Let the Building Begin!

No, this is not the beginning of a new chapter in my life; this is the beginning of a new book! That first book is already closed, ended, and tossed into the seas; this new book is newly opened, has just begun! Look, it is the first page! And it is a beautiful one!

~C. JoyBell C.

I love the quote above. It kind of explains what Bill and I have felt since we packed up all our belongings, officially became homeless, and moved to an area which will become our newly adopted retirement community.

The plan was that I would drive down to Jill and Jim’s in my car with Goldie. Bill would drive his truck with our large trailer in tow. I have no pictures of what my car and his truck and trailer looked like. Just picture in your mind that they were all overflowing with stuff – just leaving enough room for each of us to sit in the driver’s seat of our vehicles and 1/2 the back seat for Goldie. Thank goodness there was no rain in the forecast for that day because Bill had my portable office on that trailer. I had the computer and printer in my car, but Bill had our writing-table, the printer cart, and my large leather swivel chair on the trailer. We had them packed in moving blankets and tons of shrink-wrap. My trunk was full of this stuff:

Tech closet changed into Desk Supply Closet

Portable Office Stuff

Half of the back seat of my car was full of our clothes, my computer, our coffee maker, and a bin of stuff. The front seat was full of cloth bags of food and dry goods.

Bill’s truck bed and back seat were full of his tools that he didn’t send to storage. He also stuffed in anything left in the house that I couldn’t get in the car. The trailer had three coolers of frozen food and everything left in the fridge; the Dyson vacuum cleaner, brooms, and several bins full of stuff, in addition to the office furniture.

We got up early and started packing all the above into the vehicles. While Bill worked on covering the truck bed and trailer with a tarps, I did a final clean of the house. I was on the road to Jill’s before 7:00 am! Bill was staying behind to meet with the new owners at 10:00 am to hand over the keys.

I have to tell you . . . I NEVER want to do a move like this again. It was both physically and mentally exhausting. I arrived at our property really early. So early I didn’t know if Jill and Jim were even up yet. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ They had gone out the night before to celebrate their anniversary and the grandkids had spent the night with Jim’s parents. When I pulled into J&J’s driveway, I was greeted by these sites on our property. The Excavation had begun for the new house, driveway, and the pole barn!

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After walking Goldie around our new place and taking pictures, I got back in the car and drove up to J&J’s house. I parked my car outside their garage and called Jill on my cell. Whew! They were up getting ready for church. When I came into their home, Jill greeted me with a hug and said, “Welcome Home!” When Jim saw me, he said, “Welcome to the Evansville area!”

I was having some mixed emotions. Part of me felt like I was here for a visit. My brain had not wrapped around the thought that we were actually going to be living here. All I knew was that I was tired. And, I wanted to sit or lay down on something soft. Spending the last three days sitting on lawn chairs and sleeping on blow-up mattresses had taken its tow on me. After Jill and Jim left for church, I made several trips back and forth to empty the inside of my car and drag our stuff up the stairs to the bonus area apartment where we would be living. I finally collapsed on the couch up in the bonus area and fell asleep for 1/2 hour. It felt great!

Jim’s mom called to invite us for a late lunch. I told her I wasn’t sure when Bill would be arriving as I had come down earlier. Turns out Bill arrived around 1:30-2:00 and we enjoyed having a great home-cooked meal even if we felt like we were prying our eyes open from lack of sleep and pure exhaustion. Jim and Jill helped us unload our vehicles and trailer. Bill and I slept very well that night!

The next couple of days I spent unpacking and finding places in our apartment to store what we had brought. We merged all the canned and dry goods into Jill’s pantry and invaded their fridge and freezer with all our stuff. I jokingly call all the rest of items that have filled the apartment cabinets and the 1/2 bath cabinet “The Store.” I told Jill before she or I would buy anything, we needed to check “the store” first. I have every kind of cleaning solution you’d want and have enough hardwood floor cleaner to last a lifetime. ๐Ÿ˜€

Anyway, within two or three days, I unpacked and found a place for everything. This is our two bedroom apartment. We love it. Who wouldn’t? Thank you Jill and Jim for letting us use your bonus area as our temporary home. Here is where we are living!

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Jim’s dad graciously offered the boat house for Bill to store some of his tools and all our shed items. He said he could use the space but he’d have to clean it up first. Bill spent a day or two getting all that organized. Our lawn mower has found a home under the lean-to of Jim’s parents big red barn. Our new “commune” living is working out okay! ๐Ÿ™‚

We had a family meeting with Jill and Jim one evening the first week we moved in to discuss our living arrangements. Jill is working full-time with Karama now and the family is adjusting to her busy schedule. In addition to Jim working long days, he is also handling all the stuff with our new house with the family construction company. Bill and I said we’d do whatever we could to help them while we were living here. So, Bill and I watch the kids if they are not in a summer camp so Jill can work at her new office space. I also said I would make dinners. We are trying to base our menus from the overflowing pantry and freezer first. And, I usually do laundry during the week. Bill does projects for Jim and Jill. Jim is a little shy in asking for help, but Jill always seems to have something for Bill to fix or do. ๐Ÿ˜‰

On top of getting settled in, Jim sent out the bids for our new house the Tuesday we arrived with a deadline of submitting bids for Thursday, June 20th. Jim was leaving for Africa on Sunday morning, June 23. (1/2 trip was a mission trip; 1/2 trip he is doing a Mount Kilimanjaro climb) It was a busy time for all of us!

The excavator spent a couple of hours each day moving dirt around on June 11-13. Jim text us that he had a meeting scheduled with the excavator at our property the evening of June 13 and we needed to be there. We were suppose to go over decisions of elevations of the pole barn pad and the driveway and house/garage. Hmmmm, okay. I didn’t know what I could contribute, but I said I’d be there with Bill.

All I can say is we have some rich dirt on our property. It smelt like manure when we went down there that evening. I think my only contribution that evening was to ask Jim’s dad for his advice on the excavation. I liked his advice and said to go with whatever he said. Here are some pics of the excavation job and a video of the very large commercial equipment our excavator used. They had to really build up the pole barn pad. But we were very fortunate we didn’t have to haul in dirt. We had enough by digging out the driveway and part of the crawl space for the house. I loved watching that big ‘ol machine, but I was afraid it was going to tip over!

By the time we finished our first week here, Goldie and I both started having some problems. Since we had just been down here for a short time, I hadn’t found a doctor yet. (I have one now!) So, with the advice from my Indy doctor’s office, on Tuesday, June 18, I took myself to a local urgent care and ended up with a diagnosis of a bladder infection (my first). They sent me away with a prescription for an antibiotic. I took Goldie to the vet that same afternoon. They were unsure what her diagnosis was (she was having bladder accidents!) but gave her a shot and put her on an antibiotic, too! Both of us have been fine ever since we got on medication. Yay! Funny thing is, both the doctor and vet said it could have been the stress of moving.

They delivered the pole barn materials on Thursday, June 20 and started building it the next day. Here is what they did on Friday the 21st.

First day poles up

First day poles up

side view

back view

another side view

side view

They were supposed to be back on Monday, June 24, but we had storms all day long. We ended up getting 4-5 inches of rain! No building that day. Even though it was extremely muddy, the crew returned and worked every day Tuesday through Friday, June 25-28. They got that pole barn up so quickly. Here are pics of the progression:

Day 2

Day 2

End of day 2 Framing complete with windows

End of day 2 Framing complete with windows

Day 3 - the siding going on

Day 3 – the siding going on

Day 3 - white door is going to be painted bronze

Day 3 – white door to be painted bronze

Day 4 finishing the siding

Day 4 finishing the siding

Day 4 - front of barn

Day 4 – front of barn

End of day 4 - roof on, trim finished - front of barn

End of day 4 – roof on, trim finished – front of barn

Day 4 - side of barn

Day 4 – side of barn

Day 4 - back of barn

Day 4 – back of barn

Day 4 - trusses

Day 4 – trusses

Day 4 - inside of barn

Day 4 – inside of barn

Still waiting for the cupola to go on the top! That was one thing that I picked out for the barn. And, they called and convinced me to get an upgraded one, too! I can’t wait to see it. The excavator delivered some rock this morning for our driveway.

Driveway rock

Driveway rock

Now the pole barn guys can bring their truck in next week with a load of rock and spread inside the barn. After that they will put an insulation blanket down and then lay the pex tubing for the radiant heat floors. Then they can bring in the concrete truck and pour the pole barn floor.

I wish I could say that the house bid $$ were going as smooth as the pole barn did. They are not. ๐Ÿ˜ฅ The house is coming in way higher than it did last fall and we’ve already put (or will be putting out of our own money) close to $175K! We paid for the lot, all the light fixtures (inside and out), door hardware, laundry and kitchen cabinetry, the well, excavation costs, plumbing for pole barn (bath rough-in and radiant heat), and the pole barn. We went through the bids the other night with Jill after Bill and I had worked on them for a week line for line – Bill more than me this time. Turns out lumber has gone up almost double since J&J built. Jim’s brother did some checking and he said that even though the construction business is picking up, the lumber mills are still closed from the housing crash. Demand is more than supply.

We are trying to find some ways to cut the cost of the home we want to build without compromising the look and feel of it. We have found a couple of things – (siding and fireplace changes) to save some costs. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to make up the high lumber prices.

Next up: Will the expensive cupola be worth the wait and will we actually start building the house we want in July?

One for the Market, Two for the Show . . .

Philippians 4-13

I recited Philippians 4:13 every morning since January 1. But, I started praying it all day long once we went into high gear getting the house ready to put on the market. Bill and I needed as much strength as we couldย muster to finish the long list we had to tackle after meeting with the house stager.

At first I thought the list was daunting. But, each day I crossed off moreย and more items.ย I worked onย whatever I could in the interior. Shrink wrap became my new friend when packing up stuff. ๐Ÿ™‚ Bill alternated between cleaning the pole barn/making room to store our garage full of new house items and doing the many items on his list.

Here’s just a sampling of the 6 page list we had.

Sample of the To Do List

Sample of the To Do List

We had many exhausting days and evenings. In fact, one day Bill said he had never seen me work that hard. I quickly said, “Excuse me! What do you think I’ve done for over a year de-cluttering this place?” ๐Ÿ˜ก He laughed and said, “No I meant all this physically challenging work.” And, he was right. ๐Ÿ™‚ My brain thought I was still in my 40s. My body sure reminded me that I was not. Bill lived on Aleve. I lived on Extra Strength Tylenol. The goal was to put the house on the market before I went down to Jill and Jim’s on April 21st.

Jill was going to Africa for her business, Karama. I was going to be down at their house for two weeks taking care of the grandkids and chauffeuring them to and from the bus stop each day and taking them to after-school activities. Anyways, I wanted to get the house ready for market and not worry about it when I was down at J&J’s. As the time got closer to April 21, I decided to just wait and list the house on Monday, May 6, after I returned into town. That way Bill would not have to worry about keeping the house spotless and have to leave on a whim’s notice if we had showings. Plus, I have a little control issue that I think I keep the house cleaner than Bill. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I won’t bore you with everything we did on our to-do list, but here are some photos to show some of the progress we made.

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If I never paint again, I’ll be happy. Bill probably feels the same way. I did all the interior painting (except the fireplace) and Bill did all the exterior. I was very frustrated with our roofer who never came back to caulk the areas they didn’t caulk and re-paint. So guess who got up on the roof and spent most of one day up there caulking, priming and painting? Not me!!! But, Bill did. He will tell you that I hate him getting on the roof. I get especially anxious while he is on the roof. Scares me. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ So, to keep me occupied in-between holding the ladder when he climbed up and down, I decided to clean the garage. I was close by if he needed me, but not staring up at him praying every second. The garage never looked so good. I even vacuumed the floor. And, the best outcome . . . I got to park my car back in the garage after having it outside for months.

So, to update you, we have finished the house. It’s as ready as it is going to be. Our realtor is coming in the morning. His assistant took interior, pole barn, and pictures of the back exterior before I went down to Jill and Jim’s. She was supposed to have come back and taken pictures of the front exterior last week. Our realtor, Mike Puckett, is coming tomorrow morning to have us sign the contract. We’ve already filled out the disclosure form and given them all the other stuff they needed a couple of weeks ago. Mike is supposed to put the For Sale sign in our yard tomorrow and we should be up on the MLS tomorrow evening or Tuesday. Yay!!!

Now, some news on the new home front . . .

We struck water with the well drilling!!!!!!! We are so excited! And, it was in the spot where Bill’s willow rod went down. It is a slower producing well, but it’s plenty of water with deep storage in the well casing and the water is clear and the sodium taste can be filtered out with a reverse osmosis system. Here are some pics.

In addition to everything else that’s been going on in the last three weeks, Bill and I checked another thing off our new house list. We purchased our remaining appliances. We said we were not going to buy them until after we started building . . . but, famous last words. ๐Ÿ™„ Turned out Sears had a one-day sale of their Kenmore Elite appliances for a minimum of 30% off. We had never looked at Kenmore Elite stuff. So, I checked Consumer Reports and they were rated up there with the LG appliances I “thought” we were going to buy. We initially went to go look at their trash compactor as we said we thought it would be small enough to move. But, after checking out the appliances, taking a lunch break to think it over, and me praying about it, we bought them all. We got more off by opening a Sears charge card (which we will pay off as soon as we get the bill) and by having a Sears/K-Mart Rewards card, we racked up another $50 savings by buying some appliances first and then applying the $50 toward another appliance. We had a terrific saleswoman. So knowledgeable about all the products and how to save. And, the best part . . . they will hold the appliances and deliver down to our new place when we schedule it. We don’t have to move them!

We ended up getting a refrigerator with two bottom freezer drawers, washer, gas dryer, two pedestals, trash compactor, and an upright freezer. And, it turns out that LG makes the Kenmore Elite appliances! So, I have the same look I was going for, but actually liked some of the Kenmore Elite features better.

Next up: We got great news at the end of last week about our new build. Can’t wait to share it with you.

Well Well, That’s a deep subject!

Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream. ~Lao Tzu (Chinese Philosopher)

Bill had been doing some research for some time about drilling for a well in the area of our property. There are not many wells in that area. There is a lot of farm land around our property. And, it appears that we are on the very edge of an aquafer. All the water experts that Jim and Jill and Jim’s parents (from here on known as Jim, Sr. and Joan) talked to told them that the best access for water on our properties was to pump fromaquifer_types our lake. There are fish in that lake! How could I bathe in that water let alone drink it? ๐Ÿ˜ฏ The other alternative was to install a cistern and haul water every week or so. Hmmmmm. The lake water is free. Hauled water costs money.

Those two families went with the first choice and are presently pumping water from the lake and having it filtered with some pretty hefty filtering systems and filters. But it wasn’t easy getting to the clear water they have now. I think they went through at least two different filters before finding the one they now use – some micron sediment filter. One of the filters clogged up within one hour of the water being turned on. Yikes! I have to admit I do not know a lot about the water filtering system that the families are using. I do know that it has its challenges. Sometimes you have to wait a few minutes between people taking showers for water pressure. The system works fine for Jill and Jim. I’m not sure it is Jim, Sr. and Joan’s preference.

wellDiagramBill and I have a well at our present home. I don’t particularly care for the taste of our well water even with our osmosis filter. But, the water is free and clear. Other than that, we’ve been pleased with our well and pump over the years we’ve lived here. Bill contacted a well drilling company in southern Indiana. After several phone calls and emails, we decided to meet with a rep from the company on Saturday, January 26, down at the property.

We met with the owner of the well drilling company and discussed the possibility of finding water. He said it was guesswork. We wished Bill’s Uncle Bill was still alive. He was a plumber by trade and Bill said he could always find the right spot to drill for water. It is a scary thing to risk paying that much money whether you hit water or a dry spot. Bill wanted to take the risk and that is what we have decided to do. The day after Bill retires, we are driving down to Jim and Jill’s for a long weekend. We are going to drill for water on Monday, April 1. We may be fools to try drilling, but maybe not. ๐Ÿ™‚ Bill is going to get a fresh willow or crabapple branch and channel his Uncle Bill. Hopefully he will find the right spot to dig for water. If you want to know what I’m talking about, Google Y rod. Do I believe this will work? I don’t know, but the well driller said we were welcome to hire a dowser to find where they should drill. Bill is free. I trust his instincts. But, I’ll be praying for guidance from above.

Another purpose for the January trip was to spend time with Jim going over our house plan corrections/deletions/changes. It’s ever changing! But, we’ve been told it is better to get all the changes done on paper prior to building to eliminate change orders and the high costs associated with them. The last visit Jill had helped me rearrange the hall bathroom in my 3D software, but I had never had Jim change it on our official plans. To cut back on costs, we decided to eliminate using beams in our gables and took off the stone on both sides of the house. There were some minor changes and there was one big one.

Have you ever visualized something in your head and then when you see the real thing it isn’t anything like what you envisioned? As I’ve said before, I have lived and breathed these house plans because I created them in the 3D software. I’m always checking this or that and comparing what is on our software matches what Jim draws up in AutoCad. I always knew that the vault in the family room was west to east. However, looking at the floor plan, you cannot tell which way the vault goes. You could figure it out by looking at the roof lines, but just in the flat floor plan you wouldn’t know.

Here is a picture of the inspiration photo I had been using for the vaulted ceiling beams.

family room ceiling idea

Notice that the vault is going north/south – not west/east. That made no difference to me because I knew which way the vault was suppose to go. However, since Bill had seen this picture over and over again for months, he always visualized the family room vault to look just like the photo. While I was showing Bill some more inspiration photos one day he said, “Wait a minute! That’s not the way I ever envisioned the family room to look!” ๐Ÿ˜ฏ Oh my! Now, what should we do? We discussed whether this was a deal breaker or not for either of us. Bill wanted the vault changed. But, if we made that change, we should move the fireplace from the east interior wall to the north exterior wall. And, if we do that, we need to get rid of the sunroom which was north of the family room. This was a domino effect. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I pulled out the laptop and started changing things to see what it looked like in the 3D software. This was a very big change!

I found two inspiration photos. In the first photo below, I didn’t think we would have room to put two doors on each side of the fireplace. We liked having some higher windows, but wasn’t sure if that was possible if we were using a gable there. Love the wood on the ceiling, but we need to cut that out. No budget for that.

Family Room with Fireplace along exterior wall

Family Room with Fireplace along exterior wall

This second photo is strictly an inspiration photo of the ceiling beams we want.

Family Room Ceiling example

Family Room Ceiling example

Jim was able to make the vault change. As with any change, it brought more questions and decisions. Gulp! Did we want to give up the sunroom and enlarge the family room. (Yes, that would work.) How about putting windows on each side of the fireplace instead of the doors in the inspiration photo. (Ah, yes! These could be window seats Bill can build.) Did we like the new exterior look with the roof-line changes? (Looked fine with us!) Where would we put the exterior door since we did not have room for it in the family room? (We put the sliding glass door in the dining area.) The biggest decision with the change was that we would need a very long structural beam between the family room and kitchen/dining areas. Jim told us that would definitely cost us more. (We decided to go with the large beam.)

Here is a pic of the floor plans and the north/south elevation plans with the changes. Jim got them done for us at the end of February.

February 2013 floor plans

February 2013 floor plans

North/South Elevation Plans

North/South Elevation Plans

With these changes, we said we were done. We would concentrate on getting our present home ready to put on the market and getting Bill retired. In the next post I’ll share how we struggled with all three of those.

The year of options, choices, decisons, selections . . .

Remember, there are no mistakes, only lessons. Love yourself, trust your choices, and everything is possible. ~Cherie Carter-Scott

Let’s see, where did we leave off from this back story? Oh yes, we closed out 2011. Did we? I’m sure I forgot some things, like. . . Jill and Jim planting grass seed on their 18+ acres in late fall. And, us piggy-backing on that and planting grass along the area where we improved the slope of the land. And, prior to planting the grass, picking up rock after rock after rock for days to prepare for seeding. And, sharing in Jill and Jim’s first Christmas in their new house. Yeah, stuff like that. ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s time to move on to 2012 . . . the year of options, decisions, choices, selections, commitment, resolution . . .ย  Thesaurus summed it all up! Designing and building a custom home is not for the weak of heart. Definitely not for those who are indecisive. Add to that, we’ve never done it before. If that isn’t enough, I have found through the years that I cannot conceptualize an idea in my mind unless I can see it. Always have been a visual learner. That is why it was so important for me to have that 3D house design software. My engineer husband and engineer daughter and engineer son-in-law can look at a flat house plan and immediately see what it would look like in their mind. I cannot do that. My brain does not work like that. Just ask Bill how I am. The many times I’ve said, “Oh, I didn’t realize what I drew in the floor plan was gonna be that big!” Bill was not happy when I made that comment after he built this gorgeous pantry cabinet. ๐Ÿ™„

IMG_1168

I have learned to appreciate all the intricacies of a flat floor plan. But, found that I need the added visual of what it will look like in imaginary real life – is there such a thing? Meaning, I really love having a 3D visual in addition to the flat plans. For example, here’s the flat floor plan of our purposed kitchen.

Kitchen floor plan

And, here is my 3D imaginary real-life picture.

Kitchen 3D

See, it helps, right?

The Indianapolis Home Show was scheduled 394058_353979954631950_137517519611529_1222070_31298405_nfor January last year. Bill and I were hoping to see various material choices for the new house all in one location. I’m not sure the home show helped us that much. We did collect bags of literature which eventually found its way into the recycle bin. However, I did fall in love with the craftsman home that was showcased. I wanted our house to look just like it, but as a one-story home. You will find out later, that’s not happening!

We did eventually decide on a house plan. This is what it looked like in spring of 2012. It has since gone through many revisions.

House plan

Back to getting our present home prepared for selling, we needed to do something about our windows. After having them professionally cleaned inside and out (thanks to an Angie’s List Big Deal), we discovered that it wasn’t dirt clouding up our bedroom window. It was a broken seal. Well, actually we knew about the seal, but I didn’t realize how bad it was until we removed all the old blinds and had the windows cleaned. We knew we would never pass inspection like this.

DSC06714

There was no easy fix. The decision came down whether we wanted to replace all the windows (except the front bay) with wooden casement (like we had) or use vinyl windows. We had three different companies give us estimates. Bill and I decided we couldn’t put vinyl windows in this house. It would change the whole look of the place. This house has all stained wood trim. It just wouldn’t look right to go vinyl. Of course, we paid out our ears and worked our behinds off by making that decision. We chose Precision Windows to install our Andersen 400 windows. Loved these guys! To save us money, Bill and I decided to stain and finish all of the components of the inside of the windows ourselves. Bill devised a plan. The windows were delivered to our house on Good Friday. Don from Precision Windows came out and helped us unbox all the windows and showed us how to take all the components apart. We sorted, we stacked, we set up everything in the garage and the pole barn. I had never stained or applied finish before. I became a quick learner. We put in many hours Friday, Saturday and Easter Sunday. Sunday evening we called Precision Windows and told them we were ready for them to install. They could not believe we had gotten it all done. Here’s a slide show showing before and after pixs.

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Anyone want to buy a house with updated kitchen cabinets and countertops, a new high efficiency HVAC plus new wooden casement windows?

And, if that’s not enough . . . wait until you hear what else we had to replace later in 2012.

Retired but still working hard!

The trouble with retirement is that you never get a day off ~Abe Lemons

Most people who are very close to me know that I have a horrible memory. I rely heavily on pictures and data to jog my memory and that helps me tell my stories. That is another reason I should have started this blog back in 2008. ๐Ÿ™‚ Disclaimer: To the best of my knowledge, everything I post to this blog is true. As I told my daughter . . . at least it is true in my mind!

So, why do I bring up this memory problem I have? Well, turns out we bought that Gator in 2011 instead of 2010. Just noticed the date in my iPhoto picture events. Sorry!

Now, let’s move along, okay?

Turns out 2010 was not only a year of a lot of travel and busyness for Bill and I, it turned out to be a year of multiple moves for Jill and Jim. That nice big rental home they were renting while their house was being built . . . yep, it sold! If memory serves me correct on this one, I think they ended up moving in with Jim’s parents around Thanksgiving. Poor things. Everything had to be re-packed and moved AGAIN. They so wanted to be able to move into their new home by Christmas 2010, but that didn’t happen.

However, they did finally move into their new home before spring 2011. They were determined to move in whether everything was complete or not. In fact, I think the painter spent many many weeks with them after move-in day. It was during the spring of that year I realized how much dirt, mud and dust a new construction build generates. And, when you don’t have grass yet and you are surrounded by 18 acres of dirt – YIKES! That’s another thing I’m not looking forward to in the future. I think Jim’s parents moved into their new home in late May or early June.ย  All Bill and I could do was dream of the day when we would be joining the other two families down on the compound. Here are a few pictures of Jill and Jim’s home that year before planting grass.

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During the spring of 2011, I was trying to figure out what was going to happen about my job with the school district. Thanks to the district embarking on the International Baccalaureate (IB) program two years earlier, one generous district administrator and one ingenious media specialist, and some stimulus money, I had worked half-time as the district IB technical support person and half-time as my elementary school’s tech assistant. Since the stimulus money was only guaranteed for two years, I knew something was going to change for me at the end of the 2010-11 school year. I started to ask about possibilities for the following school year. In April I was offered a half-time position with no benefits as the elementary school tech assistant for the following year.

Decisions, decisions. I had worked full-time for the school district for 26 years! I always said I wanted to retire when I felt good about that decision. I wanted to leave when I felt I had given all that I could give. A retired principal who was working in our building during that time told me that I would know when it was time. Bill and I talked it over and over and I weighed working part-time versus calling it quits. The decision that haunted me actually became clear in my mind as I drove into work on May 17. As I normally did every day as I drove to work, I prayed the whole way in. That morning I added a prayer asking God to guide me in making a decision. Something happened as I entered the school building. I felt relief. I walked into my room at school, turned on my computer, and immediately wrote my resignation letter to be effective on my last workday for the school year – June 2. It was the right time and the right decision.

Saying goodbye to my school family was hard. Saying goodbye to the actual work and all the stress that went with it was not hard. It was not hard at all. Actually, I have not missed working one iota since I retired. ๐Ÿ™‚ Plus, I’ve had way too much to do to occupy my time.

One thing that kept me extremely busy was de-cluttering this house. I am a list maker – so, I made a list for every room in this house. I started the de-cluttering and organizing in late June. And, we invested into many many plastic bins to pack things away. We even emptied our attic and cleaned out the shed and pole barn! We’ve never made so many trips to Goodwill in one year. I won’t show before pictures but will share some afters.

The other major thing that kept me busy (and still keeps me busy today) is house plans. Picture me holding my head as I type this. Earlier in 2011 Bill and I purchased some new 3D software, Home Designer Pro, and a new laptop to run the software. The software required a computer with a separate video card with lots of memory. We thought it would be cheaper to buy the computer and software than to buy full house plans from online companies. Some of that idea didn’t pan out. But, since my job with the school district for many years was to learn new software and then train teachers on how to use it, I decided I would use that same technique and teach myself how to use this house designing software. I must have watched at least 60 online training videos, participated in five or more how-to webinars and joined the software forums for other technical support. Even though I’ve used the software going on two years, I still feel I’ve only scratched the surface of it.

I cannot tell you how many plans I drew in that software. I’d find a plan online, take a snapshot of it, and then import it into the software. Then, I would basically trace the shape of the house into the software using all the outside and inside wall tools. Once the shape was in place, I would delete the snapshot and start to work re-configuring the house plan and sometimes putting furniture in it. Let me tell you, there is no perfect house plan out there. There is always something you want changed from expanding or decreasing the square footage, to adding a window here, to making the hallways and doorways bigger in case one of us is ever in a wheelchair, to moving a room from one area of the house to another. All along I believed that if I created the house in the software, it could be built. That was flawed thinking.

Here are just a few of the house plans we considered building. None of these ended up as our final plan.

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After a quick trip out to Virginia for our granddaughter Alaini’s high school graduation in June, we returned to Indiana and spent a week down at Jim and Jill’s house watching the grandkids while they went on a cruise for their 15th wedding anniversary. Bill had already started building a tree house for the grandkids. He spent most of his week working on it. It’s huge! The kids have had fun playing in it.

Anchoring the base

Anchoring the base

Adding the stairs

Adding the stairs

Almost complete

Almost complete

And, we never passed up a time to fish in our lake.

Staying the week down in Jill and Jim’s house really helped us in making decisions for our new house. I found that I really liked their dish drawers instead of stacking dishes in upper cabinets. I found I did not like a stackable washer/dryer since I could not reach the dryer controls on top. I loved the quiet new dishwasher but it was so quiet I never knew when it was running. We really liked the large walk-in shower. We liked having an island in the kitchen with an area to sit on stools. We found the garage keyless entry openers so handy. I found myself constantly going through the house with a tape measure and taking notes. We laugh because I say our house plans now are a mini one-story Jill and Jim house.

IMG_0497The year ended on a sad note for Bill and a change in when we were going to put the house on the market. I had planned that we would list our house in spring of 2012. With the housing market still depressed in 2011, we thought it might take up to a year to sell the house. Bill had originally said he was going to work until 2014 when he turned 66. If we sold the house, I would move down south and start building the house while Bill stayed up here in an apartment and continued to work.

Well, you know what they say about people who make plans and God laughs. Turns out Bill had to have some surgery on his arm in November. That put a halt in his ability to make cabinets. Now, you could ask, What’s the problem? Just purchase cabinets for the new house instead of building them. Yea, you could say that. But, we’re talking about Bill here. He knew he could eventually make those custom cabinets and he’d make them better than any we could buy. And, he’d save us lots of money in the long run. In addition, he could make anything I found in my hundreds of inspiration photos from houzz.com. Oh, how Bill hates me looking at houzz.com. ๐Ÿ™‚

So, our plans changed. We decided to wait a year to list the house therefore giving Bill another year to complete building the cabinets and me a reprieve from de-cluttering for a while.

Surely by the end of 2012 we would have all our ducks in a row and be ready to start our dream. Hahahahahahahahaha . . .

Not now, I’m busy!

The more we do, the more we can do; the busier we are, the more leisure we have. ~Dag Hammarskjold

Apparently, the above quote fit for Bill and I during 2010. Even though we were really busy during 2010, we ended up taking several trips during the year, too. (And, I took a couple more than Bill.) ๐Ÿ™‚

Okay, back to what made us busy . . . Remember in my last post that I was spending a couple of weeks staying down with Jim and Jill? Enjoying the summer off from work and swimming in that big swimming pool when I wanted and making movies/DVDs with the grandkids. Awww, it was nice. Unfortunately for Bill, he was stuck back at home working and it was a very hot summer. One day he called me and said that the AC had gone out at home. This was the project that was not pleasant (at least for Bill). In between working, he called and had repair people come out. Poor Bill. Bill likes hotter weather. So, when he said that it was so hot and humid and he had a hard time sleeping, I knew it was bad. I had no desire of coming back home and experiencing that with him.

Long story short, we not only had to replace the AC, we replaced the whole heating and AC system! Turned out our furnace had enough rust to call for having it replaced, too. It was not a cheap fix, either. We ended up going with a high-efficiency system because there was a $1500 federal tax credit and we also got in on a tail-end refund from the state.ย  And, this was right before we were going on our family vacation to the beach. What are you gonna do? It had to be done. We hoped that would be a good selling point for the house when it went on the market. Needless to say, we had no idea that was just the first of costly home repairs to come. Remember this for future posts.

Taking a break from all the house-building (Jill and Jim) and house-repair (us) and every day busyness of work and family (Bryan and Vicki), in late July, we headed to our favorite way to spend fun family time together – a trip to the beaches of North Carolina. Spending family vacations at North Carolina beaches was a tradition we brought back from many years ago when we use to vacation with my sisters and their families when our kids were growing up. Bill and I wanted to spend time together with our children and their spouses and grandchildren. So, we started having family vacations at the beach every other year. 2010 was our last family vacation. I miss spending time with everyone under one roof. This was a great vacation for all of us. In addition, I really liked the upper floor layout of the house (open floor plan and separate master bathrooms and closets) and thought maybe we could incorporate some of the home’s features in our new house.

 

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Back to busyness . . . A very good project that was happening at our house was Bill totally re-doing our kitchen cabinets. They needed it. And, he thought it would be a great idea to start with re-facing our present home cabinets before making cabinets for the new house. Plus, it was a good thing because our future house plans had changed so many times. All in God’s time is what I say. I prayed a lot during this project. I prayed for patience. Bill likes to deny it, but it took almost a whole year for him to finish the cabinets (and, another year to get the trim up!). However, he did a fantastic job! For a man who had only tinkered with woodworking and wood-turning as a hobby, he soon used his engineer skills to make some nice looking cabinets. He even built the large pantry cabinet from scratch. Here are some before and after shots:

Bill and I also invested some money into a utility vehicle for our new place. Or, at least, that’s what we said. We sure have had a lot of fun with the Gator here, too!

Late summer we made another trip down to see the progress on Jill & Jim’s house and to cut grass. Windows and doors had been installed and the roof was on. In addition, Jill & Jim did somethingย  unique before the dry wall went up. They invited their bible study group to come out to the house and write scripture on studs throughout the house. It was their way of blessing the house. I loved this idea.

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Fall of 2010 brought two more trips for me and departure from thinking about my upcoming retirement and trying to settle on a house plan for us.ย  The first trip was my annual sisters’ weekend (WOW Weekend) with my six sisters during the beginning of October. That year we went to Cadiz, Kentucky, and rented a wonderful house on a lake and had a great time (as usual).

Sisters Weekend!

Sisters Weekend!

The second trip was at the end of October when I went with my close friends down to what has become an annual fall break at Walt Disney World.

My Friends!

My Friends!

I love being with my sisters and I love being with my friends. We laugh a lot. It’s good for the heart. It’s good for the soul. It’s just not good for the waist line cause we all like to eat during these trips!

If that wasn’t enough trips in one year, Bill and I traveled to California in December to celebrate his aunt Edie’s 90th birthday. Not sure if I’ll make it to 90, but if so, I want to be as spry as Aunt Edie!

90th Birthday Celebration

90th Birthday Celebration

Next up, the year of my retirement!

Let the building begin!

To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe. ~Anatole France

2010 was the start of new beginnings for all three families. Where most of the excitement, trials and tribulations involved Jim and Jill and Jim’s parents, Bill and I, you might say, listened and learned.

Jill & Jim ended up putting a For Sale by Owner sign in their yard sometime after the first of the year – might have been February. They thought they’d give it a try before listing it again with a realtor in the spring. Turns out they ended up selling it! Perfect! After finalizing all the details of the sale and when they needed to move, their craziness began. Were the house plans and all the specification documents up to date to send out bids? When would they start building the new place and how long would it take? Where would they live? Where would they store all their furniture and belongings? Decisions, decisions! All of these are in our future and I have to admit I’m not looking forward to some of it at all.

Turns out that the first thing that Jill and Jim had to get going was to dig a driveway all the way back to where the house was to be built. A very long driveway. A 1/4 mile long driveway! They had envisioned a picturesque “over the hills and through the woods” type of driveway where you could see their home up on the hill as you drove up to it. Unfortunately, that driveway became a thorn in their side. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Spring 2010 ended up being a wet time to dig a driveway. There were many many delays and lots and lots of rock to be laid. While waiting for the driveway to get done, Jill & Jim ended up moving into aย  large rental home. It was a great place which had an extra bedroom and bath for guests and a large swimming pool, too! I ended up spending a couple of weeks down there that summer. The one drawback about renting this house was they were putting it on the market, which meant J&J would have to allow for house showings and risk having to move again if the house sold.

While J&J were having their driveway dug out, we decided to have some trees removed on our property down by the lake since they were blocking our view. In addition, we had them take some of the ground from the driveway and had it added to our yard to help with leveling the slope of our property. Another big thing was having drainage pipes installed all along the front of the property by the road to get rid of the big ditch.

By the first of June, Jim and Jill’s house started to take form. Jim’s parents began building their home sometime that summer, too. I was glad I spent two weeks down there that summer so I could see how much took place in a short period. Here are pictures from June and July, 2010.

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Not only were things happening down at the new property that summer, but some things were going on at our present home, too. One project was exciting at home, the other was not. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ