SHOWER!!!!!

WE HAVE AN UPSTAIRS SHOWER!!! I seriously can’t even put into words how excited I am right now. That was probably the best shower of my entire life. Haha! I debated on waiting to make this post because I wanted to wait until the entire bathroom is finished for a big final reveal but that would be another couple weeks, and I know people have been anxiously waiting for this day as much as I have! We have been here in Indiana for 71 days now and while that may seem like a really long time to get a “real shower” put in (which it *has* been a really long time), we have been having to add quite a few simultaneous other projects along the way. Story of any homeowners life am I right?! Also, bear in mind that Atom has been doing 100% of the work by himself. I help when I can but I’m pretty much banned from being anywhere there is excessive dust etc. This bathroom remodel has made a TON of dust– you’ll see why down below. When we got here you’ll remember when I said priority #1 was to get the shower in as fast as physically possible. I look back on that & laugh so hard. Little did we know that the pipes would burst on hour one of being in the building, which led to us having to replace ALL of the water pipes in the entire 20,000 square foot building. This meant breaking out & punching holes in many walls, replacing the 100 year old galvanized pipes with brand new varying sizes of PEX piping with more connectors & valves than you could imagine.


I’m really glad we didn’t just drop in a quick pre made shower & be done with it. At the time I wanted to just hurry up & throw it together. Atom was the voice of reason (as he always is) and we dreamed up this bathroom together. Also during the past 71 days we have been pretty darn busy with things other than the bathroom remodel. The “hillbilly shower” that we have been using in the boiler room since the beginning has really been our saving grace as far as no longer needing to rush the process.

In those 71 days we also transformed the “little” former office on the 2nd floor into our daughters princess bedroom, ran new electrical wiring all over the building to replace the ancient cloth wrapped stuff that has been in the walls for who knows how long and also being intentional about taking many breaks and having quality family time outside of the building exploring our new town and neighboring city. 

I’ve been working 40+ hours a week for the past month at my new job here at the hospital (which I absolutely LOVE) so I haven’t been home to help as much as I would like to. During the day while I’m at work, Atom has to juggle working on renovations while taking care of our 3 kids and making it a super fun summer for them. We have a “no work on Sunday” rule as well as Atom & I are playing softball every week on a team with our church. So needless to say, we have been quite busy over the past 71 days. And we have been loving every minute of it!

Ok back to the shower. Here’s the progression. I’ve always wanted the bathroom to have a “country” feel so that’s the theme we went with. For this post, I’m focusing on only the bath tub/shower since the rest of the bathroom is not done yet. I’ll write up another post when the entire room is finished. 

Here’s the before photo of the part of the bathroom where the shower would be placed. There were 2 toilet stalls that were a lovely (sarcasm) shade of pale pink.


After Atom broke out & removed the 100 year old wood & metal stalls.


We had to install a water heater for this bathroom since the only other water heaters are down in the boiler room which is down 2.5 flights of stairs & all the way on the other side of the building. Up on the third floor in one of the side hallways was the perfect place. Atom had to break open walls up there to run the new water pipes anyway which made it not as difficult to install the new water heater up there, which is essentially directly above the second floor bathroom we’re remodeling. Here you can see Atom’s feet as he was up in the very narrow crawl space between the 3rd & 4th floor running more water pipes & electrical for the water heater.


This was just when we placed the water heater. It hadn’t been completely hooked up yet nor strapped in place. 


The far toilet was taken out & Atom had to break through almost 6″ of concrete to get to the sewer pipe to attach the new waterline fittings etc. He also started framing up the walls & building the faucets. 




A new concrete pad was laid with the proper slope to allow our unconventional tub to properly drain and then the 200 gallon rust proof horse trough tub was placed. 


The rest of the frame work was done and Atom perfectly sanded the cedar planks and nailed them into place. 


The gaps were filled and sanded some more and a ton of coats of polyurethane were brushed on to completely seal/waterproof the wood, along with silicone sealants around the tub itself & a few other places. 


And VoilΓ !! Here is is all done!  


I’m pretty darn proud of Atom. He’s seriously so talented. It looks (& smells) amazing!! I can’t wait to finish the rest of the bathroom and then show the entire bathroom in one photo! I’m really excited about the vanity Atom’s currently working on building.

It’s now time to say farewell to our trusty hillbilly shower. Although it was actually a halfway decent shower with unlimited hot water coming directly from 2 hot water heaters, I will not miss having to go down 2.5 flights of stairs where it’s freezing & having to do a good spider check before getting in, and then making the mad dash back across the basement & up the stairs when you’re cold & wet in a towel. 


Theresa 

p.s. Glitter desk is almost done! I’ll be posting photos of it within the next week as well as filming a live Facebook video. Stay tuned!  

Earnie

About a month ago on my house renovation Facebook page (https://m.facebook.com/freemasontomansion/?tsid=0.27068488338115937&source=typeahead) I had a couple people mention the name Earnie on a few different posts. I had never heard anything about anyone named Earnie that had ties to the building before this. One person commented & said that Earnie was watching over us in the building & how he used to shine the floors so well that you could see your reflection and to not let him down. Naturally this peaked my interest & I decided to start doing some research. It was then a couple days later I received a message from Cathy, who happened to be Earnie’s niece. She started telling me all about him and what an amazing man he was. 
Earnest Greider was born on November 14th, 1907 in Indiana. He was married in 1928 at the age of 21 to Zelma Nowels in Huntington, Indiana. Earnie served on the Huntington Fire department for 25 years which included 15 of those years as Fire Chief before retiring in 1960. 

Earnie was a member of Freemasonry for 65 years. After he retired from the Fire department he went to work full time at the temple we now call home. During that time he did everything from cleaning, to maintenance, bookkeeping, an event coordinator, he was the lodge secretary for over 35 years as well as being a Master Mason. He took great pride in his work, and would clean the building from top to bottom, set up tables & chairs etc for various events, painted when needed, and would wax and buff the floors to a mirror shine. Earnie was definitely a jack of all trades when it comes to the building. He even earned the very prestigious Meritorious Service Award and the DeMolay Cross of Honor for his devotion and works. 

Earnie lived a very full, very faithful life and took his last breath on earth on December 12, 2011 at 3:10am and went to be with his Heavenly Father at the age of 104. 

After spending an afternoon talking with Cathy about her beloved uncle Earnie, I can tell he is deeply missed and truly made a positive impact on the lives of so many. I find myself walking around the building imagining how it looked at its peak with the waxed & polished floors and perfectly arranged tables & chairs etc, all a product of Earnie’s handiwork. It must have been an absolutely spectacular sight to see. I’ve apologized out loud more than once to Earnie for the current state of renovations with things far from looking amazing, I wouldn’t want him rolling over in his grave!  

If you are reading this and know of any stories about Earnie or perhaps knew him, please let me know! I’d love to hear more about him. 

I want to thank Cathy and her family for sharing Earnie with me, I wish I would have been able to meet him myself. 

And to Earnie, bare with us as we continue to navigate these massive renovations & slowly bring the building back to its prime, as you once so carefully perfected. We won’t let you down πŸ™‚


Theresa 
(Side note- bathroom remodel & glitter desk are both ALMOST DONE!!! Stay tuned for those unveiling in the next couple weeks!) 

Haters.

We were prepared for haters when I first launched my house Facebook page and website. Now that we are in the public eye (in a much larger way than we anticipated) it was only a matter of time until we would experience some negativity. It comes with the territory. I am not easily offended, and I have a wicked sense of humor. I keep things real on my sites, the good, bad & ugly. Because life isn’t always peachy keen, I promise. And that’s okay. We’ve had mostly amazing days here but of course we’ve had frustrating moments like when the boiler room pipes exploded on night #1 and we’ve had to change original plans for certain projects. But it’s all part of the process. We are loving this ride, both the good and the bad. I think having transparency when embarking on a project as massive as our building is super important. Not everyone appreciates this. And I’ll say it again: THAT’S OKAY. This is OUR life and OUR project. What’s not okay is what we encountered recently. It really took us by surprise the pathetic lengths someone would go to try & smear our family’s reputation with baseless claims. But you know what? This is NOT going to break us. Not one bit. Do words hurt? Of course they do, but all we can do is truly feel sorry for anyone who is so unhappy with their own life they have to try & destroy another’s. I don’t understand “keyboard warriors” either. Being a badass on the internet but hide your true identity in real life. Especially when people think they know you & make pathetic assumptions about your life, attack & call into question your faith and your intentions. I know a lot of things haters say is deeply rooted in jealousy and they just simply don’t have the tools to cope with it. Which is definitely not an excuse for atrocious behavior.Β 
One hater isn’t going to bring us down. We have an absolutely amazing community who has rallied around us and welcomed us here with open arms and know our hearts & that they are good. We have children to protect and will not expose them to this hate.I can promise you that our faith is bigger than your hate.Β 

Even though we have seen the ugly side of being in the public eye this past week, we aren’t letting it get to us. We are the bigger person and will just move on & ignore. It’s not worth our time getting upset over. I’ve definitely utilized the block button recently. Cyber bullying and cyber stalking are unfortunately real in this tech savvy age. We as parents need to start the communication with our children early, long before they’re exposed to the internet so they are equipped with the tools to cope & deal with it. Keep that line of communication open always. The best thing we can do for our children is to lead by example. Are we perfect parents. Nope. But we try our best. And I’ll say it again to any haters out there:

Our faith is bigger than your hate. ✌🏻

Lets focus more time on lifting each other up rather than tearing each other down. Life is too short to hide behind a keyboard. And if someone is trying to slander you, utilize that block button & take any necessary legal steps to protect yourself & your family. Β 

Atom & I really want to take some time to say THANK YOU all for being amazing & so supportive to us lately. You all have become like family and we definitely feel the love. This has truly become our new home & we feel a definite connection and acceptance within the community here. Small town living is amazing. Y’all should try it sometime (see my inner midwest dialect is starting to come out- haha). All of your uplifting comments and messages really mean the world to us.Β 

I now have a huge antique desk to glitter the heck out of. Stay tuned, that blog post is coming up in a few days πŸ™€πŸŒŸπŸ˜Β 


Theresa.Β 

[disclaimer- this post is a general post & not aimed at any one person specifically.]

Dust & Lungs don’t mix

When taking on a project of this sheer magnitude it’s sure to produce it’s fair share of dust. It’s a 91 year old gigantic building after all. But we were pleasantly surprised that there was initially far less dust than we anticipated. (Key word there being “initially.”) Even knocking out walls and pulling layers of plaster off plaster off the bricks only made a minimal amount of mess and dust that was localized to where Atom was working, & was cleaned up right away. The Respiratory Therapist in me has made sure Atom has good protection/masks etc for when he’s swinging a sledge hammer &/or drilling into walls. Our three year old daughter (M) has been busy reminding us literally every day since we’ve been here that she wants a princess bedroom. She & Atom had spent many evenings back in San Diego dreaming up what her new room would look like when we moved out here. We decided 2 weeks ago to switch a couple rooms around on the second floor. The larger room that initially was going to be M’s room is now going to be a game/rec/play room and the smaller office that shares a wall with the master bedroom will be her room. It’s a much better sized room for her. The 20x30ish room was a tad excessive for a three year old. Haha. Since we have been here all 3 of our kids have been one room to sleep which has worked out great considering it is another gigantic room (pretty sure it’s another 20×30 one which will eventually be split into 2 rooms by a wall for the boys.) M likes her own space & she was done sharing the room with her brothers. Totally over it. In order to get the little (and by “little” I mean 12×15) office transformed into a functioning bedroom we had our work cut out for us. With the “quick” bathroom shower instillation which has turned into a massive bathroom remodel along with re water piping the entire building taking significantly longer than initially anticipated (yay hillbilly shower!), Atom needed a break from it for a few days so we decided to give our pint sized princess her own room. The office was a disaster. I realized as I’m typing this that I didn’t get any good “before” photos darn it! There was a lot of trash/papers left in there as well as a huge old desk (which I’m super stoked about because I’m going to refinish it) & 2 vintage typewriters. The floor had this SUPER OLD super thick green linoleum (it’s NOT asbestos) that had to be scraped off, the floor stripped, sanded and buffed & sanded some more. Under the linoleum & carpet everywhere in the building are the original unfinished hardwood (oak) floors that we plan on slowly uncovering & finishing. I’m not a huge fan of carpet. Atom got to work ripping off what he could of the ugly green linoleum. 


He suited & masked up & got to work with the sanding buffer. 


After removing the linoleum Atom was on his hands & knees for the entire day yesterday with the belt sander getting all of the remaining black stuff off of the wood. That stuff didn’t want to budge easily. The result? AMAZING!


We knew this project was going to produce a fair amount of dust. But oh my freaking goodness dust got everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Even with the door to the room shut, dust managed to blanket every square inch of the second floor foyer. Thankfully it didn’t get into the master bedroom nor through the 2 sets of doors down the hallway into the living room/billiard room/library/boys room. It wasn’t your typical day to day dust either. It was dust from the linoleum mixed with this super fine essentially sawdust. Stuck to everything & there was this horrible fog in her room & the foyer until it all settled. 

Fun (??) fact about me- I have severe asthma. I’ve had asthma since childhood & I’m one of the lucky ones who’s asthma has gotten much worse in adulthood. Dust is my public enemy #2. (Smoke/fire is #1 for me). Thankfully I had all three Bronchial Thermoplasty (BT) procedures done in the summer of 2015 and while my asthma is still classified as severe, it’s dramatically better as a result of having BT. Being a Respiratory Therapist (fitting profession isn’t it?) I could talk your ear off about asthma & the lungs for days but I won’t. 


Before I had BT there would have not been a chance in hell we would have even thought about taking on a project of this magnitude considering my health. No way. But now, it’s definitely doable. And we’re doing it. Of course I still have to take way more precautions than the average healthy person but my disease isn’t going to stop me from following God’s call. I’m a pretty stubborn person & my former doctors can all attest to that fact. So far, living in Indiana hasn’t caused my lungs too much trouble. I got the same talk from all of my former doctors (primary doc, Pulmonologist, Asthma doc & Cardiologist) saying how they were curious as to how my lungs would handle a completely different climate considering I had only ever lived in San Diego prior to the big move east. Even with the pretty erratic swings in the weather that we have experienced here the past 6 weeks my lungs have held their own. Now, ask me the same thing after the brutal humid summer & freezing winter & we’ll see how I’m holding up then. I’m confident I’ll be just fine. I’ve started the daunting search for an entire new medical team for myself which is a whole other can of worms. (Any suggestions for local pulmonologists, cardiologists & primary doctors are welcome!) 

Ok so back to dust. The clean up today was brutal. We started with the shop vac to get what we could up, and then we washed the walls multiple times and scrubbed the floor until all of the dust was gone. Not joking, it took over three hours. And that’s not including the foyer. By the time we were finished cleaning up M’s room my lungs were done. 


Not even the vogmask nor the industrial mask could keep everything out. If nothing else, my lungs got a great workout from all of the coughing. Haha! Here are a couple of photos where you can see just a fraction of how much dust was in there. 


The dark rectangle is the floor in the closet. I used the shop vac there so you could see the difference.


One thing is for sure, seeing M light up and gasp when she saw her room all set up made my angry lungs worth it. Her room is FAR from finished, Atom will be building her a “princess castle” bed and the walls & baseboards need to be scraped & repainted but that will come in time. For now she is beyond elated to have her own space. And I’ll be sleeping with my inhaler under my pillow tonight. 


Sweet dreams, M πŸ’œ

Theresa 

Front Page News!

This is a super quick post but I am so excited I wanted to share. We made the front page of the county newspaper! Cindy Klepper wrote a lovely article about us and our journey here to Huntington. Once I get the digital link to the article I’ll post it but for now here are a couple photos of the newspaper itself. I keep pinching myself on a daily basis. Is this real life?  How did we get so lucky for God to choose us to take this awesome journey?! 


So many bricksΒ 

As Atom & I (let’s be honest- it’s mostly Atom) have been smashing out walls for renovations we have encountered more bricks than I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. This entire 20,000 square foot, 4 story building is built out of brick, stone and steel. Oh & plaster, a whole lot of plaster. Plaster is my enemy. My lungs hate it. 


As we have been removing plaster and other things to uncover the raw beautiful brickwork hidden in the walls it got me to thinking about how every single brick was laid by hand out of a labor of love for Freemasonry. It’s pretty spectacular to think about. Back on July 24, 1926 when the cornerstone was laid and construction began on the building there weren’t machines as we have today to aid in the building process. Mostly everything was done completely by hand, one brick at a time. Thinking of how different the cranes were back then as opposed to what they are now to set the massive 15 inch thick x 19 foot long steel beams (which each one weighing in at approx 3,000 lbs) is absolutely mind blowing. We tried to do some rough math & the steel alone in this house weighs over 200,000 lbs. And that’s *just* steel. Doesn’t include the stone, brick, steel lath & plaster etc that make up the rest of the building. This place is HEAVY. I like to tell myself that it’s not likely to come down in a tornado. Give this Southern California girl an earthquake no problem. But tornadoes? Forget it!  


The outside of the building is stunning. I don’t think anyone would argue that. The stone and brick work is beautiful, each one laid perfectly in place.



Inside these walls, that have been covered in plaster for almost 100 years are stories. I often wonder about the men who laid these bricks and what their stories are. Who they were, their names and ages and families etc. Were they masons themselves? Maybe I think too much about it but I can’t help it. There must have been so many people who aided in the construction of the building. 


The building took 419 days to build from start to finish. Pretty impressive if you ask me, considering most single family homes take on average 6-8 months to build from the ground up. And the vast majority of homes these days are not made of brick. 


Going beyond the framework of the building, the intricate details hand painted here & there are spectacular & we hope to be able to somehow preserve them. 


We plan to remove all of the plaster from the walls in the basement to give it more of a raw industrial look. 


That is a massive project in itself & I can promise you I’ll keep my distance when that is happening because that will be way too much dust for my severely asthmatic lungs. But the end result will be amazing. 

Theresa 

Treasure Hunt!

Now that we have settled more into the day to day living & routines here I’ve had more time to really start going through some of the rooms and clear the stuff out that was left behind by the masons. Not having everything set up how it will eventually be has made it difficult (& frustrating) because I haven’t been able to really unpack as much as I want to. We decided to switch Michaela’s room from the giant room we had initially planned on to the smaller former office that shares a wall with our master bedroom. And by “smaller” I mean it’s 12×14 (or something like that) vs the 30×26 the other room is, which will now become a playroom/game room/guest room etc. Michaela is super excited for her “new room” and is eager to move in. Yesterday Atom & I spent some time emptying the paper & things that were still in that office by the masons. I’ve set aside a box where I’ve been putting interesting things that we’ve found from all over the building. And we’ve only really gone through a fraction of what’s here. Here are some of the notable things we’ve found so far:

Quaid (our 8 year old) found this upstairs in a cabinet on the 3rd floor. After doing some internet research we found out it’s an antique floor tread which was patented by William Tonkin patent number 769198 on September 6th, 1904. The floor-tread was to be used under a mat or table to ring a call bell or other alarm. 


Down in the kitchen we have found all of the original owners manuals & booklets including this one:


In the library, I’ve started looking through all of the books left behind (There are a ton) and I’ll more than likely do a completely separate post on just the cool old books but this particular National Geographic magazine caught my eye. Look at the date! This edition turns 100 years old this month! Pretty amazing. 


I found both of these old glass (still full) Medicine bottles in the little office on the 2nd floor. I’m definitely not brave enough to open them but I think I’ll keep them because anything antique & medical makes me super excited! 


In a box of what at first appeared to be junk papers that was meant for the garbage I sifted through it before tossing the majority of it & hit the jackpot. 

These are ribbons and meal tickets from when the building was officially dedicated in September 15, 1927:


Also in the same box I found this booklet from the dedication itself. I think this might definitely be the coolest thing we have found so far. 


Check out the photo of the second floor (our living room)!!!! Recognize that table?!?! Yep! That’s our absolutely GORGEOUS black walnut table we bought with the building. I seriously gasped when I saw it in this booklet. SO COOL! (Also in this photo are the chairs around the post that we have as well as just about all of the other furniture in this photo)


I’ll make another post in a week or so if just the books in the library that were left behind. I know a lot of people have been asking me about them & I’ll have to spend some time essentially making a catalogue of what’s all there. 

And because I know y’all are still wondering, we still don’t have the shower/tub in upstairs πŸ™ˆ. I know, I know. But it’s all good. Our hillbilly camping shower in the boiler room is actually working quite well & we have all the hot water we want in there. It’s just the mad dash from the boiler room through the freezing cold (think 55 degrees-ish) basement and when you’re still not completely dry that makes it an awakening experience every night. And showering during the day won’t make a difference- it’s always that cold down there. We heat the kitchen but since we aren’t using the basement for anything besides storage at the moment we can’t justify spending more money to heat it. 

We dealt with a broken sewer pipe in the 2nd floor bathroom that we’re (and by “we” I mean Atom πŸ˜‰) is putting the shower/tub in as well as figuring out we needed to run new PEX water piping through the entire building as well as electrical wiring which has set us back a bit. But it’s not too bad because it’s all things that need to be done and having to basically do it all at once vs one project at a time.  

We’ll get there! 

Theresa 😁

Shower update (or lack thereof)

Priority #1- Shower
We have now officially been in Huntington for 2 weeks as of midnight tonight. If you’ve read my previous posts you’ll remember that while there are a ton of bathrooms in the building, there isn’t a single shower or bath tub. Hence, priority #1 being to put one in. We had been hoping to be able to pop in the shower upstairs in the guest bathroom within the first few days of us being here. We were realistic that it probably wouldn’t happen in that time frame but we were still hopeful. How hard could it be to pop out the bathroom stalls, smash out some walls & remove the massive urinal & throw in a shower? The plumbing is already there. 

Here’s the before (hard to get the entire bathroom in one photo but you get the gist.)


Atom started smashing out walls to find where the water pipes are since we don’t have any kind of diagram of the pipes in the building. We have the original building plans that are over 100 years old but they don’t include water lines etc. 

We quickly realized that we were going to want to basically re plumb the entire building as the pipes are all old and need to be replaced. So naturally it has dramatically slowed the shower installation process. Smashing walls and buying A LOT of water PEX piping (we are thankful for Home Depot’s Pro desk hooking us up with a huge discount!) has been the norm around here. 


In the mean time, we have been showering daily at the local YMCA, (thanks Ben!) which has been great but still a hassle to drive there and back every night. 

So 2 days ago, Atom decided to take matters into his own hands. A quick trip to Walmart & voila!

Behold, the camping shower in the boiler room πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚. 


(Note: added foliage makes it just like camping in the woods!). He hooked one hose directly to the water heater & another one to the regular (newly fixed from when it exploded) water line and then added a T so we can adjust the temperature. Added a garden hose adaptor & called it good. There is a drain in the floor in the boiler room with a sump pump so the water is drained outside. The first time showering in it was a complete disaster. Atom was scared to turn the water heater up too high so he had it on the lowest setting. Which meant luke warm water at best which ran out after about 5 min which left us showering in FREEZING cold water. And don’t forget the boiler room is also by far the coldest room in the building which meant getting out of the shower tent was torture. Having learned our lesson, Atom made some adjustments (turned up the temp on the water heater) as well as turning on the big heater in the boiler room while we were showering. Let me tell you it was one of the best showers I’ve ever had. We were showering IN OUR HOME! It only took 2 weeks and it isn’t even a “real” shower but it definitely takes the pressure off and we can now take our time replacing all of the water pipes in the building and putting in a proper shower upstairs. Until then, I’m going to invest in some big fuzzy robes for all of us to get to & from the boiler room to shower πŸ˜‰.

-Theresa 

One week down, a lifetime to go

We have officially been residents of Huntington for one week now. Having come from a gigantic city like San Diego where we have lived our entire lives, the thought of small town living was a completely foreign concept. I’ve heard stories about small towns, how everyone is nice and everyone knows each other etc but we really didn’t know what to expect. I used to daydream a lot about living in a smaller town and having neighbors who we would actually converse with and share meals together, where people look out for one another, and just a great all around family oriented atmosphere. We are one week in and I already feel like we hit the small town jackpot. This past week has been a blur but I really wanted to take the time to share our experiences with those we have encountered here in Huntington, Indiana. 
When I first launched my Facebook page for our renovation project this past December I had no idea how much it would take off nor how many people would click the “like” and “follow” buttons to watch our journey unfold. In my head I honestly thought just a handful of our family & friends would follow it for updates etc. It continues to blow my mind that there are over 4,000 followers right now & that number is climbing daily. Perhaps it’s the “cool/mysterious” factor of the building itself, or the the thought of this crazy family from San Diego who have never lived anywhere where it gets below 60 degrees and really have no idea what we are doing <insert failed building winterization which led to water pipes exploding on night one here> but decided to take on this massive project “for funsies” allure? Who knows. Regardless I’m so glad each & every one of you are following our story. I have received countless messages from people who stumbled across the page and are eager to watch the renovations take place including people from all over the world (places including Australia, England & Europe). So many Huntington residents have reached out to me long before we arrived welcoming us to the neighborhood and offering help, dinners and friendship; something that doesn’t happen often in Southern California. 

I wanted to spend some time highlighting some of our experiences around Huntington over the past week. When we left San Diego to make the pilgrimage across the country to our new home, I was crossing my fingers, toes & eyes that we would make it in time to attend Easter Sunday service at The Well Church. We had such a great spirit led experience when Atom & I were in Huntington last October and attended a Sunday service (more is detailed in one of my previous posts) and we were eager to attend again & from now on regularly, as church & our faith is at the center of our family. Everyone we have met so far at The Well has been so friendly and eager to get to know us. Pastor Josh Kesler was the first to reach out & let us know he was there to help us in any way he could to get settled. He’s the one who organized the Huntington University (HU) men’s soccer team to come over & help atom unload the moving truck. Sarah, also from The Well read my blog (or was it my Facebook page?) and messaged me introducing herself. It was so great to find her (& meet her mom Karen) on Easter Sunday and give them the biggest hug! Making these kinds of connections, especially at church make my heart explode with happiness. God has us here for a reason. He is paving the way and fostering new friendships along the way. 
Let’s talk Food. With our first several days being without any kind of functioning kitchen, we ate out a lot. Something we don’t normally like to do on a regular basis, but in this case it was a chance for us to try out some of the local restaurants. 

When Atom & I were out here in October we walked to the downtown area looking for a place to grab lunch one day & ended up at Nick’s Kitchen. It’s a small diner that has a warm & cozy feel. Our server was super friendly and the food was fantastic! The pork tenderloin sandwich was one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had!  

Another restaurant we have eaten at which was also within walking distance is Pizza Junction. It’s another small place right along the railroad tracks. The food here was also delicious and fresh. The mac & cheese was a favorite of our kids and the homemade breadsticks were so good and I can’t forget to mention the pizza was great! My kids got a kick out of watching the trains go by ever so often since we were sitting outside on the patio. Atom ordered a bunch of pizzas from Pizza Junction to feed the HU soccer team when they were unloading the moving truck as well. College guys plus pizza equals happy hearts. 

One of our favorites (been there 3 times now) for breakfast is Johnny’s Drive In. It’s a tiny (and I mean TINY) diner just south of us on the other side of the railroad tracks. It was recommended as one of the “go to” places for breakfast by one of the freemasons when Atom & I were here in October. It’s like breakfast heaven. Everything you could ever want for breakfast. And it’s incredibly cheap. CHEAP!! We fed all 5 of us until we were so full we had to be rolled out of the booth to the car for $14. We’re talking good comfort food. Biscuits & gravy, steak & eggs, chicken fried steak, pancakes, French toast, eggs however you want them, grits (made my 9 year old happy- he loves grits), home made sausage, perfectly cooked bacon and the list goes on & on. We were recognized here when we were getting breakfast Saturday morning. The family who recognized me had seen my Facebook page & my video and asked if we were the ones who bought the old Mason lodge. Turns out they live 3 doors down from us. Yay neighbors!

Being from San Diego, we have been definitely spoiled with real, authentic Mexican food. It was a staple in our diets since we were born. Nothing beats a taco from Las Cuatro Milpas or a California burrito (or carne asada fries) from Lolita’s. And don’t even get me started on the fresh, made right in front of you flour tortillas from Pancho Villas. Sigh. Naturally we were guarded when we were told by many locals there are 3 Mexican food restaurants here in Huntington. We went to the one called Los Amigos on Easter Sunday for dinner (no functioning kitchen yet, remember?). The menu had an entire section where things were spelled out phonetically as well as definitions. Something I’ve only ever seen once on a “Mexican” menu when Atom & I were in Ireland (which I can assure you was one of the funniest restaurant experiences of my life. The Irish totally got an A for effort on that one). I chuckled a bit but remembered that we are a long way from the border and words like tostada, chile relleno, and frijoles aren’t exactly normal around here. When back in San Diego most of our neighborhoods & street names are Spanish So I’m sure it is immensely helpful to the locals here. The waiter spoke Spanish which made Atom excited since he is completely fluent and they conversed totally in Spanish. The food. Ok I’m going to be completely honest here. It didn’t taste authentic. At all. However, it was quite tasty! Just not what we expecting or hoping for. Would I eat there again? Definitely. They pretty much had me at white cheese sauce that was on top of my shredded chicken chimichanga (no pollo asada here 😒). But so good. There are 2 other Mexican restaurants here in town that we will be sure to try out in time. Thankfully I know how to make pretty much everything as authentic as it gets in regard to Mexican food. My mom has a killer tamale recipe and Atom makes Carne Asada that is amazeballs. And nothing beats home made frijoles (beans) and Mexican rice from scratch. Oh & Atom & my mom make the BEST salsa! I’m still working on perfecting my flour tortilla recipe but my dear friend Cheryl gave me a tortilla press when we left San Diego so I’m good to go! It doesn’t surprise me that no one here has ever heard of a California burrito (it’s a Carne asada burrito with French fries in it) but I can make that at home easily. Same goes with pollo asada flautas. Mmmmmmm. Mexican food is my soul food. It gives me life. Jesus and tacos are life. 

I think my absolute favorite place here in Huntington that we have tried so far is Antiqology. When I first saw the billboard along the highway I thought it was an antique shop. Which half of it is, but holy smokes when we walked in the door I was in heaven! It’s an ice cream/ soda pop shop!!!!!!!!!! (Extra explanation points for my sheer excitement about this place). They have an entire wall of specialty bottled sodas as well as their own root beer and a few others. (The Antiqology root beer is by far my fav!). There are probably 10-15 different ice cream flavors as well that are on a rotating basis. We aren’t talking your normal every day flavors. We’re talking blueberry muffin, salted caramel pretzel (my favorite), raspberry pie, pumpkin, and the list goes on. The prices are great and the scoops are HUGE. It’s owned & operated by Adam and Rebecca Hanson. They are such a sweet couple and do a lot for their community. Just having met them a couple of times now, I can tell they have the most genuine hearts and are people that you want to get to know. And being that it’s only a couple blocks from our house, we will be there often. 
Ok enough about food. Let’s talk about the people of Huntington. Being from a super huge metropolitan city like San Diego with 3 million people, we have never experienced the “small town feel” pretty much ever. The people here have been so friendly, we have yet to come across anyone rude. Our neighbors directly behind us, Ben & Kasey Davis reached out to me months before we moved here, introducing themselves in an email & telling is they were excited to get to know us. Emails & messages like this have made our transition here so much easier. Because to be honest, even though we are totally following God’s call here and know He has a plan for us, moving across the country to a place where we have no family within the same town is downright scary! I do feel like we have won the lottery with Ben & Kasey as the coolest neighbors ever. Those of you who know us from San Diego or my personal Facebook page over the years know we were dealing with some less than desirable neighbors for many years. Ben & Kasey invited us over for dinner Friday night & we had the BEST TIME! We laughed until our sides hurt and our kids all played together until we could barely keep our eyes open (after we all walked to Antiqology after dinner because ice cream). We are really looking forward to more dinners and hang out time together (hopefully they don’t think we’re too weird haha) because I definitely feel like we clicked & share similar senses of humor (Kasey if you’re reading this, you are totally my spirit animal 😜). 

We were recognized “in the wild” the first time when we were at the Huntington YMCA by the sweetest lady at the front desk (so sorry I forgot your name!). We have been able to shower there this past week until we get our own shower put in (thanks Ben!) She told me she had seen my walk through video and she also attends The Well church. Bonus! All of the Y staff has been helpful and amazing. We will definitely be joining so we can continue to go there more often. We were members of the Y back in San Diego and the Huntington Y is absolutely incredible in comparison. It’s huge and beautiful and they host a lot of activities for kids and adults. Don’t get me wrong, the Y back in San Diego was also amazing and my heart will always be with the Y summer camps as long as I live after attending as a child and then later in life being on the medical staff (I’m a respiratory therapist) for a week long sleep away summer camp for asthmatic kids. 

Another person who reached out to me long before we moved here was Emily. She messaged me on Facebook introducing herself and telling me a bit about herself and her family. We clicked immediately and have been messaging & texting back & forth a lot. She also offered for us to use their shower until we get ours put in. I can’t wait to finally meet her in person and give her the biggest hug! I know our friendship will blossom now that we are here. 

Our neighbors across the street and down 2 houses brought us some freshly baked banana frosted cookies the other night which were so delicious!  

I also can’t leave out all of my friends, specifically my mommy tribe (#nbbadmoms) from back in San Diego. All of their texts and calls checking in with me have helped keep me sane. And my own family back in San Diego as well. I miss you all terribly and we are working as fast as we can to get the building up to par so we can have a guest suite ready. COME VISIT!  

Oooooof this post got a bit rambly didn’t it?! Sorry about that! I didn’t want to leave anything out from our encounters with the community in the first week. I’ll be making another post this week updating our progress with the building itself. If you haven’t already done so, make sure to subscribe to my blog (there is a place to enter your email either to the right on your screen or below the posts, depending on if you’re on mobile or your computer) so you’ll get an email alert when I make new posts. And feel free to share this page on your own social media &/or with friends. 

Stay tuned!   

Theresa πŸ™‚

The First 24 HoursΒ 


After a couple very crazy hectic weeks, we have arrived in Indiana! We left San Diego on Thursday morning (April 13th) and all piled into the SUV and headed east with our little cargo trailer being towed behind us. No big deal, right? 3 kids, 3 cats and a dog in my jeep Cherokee without a third row πŸ˜±πŸ™ˆ. What were we thinking? Haha! The drive actually went amazingly well. After a few hours of the cats screaming their heads off (they’re all pretty vocal girls to begin with) they settled down and basically slept the entire way. Stewart, our 7lb, 6 month old yorkie was a bit more excited about the long car ride. He was in heaven. Atom & I had been going back & forth on if we would stay in pet friendly hotels along the way or not. In the end we said screw it, and drove the entire 36 hours straight through. We took turns driving and plowed through it. Our 3 kids were amazing and handled the trip like champs. We are very fortunate that they are such good road trip kids, as we have done many road trip vacations over their short lifetimes.  We arrived at the house well after midnight (I think it was around 2am or so EST, which was 11pm PST which normally wouldn’t be a big deal but after driving for that long we were beyond exhausted.) After unloading the animals & taking them upstairs Atom had the boys & I separate to different floors of the building to be at the ready when he turned the water on at the main valve. He had replaced the valve last week when he was out here with the moving truck but the water company wasn’t able to turn it on for us until Atom replaced a few more fittings (I know I’m not using the correct terms but whatever- water valves aren’t exactly my forte πŸ˜‰). He got it all done and then we were just waiting to turn it all on until we got out here. As soon as he turned the valve, the boys & I were to run around & turn off all of the faucets that were left in the open position over the winter when we had the building winterized. As soon as he turned the valve we could hear water surging through the building and the faucets started running water. YES! πŸ™ŒπŸ». The kids & I turned off the faucets and headed down to the basement where I could hear more than a few expletives being yelled from Atom & quite the commotion. He came running from the boiler room through the basement to the other side and was frantically shutting the huge water main valve back off. Once he did that I asked him what was going on. THE PIPES EXPLODED in the boiler room. Yup. Our worst fears were happening right in front of our eyes. They froze in the winter and when Atom turned the water on 4 of them split, sending water spraying everywhere in the boiler room. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I had a moment of “we made a huge mistake coming here” go through my head and I pretty much thought I was going to hurl. But then once everything was turned off & Atom got a closer look he could see that they were all relatively easy fixes (thank God!) By this time it was almost 3am & we were all beyond exhausted so we piled into the master bedroom on air mattresses and went to sleep. 

In the morning (Saturday) we all woke up, got dressed and went out to breakfast. With no water or gas currently turned on to the building we couldn’t cook or do much of anything. Atom then went to the local hardware store (the closest Home Depot/Lowes is 20ish miles away) and was able to get the parts he needed to fix the pipes. A couple hours later we all held our breaths as Atom turned the water back on and all was good. Thank goodness!  

Talk about starting this renovation journey off with a BANG!