Sunday, August 31, 2008

Friday was our Labor Day

Since John had to go into the prison on Saturday, he took Friday off and that was our work day. We spent a good part of the morning measuring, re-measuring, and then measuring again to find the exact corners of the house and get the walls aligned properly with the footer.

Here is one of the exact corners. John was thrilled that the diagonals measured within 1/8th of an inch!

Next came preparing the rest of the parts for the form. Drilling, drilling and more drilling.

These 1x2 boards are used to hold the insulation vertically in place within the form. Each one of these will remain in the finished concrete wall.

Next we did sawing, sawing and more sawing of pvc pipe.

Here's our container of pvc tubing that will also remain in the wall after it is finished. I am sure John's blog will be updated with more details and specifications :)

Finally, a bucket of washers and nuts, together with the threaded rod will hold the forms together. (Susan, I use ice cream containers for everything, too :).

We had to bend our rebar over to avoid hitting the insulation inside of the forms. I got to do this job and it was pretty fun! My Dad was an ironworker before he retired, so I think it may be in my blood :)

Lining up the insulation, preparing to put the form up.

Now, the puzzle pieces can start coming together. The threaded rod goes through the pre-drilled holes in the insulation.

Next, the straps and pvc tubes go on.

From this point on, it was difficult to take pictures because we both had to be hands on. We stood up the insulation, poked the threaded rod through our plyform and then put the other side together while it was standing up. John's design worked beautifully and even had an added benefit that he had not necessarily planned on. Because each of the threaded rods runs through the 1x2 wooden slat, it was fairly easy to line up the holes for the other half of the sandwich. It reminded of what some puppets look like where everything moves together.

We then put the 2x4x12's in place to support the plyform for the weight of the wet concrete.

Here is the finished product! Right as we were wrapping up the first form, a large black cloud formed and we had to scurry to get the form covered before it poured. It ended up just being a little summer squall that was finished fairly quickly.

The day was a scorcher, so doing anything to get out of the sun was helpful. We literally followed the shadow around our insulation stack while we worked :) John also made us a little temporary roof to help create more shade.

We were hoping to have the forms up this weekend, but tomorrow is Hadden's 6th birthday, so we will take the day off and celebrate at McWane Science Center with him. The forms can wait until Tuesday morning.

Have a wonderful Labor Day whatever you have planned.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Relief in sight...

"Fay's rains will shift northward tomorrow" - according to Hallelujah!!! I certainly don't mean to complain about the rain - I much prefer this than the drought of last summer, but

... 2 days and nights of rain - very heavy at times (3:21 am to be exact!)
... in a 31' tin can (camper)
... with hubby and 2 kids
... and 2 soggy dogs dragging in mud ...

wore down my attitude. So, I am very thankful that Fay is moving on.

The kids and I did have a fun trip to WalMart today - yippee! We spent an unusually long time looking at the fish :)

Oh, did I tell you that we were putting in a pool first? Here it is!

Thankfully, our soil is really sandy, so the water has already penetrated into the ground. We are hoping to get at it this weekend and get some form work up.

How's this for a rain gauge? Our wheelbarrow filled up from all of the rain.!

On the silver lining side, I think I will be able to save some of the corn, after all. Tonight, I picked an ear and it was ready, so I should be able to get what is currently ripe in the freezer tomorrow. I don't think the stalks are going to make it, though. At just a glance, I might get about 2 dozen ears.

The cantaloupe and watermelon look great and so does the basil! I have enough basil to make some pesto sauce, so I am looking forward to that. My all-time favorite dish and John has grown to appreciate it :)

Ok - completely off topic ... I need your opinion here - do you like captions above or below the pictures? John asked me which was best the other night and I told him what I do, but I would love to hear what you like. I usually put captions above the picture, because if you are scrolling down in the browser, the picture is still to come. However, the caption may not make sense, because I am talking about something that you have not yet seen. What do you think?

Matthew 7:25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

Our rock is Jesus Christ!

Monday, August 25, 2008

What to do on a rainy "Fay" day???

Apparently, Fay has made it up to visit us today. We are trapped inside with the rain pouring outside and occasional gusts of wind. There was a tornado siren earlier today, but the real problem area was a little further northwest of where our camper is - thankfully. Somehow, the sirens still make me very nervous and I try not to let the kids know anything about it (if it isn't necessary).

The pink insulation has so far survived, but our garden did not fare so well. :( The watermelon and cantaloupe should be okay, maybe the beans, but the corn doesn't look very salvageable. The high winds just pretty much leveled it and I don't know if will be able to bounce back from this one or not.

We have enjoyed some green beans and the cantaloupe was delicious! So, even if that is all we get, it will be worth it. On a really small scale, I can now sort of sympathize with farmers who lose their crops to the weather. We are not relying on this garden for our livelihood, but it is still kind of sad to see it ruined.

Funny story about the green beans. The other night, the kids picked the beans and I cooked some of them for supper. Everyone enjoyed them and at the end of the meal, John finished up the remaining few left in the bowl. Hadden hadn't finished his lasagna yet and when he did a few minutes later, he asked for more green beans!! How many kids do you know who ask for more green beans? This Mommy was pleased :)

OK -so what better to do on a rainy day than remember sunsets? :) I have been wanting to do this post for a while and today seems like the perfect day. Each picture below is a different sunset that we have enjoyed on our property. This first one was taken before we cleared any trees ... and it was our first sunset here way back before we were living here. The rest may or may not be in order, but each is uniquely created and handpainted by a God whose creativity is limitless. Enjoy!

The one below was my favorite. It was fascinating to watch the big black cloud in front change shape throughout the sunset. Very cool!

Oh, and this one below, too. The whole sky somehow seemed touched by the sunset in beautiful, soft pastels.

Isn't it amazing that there are no two alike? Glorious!

Saturday, August 23, 2008


House progress:
The final pieces for our puzzle arrived on Friday morning. John had put in extra time earlier in the week at the prison, so he was able to be home to work. We spent a good part of the day sawing, drilling, doing more sawing and more drilling :) Then, we decided to prove the concept that John designed. It went together very nicely!! It was actually easier than I was anticipating to put it all together. We are planning on doing "sandwich" concrete walls for the basement level floor. The insulation will be embedded in the wall, so we will end up with finished concrete walls inside and out.

Below is a picture of the test forms that we put together. The pink insulation in the inside is just pieces for now - we will have roughly 4x4 sections in the final form. Also, we will need to add rebar reinforcement for the final pour. It's EXCITING!!! John still has roughly 480 more holes to drill (he has done about 240 so far), then we will be able to start putting it all together. We are also planning on doing a test pour underneath the stairwell to see how the form holds up under the pressure of the wet concrete.

Here's the huge stack of pink insulation. They are forecasting high winds because of Tropical Storm Fay - we have tied down the insulation, but hopefully we won't have to go and hunt it down all over the mountain!

Garden progress:
Here's the first ripe cantaloupe (and yes, it is ripe :).

It tastes really yummy, but it's in the fridge right now chilling.

Blog progress:
I am so excited to share with you that my hubby started a blog to track our building progress! Pop on over and visit him and say hi if you have a chance. I teased him about his sidebar picture, but he likes it for good reason. :)

Soccer progress:
We had our opening day pictures and games. It was really "iffy" whether we were going to have games or not because it was sprinkling outside, but they decided to go ahead and play. Thankfully, the rain didn't really start until after we were close to being finished. My team did SUPER - I was so proud of them. And, the most important thing is that they looked like they were having a blast! I just can't be thankful enough for my great group of kids. We didn't take the camera today because of the rain, but I will hopefully have some pictures to post soon. Savannah did great - she naturally navigates towards being a defensive player, but she did score a goal! I think everyone on my team scored once except one little fella who was soooo close on about 3 tries. Next game, I am certain he will get one.

Unfortunately, the way the games timed out this morning, I missed Hadden's entire game :( Our game was late getting started and his started on time. John said he did a good job playing. He was in tears most of the practice on Thursday night, so I was worried about him - he is a perfectionist and wants to do things perfectly. We practiced outside in the dirt last night and he was doing well. Today when we got home, he said he wanted to play some more today ... unfortunately, dirt and rain don't make for a good playing field :) At least he wanted to play.

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

This and that

The watermelon was not quite ready yet. :( It didn't taste too bad, but it was a really funny whitish, pinkish color. We have a lot more, so after looking on line, I think I have a better idea of when they are ripe than just the "thump" test.

I had a coaches meeting last night where an ex-professional player came and taught the coaches how to coach. We watched another team practice to his coaching and it was cool to watch him get the kids to do all of these neat drills. Let's just say, I have my next practice outline covered. The team we watched was a group of very energetic boys. Needless to say, I again am so thankful for my fun-loving, aiming-to-please, respectful team. We are probably going to get creamed by this team, but at least I won't have a headache after every practice :)

Home school
We are in our third week - and everyone is healthy. We have joined with a few other families to do a co-op class for Astronomy. The kids are really enjoying that and it is a good opportunity for them to be with other kids (and other adults). Both kids became even more shy when moving to Alabama, so this is helping them to learn that it is okay to speak up. Savannah did great today ... now I have to remind her to raise her hand before she speaks :)

House progress
The remaining items that we need to move forward are supposed to be delivered tomorrow!! Yippee! John and Hadden went to HD on Monday while Savannah and I went to soccer practice and got stuff also. So, we should be moving forward again. I really need that. It's kind of like driving the long way around to be moving instead of sitting in traffic. :) Just moving forward is good.

Well "fountain"
A few of you asked if we got the well fixed. Yes, it is fixed again. We are becoming experts at fixing it.

I am thrilled to say that the weather in August has been unexpectedly pleasant. The evenings are nice and cool and the days are only in about the 90's. However, all the locals tell us that this is not typical, so we are taking the opportunity to praise the Lord for being easy on us this first summer. I guess last summer, there were many record-breaking temperature days and about 15 in a row above 100. Glad we came in October.

Bible study
My Beth Moore "Stepping Up" Bible study ended. I, unfortunately, had to miss the last two meetings due to Hadden being sick and the coaches meeting last night, but it was really pretty good. The thing I found most fascinating was her comparison of the Feasts that the Israelites (and modern-day Jewish people) celebrate and her suggestion about how they apply to us. Also, knowing more about the Feasts in reference to Jesus celebrating them while He was on earth brings a whole new light to some of the things He said. I am hoping to do some more study on my own regarding the Feasts.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Encouragement goes a LONG ways ...

It is late Monday night, after Savannah's soccer practice. Practice was a blast! I'm telling you, I have the best group of kids and I am having so much fun with them. Sorry - that's not my point :)

After practice, a new dear friend, who is also a Mom of one of my soccer players, was very sweet and encouraging regarding my coaching. You see, I am not the best coach out there. I know wayyy more about playing sports with my hands than with my feet. But, I am trying and positive words just do SO much! Thank you, Laura!

Then, a Dad of one of the other children encouraged Savannah in her soccer playing. You see, Savannah is not the best player on the team, but that's ok with us. She doesn't score many goals, but that's ok with us, too. She really enjoys playing, so we enjoy letting her play.

But to see the look on her face after he said those kind words and to watch her glow, chatter and giggle all through WalMart getting groceries was absolutely priceless. My hunch is that next time she is on the field, she's going to step it up a notch. She was most definitely encouraged. Thank you, Dewayne!

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

So, the question is: Who needs my encouraging words today?

And ... Who needs yours?

Hebrew 3:13
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.

Be an encourager today!

Caption needed...

Our poor little birdies have unwanted feeding buddies ... notice the little guy on the left of the picture. What do you think the caption should be?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I just love these little fellas ...


I love this one - it may look like a sequence of pictures, but it is actually four birds at one time.

Stand off at the feed trough ...

Job 12:7-10 "But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds
of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will
teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these
does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is
the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind."

Friday, August 15, 2008


Here's some of the latest ...

We had a surprise sunflower - I just love the color ... apparently the bees do, too!

Yesterday, during Math, one of Savannah's assignments in the book was to pretend to design a craft and then "buy" the items needed for it. She is craft-bent, so she LOVED it. After she finished her math, she went straight to work doing the real-life version making a craft. And, talk about motivated! Every time she had a break from school, this is what she looked like :)

The first bounty from our garden - hopefully, it is ripe enough. I did the "thump" test. We are having our neighbors up for supper tonight and I wanted to get it chilled ahead of time. It looks delicious - hopefully it is.

House progress:
We have the form boards, threaded rod, nuts and washers for pouring the walls. We still need the insulation and rebar and then we will be busy.

In need of repair:
This morning, I was washing a load of clothes and when the kids and I went to put the watermelon in the refrigerator, the well head looked like a fountain! You see, we have 2 filter systems on our line and yesterday, I was filling up our little wading pool ... apparently the filters are extra clogged and the water pressure had to go somewhere. Yikes!

Off to school we go ...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I forgot to tell you!

You'll have to believe me on this one without a picture because it is pouring down rain and I can't go take a picture :)

Our cute little shed now has lights - thanks to John! He wanted to get some electrical practice under his belt, so he put in a new outlet, a light switch and two lights in our shed. Today - I am very thankful for them, as it has been overcast and rainy all day and I have needed to do laundry.

I am just so thankful that my man isn't afraid to try something new. He tackles things with a determination until he gets the job done. Great job, honey! I love the lights and you did a great job on them all!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Monday musings about Saturday...

We have 2 large brush piles that need burned, but are too big to burn all at once, so John has been chipping away at burning them in small chunks. Saturday was a beautiful day, so while I was at soccer practice, John was working :) At one point, Hadden and Savannah were sitting at a safe distance on the sidelines watching the fire. As Hadden is lounging in his chair in the shade, he yells out at his sweat-drenched Daddy who is tending the fire - "Dad, hey Dad, could you turn the fire off? It is making me a little hot over here" It was all we could do to keep from cracking up!

A huge milestone was reached for me on Saturday ... in an effort to cut back some of the "extras", I had decided to grow my hair in order to save on haircut costs. I wasn't ready to give up having it colored, though, so the last time I went to the salon I just had it colored. Somehow, even without the hair cut, my overall bill was hardly touched (not exactly sure what math she was using). Anyway, determined to save somehow, this time I made the plunge and bought a home color kit. My hairdresser from PA had given me advice before I left (bless her!) and so on Saturday, John helped me to do it myself. I have to honestly say that I liked it better than the previous more expensive salon version and wonder why I was so afraid to try this earlier. We saved $65 (plus time, travel and tip)!! I loved my hairdresser in PA and have not found anyone here yet who even comes close, so it was hard to justify spending that kind of money and then not really liking the results.

Sorry - ENOUGH about the hair thing, already!! :) Maybe I'll try to post a new picture sometime.

My busy schedule was drastically changed last week, as Savannah got sick. She had some kind of a fever virus, but is better now. This week, it is Hadden's turn and I have an appt for him tomorrow. Hopefully, he will be on the mend soon, too.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Random thoughts

First, here is a cool picture that John took this morning - no trick photography here. All of these birds were there at the same time! If you look closely, there are 5. Also, I went out to put some more nectar in our little feeder and while my hands were on the feeder hanger, one tried to eat! It was very cool to be that close to one.

Second, I started reading a book last night called "Ruthless Trust" by Brennan Manning. I am really enjoying it and a couple of quotes just struck me as worthy to repeat.

The first quote is from the foreword by Richard J. Foster:

"When our children were young I would sometimes rise early on a Saturday morning and fix them pancakes for breakfast. It was all great fun - the broken eggs, the spilt milk, the batter and the chatter. They loved pancakes - even my pancakes - and they would wolf them down quickly. I would often watch in astonishment at their greedy eating. Not once did I see either of them slipping a few pancakes under the table, stuffing them in their pockets thinking, "I don't know about Dad. Maybe there won't be any pancakes tomorrow and so I'd better get myself a little stash just in case." Not once did they ask me about the price of eggs or my ability to secure enough milk for tomorrow. No, as far as they were concerned there was an endless supply of pancakes. They lived, you see, in trust.

The second quote is from Chapter 1, pg 15 by Brennan Manning:

Wallowing in shame, remorse, self-hatred, and guilt over real or imagined failings in our past lives betrays a distrust in the love of God. It shows that we have not accepted the acceptance of Jesus Christ and thus have rejected the total sufficiency of his redeeming work. Preoccupation with our past sins, present weaknesses, and character defects gets our emotions churning in self-destructive ways, closes us within the mighty citadel of self, and preempts the presence of a compassionate God.

I thought both were really good and thought-provoking. So far, I recommend the book (but I have only read 2 chapters :).

Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What happened?

Just wondering where all of my free time went to ... when we first arrived in Alabama, life was simple - "no calendar" simple, "no appointments" simple, "no place we needed to be" simple. I am not complaining, but some days feel a little busy. This whole week feels a little busy, actually.

Soccer is starting and somehow I agreed to be Savannah's coach. I am actually looking forward to it, but I have never played soccer, know only a little bit about it (from watching Savannah play in PA), and am probably one of the least qualified people. I am really hoping that when all of the practice schedule shakes out, that John can help me a lot.

I am trying really hard to not get too busy because I know how important it is to just spend family time together. AND, we have that house to build!

We started home schooling yesterday (the local schools start this week, too). I really want to do better this year - have fun with it, be more hands on, be more organized, better prepared. The problem is - once I get it all set in my head how I "expect" things to go, they never turn out that way and I am left wondering what I did wrong. So far, the kids are enjoying it. However, they have already had a trip to the principal's office, for poor recess behavior. Hopefully that will be the last.

We are joining a group of families to learn one class together and that will start next Wednesday. I was able to get the book finally last night on ebay for half of the price listed elsewhere. Praise the Lord. The really cool thing is that I don't have to pay shipping, because the person lives in this same area and I am going to pick it up today! Who wants to say that God doesn't care for the little things in our lives? And, it was fun to actually win an auction on ebay! :)

Here is "snippet" - our little lizard pet. We kept him for a few days, but finally we convinced the kids that we needed to turn him loose and let him enjoy the great outdoors. He was really cute, but it was just one more thing to have to make sure was fed in a day ... just couldn't do it!

Speaking of things that need fed everyday - the hummingbirds are thriving! We have seen 6 at one time flying around (some fighting). This morning, it was so cool - there were 3 on the big feeder. I am just guessing that it was a parent with 2 young because they were very cooperative. I wish I had had my camera ready!

I haven't updated on our garden in a long time - here are some teensy weensy watermelon. Aren't they just so cute?

And, we also have cantaloupe. Not as many growing, but this one is getting pretty big.

Now, the race begins! Off to pick up my book, try to find soccer gear at the thrift store, check some prices at a few places (construction stuff), grab a bite to eat somewhere, drop off the kids at a babysitters and go to Bible study.

Hope you are well!