Building Oak Haven – life

Life has slowly picked back up again. Not that it wasn’t going on before, but more so the daily-ness of life.  We’re back to some of our routines and making time for the things we enjoy.  That means we’re still making progress, just not as quickly as before.

We’ve continued with our plan to work through the pile of shelving and finish out the rest of the closets.  As we worked on the pantry and I realized how much space I have, I decided to change up one of the kitchen cabinets we designed.  I had originally planned a broom closet to match our kitchen cabinets and sit between the kitchen and the mudroom area.  Interestingly enough, our cabinet maker built the broom closet with adjustable shelves. Since the brooms and mops didn’t fit in there quite the way I wanted, I decided to install the shelves and use it as a game closet. It looks like that’s what it was meant to be.

And the brooms and mops fit nicely behind the door in the pantry. With nine foot ceilings, we have plenty of storage space. I finally have all of my crockpots inside the house (rather than stored in the garage like we’ve had to before) and I even have room for our toddler booster seat for grandbaby visits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jon and his dad also finished out the hall closet and guest bedroom closets. However, our painter (me!) still has to paint the shelves and cleating in the bedroom closets.  I love the guest bathroom and look forward to family and friends visiting. I’ve tried to put in the extra touches (like a nice tub and shower fixture, among other things) to make our guests feel pampered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jon and his best friend, Mark (who has provided arial shots of our property in previous posts), had an epic trip planned for quite some time – to experience the Solar Eclipse 2017. Given the crazy year we’ve had so far, I wasn’t planning to go. But when Jon told me he really wanted me to experience it with him, I changed my mind.

We packed up our vehicle at the same time our youngest packed his. He headed back to college for his second year, we headed out on our pilgrimage north, to the swath of totality in Wyoming.  We spent the first night in Lubbuck with Jon’s brother and wife, Craig and Amy. Craig also had plans to drive to an area of totality, but he was bravely taking his two teen/preteen daughters and friends. The second day we drove on to Denver where we stayed with another of Jon’s brothers and wife, Jim and Vanessa. From there we headed up into Wyoming. We had reservations in Laramie, because there was no room at any inn anywhere within totality. There we met up with Mark and his daughter Aubrey and on Monday morning we woke up early (hoping to avoid traffic) and took local highways and back roads up into a national forest west of Wheatland and near Bearhead Mountain.

Hundreds of our fellow eclipsers lined the dirt road, some having camped overnight and some having arrived before we did. We finally came across a place to pull off that nobody had yet claimed, with plenty of room for both our vehicles. When we looked up at the rock cliffside across the road, we noticed we were in the “shadow” of the cross, so to speak. And had parked at the entrance of Camp Grace.  How awesome is that?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The guys set up their cameras and Aubrey and I set up our chairs. Then we waited. We, like much of the country, watched, through our eclipse glasses, the moon slowly slide in front of the sun. All I can say, is the difference between 99% and 100% is amazing. One second, the sun was still to bright to look at and the next, took my breath away. 

This is one of the pictures my husband captured. But he agrees, pictures don’t do the colors of the eclipse justice. What an amazing phenomena to experience. If you’d like to see some more pictures, check out my Facebook profile where Mark Langford tagged me in some of the photos he took. And a shout out to Marlin for letting us use a small spot on the camp property.

So, that’s why our house hasn’t been coming along as quickly as it was before. And we’ve returned home just in time for the excitement of Hurricane Harvey. As our encounter with Hurricane Katrina twelve years ago (I shared my experiences at the ten year anniversary in my posts in 2015), we hold our breath as the storm makes its way to the coast, wondering what it will leave behind in its wake. Praying for all of those in its path, as well as the decision makers and first responders.

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Building Oak Haven – a room at a time

Our decision to complete one room at a time works fairly well.  Although, we changed the flow plan somewhat.

first room finished.
oh what a feeling

Initially we planned to start with the laundry, which we did. And we completed it.

The first room finished. Victory!

From there we went on to the master closet.

Because! We designed the floor plan to have a door from the laundry room to the master closet.

I know. Genius.

 

 

 

I’ve received some grief about how much space my stuff takes

We also designed the master closet to have space for both of our dressers (mine is in the picture, Jon’s is off picture, to the right).
All of our clothes in one place. Another fabulous idea.

Jon and his dad installed wrap around clothes rods and a shelf and created two cubbies for storage. They measured, designed, and installed. I primed and painted, caulked and painted. I also did the final clean up and a lot of unpacking.

Of course, we had to have a bit of a hiccup. As I worked my way around the baseboards, finishing the touch up paint, I came to one of the corners and discovered WET CARPET.

Never, ever a good thing.

We pulled back the carpet and pad and found damp cement. Unfortunately, Jon was sure he had somehow punctured one of the water lines to our master shower (located on the other side of the closet). The leak had not been there long and it seemed pretty coincidental that it started about the time he and dad were working on the closet. After a bit of exploratory surgery (Jon cut holes in our walls) and using an awesome device dad had (a tiny camera on the end of a “snake” with an attached video screen that let Jon see inside our walls), Jon discovered that he did not, in fact, puncture a water line. The leak came from an ill-fitting shower head. Our plumbers sent over one of their guys the very next day. He fixed the leak and checked the other bathroom shower and fixed a potential leak there as well. As soon as we patched and repainted the holes, we resumed our progress.

The closet took up a good part of the shelving pile we have stacked in the garage. Which led us to our decision to deviate slightly from the plan: to start with the laundry and work our way down the east side of the house, then move on to the great room and kitchen, then finish up with the west side of the house.

We decided we wanted to continue to whittle down the pile of shelving. Which room would use up more of the shelving?
The pantry.

Jon and his dad have measured and cut everything. I have painted half of the shelves and plan to finish the other half this week, then finish painting the baseboards and doorframe. I look forward to a finished pantry. We’ve been cooking (and entertaining) in our house already, but I haven’t made a full shopping trip to restock our pantry, since we didn’t have one. Once the last shelf is in place, off to HEB I will go.

lots of storage for all our holiday decor and other things

In the midst of everything else we’ve been doing, we also emptied our final storage unit.Another victory!

A couple of the trips were easy unloads: everything went straight to the attic. We have plenty of space for everything, with room to spare. Another design feature we love: we had stairs installed in the garage for access to the attic. It took up some extra space but I did not want one of those rickety ladders (been there, done that) in our retirement home.

We still have some boxes in the garage, but most of them have been unpacked and absorbed into our house. I’ve been slowly finding places for everything and eventually we’ll start hanging pictures.

a favorite place to curl up

Now that we have our furniture and a kitchen producing food, Wickie has settled down into his new home. He has also found some new favorite places, like one of the cubbies in our mudroom bench.

Grace and Peace

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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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