Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Our Barn: A First Day Cottage

This is an example of a First Day Cottage - actually two cottages connected by a breezeway - similar to our design.The large building on the right is a good example of the building we will build using a kit purchased from First Day Cottages, in New Hampshire. There will be barn doors on the bottom end which open directly into Robert's wood studio. Our original idea for our Art Barn, was something like a barn with an apartment over top. A post and beam structure with real wood and lots of character. Our barn-house will have only about 1200 sq. ft., but ultimately, this building as living quarters is temporary. We will eventually build a larger house and then this building will become virtually all studio space, (with some living space for our older kids or guests).

We've decided to purchase a post and beam house kit from First Day Cottages. An 18 x 33' barn like building. The kit costs $30,000. When our current home sells (plus our savings), we'll have about $30,000 cash, but we'll spend part of that running utilities and water to the home site, which is a half mile from the road, and laying a foundation. So, while we work our jobs and spend the weekends clearing the land, we are saving money. We'll need to save an additional $15,000 just to buy the kit. And, of course, we'll need more money after that... for electrical, plumbing and stuff.

It's a journey. It includes sacrifice, risk and faith.

It's definitely a dream.

We will build our barn-house with our own hands. We'll have friends to help and we will contract out some of the labor, but for the most part - we're building it.

Above right are some links to blogs of families already building FD Cottages and the FDC web site. Click on the "FD Cottage - Photo Story" link to see the entire process of two people building a FD Cottage in pictures. Incredible!

Make a Living Making Art

Technically my husband Robert and I do make our living making art. He is a full-time freelance Art Director and I am a freelance illustrator / painter. But we are not working or living in our dream situation or in a comfortable working environment. Robert's office is in the corner of our bedroom. It's easier to crawl over the bed to access my dresser than to squeeze between Robert's desk chair and the foot-board. My painting studio is in what used to be a dining room. My space is better than Robert's, but still not ideal.

And so, we continue to work toward making the Art Barn a reality.

Ouch! updated bruise photo

Noel's bruise from her bike wreck in the woods.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

An intimidating work crew... You go boys!

Isaac, Tim and Tyler

First Camp Out and Injuries on our Land.

Noel and hatchet.Tim working hard.Isaac and flashlight.
Sophia and Uncle Bobby feeding fish.
Noel's bruise from bike crash in the woods.
Anna bleeding after thorn bush attack.

Expect something wonderful - then look for it.

I've had this sweet children's online Bible bookmarked on my computer for awhile now. The very funny commentary and illustrations are by Paul Dallgas - Frey. He has such a lovely light-hearted view of God's world. I recently clicked a couple of extra links to find an online journal about his life. Again, very funny stuff with unique insight - not to mention stories about his FIVE adopted children from South America. So I was reading through some of his funny stories, allowing my spirit to be encouraged along the way and "bam", I was hit by one of those revelation moments. I read a truth so simple - yet so profound... "Expect something wonderful... then look for it."

I was immediately brought back to my previous blog post and my comments about being vulnerable and the fear of falling on my face... when in reality I know God is in control. He will not let me fall on my face, (well actually He might - but He will also pick me up real fast) and in the end God's plan will prevail and we will have victory. Some incredible journey. A testimony to God's faithfulness. Success according to God's will.

So let me go on the record as not being afraid to fall on my face, but rather, as expecting something wonderful. (Here's an excerpt from Paul Dallgas - Frey's "Wonderful Things" journal entry...

"Why do I always expect the worst?

It really belies my profession as a Christian. What do I think, that God takes great delight in messing things up for his creatures, as if we are so many ants in an ant farm, and God is this mean spirited kid poking sticks inside, constantly collapsing our tunnels?

Is that how God wants us to experience life? Just one catastrophe after another? Is that what he had in mind when he created the world?

I don't think so.

And I as I thought about it, I asked myself this.

Instead of expecting the worst...

Why not expect something wonderful instead?

Expect something wonderful - and then look for it.

Because, the truth is, God is in charge here. He loves us. And this is a wonderful world he has made."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Dream Documentary...

I know my family does some crazy stuff, but I heard about this guy, Josh Golder, who made a documentery a few years ago called "True Guts" and he is now making a new film called "Dream". He lives in Boston, but he was in Louisville a few weeks ago to interview people with big dreams - to participate in his movie. I missed the local interview but I was curious so I went to his web site and found that you could submit your dream by email. I did it. I sent an email.

I told about our dream to build the "Art Barn" in the country, doing most of the work ourselves - with limited funds and no mortgage and... Oh my gosh! Josh Golder called me today. He wants to follow our dream for the documentary! (Along with 14 other people from the Louisville area.)

I don't know if I am excited about it or feeling really vulnerable and a little bit out of my mind. Every time we take a risk in life... there is that possibility for success and a possibility for failure. I guess I could end up falling on my face... on film!

I talked to my husband. We're going to participate. Yikes! Filming for the Louisville participants starts next Tuesday! I'm sure God will allow us to be a testimony for Him in this... even when the process is difficult. Maybe thats the whole point...

He shines... especially when the process is difficult.

In case you're curious, here's the web site for the documentary "Dream".

God is good.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Watch out for makeshift machete!

This is our friend Tyler helping clear the land.
Thanks Tyler!

First work day photos

Isaac, age 12
Sophia, age 3
Daddy, Noel and the Big Green Machine
Anna, age 10 and Sophia
A really embarrassing photo of me.

Work and Play

On Sunday, August 19th, we went out to the land to work and play. We had grandparents, uncles, cousins and friends there to celebrate and work with us. We went fishing, rode the four-wheeler and started clearing the land. The only power tool we brought along for thinning the forest, was a yard weed-eater (not much help). Mostly we began carrying dead trees and brush from the house site. Talk about clearing the land by hand! Nothing but sweat and muscle, yet we made amazing progress.

Hiccup... then Happiness!

The plan was to close on the land on Friday, August 10th, but somehow $2700 in mysterious fees showed up in the closing paper documents. Hmmm... no thanks! After emotional negotiations we got the unnecessary fees removed and a few days later, on August 15th, we closed on the land!

We now have our own little piece of the world.
Amazing and wonderful.

Thank you so much to my family who made this beginning possible. We are really in this adventure together!

Love and kisses.

Sunday, August 5, 2007


The driveway is a quarter mile to this point and continues on up the hill to the left for almost another quarter mile, to what will likely be our building site.

Insight and Wisdom

We've been doing a lot of research into what and how we might build. My dream has always been a gambrel style barn-like post and beam house-studio. In addition to investigating costs and building possibilities we are also talking to our friends and family, hoping to glean from their experiences and knowledge. My Uncle Chuck and his wife, Marianne, came out first and walked the land with us. Chuck's a surveyor, but more importantly he built his own house. Years ago he and Marianne dissembled an old log cabin and reassembled it with their own hands, on their land. It was so good to have them walk the land with us. We looked closely at the possible building site for our house. We discussed what trees can stay and what trees will be cleared. We discussed the placement of the septic tank and other details. Their visit was very helpful and enjoyable.

This week we are meeting with our dear friends Lonnie and Connie. They have experience building houses and other buildings - even restaurants. Lonnie has offered to share with us all he knows about building a house. He has even offered to share some building equipment with us - a back hoe / front loader - and help us clear for the footer. More importantly, Lonnie has offered to be there beside us with his tool-belt on as often as he can. Just knowing we have Lonnie and Connie's support in this adventure gives us confidence.

After I get my basic drawings for the house plans finished, we will sit down with my brother Richard and his wife. They recently finished building a lake house and did much of the work themselves, but more importantly, Richard is an architect. I expect his knowledge and insight will be incredibly helpful. I am so looking forward to sharing our ideas with them.

And so the "barn raising" begins. Good family and good friends. We are very thankful.


Friday, August 3, 2007

Where the deer darted...

Meeting the Land

Our first visit to the land was uneventful. It was a lovely sunny day. Robert and I walked the land with my brother Bobby, as we discussed investing in land together. But the whole thing still seemed completely out of reach.

Our second visit to the land was different. It was July 4th and we were celebrating with my parents, brother Bobby and our children. The conversation was casual. We mentioned the land. The next thing I knew we were all in a small caravan driving out to the country. Oddly enough, it started pouring down rain as we drove. Not a light gentle rain - an absolute down pour! I knew in my heart there was purpose in the rain, although I wasn't sure what it was. I thought the rain might cause us to abort the visit and perhaps abort the possibility. Not so. We all climbed out of our cars and somehow had enough umbrella's - except for the children who couldn't stand still long enough to consider an umbrella. The rain continued to pour.

Four of our five children, Sophia, Lily Anna, Isaac and even our oldest, Noel (21) spread out their arms and twirled in the rain. All of them together. Soaking in the warm rain, the greenness of the forest and the hope and possibility that floated in the air.

The children took off ahead of us toward the first hill that stretches down toward the pond and to everyones surprise and joy, they startled a family of deer. Two fawns darted from the woods just ahead of us and ran down the driveway and disappeared into the forest again. It was perfect.

Somehow the land was beautifully surreal - especially in the rain.

The Land

We've talked about buying land, moving out to the country and renovating a barn for many years. Our friends and family have heard our plans. They know our hearts. But I was still surprised when a friend, Erin, remembered specifically my desire for "land with a barn". She sent me an email that contained an ad from the Oldham Marketplace that said, "19.542 acres and a pole barn". Those few words hit the nail on the head. (This "pole barn" is actually a 1200 sq. ft. metal building with electricity, city water and a full bath - which my brother Bobby will renovate into his house. Its not exactly the kind of pole barn that Robert and I were looking for, but its perfect for my brother. So, our plans have changed from renovating an old barn to building a new one!)

I still didn't feel ready. Financially we've never really had enough money to buy the land. We've invested in so many other things, like a large family and an international adoption. We've sacrificed financially so that I could stay home with our children, and home-school them. In an attempt to follow the Lord's heart in all things we have made other financial sacrifices as well. And then there are the financial mistakes. There have been some big ones. And it seems that this is the area where we are slowest to learn.

None the less, when God is ready to fund a dream - He does it.

With incredible help and support from my parents and by investing together with my older brother Bobby, we were able to make an offer for the beautiful 20 acres on Dawkins Lane. We are presently waiting to close. I want to believe with all my heart that its real, but I am keeping the entire dream a safe distance from my heart. When we actually close on the land I will wrap my heart and mind and imagination around it.


Thursday, August 2, 2007

Possible Barn-House site

An adventure begins...

The house on Mile of Sunshine is on the market. We've shown it one time. Keeping a house clean and ready to show, when eight people live in it, can be a real challenge - a nightmare really. Especially when we rarely leave. The kids are here all day and even Robbie works from home. This is a house we actually LIVE in.

We had new flooring laid in the kitchen this week. We also cleaned the carpets and are making some minor repairs so that the house shows nicely. I'm glad that we did a lot of flower gardens and landscaping around the backyard pond this spring. It makes for lovely curb appeal.

Mostly, I hope the house sells quickly, but there is a part of me thats nervous about the sale. After all, when this place sells our adventure really begins! We are a family of seven with no where to live while we build. Well, its all part of the adventure.

I do have peace. God is good. We'll keep our eyes on Him and this story will unfold.

Its going to be a good one.