Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Here's a picture from our front yard again. In this pic, taken yesterday, Roger, Mitchell, and Clark are filling in trenches. There are pipes sticking up everywhere. You can now walk around and tell where the sinks, toilets, etc will be. I'm not sure you can see them, but there are red pipes for hot water and blue for cold, and of course waste water lines.

Roger could explain all this so much better, but he's busy doing the work. I just take pictures and get excited!


Saturday, February 24, 2007

Dust storm

Today I can't help but feel grateful to have NOT lived through the dust storms of the 1930's.The kids and I read about it and I think my favorite book was Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse. The image of having to set the table with the dishes upside down, then hurry and eat before the dust covered their food has really stuck in my mind. They joked that they were drinking chocolate milk just to deal with the fact that they couldn't keep the dirt from blowing into their milk. Today is a dust storm day. The sun is shining, but you can't tell because the air is filled with dirt.

The first picture on the right is the sun. This was taken from our backyard. There are no clouds in the way, just dirt that's blowing in the air. The next two pictures are just to try to let you see the color of the sky today. It didn't look like this when we got up. It was a beautiful day, although windy. These photos are not retouched with the sepia tone added. It's just the air is reddish-brown dirt colored today. Yuck. But I am so thankful that this is supposed to be over today. According to weather reports, the sky will turn blue again soon.

And then here are some photos of our new house progress. These were taken yesterday. The first is a picture taken of the new house from the front yard. The second is a picture of the digging equipment being loaded to return to Home Depot. Unfortunately, I can't tell you much more about it than that. Roger could. But as far as I can tell, so far he's done a lot of digging. Mitchell, Faith and Grace helped him yesterday. I was amazed at the lack of complaining. I guess they can't wait to get out of this house either.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Aaah, Spring!

Spring is in the air! The weather has been beautiful. The doors are open to let in fresh air. The kids can play outside again (although Clark still begs for a movie every day!). And the new chicks have arrived. We know they'll grow up to be . . . um, well, . . . not so cute. But for now, they are so adorable. Here's a picture of Gracie holding a couple of them.

As Roger mentioned in his last post, it is also much quieter here. The crowing of all the roosters is gone. We had a great dinner of chicken and dumplings the other night, plus we have a couple in the freezer. Now, if I could just get Gloria to sleep for more than 6 hours at night, I'd be set. (Not just a 6 hour stretch, but a total of 6 hours--thankfully all in one stretch most of the time.) On the bright side, when I'm up with her, I no longer have to listen to the annoying chorus of crowing roosters!

Most likely we'll still have a winterish day or so still to come. But God is so good to give us breaks from the hard winter. I love Texas where the winters are short and the summers are long and warm. Remind me of this in August when a glass of ice water can help me cool off. A hot cup of tea never helps me. I just seem to burn my tongue!


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Moving Along

The trench you see in the previous post looks a lot like the trench that is out there now except that there is more of it now. All four sides are trenched to within about a foot of the corners. I expect that there will be steel in the trench tomorrow night with concrete in there Thursday. The weather forecast is beautiful for the next ten days or so, which should allow me to get the underground done and the work progressing without delay. We also get a bunch of meat chickens and egg chickens tomorrow. Yesterday we slaughtered all five roosters and last night was much quieter. They were crowing all night. Now they are just being eaten. To my rooster loving friends, sorry for the bad karma.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

Not the Mariana Trench, just a big deal to us

One of the builder’s guys showed up Saturday and staked out the house’s location and started digging a trench for the footer. That is what the picture is – a trench and some line is visible. Ooooh. The fella doing the work told Stephen that he thought they’d be pouring by Thursday. This may mean that I get to go out and start trenching and doing my underground stuff as soon as next Saturday. So, we are underway. As underwhelming as it may be to just have a trench, I am all a twitter about it.


For more on the trench that is not on our farm, go to

Friday, February 16, 2007

On the verge

After ten months of looking at straw bales, rammed earth, metal, cordwood, round, underground, slip form stone, earth bag and even more house options we are a day away from the real work beginning. I’ve dug stuff and trenched and made a mess of the site, but the real work and the foundation trenches are set to begin tomorrow morning. 20 or so hours away! I still wake up and go to sleep thinking about things like the sequencing of the earth tube installation, but by this time tomorrow the real deal will be on its way and all the talking and planning will begin to peter out as we begin digging, sawing, hammering, welding, insulating, wiring, plumbing, painting, dry-walling, stuccoing and other thinging the new house. Please pray for me that I am able to finish this with all fingers, toes, eyes, ears and other body parts in place.

Excitedly Yours, Roger

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

House Plan dimensions

Several people have asked me about the dimensions of the house and the rooms. I don't know all the exact sizes and haven't had a chance to get that information from Roger. He's really busy between his job, the farm, preparing to build a house, deacon stuff at church (they made him the treasurer because he has time?!?) and still being a great husband and father. I know the house is 40 x 60 feet which would make it 2400 sq feet, but it won't be that much living space when finished because those are outside dimensions and then walls take up space. I think it's at least close though. Roger did have time to tell me that the bathtubs are 5 feet long. You could mark a scrap of paper at each end of a bathtub and create your own ruler to measure off 5 foot sections. Does that make sense?

By the way, we just had the most wonderful snack and it only cost us pennies. We had a big batch of popcorn and drinkable yogurt. My batch of yogurt meant for breakfast never got very firm. We added invisible koolaid mix and sugar and had it for snack in cups today. Mmm mmm good! And for those not blessed with a cow, you can still make your own yogurt. You can't buy a gallon of yogurt for the cost of a gallon of milk, but you can make it yourself! And it's so good AND good for you!

But I still have to go fix dinner because everyone in this house thinks they need to be fed several times a day. Silly kids. Homemade pizza tonight since I forgot to put the roast in the crockpot and need to bake some bread anyway. Today anyway, I feel like I'm getting the hang of feeding us all well and not spending a fortune. Maybe I just feel good because of that 30 second nap I got today. ;-) It's amazing how much good that can do for someone with sleep deprivation.


Saturday, February 03, 2007

House Floor Plan

This is the floor plan for our new house. There is one with furniture above and one without at the end. I'm going to walk you through the furnished plan.

The picture of the plan has the front door at the top. This is the South. It's upside down from what you would expect, but oh well. You can adapt, right? The unfurnished picture below is "correct" with North at the top. It's a new scanner and I'm still learning. I could turn the image, but then you lose quality and blah blah blah technical stuff you don't care about. Just think South up, North down, East left, West right.

Why does that matter? Because the north end of the house will be burmed in. That means we'll take a load of dirt and create a hill for the house to be wedged into. Then there will be a porch around the rest of it. A nice wide porch that provides shade to the house.

Ok, you come in the front door into an entry way that will have benches and hooks for hats, coats, boots, etc. On the left (in the picture) is a small room. This can be a guest room/nursery/office or whatever we need. I'll be 39 later this month so we're getting closer to the end of the need for a nursery, but my paternal grandmother had her 8th and final child at 47, so if I take after her we may still have a few more children. The furniture pictured in that room is a twin bed, a crib, and I don't know what. We could potentially put a baby and toddler in there if we needed to. Across the entryway from that (top, right corner) is the master bedroom. Oops, the closet isn't there, but we plan to put a closet in that room. Pictured furniture is our king size bed, my big sewing table, desk, some dressers and nightstands. The bathroom is also open to the living room. That way guests can use the cleanest bathroom. Our children will not be allowed to use it because they are messy pigs. We'll keep that door locked as they learn the rules of the new house. It's not a huge fancy bathroom, because we wanted more space in the bedroom than the bathroom. Also we have a door onto the porch so we can sit and watch the sunset.

Next is the living room and dining room. There will be shelves everywhere for books and storage of toys and school stuff. We plan to get barstools with backs that could be used as seating behind sofas for tv viewing. This will allow everyone to have a seat when we want to have a family movie night or we could invite friends over. The door between the living room and dining room will lead to the outdoor kitchen. Also a place to sit on the porch in the morning and have a quiet time while the sun rises. OK, I'm not that self-disciplined, but Roger is. Would have been a coffee drinking place, but he gave that up. So maybe herbal tea?

Not pictured is our dining room hutch and a matching dresser. They will go against the wall by the kids' suite and laundry room. They'll be right by the kitchen and dining room. Plates, cups and silverware will go there. That way when it's time to set the table I won't have a crowd of children in the kitchen, they can get to the dishes from the hutch. There will also be a wood stove somewhere along that length of wall. So what looks like a long stretch where children will run and get wild, there are things in the way to prevent that.

Off the living/dining area is the kids' suite. It's a huge area that's divided up. Each corner is a separate section with walls that reach one foot from the ceiling. This allows air flow, but still privacy. Each section will have a bunk bed, a set of two desks and shelves above, and a ceiling fan with light kit. The floor (throughout the house) will be stained concrete. Each section will be decorated separately and will have an area rug. The sections furthest back in the room will be for older kids. One for boys and one for girls. The sections closer to the front of the room will be for the younger kids and may have mixed genders. If Gloria moves into that room before Stephen moves out, she will probably share a bed with Sam or Joy. Most of our kids prefer this when they are young anyway. But if that doesn't work, she could stay in the nursery for awhile even if we have a baby and need the crib. My current thought is that the nursery is for anyone still of napping age. In our house, that seems to end around age 3 for boys and 2 for girls. I don't know why the difference in gender, but it seems to be true so far. We'll see with Sam and Gloria.

In the middle of the kids' suite is a pair of bathrooms. These are just basic bathrooms with a sink, toilet and bath/shower. On the right of the picture there is a sink and countertop. Then against the wall is the set of lockers we have for the kids. This will allow them to fix hair and stuff without tying up a bathroom.

If you are worried about the lack of privacy with having all the kids in one big room with just dividers for pairs of kids, please understand that ALL of the kids approve of this plan. They currently share rooms with 4 per room and no dividers. They love that they'll each have their own space with desks and such. And they will have a lot of input into how their space gets decorated. So it's kind of like 4 bedrooms in one. There will only be 2 or 3 kids per room which beats 4 or 5 (or 6 if we ever have another daughter).

Moving right along, the kitchen is still mentally under construction. We have some ideas brewing, but nothing set yet. Some things needed decisions right away. We've placed the stove and sink. DW stands for dishwasher. IM stands for ice machine. R and F stand for refrigerator and freezer. The thing in the middle of the kitchen is my steel table that is on wheels.

Across from the kitchen is the laundry room with LOTS of shelves. We really miss the setup we had in Grapevine where all the clothes were stored in one room. The kids changed in there and so dirty clothes and clean clothes all were in the same room. It's so easy to scoop the dirty clothes off the floor and turn around and put them in the dirty clothes. OK, ideally they would do that themselves, but as I said, they are messy pigs. I can wash, dry and fold clothes, then just put them right into each person's bin. No more piles of clean clothes on the back of the sofa! No more piles of clean clothes scooped off bedroom floors and tossed in the dirty clothes in an effort to clean the room quickly. Oh, I really miss that set up and can't wait to get it back.

Then the bottom right corner shows our huge pantry. One thing we are currently considering is having bins or baskets on the shelves that will hold everything for different jobs. Like breadmaking, cheesecake making, milk filtering, or whatever. So rather than going back and forth for different ingredients or supplies, they are all in a bin and we can just grab the bin. And of course, we can stock up on things when they go on sale, or when we can a bunch of peaches from our trees or whatever. Hopefully we can store the heavier appliances in the kitchen so they are easy to get to, but as I said, the kitchen is still mentally under construction.

The windows you see behind the refrigerators and freezers are actually up high. They will let in northern light from above the hill on the side of the house.

This may win the longest-blog-ever award, but I think that pretty much covers it finally. There are plenty of details not mentioned believe it or not, but we'll probably cover those in future blogs as we actually build them.

Melissa, the long-winded one ;-)