Tuesday, January 12, 2016

# 562 - The Perfectly Imperfect Life

Living on our acreage for 2 1/2 years, in an RV, as we've gone through the complicated process of building a home in a rural area, has been unbelievable to me.

Time has passed by loudly, quietly, slowly, quickly, painfully, and blissfully. Lots of adverbs describe the way time has felt as it passed with us tucked into the Big Thicket forest.

Since we've lived here, so much has happened in our family. Our oldest daughter, Heather, gave birth to our first grandchild, Coraline.

Me kissing my firstborn as she kisses her own firstborn.
This photo was not planned, it was just captured.

Coraline and her natural "Mohawk."

Nana and Pappy at Coraline's private 2nd birthday party.

Our oldest daughter gave birth to our first grandson, Hank.

That belly held a baby that was over 9 lbs and delivered naturally at
a birthing center by stress-inducing child.

Hank seemed to have been born with a smile.

Our son-in-law, Henry, is about 6'5" tall, and it
appears our grandson will be a carbon
copy of his father. They better prepare for
the grocery bills to come!

Yes, Heather and Henry have been busy growing their awesome family.

Our youngest daughter, Stefie, graduated with her bachelor's degree.

And then she graduated with her Master's degree just last month, with honors.

Heather, Coraline, Stefie, Hank and Henry.

Stefie in her Master's cap and gown with honors

Since living out here, my dad wrecked his first Mustang by hitting a deer, then he got another Mustang to replace the first...not because of the wreck, but because he didn't want a standard transmission any longer.

My dad also kicked his latest round with cancer since we moved here...a very serious battle that surprised many, including his oncologist.

There was a time of devastation shortly after moving to our acreage. My husband's nephew, our daughters' cousin they grew up with, so closely, was murdered in San Antonio.

Stefie, Chris and Heather - sharing their childhood days.

Chris's murderer was finally coming up for his murder trial that had been delayed far too many times and his ploys were up...the case against him was solid as there was a witness to the stabbing and the crazy creep also confessed, but the criminal system in any "big city" is complicated and slow. The murderer committed suicide the week of trial, and he was buried on Christmas Day. His suicide offered no comfort for all of us who adored Chris. The confusion was powerful. Focusing on our blessings has been the only thing to pull us through this tragedy.

Babbette - Chris's mom as we enjoyed lunch
this week in Livingston.

This past week I had lunch in town with Chris's mom. Even though she has long been divorced from my brother-in-law for many years, she always played a huge part in our lives and in that of our children because she went the extra mile, literally, for us to spend more time with Chris as he was growing up. She never made excuses to prevent him from being with us because she knew Chris was very close to his cousins. I'll always love her for loving her son so much that she never tried to prevent him from being with us simply because of an unfortunate divorce. To this day, Chris would be so happy to know we're loving his mom and that she loves us, as he loved her. We are all a much needed comfort to each other.

Chris had just turned 22 years old when he was murdered. Every time I hear "Only the Good Die Young" by Billy Joel, I have another young one to ponder.

Babbette and Chris

Chris spent much of his childhood on our acreage, running through the woods, having a blast being a child. On some days, it seems I can almost see him weaving in between the trees, laughing as if a riot of fun resided inside of him. There was no doubt that, for us, being on the acreage was a comfort during the hard times of raw mourning. We'll never stop missing him.

So much has happened since we've moved to the country.

Sgt. Dave has now spent over 25 years in law enforcement. He's actually spent nearly 30 years of service between the military and Sheriff's Office, but he's now got his eye set on retirement. Over the past 2 1/2 years, he's been driving nearly 90 miles one-way, every day, to commute to his job, just so he can savor his country address.

To him, the commute is worth it because he gets out of the chaos that belongs to Houston, but we still LOVE's a unique, wonderful city full of awesome people.

Every time he drives up to his acreage, he feels as if he's on vacation. Retirement will definitely be another new phase of life for us. We have to prepare so we don't starve! I'll be writing about that journey as well.

Another beautiful part of this time in life has been the rather recent day that Brice received his badge. Brice is the love of Stefie's life, and we know he will be our future son-in-law. Sgt. Dave was selected by Brice to be his mentor and to pin his badge on him.

I cannot express how proud we are of Brice...and of Sgt. Dave.

Before Brice set out for his first night on patrol, our family ambushed him with a circle of prayers for that night and for his entire career. He's a wonderful man; we're proud to call him one of our own. Brice and Stefie are enjoying the results of their hard work, dedication and support of each other.

Stefie with Brice on the first day he wore a full uniform
with a badge.
During our time here in the country, I spent nearly an entire year thinking I was 47, but I was actually 46. Now I am really 47 or am I now 48? No, I am 47, again, for the second year in a row.

Other than a BB gun, I went from never having shot a gun, outside of a simulator, to shooting live targets with a .22 rifle and discovering that I'm a natural. No kidding.

Before moving to the country, I couldn't imagine the true power and strength of a tractor, but now we own a John Deere and I can operate it!

We moved here after selling our house in the Greater Houston area and set up life on our acreage with an RV so we could determine where we wanted to build our country home. We went from the city-suburbs lifestyle of concrete and landscaped yards...

We started with two dogs with us here in the country and after our Australian Shepherd found two tiny puppies in the forest, we ended up providing one of them a permanent home. That means, we have a wonderful "Gracie" to join Howdy and the RV with us.


Maybe the RV is more of a glorified kennel than a temporary home for us two crazy country-loving weirdos. Regardless, Gracie has grown to be a wonderful dog who guards the chickens and doesn't let anyone drive up onto our land without her making a big deal about it. We love her.

Sgt. Dave and I will be celebrating our next anniversary this coming summer. It will be our 30th wedding anniversary.

Somehow, it doesn't seem possible that I've been married this long. It seems logical that Sgt. Dave has been married that long, but not mmmwwwaahhh.

Time can be brutal and kind. However, it is up to us to focus as much as we can upon the blessings of life and to enjoy the joy filled days that are a gift. We are savoring, indeed.

# 561 - Family: The Reason for Everything

Just a little of my family over the past couple of months...

Sgt. Dave and Coraline, our grand-daughter.

My oldest daughter Heather carrying her 2nd baby, Hank,
as she crosses the creek with Liyla.

My niece Shaye as she crosses the creek with Howdy.

My mother-in-law Helen, here she is taking her turn to cross as
Gracie decides to perfectly jump the creek.

Against the sink is Gerald, our old friend, and up close is Matthew,
our nephew whom I love so much.

Here is Hank, my grandson, and Matthew,
my Nephew. Love these Guys!

Me, my dad, Heather my daughter, Hank and Sgt. Dave.

Sgt. Dave, my dad, Henry and Hank, Stefie my youngest daughter
after graduating with her Master's Degree and our grand-daughter Coraline.

Sgt. Dave, Stefie and me at our daughter's graduation from
Texas State with her Master's Degree. She's 25 years old.

Sgt. Dave with our grandson Hank.

Sgt. Dave with our grand-daughter Coraline as my dad sits behind them.

Sgt. Dave, me (Lana), our oldest Heather, my father-in-law Richard,
our youngest daughter Stefie and my mother-in-law Helen for our
Christmas photo this year, 2015.

And here is our own family clan...Heather, Sgt. Dave, Henry and Hank,
Me (Lana), Stefie and Brice who is holding Coraline.

Me and my sweetheart on New Year's Eve, waiting for 2016.

Sgt. Dave wearing one of his Christmas gifts.
This is a start...more to come as well as more updates on the construction of the country house.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

# 560 - Country Home Construction - We Need Electricity!

The house is coming along nicely. Each step is time-consuming, challenging, expensive and takes massive energy. Sgt. Dave is fantastic. About two weeks ago, his parents came into town and helped him finish the electrical work...for the kitchen, laundry room and with the installation of the breaker box.

We were thrilled after the county electrical inspector gave us the go-ahead after approving all wiring and the breaker box as being up to code or exceeding it, in mid-December.

Yet, here we are January 7, 2016 and the electric company still has not connected our electricity to the new house. They are having to install a new transformer close to the house and run the line to our new meter. They've already flagged the route and approved everything.

 We are trying to be patient, but weeks are passing by and still NO ELECTRICITY. Yes, the holidays created an added delay, then bad weather days created issues, but each day passes and the lack of electrical connection slows things down. This past Monday morning, the electric construction crew did receive the order to connect. That means we are at the LAST phase for electrical connection, but the days seem to drag by as we keep waiting to see if THIS DAY is THE day we will get POWER!


The below pics are some samples of paint that I've tested. The trim will be white. The porch decking will be kept natural, yet preserved with a coating that cost an arm and a leg. We settled upon a green color that is actually approved by the Historical Preservation Committee.

As you can see above, Sherwin Williams gives a larger sized sample for around $3.50, but Valspar gives a much smaller sample...less paint that essentially costs more in relation to quantity. However, Valspar has always worked well for it, and it won again.

The sample color does not have any primer in it...the sample is for color only, not for cover-up purposes. The actual paint that we purchased does have primer in it.

The highlighter blue was Sgt. Dave's idea. It didn't work out, as you can see. The grey is a shade I could enjoy, but during the afternoon hours the color was extremely dark.

Sgt. Dave enjoying his high deck and taking a break.

I am also working toward pouring a waterproofed showerpan instead of buying one for hundreds of dollars. The most affordable and shower pan is acrylic, yet still around $500. and will likely require concrete floating beneath the pan to stabilize it.

To buy a showerpan that is tile-ready takes big bucks. For our size shower, tile-ready pans run about $1,200. EACH. An acrylic base cannot be tiled, but is less expensive. Since we have two identical sized showers in the house, two acrylic shower pans would cost us approximately $1,000. and we would still probably have to float the area beneath the pan, but we'd not be able to tile these shower bases.

We had a contractor come to the house to discuss creating a drain pan that can be tiled, essentially by creating a slight drain slope through a concrete base, then coating the area with RedGuard, which water-proofs the floor and walls about 4-5 feet up, but this produce does allow for direct tile placement. I believe it takes about three coats to build a solid water-proof coat for the shower areas and/or for any tub surround walls you would like water-proofed.

Custom Building Products RedGard 1 Gal. Waterproofing and Crack Prevention Membrane

The guy was all over in his pricing and is so busy that it seemed a difficulty for him to get to our job site. So, I am researching how to build a shower curb and how to create a shower "bowl" slope toward the center drain we've already plumbed for drainage and I'm researching how to waterproof the shower with RedGuard.

Our upstairs bathroom. This is an all-in-one tub and shower, But
we have two other bathrooms with custom showers that need to be
prepped for tiling.

Today's acrylic is great, but it's not my favorite choice and the RedGuard system takes a little work, but the results are better looking and there is no pan to crack. I had an acrylic base in my last house, and I'd prefer a tiled shower floor this time around. I/m learning it is difficult to photograph the bathroom space, but I will try. I just got a new camera for Christmas from Sgt. Dave, so I will have loads of fun trying to get some shots to share with all of you.

Here is a post about doing this poured showerpan system -

I will be sure to make postings during our own process. I really want one of the shower floors to be river pebbles since the theme of that bathroom is "nature." We will be sealing the stone floors and walls, but research in that area continues as well.

Our house this week...all the leaves are nature's carpet that
help keep the mud at bay
We have SO MUCH to do. I am praying that we will have electricity tomorrow so I can be at the house more often and have the ability to do much more than what is relegated by an extension cord.

And rain, I love you rain and we are grateful, but the excessive mud is no longer fun.


I am so ready to move into our home and get out of this RV! Each time I think we are close, then something happens to cause a delay, then

Home Sweet Home is almost ours to enjoy on a daily basis.