Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Out with the old, in with the new!

We are all back together again, after a great weekend in the northwoods. The meetings were great, and we'll try to post highlights ASAP.

Our prayers were answered, in that everyone and their respective extremities were safe and sound upon our return. Daddy and the kids did a great job, and as we pulled up to the house and disembarked, we were happily greeted by a moldy, soggy, disgusting pile of our former kitchen cabinets...the source of untold generations of over-wintering mosquitoes, bacteria, and odors.

The wall cabinets, which were successfully removed intact, will be recycled somewhere.

Here are Joanna and Hannah, who were in charge of meals and only the most necessary of house chores for the weekend. They are scrubbing the wall on which the single run of base and wall cabinets were located. They did a great job, filling bowls of shredded wheat, and producing pans of cold bean dip to go with tortilla chips, frozen burritos, etc.

Zak is installing the toe kick for the new sink base cabinets. We were happily surprised that the floor under our leaky sink was sound and did not need to be replaced! The new sink will be nearly in the same place, but we will run new pipe through the floor when ready to install that.

This is the sink base cabinet. The sink is on the floor. It is one of those cool plastic types, and we got a floor model, so its already set into formica (undermounted). It was a very good price, but having such a small finished counter around it was quirky. However, we are redeeming that feature by elevating the sink, as we have heard that a higher sink is easier on your back. So, either side of the sink will be smaller, standard height counters. I am excited that with the really good finish on the sink, we should have no problem with water getting between the sink and counter connection. Since we will not have an automatic dishwasher, we will probably be using a rolling wire rack for a dish drainer, we we have liked in the past (as you don't waste counter space with a dish drainer).

Dave came up with the idea of using matching formica to finish the exposed sheetrock. We had that at our old house and it is so easy to clean! So that is what we hope to do.

They moved the stove to a safer location to be the anchor for the L shaped run of cabinets. So, when we order the counter, it will be a straight piece, finished on both sides. This part will have drawers and then a pass through under the counter, where we will have access to trash cans from either side of the counter. The drawers are sitting in the pass-through right now.

Anyway, the house in in a shambles now, so we will post more photos after getting things better organized. Lord willing, the next step is to do the wall cabinets, which Hannah has begun staining already. Zak would like to get the cabinets all done before doing all the doors, so he can do the doors at one time. We hope to order the counter tops by this weekend. In the meantime, we are doing dishes outdoors!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Every shower curtain has a silver lining

Sombody had too much time on their hands...and an indellible marker.

For most of the day, I did not want to unravel the mystery of the three empty shampoo bottles in the bathtub, lying in a pool of their former contents, accompanied by a gravy ladle. (The broken plastic fan parts, also in the tub, were a side issue probably unrelated.)

We are really busy with the kitchen remodel, slated for this weekend. This will include demolition, wall and possibly floor repairs, assembling base cabinets, moving hookups for the sink and stove. We have been planning and considering for months, and all agreed that doing it during a time when a portion of non-essential workers could be out of the house would be best.

The Rhinelander youth meetings are coming up this weekend, and we decided this is our opening. With the graciousnes of the Jones' lending us their mini-van, and the gracious hospitalogical invitation of the Whittakers, I (Debbie) will take half of the children up north, while the remaining half stays to do the work. The workers are consoled with extra time with Daddy, and the prospect of consuming lots of sandwitches and generic Lucky Charms. The work team includes: Zak, Ben, Solomon, Hannah, Joanna, and Noah. Daddy felt Noah needs more grooming for work as an assistant, and he is excited. Hannah and Joanna, in addition to whatever work on the kitchen they can help with, are in charge of meals and laundry for the team. They are excited about that.

Today, everyone has been rushing to do all the wood finishing for the cabinets. Zak and Hannah have been staining and varnishing. Susanna has helped with sanding between coats. We have been stretched to find safe places to let the varnish dry, where floating cottonwood seeds and mosquitos would not be able to adhere to the finish. Since we're not using the bus this weekend, we are using the space in back, as well as Ben's birthday screened-in canopy, and other makeshift rigs.

Zak is also trying to finish up some cassette/CD audio transfers between coats. Abi and Sarah are helping to pack everyone for the trip. Since one of the featured speakers is a young lady, we wanted them to be able to attend. We should be able to get recordings of the talks.

Anyway, we did not get the bathroom cleaned this morning, and in our flurry of extra tasks, I do believe Giddy had some free time, hence the hair product spill in the tub.

We have learned our kids will always be busy doing something, and we'd much prefer it was helpful and beneficial, rather than "keeping them entertained". Strangers often comment, after noticing we have a flock, "at least they entertain themselves." And they do, but we haven't found that too useful in most cases! (Of course, we are thankful they know how to have fun, and are never bored!)

Anyway, we are in a small house, so timing is crucial. In order to make room for the kitchen stuff that was in the cabinets, we need to move stuff from our dining/living room up to the attic. In order to do that, we need to move stuff from the attic into the unfinished attic storage area. In order to do that, Sarah will have to do some boxing and moving before we leave this afternoon, Lord willing. We could just leave tomorrow morning if need be.

So, it has been pretty busy day, and after taking a nap with Sammy and Giddy on my lap, I awoke with a warm feeling which soon turned to a cold, wet feeling. Giddy leaked. So I got someone to get him changed and went to take a bath. That's when I discovered that our shower curtain had a silver lining....I found an undiscovered, full bottle of hair conditioner behind the shower curtain!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Photos from the Wisconsin homeschool conference in May

I found some photos from our preparation and time at the May conference.

We still had about 100 printed covers from our 2nd printing of Education of Kings, so we laser printed some more book pages, and were able to make more books for this conference, and the one in South Dakota in April. The pages are cut and jogged and copiously spread with Gorilla Glue, before we put them in their "taco shells" (scored and folded covers). Then we stack them with heavy books overnight. A local printer trims the outside edges for us, as we cannot find a good paper cutter.

At the conference, the main thing we like to do is have a literature table with a bunch of free stuff which has been a blessing to us. So, that includes the "EOK"s. We also print out smaller booklets on various topics, and use booklet staplers to bind them. This is a job that all the kids about 5 and up can help with.

Joanna staples.

Susanna folds.

Planning for our exhibit table was a little tricky. Since we added a video display (the Bible copy video), we were really tight on table space. Additionally, we could not use our free-standing literature rack ($5 at a garage sale!) because of the location of our booth this year.

As we started putting stuff on the 8 foot table, we realized we were very short on space for everything. That was when Mom remembered: we had a five-drawer metal file cabinet in the back of the bus! That's the cool thing about having a bus...

Our friend, Bob McElmurray, recently moved to Bolivia, and while helping him move, he gave us this tall cabinet. We have no room in the house for it right now, so it is kind of ballast for the bus.

Since we had brought a hand truck to the conference, it was no big deal to have the boys haul that puppy out and set it up behind the table, as a Klein-proof video stand!

Here is our table in the exhibit hall. You can see see the video display on the top left. (You should be able to click on this picture and get the details, if you really want to see that file cabinet!)

During much of the time, we all hung out behind the table. It was a little hard to visit with folks that way, but we did get to meet a few people. Some remembered us from last year, and several commented on the "Verse a Day" booklet being a blessing.

We enjoyed a picnic lunch during the conference with our friends, the Dyers, whom we met at last year's conference. They live about 15 miles from us, but we don't see them often enough.

The Dyers invited another family who is beginning homeschooling this year. It was a great encouragement to meet their sweet family!

This was a pretty family friendly conference, which reminds us of our time at the Mexican homeschool conferences.

The second day of the conference, we had clean up our table, because the exhibit hall closed at noon. So, after that, we took lunch in our bus. We popped up the roof-vents and it was pretty nice.

After lunch, Dave and I had sessions during the lfinal two slots of the conference, and they were in the same room. So, we all hung out there. It was conveniently located next to a soda machine!

Oh, so after the conference, we planned to join the Dyers and our friends the Baxters for dinner. We all piled into our respective vehicles. However, our bus would not start. We tried various things, and Mark B. took a look under the hood. We were baffled. With nothing to lose, we tried calling the man whom we bought the bus from...just in case he by the phone on a Saturday evening. He WAS! He instructed us: go to the back of the bus and look for a latch near the bottom of the door. The latch allows you to lock the door while parked. However, school buses may not have the emergency door locked during operation. We checked and the latch was just slightly closed...not enough to prevent the door from opening, but just enough to not trip the switch. We slid it all the way open, and the engine started right up! Thanks Bill!!

We feel the Lord really opened the door for us to make it to this conference, and pray the Lord will bless and guide all those who attended.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

...and then some

We are having a little more rain today. Our entire garden is submerged, actually the entire photo we showed previously. We are in the basement, as we keep getting warnings. We have a stream going through the basement as well, with an inch or so of running water. So we are wet inside and out. The roof is still holding up well. We had ice-damming over the winter, so we were wondering if there was any leakages, but praise the Lord, nope.

Dave's vanpool is taking an alternate route home, as the interstate, which crosses the Wisconsin River, is closed for observation.

Before the deluge, we had already had 1/2 inch of rain this morning, which is nothing to snort at. I am guessing a couple of more inches by now. Sounds like more rain expected tonight. I think we'll be shopping for a new sump pump tonight.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Rainy weekend!

We had eight inches of rain this weekend!

It started out as a pleasant, sunny morning, and we had breakfast outside. I even watered the garden.

You can see the little yellow donut sprinker above. The snow peas have bounced back from the ducks' munchings. Everything has come up, but we've had a cool spring, so nothing has gotten that big yet.

In front of the veggie garden, we have a "butterfly" garden, full of pretty but useless plants. Note the location of the rocks.

After breakfast and devotions, we headed into the house for a plethora of tasks: plumbing repairs, organizing basement and attic, computer tasks, baking.

Hannah catching up on our bank reconciliations.

Giddy "helping" Abi make dinner rolls.

Ben updating Juglist website.

Oh, we also fed the ducks and CHANGED THEIR WATER.

We were so into getting our stuff done that we didn't pay too much attention to the rain as it started. However, the storm warnings on the radio were pretty numerous, and we decided to take the tornado warning serious, by heading down to our basement...not before the boys barbequed our turkey dogs. However, we decided to let them warm in the oven, until the storm passed.

That took quite a while, as we had several tornado WARNINGS, and the sky was fairly green. Green skies are this wacky, scientifically unexplained phenomenon with tornadic storms. Prior to this, Dave did not really believe in the green sky thing. But, he pointed it out to me, as it was GREEN. Wish we would have taken a photo of it.

Eventually, things cooled down a bit. We never had tornadoes or even much wind or lightening, but gallons of RAIN. We went up to have lunch. The steady weekend stream of vacation traffic on our highway, heading for Wisconsin Dells, had stopped for over an hour, due to the threat of tornados.

Slowly, our garden started filling up with water.

Here is an island of zuchinni.

Here is the submerged butterfly garden, and you can see how far up the flooding went. Actually, before it was done, the area up to the duck was also submerged. The ducks pigged out all day on refugee worms!

So we didn't really need to run the sprinkler.

It appears just about all the garden, which was 3/4 submerged, has come through alright. The last of the water was about gone this morning (Tuesday). Our basement still has new waterfalls from the outside walls, but the boys kept the pumps cleaned out and pumping. It could have been much worse. We are very thankful that our roof did not leak one bit, and that the rain will significantly decrease the tick population.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Back from Wisconsin CHEA conference

We had a very full weekend at the conference, and were blessed to meet lots of new families. We will write more about it when I get the photos zapped onto my computer.

One of the neat things about this weekend was meeting the Gumness family who had a table right next to ours in the exhibit hall. Aside from being really kind, special and generous people (I think our family consumed 50% of their candy inventory), they happen to know friends of Dave's cousin in Mexico! The Gumness have a heart for missions, which was really encouraging to us. One of their sons is heading for a very familiar place in Mexico! Dave's cousin, Danny Klein, has been serving in Mexico for a long time, and that is the same area where their son will be visiting! Small world!

More later. We are catching up on laundry, trying to contain some rebel ducks, and dealing with other pressing matters. No ticks since we arrived home....