Crossing the Jordan.

Nathan By Nathan10 min read669 views

January 14th wasn’t just another Saturday. It was our 11th wedding anniversary! This project has consumed so much of my attention that I haven’t had much time to be particularly romantic. Well, maybe it’s kind of caveman-style romantic. “I build shelter!” Chest thump. It’s right up there with making fire for your beloved.

But on January 14th, I was a man on a mission. I wanted to give my bride her new bedroom. She knew that the rest of the addition wasn’t going to be finished. She didn’t mind. The prospect of a big, fresh, clean room delighted her.

I only had one big project: building the bed. Mary purchased a king-sized mattress as my big Christmas present, and in the following weeks selected a bedframe. It showed up in a big cardboard box from Amazon. Lots of pieces, bolts, an Allen wrench, and instructions written in pictures. Just the way I like it.

I think it only took the better part of an hour to get it all together with the mattress on top. Clean new sheets were the icing on the cake. Don’t you just love the feeling of brand-new sheets?

On one of our first nights in our new room, we just looked around in wonder. This room was so big! It felt like a hotel room. A nice hotel room. And there wasn’t any junk cluttering the floor. Our old bedroom doubled as the laundry room, and five children produce a glacier of clean laundry wherever it is processed. We were able to leave it all behind.

It felt like entering the promised land.


The previous Sunday, I had started my second session of the Alleluia School of Spiritual Direction. The school is two solid weeks of classes, 8 AM to 8 PM, with a short day on Saturday and a break on Sunday. It brought the project to a complete halt, except for building my bed. I had just enough time to get that done.

After the class finished, I looked at my list of projects. It was short. Surprisingly short:

  • Finish putting down the flooring in the hallway, kids’ rooms, and bathroom.
  • Install the bathroom vanities and toilets.
  • Build closet racks and shelves.
  • Put up the siding, soffet and fascia.
  • Put a new chimney on my wood-burning stove.
  • Refinish the kids old room.

Perspective is everything. Taken individually, any one of those projects might seem like a pretty big task. But when they’re at the bottom of the list of the things that I’ve already accomplished on the addition, it looks like I’m almost done. It makes me a bit giddy to think about it.

The school of spiritual direction gave me a much-needed break and an opportunity to rest for this final push.

My funny valentine.

I’ve already mentioned that romance hasn’t been much on my list. My idea for a big valentine’s gift for Mary? A functional bathroom. So romantic! But seriously, what woman wouldn’t like her own bathroom separate from the main bathroom where she can lock the door and have a moment’s peace? I thought it was pretty awesome. Mary agreed.

I’d been worried about installing the toilet in my new bathroom since about the time that the concrete slab was poured. I noticed after the concrete dried that the drain pipe came up at an angle. Not a huge angle, but perhaps enough that it was going to cause a problem. I kept envisioning a toilet that would never quite sit flush against the floor (pun intended). I worried that it would have just a little angle on the seat, enough to make Mary feel like she was sliding off whenever she sat down.

When I started to install the toilet flange, my worst nightmare came true. I put the glue on both sides and tried to slide it into the drain pipe. It stopped at about an inch above the floor level, and a little bit cockeyed. I took my prybar and pulled it back out before the glue set.

I called my buddy Ross, who helped me installed the drain pipes. When he had free moment, he came over to the house and took a look. He didn’t seem terribly concerned, which gave me some peace. He noticed that the concrete around the drain pipe buldged up a little bit, which is part of the reason that the flange wouldn’t go all the way down to the floor. Using an oscillating saw, he trimmed the drain pipe and surrounding concrete so the flange could get all the way down to the floor.

After half an hour of playing with it, he applied the glue and tried again. Success! The flange still wasn’t completely level, but it was close enough to the floor that the toilet base could sit firmly on the ground. I thanked him profusely. He told me to get some special concrete screws to firmly anchor the flange to the slab. I did so at the first opportunity. Installing the toilet after that was about a 45 minute job.

Not quite there yet.

Getting one bathroom functional meant getting both bathrooms functional. Since they’re both connected to the same septic tank, the drain plumbing needed to be finished on both in order for either of them to be usable. I didn’t want sewer gas coming into the house through an open drainline. This meant that I had to finish the floor in the kids bathroom.

LVP flooring is so easy to install that an idiot could do it. Or so I thought. I’ve never done a hallway. Ben Suer, my next-door neighbor, who happens to be an expert floor installer, told me that most contractors put a little connector strip in the doorways in order to make it easier to install.

If you have the strip, you don’t have to match the flooring on the inside and outside of the door exactly. I didn’t have that luxury. Luckily, he also showed me how to cut the flooring to go through the door without the connector strip. It’s a lot more time consuming, especially if you’ve never done it before.

It took me the better part of 6 hours to do this little hallway, the closet in the back, and the attached bathroom. I had to measure and cut and measure and cut and throw away and start over and measure and cut and shift this and move that and ACK! Such a pain. Thankfully, I’d gotten some kneepads since the last time I’d worked on the floor, so my knees didn’t hurt THAT much.

All is vanity.

Toilets are easy to install. especially if you use rubber seals. It just takes a little bit of time. The vanities were a little more challenging. The problem was that Mary had picked out the vanities after I installed all the plumbing. I didn’t know exactly how the vanities would be positioned, and I was off target. The vanities needed to be modified (new holes cut in the back) so I could fit them flush against the walls.

This was not hard, but it was time consuming. Thankfully, my Uncle Tom Krupa gave me a jig saw that was perfect for the task. The other challenge with installing sinks is that plumbing always takes more trips to the hardware store that I expect. On the first trip to the store, I went with a list of parts that I thought I needed and even a little extra. Then I discovered that the hose connector and the drain pipe wasn’t long enough. I went back for extensions. I tried it again and it worked.

I finally got both toilets and sinks install and was ready to test the water. I tried to get all the connections water tight, but you never know. So I stationed David Jude and Mary in the bathrooms and went up into the attic to open the valves. I turned the first valve and heard water flowing and a shout from below. Oh no! False alarm. Someone had left the shower valve open. Once that was closed, the sound of flowing water stopped. Good sign. I went down and checked each joint. Dry as a bone. Success!

And two days before Valentine’s day.

Down on my knees.

Mary and I were enjoying our new bedroom, but there was one complication. The kids bedroom was now the connector to the addition, so we had to walk through it to get to our room. Not ideal. The kids also started asking me when they would get to move into their rooms.

I only needed to finish the floors before I could grant their wish, so I got to work. I started with the girls room (the pink one) because the boys room had some temporary guests.

Right around Christmas, Mary ordered 10 Americana chicks to add to our flock. But it was cold outside, too cold for the chicks to survive on their own. So we put down some plastic and a cage and let them hang out in the boys room for the Christmas season.

The kids loved it. In fact, the hardest rule to enforce was, “Don’t take them out of the cage without an adult!” We wanted them to survive to adulthood. “Handlers disease” can be fatal. Handlers disease is a condition caused by little fingers groping and squeezing and petting just a little harder than necessary.

Do you know how much stink 10 chicks can produce? I didn’t either until it was too late. We were able to bear with it because it was only temporary.

Every night after work, I tried to do a little more of the floor in Catherine’s room. For some reason or other, I was terribly slow. At least it felt terribly slow. Catherine and Jonathan froliced in the room while I was working. A little bit distracting in the nicest possible way.

Catherine was ready to move in about ten minutes after I finished the floor. Who could blame her? She was living in a little corner of a room surrounded by boys. Mary found a cute little canopy for her bed and I installed it to Catherine’s great delight.

Final Steps.

The bathrooms and the girls’ room gave the chicks time to grow and feather out. I took an afternoon and built a new roof for the little pen that would be their home before they transferred into the main coop. Once that was done, I evicted them from the boys’ room. And not a moment too soon.

I think I’m allergic to chickens. Or maybe to chicken dust. Whatever it was, the smell of the chicks was starting to permeate the addition to the point where I was a little worried that it would never go away. So I vaccumed and mopped and swept and vaccumed and cleaned the air filter on the air conditioner. At some point, the smell of chickens completely vanished. I was very relieved.

For some reason, the floor in the boys’ room was easier than the other rooms. Maybe the practice that I’d gotten on the other rooms was adding up. I don’t know. I think I would have fired my flooring contractor weeks prior if I could find someone who could match my price.

As I lay the last plank of flooring, the song Follow You Into the Fire by Mike Doheny hit my Spotify. It’s a great song and it really struck a chord with me. Before I knew it, I was dancing around the finished room, singing at the top of my lungs and praising the Lord. The floor was done. My sons could move into their room. I felt the Holy Spirit fall on me as the Lord rejoiced with me. Tears came to my eyes. I could hardly believe that I’d made this new space for my family.

David Jude was so excited about moving into his room that he tossed his matterss off the top bunk and carried it into the room all by himself. He came and got me to show me his bed in his new room. Joseph was soon to follow. They were ready to be in their new room.

Time to conquer.

I know that I’m not quite done. I still have a few big projects to do. But this new space is such a game changer. I said it earlier. We made it into the promised land. God has been walking with me so closely, providing the resources, the help, the energy, and the vision for this project. In less than a year, I’ve nearly doubled the size of my house.

When I was praising the Lord in the boys’ room, my heart was overflowing with gratitude. I’m grateful that I crossed the Jordan. I’m grateful for the help that I’ve received. And I’m grateful to God for helping to make it all happen.

Everyone’s generosity during this process has blown me away. The following people have helped to make this project a reality. I couldn’t have gotten this far without them: Mary Krupa, Larry Harris, David Jude Krupa, Joseph Krupa, Catherine Krupa, Jonathan Krupa, Jerry Germann, Joe Almeter, Nick Almeter, Lawrence Almeter, Michael Almeter (his son), Michael Almeter (his cousin), Tag Bussey, Leo Suer, Ben Suer, Matthew Suer, Pat Molitor, Tom Molitor, Hannes Molitor, Pat Muller, Nick Wingate, David Johnson, Jordan Goodman, David McGee, Glen and the guys at Maner, David Germann, Tom Krupa, Laura Krupa, Joseph Krupa, Joseph Muller, Philip Hatfield, Miguel Melendez, Maddox, Jared Miller, Fr. Jacob Almeter, Anthony Almeter, Bob Visintainer, Ross Ott, Jennifer Ott, Noah Ott, Max Molitor, Peter Molitor, Shanna Molitor, Mike Hayes, Gabriel Hays, Kolbe Almeter, Luke Almeter, Charlie Almeter, Eric Sterett, Gabriel Hayes, Wayne Johnson, Danny Johnson, Wes Swenson, Cohen Insulation, Britney Coyle, and Frank Leogrande.

If you don’t have time or tools to donate, but would like to help make the House of Krupa a reality, a financial gift would be a great blessing. This is kind of like a do-it-yourself GoFundMe. DIY is my style.

If you want to read more of my adventures building the House of Krupa, check out the archive!

Jesus snatched me out of the darkness and saved me from complete madness. If you want to hear more of that story, check out Demoniac, now available on Amazon.



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