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.

 

 

 

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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.

16, I Mean, 37 Candles

A birthday on a Tuesday? How did I not put this together until 14 hours later?! Now it all makes sense.

You see, this morning I was so excited for the kids to get up because it’s My Day. And Mama was ready for some birthday love.

Except then they all got up and started talking about video games and where are my socks and I’m HUNGREEEEEEEEE and not one birthday wish was uttered in my direction. Not even by my husband, which explained why the children had no freaking clue what day it was.

But then my aunt sent me a text and HD was creeping over my shoulder, reading it, and said, “Wait. What? Is today your birthday?” to which I nodded yes and then he told me happy birthday, but still, that was it. No one else heard. So eventually, because I’m mature like that, I had to tell Harrison that I was sad that no one remembered and that he could fix it please and thank you by telling everyone, which he did, and then finally, wishing and singing commenced, and you know – a birthday on a Tuesday was had.

Did I get a fancy birthday dinner? No, it was restuarant night for school, so I got a fast food salad, but I didn’t have to cook and I got to see some dear friends while we were there, so I’ll take it.

Did I get a fancy birthday treat? No, because I have no oven, but a friend dropped off cookies and another one surprised me with more cookies at a meeting we both had to attend (because, Tuesdays), so I am sugared up and happy all the same. And I don’t care what anyone says, Eileen’s ARE fancy to me because they are the best (besides homemade, but again – no oven!).

Did I get a (fancy) hot minute to myself today? No, but that means people were here working on the house and that is always good news at this point, even if my nerves are reno-fried. And actually, I did get 60 minutes for myself because even though I was spent from all the things all day long, I went to a yoga class tonight that felt just right.

img_3308Did I get a fancy birthday card? Well, yes, I did actually from my parents, along with the amazing cuff bracelet you see here (the naughty word is on the inside where no one else can see it and I LOVE it), AND I finally started having the children write in my Mama’s Journal which is an idea I stole from a friend last year where instead of having the kids buy cards (for birthdays and/or Mother’s Day and/or maybe even Christmas), they date a page and write a note, year after year, and I’ll get to keep them all collected forever in the same notebook.

And oh. my. gosh. It’s so good.

LT dictated his note to me and it’s perfectly a 5yo’s bit of randomness.

RL clearly speaks my love language, Words of Affirmation, so so so so so so so soooo well!

And HD is hilariously 85 and British. I mean, really. Hilarious. And British.

(TJ and WA will participate in the future, I promise).

And so, the day may have started off more Tuesday than Birthday, but I’d say it more than made up for itself as it progressed.

Cheers to 37 Years. It may not seem all that glamorous, but it is truly a glorious place to be.

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.

Cart/Horse

img_3213As you may know from following along here, the kitchen chaos we are currently living in (more on that here soon, promise) has always been part of the remodel plan. When we first talked about staying in this house by making the basement more functional, we decided that the someday dream of tearing out the wall between the kitchen and dinning room to gain much needed counter space just needed to happen at the same time (*gulp*) because so much of the plumbing and whatnot was already going to be touched, so, why not?

We thought a majority of the work would be done by March. Or, at least, we thought most of the basement would be finished by March and the kitchen started.

As it went down, though, a lot of pieces in the house got started and none actually completed, so with the new month, we decided to go a new route with builders. In a total leap of crazy faith, on the day we let the previous providers go, we did not have new ones ready to come in and start working.

That was March 1.

On March 4, 5, and 7 we met with potential new hires. We walked them through what had been done and what was left to do (i.e.: a LOT).

By March 6 we had interest from a local building company, and I spent all of last Thursday (the 7th) in a mad scramble to empty out my kitchen because that is where they wanted to start.

Which leads me to the aforementioned cart and horse.

You see, part of the appeal to these new folks in starting the kitchen first was that we didn’t have to wait for 6-8 weeks for our cabinets to come in because they are already living in our garage and have been for almost a month.

Begin Rant: Our previous provider encouraged us to order through a different local company before price increases with the new year which turned out to be a huge mistake because said cabinet company totally bowled us over with a change to our upper cabinet height that was neither asked for nor approved nor caught by us until after the magical window in which to change the order disappeared. And then they refused to work with us to fix it. Needless to say, I’m not a fan of them (the company), but we had already gone too far with financial investment to back out, so I am hoping and praying the cabinets either A) look OK even though they are shorter what my previous kitchen had or B) can be fixed with some extra installments on top of them by someone – anyone – else later on down the road. But please, if you are ever doing kitchen work in your house, I’ll be glad to tell you who NOT to patron with your business and your dollars. End Rant. 

So that’s the long way of explaining why it is that we’ve come to start work on our kitchen before finishing the basement. Because, we can. And we need to, because having that much cabinetry living in my garage is NOT good for my anxiety levels for multiple reasons.

Instead, my anxiety gets to focus on keeping a family of seven going with no access to several major parts of our house, plus no oven, stove, sink, or dishwasher, which is bonkers making but so, so worth it because the new builders are amazing and doing such great work, so quickly for us.

I’ll post more about living in our living room soon, and if you have favorite tips for cooking with just a skillet, microwave, and toaster, trust me – I’m all ears.

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