A home under construction…a family under construction

So much has happened since I last blogged.  That’s bound to happen in the course of a three-month span!  Reading back through that last post, it’s encouraging to see how many things I was thinking about have now been put behind us.

For instance, we did move our boys to the first floor bedroom.  We left the upstairs bedroom empty for a couple weeks while our bedroom furniture was spread across the house.  We picked out carpet and had it installed and really like it.  Our bedroom got set back up in mid-June, and though there’s still more settling in to do (some drywall needs to be repaired and there are painting touch-ups), even the crib already got set up.  The boys love having their room handy on the main floor and spend a lot of time playing in there together–often happily (like right now).

Before we had tackled that whole bedroom project, we found a last-minute sitter one day and went out furniture shopping, kid-free.  We purchased two matching couches (a loveseat didn’t make sense because it was only $50 less and we wanted the extra seating space), a new recliner, a shag area rug, and a big ottoman.  We had a 6-8 week wait on the arrival of our furniture, but as it turned out, we weren’t able to have it delivered when it was ready, anyway.  Now that it has arrived, however, we are 100% happy with our choices and loving how comfortably our family can gather in that room together.  We have plenty of room for company to join us (hint, hint)!

We knew we wanted to make sure that the wood floor under our dingy pink living room carpet was ok, so as soon as possible after selecting our furniture purchases, my husband pulled up the carpet.  Sure enough, the wood floor ran throughout the room, but it didn’t look so great.  We didn’t realize at the time that the big dark patches were pet stains.  After getting several bids, we settled on the person who did actually end up refinishing the floors.  He was adamant that the finish on our dining room floor wasn’t great and wouldn’t look right next to the living room floor once it was finished, and his price to do both rooms was less than most people quoted us just on the living room.  We hired him to come at the end of June, a couple days after we were to have attended my cousin’s wedding.

Our first major set-back in this whole renovation process was when the father of the guy we’d hired to sand and refinish our living room and dining room floors died.  Somehow this set him back three weeks on his jobs.  We learned this the day before we were to have left for the wedding.  As it was, that next morning Child #2 woke up sick and we had to turn around and go home.  We got him into the dr. and learned that it was probably viral, so we waited the day out in hopes that he’d be ok to up and go the next morning, making it just in time for the wedding.  When he still woke up feeling like the trip was too much, I made the decision to go alone with the other two kids.  We just made it and had quite the whirlwind trip, but it worked out and I was very relieved to make it back home.

Feeling dejected about the wait and concerned about the probability of our hardwood floor refinishing now likely to overlap with the kitchen project, we decided to see if the kitchen could get started sooner.  It could.  Less than a week after getting back home from my cousin’s wedding, we emptied out our kitchen (cramming everything from the cupboards throughout our basement and setting up a temporary kitchen in our laundry room) and then the next day two people came to help my husband gut the kitchen.  What a mess!  The worst part of that day, for me, was that Little One now was sick and our van was in the shop.  I was stuck at home with all the dust and banging with a sick kid–and he was worrying me.

Nevertheless, our gracious Lord brought us through that day and eventually I was able to vacuum up some of the dust.  We spent a LOT of time going out the front door and in the side door so as to avoid the “kitchen”.  We also spent a lot of time downstairs, despite all the stuff everywhere.

After removing the old cabinets and knocking down the drywall and removing insulation from two walls, a kind man from church came back to update the electrical on those walls and then help us drywall (after my husband put in new insulation).  The drywall project wasn’t finished, but we were scheduled to make a trip to WI so that we could see my husband’s older sister and her family while they were visiting his parents.  We hadn’t seen them in a couple years and were determined to, despite being in the middle of such a project.  Actually, it was a relief to be able to get away from the mess for a while.

So, off we went to WI for a few days, and had a wonderful time.  We were put up in his parents’ basement, and it worked out great.  That was a big enough space for us all to comfortably rest, and cool enough, too.  We were so glad to get reacquainted with our niece and nephew and have all that fun with family for a couple days.  Then we headed back home to our messy reality–more work in the kitchen.

Since the bottom cabinets had been finished and our builder was hoping to store them in our garage, I suggested that we just install them in the kitchen.  He was up for that, so in they went.  My husband had removed the old floor and subfloor when he was doing the new insulation and the cabinets just sat on the original hardwood planks, but that was just as well so that the cabinets wouldn’t get too high up and touch the window trim.  We hadn’t placed our kitchen floor order yet, so that was the next step.  We knew what we wanted but just couldn’t get in contact with our person who had said he’d lay the floor.  The kitchen floor came in while we were out of town the next time, and when we finally talked to our flooring guy and learned that he was just feeling too busy to take care of it for us, we asked our flooring store to find someone for us.  They had someone available for first thing that next morning.  Wanting to keep momentum, we jumped on it!

It wasn’t until about 9 p.m. that night that my husband was able to tackle removing the floor/subfloor from the steps and landing.  Boy, oh boy…that turned out to be an unpleasant job for him due to how much adhesive was holding it down.  He banged and chipped away at it until 2 a.m. before giving up.  I slept through it for a few restless minutes here and there.  Thankfully, the kids slept soundly.  Then, my husband laid down on a piece of luan with a pillow to barricade the floorless landing from our early-rising kids.  What a guy–what a night!

It turned out that we had a connection to the man who was hired to do our floor.  Those connections are always fun to discover.  He did a good job and we’re really happy with our flooring choice.  We still need trim and quarter-round, but it’s been nice having a real floor in there again.  I was so excited that I had to wash it right away (which I wasn’t supposed to do).

Last week the ball got rolling with our countertop.  Our builder came to the house to make a template and then on my birthday we went out to his shop to look at the sheet of laminate to determine which parts of the pattern we wanted used.  My favorite part of the laminate ran right down the center of the roll, and there was no possible layout to make use of that.  I wanted to swallow my disappointment, but was struggling at hiding it.  After thinking it through, our great builder suggested cutting in a handful of inches from the side to be able to utilize some of that center pattern in the countertops.  I really liked all the pattern going on in our deep corner, and ended up being happy with the prospective countertop.

It was supposed to be delivered on Friday night, after which our two families were going to go out for pizza.  A much-needed downpour put a damper on that.  Despite not being able to deliver the countertop, we went out for supper together anyway, which was fun.  I just adore their little girls and have great respect for the parents, too.

Yesterday the countertop made it here.  As you quickly learn with construction projects, things usually don’t go the way you anticipate.  Installing the countertop wasn’t quick and was a dusty project.  I should have hung sheets from tension rods to catch some of the dust like we’d done when gutting the kitchen.  But, I did my best to vacuum up what I could later in the day.

The countertop really looked great despite a snafu when a nail came up through the countertop laminate.  Our builder was able to patch it a bit so that the counter won’t be damaged further, and now I look at it as “character”.  He felt so badly that it happened, and I never feel good remembering my hormonal response (I thought I was going to pass out–good grief!).  It could have been much, much worse!

Backing up a bit to our floor project, though…that happened earlier this month, right after going to WI.  We had hoped to continue on to MN to spend time at my parents’, but needed to have enough time to do things at home before the floors would get done.  I had a struggle coping with the loss of that second part of our trip–it was very disappointing to me.  Then, there was the “joy” of moving everything out of our living room and dining room (which had been holding our kitchen appliances).  Most of the furniture was crammed into our kids’ bedrooms, making them entirely unsafe and not able to be used.  Some friends of ours were out of town and had made their home available to us, and we gratefully made use of that offer.  I periodically took the kids there to play (for a break from the noise of the sander overhead) and to avoid the fumes once the finish went down on the floor.  It was so great to have that respite.

We realized that all of our projects had come to a standstill.  Our kitchen floor hadn’t arrived, our countertop laminate hadn’t arrived, and the living room and dining room floors needed to be stayed off of for a few days.  The house stunk.  We were welcome to continue staying at our friends, but it seemed like the time to get away to MN and spend some time with my parents.  We dashed in and out of the stinky house, packing bags, and got on our way out of state as soon as the second coat was down on the floor.  It was late in the day, but we made it past Chicago to our hotel (using free stay points), got some sleep, and got back on our way the next morning with a full rainbow overhead.

The trip that day was eventful when Child #2 woke up from a catnap and started getting sick.  That stressed me out.  But, we made it to MN before supper time with a brand-new bucket in our possession…

What a great time we had at my parents!  The kids had tons of fun racing cars on my dad’s cool car track.  They got to visit the media center at the college my parents teach at and create things with my mom.  We got to go swimming at the state park, an outdoor wading pool, and the indoor pool.  We got to go rafting and to climb a landmark statue.  We had real (and really yummy) meals all gathered around one table.  I got to play duets with my mom at my grandma’s living community, and my daughter played one with my husband, too.  It was all so special and we left with such wonderful memories filed away.  After getting back home, the new furniture arrived and things picked right back up with the kitchen, as I’ve mentioned.

Throughout all this home renovation, I, too, am changing.  Unfortunately, I don’t think that these personal changes have been for good.  I’ve really struggled coping with the dust and “stuff” everywhere.  Most days I’m too overwhelmed to function, and when it’s hot, I’m also very sluggish.  I don’t feel like myself most of the time.  I’m so scattered and feel like I’m constantly floundering.  I keep trying to remind myself that this process requires much patience and flexibility, and sometimes I cope better than others.  Sometimes.

I was hoping that maybe taking the time to write about these experiences would help me sort through my mental clutter.  I have really neglected journaling, and in the past that has always been helpful for me.  It helps me put things in perspective, learn from my mistakes, and brainstorm better future options.

With another school year approaching, I look back to how different life was for my family at this time last summer.  I was preparing for my school year, as well as helping my husband and kids prepare for theirs.  Students will start arriving at the high school I used to teach at in about a week, but I’m not preparing to teach them.  I am preparing to be a mom again.  This wiggly little baby is growing away, as is our excitement to meet baby.  Maybe, just maybe most things around here will be set to rights before baby’s arrival–but one thing’s for sure.  This family will still be under construction.  It’s a natural process of life, just like the fact that our new floors/kitchen will eventually suffer wear and tear and once again need attention.  What matters most, anyhow, is that my family’s construction is built on the firm foundation of God’s Word–and I dare not lose sight of that amidst my clutter and dust-hazed floundering…By God’s power, we, as a family and as individuals will grow spiritually stronger, rather than be weakened and weather with time.  I can’t hope for that with my home, but I do ask that of Him for us.  And I’ll trust Him to provide.

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