The Homestead

But first, a picture story…

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The concrete slab looked really small and I had to keep reminding myself that it was actually 2400 square feet.

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Once the walls were up it started to feel a little bigger…

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Interior walls!

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And the trusses go up… (Lesson learned: never stack windows in the Alabama heat… they warp.)

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It finally looks like a real house!

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Galvanized aluminum roofing

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Hardiplank vertical board & batten siding going up

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Choosing green paint… the top is Benjamin Moore Eucalyptus Leaf and the bottom is Guacamole. We chose Guacamole. 🙂

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Patrick poured and stamped our porch. This is while the concrete is still drying…

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Patrick “antiquing” the porch. You can see where Alston wrote Emma’s name in the concrete…

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An “after” photo of the porch with the first coat of seal.

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Drywall in the master bathroom…

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Master bedroom…

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French doors to the back…

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Paint crew! We chose to have all of the rooms painted the same color (except Emma’s). We chose a nice neutral grey/beige – Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige.

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The front porch goes up!

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Side view of the porch…

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Our first pieces of furniture…

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Living Room

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Master Bedroom (and front door staining room)

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Emma’s room

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Living Room (again)

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Kitchen (in progress)

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Custom vanity in the master bathroom…

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Kids’ bathroom vanity…

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Emma Marie arrived December 2, 2015

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The exterior (almost done!)

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Back and Side view…

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Side view (french doors to the kitchen)…

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We spent Christmas “camping out” in the camper and Neece & Poppas’s… it was 72 degrees and Santa left his gifts outside. A Christmas to be remembered, for sure.

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January 4th – we spent our first night in the house!

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The floors may still be dirty, but at least we have a television. I mopped the floors at least 8 times before they were livable “clean”. I’m still finding spots of dirt in less obvious places.

Building a home is hard. It is frustrating and discouraging and can be downright depressing.

The bank process took forever. First there was the purchase of the land, which was its own weeks long process, and then there was the construction loan. Don’t get me started on construction loans. Of course we had to sell our house to be able to manage any of it, because Patrick and I are regular ol’ people who couldn’t afford a mortgage, a land payment and a construction loan. The banks are real picky about stuff like that. Especially when one spouse is self-employed. I had no ideas of grandeur about this process and i knew it was going to be hard. It was. We didn’t let it discourage us, though. We stuck with it to follow our dreams. And when God tells you to do something, you do it.

For many months before we sold our house, I started to feel very unsettled about where we were in our life. It was almost like I felt stifled by the everyday stuff. I knew our family was supposed to be somewhere with land and not in a neighborhood. I knew that we were supposed to be closer to Patrick’s hometown and our friends with children. I knew that I wasn’t supposed to be struggling to get through the everyday life of being a working mom. (But that’s a story for another day…) So we sold our house (which took about 6 months), packed up all our stuff into two storage units and moved in with my parents. Who then decided they wanted to sell their house, too. So we moved to Patrick’s mom’s. We stayed there for about 8 months. 8 months. No matter how much you love your family or your in-laws, 8 months is a long time for two momma hens in one house. I know people did it back in ye olden days – crammed all their immediate into one tiny house – but its not ye olden days. So in May of 2015, we started house-sitting for another family member. And ended up staying there for another 7 months. 7 months! Bless them. We love them so much for sheltering us as long as they could. They really are like a 5th set of parents to us. And it was actually really fun, until the pregnancy nesting kicked in and I had no home to nest in. Every pregnancy instinct that says, “Get ready! The baby will be here soon!” had to be stifled while I said, “Shut up, instincts! I don’t want to think about the fact that I’m extremely pregnant and have no home. Let’s just pretend its not an issue.”

So what took so long?? We didn’t hire a contractor and did a lot of the work ourselves. (When I say ourselves, I mean that I ordered stuff while Patrick handled all the subcontractors.) We thought that as long as we did as much as we could ourselves that we would save money. We hired people we knew since Patrick has lots of connections in the homebuilding world. And we did save money. But when you save money, you lose time. You have to pick. Get it done faster for more money, or save money and get it done whenever your people can squeeze it in between their real jobs. That was all cool until March, when we found out I was pregnant. Then we had a timeline. We needed to be moved in by Thanksgiving. We were so close. Mere weeks from it. Those last 9 weeks were killer. Inspections. Those inspections killed our Thanksgiving deadline.

When I went in for my 36 week check-up (sometime during the last week of October), the doctor said she expected Emma within the next week. Our house was pretty much finished but weren’t close to being able to move in. Luckily, Emma did not make an early appearance. Nor did she come by her due date. I think she could sense my panic at not having our own home and decided to stay put. But on the morning of December 2, she decided to make her grand entrance. That is also a story for another day.

So we had a baby without having our own home to bring her to. Then we spent another Christmas in a home that wasn’t ours. And let me tell you, I cried. so. much. I think even without the pregnancy and postpartum hormones, I would have shed just as many tears. But people kept telling me how strong and patient I was. The word longsuffering comes to mind and now I understand that Bible verse a little better…

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

I didn’t feel strong or patient, but I know I must have been. God was teaching us a lesson. I’m not even sure what the lesson was, but there was one tucked into all of those months of waiting. And to be perfectly honest, there were times when I couldn’t remember why we were causing ourselves so much trouble. God had given us a vision – he placed those desires in our hearts. I know this because I was perfectly content with my little family in our cute little home in a quiet little neighborhood. Until one day I wasn’t. So I tried to remember that there was a purpose for everything. And finally – FINALLY – on January 4th, they turned our power on. And we had heat and hot water. And that was all I needed. We had already moved some of the larger furniture into the house. We sat a tv on the floor, hooked up a dvd player and called it home.

So we officially began this journey in January of 2014 when we put our house on the market and moved into our new home in January of 2016. 2 years to realize a dream. But we did it!

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18 Homeless Months

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We’re coming up on the two year anniversary of selling our city house to prepare to build our country house and I’m feeling especially thankful to have a home to call my own. For 18 very long months, we relied on the hospitality of our families while we went through the very long and frustrating process of building. During those 18 months we had two first days of school, a fourth & sixth birthday, a fifth & seventh birthday, two Christmases, and we were blessed with one brand new baby sister. Thankfully, we moved into our forever home on January 4th and 2016 has been oh so good to us already. I want to recap on everything that I’ve missed, so bear with me as I rewind a little.

The Little Things

Hi friends. Can we talk about things?
Things that seem small but are really, really huge?

We have a fence. And a gate.
And a temporary power pole and paperwork for a permit to hook up the power.
We have a building site with the four corners staked out.
We have a floor plan that I designed, that Patrick and I have nitpicked to death until we’re sure it’s absolutely perfect. And we have a guy to do the blueprints.
We have a vision. And it’s simple and it’s not the norm, but it’s ours.
We started this adventure over a year ago and its been long and hard and scary and frustrating but also exciting and wonderful. We have achieved so much already and know what we want the rest of our lives to look like. We have sacrificed what is easy and convenient to get there. We never thought it would be easy, but we know it will be worth it. And like I said, its hard. I have to stay focused on the big picture – the reason we started this journey in the first place. I try not think too far ahead or I get overwhelmed by the details and I start to panic. Meltdowns have occurred. I am not ashamed to admit it. But I want to document this adventure. The good, the bad, the ugly. Up until now, I haven’t thought it worthwhile to talk much about it because it didn’t seem like we were making much progress; then recently I realized that every step, no matter how tiny, is significant. It all adds up to the big picture.
Bear with us friends, its going to be a long road… but when its finished, we’re having a party and you are all invited!

Our Plans and God’s Plans

Sunset at The Homestead

In August, we closed on the 34 acre piece of property that I lovingly named The Homestead the first time I set foot on it. It has since become known as The Farm, The New Land and, more commonly, just The Land.

A lot of the timber from the land was cut some time ago, but they left quite a few very large trees and one very large stand of pines. Once the land was officially ours, we began working to get all the brush and underbrush cleared off. We planted the bare spots and have our future home site picked out. While we are anxious to start building, we want to go about it the best way possible. We are trying to be smart about our time and money, so while we live with Patrick’s parents for the time being, we are working towards becoming debt free. This is an opportunity we will never have again, so we are trying to be patient and let God handle things His way. Its hard, friends. Its close to Christmas and I don’t have a house to decorate. I can’t tell you when I will have a house either. It would be nice to say that we are expecting to start building by a certain date and we will be moved in by another, but thats just not how it is working out. I’m learning a great deal about patience and trusting in God for everything. Its a hard lesson, but I know its one I have to learn. People keep asking me how its coming along and all I can do is shrug. Things are happening, just very very slowly. I have absolutely no control over any of them. So I’m slowly learning to let go and lean on Him. I trust His timing and His judgement. I try to stay positive and live in the here and now. If I didn’t it would be way to easy to cry over what I don’t have instead of celebrating what I do have. I have a healthy happy family. I have a roof over my head. I live in a country where anything is possible. I can go to church and worship God freely. I’m beyond blessed.

So for now, I will fill up Pinterest boards for my forever home and enjoy the freedom of not owning a house and I will do it with a thankful heart.