Building Oak Haven – final stages

We pushed ourselves relentlessly and often set unrealistic and crazy deadlines.

But we promised our daughter we would have her gender reveal party in our new home.  The party was scheduled for July 1st. It seemed like a good idea several months ago.  And it was.  And we did it. Not sure how, but we did.

A good reason to slow down

The last Monday in June our daughter, son-in-law and our adorable granddaughter drove to Texas. Scarlette is our little ray of sunshine and inspires me to take selfies.

getting started

I’d like to say we slowed down. And maybe we did. A little. But Jon wanted to get our back deck built for the party. So, with the help of son-in-law, Jarred, Jon’s dad, and later in the week after Jarred’s family drove in from Mississippi, Jarred’s dad and brother, they built a deck.  Or most of one. It wasn’t quite finished for the party, but enough for some table and chairs, providing additional outdoor space that wasn’t on the yard. Because  the yard wasn’t quite ready for guests. Rain delayed the sod but organic dirt had been delivered and spread the day before the party. It just wouldn’t have been complete without the smell of cow pasture.

Baby brother or Baby sister?

Saturday afternoon, our home filled with family and friends for a time of food, fellowship and fun. Which is exactly why we designed our home the way we did.  Later, we gathered in the garage and on the driveway (instead of on the rich smelling yard) and Scarlette took center stage to break open the gender reveal piñata.

Another granddaughter!

We watched with anticipation. And… Drumroll…. We’re adding another princess to the family. Charlotte Ann (what a blessing to have a granddaughter named after her great grandmother, Shirley Ann). Special thanks to all who came (and helped contribute to the wonderful meal) and to all those who tuned in live on Facebook.

Jarred and his family headed out Sunday and Monday, but Heather and Scarlette stayed another week. We slowed down a bit more and enjoyed the hot Texas summer days in our back yard, in the shade of our oak trees.

Grampy’s little supervisor

We spent a little time working on the deck while Scarlette played and then in the evenings, we relaxed in our spa tub (Jon’s father’s day present finally arrived) on our patio. Scarlette loves Grampy’s “swimming pool.”

Heather and Scarlette head back home today. And we’ll get back to work. Our plan is to start with one room, finish it completely, then move on to the next. Not sure how long it will take, but we’ll keep you posted.

Grace and Peace

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Building Oak Haven – frustrations yet progress

It’s amazing how a little time and much progress can put frustrations into perspective.

We hit a low point in our home building process a couple of Wednesdays ago.

Leading up to that day were small irritations. Primarily toilet problems. Which brings up the question, how many toilets must one purchase before having three functional, correctly sized toilets?  For us, it was nine.  Two of the first three toilets we ordered from Home Depot online came in either broken or missing a piece.  We returned all three and purchased three from off the shelf.  Only I didn’t realize how low the “standard” toilet was until the plumber pulled it out of the box.  No wonder all the toilets on display are “chair” height.  We had purchased two standard, so we returned them for two more chair heights.  However, one of them was broken, so back it went to exchange it for another. Finally, after nine purchases, five returns and an exchange, we had three functioning toilets.

Ah, the whoas of our lavatory needs. To add insult to injury, the toilet in our camper sprung a leak.  We are VERY thankful it happened while we were here, because water sprayed all over the bathroom and would have flooded the camper floor.  Thankfully we were able to cap off the water line to the toilet and save the fix for another day (camper toilets can work without the waterline and just a cup of water poured into the bowl to flush).

Still needs the trim painted

If only that were the end of our frustrations.  Our doors have been another source. Primarily the front and back patio doors. I lost count of how many times the delivery was rescheduled. When they finally showed up, the front door had been milled wrong and the hinges did not line up with the hinges on the frame. We were quite vexed to send it back. And the same thing happened again with delayed delivery. We persisted and the door was delivered, but not installed, on a Saturday morning so Fernando could stain it and the back doors. After a few more phone calls, installers showed up  this past week and Fernando sent out his guys on Saturday to finish them up. They look amazing.

The low point, you ask. What was the low point? It was time to fire up the septic system, but first we needed to move the camper to its new home at the end of the driveway, next to the house (it was in the way of one of the septic sprinklers). We planned the spot specifically for the camper. Hose bib for water hook up, access to the septic for black/grey water disposal, and a 30 amp plug for power. Wednesday morning we got up and prepared the camper to move. Jon hitched it up, pulled it out, then backed down our driveway.  We set up, hooked it up, and POOF. Something popped. Something fried.  Word of caution, be sure to specify when electricians install a camper plug that it needs to be 30/110 NOT 30/220.  220 does not bode well for things electrical in a camper.  The converter fried. The microwave zapped, and the fridge no longer worked on electricity. And I had a bit of a meltdown. Instead of a productive workday working on the house, we had to unload the camper, hook it back up, and Jon took it to Crestview to see what the damage ($$$) would be. We’ve been longtime customers of theirs and we were delighted when they were able to replace the converter while Jon waited. Thankfully, the AC still worked. We’ll have to replace the microwave and see if there is a fix for the fridge (if not, we’ll just run it on gas). But those are problems for another day.

The whole disaster did result in us moving into the house (sleeping on the camper mattress on the bedroom floor) faster than we might have otherwise.

Perspective.

During one of my moaning moments over the various issues with the house, the Lord stopped me and asked (yes, I kind of did hear the question), “Really? and what do like about the house?” That made me pause.  There is so much more to like, to love, about this house than not.

Perfect fit

I love the master tub. I think I mentioned in another post about the little fiasco of ordering a tub too deep for the frame and worrying whether the new one would fit. It fit perfectly. And its beautiful. What a blessing.

I love our AC, our water pressure, and our hot water heater. I love the fact that all of our plumping and light fixtures are in.

I love the back patio and the view to the trees and field behind us. I love the sprinkler system Gage Greenscapes is installing, so I don’t have to drag around hoses and mess with turning faucets on and off. I love the idea of our future flower beds and the color they will bring next summer.

I love our wood floors. And the flow of the great room and kitchen. I love the idea of friends and family gathering in this space.

 

love the color

And I love how all the colors in the house have come together. I was a bit apprehensive about the trim and door color (going against traditional white) but they turned out amazing.

We still have much work to do. I’m painting the doors and the trim, and Jon and his dad have been installing them. We’re probably about fifty percent done, with lots of touch up and detail work to follow.

Even so, yesterday, we rented a truck, hired some young men (including our youngest) and moved most of our furniture and the first of many boxes out of storage and into the house.

Suddenly, the house has become home.  Which is good, because next week we plan to have a little party and a gender reveal for our daughter’s second baby. I can’t think of a better way to christen our new home.

Grace and Peace

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Building Oak Haven – joy and sorrow

When God nudges, we need to listen.  And I am so thankful we did. The Friday after we returned from visiting my mom, I received another phone call (I’ve received many of them over the past five months). Mom had another COPD episode at the nursing home and was rushed to the hospital. She was put on the ventilator again.   And again, we played the waiting game to see if she would pull through like she had so many times in the past. Sunday she surprised my dad and sister when they went in to visit her. She was sitting up in a chair by her bed, breathing on her own. Unfortunately, another call came Monday morning. She was back on the ventilator again.  Only this time, the doctors said if they took it out, they wouldn’t be able to put it in again. Her throat was too damaged from the months of having it put in and taken out.  The doctors once again encouraged us to consider a tracheostomy.  But my mom had made her wishes clear before. She did not want one. She did not want to live that way.  She communicated with the doctors and my dad and sister that she wanted the ventilator taken out. They explained she would not survive without it.  She understood. She still wanted it out. She was tired. She had fought hard. She was ready. My sister called me.  I made arrangements to fly home on Wednesday.  Thursday we went in to the hospital.  And per my mom’s wishes, the doctors removed the tube. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through. She passed into eternity Friday afternoon. I thought I was ready. We had almost lost her so many times before. But, I think, we’re never quite ready. I’m so thankful for my faith because I have the hope of seeing her again someday. Scripture tells us “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1)  Our God who promises is faithful. And his word says “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,” (1 Peter 1:3-4) and Scripture goes on to say “For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.” (1 Peter 1:23) I’m so thankful this life is not all there is. There is more to come. For my mom.  For all of us.  If you’d like to read mom’s obituary, you can read it at Glunt Funeral Home.

Jon and Heather (with Scarlette) both came in for the memorial service held at Franklin Center United Methodist Church, my mom’s church for over 50 years. The sanctuary was filled with family and friends and mom’s friend and (former) pastor gave a beautiful tribute to her life and faith as we celebrated her step into eternal life.

Today I head back home.  In the midst of the sorrow, and despite the fact that my world has shifted, things continued to move forward on the house. Much has been done in my absence.  Before I left, 84 Lumber delivered our interior doors and trim.  Jon and his dad installed all the doors.  Woods Comfort Systems finished, connected and turned on the AC. Fortress Concrete finished the detail work to our foundation, filled all the holes and and leveled all the dirt/rock piles. John Aguilar installed our carpet in the bedrooms and the vinyl in Jon’s studio.

 

Fernando’s guys stained our cabinets and San Antonio Granite Works installed our countertops. Juve’s guys finished our kitchen back splash and installed our wood floors. Universal Form Tops also installed my desk top.

Finally, Exclusive Iron Works put in our railing for the back porch and steps, a safety must in order to close on our house, which is coming up fast.

I so wish mom could have visited our new home. She would have loved sitting on our back patio, enjoying the breeze, listening to the birds and watching the deer and turkey. But I know she now has an even better home, one beyond our imagination, one Jesus has prepared for her in His Father’s home (John 14:2). One day, we’ll join her, but until then, we’ll miss her and we’ll honor her with the memories we share.

Grace & Peace

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Building Oak Haven – a bit of stress

The past week and a half presented a bit of stress.  More so than the typical stress of building. A few months ago, our oldest son’s girlfriend invited us to her commencement ceremonies in Maryland where she would receive her master’s degree. Knowing we would be nearing the end of the building process, we gave a tentative maybe, not really expecting to be able to attend, but hoping that we could.

My parents live about five and half hours away from Baltimore, an easy day’s drive. When my mom was taken to the hospital yet again, this time from the rehab facility, and put back on the ventilator, Jon and I felt a strong nudge to make the trip. She has been in and out of the hospital, on and off the ventilator so many times since January we’ve lost count. We decided it was worth the crazy trip. Thankfully, she was able to be taken off the ventilator and before we left she returned to the rehab facility. The weekend of our visit just so happened to fall on Mother’s day weekend and my parent’s anniversary.

Unfortunately, the stress started the weekend before. While Jon was at a men’s retreat with Journey Fellowship, I caught up on house building paperwork and one of Juve’s tile guys worked on the master bath.  I’m not sure why it clicked when it did, but when I was checking out the work he was doing on the master tub, I suddenly had a horrible sinking feeling. We had measured to make sure the tub we selected/purchased would fit length and width, but we never measured height. And we had purchased a deep tub. I ran and grabbed the measuring tape. Yep. It was standard height of twenty-two inches, four inches shorter than our new tub.  I broke the news to Jon when he returned and made a frantic phone call to Ferguson’s where we purchased the tub. Unfortunately it was Saturday so the best we could do was order a template for a tub that might fit the cutout. I had hoped it would arrive before we left so we would know if the shorter tub was an option. It did not arrive and we’re waiting until we get home to find out. I realized as the master shower was being tiled that I never asked to have the niche shelves put in the guest bath. I always love having a little extra space when I travel and visit and wanted the same comforts for our guests. But I had forgotten. Now I’m exploring possible options for the same function. We also ran out of some of the decorative tile in our master bath, about two and a half feet short. Another minor inconvenience waiting to be finished once the extra tile arrives.

Jon and I spent the week leading up to the trip frantically getting as much done as possible.
Hollywood Crawford installed the garage door two days before we left and we were able to finally lock up the house. We installed crown molding and trim to all the cabinets so they’d be ready when Fernando comes to stain them.  San Antonio Granite Works and Universal Form Tops came out to measure templates for our counters.

Fortress also showed up and set up the forms for our driveway, sidewalk and AC pad. They were poured while we were gone.

 

Our youngest son has plans to work at Baylor over the summer, however, the apartment he’ll live in was not available until a week after he had to be out of the dorm. So he joined us for the road trip, driving home the day before we left.

We put in long days, driving from Texas to Alabama the first day then on to Virginia the second. I was very disappointed when we arrived too late to to visit with our daughter, her husband and our sweet grandbaby. We made the decision to press on for Maryland the following morning and didn’t get to see them then either. They would follow us that evening. Unfortunately rain and D.C. traffic turned a four hour drive into seven. We did have the chance to see our oldest son during dinner and then visit with his girlfriend’s family that evening. It was fun getting to know them.

The next day we attended the commencement and were blessed to spend the afternoon and evening with the kids and grandbaby. We had a great dinner at a steak and seafood restaurant.  It made the whole drive one hundred percent worth it. An awesome way to spend Mother’s Day eve.

 

On Mother’s Day we headed to Pennsylvania to visit my family. We met my dad and sister then surprised my mom at the place where she is staying for rehab. The surprise and joy on her face made the trip even more worth it. Priceless. She and I spent the following day together and Jon and I took her and my dad out to dinner for their anniversary, joined by my sister, aunt, and cousin and her husband.

 

 

Then we made the long trek home. During the long hours on the road both ways, we had interesting discussions with our son and entertained ourselves with the audio version of Words of Radiance, book two of Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive. When we finished that, our son read to us from Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection by Sanderson.

Now that we’re home, we have more work and meetings scheduled, more shopping planned and problem solving to tackle.

Grace & Peace

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Building Oak Haven – moving right along

Yes, the Lord pours down his blessings. Our land will yield its bountiful harvest.
Psalm 85:12

I am always amazed with the way the Lord blesses us with little answers.

Prosource received most of our tile order and Juve and his tile guys tiled our guest bathroom and most of our tile floors. Some of the tile was on back order but it came in Thursday (an answer to a little prayer) and Juve’s guys should be back out again today to finish the laundry room and our  master bath.

guest bath

kitchen tile

my study

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe I should have had everything delivered

A&M Electric and Trenching installed all of our canned lighting and set up power to the house. Once our driveway and AC pad is poured, they will be back out again to install all of the light fixtures. I stopped by Ferguson and picked up a load of our fans and lights when I was over on that side of town. We have all of them except for a couple of lights on back order, track lighting I will pick up from Home Depot today, and the under the counter lights I still need to pick out.

 

 

 

Bill’s Cabinet Shop finished our cabinets about a week ago and finally, with most of the painting and tile done, we were ready for them. They delivered on Tuesday. Jon and I were a bit overwhelmed as the delivery guys unloaded them into our garage.

Since the beginning, we planned to install and stain the cabinets ourselves. As we surveyed the work ahead of us, thankfully, Jon and I were of one mind: contact Fernando and get an estimate for staining. He came by the next morning and gave us a price within our budget.  We are quite relieved to not have to tackle this daunting task and I am actually looking forward to restaining of few pieces of our furniture in the future.

Refrigerator cabinet in background

A very dear friend of ours, Rick Jones, and Jon’s dad showed up Wednesday morning to install the cabinets. Jon could not have done it without them and we so appreciate their hard work.

I’ve never had custom cabinets before and I have to admit, they were different than I expected.  For example, rather than a mere cabinet to install over the refrigerator, we have a cabinet frame for the refrigerator with the upper cabinet attached. Same thing for the double ovens. And instead of small sections of cabinets and drawers, we received large sections built together. Jon and I finished the island on Friday; it fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. The workmanship of the cabinets and the wood (knotty alder) are beautiful.
Our house is beginning to look like a home.

Ferguson also delivered the remaining plumbing hardware this week, however my farm sink was damaged. After a couple of quick calls, we’ll have the new one delivered on Monday. Which is very important because the San Antonio Granite Works and Universal Form Tops will be out to make templates for our counter tops. Hollywood Crawford will also install our garage door (another answer to a little prayer).

Still so much to do, but we should be about six weeks out from completion. We’ve been in contact with Supreme Lending and Navy Federal with regards to our mortgage. Navy Federal has great mortgage rates right now, but Supreme Lending (who helped set up our construction loan with Sonora Bank) was able to come back with some competitive numbers as well. Time to start filling out the paperwork.

We already love living out here in River Chase. We’ve talked to several neighbors on our street and we look forward to having a house warming party and getting to know everyone. Jon and I have also spent several early mornings sitting out on our pack patio, enjoying our coffee, watching the deer, and listening to the birds. Indeed, the Lord pours down His blessings and I am thankful.

Grace & Peace

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