Monday, August 14, 2017

landscaping renos

Just when you thought our renovations were complete... we've begun again. We've had a very busy spring and summer here on the home front, but this time, all the activity has been taking place outside. From a new post lamp, to a fenced-in backyard, to a new clothesline, to a front walkway, to the removal of Pake Dykstra's old work shed, all 4 sides of our yard have seen some major changes/improvements.

First, came the lamp post. For as far back as I can remember, Mr. Gryce has always dreamed of having a house with a post lamp out front. This past spring, we set out to make that dream a reality.

First, Mr. Gryce rented an excavator to dig the hole for the actual post lamp, plus a long trench for all the electrical wire to get to the post. Our friend Andrew came to help.

Once the trench was dug, Mr. Gryce had to fill the bottom with sand before running the conduit with the wire. Then he had to cover the conduit with more sand. 

Next, Mr. Gryce and Andrew installed the base for the lamp post.

Then came the huge task of filling in the trench, without the rental excavator.

We had to get rid of a ton of rocks!

 Our yard looked pretty rough.

Mr. Gryce finally got to do what he does best: the actual electrical work.

Even though our lamp post was fully operational, we had a ton of grading work to do in order to get our yard back in shape.

We purchased a load of soil.

And graded it ourselves.

By mid-summer, we finally got some grass to grow!

 And while we were at it, we had our driveway re-done.

While all this was going on, we also planned to have a fence installed around our backyard. This meant digging up part of an old sidewalk leading to the barn, and leveling part of our vegetable garden.

The guys worked quickly and our new fence was up in two days.

Of course, the new fenced-in yard required a lot of grading and landscaping afterwards.

The solar lights look pretty neat at night.

Of course, no back yard would be complete without a swing set...

...and a turtle sandbox!

Because of the new fenced-in the backyard, we also had to move my clothesline over. Mr. Gryce had to rent a jackhammer just to get the new holes a few feet deep.

We also needed it to remove the concrete from around the old post.

Our next order of business was to remove Pake (grandpa) Dykstra's old work shed.

It stayed in the family though, because my brother removed it in once piece and ended up taking it down the road to his house!

No more eyesore!

As you can see, there is never a dull moment here! 
Here's hoping we can enjoy just one summer where we don't have any big projects.....

Sunday, June 25, 2017

a heart abandoned - part 3

In previous posts, (here and here), I've written about the pain of being abandoned by people who were important to me. I also wrote about my inability to keep a best friend and how I thought it was happening to me all over again. After our respective marriages, we'd started drifting apart. Instead of talking weekly (or more), it became monthly (or less). When we saw each other a few times in person, it seemed like things weren't the same. 

For most people, having friendships that may go through long periods of time without much/any communication, is perfectly okay. Most people recognize that we all go through different seasons in life, where friendships ebb and flow and after months or sometimes years, you can pick up right where you left off. However, when you go through so many best friends in your lifetime, you start to think something is fundamentally wrong with you and how you relate/come across to people. And when you have such limited contact with someone who was once so close, it hurts. 

When I got pregnant, I wanted so desperately to call and tell her; I deliberately didn't. After so much time without contact, I let her find out on Facebook, just like every other acquaintance. That was a low blow on my part, and, regardless of whether we hadn't spoken in months, I knew would hurt her. But I wanted her to hurt, just like I was hurting. I was petty and selfish and stupid, but hurting people hurt others.

In the midst of all this, I received a letter out of the blue from someone else. They had asked for my forgiveness for a misunderstanding that had caused nearly 15 years of tension and awkwardness. We both deeply regretted that it had taken us so long to clear the air.  I acknowledged my harmful tendency to write people off when they hurt or offended me in some way--my "abandon them before they abandon me" mindset. In my reply to the letter, I explained how I was currently feeling hurt and rejected by this other friend. I recall commenting that the timing of this letter seemed perfect, and in the closing portion of my reply I'd written: "I am not sure she has any idea of my true feelings towards her [but] I am starting to think that God might be using the lesson from our situation to speak into my life about this other friendship."

I now had every intention of addressing the situation at hand, but when she surprised me by attending my baby shower, part of me actually believed that she still cared and valued our friendship. I held out hope that things were turning around for us, especially when she sent me a sweet message after our daughter was born. I replied as soon as I could, gave her some details on the birth, and made sure to tell her I'd love to visit, once I was getting more sleep.

And then I waited. 

Weeks went by. Then months.

My old insecurities reared their ugly head. I started to believe the voices that whispered: 

You must have done/said something to offend her. 

This friendship has always been one-sided and you are not a priority to her.

You're not worth her time or effort.

You've been replaced. 

You can't trust her with your heart.

Because of my own insecurities and root of rejection, I let my stubbornness and stupid pride get the best of me. I refused to message her again. I told myself if she couldn't pick up the phone and call or text me, then I didn't want anything to do with her. I completely forgot the lesson I'd just learned. Instead, I let my hurt fester into anger to the point where I told myself I didn't care if I ever spoke or saw her again. 

I believed all the lies in my head; but no matter how hard I tried, I could never quite forget her.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I was getting ready to celebrate my daughter's 1st birthday but it was also nearing the anniversary of last time I'd heard from my friend. After all this time, I told myself I didn't want her friendship, but I did want answers. I needed to know why.  Why hadn't she responded to me? Had I done something irredeemable? Was our friendship truly not worth her time? I needed to know once and for all what I did, so I didn't make that mistake again. I needed closure.

And so, I finally swallowed my pride, and sat down to write her. It didn't come easily at first, but gradually I was able to put years' worth of hurt into words. It was blunt. It was raw. But for the first time, I felt like a giant weight had been lifted.

And I finally got a response. 

It was not what I expected. She had somehow missed reading my previous message from a year ago, and so in her mind, I had ignored her message. I felt like a jerk. Now, after finding the missed message, she felt like a jerk. Long story short, we both had our own insecurities and reasons for letting so much time pass but it was never our intention to end the friendship. So now we were both feeling like jerks, but then I was reminded, "The ENEMY is a jerk!"

You know what? He is a jerk! The Bible tells us Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10).What better way to steal a new mom's self-worth and joy, than to kill her friendships? What better way to further isolate her from the outside world than to use a stupid misunderstanding? What better way to destroy her support systems than to make her think she had none? 

And so, after heartfelt apologies from both of us, and a couple of late nights of messaging after our kids were in bed,  we finally made plans to see each other in person for the first time in 14 months. While I don't know if we will ever be able to make up for the lost time, we finally sat down together last week, and it was wonderful! I am so grateful for this second chance. 

My heart has not been abandoned at all this time; indeed, it is quite full. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

reflections on 2016

Dear Family, Friends, and Blog Readers,

As the Christmas season is upon us and another year draws to a close, we want to take some time to pause and reflect on the past year. Our little family has undergone many changes over the past 12 months.

This year we experienced the world of parenthood, with its many challenges and rewards. After a fairly easy pregnancy, Olivia Joy made her appearance 1 day early. Since her arrival on June 15, she has kept us on our toes. A strong feeler with an intense personality, she has certainly not been the world's easiest baby! However, we love her to pieces and continue to take great delight at each new milestone she reaches. When she is not experiencing tummy troubles or gas pain, she is a happy baby and truly lives up to her middle name. Just like Daddy, she enjoys music. From classical, to Bluegrass, to hip-hop, she constantly moves to the beat in her Jolly Jumper! She also loves it when we sing or when Daddy plays his guitar. Thanks to a lovely baby shower in April, a sister-in-law who has twin girls, and Mommy's keen eye for thrift store finds, we have not had to make any major purchases for Olivia thus far. What a blessing! 

The second major event of our year was to create a finished living space above the new garage. Due to some initial difficulty in getting our permits, we got off to a late start. The framing was completed and the insulation installed before Olivia's arrival, but drywall, paint, carpet and trim all had to be done yet over summer. We were able to get things wrapped up in September and are pleased to be all settled in. The additional space has allowed us to created two additional bedrooms and a large storage area. We were also able to complete the new siding on the rest of the house to match the garage. After over 6 years of renovating and building, we can finally say the house is done! Come spring, though, we hope to install a privacy fence to create an outdoor play space for Olivia. We also plan to do some additional landscaping.

Mr. Gryce continues working as a Senior Software Developer, and I am enjoying being at home full-time. I do not miss supply teaching, though I may eventually tutor from home again. In August we were able to go out and celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary, thanks to Aunt Jess who babysat.

In closing, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and God's blessings in the New Year.


Go here to read last year's letter. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

loft renovation

In mid-March, we started gearing up to convert the loft above our garage into usable living space. Unfortunately, we ran into a bunch of red tape that delayed our plans by about 6 weeks. Instead of providing the usual blueprints and filling out the typical paperwork, we had to have a heating/duct design plan drawn up. We were also told we would have to upgrade our entire septic system to accommodate the additional occupancy that adding two extra bedrooms entailed. All this just to get a building permit! 

Well, a new septic system was not in the budget, so we had to prove that we were technically not adding additional bedrooms. (Our home was listed as a 3-bedroom, but one of those bedrooms [the office] had no closet and had a door that opened directly out on to the front porch. We were losing the other bedroom as it would become part of the new hallway for the loft.) The chief building inspector finally agreed with our reasoning, and approved us for our permit. Finally, we were ready to start!

We hired Walt Schaly Design/Build to do the work since we were extremely happy with their work on the garage last year. (Also, baby Gryce was due to arrive in only a few short months.)

The first order of business was to cut the hole in the wall to join our existing house to the loft. This was easier said than done. Since it was formerly an exterior wall, there was lots of wood and spray-foam insulation to cut through.

Cory and Bruce framed in a couple of walls to make 2 bedrooms and a large hallway / storage room.

Mr. Gryce ran all the heating ductwork and did the electrical wiring himself.

 We hired Reid's Insulating to spray-foam all the exterior walls, plus the floor (since it is right above the garage.) 

They got the job done just in time for baby Gryce's arrival.

We took a couple weeks off, and then we had the guys from Top Notch Drywall come in to do their thing.

Finally, while baby Olivia napped, I was ready to start painting!

We built this bench seat in the hallway to hide the ductwork:

Cory and Bruce came back to do all the trimwork once the paint was dry. It was finally starting to take shape. I couldn't wait to get the curtains hung!

We got Jim Smardenkas from Wilson's Flooring to install the carpet throughout.

The bench seat we built to hide all the ductwork became a handy dumping spot as we began the process of finally moving in.... 

One area of the hallway is our new exercise / storage room:

Our completed spare bedroom:

And our completed baby nursery:

It has been very exciting to FINALLY move the last of our boxes and furniture out of my mom's basement, now that we have the space in our house. We've also been able to de-clutter a few of our other rooms. There's still a few things to touch-up, including the old spare bedroom, which will be a work / play room, but we're in the home stretch!