family & home

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Sometime in June it was decided that summer was barreling down on us in this space with few windows. And so it was time to move into the new cabin, even if we hadn’t finished it. One sweaty Friday Stewart and I lugged over mattresses and bedding with stragglers dragging carrying pillows and blankets behind us across the dirt and mulch pathway.

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While Stewart put together beds for us and the boys, I brought over essentials and mopped the floor – something I hadn’t done in 2.5 years. That night we threw the windows open and enjoyed the breeze while sleeping in a space with only four corners.

This is significant because the camper/cabin has 14 corners (yes, I counted) and after living there for a year or two, we dubbed it the hallway house.

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The new cabin has quite a few more features that are a step-up from our old space:

  • A door that does not have an internet pole directly in front of it because the installation crew didn’t realize that was our door. I understand; plywood doors do look like plywood walls.
  • Access to the sides of the bed. Our bed in our old cabin was placed inside a cove that was only accessible from the foot of the bed. Also a bonus in the new cabin is not having an office above the bed where a desk chair is perched atop the bed during the day.
  • Ten windows. There was one window and a hole in in the wall with a screen/shower door (depending on the season) in our old cabin. Not quite the same.
  • A floor that is level and atop a true foundation. This is in contrast to the floor in the old cabin that we hastily put up because “it was temporary” and so could take a man down if he wasn’t paying attention to the topography beneath his feet.
  • 100 more square feet. That doesn’t seem like much, but when you start with 300 square feet, it adds up quick.

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The first few days in the cabin I was overwhelmed. The space felt huge, in comparison, and I felt guilty and grateful and confused all at once. Even though I was willing to make this camper/cabin a home, even though I thought I was content with living in it for as long as we had, even though I knew we could live in that space forever if we really truly had to; I hadn’t ever really let go of the idea that it was temporary. Up until just a few months before we moved into the new cabin, I still looked at this first space we built as a stepping stone to something better, something more.

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And then, somewhere between starting the cabin and moving in, I dropped the one thing that seems to negate any gratitude or contentment I struggle with my flesh to have – expectations. Maybe it was the hullabaloo surrounding Ruth’s arrival or maybe it was watching Stewart turn a corner in his recovery from adrenal fatigue, but something I didn’t even recognize shifted.

And so, one June day Stewart said “I think we should move in this week,” and I said “Sounds good!”

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That Friday night, and the days that followed, I stared around 400 square feet with an open floor painted light blue. My husband walked around to his side of the bed freely and I watched our four children sink into their own little spaces and drift off to sleep. With the old cabin/camper now serving as kitchen and office space, it felt like we could stretch a little, sink in a little, breathe out a little.

That feeling I had that I couldn’t quite put my finger on… I think it was gratitude. And I don’t think I would have fully known that if it weren’t for 2.5 years surrounded by 14 corners… where our daughters were born, where our sons learned to read, and where their Mama learned to let go of expectations and gain some perspective.

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Everything I’ve done over the past decade or so seems quite mundane when you look at it on paper. I grew up, went to college, got married, started a family – it all sounds quite usual, does it not? These days I am in the thick of raising our little ones, wading through the joy and the struggles and the lessons day-by-day. It is often intense, sometimes exhausting, and quite frequently hysterical.

But one of the most seemingly ordinary things to have occurred during these past eight years of child-rearing is one of the most thrilling experiences I have ever had.

I taught my child to read.

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