Thursday, November 21, 2013

Part 1V - A Dream Becomes Reality

Rear view of house with newly delivered windows leaning against framing
Son Gabriel looks out window

After the Thanksgiving storm of 1983 cleared, we woke up to find how fortunate we were after finding a 100 ft. fir tree lying just feet from our trailer. 

Concerned about possible damage to the house during the high winds, Blue Eyes climbed over the debris to assess the situation. 

Entering the house, he was filled with dismay. 

Not only were the floors soaked with standing water, but every window and glass door had fallen onto the newly purchased wood stove that had yet to be installed.  

He rushed back to get my help and together we struggled to pull the heavy stack upright, worried about what we might find. 

There must have been an angel over us that night, because the windows landed on the wood stove in such a way as to protect them from breaking. 
The only damage was a slight dent in the framing of the glass door on the bottom as it shouldered the impact. 

Thinking of what might have been filled us with such relief. A few inches difference would have broken every one as they fell on the sharp corner of the cast iron stove. 

Heather, Jennie and Gabe help stack firewood for Daddy
Cutting up the large tree, and drilling holes in the floor to release the standing water kept my dear husband busy for a while. The little ones and I were put to work sweeping water off the floors and stacking firewood. 

We were anxious to get the roof shingled before the next storm,
 so there was no time to waste. 

With help from family and friends, the hand split cedar shingles were nailed into place. 

Skylights for our passive solar design were installed.
Blue Eyes had just been hired at a local grocery store as assistant manager after his lay-off of 2 months, and worked the swing shift, from 1:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. This allowed mornings free to work on construction. 

With the glass doors installed, this created a problem for the local wildlife who were used to visiting the inside of the windowless house. 

One afternoon my son Gabe came running to tell me there was an owl trapped in the house. 

Picturing large talons and a lethal beak, I worried about what to do and kept the children outside. 

But what I found was a tiny, frightened Western Screech Owl, only 8 inches tall, trying to hide behind a stack of lumber.

I called the children inside to take a little peek.

Tiny Western Screech Owl from my 'Birds of Washington' field guide

Quietly, we simply opened the glass doors and left him to find his way out, which he promptly did. 

Another day, my little daughter, Heather came to tell me there was a hummingbird trapped in the solarium kitchen window. 

Fearing it would injure itself by thrashing against the glass, I gingerly scooped it up in my hand. What a thrill for the children to see this tiny being up close. I opened my hand outside the door and we watched it buzz away, no worse for wear.

Front of house with solarium window

The next installation was the wood stove. It took 5 men to lift it into place.
Triple wall flu pipe was installed in the bump-out 'chimney'.

This was a welcome development, as it meant warmth for interior construction work.

It would be another year until the house was complete enough to move in.

Electrical wiring, plumbing, interior walls, flooring and insulation all had to be installed.

When buying raw land, banks will not lend money on such a risky investment,
nor would we qualify with our ruined credit from our foreclosure.

So little by little we worked, paycheck to paycheck.

My hardworking young husband put in overtime and worked hard for bonuses to put into our home.

Sweet son Gabriel, holding his prized toy chain saw in front of wall hanging - sewing machine and toys wait nearby

I sold hand made wall hangings and crafts to help out when I could.

Daughter Jennie with friend, Faye at entrance to our temporary home

We would live for almost 4 years in our little trailer attached to the shed.

With 4 little ones, I spent most of my time keeping them clean, fed and happy.

Blue Eyes bought me a second hand, homely station wagon,
but that old car was our 'fun' wagon.

Loaded with little ones, friends, cousins, and a full picnic basket,
off we would go to spend our afternoons at the local parks.

Every day was a new adventure.

By October of 1984 we were ready to move in.

Work continued inside and outside, but we were finally living in our new home.

At only 1600 sq. feet, and with only two bedrooms,
Blue Eyes and I slept on a sofa bed in the living room.

A tired Blue Eyes and me in 1984
It was a tight squeeze at times, but we dreamed of the day when we could start the 2nd phase of our construction.

It would be 7 long years before we would see that dream become a reality.

Living in 1600 sq. ft. with four growing children was not easy.

But when we would look out and see elk in our back yard, eagles flying overhead, and coyotes singing to the silvery moon, our spirits would be filled with a new resolve.

When that day finally came, we had our own home grown helpers!
Sons and nephews to lend a hand.

Youngest son, Dustin pretending to use electric saw, much to my horror.
Those boys loved to tease.

Blue Eyes' prized Triumph Sports Car in the background. Not long after it would be totaled in a rear end collision. Blue Eyes needed the jaws of life to pry him free,
but he blessedly escaped with only a couple of cracked ribs.

No more sports cars after that.

Finally, after all those years of hoping and dreaming and praying,
we were on our way to completion.

 Dustin and Gabe helping Dad with siding. 

Oh, what a happy time!

A bedroom of our own, a laundry room, (no more washer and dryer in the living room closets), a guest bathroom and master bath. Six people and one bathroom was quite a challenge.

And an unfinished loft for future endeavors.

Finally, in the year 2000 we built a deck off the entire back.

It was quite an adventure, this journey we began all those many years ago.

I can't say we would do it all again, but I can say that we learned many lessons along the way.

Determination, patience, fortitude, courage and resilience.

But most of all, Faith.

Faith in the power of dreams, faith in ourselves and each other, and most of all, faith in the higher powers to pull us through in our darkest moments.


If one advances confidently in the direction of one's dreams,

and endeavors to live the life which one has imagined,

one will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

- Henry David Thoreau -

Thank you, Dear Friends, for coming along with me as I revisited our journey.

Your encouragement and sharing of your own personal experiences means so very much.


There is in friendship something of all relations, and something above them all.

It is the golden thread that ties the heart of all the world.

- John Evelyn -


  1. Unbelievable!! What a family can do! Amazing!


  2. Oh Karen you and Blue eyes have given your children such a gift and I am not talking only about the house but by them watching you struggle while full of faith and accomplish your dreams they grew up knowing there is absolutely nothing that they cannot do if they put in the hard work and dream. Oh I loved your story and the meaning behind it. Oh you have given them such a wonderful gift.
    Oh your dream was truly worth those "little struggles" and you made it through everyone of them with wonderful lessons. Oh what a feeling, and yes I do understand this. HUG B

  3. i am just loving your adventure. Hope that you rare going to publish these sections of your blog. What a wonderful legacy it would be for your kids to have this story in book form. Isn't it amazing when you look back to see what you have accomplished, and your kids all look so happy during this time. Your home is just beautiful and this is a wonderful story! My husband and i did something similar in our lives and with our cabin which took us 5 years to build and many many hard long hours. Enjoying this so much!

  4. I just loved reading your story! It is amazing what we can do if we are determined! We lived in our small bungalow for 16 years before we added a large kitchen, half bath, and screened porch. My husband did all the work in the evenings and weekends. We paid for it as we went, and I did childcare to make up some of it. It was a hard time, but we love our house and it was well worth it! Thanks for sharing!

  5. I am so enjoying following this story! I am glad that you guys saved the little Screech Owl :)

  6. I love you post. Wishing you and your a good day / good weekend :) Hugs Hanne Bente ♥

  7. i just love the success you accomplished - together - through nothing but hard work, determination, love and faith, as you said.

  8. I have enjoyed this series as you revisit your journey! It is so amazing what you accomplished and how you kept at it even through the hard times. You never gave up on your dream and that is so commendable! Your home is beautiful and I know it means so much to you since you literally built it with your own hands!

  9. Dearest Karen,
    You sure traveled the road of hard work for obtaining your special and VERY spacious home in the end. Even the first part is far bigger than most homes in The Netherlands. Our home that we built in The Netherlands in 1978 had only 2690 square foot surface space; including garden! And we had always but ONE bathroom. My Parents had but ONE bathroom for all 9 of us... In Asia there is but ONE bathroom in a home as space is very limited and also The Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Now we do have three bathrooms and that is such a luxury! The last one was added when Pieter built our Rose Suite.
    But of course you both grew up in the USA and knew no different. Glad you persevered and got your dream home completed on a pristine spot in nature.
    Enjoy it together for many more years to come in good health!

  10. I can not get over the fact that you lived with your little ones in that trailer for that long! You are a saint! I just know how hard it is and that must have required so much patience! But I bet they just loved exploring the forest!!! And how sweet is that picture of your daughter and her friend...I see that you had a potted plant there on the stoop! You amaze me!!! The work and dedication that you put into your family and this project has payed off in so many ways...just seeing the pictures now of your children and hearing what they do with their gifts just proves that all of this was written in the stars! You have added beauty to this Earth friend and your home is beautiful!

  11. Dear Karen,

    I enjoyed reading the story of how your house was built and see the many family photographs. What a lucky person you must be to have such a dear husband and lovely children!

    Wishing you a happy day!

    Madelief x

  12. It's a lovely home and I have enjoyed the story.

  13. Hi Karen your story is so uplifting and thanks for sharing you and your husbands house you built! It is like when I was growing up & my mom & dad built a house together too & we lived 1minute from the beach. What memories I have of it being built. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I'm going to make the scarf I finished knitting into a regular scarf because my daughter said it will be better that way than an infinity scarf. I always ask for her advice! Have a great Thanksgiving. Julie ❄️⛄️

  14. What a wonderful story! Your home is lovely and must hold so many memories for you.

  15. what a wonderful story! I lived in Washington near Seattle for two years in the early '80s. Your pictures reminded me of that time.

  16. I think your story is so inspirational ~ that you can overcome the obstacles in life with hard work and patience and all of the virtues you noted. There are a lot of people who are struggling and it is good for the spirit to see other people succeed when they once faced hardship. You and your husband deserve every blessing in your life, Karen. Thank you for sharing your story!

  17. Hard work never fails. Your house looks so beautiful.

  18. What a beautiful home you have created with your hopes, dreams and faith!!

  19. So amazing and inspiring! Your children learned lessons about values, perseverance, and the dignity of hard work that no schoolbook could ever impart. Your story reminds me of how very, very important keeping your mind fixed on your goal is. And that believing in our "unseen helpers" is critical too. I don't believe we accomplish things in this life all on our own.

    The photo of you and your husband shows as much contentment as it does tiredness. Your eyes really sparkle!

  20. Oh such an awesome unforgettable story - glad you shared it and have it written down - I bet your family is too..1984 I was in Az with three children ages 4 girl twin boys 3 going to college..
    And in 1997 would be our adventure in building our home paycheck to paycheck -- oh love this story you have shared -- thanks SO very much.. By the way to see your children high up on the scaffolding, ladder and with power tool - all brought back memories for me - wink - such braveness in your children and you!.

  21. Your story is amazing! As I read along I was thinking how much faith you must have had that everything would be ok..and of course it was! Wonderful story and thanks for sharing!

  22. I hope you write a book about this ... it's such an amazing story of courage & perseverance. The American Dream :)

  23. Bela história que retrata as dificuldades ultrapassadas por uma família com muita determinação na construção de uma bela Casa...Espectacular.....

  24. What a wonderful story of young love, dreams, and what a sweet little family can do. I thoroughly enjoyed this. It also brought to mind the days of building a workshop, and two other buildings on our property. The workshop was a dream come true for my dear husband. He did a lot in there, antique restoration, painting oil paintings, sculpting out of cement and marble, woodworking, picture framing, etc. Before he left this planet, he told me the workshop would be mine and to do whatever I wanted to do with it. I love the workshop and haven't done much with it yet. It was much too painful to even go in there at first.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is inspiring!

    Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

  25. Whau! I just said out loud WHAU! Indeed a great story of courage, strength and faith!! Amazing, you and your family are amazing! Hugs!!


Thank you for stopping by! Your comments are important to me and are very much appreciated. xx Karen

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...