Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Renovations Part 4: Landscaping

Work begins...better than TV!
At the back of our house there is a lovely covered area...it would be a deck if there was a wood floor. It could be a patio. We call it "The Green Room" because it is covered in green corrugated fibre glass and green shade cloth and as such it has a rather green glow about it.

But our green room had a decidedly brown floor. No grass was growing there, and it appeared that grass would struggle to grow. When it was dry...it was dusty. And when it was wet...it was muddy. And dear little Skipper just loved to go outside and play in the dirt and if ever the door opened was outside in a flash and off to eat as much of it as he could manage before he was caught.

After much debate, and talking to three different landscapers...we decided to pave. We also decided to have the retaining wall redone at the same time since it was looking shabby and made of wood (and we clearly don't want to attract termites any more than necessary).

So our green room is now paved in red pavers the colour of the old red bricks that were used to do that latest addition to the 130 year old house. We have grassed the areas around that. We pulled back a lot of dirt from in front of the retaining wall to make our slope a little more gentle and used the dirt to help create a contour bank to redirect water that we found coming off the paddocks in huge downpours. We also added two drains to our paved area to help with getting rid of water in those big downpours.

My dirty, hard workers!
Simple is good! I love the space we have created with all that green grass (it will be all grass once we have finished with it!).

It's been a very dusty four weeks. This morning the grass arrived...and our little workers laid 100m2 of grass. It looks fantastic. We are so glad this is now done.

Busy Takes On New Meaning

Electrician, landscaper, and builder...on the day the Boarder
Mail arrived to take photos
Lent...the 40 days before Easter (not including Sundays) where as Christians we focus our thinking on repentance. For a pastor's family, Lent rivals Advent (the 4 Sundays before Christmas Day) for the busiest time of the year.

This is normal for us. So generally during Lent (and Advent) I try to keep things as simple as possible in the home. We reduce our extracurricular activities to the absolute minimum so that we can allow for the extra events that happen in this time.

Somehow I forgot about all that this year. So how has Lent been busy for us? Let's see:

  • I finalised our registration for homeschooling in NSW (currently considered the most difficult state in Australia to register...although I would dispute just how difficult it is)
  • Our landscaping started at the beginning of Lent...and took all four weeks to finish. Dust...
  • The builder came to fix the termite damage...MORE dust.
    • On the day our landscaping and building began the kids and I took part in an interview for our local paper about homeschooling (flick through the photos, there's some great ones of the kids).
    The Man enjoyed taking photos of the photographer who
    came from the Boarder Mail.
    • The electrician came to make safe and fix up some electrical issues in the house.
    • My laundry was built  (I think this was my favourite thing!)
    • We laid out 100m2 of turf.
    • For three weeks our phone and internet weren't working. It's only just now back to normal. 
    And at the beginning of Lent we discovered that Christian's mother is very unwell in Germany. So we have been praying and planning about his travelling to Germany to help assess her care. Tiger is going to accompany him, which is both exciting and nerve wracking. We look forward to reading Tiger's blog posts whilst he is away.

    Monday, March 30, 2015

    Renovations Part 3: Termite Damage

    When we bought Stoneleigh we had the usual building and pest inspections. This turned out to be a great thing, because we discovered termite damage in the wall between the old part of the house and the latest addition to the house...which is a good thing because everyone needs a good reminding to have pest inspections on a yearly basis...and this was ours.

    It took quite some time to get a reasonable quote to fix the damage, but we eventually found one. It took a week to fix. And since there was a lot of dust we decided that the kids could sleep on the verandah for that time. They LOVED it! It was loads of fun, the weather remained just right for this kind of activity and it really was like camping in your own bed. I have a funny feeling that this might become a bit of an annual event!

    As you can see from the photos, some of the termite damage was quite severe. The top hardwood lintel that was above a window before renovations was completely eaten through. The builder could literally put his fingers through it. It was paper thin. Considering these were load bearing walls, it was a wonderful blessing that we didn't have any disaster on our hands.

    Saturday, March 28, 2015

    Renovations: Part 2...The Laundry

    When we arrived, the laundry renovations had been started by the previous owner, but there had been a dramatic halt in all renovations so it was unfinished. A bench lined one wall and under the window. and two Bunnings kit cupboards were up on another wall. The floors were just the concrete slab. Most notably, I had a sink in the corner of the laundry...with a bench in front of it so access was leaning over a bench to get to it. It was awkward.
    At Christmas time I discovered what Bradley did for a living after he mentioned that he had spent the afternoon whipping up the manger scene for one of our major Christmas services. So we had him round for dinner and dreamed up a fantastic laundry. This new laundry has eight deep drawers so that each person has a drawer for their clean clothes as they are folded up. It has a bench down just one wall but cupboards are up to the ceiling, and covering three of the walls in the room. I don't think I could have added anything more into this room. 

    Happy?? VERY! Bradley has worked so hard...best working tradie by far! And the happiest disposition!

    Sunday, March 8, 2015

    Best Concert Ever!

    We love Colin Buchanan's music!
    The Man and Tank on stage.

    It started for me years ago (1999) when I saw Colin play on the Today Show for his "Edge of The Kimberley" Album when he won the Golden Guitar (Australia's top country music award). Brilliant music...and very Australian.

    Tiger and Princess helping out for The Mummy Song.
    Then I saw his kids music at Koorong. I started using his music in my teaching at school.

    So my kids have been brought up on Colin. I've bought pretty much every album. I love his country stuff and his kids praise stuff, and his adult christian music is fantastic too. His christian music is not just fluff, and it's all great theology...more than that it's deep theology. My kids are singing stuff that in years to come when it comes to their mind (or to mine) they will continue to have "Aha" moments.

    We've been to two concerts indoors...they were great.

    Joybug thought he was just great!
    But this concert was outdoors. Colin was on the back of a semi trailer, the kids had plenty of grass to dance around on and more than that our church was organising it. So...PK perks (PK is short for Pastor's Kid)!!! All of our kids (except Joybug and Skipper) got up on stage to help at different parts of the concert. And Daddy got up at the end to do a quick thank you and to wind up the concert (Colin said he did a great job tying it in and keeping it short).

    We all lined up and got Colin to sign our CD's, and Tiger had his cap signed. And of course there were photos. We had so much fun!!