Deviation

When I was in college, I spent a semester in Africa traveling and logging many, many miles – from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania all the way to Cape Town, South Africa to be exact. Along that journey, we encountered many literal roadblocks, but one memory that will always stick with me is of coming upon road construction in which the sign read “Deviation” instead of “Detour.” It felt like such an excellent word choice because sometimes when your path goes off the rails against your control, the whole experience does feel a bit deviant.

Case in point? Home reno. We’ve spent this entire summer on a deviation thanks to the driveway and the roof/exterior of the house. In fact, come Tuesday, the roof and metal wrapping and sealing and wood replacement and all that jazz  shit will hit the one month mark on all its own. Like most aspects of life, there are multiple reasons for this, which I’d be more than happy to explain in a private message or in-person conversation, but I’m pretty sure we can all agree that that is just too long, especially when for at least half of that time, a giant trailer has been parked in my driveway and big old machines and tools have been stored in my garage. This means we can’t clean up the yard and just let the kids out to play, must less the sanity-losing that goes into such a drawn out process.

img_5220I was so at the end of my rope with the not-finishing/not-moving of things yesterday that I loaded up the baby in the double jogger stroller and pushed her a mile to the YMCA to pick up Trumy from Prek and then pushed them both the mile back, in a mad dash attempt to walk it out, but even all that in the hot midday sun barely burned off my mad and crazy.

Then, miraculously, enough of the stuff got done by sundown last night that the trailer and the tools disappeared, leaving us with the possibility of starting Operation Garage Clean Up. ‘Cuz, did y’all know that when your structure has three layers of shingles on it, but no plywood under those layers, and all that gets scraped off, it leaves a giant freaking mess all over everything underneath it? Neither did I, but it might just be the worst mess to date of this reno and that is freaking saying something.

So this afternoon, after we survived (and even enjoyed) our first Soccer Saturday with img_5253three kids playing and us coaching two of the teams in a Triple Header Extravaganza, we set to work on getting everything out of the garage (so it all could be cleaned) so we could clean the actual garage (so we could then put everything back in it).

I got out there first and noticed pretty quickly that it wasn’t just shingle and tar-dust coating everything but also like real chunks of splintered wood and even old nails and staples and all kinds of crap. When Ben came out to join me, I warned him and told him I was trying to sweep it all up so we could get rid of it safely because popped tires and poked feet have been my biggest fears for the last four weeks.

And with good reason, because not ten minutes in to my husband helping me, he somehow flipped a nail up with his Keen that caught the back of his heal and, you guessed it, ended up sending him to get a tetanus shot instead of cleaning with me. Ironically, the last one he had was in 2008 when we traveled with a Doane alumni trip to Africa.

img_5257So yes, deviations in many forms continue to crop up in the process, and with one more room left to go in the basement, we’re still not back on the road of just living in our house in peace and quiet (y’all know that it’s rarely quiet here, right? That’s just a metaphor or pipe dream or something.) which after 10 months of this feels like a foreign concept indeed. I know we’ll get back to that path eventually, but after how much more deviation is a big old guessing game.

The NeverEnding Story

Have you noticed that it has been some time since a reno update has appeared here?

Yeah……that’s because this summer took us down a rabbit hole of sorts and even though we STILL have a room left to finish in the basement before we can put in carpet and finally put all the things away in their proper place, we’ve been dealing with Outside Issues (and yes, they get a proper name with capital letters).

As you may remember, we discovered this spring that before we could finish the basement in good faith, we needed to replace our busted, busted driveway to keep water from leaking into the “new” underground spaces. Thankfully we found a crew that could take on the job and they attacked it, taking out our entire sidewalk, Hastings Classic Driveway (i.e. super long and therefore super expensive to replace), and back patio and replacing it in a two-ish week time span.

During that time we  my husband also expressed interest in replacing gutters which turned into a roof inspection which turned into an adjuster and a claim and yep – plans for a whole new roof thanks to good ole’ NE weather damage.

All of that took place in July. Then we started the Waiting Game, thanks to good ole’ NE weather.

August was bizarrely wet this year and we could not get a stretch of days long enough with a good enough forecast to do all that needed to be done to our would-be-exposed structures.

Finally, last week – the last week of the month – the weather turned and the project got started. I won’t even go in to all the ups and downs of roofing. Nope. It will get cranky and whiney and angsty way too quick. What I will do is document the fact that once again, this renovation has taken us down a path we could have never anticipated.

img_5114In the process of replacing dented metal sheeting around the windows, the discovery of rotten wood along the base of of our sunporch windows was made. Because, sure. Why wouldn’t we want another surprise project that makes everything take twice as long and costs more money? See – cranky, whiney, angsty. It’s just where I am right now.

But seriously. Sept. 1 marked the started of 10 months, which if I’m not mistaken means our reno has now taken just as long as it would have to grow a human. But we’re not even done yet (with the reno; we’re done growing humans)! With this new extended take-the-windows-out-replace-the-wood-put-the-windows-back business now added to the roster, our outdoor chaos continues , much less allows us to get that last room finished and put back together as soon as we’d like (which was like yesterday, or better yet – six months ago).

If this all feels eye-roll-worthy, trust me; I get it. We are privileged to have been able to poke the bear in the first place. At the same time, we never anticipated the major additions to the initial plan and now each and every little extra that pops up feels like a big kick in the pants. And it also feels like this wild ride is never going to end and projects are never going to stop adding themselves to the list.

My advice to people now when they start talking to me about house projects they are thinking of doing? Don’t. Don’t do it. Because if you start, you might just end up growing a house baby that is going to take way more liberty (and space in the budget) than diapers.

Or, at the very least, you’ll lose your marbles a bit and start making house/baby analogies in a desperate attempt to explain your crazy because dang – renos and crazy just go together it seems.

ReNO Update

With one week left to go before we wrap up Month SIX of house renovations, it’s time for another update.

The Good News: I have a functional* kitchen again! All the work here is done, minus the backsplash which is going in the first week of June, and the filling in of nail holes on trim, which, let’s face it – may take years to complete. But who cares; I have places to put things and cook things. And for a wee bit, I even had a place to clean things, but I’ll explain more about that (and the above *) here soon.

The Not So Good News: it would appear that some serious gremlins have set up camp between us and the finish line of this project, starting with both my (brand new) dryer and (not new) dishwasher deciding to go wonky on me.

We did a service call on the dryer last week only to discover that its internal thermostat is off (there was an odd charred smell one Saturday when I did approximately seven loads that lead to us questioning its functionality) and needs to be replaced. The machine is obviously still under warranty which is great, but the tech told me I probably shouldn’t be using it until the part gets switched out which is clearly batshit crazy because seven people make a lot of laundry in half a day, much less however many full days it will take to wait on this part (my goodness, my sentences get long and twisty when I’m agitated). I may or may not be heeding the advice.

img_3867The dishwasher, our * on a fully functioning kitchen, is still a mystery waiting to be solved. It worked fine for the first week and half-ish that it was back in the new space, but now the last couple days an odd film is showing up on half the stuff in there after running a load. WTAF and AYFKM? I just want to use real dishes again, but again – seven people. That’s a crap ton of loads by hand until we can get this figured out, too.

The final gremlin, however, is the most perplexing because we still don’t have an end date in sight for our complete project. There are a few major pieces of the basement project that aren’t done and we’ve been given no clear indication of when they might get done, which means continued limbo of not being able to use our whole house, not being able to clean the massive layers of dirt and grime, and not being able to move everything back to where it should be so we’re not living amidst piles and chaos as we’ve been for SIX FREAKING MONTHS now.

Can you tell I’m over it? Can you tell that these continued hiccups are breaking me? I just want everything to settle. I just want things to function properly. I just want to do deal with the chaos and enjoyment of summer with my kids and not be stuck trying to piece together remaining house projects. I just want to never ever again do any sort of house project of any kind in any way, shape, or form, because this is too much. I just want my brain to write short sentences again.

 

 

 

Every Little Thing

I realize it’s been a few weeks since a house update, but that makes sense because in that time we’ve had passing illness among the females in our house with me getting the worst of it, with sinus junk, a cough, and then a mostly lost voice for days on end. Not the most writing conducive state.

But we’re a week into May which means we’re five months and one week into House Reno and it’s possible that, minus back splash tile that I still have to order, we might have a done kitchen come this weekend.

Yes, you read that correctly.

After what will be 9 weeks by the time we get all the boxes unpacked and loaded into the new cupboards so we can actually focus on learning how to use the new ovens and cooktop and fridge, we will once again be a fully functioning place of storing, making, and eating of the food stuff.

(Side Note: basement still not done. *Ugggggh*)

This is obviously an exciting development. And good timing too because the baby has started climbing on chairs and boxes and couches which means the open pantry concept that we’ve had in our living room with crap just stashed anywhere and everywhere just isn’t going to cut it much longer, you know?

For the most part, I’m pretty happy with the way everything is coming together, but my goodness I feel detailed to death right now and disappointed that every single color and stain and so on isn’t exactly as I envisioned it. This level of planning is hard, and then you add in the provider change and the whole parenting of five small children in the midst of living in the renovations and Lord in Heaven, no wonder I feel like I’m not batting 1,000.

Most likely the imperfections are things just I will notice. And, quite frankly, there have been multiple pieces that have been out of my control along the way, so why feel the pressure to make it all perfect? Do you know how much I remember about the imperfections before all this (besides the glaring need for counter space and a sink by a window that started the ball rolling?)?

Very, very little.

But that too makes sense because I wasn’t responsible for any of that; it’s just how it all came when we bought the house. Were there some old house quirks? You bet. Are we going to chuck all new oddness into the same category? Indeed, we are, because I can’t keep pulling my hair out (or letting it all turn white like my temples) over this stuff, even though I’m currently a little *meh* about some of it and still losing some sleep over other bits.

Overall it is going to be beautiful, and even better, it is going to be so damn functional for our family.

Just freaking wait until you see the whole island, friends. It is AMAZING.

But for now, here’s just a quick peek, a little preview of how things are in fact coming together. I’m sure my sanity will come back together in time, too.

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‘Til Dust Do Us Part

OK, first things first. Not actually using a blog post to bitch about my marriage or signal its demise. Things may not have been pretty here lately, but 1) my husband isn’t to blame for 100% of the crankiness in our house lately because plenty of that is mine, too. And 2) I don’t think any couple goes through a major house renovation and is totally thrilled with their partner the entire time, so even though we haven’t exactly been ourselves lately, I’m pretty sure we’re pretty normal still.

And we’re going to have to keep on keeping on because the end is still not close enough in sight to be reassuring. The kitchen is getting there with floors scheduled to go in tomorrow and cabinets all set and just waiting on pulls and molding. The beam and a door frame need wrapped/stained, and the old trim Ben is refinishing still needs to be done so it, too, can rejoin the kitchen/DR here soon.

What is killing our progress (and my sanity) is that the counter tops are, at best, going in May 3. That’s still almost two full weeks away and a Friday, so even if they go in that day, what are the chances of the plumbers and electrician getting here to get my sink and cook-top up and running? Any why the delay, you ask? I have no idea. We got them in motion weeks ago but apparently didn’t get on the install schedule fast enough because now we’re stuck waiting (and waiting and waiting) and will most likely hit a solid EIGHT WEEKS with no functioning kitchen in our house before we are said and done. Holy. Eff. P.S. “I have lots of swears in my head right now that I would like to say you to” may now be heard on a bit of a loop around here, in case you want another indicator of how we’re holding up.

Of course, nothing else is done either because this whole thing is one giant Rube Goldberg machine where one piece can’t happen until the one that proceeds it is complete. That means the basement laundry and bathroom still need work (bathroom more so with flooring and vanity and fixtures still awaiting install), and the old laundry room that is meant to be the new play room hasn’t even been torn into yet. And did I mention we for sure need a new driveway?

Yep.

What. A. Mess.

Speaking of mess….waiting for me as soon as I have a place to put any of the shit that has been squeezed out of three major parts of my house amidst construction chaos, is my store room.

img_3528You see, my store room resides in the basement right next to all the new construction which meant Round One of work left a shit show of saw dust in there when doors didn’t get closed during work days. SMHx1000.

Then came Round Two with the demo of the lath and plaster of the old kitchen and dining room, which meant actual balls and clumps of debris rolled down the walls and into, you guessed it – my store room.

Then you add in duct work and plumbing that needed to sneak through the store room, as well, and HOLY. EFF. All the dirt. All the dust. All the swears.

So, friends, I ask you here, as we near the end of month five of this insanity…how am I going to do this? I realize it’s probably going to take me most of the summer to unearth img_3529all this grossness which sucks because it is covering all of the kids’ clothes bins and such that we actually need now that the seasons are changing, not to mention all the kitchen stuff and just general life stuff that a storage room holds, but seriously. It needs major cleaning and I am going to have to touch every single item in there to get it done. Do I channel Marie Kondo? Do I organize for a future garage sale? Do I toss a match and just walk away from everything?* For real. Please give me your best cleaning tips. We’re gonna need them.

*like the title of this post, you must realize this, too, is hyperbole. Things aren’t that bad. But we are drowning in dust that buried our sanity long, long ago. So much so that we now mix metaphors and don’t even care. We need ways to fix it!

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Time to Adapt

For the record, we never knew that our house reno would take this long. I mean, once you start, you’re at the mercy of the project and have to ride whatever twists and turns (and over the cliff moments) that come, which is never a known entity for any renovation, but still. There is no way we could have predicted this much time from start to (still not) finish(ed).

The great news is: major progress has been made in the last two weeks. Plumbing that we’ve been waiting on for months got knocked out in three majorly long days for the new plumbing crew, AND the overall wait turned out to be most fortunate because we discovered last week that our new main floor shower was – no freaking joke – leaking. Actually, it wasn’t and then it started and the new crew had to reset the drain put in by the old crew and HOLY HANNAH. I am so glad more progress wasn’t done downstairs so we could see and address that shit as quickly as possible.

We’ve also had drywall happening which in itself is a freaking PROCESS, but we’re getting there. Most of the basement to this point is rocked, and the kitchen got the green light Tuesday afternoon for paint, so that’s what we’ve been doing, with the help of my mom, the last two nights. One more coat to go tonight, but here is the south wall of our new space:

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What you’re seeing is the small door to the hallway/bathroom/etc. and the large opening between the dinning room and living room. And if you’re thinking that that paint color looks awfully familiar, you’d be most correct because it is the exact same as our kitchen was when we bought the house! I have always loved that gray/brown that I didn’t pick, and because the new space is so big, I decided we should just go for it and do the whole darn thing.

After tracking down the old paint cans in our basement and discovering that the paint color is called “Elephant Gray” I had no doubt it was right for us and our sweet Elephant babe, Wilson!

Side note: don’t be freaked out by the different colors on the wall – those are just funny shadows thrown by the temporary lights. And, sorry to say it, but the brick isn’t staying visible. As much as I love it, I need the cupboard space that will go in front of it more than the visual element of it. Darn it.

Second side note: we bought way too much paint because clearly we are not used to painting new, smooth walls! LOL Any ideas for what we can do with the extra cans?

There is some odd, great comfort coming from seeing color on our new walls. For one thing, it means we are so much closer to the being back in our kitchen which will be a Hallelujah moment for sure. But another element is that the use of the familiar color is helping me feel more at ease with this massive change to our house because even though SO much is different, keeping the Elephant gray means not everything is different.

And this leads me back to the (painfully slow) time frame that we’ve had with this entire experience: as much as I wish it has been much smoother process from the start, I have to say that the incremental progress has been good for my brain and heart to go slow and steady with getting used to the new layouts and looks of the house. These are huge changes and adapting to them requires time.

Thankfully the time to see a lot of the rest of it is getting smaller and smaller.

Don’t Poke the Bear

Over time, the phrase “don’t poke the bear” has had several meanings in my life. Lately, though, it seems to be the phrase that keeps escaping my mouth as we come, this week, to the end of Month Four of house renovations with at least a month, but most likely more, still waiting before we cross the official finish line.

We poked the bear (the house) and it’s a little pissed (the list is growing longer, not shorter on To Dos, folks. Yikes.).

Before I continue any further, let me stress that our stress is self-induced, and after the last week and a half of flooding here in Nebraska and other Midwestern states, our “problems” seem pretty damn small in comparison to people who have lost their homes, their livelihoods, and in some tragic cases, their loved ones. Squishing my kitchen, dining room, play room, and living room all into one room is stressful, yes, but at least we have a house that isn’t under water and a roof over our heads.

But water is in fact one of our concerns, as the recent dampness here in Hastings has img_3303shown that we may have some larger issues to tackle before this project is said and done in our current, unfinished laundry room. In theory that room should have been framed and finished out by now, had our original timeline held tight. As it did not, I guess we are fortunate (this is my husband’s clinging to a bright side, and I’m trying to get on board with it) to now see that some water may be coming in on the north basement wall’s foundation which means our cracked-to-bits driveway’s days (it’s been like this since we bought the house) may be numbered. Driveways are cheap, right? (you saw the sarcasm font there, right?)

We knew when we decided to stay in this house that there were going to be issues. In fact, knowing its issues instead of switching to a new house and it’s unknowns was a contributing factor to our decision to stay versus move. But I am an idiot for ever saying, “Well, at least we won’t have to deal with the stress of moving” because house renos also come with a ton of stress, and they never have official closing dates like when you sell and buy houses.

So yes, we poked the bear and the bear is now showing jaws, claws, and budget busters.

What the bear is also aggravating, that I never saw coming, is my trauma recovery and health. Thanks to the prolonged winter, the sick kids, and our stress levels, I have been fighting illness for the last two months straight. I don’t know that I’ve had more than a few days at a time where I feel pretty alright, much less totally healthy, and that’s just in my physical body. My mental body is also struggling in the midst of all this chaos.

In the last four months, a great sense of control has been taken away. For all this work to get done, we must rely on others to come do it. We must rely on them to communicate and listen and show up and do, which clearly hasn’t been a smooth process, although it’s improved in recent weeks. As much as we’d like to plan everything, we’re at the mercy of other people, and that lack of control for me as a trauma survivor in particular is HARD. Did I know a house project was going to trigger that? Um, no. Not at all. But whenever something doesn’t go as planned now, I can feel my anxiety rising at record rates.

We also have to have extra people in our house as much as possible for anything to get done around here which is, at this point, completely frying my introvert heart. I can’t tell people not to be here. In fact, on days when people are not here, I am not OK, either, because I just need all of this to be done and as soon as possible, please and thank you. But the utter lack of privacy and invasion into my home, my family space, my work space, my quiet that all of it has caused? Again. I am not handling it well anymore.

Of course, none of this is to say that anyone has done something terribly offensive to me or us. Minus the switch in providers, I’d say this is probably a pretty typical house reno project and process. But when we chose to embark on this journey, I did not realize the ramifications on my own well being that would come from poking around in the walls and floors of my literal house. And, quite frankly, it’s a metaphor that I wish wasn’t actually coming to life.