Home is where the laughter is

  • Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Jeff scrapes popcorn ceilings as the house renovations begin.

We’ve been in our new home for eight months now. Eight long, exhausting, work-filled months. We knew going in that this short-sale home would be a challenge, but we talked more about the potential and less about the challenges. With stars in our eyes we embarked on the adventure I like to call the renovation of the money pit. Month one:  Gusher of a leak in the back yard causes us to have to turn the water off and on at the road until the plumber can find the right part to repair it. Plumbers number one and two never returned my repeated phone calls or showed up for appointments. Plumber number three finally did the job but two weeks of no water in the house convinced us we do not want to go back to those days ever again. For those who saw me stumbling to the curb in the middle of the night to turn the water on or off, I apologize for my choice of nightie. Month two: We meet Eldin. His real name isn’t Eldin but for those who remember the TV show Murphy Brown, she had a painter who worked at her house eternally named Eldin, thus Mike our electrician became dubbed Eldin. Eldin was both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because he fixed many of our puzzling electrical problems, and they were many. A curse because my checkbook was being depleted as the weeks of work ran into more weeks, and more problems were found. The real blessing was the night it was eighteen degrees, I had no heat, and Eldin came to the rescue. My nightie that night was three sweatshirts and some heavy sweatpants. Month three: Our renovations begin in earnest. Only two rooms are in use: the kitchen and the bedroom. The rest of the house looks like a war zone. Having made the decision to scrape the popcorn ceilings, we have plastic over the floors, the walls and between rooms. After the material is removed, each ceiling must be sanded, repaired, and sanded again. Dust settles everywhere. I often can’t recognize my husband as the only thing on him not dust-covered is his eyes when he removes his goggles, but oh, what pretty eyes they are. I appreciate a man who not only has a PhD in wildlife ecology, but can also do his own home renovations! Months four through five: The wallpaper removal and painting begin. Every surface in the downstairs is painted with a fresh coat of paint, including ceilings, trim, doors, and walls. The former owners loved their wallpaper. Some of it was literally falling off the walls for us. The rest took a lot more effort. I discover I am not bad at using a steamer for removal. Tendonitis in my hand is a constant reminder of using the paintbrush and roller for twelve hours or more every single Saturday and Sunday. My real talent lies in door painting. There is a real science to it and taking the doors off the hinges, removing all hardware, working on four doors at a time on multiple sets of horses, and painting with the grain are integral. Month six: My daughter decides to get married in August, rather than next Spring. Yipes! The painting is being done at a frenzied pace now. Tearing up of carpets begins in preparation of floor laying. Month seven:  The painting is mostly done, while the wood floor installation begins. Wallpapering is sprinkled in. We are like crazy people, working every waking moment on the house to get it ready for family to arrive and stay there for the wedding.  Month eight:  The wedding looms closer, the floors are almost done. Our trips to buy light fixtures and furniture begin. Lights are installed, toilets are replaced, furniture arrives, and the house begins to look like a house. Decorations are sparse but there are a few.  It is now less than two weeks before the wedding. The house doesn’t look as good as I hoped, but does look phenomenally better than when we started. As we replace the last couple of toilets and put the doors back on the hinges, we decide that although the closets still lack wood flooring, the decorations are sparse, and the power washing never happened, the important thing is that my family arrives in one week and they will have beds to sleep in.  Through this journey, we have learned that despite all the stress, we have found times to laugh every day. Those times may have been at the way we look, or the positions we have found ourselves, or at the house itself. In the end, this has been a rushed labor of love but a labor of love regardless. In the end, our daughter will be married to a wonderful man. The times they showed up to help these past few months, despite how busy they were, are the proof of that. My family will arrive. We will enjoy our time together and laugh at the things not done in the house, because being together and laughter are really what life is all about, not the structure you do it in.

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