What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Name of the Place

Growing up, I was in a nomadic family. I believe my parents have moved 22 times since they have been married. (Right, Mom?) And in my life, in particular, the moves were often to different STATES and often far, far away from friends and family. I took my neighbor with me for Grandparents Day at school. As a child, it was mostly fun, adventurous, exciting (well, maybe not for Mom!). But when I met Matt, I got to see a different side of things.

He lived in the same house he was born in all of his non-married life. Both sets of grandparents lived down the road and he would be babysat or spend the night at their homes regularly. We still pass a stone wall that he built as a teenager~out of stones that another Newman built long ago. His family is all buried in the local cemetery. Our children sleep in his old room for rest time when we visit.

It was all so different from my upbringing. So constant, so secure. So.....stagnant. Though I wouldn't trade how I was raised, this lifestyle~so vastly different from my own~appealed to me greatly.

When I got married, I decided I should like to live in one beautiful, amazing home the rest of my days; that my children would grow up and their children would sleep in the same room and reminisce, that we could write the heights of our children on the doorposts and see them, small again, decades later. I thought it would be lovely to watch my children climb and play on the apple trees their parents played on and that we could all picnic under a great maple that we planted. A place where we would never have to abandon our memories. Wouldn't my life be grand?!

And then real life happened. And while 'real life' didn't turn out at all like I had envisioned, it was beautiful to us....like my childhood. We moved, almost like clockwork, every two years. Each place we made our home happy and sweet, and named her thus.

Home #1 was the home where Matt and I moved into married life, blushing and flirtatious. Where we learned to live with one another and had our first (and second and third) fight, something I was SURE would never, ever happen. It was where I learned that Matt had a horrible temper and where he learned that I couldn't cook a lick. It was a teeny little house that you could see every square foot of when you walked in the front door. Reminiscent of Laura Ingalls house (minus the loft), it was the most lovely place on earth in my mind. It was where Matt and I slept in a twin bed together until we could afford a queen size bed, but when the bed was delivered~ the delivery men weren't sure it would fit into the room. (It did, though when you walked into the doorway you were practically on it and I had to climb over Matt to get to my side.) There were open shelves between the 'living room' and the 'dining room' where I put all my lovely shiny crystal wedding presents and the most lovely rainbows would dance through the house every morning as the sun came up-right through the window onto the crystal. It sat on the farm where Matt worked and right next to a large house where a dozen Mexicans lived. This was the home I would walk to the farm and have picnic lunches with Matt and where Matt learned to speak fluent Spanish, even though he took French in school. This is where Corynn was born. But we moved about a month later. We called her The Little House. We pass her on the way to church.

Home #2 was an apartment down the road. Still small, though more spacious than the first house, it had an upstairs(!) that had TWO rooms and it even had two bathrooms (though the downstairs bathroom, your knees rubbed the washing machine when you sat down.) It was in a nice grand house, the large side being where the owner (our landlady) lived. I really disliked this house~ it is bizarre to play outside in a yard where your landlady is watching you. Or hanging clothes on a line where another persons clothes were hanging. Or watching her dig up the rose bush you just planted because, well, she didn't want it in HER lawn. This was the home where I hung lights from trees and we danced and celebrated our anniversary (the same night our single landlady had all her single girlfriends over for cards and they all swooned at the romance of it all). This is the home I taught myself how to can and where Matt went to his parents' house every weekend to "DO something outside!". This is the home where Andrew was born. We called her The Duplex. But we moved a week later.

Home #3 was where we became a family. A real family. It was three and a half hours away, in a place where we knew no one. A beautiful, big, BRICK home with columns in front~ it, too, came with the farm where Matt was working~ though this time, it wasn't ON the farm but down the road a bit. It had a huge yard, where I began teaching myself how to garden and a huge garage where Matt would work. It had a huge basement where the children would play and a huge CEILING in the living room that I would sometimes just stare up at in awe. Everything about it was huge in my mind, coming from two *small* houses before that.

This was the home where we met a wonderful church family, and established wonderful lifelong friendships with some dear families. It is where I met with one of my dearest friends every few weeks and we would get together at someones' house after the children were in bed, and we would crochet and gab, sometimes cry and ALWAYS laugh the nights away. This is the home where the shelves that held my beautiful crystal wedding presents broke, dashing them all to pieces and leaving me with just three special things...none of them rainbow-throwing crystals. Since we lived so far from parents', we were able to establish our own family traditions and celebrate our own family holidays....at our own home! For this reason alone, I will forever love this place. Matt moved down there in order to take over the farm and buy it out from the farmer, which was never a part of the plan in the farmers' mind, turns out.... so Matt, with no love-loss and maybe just a bit of resentment, called this house (despite its' grandiose charm and the memories we built as a family) simply The Brick House. We packed up and moved when I was pregnant with Adele'.

Home #4 is this, our current dream home. Since our dream house was really just a shell when we moved, we had to live with Matt's parents for a month or so. So I was pregnant when we packed up the Brick House and very VERY pregnant when we finally unpacked it into the new house. I lifted things WAY too heavy for a woman great with child and remember feeling guilty the whole time. But. It had to be done.

This house is much more grandiose than the brick house ever was and has barns to boot. It has high ceilings and large rooms and everything I ever wanted in a home (except a mortgage.) This is the home where we finally started to live as we always wanted to live: with wood heat, with animals, with a huge garden and chickens. This is where we had Halloween parties in the woods, and circus parties and book parties and Christmas parties. It is where I began to teach myself about food storage and preparedness. It is where Matt taught himself how to butcher a cow himself. With his bare hands he tore the cow from limb to limb. It is where we began having somewhat regular dates (once every several months) since the grandparents lived close by for babysitting. This is the house where Adele' and Judah joined our family. We call this home The Mansion.

Home #5 is the one we are working hard for, the one that is pulling us and our attentions from the moment we wake up to the moment we collapse into bed, and then pervades our dreams. When we first began looking at it, I called it the Hobbit Hole. With its dark paneling for walls, short ceilings, lack of light fixtures and just general claustrophobic feel, that name seemed to suit it. But of course, it won't be long before I throw buckets of white paint in every direction to brighten up the place. So, no....it won't be called the Hobbit Hole. Instead, a much better, more fitting name we have decided on is....


Right now, the only homestead we have is built of hope and mortared with plans. The place we envision, the place we hope for is something we have to work to attain, something we ARE working for. So... Hopestead it is. And each time a piece of laminate flooring or wallpaper is peeled back, that hope grows.

We have been working tirelessly at Hopestead this past week. From dawn to dusk. we wake up, eat breakfast, I make lunch and snack and we go and are gone until dinner (and often later)

I feel homeless right now. Our Mansion is as of yet not packed (except books) and still feels like home but the only time we are here is to sleep. We spend every moment we can at Hopestead but it feels nothing at all like a home, only like work. We basically do our 'living' in the car between the two homes. And that is DEFINITELY the only time I sit down too. Pretty sad.

But! Not without its benefits. Here is some of what we have done:

You've seen this before:

Now it looks like this:

This is how the someday school room was looking last week:

Now it looks like this:

This is one of two medium sized bedrooms with lighting and small closets in the upstairs. The other two small rooms were part of the original house and have only a single (not grounded) outlet each to boast and barn boards for floors.

And here it is now~ so empty it echoes.

This is the BEFORE picture of the girls' room:

And, while it isn't DONE...here it is presently:

The hallway then:

And now:

The stairway then:

And now:

The master bedroom~the easiest of the upstairs rooms.

After I tackled it:

While I was tackling the rooms~ Matt was on the tractor taking load by load of stuff to the fire, tearing down shelves, building shelves, helping haul furniture, and completely cleaning out the granary. I never got a before picture of that-but it was amazing what he did all himself.

Once the last of the STUFF is gotten rid of, we can begin to squeeze as many cosmetic changes as we can muster into one week. Then, ready or not, it is time to move.

And finally..... a little something I find solace in:

by Edgar Albert Guest

The dreamer sees the finished thing
before the start is made;
She sees the roses pink and red
beyond the rusty spade,
And all that bleak and barren spot
which is so bare to see
Is but a place where very soon
the marigolds will be.

Imagination carries her
across the dusty years,
And what is dull and commonplace
in radiant charm appears.
The little home that she will build
where willows bend and bow
Is but the dreamer's paper sketch,
but she can see it now.

She sees the little winding walk
that slowly finds her door,
The chimney in its ivy dress,
the children on the floor;
The staircase where they'll race and romp,
the windows where will gleam
The light of peace and happiness -
the house that's still a dream.

You see the weeds and rubbish there,
and ugliness and grime,
But she can show you where there'll be
a swing in summertime.
And she can show you where there'll be
a fireplace rich with cheer,
Although you stand and shake your head
and think the dreamer queer.

Imagination! This it is
the dreamer has today;
She sees the beauty that shall be
when time has cleared the way.
She reads the blueprint of her years,
and she can plainly see
Beyond life's care and ugliness -
the joy that is to be.
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