Archive for April 2014

This Old House

Pratt Family Home

This is where my family and I spent this past weekend. Honestly.

See the upstairs window on the right? That’s where Ken and I slept.

Our kids slept in the upstairs room on the left.

And my parents slept in the room behind the lower window on the left.

That’s where they always sleep, because they have lived here for over 10 years now. My paternal grandparents lived here for decades before that.

My grandfather–George Marshall Pratt (the third, although that title was not a given part of his name)–was born in this house in 1906. The above picture shows his mother and five of his siblings. He and his older sister had not yet been born.

We are not sure when the Pratt family moved into the house, nor who built it. Unfortunately, it seems that anyone who could answer those questions is no longer on this earth, and we didn’t think to ask them when they were still here.

This is the front of the house in a shot that I took this weekend:

Pratt family home

It actually looks quite alive and inviting when my mother’s flowers are in bloom, but this picture, from a cold spring morning, makes for a good comparison with the one taken over a century ago.

Here is the same house a few years after the first picture above. My Grandpa Pratt always stated that he was a newborn in this picture and was in the bedroom with his mother, I believe behind the curtains in the bottom left window.

George Marshall Pratt home

{I have to wonder–who took these pictures?! Was there a traveling photographer who made his or her way around the countryside with a wagon carrying old-time camera equipment who would take a picture of the family homestead for a fee and then move on? I just have to wonder.}

Through the years, my grandparents added a couple of enclosed porches to the house, as well as a kitchen, an additional bedroom and expanded their basement (to include indoor plumbing!). Eventually, they added a bigger kitchen, turning the previous kitchen into a dining room, and built a bathroom on the main floor.

This photo shows what used to be the front of the house, which is now an enclosed porch that my parents have used as a wonderful playroom for the grandkids.

Enclosed front porch

This is what it looks like on the other side of that wall–from the inside looking out to the enclosed front porch. This is one of the original rooms, which I believe was used as the main living area.

Inside of original Pratt home

My parents have been able to make some interior changes to the house and have also built an attached garage, a large dining room and a mudroom/pantry area.

Here is a side view of the house today, but you can still see the original portion of it which was built so many years ago.

Pratt home 2014After we enjoyed our good night’s rest this past weekend, we stripped the beds and Ken  helped my Dad move the big furniture into the newest bedroom. There it will remain until the walls and ceilings in those two old rooms and the stairwell are gutted to the studs so that new electrical wiring, insulation and drywall can go in.

This is the original stairway leading upstairs. Generations of kids and grandkids have played on these steps! 🙂

grandkids in the stairway

The walls and wallpaper will be updated, but the original stairs will remain.

I hope to post some before and after pictures once this latest project is complete.

It’s exciting to anticipate the changes, but I also love the stories and memories that this old house holds for me and so many others.

Something for Your Child’s Easter Basket

Kids with Easter baskets

If you’re looking for a great Easter gift for a special child in your life, I would highly recommend something from the What’s In the Bible series.

My kids {and Ken and I} love these DVDs. They are packed with solid Bible truths presented in such a fun way that your kids {and you} will enjoy and even remember them. Phil Vischer {of Veggie Tales} does a great job teaching simple, yet foundational biblical truth.

We currently have Volumes 1 and 8 if anyone local wants to swap or just check them out. I plan to get a couple more for my kids’ Easter baskets.

If you click here or on the ad in the left sidebar, you will see this week’s offer of The Jesus Journal with Volume 10 thrown in as a bonus. Volume 10 explains Jesus and the Gospels and is a great one for Easter time.

As part of their affiliate program, I plan to keep a link to their site on my blog and it will change with different deals or percentages off, so check back in if you’d like to wait for a different offer. {And I’m not gonna lie to you, I could earn a small commission if you order it through my site. So it’s a win/win either way.}

But commission or not, I really do think these DVDs are great!

Better than another chocolate bunny–right?! You know how your kids act when they’re all hopped up on sugar!!

Ebenezer Series: A Big Move

Acknowledging God’s magnificent hand in my

otherwise ordinary life

{Spring break is over and I am back, continuing on with my Ebenezer series. For a reminder of what this is all about, you can read the introductory blog here and catch up on all other posts in the series here.}

Mobile Home

At some point, my father made some changes and was no longer working for his friend {my landlord}. The house was still available, so my friend and I remained there, for a little while.

But the day came when my landlord’s wife paid me a visit and, although she was a wonderful lady, I felt a heaviness in my chest when I saw her at my door. She explained that they had hired someone who would be living in the house and that my roommate and I would need to move out. I don’t recall the exact time frame, but I know it was short.

She left, and as soon as I closed the door, I dropped to my knees in that magnificently spacious room and cried out to God. “Oh dear God, what do you want me to do?” I wept, with my hands-covered face in the plush carpeting. I poured my heart out to Him there and I felt his comforting presence. I don’t think I’ll ever forget those moments.

farmhouse kitchen

Feelings of confusion and desperation came and went over the  next couple of weeks, but they didn’t get the best of me. I didn’t want to leave this place, which I had initially resisted with all my might, but I felt reassured that He would provide a way for me, as He had before, and I began to actively wait upon Him.

I broke the news to my roommate, and we each began brainstorming our options.

One night I called my best friend, Kelly. She had gotten married a few months earlier and moved to the southeastern corner of Wisconsin. I had driven the three hours to visit her on more than one occasion and was somewhat familiar with the area. Kelly’s extended family lived in surrounding communities and, along with her, I had visited them many times during my teen years.

As soon as I told Kelly of my predicament, she said, “Laury, you should move down here.” She told me how she didn’t think I’d have any problem finding a job in the area and that she would ask around to see if anyone was looking for a roommate.

In no time, she let me know that there was an elderly lady from their church who lived in a mobile home {in a retirement community} and had extra space that she was willing to rent out. Upon her request, the mobile home association granted her approval to have a young person stay with her, even though all residents were supposed to be over 60 years old. It sounded less than ideal, but for $20 a week, it would do fine until I found something else.

My time in the farmhouse was just under a year. It all seems like a whirlwind now, but without much hesitation, I quit my job at the newspaper and closed up my consignment space. We packed up most everything from that big old farmhouse and stored it at my parents’ home. {Bless their hearts once again}

Ironically, the new guy who was moving in was a high school classmate of mine. He and his wife began storing a few of their belongings in the house before I was scheduled to be out, so it was fun to cross paths with him and catch up a bit.

With many of my clothes, and just a few necessities stuffed into my car, I headed for the other side of the state to meet my new “roommate.”

Her name was Irene.  She was a sweet-spirited and rather spry 80-something year-old who had a love for the Lord that showed in everything she said and did. She was widowed, with no children, and lived with her yappy little dog in this mobile home, left to her years earlier by a man for whom she had been a paid caretaker.

Irene Maxwell

The back bedroom, which became my room, contained the hospital bed that this man had used, complete with wheeled bedside table. Other furnishings included a floor lamp, an old chair, large pictures and mirrors, hanging plants and oodles of filing cabinets and file boxes.

Bed at Irene's

The closet had two fold-out doors and was ¾’s full of old clothes, coats, boxes and a vacuum–with just enough room for me to squeeze in a handful of hanging clothing items.

Bedroom at Irene's

My living space had just been downsized to a rather crowded and oddly furnished 9′ x 10′ room {or so}, —in complete contrast to the 4-bedroom farmhouse from which I had just moved.

I rearranged and did what I could to make the space comfy and my own. Irene had emptied out a couple of filing cabinets and I used them as dressers. I used to joke about not being able to find my clothes–like I had looked under “j” for jeans but then remembered I had filed them under “p” for pants. It was an unusual way to live, but I always knew it would make for a good story someday.

 

Clothing files at Irene's

I had 3 windows in my room which made it bright and sunny. And although it was a bit confining, I had a peace within me and am thankful that I was able to adjust immediately. Life had brought a quick and exciting change, and I felt ready to take it on.