The final phase!

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After a brutal winter here in Maine, it is finally warming up outside to assist our final phase. Stephen has worked diligently through the winter on the project with awe-inspiring motivation, endurance, and patience. He has provided a considerable amount of the interior labor himself, especially carpentry, and does beautiful work. He will need some serious time off when this is done!

The bathroom has been tiled and the glass shower wall hung, and it looks AMAZING. We found a fantastic 3-inch-thick tree slab sink surround locally that Stephen prepped this weekend. Talented crews are donating their time to hang the exterior shakes on Saturdays.

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Jason continues to work hard to find new subcontractors and to provide us with all sorts of expert advice and great ideas. Michelle has been busy holding down the homestead, sourcing materials, and planning the space details for usability and accessibility. The grandparents have provided generous support in many ways. Miles’ home nurses Will and Tammy have provided very helpful staffing for him while we are so busy every weekend.

We have been plodding along with consistent progress, but very soon there will be huge payback as the new spaces start to be completed. Right now it still doesn’t seem real that we will actually be using this new home addition this summer. It’s going to be thrilling and overwhelming for sure.

Miles is doing very well overall. He just took delivery of a new wheelchair, so we are making sure the new space is optimized to accommodate it. They keep him very busy at his wonderful special-purpose school–he has even started weekly therapeutic horseback riding. We are anxious for him to have a wide-open space for his walker, and for the return of safe bathing in his new shower.

Happy springtime, and stay tuned for the much-anticipated culmination of this accessibility project.

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Christmas blessings and gratitude

It is Christmas Eve, a special time to reflect on our blessings, and here we are. Poor little Miles is sick with a nasty virus, as he always seems to be on Christmas, but he is such a sweet little trooper and still somehow gives us some smiles today.

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Our family is still rubbing its eyes and looking out the back of our house in disbelief. Thanks to Jason Lajeunesse and many giving individuals, we now have a stunningly beautiful accessible addition that is framed, roofed, and weathertight. Windows and doors are in, four original antique beams hang gloriously in the cathedral ceiling, and the personality of the space is starting to shine. Folks have made wonderful unexpected donations that are helping us defray the costs of needed materials that we are now sourcing.

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It has been a gift to meet the many volunteers on weekends, to invite them in and introduce them to Miles and chat or share a meal. These are real people with their own families and obligations who are choosing to give Miles their time to build something great. Crews of all sizes come and work outside even when it’s frigidly cold, despite rain or snow or high wind warnings. Family helps us get great lunches on the table, and with childcare and last-minute materials pick-ups or you-name-it. Others prepare and transport lunches for crews. Gurus of all kinds advise us on how best to make spaces accessible for Miles’ future as well as present needs. All told, this loving team is turning our house into our “forever home,” a place where we can stay and care for Miles as he grows, and as we age. They’re giving him safe bathing and countless new opportunities for his inclusion, independent mobility, and comfort.

That’s a lot of presents, from a lot of people, for our family. We are feeling an off-the-charts kind of gratitude and wonderment about it. Trust me, we go back into the new space all the time to just look around, breathe deeply, and try to process the enormous generosity that it took to get here.

We look forward to finishing the project and sharing it with everyone, and then finding ways to pay it forward and to help others similarly in 2014 and beyond.

Merry Christmas and THANK YOU for making it an extra joyous Christmas in our growing house.

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BIG IMMEDIATE NEED for Septic and Haul-Away Labor

Many volunteers are moving this project along beautifully, and they all have our deepest gratitude. We’re ready to pour the basement floor and start framing next weekend! Check it out.

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Our builder Jason is working hard to get all the appropriate volunteers. He’s having a tough time finding help in several areas. Can you help spread the word?

CRITICAL NEED #1 (as of 11/4/13) –

Septic installation company to help for 1.5- 2.5 days to:

• Excavate/remove existing cesspool/ haul and dispose at pit 2 miles away

• Expose existing waste lines from house and to leech field

• Excavate hole for new septic tank

• Connect existing waste lines and repair as required

• Backfill

 (Tank, materials, aggregates provided. Need company with machine, operator and truck for hauling.)

CRITICAL NEED #2 (as of 11/4/13) -

Removal of approx. 80 yard of material from excavation

Machine/operator to load triaxel

Operator, machine and triaxel/or operator and machine/and trucking provided

WHO DO YOU KNOW who can help? We treat our volunteers very well, tell great jokes on the job site (so WE think!), and send them off with a surf and turf lunch.

Thanks for spreading the word that Miles’ project needs some extra hands right now.

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Guardian angels have landed!

Earlier this year, we went public with a very real need for our severely disabled eight-year-old son, Miles: a more accessible home. It has been our dream for nearly his whole life.

As some of you know, sweet Miles requires total care. It is a huge and at times exhausting job, but we’re committed to keeping him home, surrounded by his family’s bottomless love. Our 1770 house in Seacoast Maine is old and crooked–and awesome. It’s on a dead end, and it somehow manages to have a first-floor master bedroom for him. We want to stay here; to do so, we just need to make it more accessible for Miles, and easier for us as his caregivers.

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We have a really cool unused part of our house: an old attached livestock barn. After doing some informal “feasibility studies,” we’ve determined that the most cost-effective way to add accessible space is to tear it down and rebuild it. This will provide a critically needed second bathroom with a walk-in shower for safe and easy bathing of Miles. It will also provide an ample 16′x23′ accessible great room that will allow him to slowly continue to learn to walk, as well as desperately needed storage space for all of his bulky equipment and supplies. We’ve gotten several bids on the job, and the price tag for the project is at least $100K.

Quite frankly, we have been loathe to ask for any financial donations just several years after our “village” rallied to get Miles a beautiful new accessible van. Instead, we have been planning to write, record and sell an album of offbeat lullabies, to defray our building costs. That will still happen.

But, last month, we met a builder who has changed the entire game for us.

Jason Lajeunesse, owner of JDL Building & Remodeling in Greenland, NH heard our story and decided to do something pretty amazing. After helping our friends the Bowies with their own accessible home addition for their son Aidan, Jason decided he wanted to once again donate his time as a general contractor, this time for our project. Anyone who knows the building trades understands how very generous this is.

Jason is also seeking contractors and vendors who are similarly willing to donate services and/or building materials. Already he has lined up an amazing number of them! Check our “Contributors” link on this site and be astounded. This BARN Project is taking on a life of its own, and we are so humbled that others want to help Miles by helping us to defray the many associated costs.

Volunteers and contributors are still needed for many items and jobs in the construction process. We will be thanking all of them publicly in the press and on our social media sites as part of our campaign.

Do you know anyone on the Seacoast who might help us?

Groundbreaking for the project is scheduled for October 19, 2013, right after Miles recovers from hip surgery. Come out and join us to celebrate with coffee and donuts at 10 a.m…you might even make it into the newspaper or on TV!

Stay tuned as Miles’ barn is rebuilt, accessible-style, with the help of many guardian angels. And thank you for joining our journey.

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