Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Oops...where did the time go?

Sorry y'all that it's been a while since I've updated you on the houses.  It's been very busy, very hot, very exhausting and sad to say that my last day is this Friday with Habitat for Humanity.  Very sad...

The time has flown by and I'm starting to get a little restless on heading back into the office.  Not sure how I'm going to handle sitting all day long again.  I'll just apologize now to my co-workers for bouncing off the walls.

I had my first house dedication on Aug. 20 with the Hammer's and Heel's home.  The house turned out great and the family was so happy to finally have it were we.  It took a lot longer than anticipated to finish due to rain, shortage of volunteers and other circumstances that we didn't see coming our way.  But it's now done, so we can check it off the list.  Yee-haw!!


The Catholic Circle of Faith build is coming along great.  Just when I think we fall behind, I get a great group of volunteers that help catch us back up.  The goal is to have it finished by the time I'm done on Friday.  However, there are some things that we just can't control so I guess you'll now know what I'll be doing on my Saturday's for a while.  ; )

And just in case you thought these houses were given away for nothing, you're wrong!  It's a common myth that Habitat for Humanity homes are free.  They aren't.  The families have to meet certain requirements (low income), put in 400 hours of sweat equity, and then purchase the home from Habitat for Humanity.  

So what else have I learned?

I've learned what it is like to work with a group of people that have a real passion for what they do.  A group of people who really understand the reasons for doing what they are doing.  When obstacles are thrown at them, they keep pushing forward.  When everything is going right, they know how to appreciate it and enjoy the ride, no matter how short the ride may be.

So, a special shout out to Yellow Team...thanks for a great ride!  I hope I didn't make your ride too bumpy.  And Blue Team...I hope to catch a ride with you real soon.

Highlight of the past few weeks...
1.  Dedication day.  My first house is complete!
2.  Making the last push on house #2.

"You are the light of the world.  A city built on a hill cannot be hid.  No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven."   
Matthew 5:14-16

Monday, July 18, 2011

Week 11 - Hot, hotter, hottest

For the second time this summer, we've been hit with a heat index over 100 degrees and it doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon.  So, you can probably guess how the volunteers and myself were working this past week.  Even though we may have been moving slow and easy, I'm happy with the progress we made on the houses.

The Catholic Circle of Faith house moved right along with the framing process.  The walls were stood, the trusses were set, and blue board was put on.  Next on the agenda...roofing.

The other house continued to have awesome leadership from our AmeriCorps staff working on the interior finishes.  I was able to help out the first part of the week installing the laminate flooring but then they took over the rest of the week and worked on installing cabinets, trim, blinds, more painting, etc.  And the house looks great!  I even noticed that we have power running directly to the house now.  Let's hope the electricians and the heating/cooling trades can get there soon.  


I, on the other hand, didn't get to work on the front of the women's build house like I had hoped.  So, depending on the other tasks on the schedule, let's hope I can squeeze in some time this week to try and work on it.

I'm over halfway with my volunteer time with Habitat for Humanity and I've started thinking a lot about what I've learned these past eleven weeks.  The one thing that stands out the most is learning to take my tool belt off.  For those of you that really know me, I'm a do'er and being single all these years, I've learned to do a lot of things on my own.  And I mean a lot.  So, as a do-er and an independent person, being tossed into a leadership role has definitely thrown me some curve balls.  

I've really had to learn to take the tool belt off and show someone else how to do things and not do it for them.  Along with leadership, comes patience, something else that I struggle with.  I've had to learn to be patient with people because they don't all learn at the same rate of speed as the next person.  It's hard for me to show someone something and then walk away to have them do the task without constant supervision.  However, I'm always surprised by coming back a little later and seeing the great work they are doing without me watching them all the time.  I don't know if that is leadership or something else, but I think I'm getting better at leaving the tool belt off. 

Highlight of the week...
Seeing progress on both houses.

Brothers and Sisters: The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought... 
Romans 8:26

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Week 10 - Starting over...

This last week, I was put on lead responsibilities on a second house.  This house is being funded by the Catholic Circle of Faith group which is comprised of four parishes in the Des Moines area working together to build a home for another deserving family.  I'm involved with the Habitat for Humanity ministry group at my parish, St. Francis of Assisi, that is taking part in this build.  And I'm very happy being able to serve on this build in a couple of different aspects.

We worked on getting the foundation capped, and even though you can't see them, building the supporting walls in the basement.  The volunteers with the Catholic Circle of Faith are very hard working that we were able to get a big jump on the caulking in the basement (phew!), cut the door/window openings out of the exterior walls, and sheeted the end trusses before they will be put up.  Hopefully, with some cooperation with the weather, you will see some big changes in next weeks photos.

Oh, and this house is going up next to the house that we built at the Des Moines Arts Festival a few weeks ago.  It is still in the finishing stages but it is on its foundation ready for the next steps in becoming a home for another deserving family.

You might be wondering about the women's build house I was working on???  I'm still working on that one too!  On our non-volunteer days, I'll be working on the Hammers & Heals house and then leading at the new Catholic Circle of Faith house when the volunteers are on site.

This past week, the women's build house was all about painting.  And thanks to some great Habitat staff members leading the volunteers last week, we were able to move in some of the flooring and cabinets in preparation for installation this week.

So, I'm starting the process all over again...framing, roofing, siding, etc.  And I couldn't be happier.  I'm loving this and can't believe that I'm over halfway done with my time at Habitat for Humanity this summer.  I'm trying my best not to think about it ending but know that it will be here before I know it.

On another youngest niece turned 12 years old on Sunday.  And this aunt doesn't like seeing them grow up so quickly.  I wanted the birthday girl to sit on my lap, but she said she was too, like any good auntie would do...I sat on hers.  I wish I would have gotten a picture of that!  Happy Birthday, Kiddo!!  Love you!!

Happy 12th Birthday!!

Highlight of the week...
1.  Getting to lead the Catholic Circle of Faith house.
2.  Celebrating my niece's birthday with her.

You are a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in distress;
Shelter from the rain, shade from the heat. 
Isaiah 25:4

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Week 9 - Turn up the heat!

Well, we turned up the heat this week...or Mother Nature did anyway.  We had a couple of scorchers on Thursday and Friday.  The beginning of the week started out ok, but by the time we got to the end of the week, we were taking frequent breaks and standing in the shade whenever possible.

The drywall was finishing up this week, and since we couldn't get inside, we were outside working in the sun, humidity, and heat.  Thankfully, we are far enough along on the outside of the house that we were able to get started on some painting and get the window wells dug and installed.  And I was able to get in on the action but boy, was it hot!  Mid- to upper-90s, a lot of humidity, and no clouds made for some very toasty construction work.  I tried to stay strategic by having the volunteers move with the shade, but there were times when we just couldn't escape it.  Especially on the south and west side after the noon hour.  Woo-doggy!

Getting in on the painting...
Can you see the farmer's tan?

Thursday we had to get the scaffolding up to paint the back of the house again.  If you didn't have gloves on, you'd burn your hands on the aluminum.  After we got the framing set and the first plank put on, I went up to finish assembling the planking as it was handed up.  It was hard to get the volunteers out from under the shade tree so when I finished getting the scaffolding set...sweat dripping and soaking through my gloves...I moved everyone to the front and east side of the house to tackle some other tasks that would be in the shade.  That didn't seem to help, the heat really drained the volunteers and we were all moving at a snails pace.

The Friday group cranked out some painting on the house.  We got a lot further than I thought we would but the volunteers were willing and able to work in the sun or the shade.  With frequent hydration breaks, the group was always looking for something to do, so painting we did.  Tan with white trim and eventually we'll add the accent color...but you'll have to wait until I get pictures to see what that color will be.  


Oh...and we now officially have walls with texture.  So, let the painting continue.  

I hope you all had a fun holiday weekend!  Thanks to our military and the freedoms we have. 

Highlight of the week...
1.  Getting started on the exterior painting and installing the window wells.  

Be free, yet without using freedom as a pretext for evil, but as slaves of God. 
1 Peter 2:16

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Week 8 - Whooped! - Part 2

The rest of last week at the arts festival was awesome, but exhausting.

Before I left on Thursday from the set up of the arts festival, I was told that the schedule had changed again and that we would be working the full day on Friday...7 a.m. - 11 p.m.  WHAT?!?!?  Ok, I was not really looking forward to it, but I have to admit it was a fun day, we got a lot done and I made it home without falling asleep.  However, Friday literally kicked my ass!

I arrived at the site and we immediately went to work to get things ready for the wall raising at noon.  My task...assemble the entire front wall of the house to be lifted as one complete section for the wall raising.  With my tool belt strapped on and one other Habitat team member to assist, off we went.  Now, the end result was to have the entire front walls of the house nailed together with the door and window openings cut out so it actually looked like an unfinished front of a house.  By the time I left for lunch with some friends, not only did you see the door and window openings cut and the front wall as one unit;  it was blue boarded, lines were snapped for siding, and the windows were actually installed.  Woo-hoo!!

Even though I didn't get to see the wall raising, when I got back, two different teams were working to set the walls for the sides of the house and another team waiting in the wings to start setting the interior walls.  By supper (6 p.m.), all exterior and interior walls were set, scaffolding was put up, and trusses were lifted to the top of the house.  After supper, trusses were set, safety rails were installed for the roof, siding was starting to go on and the front porch was coming together.  The night ended with me leading a group of volunteers on the roof with 1/3 of the roof sheeted under the lights, a dark sky behind us and fireworks going off at the baseball stadium.  A great view from the roof.  Too bad we were all kicked off before they were over.

By the time I got home, my feet were killing me.  It hurt to take my work boots off and walk around the house barefoot.  I thought I'd never say this, but I was happy to put my work boots back on Saturday when I got ready for my next shift.  Thankfully, it was a short shift...3 p.m. - 11 p.m.  But I'll admit I was dragging, big time! The roof was ready to be shingled and the one side was already started when I arrived. I was given a team of volunteers to lead in finishing the roof with a couple of other Habitat team members...all I'm going to say is...we girls ruled the roof!  Roof was completed shortly after supper, the safety rails came down and we were moved to getting the soffit and fascia put on.  Siding was completed and trim painting began.  We stayed a little later than we were supposed to to try and finish up the shakes on the front of the house, but we were pulled off and it would be the first task we tackled on Sunday.

Sunday morning I arrived for the early shift since we were so far ahead of schedule.  TK and I finished up the shakes on the front of the house, helped paint some trim and I hung the Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity banner (over wet paint...oops!) and the house was pretty much complete by 10 a.m.

Does this look familiar?

Clean up started and next thing you know, lunch was delivered.  After a quick bite from In the Bag, the Habitat staff took our rubber ducks from our lunch sacks and headed for the public library water feature to race our ducks.  We kind of drew a crowd as we tossed our rubber duckies in the water and watched to see if they'd even float.  They did...on their side or upside down.  I came in third, then we all gave the ducks to the kids that were watching our cheap entertainment for the day.  I headed for home shortly after the front door was opened to the public.  But my day wasn't over yet.

The ducks take center stage.

As tired and beat as I was, I still had a lawn to mow.  It had been two weeks since it was mowed last and either I needed to get it done or I needed to buy a couple of goats to take care of it for me.  So, I pulled into the driveway and fired up the mower.  A very long 50 minutes later, the lawn was checked off my list, and I had all I could do to get a shower in before crashing on the couch.  I woke up later to devour some food and then it was right to bed.  It felt great to sleep in on Monday, although I should have taken a nap, I didn't get around to it.  Oh well, I have a long weekend ahead of me for the holiday so will catch some extra zzz's then.

Have a wonderful and safe weekend!  HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!!!

Highlight of the week...part 2
1.  Finishing the arts festival build ahead of schedule.

He said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while." 
Mark 6:31

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Week 8 - Whooped! - Part 1

Wow!  What a was great, but I'm whooped!  If you remember from my last post, my week started (Monday) with a drive back from Colorado.  And then it was right back to work at Habitat for Humanity.

This was the week of the Des Moines Arts Festival and Habitat for Humanity built a house in the middle of the street on one of the corners of the festival.  I said I was going to get lots of pictures for you but...I failed again.  However, I'm hoping I can snag some photos from a couple of the Habitat team members to post here on the site later on.  But before I get to the arts festival build...we had some work to do on the house I've been working on the past five weeks.  

It was insulation inspection time and our yellow team was joined by the blue team to help get us ready.  And I have to say...THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!!  Without their help on Wednesday, we never would have been ready and neither of the two houses that had inspections would have passed.  Blue team...YOU ROCK!  They helped us finish caulking, install insulation, and made sure we had everything covered to pass the inspection.  As we were scrambling to finish both the women's and men's house builds for inspection on Wednesday, we get a call that the inspections had been rescheduled for Thursday morning.  Ugh!  We couldn't believe it, but then we all decided it was probably the best thing that could have happened because it allowed us to get everything done.

So, with insulation inspections completed, it is on to drywall.  Thankfully, we have this process completed by professionals and they were going to come in and complete that task while we worked at the arts festival on Friday.  BUT WAIT!!!  I was an idiot and forgot to get the cabinet bracing in.  The bracing has to be done before the sheet rock goes up so guess where I was at the next morning???  Thursday was to be an all day prep day for the arts festival, but my day started at 6:15 a.m. with cabinet bracing.  Thanks to the help of a couple of other Habitat team members, the cabinet bracing was completed and we were heading downtown to help with the set up for the arts festival build by mid-morning.

On Thursday, we basically got everything moved downtown that we would need for the arts festival build; tools, hardware, building materials, power set up, scaffolding, etc.  While some of the crew was working on transferring building materials to the site, the rest of us set the deck for the house and prepped it for the wall raising to kick off the build on Friday at noon.  So, with everything delivered, and the site set up complete, we called it a night.  I pulled into my driveway at 6:15 p.m. and I was beat.

Highlight of the week...part 1
Passing the insulation inspection.

"They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar as with eagle wings.  They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint". 
Isaiah 40:31

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Week 7 - Siding and driving

I ended my 7th week at Habitat on Friday with the back side of the house completed with siding. In the heat, we busted it out so that the scaffolding could be taken down.  The crew that worked on Saturday did a great job getting more of the siding completed on the front but we ran short on materials so we will need to finish that up a little later.  They also worked on the overhangs getting us closer to completely finishing up the siding.  We still have some work to do, but there is progress each day, even if we are fighting the weather...still.


End of week 7

We are also working a lot on the inside of the house to get it ready for insulation inspection.  Today, the whole crew worked on tearing down the scaffolding from all three houses in the morning and then after lunch we gang-banged the Hammer's and Heels house on insulation and caulking.  When we finish this one, we'll all move to the next house and to do the same insulation and caulking process until all three are ready for inspection.

The big thing this week , starting Thursday, is the blitz build we are going to be doing at the Arts Festival downtown Des Moines.  Three days (actually about 18 hours); frame, roof, and side a house in the middle of the street.  We will then move it to its foundation after the festival (midnight on Sunday).  I hope to get lots of pictures to share with you.  But more importantly...stop down and see us!  My schedule did change for when I'll be working during the build. You'll find me there mid-afternoon and into the evening all three days; Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Friday, after work, I headed to Colorado Springs for my Goddaughter's baby dedication.  I spent the night at my mom's in Council Bluffs before heading out early Saturday morning.  It was a very short trip, drove back on Monday, but so worth it getting to see my great friends and spending time with the kids.  They hold a very special place in my heart.  Remember what I wrote about friendships a couple weeks back?

My goddaughter...

I will add a bonus here about my friendships.  Even though I haven't been blessed with a family of my own, I thank God that He has given me great friends that allow me to spend time with their families.  And they allow me to claim their kids as my own.  This also includes my nieces and nephews.  I truly love each and every one of them as if they were my own child.  

Highlight of the week...
1.  Seeing the siding get closer to completion. 
2.  Fitting into my dress pants for the baby dedication.  As I was driving to Colorado, it dawned on me that I haven't had them on since I started my leave (7 weeks ago).  Needless to say, I haven't been eating all that great after leaving the office but thankfully, they still fit. Phew! 
3.  Oh could I forget?  The big cookie at Cheddar's!  Yummy!!!  This proves my statement in #2.  Ha!

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff–they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in he house of the LORD my whole life long. 
Psalm 23