Whew! I've resorted to vague and noncommittal titles to avoid disappointing myself and others. But it's been a while since I posted anything at all, so I'll go for it.
We have finally moved into our garden house. It is good to be here! We moved in June of last year, the culmination of a year and a half (maybe more, I've kind of lost track) of sporadic labor. The prerequisite for the transition to living here was a working bathroom, and the toilet went in the day we moved. It was hot, and we had help. That's all I remember :) The move was followed by a few weeks of a strong sense of dislocation for the boys and me. Which was, in turn, followed by exceeding happiness.
In this house, just about anything can be broken without it being a disaster. I do ask that the boys go on the porch or put a board on the floor before they "scrap". This is a practice of hitting toy cars, construction equipment, agricultural equipment, etc, with hammers until they break apart, then adding them to the scrap yard somewhere on the floor. They use trains and dump trucks to haul things to and from the scrap yard as they feel inspired...
I had thought that living here would allow me to get a lot more work done on the house, but more often we use the time I have at home playing until the boys go to sleep, than cleaning and doing dishes until the most necessary stuff is finished. Then we go to sleep. All the same, we do get things done. At the best of times, the boys help me. For instance, we got insulation blown in the walls back in November. I cannot imagine how they made it for over a hundred years in this house without it, by the way. The only downside to the process was the 250+ holes in the interior walls. I try to wait to work on them until the boys are interested, then I go get the setting compound, a few containers and mudding knives, and all three of us go at it! Alten and Isaac get the low holes, I get the high ones and clean up their patches. And Margo does something quietly by herself. Fun for the whole family!
Alten and Isaac also both enjoy tiling. They put on their ear-protection for the wet-sawing, mostly just watching me work, then they help me organize the tiles and stick them on the walls. Where are all the photos? I don't know, but if I can find some I'll put them on. This photo of the nearly-finished bath will have to suffice for now.
In the eight-plus months we've been here, I have had many opportunities to reflect on the joy of friends and family who have come to help. Some of them many times, some of them taking on pet projects they wanted to finish themselves. What a gift! At the risk of forgetting some, I'll try to list the folks who have participated in no certain order: Roxie and Bob, brother Jacob, two Bens, a Jonathan, Glenn and Linda, Dick and Erma, two Dads, brother Matt, brother Chris, sister Ragan, Bob and Rachel, Lisa, Lori and Brian, friend Chris, Zach, Mary Sue, and many more, no doubt. If you read this and I've forgotten you, tell me and remind me what you did. I'll beg forgiveness and add you :)
We've been learning all about heating with wood, cooking with wood, living in the moment with young children, and trying to figure out what else really matters. We are walking the line between comfort and simplicity, and are learning a lot about ourselves and our perceived needs in the process.