Thursday, January 12, 2012

January Newsletter

From Laura, 12 … Ever since sometime in August, I have been realizing just how much starting 7th grade is a turning point. It’s when all preconceived notions of “spare time” are abolished. It’s when I wondered how I could have possibly ever been bored. It has certainly helped me determine which of the things I want to do are most important. I’ve also especially been reminded that every moment of my time is precious.

From Becca, 15 … Anna, Laura, and I have enjoyed being able to help Papa, John, and Seth here and there on the siding project. My favorite thing was nailing up the rigid foam insulation and house wrap. Mostly we have done a lot of moving. We threw, hauled, and stacked bricks and we moved the siding to the other side of the house two pieces at a time. We have tons more bricks to move. (I mean literally tons.) We will probably work on it a little each day.

From Seth, 18 … Right now I am enjoying a winter break from school. (Classes don’t start until the 17th.) Breaks are nice, but they do require more discipline in order to spend that extra time well. I’ve appreciated the opportunity to see the house project come together and to be able to labor with my hands. I’ve also had more time to read; my current book is called The Mortification of Sin, by John Owen. In the last chapter I read, Owen made an excellent point: To fight sin because of its unpleasant effects is self-love; true, God-pleasing mortification (killing of sin) flows out of love for Christ and hatred for sin as sin, not as something that makes us feel bad.

From Anna, 21 … In December, some friends of ours invited us to go Christmas caroling with them in their apartment complex. We had never caroled at apartments before, so it was logistically a little bit different than what we are used to. As far as the range of reactions, though, it was very similar to what we’ve experienced in other neighborhoods. Some people were so shocked they didn’t know what to do with themselves, while others opened the door only to immediately close it again. The most memorable people for me whenever we go caroling are the ones who seem to be genuinely touched, and we had several of those this time as well.

From John, Megan, and baby-on-the-way … (by Megan) This past month was a nice one – filled with friends and family. With holidays coming up, we went to friends’ houses, and had friends over to visit and fellowship. The closer it got to Christmas, the more time we spent with family. We had a day spent with my family to celebrate with them, a day spent with John’s family to celebrate with them, and then Christmas day with just us. We had a nice quiet Christmas at home enjoying each other’s company, and working on a 3,000 piece puzzle. (We are going to frame it and put it above the couch in our living room now that it’s finished.)

James has been growing each day. It’s amazing that it’s only 10 weeks until the due date! We have gradually been getting things ready – guest bathroom tiled, guest bedroom/baby storage room and baby stuff organized and cleaned, etc. We eagerly await James’ arrival!

From Ray, Katie, Peter, and Samuel … (by Katie) Samuel started crawling in the last few days. He's been warming up for it for quite a while now, and it's really cute to see him venturing forward. It's a new era for Peter, who now has a little person coming after him and trying to take his things. He's a good big brother, though, and enjoys having Samuel around. He calls him 'baby'. Ray and a friend recently replaced our old, rickety back steps with a wonderful four-foot square deck and nice, sturdy steps. Meanwhile, I am trying to get used to the fact that I'm turning thirty this week. Yikes! It makes both me and my mother feel old.

From Judith … For January it’s perhaps an oddity to you northerners, but we are currently having a truly beautiful fall here. We don’t usually get much fall color in south Texas, so this is a treat. We’ve heard that the drought generated these lovely rich hues we’re enjoying. They’re especially vibrant when the sun shines through the leaves. Photos never seem to do justice to these scenes. My additional delight is that now I can be at the ironing board or sewing machine during the day and see the trees through my brand new window! The view includes only a smidgeon of the neighbors’ houses which is the perk of having an upstairs room.

It has rolled around again just as it does every three years – a bit of Pedersen trivia. Between Katie’s birthday on Jan. 7 and Laura’s birthday on Feb. 2, the ages of us eight original Pedersens, and now Ray also, are multiples of three. Yes, trivial, I know.

From Gerald … The porch and east wall project has been the most significant event for me this past month. Our goal has been to improve the function and appearance of our house. The brick and mortar were badly deteriorated. The drafty, single-paned, aluminum-framed windows had no flashing. So, when a driving rain would come through the brick, instead of just running down inside the wall, around the windows, and out the weep holes at the bottom, the water would come inside the house at the top of the windows. It also could not get out at the bottom of the wall, because there was a foot or more of crumbled mortar down there. The east wall that faces the side street was also very plain and ugly because it was a large, rectangular expanse of brick with only two windows.

So, we removed all of the brick from that wall, extended the front porch to wrap-around that side of the house, replaced the two windows and added an additional one (all properly flashed), added rigid foam insulation (with foil radiant barrier) and house wrap, and finished with Hardie (fiber-cement) siding. All that remains to be done on that wall is shutters and paint. Now, we move on to the west wall. You can see photos on our blog.

It has been a great blessing to have my children’s help for this project. John and Seth worked full-time during the two weeks that I was home and the girls also made significant contributions to the work.

For another perspective on our project, see the entry at the bottom of this newsletter.

With love from the Pedersen clan

P.S. Becca wrote the following as a joke and was going to delete it, but we all thought it was so funny, we decided to let you all be amused also:

“My entire life right now is consumed by moving bricks. Every morning I wake up before the sun and put on my grey uniform. Then I troop outside into the biting wind and dreary cold. I lift bricks into the barrow, then push it far across the property. I stagger under the back-breaking load. This is what I do from morning till night every single day with only a dry crust of bread and a sip of water to keep up my strength. This is what I will be doing day after day, day after day till the end of my life.”

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