I know lots of people are waiting for before-and-after photos of the Dome I moved into.....and they're me.  I'm finally off work for the summer and can devote more than 5 minutes a day to renos.  So the before-and-after shots ARE coming.  I promise.  I've already done lots around here and I've got a few more major things to finish up.

In the mean was time for a little bit of a personal before-and-after makeover.

This is me - before.  My hair grows like CRAZY....and last year I made a "huge" change and finally cut bangs but this time it was time for a real change.

After:  Shorty-short-short.  I love it.  I feel like this might be my best weight-loss plan ever.  Looking forward to no time spent in the bathroom doing my hair, no headaches from ponytails, and hats!

THANK YOU so much to Elisa Griffin-Boily at Serenity Spa (which just happens to be a 2 minute walk from my house!) She's amazing!!!!

What we walked into....

We tackled a few more renovations in this move than we'd originally intended too....and so the before/after pics of that are going to be a little while yet.  But for those of you who are just too curious about what the Dome house looked like when we walked into it (pre-renovations), here are the original photos taken from the real estate site.

Warning:  50 shades of brown ahead:

This is what it looked like when we went to see it.  Easy to see why one of the house nicknames in this area is "the Igloo House."  Other nicknames also include:  "The beehive," "The Franklin House (because it looks like a turtle shell)," and "The Hobbit House."

Same view - but in summer.  I almost can't believe it ever will be summer again so this might be the only shot I'll ever have like this.

 The back of the house.  This large window is directly into the kitchen and lets enough light in this house to bring sun to the whole upstairs!

 The garage.  A huge selling feature for me even though, as I write this, the garage is completely full of boxes of stuff.  Not sure how so much stuff gets accumulated  but in the spirit of purging, I asked our movers to put all boxes labeled "basement rec room" into the garage so that most of it will be on a garage sale and not back in my basement.

The kitchen.  This long bank of cabinets runs almost exactly across the center of the circle which is the house shape (12-sided actually but round enough).  Lots of cabinets.  One thing you can't see is that they've run the exhaust from the range directly out through (yes, through) all of the upper cabinets from the range all the way to the window. the after pictures you'll see in a week or so, you'll notice that we've built in something above the cabinets to reclaim that space for food and dishes. 

Did I mention everything is a shade of brown?  Very cabin-esque.

More brown - the large entrance closet, the shiny floor which reflects the sunlight from the big window into the whole house

 There's the big window.  

 Main floor 2-pc bathroom and laundry.

 Small living room.  It's really more of a sitting room.  I don't think we'll even have a tv up here....just a place to sit and hang out.  Interestingly enough, everytime I think about my dream house and how I would design it, I always put a place IN my kitchen with a couch or a couple of cozy chairs for people to sit in while meals are being made.  This is, essentially that set up.

 Basement "bedroom" which will be getting a window.

 Basement rec room - really a great size for us even with the intentions of building one more bedroom down here.  We're pretty happy with this and because it was all recently re-done, we're not doing a whole lot of renovation down here.  

 Basement bathroom....small but easily enough for my teens.  Shower is around the back of the door.

 View from the front door area:  to the right, that sitting room and to the left, stairs to the loft. This is a good photo of the ceiling construction.  Giant triangles, manufactured at Hanover Doors, brought to the property and assembled on site to my understanding.  It's really a fascinating house.  The big puzzle for one of my math-oriented kids is how/why some of the connections are six-sided and some are five-sided.  It keeps him up at night staring at his own ceiling.

 Masterbath/ensuite upstairs in the loft.  Yes, those are swinging saloon doors on there.  Look now because those were one of the first things to come down in the renovations (especially because this is the only bathtub in the house and there'll need to be a bit more privacy up here). A very large closet in here though - I'm excited about that.  Big enough, I think for all of my clothes, including my dresser.

 Another view of the masterbath....coming in from the door.  Did I mention everything in this house is (was) brown?  Chocolate brown toilet, sink and jetted tub.  

Upstairs loft area.  Can't legally be called a bedroom by real estate standards because there's no window.  There was a skylight but it leaked apparently (as they tend to do) so it was taken out long ago.  This room will have to serve as my bedroom and craft room as well for a few years while my kids are all still living at home but it's easily big enough to do so.  This picture is a bit deceiving as well in that the wall at the back is completely straight up and down - not angled as it appears. 

Well...I may have bitten off more than I can chew in the renovation department so those "after" pictures, like I said, will have to wait a bit....but for those of you who were anxious to see what we've gotten ourselves into....there you go. 

House prep: physical and spiritual

Move in day is tomorrow and I've been spending the last week neck-deep in renovations. As soon as we're in and the dust has settled, I'll have some before-and-after shots for you.

Today, just some introspection. I know my life (the bad parts) barely begins to compare with being taken captive but I am drawn over and over to this page as I think of where God has brought us. 

I feel like I'm dreaming sometimes. And I can't help but smile (and yes, sometimes sing) when I read, think, or say the words:  "The Lord has done great things for us."

(Interesting side note: the reason this passage in my Bible is slightly pink is because the back page has highlighted the first verse from Psalm 127...."unless The Lord builds the house, it's builders labour in vain...")

One of my lifesaver friends whom I love and respect on so many levels had this brilliant idea to "hide" a verse in my new house as I was renovating. Not hide in fear, so that no one ever sees it but hide it so it is a part of the house and I'll think if it often. So, before the carpets go in on the stairwell up to my room....I've Sharpied a verse on the stairs that has been our verse for several years now....Habakkuk 1:5

“Look at the nations and watch
    and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
    that you would not believe, 
    even if you were told.
5 years ago if you'd told me I'd be here, I never would have believed you. Even 6 months ago it would have seemed slightly crazy to think we'd be where we we are. God's timing, God's leading, and God's great big plan. 

Here's a panorama shot of the stairs. It's not perfect 'cause let's face it....who among us can take a steady photo while walking up stairs?? (If you can, I don't want to hear about it.)

And these are the steps leading up to the landing....directly when you come into the house. It's hard to see but on these I've written James 1:7

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father

(Note: these are also my poor attempt at panorama - the steps aren't curved like that)

Ok.  Enough blogging. I have a LOT of work to do yet today to get ready for movers. I'll be back with updates :)

What I'm leaving behind

In a little over 3 weeks I'll be leaving this house that has been my home for more than 12 years. 
 It has seen the very, very best of me and the very, very worst of me.  
tears and laughter; 
fights and making up; 
ups and downs; hot and cold; 
babies, toddlers, preschoolers, grade schoolers, middle schoolers and teens; 
times of great faith and times of great doubt; 
fears and failures; joy and triumphs; 
marriage and divorce; 
hard work and silly play; 

In the last few years there have been a lot of changes around here with regards to the house.  
Physically, the house has gone through a complete overhaul.  The unnecessary was discarded, donated or sold. The necessary was acquired and put to good use, including a new stove, hot water tank, flooring, roof, paint, etc. etc.  I've worked hard to maintain a house that I never thought I'd have to care for on my own. 
 Emotionally, the house has seen it's share of ups and downs too.  My prayer several years ago was that this house would be a place of peace and safety.  For me.  For my kids.  For anyone who would step over the threshold.  And I have to say, God answers prayer!  No amount of renovating by me could have done this miracle and made this house the home it's been in the past few years. I sad to leave it?  A little, yes.  But I know that the God who carried us this far is leading us into a new adventure and the home he built with us here....can be built again, even better, at the new house.  And any ties I have to this house, are dwarfed by the much stronger ties to my God who has never, ever left us on our own. I'm sorry....I just can't say it any better than this:

A few photos and memories of the house we're leaving behind.  (Note:  these photos were taken professionally to sell the house - something that happened, literally, overnight - so if you're thinking my house ever really looked this good, the joke's on you)

 My "spa" bathroom:  I loved this room.  We initially renovated this room because one of our children dropped something in the toilet that was irretrievable.  Even the plumber told us to take it out to the backyard and smash it and let him know what was in there (the cap to a spray can, incidentally). My favourite part, aside from the colours.....a deep soaker tub which, yes, I will miss dearly!
 My craft room:  I love how neat and organized it looks here.  If you know anything about me at all, you know it only ever looks like this just before I start creating.  I was very excited a few years ago when my two oldest wanted basement bedrooms and all that was left for me to scrapbook in was this Upstairs room, with a window :)
 Laundry room: yes, I'll miss this space. It's not finished but it reminds me of how God provides....2 freezers with food to spare and a washer and dryer that have lasted and lasted and lasted.
 Teen room #1:  Style maybe defined as Vintage meets IKEA meets Grandma's afghan.
 Basement bathroom:  Again, my favourite "waterfall" colour.
 Shed:  (obviously these pictures are in no particular order)  This shed has been snowed in all winter so honestly, it'll be a surprise to me what's all in there when we get around to digging it out to move :)
 Pre-teen room: Go Bombers! 
 Pantry: So much lovely storage space.  THIS, I will miss!! 
 Dining room: This room has seen many meals, many games, many family discussions, and much love!
 The front yard;  This yard reminds me of football games and toboggan slides; sprinkler wars and basketball games; furniture painting and yard sales; somersaults and bocce ball; late night coffee and early morning....well, coffee too :)

 Rec room:  otherwise known as the Xbox room.  Many a sleepover has happened in this room - exactly my intention in finishing out this room and stocking it with piles and piles of blankets and pillows.
 Master bedroom:  I will miss this room. This room has definitely been touched by God and it has become a place of peace and laughter and lots of silliness.  You can't see it in this picture but above the white dresser in the far right corner, there's a TV mounted on the wall.  We've had so many family movie nights with the 4 of us snuggled into this bed.  Funnier still is that recently most of us are close to 6' tall and we also have 3 cats joining us.  It's a big pile of fun :)  The kids are trying to convince me that I need a King size in the new house so we can still all fit in there :)

 Kitchen:  I painted these cabinets just this last Christmas and the flooring was done last August.  I adore these colours and I'm really sad to leave them.  I'm copying a bit of this in my new house but it won't be quite the same.  Lots of cooking and lots of eating happened here!
 Playhouse:  Rockwall, slide, rope ladder, secret trap door, and monkey bars.....this was a unique design that we made ourselves.  I have no idea how many kids have played on this but I pray that the kids who will be playing on here this coming summer will be as safe, happy and silly as mine were. 
 Teen bedroom #2:  Snowcone green.  It's even brighter in real life.  
Living room:  Another room that's probably never been so clean and neat before....and maybe never will be again as long as we're around.....but a room that's been full of family movies, wrestling matches, deep heart-to-heart talks, coffee with friends, a party or two, Christmas gatherings, meals, devotions, music and drama. 

There you have it.  What I'm leaving behind.   A house that was my home....but in the end, to me, just a house.  Our home will be where we end up (wait for the next blog post)and this house will go on to be home to another family who will love it and find love in it.

The house story....and walking on the water

This has been a crazy season here at our home.  Crazy-crazy.  
Like nothing I ever thought would be happening.
This song keeps running through my head the whole time: 

It's long, I know, but well worth the me.  

If you don't have time to listen just now - here are the lyrics.

Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) Lyrics


You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown, where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep, my faith will stand

 And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours, and You are mine

 Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed, and You won't start now

 So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours, and You are mine

 Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior x 3

We're moving.  I think that's the craziest of all. 
Coming out of the divorce with my kids all living primarily with me in our family home has been a HUGE blessing.  They needed the stability and the assurance that both their dad and I had their best interests at heart.  And for the most part, it's been a fairly smooth transition.  But I've known all along that with only my single income, keeping this house wasn't an option indefinitely so I've been keeping my eyes open for something to downsize into that would both a.) fit my current family and also b.) be a viable option for me when they all move away from home (which, sadly, kids tend to do).  

I've looked at several houses and I've been scouring the local real estate sites for a long time now.  The house that piqued my interest the most was a house I went to see last Fall.  It had almost everything we needed except for 2 things.  1.) The price point between what I could get for mine, and what they were asking for that one wasn't a wide enough gap to make it worthwhile.  And 2.) It was weird. 
By weird, I mean it was ROUND. 

 I couldn't quite wrap my head around such a weird house and whether we could pull it off.  So, despite seeing it in person twice last October, I let it go and decided to wait.  

The months went on through this viciously cold winter and I kept looking at real estate websites, flyers, and even private sales.  Nothing seemed to jump out at me and the more I looked, the more I kept coming back to this house I'd looked at in Fall.  This January/February, I had a month or two of stress over it.  If you know me at all....I'm not a worrier.  I don't worry.  I don't stress.  But this house issue was causing me stress.  Finally one day in March, I was sitting and doing my devotions in the morning (house on the brain) and I came across this verse:

James 4:2
You do not have because you do not ask God.

Sometimes you just KNOW that you're being spoken I right?

So, I wrote down the verse.  And then I took out a clean piece of paper and started writing down the list of have-to-have's in a house.  Not any house in particular, just a house.   And I asked.

About 2-3 days later, I received an email from my real estate agent.  It said (in part) this:

Do you still think about the round house? It still has not sold. I would be willing to write a lower offer and give them the opportunity to respond to it. They can say no. 
Sometimes we have not because we ask not."

And again.....sometimes you just KNOW.
I knew.  I knew that at the very least, I had to explore the option one more time.

Long story short:  I went to see it again; completely reconciled the "weird" factor in my head and knew it would come down to finances.   I offered really low; they counter-offered middle of the road (well within my window). I listed mine a few days later (after a few long, hard days of purging and cleaning it up); asked high and got a really nice counter-offer (also within my window) the day after I listed it.  
Signs like that are hard to ignore.  

Not at all where I thought I'd be. 
In the past few years:  Working full time? In a middle school? No more grade 1's?  Divorced?  For the most part single-parenting?  Teenagers?  Owning a house, on my own? Selling and buying another house, on my own? 
 I feel like I'm walking on water....deeper than I ever thought my feet would wander....into the great unknown where feet may fail.  My feet.  May fail.  
BUT I am totally seeing  that I'm finding God in the mystery of this adventure.  He's calling me out.  His sovereign hand is my guide.  He hasn't failed and I expect he won't start now.  And in the middle of this my faith is being made stronger in the presence of my Saviour. 

Only a month...

I'm only a month late to wish everyone Happy New Year from the blog.  Sorry :(
It's been a crazy-crazy month.  Usually January drags by because it's back-to-school after the lovely Christmas holidays and it's cold beyond belief but this year it seems to have slipped by me without even saying "hello."  Several of the reasons for this are quite personal so I'll leave it at that.  I had a few sick days during the month and we also had 3 snow/cold days this month so the "long work weeks" in January were quite disjointed and scattered.  Or maybe that's just where my head's at right now.  I feel like I'm resurfacing just now, after the Christmas break.  Yikes.

So, my last post had pics of my torn-apart kitchen cupboards.  I did finish.  I'll show you pictures next time.
For now, a couple pictures of one of my other projects/New Year's Resolutions - to get back to being a little bit creative :)  I make cards to sell so I keep on trucking in that area even when I'm not feeling creative.  And honestly, even when it's "just a job" it still is the one thing that feeds my creative soul when I'm feeling down.  But this month I actually got to play a little too.  I taught a class at The Scrapbook Cottage (thank you Sharon) over Christmas.  An impromptu class because the teacher couldn't at the last minute, so it wasn't my own designs but it inspired me to dig out my own canvases later and get started on a few more things including getting some kits ready for kids to make canvases.  The, suddenly, I found myself agreeing to teach a class at my school for exactly this same project.  Mixed media canvas projects for kids.  It went so well.  I wish I could show you pictures of what the kids made....wait, maybe I can if I crop the kids out.  I'll work on that.  For now, i'll show you my 2 samples that I quickly whipped up so the kids would have some idea of what to work toward.

Keep in mind....middle school kids, first time crafters (some of them), and yes, boys too.
Here are my 2 samples :)

Fun, right?
I'll try to crop down the photos I took yesterday so I can show you some of the fabulous things the kids came up with all on their own.  Unbelievable!  I love being creative and I love getting others to be creative!!