Wednesday, September 23, 2015

I have a dream... TO BUILD!

When Santa gave me a Barbie Dream House for Christmas when I was an itty bitty girl, I'm not sure that he realized exactly what he was doing to me.  Though I didn't realize it at the time, construction was already in my blood.  The Barbies and the outfits and the cute Ken dolls were fun to play with, but the Barbie Dream Home was the ULTIMATE piece of my Barbie collection.  For I had watched my father and his cousin Dale build our home.  I came of age using construction two by fours as imaginary Olympic-inspired balance beams.  I had not yet learned that girls can build stuff, too, but I was well on my way to discovering such a thing.   

I'm thirty-eight now.  I no longer play with Barbies, and to be quite frank with you I don't really follow fashion trends anymore.  I dress the way I want to dress, and usually I acquire the pieces of my wardrobe from second hand shops instead of Barbie's beloved shopping malls.  But I still have a bit of Barbie in my blood.  Like Barbie, I do love my closet.  But it's not the rows of shoes or the dresses on hangers that impress me.  It's the hardwood floors, the wooden walls painted a pale shade of mint, the cabinetry and the trim that I cut by myself!

I've still got a touch of Barbie doll in me, but not in the way that Mattel intended.  For I want to BUILD Barbie's Dream House for her.  Gone are the days when I combed Barbie's hair and tied tiny bows into her golden locks.  And gone are the days when I sat around waiting for Ken to show up in a convertible, wearing expensive clothes and gifting me with new dresses and diamonds and tiaras and chocolates and the latest trends in the perfume industry.

Tomorrow is my first day on my very first construction job, y'all.  I'll get paid to run a saw and build stuff!  I feel like I've won the lottery!  I'm just living the dream, man....

A few people have asked if I think it will be hard to be the only woman on the construction site, but I'm not worried in the slightest because I KNOW that I shall not fail.  I don't care how heavy the boards become that I must lift, or how high I must climb on a rooftop to get the job done.  I don't care how sore my muscles will be at the end of the workday, y'all.  You know what matters to me?  Doing what I love to do and watching people become wide-eyed as I kick some serious butt on the construction site.  Yes, I will undoubtedly make mistakes.  And that's okay, because mistakes are how we LEARN.  My goals are to learn, to grow, and to prove that sassy southern gals can be smart in their heads, pretty in their hearts, AND we can build really cool things. 

Ain't no shame in this game!  Life is meant to be lived, and by golly I'm gonna use this opportunity to SHINE for my Creator! 

But make no mistakes about it.... I do love Barbie's pink Jeep.  I actually own one.  It's a 1957 Willys Jeep, Pepto Bismol pink, and my dad bought it for me when I was fourteen years old.  I still own it, though it needs a new restoration.  I shall restore it, I can promise you that much.  And this former Barbie girl will proudly drive her pink Jeep to her job as an assistant carpenter one day.  It's just a matter of TIME.....

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Church of Christ Piano? Yep.

In the past four years, I have learned so dad gum much about living life to the fullest, construction techniques, re-purposing trash into treasure, and just being an honest-to-God friend to those in need that I cannot even imagine living any other lifestyle that the one we live now.

The kids and I have perfected the art of being a family of three.  We cook, clean, serve as carpenters, paint, sand, stain, polyurethane, build our own furniture and collect artwork that speaks to our souls.  And though our budget is tight (we choose for me to work part time for income and full time for US) our money seems to stretch so much further than it did when we were a "traditional" American family being supported by a nine-to-five. 

Last year we had something hysterical happen.  I had literally been asking God (and all of my friends) for a piano to put in the living room of our dogtrot.  Far and wide I searched, but all I could find was the occassional "this one needs a lot of work, but you can have it" ads on Craigslist and in newspapers.  I pretty much became the musical version of Goldilocks.  This piano was missing too many keys.  That one was missing too many strings.  The next one was missing too many keys and too many strings.  And then it happened.  I FINALLY found a piano that was just right.

The irony of my piano purchase was not only the price (a whopping twelve dollars and fifty cents) but also the LOCATION.  You see, the Church of Christ in one of our local towns was up in arms about their former pastor's piano being left in the parsonage.  Now for those of you who don't know anything about the Church of Christ, it's important for you to comprehend that they do not believe in using musical instruments in their services.  The piano, it seemed, was sacriligeous to them and they wanted it out as soon as possible.  Seriously.  I was told to "get it out of her as soon as you can because we don't want it here anymore."  I laughed out loud, but I was the only one who got the joke. 

It's important to say that the piano had been defaced.  Kids had been carving their names into the wooded exterior of the piano for quite some time.  But it played like the dickens.  I'm telling you, I sat on the piano stool in the parsonage and pressed down those ole' black and whites, and I'll be dad-gummed if it wasn't love at first sound.  Pressing the pedals was like stepping into warm butter, only without the mess.  This puppy was a finely tuned instrument, it just needed a good tuning and a little bit of elbow grease to help ease it back into daily use.

I bought it right then and there, and my boyfriend (at the time) helped haul it back to the dogtrot.  It was ugly as burnt molasses, but I had a plan.  I wasn't content to have a normal piano in a very unique house, so I went through my collection of half-used paint cans from this remodel and quickly picked out a color palette.  What happened next was very simple.  It involved painter's tape, two paint brushes, and a fine coating of flat paint in strategic places.  When it was finished, we placed it beneath an enormous painting of a zebra and VIOLA.  Home Sweet Home became even sweeter.  For twelve dollars and fifty cents and about an hour and half worth of work.

You want to live the simple life and still get luxuries WITHOUT having to rob a bank?  It's simple.  Just use that noggin of yours and search high and low.  Think outside of the box.  An ugly piano can become beautiful with just a little bit of creativity.  And a little bit of creativity can chase the ugly out of any day.

I can't even begin to tell you how often we use this piano.  Preston was just sitting at it last night, picking out a song by ear (the way my grandfather learned to play) and my dear friend Bonnie has been coming over for piano lessons as often as possible.  You outta hear the notes of this beauty ring out through the dogtrot hallway and spill into the woods surrounding our home.  It really sounds like you've stepped back in time, y'all.  And I couldn't be prouder of our Church of Christ piano.  :-)

Monday, September 21, 2015

We found the cause of AUTISM, Y'all! Seriously!

We began this restoration in May of 2011, and I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined in advance exactly what this historic homestead would do for my family.

It has been impossible to blog up until this point, but now the blog bug has bitten for reasons far larger than the restoration of our homestead.  You see, we moved to the middle of the woods and began this restoration (or so we thought) to save money and life a more simplistic life.  Four years later, I am a single mother who doesn't have time to date, callouses on my hands, a whole new batch of laugh lines, and as of summer 2015 my family figured out the CAUSE OF AUTISM and learned how to cure thirteen year old Miles of his Sensory disorder!

I'm happy to announce that my child has been cured of his Autism Spectrum Disorder, but the cure places a very heavy load upon our shoulders.  You see, we KNOW why our species has developed Autism and other sensory disorders.  And we KNOW what must be done to turn this DISability into one of the greatest ABILITIES that mankind has ever known.  It is not going to be an easy road, but it is the road that we must take because humanity is literally dependent upon the distribution of the knowledge that our family has gained.

Sugar Creek, Louisiana is home to our little family.  And what a home it has become!  I have dropped more than forty pounds.  The kids have gained strength, wisdom, and maturity.  Plus they've shot up like weeds.  They're growing up quickly, and it makes me smile to see them turning into young men who understand morality and ethics. 

I've become a part time school teacher that teaches a class on OLD FASHIONED VALUES, a profoundly beautiful look into gardening, canning, home construction, animal husbandry, morals, ethics, and cultural differences between our ancestors and our present-day society.  And as of this week, I am going to work part time as an assistant carpenter.

Life is joyous.  The house is still not finished--far from it.  But we find joy in working on our home because we know that we're not simply restoring this house.  It is restoring us, too!

We host NATURE PLAY every other weekend right here at the dogtrot, and I am still surprised by the amalgamation of people who gather around our bonfire to sing songs, share wisdom, bask in the warmth of belly laughs and throw their souls into working together to solve the problems facing modern man. 

My family has begun a company that will literally change the face of housing in America.  We cannot wait to share with you the freedom that we have found by living life the old fashioned way, and I can guarantee that it will be a life changer for you if you allow us to reach our hands out and help pull you out of the abyss of hopelessness.

Here are a few photos of a few of the amazing friends and experiences that have helped to make our family's dreams come true.  We are blessed beyond measure, and we're thankful to God above that life is so splendidly beautiful.  Life is sweet at The Sugar Shack!

Instead of writing paragraph after paragraph to explain the massive changes that have occurred within our hearts and within our home and within our circle of friends, we'd rather just show you.  So here are a few pics that show a tiny bit of what we've been doing instead of blogging.

You see, we have BECOME the change that we wish to see in this world.  And we're so happy to MAKE THE MOVEMENT MOVE!