If you came here looking for a way to help out the Linden Family,
you are now a member of Annabelle's Circle.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Annabelle's Circle -Update

I haven't mentioned little Annabelle's condition much on this site. That story is best left to the parents, who have all the facts straight and know how they want to tell the story.

Yesterday Matt and Holly had an appointment and an unltrasound with a new doctor, and Matt has written about it here. It is a good account that brings everything up to date, and worth reading.

Sean Hawkins

Monday, April 28, 2008

Annabelle's Circle -Update

The Linden Makeover Project is in full swing!

Hawkins Construction has been responding to emails, answering phones, getting materials estimates and putting together a budget at a pace that would rival anything on the Home & Garden Network! It's all thanks to the outpouring of help that friends and family of the Lindens are so eager to offer. I, myself, am really looking forward to meeting everyone on that first Saturday, and then getting to work. It's going to be great!

I am very pleased to announce that our initial goal of raising $2500 to pay for materials for some of the necessary projects has been met! The generosity, of both time and money, has been impressive and is a clear display of the good type of people the Lindens have chosen to surround themselves with in this life. It should be an inspiration to all.

We now move into the second phase of fundraising for the Makeover Project. There are a great number of projects at the Linden home that fall under the "not-urgent-but-would-raise-the-standard-of-living-and-quality-of-life" category, and these are the ones that would truly be a heartwarming gift. I feel the need to say that the $2500 amount was a modest goal initially and that additional amounts will truly make a difference in the house. The initial funds allow us to focus our efforts on the Family Room and some of the landscaping, but more time and money will allow us to do a few other things like repair the old hardwood floors, do some stucco patching around the exterior of the house, repair and replace some of the rotted wood trim, and other general beautification projects. If you have a specific item or plan for their home that you would like to contribute or suggest, please email me at "sean4annabelle@mac.com". I have already received a few excellent ideas and am looking forward to integrating them.

Check back here for further updates. I will post more fun photos of the home as it looks right now, in the interest of getting everyone pumped up about the project!

On behalf of the Lindens, thank you to everyone who has given so much. We're all eagerly anticipating the "Linden Home Makeover" week, as we are the birth of Annabelle come this August!

Sean Hawkins

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Lindens: A Brief History

Some who don't know the Lindens all that well have requested some biographical information. Unfortunately, they asked me.

Matt and Holly Linden were married in the fall of 1992. I remember this specifically because I was away at college at the time and unable to attend their wedding. Being a poor liberal arts major, I sent them a wedding gift: McDonald's Gift Certificates. It was only partially a joke: I couldn't afford anything else. Imagine my elation when I was informed that they actually used them!

I came to know Matt, as many of you did, at the YMCA's Camp Fox on Catalina Island. He was the junior high and high school camp director for a while and when I took over the job a few years later, all I heard for the longest time was, "Well, when Matt was the camp director he did it like this..." which would be followed with some long-winded diatribe on the virtues of the Linden Leadership Method. I always listened patiently and dolled out due respect to his followers' earnest pontification, whilst the cockles of my heart were surely warmed at the sound of those words. (And by "warmed" I mean "heated into a fiery hostility".) Seriously, his innate wisdom and charisma always engendered admiration, however misplaced.

He went on from his work at the YMCA to finish his degree at Pt. Loma University and become a youth pastor at both the Idaho Church of the Nazarene in Twin Falls and the Bethany Presbyterian Church in Seattle, including a mission trip to Trinidad and Tobago which is a story that still garners rapt attention at its telling. It was during this time as a pastor that many of the leaders at Camp Fox pegged him as the man who would officiate at their weddings, to which he eventually obliged. I have been fortunate enough to attend a few of those weddings, and can report in all honesty the impressive display of sincerity and hope that Matt instilled in those personal and significant events.

Instead, my wife and I chose Matt to be the Best Man in our wedding ceremony (and Holly a bridesmaid.) And though we appreciated Matt's sincerity in our own commitment, and his genuine hope that our marriage would be a passionate and fulfilled one (it is), we had never imagined that he would lead the congregation in singing the Village People's classic anthem, "Y.M.C.A." -complete with dance moves and hand gestures. Thank you, Matt.

I know for some of you that Matt helped and advised you in the purchase your first home, when he was a real estate agent in Seattle, and then Holly helped decorate it with her art, which has always been her blessed gift. I can't tell you how many people have commented on the beautiful painting in my own home, which Holly painted. It is one of a few simple Calla lilies, reminiscent of the ones in our wedding. It is a touching rendition, one that lifts my head at the end of every day when I come through my front door, and a reminder of my wedding day that is slowly overshadowing that other memory, the one of everyone in my family, everyone I know, with one hand behind their head and another pointed off to the sky, while they chant "It's fun to stay at the Y - M - C - A !"

Many of us eagerly anticipated the Lindens moving back down south, where we could enjoy them more thoroughly -much to the chagrin of those up north who hoarded our old friends to themselves! And when they finally moved back to San Diego in 2002, there was much rejoicing. Holly continued her work as an optician, doing some art on the side, and Matt began a new career in the Real Estate market as an escrow officer for Fidelity Title and, more recently, Commonwealth. I had recently opened my construction business when both our families took the plunge and decided to purchase our first homes, fixer-uppers both. He helped me move my stuff, which is, in my mind, the measure of a true friend. We had arrived! Marci and I had our first child, other friends whom Matt had married had theirs, and our youth work from here on out would be confined to our own. Utter fulfillment was on the horizon. I will never forget Matt and Holly cradling my daughter the day she was born, loving her as if she were theirs. Over the next couple years, we would watch helplessly as our properties devalued by about $100,000.

Unfortunately, Matt Linden found himself employed in the field that the downturn in the housing market had affected most. Though 50% of the people in his industry were laid off and the incomes of the other 50% were cut in half, Matt held on to his job. If you've read his blog in recent years, you know of his struggles working all hours of the week to make ends meet, hanging on where most of us would have walked away. As Matt worked longer and longer hours, the projects he began on his new home slowly fell by the wayside. Making the mortgage payments had become a priority to eclipse all other priorities. Matt and Holly watched as those around them began to raise their families, and it was obvious that they wondered if their own circumstances would ever allow them such joys.

And recently, the hopes of the angels have coalesced, and there will be Annabelle Linden!

All our children look forward to a new best friend.

Sean Hawkins

Matt & Holly Linden, in a more carefree time:

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Linden Makeover: The Family Room

Now, the Lindens would otherwise hate me for showing these pictures, but since we're going to fix it all up, I believe I'll get some latitude!

When I sent out an email proposing that we all get together and coordinate a time to work on the Linden home, I didn't expect to receive such an overwhelming response. Now, either everyone really loves Matt and Holly and is super-excited for Annabelle's arrival, or everyone is very concerned that the Lemon Grove shanty that Matt and Holly call home is going to be a deathtrap for the baby. I suspect it's a bit of both. I mean, none of us wants to see Child Protective Services haul off our dear friends, right?

So, what are we in for in the coming work week?

Exhibit A, The Family Room.

Some time ago drywall was removed from the walls because, well, it was just coming off on its own anyway. But it was a fixer-upper and there were Big Plans, right? (We've all been there.) Anyway, here is the back door and window that lead out to the deck. These two will be replaced by one big slider.

Panning up a bit...

Whoa! What's that hole in the ceiling? That there's what we call
"Full Opossum Access."

So, we're going to have to replace the drywall in the ceiling. Some insulation might help.

Here's a shot of Matt's desk, which is an otherwise pleasant workspace if you don't count the exposed wiring and lack of, well, wall.

No, seriously folks, it's worse than it looks!

That's the "Laundry Closet", also in the "Family Room", though it's not much of a closet, or very family-oriented, at present. The room is roughly 22' x 17' and was at one time, the garage. If you watch the video promo that was posted below, you'll see Matt pulling down what was once the garage door, inside. The previous owners just tacked a few pieces of sheet rock over it, and then cut a hole for an old aluminum window. The electrical running through the whole room was obviously installed by a drunken pyromaniac. Look closely at the outlets behind the washer/dryer and you'll see what I mean...

Let's recap: we are going to install a new sliding door, a new front window, re-run the wiring, and drywall the ceiling and the walls, with insulation. Also, The floor is a nice concrete one, so the plan is to stain and seal it in some stylish manner that would please Mrs. Linden.

With your help, we can do it!

Sean Hawkins

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Annabelle's Circle -Update

There has been a groundswell of support for the Linden Makeover Project!

We have yet to contact everyone in the extensive list of people who are friends of the Linden Family, and already we have raised over $600 and have commitments from over 20 people willing to help out for at least a day! Keep spreading the word!

A bank account for Annabelle has been set up, and funds will be drawn from it to help pay construction costs. It is a "Benevolent Account" at Washington Mutual and Marci Hawkins will be keeping track of all donated funds. Additionally, Marci's email address is linked to the account through PayPal. If you would like to give through PayPal, it's easy! Just go to PayPal.com and type in Marci's email address: "marci4annabelle@mac.com". Money will be automatically and safely transferred from any account (including credit cards) directly into Annabelle's account. Checks made out to "Annabelle Linden" are also acceptable and can be sent to Marci. Please email her for the mailing address (or if you'd like the WaMu account number for direct deposits.)

The early money has enabled us to place the order for the new front window and sliding door for the back, which is a fantastic blessing. We still need twice that to pay off the order, but we are optimistic it will come through. Additional money is needed for the "absolute essential" projects: insulation, drywall, and lumber. Several studs and headers need to be replaced in the old house, as they are rotted and termite damaged. The window replacement will help insulate the Family Room, (the drafty, old aluminum one will be changed out) and the sliding door replaces the old door which was once the rear garage exit.

I have taken a lot of pictures and measurements lately and discussed with Matt what the project priorities are, so rest assured that no matter how many hands and dollars come forward, every last one will be well-utilized. In the meantime, be praying for Annabelle and her parents as they get ready for another check-up, next week (this time with a new doctor.) Look to The Dawg Run for full family updates, and check back here for more details on the work week -now confirmed to be from Saturday, May 24th to Sunday June 1st.

Sean Hawkins

Here's a shot of the front header that urgently needs to be replaced:

Friday, April 18, 2008

(First Post)

This site was established as a junction for friends and families of the Lindens to connect and contribute to their well-being. Matt & Holly Linden have staked out a spot deep in our hearts, and watching them go through this challenging time inspires us all to get involved and help out, at least in some small way.

Having your first child is stress enough, but few of us can imagine the plight that is raising a child afflicted with Spina Bifida. We know that our friends in need could use a hand in preparing the home for little Annabelle, and some of us have determined that house specifically to be a good place to start.

A few years ago, Matt and Holly became proud owners of their first home, a fixer-upper. The struggle of two full-time working parents-to-be (along with Matt's business feeling the effects of the current housing downturn) has found them living in a home in need of some real repair. A week of work days has been proposed, tentatively scheduled to begin May 24th, Memorial Day Weekend (note: now confirmed) All manner of activities are being planned: drywall repair, landscaping, painting, and some re-framing projects. Everyone can contribute! If you can use a paintbrush, swing a hammer, sink a shovel, make a lunch, or simply be of good cheer, WE NEED YOU!

We are also taking up a monetary collection to help pay for some new windows, plants, and various construction materials -in the interest of relieving some of the financial burden the Lindens face in looming medical costs. If you want to help, but can't work for a day, this is a great way to contribute! Any amount will be accepted and well-used. If you would rather procure an item for the house on your own, that would be great, too. A list of needed materials will be posted on this site in the coming days.

In the work days to come, there will be lots of furniture to move around and gardens to plant, all in the interest of creating a warm place for Annabelle to grow up. A place where her parents will be able to love and care for her, free from the burden of worrying about that dearth of insulation and drywall in the family room!

If you can help out, even for a few hours, on any day between May 24th and June 1st, please leave a comment below or email Sean Hawkins at "sean4annabelle@mac.com". All your comments are welcome and encouraged, as this blog will be saved for posterity in the Linden family's Annabelle Scrapbook.

Check back here for more info!