Monday, June 30, 2008



Today the big cement truck came. Daniel said it was about this big--holding his hand about the height of his head. Then he told me it was bigger than the camper. I missed it. They came about an hour after I left but new deep tire marks in the sand give their presence away as I pulled in the drive this evening. The forms they made and surrounded with pea gravel had been filled with concrete Along with a couple extra supports in the middle. They will be back tomorrow to make walls.

My new dryer!

My new dryer (aka clothes line) is up and running. I did laundry at the laundramat and only dried about half of the loads--the sheets and towels since I needed to put the sheets back on the beds tonight and knew they wouldn't be dry otherwise. My line is way loaded down with 75% of a week's worth of clothing for eight of us.
Is there a rule about how many feet of line per person? How about how many pins? I bought three packages of 50 clip style pins, I already had about 75. I could have used more. I doubled pinned most things, overlapping.

I prefer to do laundry in one day. Now that I have to go to the laundramat for the summer to wash, I almost have to or I wipe out 2 days doing laundry. I like to hang things on hangers to dry that get hung up in closets so that saves a bit of room, but I think will slow progress. I know that I will have to spread the laundry out over at least two days or get DH to hang more line.

Any other hints or suggestions for using a clothes line?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Waking up in the rain

We woke up this morning to the sound of drizzle. Not the kind that will go away in a few minutes like the afternoon rains we have been having, the kind that might just stay all day. I groaned--getting ready for church is a challenge anyway now we have lousy weather to affect moods and routines. We made it to church a little late, but dry. Tabitha wore her tennis shoes again, because that's all we could find.

I woke up with a headache and a heartache with the normal mother feelings that affect all stay at home moms at some time or another--under appreciation. Todd tried to be supportive. I got to talk to some people at church about things that had nothing to do with me which helped me refocus. Then I got to go to Meijer all by myself. I missed a few things on my list, but got myself some sterling earrings that were 70% off. I can't find any earrings right now so these will be my summer in the barn earrings. Hopefully I will not loose them.

Later this evening, after a nap, we went to the storage unit and got our "real" mattress. No more futon lumps for me. We also stopped at the local ice cream place (there is one in every small town). That helped too.

Yesterday the footings were formed. Tomorrow they are supposed to start the foundation and finish this week. Then, we are told, it will take off from there. I will get some pictures. The big trucks are fascinating to all of us especially Daniel. I guess the next few weeks will be a bunch of big trucks to stay clear of and to entertain us.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Things explained

Many people ask about how we shower or bathe. As I sit here waiting for water to get hot to wash my hair I will try to explain and then add some pictures.

The small children are pretty easy and almost like any home. They don't mind a cool bath. When it is cold we just go fast. The older ones tolerate the cold water and can move fast enough if they are not washing their hair to mind much.

We have improved the process. At first we all had cold sponge baths, but that has changed a bit. We finally found a battery operated camp shower, that was given to us years ago, it really helped, but it didn't like being turned over in the water and now we can't get it to work at all. So back to the drawing board.

The bathing area.

The equipment includes the following:

1. A plastic tub with about 3 inches of water for pre washing. Very important after a day of dirt sledding. Where the top layer of mud and other debris is rinsed or wiped off.

Here is the pre-wash tub and the water cooler mentioned later. Also the bathroom shelf with all the necessities. The shelf is an old refrigerator shelf with a milk crate on top all on a 5 gallon bucket turned upside down. I tried to bungee them all together, but it doesn't stay well.

2. Then the horse watering trough. I first thought one of those tubs you use for parties, you fill with ice and cans of pop, but I couldn't find one. SO we went to Tractor Supply Company (my new favorite store, well, almost); I figured they would have a big bucket of some sort. I walked down the aisle of horse supplies leaving Gabbi drooling over all the possibilities in her head. I found all sorts of sizes. My first thought was a big galvanized tub then I checked the price. Next possibility was rubber or soft plastic feeding tubs. As I priced them I found that I could buy a black hard rubber/soft plastic 50 gallon watering trough for $30. That was it.

It is big enough that even I can sit comfortably in it. I have dreams of making a drain hole in it and covering it with one of those round plastic pieces you can use if you loose the stopper of a tub--it also looks like a thing-a-ma-jig to help with the grip for opening jars. I found that it is easier to drain than I though it would be so that might not be necessary.

3. Citronella candle. Not real effective but I like to think it helps.

4. Normal bath things: soap, towel, was clothes, shampoo is weather and dirt dependent. You know (at least I have read) that we Americans wash our hair too often. I know mine gets grimy after 3-4 days, others in my family have different times. Those who get their hair sprayed at church carnivals just have to live with green striped hair until it comes out on their pillows or until Saturday night.

5. A pitcher or cup. I like the pitcher that I got form a pizza place in college. You had to pay a dollar deposit for the pitcher when you bought a liter pop. I have always had a weakness for pitchers, I figured I'd let them keep my dollar because I wanted the pitcher. It used to have cool flying tomatoes on it, now just part of the logo is left. I can see the inside of the pizza place in my mind but can't remember the name of the place. It is a great size for hair washing and is plastic so it is safe in the bathroom.

Todd "showers" every day before work. For him, I warm water up in the evening and put it in a 3 gallon thermos like the ones they empty on coach's heads after championship games. It is still warm enough so he doesn't freeze and can get clean for work.

For the children we go from cleanest to dirtiest. If there is enough water I will change it half way. On Saturday night or as needed I wash every one's hair. Daniel is of course the easiest. The little girls' hair is still fine so the only difficult part, as in the real tub at our old house, is getting them to hold still for water being dumped on their head for the rinse. The older girls' hair is so think it takes at least 3 pitchers to get their hair wet and more to rinse. They lean their heads over the back of the tub so the water doesn't get full of shampoo.

For my bath I have visions of soaking in a full steaming tub at dusk with no bugs flying around, reading a very entertaining novel by candle light. My ideal has been bolstered by my latest read from Mary Jane Butters MaryJane's Outpost - Unleashing Your Inner Wild check it out at, so far that hasn't happened. To get enough water for steaming it would take all night since the propane tanks are almost empty and it takes about 20 minutes to get 5 quarts of water to boil. My first attempt the water was too hot because I didn't have enough cold water to add to the hot. It did make a nice warm sponge bath, but I never could get in the tub. The next two attempts were better, but I only managed to have about 4 inches of water, not enough to relax and let Calgon take me away. So I will continue to perfect the bath thing. Mary Jane had plans/pictures of an old iron tub with a propane double burner camp stove under it. I showed it to Todd. He didn't say no, but I need to collect the equipment--Anyone have an old tun they aren't using?

My water is boiling so I will go try the bath thing again.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

We made it

We made it to church from the barn in St. Charles for 10:00 Sunday School and third service! The only glitch was that we could only find one of each of Tabitha's shoes except her tennis shoes. So she wore tennis shoes with her church dress. I don't think anyone noticed.

It was nice to be back. Different acquaintances reacted to our living situation differently. We get from "Wow, what a cool adventure" or "I remember doing something like that when I was young" with a smile to "I can't even imagine living in a barn, bathing in a horse trough or cooking all meals on a camp stove."

After church we ran errands, the normal: Menard's, Jacks Fruit and Meat Market, and the park for water. When we got home Tabitha and I took a nap, Todd started my new clothes dryer (line) the rest gathered round the DVD player with movies from the church library. I woke up to thunder then rain. Tabitha woke up shortly after and we played until we were fully awake. I began to wonder if it would let up enough to get to the camper for some food. Then I noticed a dripping on the table, so thinking of food was put of long enough to find something to catch the water and dry the table with. Todd is currently up there trying to find the origin of the leak. So by the time we got rain coats it had let up enough to not get soaked. So Tabitha has joined the boob tube groupies in the camper and we found a snack.

After the rain stopped the sun came out and a new set of clothes were filthy

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sledding in June

To save on the clothing budget the children thought sled would help them not get so dirty. Or maybe just to go downhill faster. Well they are still dirty--I washed and scrubbed Gabbi's feet 4 times and they are still dirty--but they are having fun surfing and sledding down the piles. Tumbling off the sled seems to be the best part.Natalie took a great ride. She told me later that she did at least two flips on the way down

Daniel renamed his spider man kick board his boogie board.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Errand Quandry

We had our second day long errand running marathon today. Now errands are different. Before we could run to Wal-mart or grocery store for a change of pace during the day. Now to drive to town (Saginaw) is at least 30 minutes, round trip at least an hour. So while we are there we should do as much as possible, right? So I need to define as much as possible--for me alone, although it rarely happens, I could stand maybe five hours, with a nap when I get home. Josie about the same. Gabbi, if food or outdoor activity is involved about the same. Natalie, if clothing shopping/buying is involved about 3.5 hours. Daniel is buying something at every stop or buying at least one train and a car or the only place we go has TV about 3 hours--he spent what was left of his little allowance at Meijer on a TV shopping cart. It was great except Mary and Tabitha fought over who got to ride shotgun with him. Mary will last about 2 hours. Tabitha is in between 2 hours and all day depending on how much mommy attention she is getting.

So if we go with the lowest common denominator we have 2 hours including one hour of drive time. I can barely get groceries purchased in that amount of time.

So today by the time we got home 5.5 hours after we left everyone was grumpy and needed time out. But you know how time out goes everyone else goes off to climb dirt hills or practice guitar or play dress up while mommy fixes dinner with a toddler under foot.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Inside the barn

OK, to please my friends and their curious relations here are pictures of the inside of the barn, our temporary home. As you can see I am less than organized which is wrecking havoc on my psyche. I tried to start this morning but have no idea where to find the right drill bit to start hanging organizing racks and shelves. So now I am heating water to try to wash my hair. The water heating will take 10 times as long as the bath, but I am hoping it will be worth it.

Our barn home has 2 rooms. The front room (20' x 16') is the the kitchen (when we get water and electricity) and master bedroom and, if/when we get to it, the school room. One of the boxes I have yet to locate has all of Natalie's and Gabbi's school books in it.

Then you walk through the closet to the children's room (16' x 16'). We are still working on organization and routine.

This morning at 7:45 AM Randy came to stake the house. So we know where it is going to be. The drill digger was also here and seemed optimistic. He said he'd be back in about 2 weeks.

PS It took a bit to get these pictures uploaded, so I thought I would follow up on my "warm" bath. It was warmer than the air temperature but not by much. The camp shower (a battery operate pump) made a huge difference in my ability to wash my hair. I even shaved my legs. It felt great to be clean, but it took a couple hours to warm up. Any other day in mid-June I would have enjoyed the chill, but not today.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

We started!

Yesterday morning I awoke to my cell phone singing and a rumbling clanking noise coming up my driveway.

"Hello?" Staring out the window at a BIG back hoe with sleep still in my eyes and no glasses.

"Hi, uh Randy Gushaw (excavator) is coming today."

"He's here. That's big machine."

"Can you show him where we want the stumps buried?"

"Can I get dressed first?"

"That'd be a good idea."

As this conversation between Todd and I continued my mom came into the barn with a puzzled expression. She brought Natalie home the night before. Natalie's welcome to us was "Wow, there is carpet in the barn." No hugs or anything. Mom was staying in the camper so the back hoe was right outside her front door as she woke up.

Craig, the "digger guy" was great. He was friendly although a bit perplexed as the children showed up one by one. I could see him starting to count in his head. He was very nice to let Daniel and Natalie sit in the cab for pictures. He just seemed like he really likes his job. His machine was amazing. It looked kind of like a big elephant using its trunk to move things around. It plucked up stumps like picking pebbles on the beach. The bigger stumps made it work a little bit at pulling but the effort made more of a show for the children. Daniel watched with more attention than he watches Thomas movies.

Randy W. came right before we had to leave and the whole idea that we had actually started our new home made me very excited and nervous. Had I not many other things to think about I would have done a happy dance and spent the day with butterflies in my tummy.

We came home from errands and the children all screamed as we pulled into the property. We were greeted by 3 ten foot plus piles of sandy topsoil and a flattened rectangle where the house will go. New toys, how I am going to keep them presentable to get anywhere now?
Daniel took this one, tilt your head

Craig was finishing up burying the stumps with another guy. I warned him that children were back, but had been warned to stay out of the way. They finished soon. I can't imagine how many weeks or months it would take of working by hand with axes and shovels to do the same amount of work he did in one short day.

Nothing new

Other than my Internet access has been disappointing this week. Last week it was great and it took no time to up load pictures and write things. So you will have to wait for pictures, but I will take some of the barn-house tomorrow.

The children's room is arranged for now. I still want to loft one of the beds, but Todd has other things to do right now. Anyhow it will take him a week to find all the parts in the loft--I guess you should see pictures of that too.

The kitchen/master bedroom still has stuff everywhere. I plan to tackle that tomorrow along with finding a better spot or time to get things uploaded. If Nothing else we hope to get to the local library, and I will be able to upload there.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fast Forward to today

I haven't had time to catch up on our story, but I did want to let everyone know we really live in a barn now. We all slept in the barn last night. I got a lot of things put away and organized. I still am missing many things, fortunately nothing real important--I can find deodorant and my toothbrush and diapers and trash bags.

Todd goes to work tomorrow, at least his day will be normal.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Finally out.

I had planned on more timely updates, but as you can tell that hasn't happened. My excuse is that the wireless connection at my mom's in a big city was much lowing than it is at home in the boonies. So now that I am back in "civilization"--actually we are in town staying with Stephanie for a couple days until Todd gets home from Brazil. So I hope to play catch up over the next few days. Our barn home will be put together in a few days too. I just bought carpet and counter top for Todd to put in now that he is rested up by just doing his real job instead of the manual labor he has been doing in addition to engineering.

I was roused out of bed by my neighbor Kim who promised to bring her vacuum for us to borrow since we couldn't find our extra vacuum bags and filled the one in the machine the day before. She walked in with a cup of coffee also which I longingly gazed at...she said "I wondered..." She left to bring back coffee, a shovel and something else I can't remember while I got dressed. I was happy to see the thermos full of flavored coffee she brought back. Now I could get to work.

We packed the last items and cleaned as we went in the same order as we had for showings--we had that routine down pat. Kim spent most of the morning in the basement, I went down to check on her as she was sweeping cobwebs off the walls. I told her they were antiques. She replied she didn't think they were included in the deal. SO on we went.

We finally got to vacuuming the bed rooms. Josie wanted try Kim's new Dyson. When I went in to check she said "Is it possible to have a crush on a vacuum". We will have to investigate that when we have area to vacuum

We finished packing and cleaning. We had the vans so full that we had to park the borrowed vacuum at a neighbor's because it wouldn't even fit on some one's lap. I had saved my bridal bouquet under glass that hangs in our entry until last so it could ride safely with me to the property. We started to get keys off key rings, but couldn't remember which went to which door or even if they went to this house, the last house, either of my parent's houses or something else. So we had to try them all out. We found and labeled at least one key for each lock/door. By then we were late for turning in the keys and a meeting with Randy so we squeezed into the vans and took off. I didn't realize until much later that I had forgotten my flowers.

As we finished Josie went around and took pictures of the empty house. Empty houses are so sad. I am glad she did it though.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The second big moving day

We had a quiet morning of folding laundry and watching a movie then packing for the next week or so. Then my house was dismantled by my friends.

No snafus or damages. Ryan E. and John Chysler surprise helpers were huge blessings. I only had female helpers lined up and we had some really big things to move.

I saw Josie with the camera a few times so there will be pictures eventually.

My back is doing well. My brain is tired. Maybe a management position is not in my future.

I am sitting here in my almost empty house--box everywhere and things for the next few days are strewn everywhere. I am sitting in a chair I don't' want to move it is uncomfortable, but better than the floor. I have said goodbye to two of my neighbors, the other two I am too close to to say goodbye to. I have also said goodbye to most of my flowers and plants. Tomorrow I will separate some out to take with me. My lavender just grew enough to be bushy. I have had offers of cuttings from many friends and will enjoy growing my new gardens in that way.

Todd, the older girls and the truck are home so I will end my quiet musings and tuck them in bed.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Josie had her longest babysitting job so far. I took Gabbi, Natalie and Daniel to the property. Actually Dad came in town for a shower and he Todd and I all drove, moving stuff, to the property. Dad started the ice house (shack for the fridge and freezer). Todd worked on dry wall until the geothermal guy came. We talked with him, then Randy W.

The basement is almost empty--except the last clean up--after packing a bunch today. The upstairs is going to be more complex. Hopefully I will have some help tomorrow.

Monday, June 2, 2008

House site

One more for tonight.
I took some pictures of the site where the house will be today.

Our driveway is 650' long then you have to turn or you will run into trees. This is the view as you make the turn. You will face the house square on. The House is going to be built up quite a bit. The water table in the area is very high so to get the walkout basement we want we will have to fill quite a bit. The floor of the basement will be at the ground level. So when the house is done there will be a hill here.
The picnic table is in the middle of the garage.
The pond will start about where the brush pile is. We hope to use it for swimming, skating, and fishing. It will be about 100' x 120' and 15' deep at the deepest spot.
We still have quite a bit of moving to do. The rest of the packing should get done tomorrow--barring high maintaniance children. A day at home will do them all good, and me too.

1974 Holiday Rambler

After investigating shower and hot water options we decided an old camper/trailer would be our best option. So I looked in the local classifieds online. I found this 22' camper with new water tanks, floor and propane tanks. Todd looked into it and it was being auctioned by an auction house in Chesaning. We decided to check it out. The warehouse that is was in was very creepy. We had to walk a bit through this creepy ancient dark warehouse. I never would have gone in if Todd hadn't been there with me.

Anyhow, we looked at it and it was in pretty good shape. While we were walking out we decided to get it. But to get it we had to do the auction thing. The auction ran from Sunday (it was Tuesday) to Sunday. So I placed the bid Sunday evening. And we won! We were the only bidders.

The following Thursday we went down to fetch it. The back of our Astro rides a bit low so Todd had to go to a local car shop and have them help him flip the hitch. That took a while. Then we went back to hook it up--the wiring plug was a bit archaic and would not at all match what is on the van. Oh well we would take back roads home. Driving through town the trailer door flew open--we only knew because some folks in their yard hailed us to let us know. I closed it, then we were off only to have it fly open again. I finally found the keys on a drawer and locked it. We didn't have far to go,but we took the back roads very slowly. The bumps were jarring, fearing the trailer hitch would bottom out.

We finally made it back to the property in time to catch the Menards delivery of 70 sheets of OSB and 30 sheets of dry wall. As we approached the property we saw a semi trailer (just the trailer) in the road in front of our property. It took a few minutes to figure it out. But when we got back to the property we heard the diesel engine of the cab. The cab had a fork lift thing and unloaded the pallets of materials and drove them back and dropped them right outside the barn--convenient.

So here are the pictures of our temporary bathroom, kitchen, office and guest room. It sleeps four comfortably--of 2 of them are small. And of course the first nights it was in our possession everyone had to argue about who was sleeping there. Dad--who was to be the first guest in our guest room--opted for his tent. I'd like to recover teh pads on the benches and curtains (none of the curtains match each other) but that project will save for a rainy day after we are settled.


We had had a rough day and I needed to be around some adults...actually anyone who was not going to fuss at whatever I said, so this afternoon the children and I took dinner to Todd and Dad.

I took pictures of progress on the barn and the trailer/camper for you all.
Gabbi said that the property felt more like home. I said I hoped so, because it would be in a few days. Mary is trying to figure out "property living day"; the day we actually will be living on the property.
Dad said we need a name for our place other than "the property." Any suggestions? We named our school Olive Branch Academy, but we don't have any olive trees--just maple, red oak and pine.

This will be the bedroom--all of the children will share this 15 x 16 room.

Dad working on the second closet from the bedroom.
Dad standing in the same place but taken from the living room/kitchen.
He is still standing in the same place. Here you can see the wall that will eventually be our kitchen.
Back of barn, windows to bedroom.Front of barn, windows to the living room. The pile of wood is going to be recycled into a garden fence or components of forts/outposts and tree stands.
I will update pictures as it looks more like a home for people instead of animals. To realize the amazing progress check out my first posts about the Ring Road Property.