Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Acres of Hope

Acres of Hope is our local Canadian Foodgrains Bank growing project. Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) is a federally incorporated, nonprofit corporation registered as a charitable agency. Since 1983, the Canadian Foodgrains Bank membership has provided over 1.1 million tonnes of food assistance to people who are hungry in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Eastern Europe. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) provides an annual 4:1 matching contribution to a maximum of $25 million. There are over 200 growing projects in Canada and each growing project has a group of between 10 - 100 volunteers as well as a number of local businesses. Our own community growing project involves a group of people made up of farmers, churches and local businesses who meet together to farm a local 200 acre field. Once harvested, the money from the sale of the grain is donated to CFGB for use in food aid and development projects. (CFGB information was taken from their website http://www.foodgrainsbank.ca/)

This year the field for our project was so wet that for the first time in the project's 14 year history the field went unseeded. The project does qualify for the unseeded acres compensation program so there will still be a donation forwarded to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank but our kids and nephews and niece decided to do something more. For the last couple of summers the kids have been selling produce from our gardens on our farmyard to raise funds for Acres of Hope. This usually results in us and our hired men buying the produce considering no signs are up for advertising and we don't get much traffic on and off our yard! This year, though, Ron's mom decided it would be a great project with the grandkids to grow corn to sell in town to raise money for Acres of Hope. The corn idea grew a bit to include baking by the kids, Grandma, as well as a few donations by some women in the community. Yesterday was harvest day and it took the kids and Grandma, with the help of my sister-in-law and me, less than an hour to pick the five rows of corn that had been designated for Acres of Hope. We arrived at the Credit Union parking lot, set up and started selling at 9:30. By 10:15 all the baking was sold and there were a few dozen cobs of corn left. When the sale ended at 11:30 there were 1 - 2 dozen cobs left, which we gave to a local community group. We have been overwhelmed by the support from our community and raised over $600 just in sales and another $1200 in donations above product sales!!

Grandma and the grandkids before the harvest

Showing off one of the many crates full of corn

Pouring the fudge into the pan. Nathan and Larissa made three desserts all by themselves!

The kids are thrilled with the results from their efforts and are looking forward to doing it all again next year, with a few plans to make it bigger!

Stairs, Siding and the Drywalling Continues...

Can you guess by the title of the post what is happening at the house??!! The stairs were installed last week before we headed to my parents' place for the week so Bethany got to go down into her beloved basement! She wanted Ron to help her down the stairs the first time, they're tricky when you haven't grown up in a house with stairs. She then proceeded to go up and down the stairs on her own the rest of the time we spent in the house that morning! She did dance on the floor a bit but was mainly fascinated by the fact that we now had stairs.

Bethany giving her "thumbs up" approval of the new stairs

The siding has been started on as well. It is beautiful, I love it! I can hardly wait until it's all finished and our house looks like it's nearing completion from the outside. We are having stonework done on the front of the house but that probably won't happen until spring so it won't be completely finished on the outside for a while. I'm guessing it won't look completely finished until the landscaping is done so we have a few years yet to get to that stage. I need to slow my brain down or I will get overwhelmed by what all needs to happen in the next couple of years!

They started the siding on the back of the house. There will eventually be a deck off the garden doors (and a hot tub off the deck!!).

The drywalling process is continuing. They are now mudding and taping. The drywallers had initially thought they'd be done by now and the painting would have started this week but I'm guessing they got a bit more than they bargained for with our ceilings and many corners. I hope the painting can start next week but that's just my own hope and not based on anything I've been told. I tried to prepare myself for how slow the mudding and taping process is but I got excited by the initial timeline we were given so I'm having a hard time re-pacing myself.

This week is obviously siding and mudding & taping, next week will hopefully see the finishing of those projects plus our plumber coming in to install the furnace and whatever other work he can do now that the basement floor and stairs are in. We are just waiting to hear from the electrician as to when he can come do the wiring in the basement and then the drywallers can move down there!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Hearing and Seeing and Growing

Today Nathan had an appointment with his ENT. This was a routine check on his ears as he had tubes put in back in 2006 and one of them caused a hole in his eardrum. We were told it was one of the risks of ear tubes but we decided it was worth the small risk considering we may be dealing with multiple ear infections and more antibiotics than anyone needs to be on in a lifetime! The hole has caused some hearing loss but mainly it's been a nuisance by needing to have earplugs everytime he goes near water. The earplugs are to prevent the water from draining into his ear, sitting there and then possibly becoming infected or causing more hearing loss. In the five or so years that he's had to wear earplugs he's been bothered by water in his ears maybe three times, and it's never been infected so we've been very fortunate with that. When the hole formed in Nathan's eardrum (he was 3 1/2) we were told that if it didn't heal on it's own by the time he was seven surgery would be required to fix it. In the last nine months we've been visiting the ENT regularly and Nathan's had several hearing tests to keep an eye on things. The last two hearing tests (last December and last April) have shown decreases in his hearing and the hole was still in his eardrum this past May when we had our last appointment. There was not a hearing test scheduled previous to this appointment so we didn't know where his hearing was at, no changes had been noticed at home (listening is a different story!!;D), so we were coming into this appointment unsure of the direction it might take. The ENT looked in Nathan's right ear (the one with the hole), then looked in his left ear and then back into the right one. He said he couldn't see a hole but he wanted to clean out the wax and use a different instrument just to be sure. He then proceeded to repeat the steps with the new instrument (right, left, then right again) and said the hole had completely disappeared! All he saw in both ears were two whole and healthy eardrums! We were all shocked! Nathan & I were also amazed and unsure of what to do. The ENT said there was no need for ear plugs for showers, baths, swimming, running through the sprinkler or any other water activity any more. We are going swimming tomorrow and Nathan is nervous about not using an ear plug. He may wear one just to feel a bit more at ease but also knows that if it falls out we don't need to search for it or panic that water may have gotten in his ear. We are praising God for his goodness and miraculous healing! I realize it's a small hole but it feels like a big deal in our family. I now need to schedule a hearing test for November and we will see the ENT again in December.

You may wonder about the "seeing and growing" part of the title of this post considering I've focused on the "hearing" portion so far. Nathan got to see a lot today in the ENT waiting room as he got frustrated while we waited an extra 40 minutes past our appointment time. There was a 3 year old boy who sounded like Donald Duck when he spoke. At first we thought he was an entertaining little boy until we saw he had two hearing aids and heard his mom talk to someone else in the waiting room about how his vocal chords weren't attached when he was born and how the doctor tried to attach them and would probably need to repeat the surgery. She was also talking about all of the speech therapy and physical therapy her son has to go through. We also saw another boy with autism who couldn't speak, didn't enjoy his hearing test, had two hearing aids and couldn't communicate exactly how he felt. Nathan later said to me, "Mom, I'm not really a big deal. It was okay that the doctor was late." Growing.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Closed In

The house is starting to feel closed in now, the drywalling started Monday. One day early in the week we walked into the house and Nathan was amazed at how closed in and small the house felt now that he couldn't see all the way through from the mudroom to his room!

The dining room windows

I realized I didn't have great pictures of the drywalling process. Larissa had desperately wanted to take pictures so these are from her perspective.

The kids like to play on the scaffolding so much that Bethany has asked for some for her birthday!

The basement floor was poured this week!! Bethany was thrilled and is eagerly anticipating the raising of the stairs so she can run up and down them and dance on the basement floor. Now we can get the electrical and venting finished in the basement and a few walls roughed in. I'm not sure when that will all happen but I'm looking forward to the basement progress!

I also chose colours for our walls this week. I walked through the house with our painter, who is also an interior decorator, and in less than two hours had the house all coloured. Ron was busy so couldn't be part of the process, which is good, I'm pretty sure it went faster this way!!

The plan for this week is to start mudding and installing the basement stairs. We could guess on a few other things that may happen this week but it turns out that we're not very good at that game!

Birthday Boy & Sunday Fun

Friday was Nathan's birthday. It's hard to believe that nine years ago we had this babe that we didn't know what to do with once we left the comfort of having 24 hour care in the hospital. We still don't know what to do some days but nine is definitely easier than baby!! For those who may not know, Nathan was born with a cleft lip and palate so we've had some challenges along the way but he's happy and healthy and a great kid. He's one of those boys who loves to farm, loves going to school, bugs his sisters (a little too much at times), thinks of others, has a great sense of humour and at least once a day thinks of a practical joke he can pull. He doesn't pull them but he sure laughs while he's thinking of it! This year he requested a John Deere emblem cake. I am not an artist nor am I very creative but with some ideas from my cousin and a mini tutorial on youtube I attempted the cake. It's not too shabby for a first-time frozen buttercream transfer but I now know what I would change because I'm sure there will be a next time!

Isn't he handsome? Okay, so I'm a bit biased!

Nathan didn't get to spend any time in the field on his birthday, which is rare for an August birthday, but he did get his fill (almost) yesterday! He rode in the combine for 6 hours with his grandpa, had supper in the field and ran the auger tractor for Ron who had been trucking.

We've had a pretty busy week and not much time spent together as a family so this evening we decided to head to the lake, which is four miles from our house. Normally at this time of year the lake is very green with algae that you can't see your toes at the shoreline but with all the flooding that happened this spring the water has been running at a good pace over the dam, which seems to be keeping the water clearer this year. Here are a few pictures I took this evening.

The kids racing into the water!

Larissa needed to try standing on her "surfboard"

In this picture you can see how high the water had been this spring.

This week the kids and I are off to my parents' place to visit friends and to celebrate my nephew's and Nathan's birthdays. Ron's going to be busy with harvest so now is a good time to go, although Nathan would disagree!

Friday, 12 August 2011

12 Days Later...

It's been almost two weeks since I've last updated so you would think there would be a ton of things to write about but amazingly there's not too much. That's not to say that the guys haven't worked hard, they've just been working on bigger jobs. The drywallers haven't started yet, we're hoping they come on Monday but I'm not holding my breath. We thought they were starting over a week ago but they've been delayed at the job they are working on now.

The basement is being worked on! The guys dug out the gravel that had been down there and literally pitched it out the window so crushed rock could be hauled down there instead. Apparenlty crushed rock will compact better than wet clay and gravel. Those poor guys sure earned their keep working on that job. The rock was hauled to the yard in an end-dump dump truck instead of a cement truck with a chute so that meant the guys had to shovel the rock into the basement through the windows and then shovel into a wheelbarrow and haul it throughout the basement. I'm so glad I was not on that crew!! The garage floor is done, house wrap is all on and the veranda floor is built, which the kids are loving. According to Larissa it now feels like a house being able to walk out the front door and play on the veranda!

Here are a few "before & after" pictures:

The basement floor before the crushed rock. You can see how wet the clay and gravel were with the puddle in the floor and the goop dripping down the wall. Yuck!

The basement floor after the crushed rock. We weren't around when the crushed rock was being done so the after picture has the styrofoam over the floor.

The garage floor ready for cement.

The garage floor is poured and being used as a garage already, storing everything except the vehicles!

The shovels that I'm sure the guys are hoping not to use for a long time after the basement job!

The veranda piles. Ron says we can unload the snowmobile on the veranda with those piles. I say otherwise!!

The veranda floor. There will be temporary stairs built for this fall because of all the settling that will happen this coming winter and spring and the permanent set should be built next summer.

This coming week should hopefully see the drywallers coming to "fill in the walls" as Bethany would say. I am meeting with the painter this coming week as well to pick colours, that's the most nervewracking part for me! Thankfully the painter is also an interior designer from the area here so I should be okay. ;) The pipes are being laid in the basement for infloor heat this week as well and maybe the rebar and cement following soon after that.

We have a somewhat relaxing weekend ahead considering it's August and we farm, hopefully you get to enjoy some relaxing time outside too!!

Hmmm, It's Been A While...

Sorry I haven't been here for a while, I just haven't had time to post! Nathan and Larissa were at bible camp last week for 5 days leaving just Bethany at home with us. You would think it would be quieter and a slower pace but we were busy the entire time. The older two LOVED camp and can hardly wait to go back next year. Larissa had 12 campers (including her) and 3 cabin leaders in her cabin and she knew 9 of the campers in her cabin. I knew she was in good hands when she barely looked up when we said we were leaving! Before we got to camp we didn't know any of the other boys that were going to be there but when we were registering the kids one of Nathan's buddies surprised him and ran up to him to happily announce that they were going to be in the same cabin. What an answer to prayer! It turns out that the kids didn't do very much with the kids in their cabins throughout the day with the skills and mealtime seating arrangements, but it was nice to know that there was someone familiar in their cabins while they were falling asleep.

Last week Friday we combined 160 acres of winter wheat on light land and had the first supper in the field for the season. Bethany was thrilled to have a combine ride. She'll be riding in the combine a lot this fall while the other two are at school. Ron also swathed 240 or so acres of canola and he's been busy dessicating (sp?) peas and wheat and spraying the soy beans for aphids.

The last few days the kids were camping with my parents while I helped my sister and her family move into their new house. She and my BIL have two boys, ages 3 and 7 months, so it was great spending time with them and listening to the 3 year old pound away on his drums. He's pretty good, I sometimes thought it was his dad goofing around on the drums with him but nope, it was all my nephew! Back at the campground my parents were kept busy biking, swimming, critter dipping, golfing, playing Barbies...I think you get the picture!

I didn't have my camera along so I don't have pictures for this post, sorry! But that's just a few of the things that have kept us busy the last couple of weeks. Now to do the house post....

Monday, 1 August 2011

Moving Along

Last week I was wondering if there would ever be a slow week at the house and this was the week! There wasn't a ton of activity but the whole main floor is insulated and the drywallers should be starting this week. The main floor is coming along nicely but the basement is still wet. The weeping tile is doing it's job, however, we don't have a sump pit so it's staying wet down there. Hopefully that can be installed soon and we can dry out that basement!

I had realized that I keep posting pictures of the front of the house but there's nothing of the back side. It may not be as interesting but thought it was still worth a post!

From left to right: garage, our room, great room and Nathan's room

The other angle. I'm not looking forward to landscaping around the cistern and septic tank. If anyone has any ideas please let me know what they are!!

The dormer windows were installed this week. Not sure if this meets workplace safety regulations but the homemade trackhoe lift sure did the trick!

Not quite sure what is all scheduled to happen at the house this week other than drywalling. Ron is speculating the garage floor will be prepped and poured this week but we're not sure so you'll need to check back next week!