top of the new garage before the second story bedrooms were framed in. Where they are standing is where the new bathroom will be built.

Below is the view from the driveway. You can see the new garage straight ahead, with a bedroom above it, and the dark opening in the existing house is the old garage that will become a playroom with some windows/doors where the current garage opening is.

This is from our back yard looking at the back of the new garage. You can see another bedroom above the garage and the covered porch space traveling the length of the new garage, almost connecting the guest house to our back deck. There will be a wide door into the garage to let in the mower, and the window next to it will be over the workbench in the 'shop' area of the new garage where we have the storm shelter installed and which we will walk through to get inside our house from the garage. It looks so pretty! We're so happy with how its turning out. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Flights home

The boys did great with the flights home. Although, since our flight out three and a half weeks ago, Frederick had learned to really walk! So even though he was squirrelly on the flights out, he was even more hard to entertain in a confined space on the flights back. 

Gwen woke up on the wrong side of the bed or something that morning. She was quite challenging and almost constantly complained about her ears hurting. We had gum, water bottles, and fruit snacks to help with the air pressure and passed out one of those to all the kids right during take off and landing...but they didn't seem to help Gwen at all this time.  After sitting by her and trying to help her through the whole first flight, Chris thought that on the second flight, she would fall asleep and so if he sat by her again, HE might get a chance to sleep too. Things were looking good at the beginning since Gwen fell asleep even before take off. 

But they didn't last. She woke up during take off and literally screamed for the rest of the just over an hour flight! It was on one of those little, small planes and we were at the very back but I'm still pretty sure everyone on the flight could hear her. The stewardess came by a couple of times asking if she could get anything for her to chew or swallow to help with the air pressure. We had already offered Gwen gum, fruit snacks, sucky candies, water, etc but she wasn't in any kind of state to listen to reason...she refused to even try anything and just screamed. I had already worked hard on getting Frederick to sleep so Chris was dealing with most of this by himself, but by the time we were about to descend, Freddy had woken up from her screams and I switched Chris. Even Alec tried to teach her how to open and close her jaws but she just snapped at him. Somehow she calmed down (I think she actually tried Alec's suggestion) and she fell asleep right as the plane landed. 

Then we had to still drive 2 hours in the car to get home, skipping dinner because I didn't want to have to ask our friend who was picking us up to take even more time out of his day. Oh boy. It was such a long, tiring day of travel, it makes the 40+ hour drive from Mississippi to Washington seem more attractive.