Wednesday, October 31, 2012

News from North Dakota - Settling into the house

Hello my online friends and family!

Grab a cup of coffee, tea or a bottle of water and settle in... this update will most likely by a long one! LOL! 

We are settling into our rental home in the quaint little town of Hazelton North Dakota. The last few months have been quite the journey for our family. Through it all we have grown closer, learned much and are continuously thankful for God's provision through each step of the way.

The children are settling into a good routine at their new school. Which by the way... I LOVE our school! It is nice and small, just over 90 students in K - 12, which gives me the opportunity to easily communicate with the teachers and keep up with what is happening with each child. Our home is located on the same block as the school which makes for a quick walk each day for the kids. Once again we've been blessed with a tremendous staff with fabulous creative aptitude in dealing with Thomas in school. We do not yet know what services Thomas will receive from the county as we are waiting to get our first bill... who ever heard about someone being excited about a bill... Ha Ha! Once we get a bill at our new house we will be able to establish residency with the county and start the ball rolling to get services for Thomas. Overall the children have made it through these past months challenges very well: Daddy being in ND while we were in WI July - Sept 10, living in a hotel for 30 days, during which time the commute to school was 50 minutes one way, the much anticipated move, and now settling into a new house and a completely new routine with no farming.

My daughter was hired for her first job on her 16th birthday! She has since been working 2-5 days a week after school and on Saturdays. I'm excited to see how this opportunity is allowing her to develop and grow in the area of independence and discretion. I'm proud of her!

The two big boys enjoyed playing football for part of the season here at our school. It was a great time for them to get to know some of the boys in the community while giving them the opportunity to get a greater understanding of the game. We didn't get to attend many games as our hotel was hours away from most of them. Next year we'll be able to be regular attenders and cheer on the Reese Boys... and the team of course!

The littles just seem to go with the flow. Starting school 3 1/2 weeks late posed a bit of a challenge for them as they missed out on those review weeks. Our littlest guy is struggling the worst, for some reason he is not retaining words that he learned in Kindergarten, nor her words for this year. His level of retention is very small. I'm so thankful that he has such a great attitude through this all and is not discouraged about reading, even though it is a challenge for him. His teacher is wonderful and continues to help guide me on how I can best support and challenge Na through this.

The house.... one word sums it up.... WOW!I love the space but desire to do some updating so it suits our taste. Hubby took work off to help me paint and our LL's wife came over to help with the process. So, we were able to get a few rooms done before our stuff arrived. The rest will happen little by little.

Ya see, my goals for this move have been quite different from the past two moves. The past two moves focused on farming and creating independence with our food sources. This move my focus was to make a home that was ours, one in which our family would have a haven to grow, fellowship, disciple and have fun in. The past two places I never had time to make them "ours" with paint and decor. This time, I want it to be different. I want to develop a place with low stress and lots of opportunity for us to have time to nurture and disciple these six kids.  I'm not as much of a perfectionist as my parents..... but I really wanted to see some completeness here in the house itself.

So, Wednesday the 10th we shopped all day, picking up paint, electrical, and cleaning supplies to get started with this big job! Thursday and Friday the 11th & 12th saw us madly washing walls, putting up tape along the beautiful crowned molding, throwing plastic down to protect the gorgeous hard wood floors and painting daily for about 10 hours. Saturday we wrapped up with another 5-6 hours of painting then helped the previous tenant get the rest of her items out of the attic. We managed in those 2 1/2 days to get the entry room, dining room, kitchen, hallway & stairway, C's bedroom & S's bedroom painted. The hallway and stairway needed a second coat but we decided to wait until after the movers came just in case it got dinged up. I'll post pictures once I get some of the wall decor up. I had not yet found the hammer and nails! LOL!

There are many things I like about the house. The space is one thing! It has a lovely entry room/mud room that is perfect for our crew. I am going to be putting my hope chest in it, which will soon be covered with a padded seat so we can sit down to put shoes on while using the inside for storage. The chest really needs to be refinished, but I won't be able to do that until Spring when it is warm enough to do the stripping, staining and varnishing in the garage. I'd prefer to have tile or something scrubable in the entry way, but for now it is carpeted so rugs will cover the spots that get the most traffic so I won't have to clean the carpet as often.

From the entry room you can go out to the very large 2 car garage with storage room on the side. In the garage we were able to fit our 5 freezers filled with our grass fed meats from WI along the back and 2 extra fridges to hold our summer veggies and extra milk from the local Jersey farm. Currently half of the garage is still filled with boxes that we need to sort through and unpack.  I'm also able to store my 5 gallon buckets of honey and grains (over 50) along the wall that butts up to the house so I can easily access them. Once we get the garage organized we will be able to park the van in there and eventually our new car which we hope to get in the new year.

The entry room also leads up to the kitchen or down to the family room. I'll start with the down stairs. The family room will serve the purpose of being the kid's hang out space. I have book shelves in one corner that are filled with books, paper, coloring paraphernalia, and DVD's. The TV is in this room with one couch. Eventually we will have a few bean bags in this space so the kids will have more seating for movie and reading times. The floor is heated which makes it cozy, the walls have a beautiful wood wainscoting at the bottom, and the top  a floral paneling. There is a table at one end of this room where the kids can do puzzles, play games and color/draw. It really is the perfect place for these 6 kids and friends to hang out! I love it because I can hear what is going on, yet the noise of boys does not overwhelm the house. :-)

The basement also has our daughters cave. Currently it is brown paneling which will be primed and painted once we pick out E's new bedroom set. She wants this grey set that has splashes of bright pink, yellow, lime green, and teal. If this is the set we get we will paint the walls a light silvery grey to brighten the room up, then she will use her artistic ability and add splashes of the bright colors throughout the room, using the pattern of the comforter as her guide for the wall art. I think it will be great once it is done. Our big challenge for her room is getting it organized with all her stuff. This is a very tiny room compared to E's past two rooms, so organizing it with the appropriate shelves and furniture will be the biggest challenge while keeping it a fun space for her to be creative in.

There is a 3/4 bath with a large shower, toilet and sink that also houses the laundry room. This room has great storage. There are kitchen cabinets along two walls for storage of laundry supplies and towels.

Oh, forgot to mention one of my favorite spaces in the basement is the canning closet that rests under the stairway. It will be a great place to put next years garden produce and is where I'm storing much of my pantry items, spices, baking goods, bowls, etc. It also houses the basket to catch all the clothes from the second floor laundry shoot! This is a HUGE blessing as it saves me from hauling the laundry both down and up! Now I only have to haul it all up once it is dry and folded. :-) Thankfully the shoot is small enough that I'm not concerned about the boys trying to throw each other down it! LOL! We have of course had to establish the rule that ONLY clothes get thrown down, as the first week it was fun to see how many things one could throw down while hoping to hit a brother in the face who was in the basement "watching".

I'll take a moment here to inject a little blurb on the stairs.... there are over 40 stairs from the basement to the attic in this place. Over the past couple weeks of us settling in there have been many days when I've done the full trek or parts of it hundreds of times in a day, since we are storing all empty boxes and stuff that doesn't fit in this floor plan in the attic. The first few days my legs were killing me. Now I"m getting more used to it and I think these steps will keep my legs and heart in prime condition! LOL!

So, up a few stairs from the entry room leads you into the kitchen. This kitchen is large enough for me to function in well. I've always been blessed with large kitchens in all our homes. I love the fact that this kitchen has a dishwasher and am amazed as to how little time it takes me to clean up each day!

When you exit the kitchen you enter the most beautiful section of the house. The dinning room has beautiful hard wood floors, with gorgeous crowned molding around huge windows and a high ceiling. I've painted this room a light olive and will post pictures once I get the pictures hung.  I love the family meal times we have in this room. Our table fits at an angle and there is extra seating along the large radiator. I will refinish the radiator cushion with a warm color patterned material.... once I buy it! I have plants along the windowsill which ads life and color to the room. We have family meal times, and do homework in this space and it suits us perfectly!

There is a large doorway that opens up into the living room where the hard wood floor, high ceiling, and crowned molding continue throughout. The living room is painted in a light beige/tan. There is another radiator with a cushion that will be recovered in warm tones. Currently we have a beautiful antique square table in one corner and our couch along the brown paneled wall.  I'd love to re-do the wall with paneling sometime, I think it will allow the room to feel more open. Sometime in the future when we have a full week to work on it we will pull down the paneling which will most likely lead to ripping off all the plaster, then putting up studs, and drywall. It will completely transform this space and in my mind I can see how lovely it will be when it is done. My piano sits on the inner wall between the living room and dining room and will soon have a beautiful large mirror with my Grandma Conover's antique rose pictures hanging on either side of it.

From the living room you can see a beautiful landing area with antique coat hooks along the wall and the gorgeous wood banister with hard wood floors up the stairs. Above the coat hooks I hope to find a scripture verse vinyl applicay to complete this space.

There is a gorgeous heavy wood door that leads to the four season front porch. The last tenant used this space as an office. We have it set up as C's room, plus my office space. There is a large executive desk at one end, his bunk bed, and a wardrobe. We will accessorize with some shelves, antique hooks for hanging clothes, and some out doorsy stuff. We'll post pictures once it is done. Eventually I think we need to get a smaller desk for this space, but for now we are using what we have.  He loves having his own room! I stay out of it when he is home for the most part, so that he doesn't feel like his space is being invaded.

Upstairs there are three more bedrooms, our master room which needs to be painted. The littles room, which will also be painted once I get them new comforter sets. And S's room. S's room needs to be decorated but he is getting it settled and cozy in his own teen way! :-) There is a full bath that only has a tub. We'll be painting it light olive, replacing the broken vanity mirror, and putting in a new vanity light. This will have to be a 3-4 day weekend project as we have to tear down the mirror and light, fix the electrical, prime, and paint. It is a unique configuration because the stairs to the attic are in this room.

The attic is very cool! E's first statement about it was, "Daddy, daddy, I want this to be MY room!" It is a really neat space that with remodeling and heat would be an awesome teen room. BUT we need the space for storage so it will remain an attic! I love that it has stairs and not a rickety ladder. There is plenty of space for me to get organized and use it as functional storage for my extra kitchen and entertaining supplies along with all the clothes, holiday decor and other odds and ends.

So, there you have it! A verbal walk through our new space. I hope you enjoyed the tour!! LOL! I love documenting it so that in years to come I will be able to read this and look around and see how wonderfully the space was transformed into our home. We hope that our LL will allow us to remain here until Phil is transferred again, or until we decide to get a small farm. I'm completely content and do not want to move any time soon. I hope we'll be here for the full five years of this current contract, and if the contract for Phil's job is renewed, we may want to remain here longer still. I love being close to the school and as the kids get more involved in extra curricular activities I think being close will be a huge convenience for our family.

So, shall I end this post and continue on with our new news in other posts. I think so! I hope you've enjoyed catching up on some of our current happenings. I'll write two more posts today, one that will contain our health and weight update and another about our search for a new church home.

I'll end this with a funny conversation that I had with our youngest yesterday:

Yesterday I walked into the living room and smelled what I thought was gas or poop. I asked my youngest if he needed to use the bathroom. He said, "No, maybe Pansy (our Boston terrior) pooped." I looked around and said , "No, I don't see anything." Then little N said, "Maybe she forgot to do her doggy wipe after she went to the bathroom!" Ha Ha! I love seeing life through the eyes of a child!

Have a blessed day!