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

Monday, September 1, 2008

On Sunday it felt as if the other bookend was placed on these last, long six months, and a new shelf was begun altogether. Annabelle's Circle has unlatched hands and let so many people in that the Circle seems as wide and as vast as the horizon itself, encircling so many of us with its joy and generosity, love and labors.

If you didn't know, Annabelle's shower had been pushed back a few weeks until after the delivery date. Given the news of the hour, a month ago no one was sure what that "shower" might entail, and at times we feared the worst. Friends and family kept praying though, and kept giving, kept hoping, kept showing up to work on the house when prayer wasn't enough.

And now to have that little girl home in her mother's arms, with all those in the Circle around her -it was a completely stunning and awesome moment. Words can't describe it, and words aren't enough. And though it is one amazing story to share, it's little Annabelle herself who is so rich and shares so much in this world with all those on the near side of the Circle, and the far.

She'll take the story from here, we suppose, but she still needs your love and prayers and support, your hopes and dreams and wishes for her, your clues to understanding all of life's complicated quantities, and your hands to hold in all of life's tender moments. She needs all these things -and more- and if you were there to meet her on Sunday you know one thing: she's worth it.

Sean Day put together this terrific video from the shower, which captures many of the high points of the celebration, and the joy and relief we all felt that day.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

This is Matt's mom:

She flew in from Idaho the other day, walked into the Family Room and asked how she could help. I offered her what may be the worst job in the whole construction industry: sanding drywall. It's messy, miserable work, possibly unhealthy, and as you sweat from the labor, the dust curdles back into joint compound, filling your pores and clogging your eyes. She picked up a sanding block and went for it.

And this is Steve:

He drove over a hundred miles to do this the other day. He said he could afford gas for one trip, and instead of choosing the party that happens tomorrow, he decided to come down and sand drywall. The man is a sanding machine, stopping only to hand me tools or help out with something else.

The two of them worked tirelessly and unselfishly this hot August week, and for what? So Annabelle and her family could have nice smooth walls? People like this are a true inspiration. They make the pain of life worth bearing. If you live your life right, these folks show up to help carry the load, and without them we would crumble under the burden of it all.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Photograph by Ashley McNamara

Ashley McNamara has done it again with her amazing photography. Check out some more pictures of Annabelle here. Holly wants everyone to give Ashley some business and when you see her portfolio, you'll quickly realize she's worth every penny.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Michele Clock has written an article on Annabelle and her parents that appeared in today's San Diego Union-Tribune. It's a nice companion piece and follow-up article to the one Alan Schnepf wrote on June 5th. Today's article is here.

That's one of Kristin Rachelle's photos there on the front page of the East County section!

(And, in case you missed it, the June 5th article is here.)

Note: You may purchase back issues of the newspaper up to 30 days after the publication date. Back issues are available at The San Diego Union-Tribune offices in Mission Valley, Chula Vista, and El Cajon. Or you may call (619) 293-1609 and arrange to have them mailed to you.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Though Annabelle is home, we've been given permission by the man himself to come over and keep moving on the Family Room this weekend. The Big Party is next Sunday, so it would be nice to get some things taken care of -make it look like we're not just spinning our wheels over there. Join us!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Recently it became apparent that a nursing rocker was in order for Annabelle and her mommy, after their return from the hospital. Holly picked it out, and some money was drawn from the Annabelle's Circle account for the purchase. Thanks to everyone for their ongoing support and contributions. (It's pretty nice!)

Monday, August 18, 2008

A few members of Annabelle's Circle were able to accomplish a number of things this past weekend -enough to get all the laborers out of the rest of the house and into the Family Room where we belong. The mother-daughter Cambone team took to the front door and got the final finish coat on the thing and it looks beautiful. I was able to get the mail slot installed and plug that ugly hole in the stucco on the front walk. Holly's brother was in town and took to the mudding like a pro -slapping it on every wall and ceiling in sight. There was some more patching and sanding and painting that got the dining room up to speed, as well as a few pieces of trim on the roofline and a couple sheets of drywall up. So, all in all, it was a weekend of solid accomplishment. Special thanks to Wendy for keeping the kids out of the fray on Sunday, while we all pressed on.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The word on the street is that Annabelle is coming home on Monday! This is good news, and since it's the last baby-free weekend at 2016 Dayton, several of us are heading down to do some work on the Family Room and some general house-cleaning. If you're interested in joining us today or tomorrow, give me a call or just show up! See you there.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Matt mentioned here a while back about those sporty "Go Annabelle" t-shirts that everyone is asking about, and I thought I'd mention it again. I've ordered a couple for my family and plan on wearing it in solidarity at the upcoming Linden Celebration.

Click here for the order form, if you're interested.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Monday, August 11, 2008

Friday, August 8, 2008

Sean Day has been posting for Matt at The Dawg Run and has been generously helping with the regular updates on Annabelle and Holly's condition, as well as on Annabelle's surgeries. (Matt has been posting some as well.)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

From Sean Day (via The Dawg Run) PM

Annabelle is here!

She was delivered successfully a short while ago. The doctors gave her a bit of oxygen and then she started breathing, crying, and swallowing on her own pretty quickly. She has also been waving her arms around. As expected, her legs were a bit deformed and there is an opening over her spine. The doctors covered the opening right away to keep it sterile and protected. Matt was able to hold her, and they set her down near Holly's head so she could give her a kiss. Annabelle was then taken to the neonatal area where friends have been able to peek in on Annabelle one at a time.

The removal of Holly's cysts also went well. She is in recovery and coming down off of anesthesia. Once she is able to sit up and be put in a wheelchair, she will be off to visit Annabelle. Matt and Holly will be meeting with the team of specialists tomorrow to go over the treatment plan. It sounds like little Annabelle has surprised them so far.

Welcome to the world, sweet Annabelle. Thank you all for your continued support and prayers.

From Sean Day (via The Dawg Run) AM

Always the over-achievers, the Lindens have decided to forgo the next week and a half of anticipation and are set to welcome Annabelle to the world today. Holly began having some mild contractions this morning at about 5:30. They called their doctor a little later in the morning and he said to come on into the hospital. They arrived there at about 8:30, and after being monitored for about an hour, they have scheduled the C-section for 1:00 today.

Matt will keep me posted by phone and may send along some pictures from his phone. I will keep you updated on their progress throughout the afternoon.

They appreciate all your thoughts, hopes and prayers today.


Holly will be headed into the OR at about 12:45 with surgery to begin around 1:00. The doctors will be removing a couple of cysts as well, so it is expected that everything will take between one and two hours. Matt will be able to be in the operating room for the delivery.

They are at the Mary Birch Hospital. For those that would like to be at the hospital with them, Matt said it would be best to meet in either the downstairs or 3rd floor waiting room

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Photograph by Ashley McNamara

Matt wrote about it here, as well, and I received this email from Holly this morning:

I was wondering if I could make a request to give some sort of credit to Ashley McNamara and Kristin Rachelle (the photographers who did the photo shoot for us at no charge) and Angela Chodorow ( Jr. High friend of Matt's who set it up) on Annabelle's Circle. They were perfect strangers to us before Monday. If we had no photos to show for it, I would never forget that evening. We somehow just stepped away from the pain and difficulty, and simply walked on the beach, cuddled, and celebrated our love and our family. God truly provided a much needed evening of joy and blessing through the kindness of those three women. It didn't feel like a photo shoot at all, which I felt really strange about considering, and ended up so grateful for. I would never have set this up on my own, even if I could have paid for it. It was like the first date we've been on in... well I don't remember. It was magical. They are now a part of "The Circle" and I want to formally acknowledge their generous gift and kindness there... It just meant a lot to us, and always will.

Click here for Ashley McNamara's site, and here for Kristin Rachelle's site. Don't miss the photos of Matt & Holly, and some real talent on display.

Monday, July 21, 2008

If you are wondering why the progress has slowed recently, there are several reasons. I won't go into all of them, but I will mention that mid-July to mid-August had been fully scheduled for Hawkins Construction and family last spring, and so Marci and I have been unable to commit the bulk of this month to the Linden projects.

As well, the rearranging of project priorities contributed to shelving some of the project goals for the time being, while the house was made into useable living space again. Small tasks are being accomplished here and there, but as we move closer to Holly's due date, Holly, Matt, and Annabelle's well-being (and not the house) has become the priority. All Big Work Weekends have been postponed until after Labor Day, though a few small parties of people may be invited around to help with some things, as the Lindens see fit. (You may get a call from me!) Thanks to those of you who have phoned and emailed recently, offering their weekend time, and we hope you will honor the rain checks! If you have a specific date before Labor Day that you are available (or a specific item you would like to help with) please email me at sean4annabelle@mac.com.

For now, the best way you can help Matt and Holly is to be available with a listening ear, an encouraging thought, and prayer.

Holly is scheduled to go in for delivery of Annabelle on Monday, August 18th, and is expected to stay at the hospital for at least a few days.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Just a quick note...

After the 4th, we pressed on this past weekend, trying to take care of anything in the house that would make the place more "homey". (Sorry, no pictures. Too busy working.) We finished up on the baseboards and door casings and did a good amount of patching and painting on the walls and trim. The place is looking swell, and all the rooms are back -up and running with furniture and most of the tools and construction materials moved out. The Lindens wanted the place to themselves on Sunday, but I returned today to do some work on the front garden wall -cleaning it up a bit with a coat of stucco and some cap blocks. It could use some paint, which we will get to some day soon.

The neighbor, Mike, has been helping out on sprinkler maintenance. These things can be a challenge to get just right, and it's been great to see him wandering over from time to time, attaching a new head and adjusting this and that. The new sod has taken root through this hot weather, though there are a few dry patches, and the garden boxes are at odds with the dog's digging fetish, so I would say that that puts the Linden Landscape up to speed with the rest of us in the suburbs!

Keep these guys in your prayers. Annabelle's Circle has let Matt & Holly know that all the remaining gifts of money are at their disposal to cover any bills in this challenging period, while Matt transitions into a new job. We want to make sure that their medical insurance payments are kept up, so that has become the absolute top priority.

Monday, June 30, 2008

We did it. We actually returned some livable space to Matt and Holly this past weekend. The last few coats of polyurethane were slapped on the last couple bedroom floors and we went for it with the baseboards and crown moldings. Much of the weekend was spent painting the wood trim and touching it all up. We were so inspired that we even painted the guest bedroom a nice grinch-who-stole-christmas green! It was lovely. It really was.

As we moved the trundle bed out of the living room and pushed the furniture back into its rightful place, there was a collective sigh, and perhaps a tear, as the house was able to take its first full, deep breath in weeks. The lot of us felt that things finally seemed to be coming along. The "we can take it from here" feeling was on the tip of Matt's tongue, but he knew better to let us come back for more -that Family Room has about the same square footage as the rest of the house! So we will we back. Oh yes. We will be back.

Friday, June 27, 2008

I'll be there on Saturday and Sunday this weekend to make sure those floors are finished and to get moving on the baseboards. If all goes well, we should be able to get all the baseboards painted and installed -along with the baseshoes and some other moldings- in all the rooms of the house except for the Family Room. They will need to be painted before they're cut and nailed in, so any assistance would be terrific! If we have enough people, we should be able to get some sweet assembly-line action going on the painting/trimming/nailing/patching/sanding/caulking/touch-up thing.

See you there! (I'll be arriving with materials around 10:30AM.)

Monday, June 23, 2008

I thought I'd post a before-and-after shot here of the front door to show how things are really changing around 2016 Dayton. When you get thick into a job, as we have been for nearly a month now, it's easy to forget the "before" part of things. It's the petty sanding and patching that is interminable, and makes you feel like nothing's being accomplished. We did decide to tackle a lot early on and all at once, so things inevitably take a turn for the slow sooner or later, but we're coming around the bend!

This past weekend the last of the hardwood floors were sanded and stained (along with a number of other minor projects) and next week we'll move on to a Big Baseboard Bash, where it will be all baseboards and all casings and moldings all weekend! If we can make it through that, nearly all the rooms will be finished -with the serious exception of the Family Room. Headway is being made there too, I might add, as most of the drywall is now up on the ceiling.

SDG&E also came out for an inspection last week and appears ready to move on the electrical upgrade -as soon as I can get the time to meet with an electrician and the building inspector. We may pause on this for a bit, while we get caught up on the floors and trim work (it's a challenge to live in a house where all the furniture and belongings are upturned) but we're really getting there!

Special thanks to Kristy and Kelly, Deron and Kevin, Ryan and Wendy, and all those who've come this far and refuse to give up!

Friday, June 20, 2008

It has been a discouraging week for the Lindens. Info on Annabelle's condition is here. Matt and Holly really need and desire your prayers and support.

This weekend (Saturday and Sunday) a few of us will be back at 2016 Dayton, moving some projects along. Holly will be out of town visiting family until Monday, so we're going to take direction from Matt as to what he would most like to get accomplished. Help is always appreciated! Stop on by or email me for info.

Monday, June 16, 2008

There were ten or so of us this past weekend at 2016 Dayton, and though we felt something of a lull in accomplished works Saturday morning, the weekend ended on a fairly strong point. Matt really wanted to push on through with the floor refinishing (there were two rooms in the house undone) so we called Kristy out of retirement and put her back on the sanding. (She lived to sand another day, it seems, but now she'll sand no more forever.) Beneath the bed in the Master Bedroom had long been a hole in the floor that was patched with a few odd pieces of plywood (I wish I had a picture of it!) and we tackled that on Sunday with some replacement oak planks. Everyone took turns with the upright industrial sander, as we had to return it to Coast Equipment Rentals on Monday morning, and no one was sorry to see me load it into the truck at 9PM Sunday night and haul it off.

We got the exterior trim up on the front door and did some stucco repair/paint on the front entry, as well as the installation of a new porch light, and also did a little touch-up getting those last few tiles and grout in around the base of the door. The cactus wall was mortared together and currently awaits some cap blocks, stucco finishing and paint, and the sweet accomplishment of the weekend was the installation of the Baja palapa over the deck, which is really a delightful addition to the yard. There's still some staining to do out there, but we're holding off on that until the Family Room floor is done (we keep tracking dust outside.)

Though it was pushing 90 degrees Sunday afternoon, you can already feel how much cooler the Family Room is with the addition of insulation and drywall. As soon as we get the work order from SDGE on the electrical upgrade (and finish the floors in the other two rooms) we'll make a big push on the Family Room -hopefully next weekend or so. Keep in touch! We'd love to see you out there.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Project Update

Hawkins Construction has been busy making a living this past week, so we have been occupied with other doings, but the Makeover swings in again over the next few days! Here's a list of some of the things still to accomplish:

- Guest Bedroom/Master Bedroom Floor Repair & Refinishing
- Back Deck Sanded/Stained
- Back Deck Palapa Cover Hung
- Irrigation System Check -additional heads, pressure reducer, etc.
- Annabelle's Room: Crown Moldings/Baseboards Installed & Painted
- Living Room/Dining Room: Baseboards Installed & Painted
- Front Door Casings Installed, Surrounding Stucco Patch, Finishing
- Entryway Tile Scrubbed/Sealed
- Entryway Header/Post Brackets
- Side Fascia Replaced/Painted
- Front Cactus Wall Capped/Stuccoed/Painted
- Various Stucco Patching/Paint Touchup Around House
- Front Wall Stucco Lathe (installed to code around window)
- Kitchen: Finish Sink Install, Window & Doorway Casings
- Laundry Closet Framed Out/Drywalled
- Water Heater Cabinet Built
- Family Room Ceiling Drywall
- Family Room Floor Refinishing
- Install Buckley Door
- Laundry Hookup (re-plumbing)
- Electrical Circuit in Family Room (installed to code)
- New Mail Slot
- New Doorbell
- New Porch Lights (front & back)
- Soffit Vent Replacement

There will be more finish work to be done (minor carpentry, sanding, painting, etc.) once many of the main projects are completed and the inspector has signed off on the plumbing, electrical, and stucco. I will try and keep track of the ongoing work here in the coming weeks.

It's looking great! A LOT was accomplished in that first week (more so than any contracting job I've seen) and the work to come can mostly be tackled a task at a time, if needed. Our goal is to get it finished up and livable/looking great for the Big Baby Shower which is scheduled for July 13th -one month from today!

If you'd like to drop by this weekend to help out -EXCELLENT! (We will be there on Saturday/Sunday.) If you have a particular project in mind that you'd like to work on and have a day or two in the coming month, EXCELLENT! Just send me an email and let me know. ("sean4annabelle@mac.com")

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Alan Schnepf, freelance reporter for the San Diego Union-Tribune, has written a lovely little piece on our efforts. It's in the East County section of today's paper, or you can check it out here. Alan arrived at the home about twenty minutes before the Lindens, when I was running around in my tool belt and socks (I didn't want to muss up the new floors!) I think he got a good feel for the madness that was that moment, and I appreciate him not dwelling on the petty detail of me in my socks!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Annabelle's Circle is a Completely Legitimate Operation

One of the untold stories from last week are the events of last Thursday. I have been a licensed, bonded and insured general contractor since 2002, license #810162, with a clean record of no complaints. Though I specialize in the patio cover business, I have some experience in nearly all areas of home building, but I am neither a skilled electrician, plumber, or craftsman. I can get by on some jack-of-all-trades knowledge, but I know enough to leave the tricky stuff up to the professionals. We all should -especially when it comes to the homes we live in. The building code is there for everyone's safety, and is one of the reasons why this country is so well-built, so safe, and so great. When a bunch of us got together last week to fix up a friend's house, it was just that, and nothing particularly fancy. (I mean, we weren't building a hospital or anything!) Imagine the demoralizing moment when the Lemon Grove Building Inspector and Code Enforcement Officer dropped by unannounced last week, putting a stop to our efforts on the Family Room.

When we ripped the old siding off the front of the house to replace the cracked aluminum window, some stucco repair had to be done. The paper was quickly stapled up onto the wall, flashed haphazardly, and basically flagged down the officials as they drove by. They stopped in to check out what was going on.

It looked to them to be an illegal garage conversion. Though we had assured them that it wasn't, and merely a mess of new drywall and minor repairs, they had to put a stop to the efforts while they pulled the building record from the county. Everyone on site rallied to get the heartbreaking story out, and it should be noted that the men from the city were very understanding. All the same, any work on the house had to be done legally and it had to be done right. They encouraged us to keep going on the landscaping and the floors, and focus on the cosmetic stuff while they got to the bottom of the situation. I was off-site at the time, purchasing the wood for the deck repairs. I got the call while I was standing there in the lumberyard, and my heart just sank.

When I got back to 2016 Dayton, I was glad to see that the group would not be deterred by this setback. We quit the Family Room and the stucco while I got to the bottom of the situation. Everyone moved outside, grabbed a paint brush and went for it on the landscaping. They were really making a difference.

Down at the building department I learned a few things about the house. The inspectors had found that the laundry drain and vent were improperly installed, that the electrical panel was an illegal installation, that the deck railing and stairs were not to code, that the gas line to the water heater was the wrong size (for starters.) Nearly all of these things were problems inherited by the Lindens when they bought the house, and out of nowhere, in the middle of a busy and exhausting week, they had suddenly become our problems.

The good news is that the record finally came back from the county yesterday and it stated that the garage had been legally converted into living space in the sixties. The bad news is that a lot of the stuff in and around it is old and busted, and poorly done to begin with. I pulled the permits for electrical, mechanical, and plumbing right then and there. We can make this house safe, functional, and legitimate.

So there are a new set of hurdles before us. It seems there is only 110 coming down from the power pole into an illegal (and full) electrical panel. A work order has to be filed with SDG&E, and the panel needs to be replaced. (As well, the laundry and Family Room both should have dedicated circuits.) The water heater is an old Bosch tankless that was improperly installed on too small a gas pipe, so new lines must be run out from the meter. The deck we fixed and built up to code, the stucco and window flashing we can easily do right, and all the other little things will take some time but are not impossible. If anyone has a connection with a licensed electrician or plumber (or even a window installer or stucco specialist!) who is willing to contribute some time on Annabelle's house, it would be sincerely appreciated.

We're all relieved that we have the necessary permits for the repairs and upgrades. The people working for the city of Lemon Grove were interested to hear the whole story and were moved to be patient and helpful with the property at 2016 Dayton. I told them of my intent to get this house up to proper specs, and that if the inspector saw anything that looked wrong or out of place to please let me know.

This episode has all been a blessing, really. We were able to finish the exterior stuff as a result of the redirection of efforts, and the home will soon be legal and current.

Everyone wants the house to be perfect, finished, warm and complete.