We like to keep things interesting around here. We tend to make decisions that seem relatively sane at the actual point of decision but unfold into something resembling anything but sanity.
For example, Matt’s decision to make a complete career change and return to school for his teaching degree while I was newly pregnant with our first child was received with some head scratching by extended family. Choosing to add a second child when baby #1 was merely 8 months old also left a few with a dropped jaw. Having four kids under the age of 7 probably isn’t on the Top Ten List of Wise Things to Do. We did it anyway. And I don’t regret it a bit.
However, we decided to renovate our entire main floor when I found out baby #4 was on the way. It seemed like a great idea to get the project started and completed before baby’s arrival. Because, you know, projects ALWAYS go exactly as planned and contractors are ALWAYS on schedule and workers ALWAYS show up when they’re supposed to. Right?
If you’ve had even minor work done in your home you know what I just typed is an utter lie. Money Pit is one of my favorite movies from the 1980’s. A couple purchases a mansion that proceeds to fall apart at the seams, requiring huge renovations. Each time they ask the contractor how much longer he expects the work to take, the man confidently replies with the same answer, “Two weeks!” For months and months, the answer is the same.
My husband built homes and worked in a variety of capacities related to home building for many years. I listened to his stories about home repair and assumed it was likely a bit of exaggeration. Stories of guys who would get their paycheck at lunchtime on a Thursday and wouldn’t return for the rest of the day…or the next. On Monday they’d reappear as if nothing happened. The good guys are often too busy to book jobs. Those who are readily available might not be the ones you want doing work in your home. It’s a bit of a Catch 22.
Suffice it to say, the renovation turned into much more than we anticipated. It went on for so long that at one point I couldn’t remember when we had actually fixed our food in a kitchen versus the garage. We were living off of a griddle, a crock pot and a toaster. Wires were hanging from an open ceiling. The only thing separating us from the earth was a thin sheet of plywood. Keep in mind I was a bit larger each day as I neared my due date. That poor sub-floor was groaning for mercy towards June.
For the most part, we took it in stride keeping in mind that a renovation of any sort is a privilege. We overlooked the small inconveniences that came with the project, such as the day someone ran the circular saw next to our ‘garage kitchen.’ The result was sawdust on every cooking surface. We all reached our recommended fiber intake that week.
It just happened to be in the form of wood pulp.
The highlight of the renovation came about three weeks before our son was due. Everyone in our home knew they had to go downstairs wearing shoes. At ALL times. I had a pair of flip flops that I’d throw on my fat, swollen feet each morning. Waddling into our foyer, I stepped on a rogue drywall screw, sending it through my shoe and into my foot. Good news- I was already due for a tetanus shot. Bad news- well, I inserted a drywall screw into my foot.
As most renovation projects go, this one was delayed. Nearly everyone we scheduled to work on this project was late. All the men in my world seemed to be tardy. All but one……a seven pound boy that decided to show up nearly two weeks early. We had the joy of bringing our newborn home to the scene I described. Wires hanging, studs bare, subfloor stretching as far as the eye could see.
A dear friend told me she was coordinating a meal train. She didn’t really ask….she is a great enough friend that she just told me. I believe it was less for post-partum help and more for the mere fact that we were Eating. Out. Of. Our. Garage. With. A. Newborn.
Had my parents, who live down the street, not fed us continually prior to mealtrain, we would’ve subsisted on MREs.
I’ll never forget the look two dear friends gave when delivering the food. One friend simply whispered, “I didn’t realize things were quite this bad or I would’ve brought food sooner.” It was at that point that I realized we had been enduring Apocolytic Reno 2014 for too long.
We pressed the accelerator, used the baby as our pawn and things started to come together. The lengthy reno finally came to an end. Once it did, I swore I’d never undergo a project quite that involved again. I have absolutely no desire to build a home. Zero. Zilch. No renovating for me, thank you. I’m happy to exist in my home with conditions exactly as they are. Forever.
Except our master bathroom was carpeted. Carpeted. Can you imagine a carpeted bathroom in a home with six people?
One word. Biohazard.
In theory, carpet from 1989 is nice because your toes don’t hit cold tile when leaving the shower. On the other hand, they do land in heaven knows what kind of disgustingness since the carpet had been down since the house was built.
Nearly 30 years ago.
We finally pulled the trigger and ripped the carpet up. Months ago. So we’ve been walking on plywood again for what feels like an eternity. Our general contractor, it seems, is behind schedule. Really behind schedule. But I think he’s super cute and he offered to do the work for free. So I work with his schedule. He’s nice to my kids and gets me free tickets to the local high school football games, as well, so I’m not one to complain. Although he does leave his dirty socks lying just next to the laundry bin versus in it…..but I digress…..
I’ve stayed out of his hair as the noises from the sledgehammer and saw started up again. I’ve offered to assist however possible and I’ve kept quiet as long as all nails and screws are swept up.
But tonight I had a near Post Traumatic Stress flashback when we divvied up the kids for showers and bedtime.
I just want to avoid food prep in a garage and bathing in a bucket. Is that really too much to ask?
Wishing you all long, hot showers in a bathroom with actual flooring!