Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Remodeling is Learning

We remodeled our house and that project is D.O.N.E.  Just putting it into a sentence like that doesn't explain the amount of fun, crazy, experience, learning, wonderfulness that happened for our family.

1.  Many many times the children were allowed to assist in bending rebar, handing screws, walking on wood, picking up rocks, hiding in ditches, jousting on the studs and much more.

2. The kids DID so many things; they helped with electrical, networking the house, running speaker wire, laying carpet, painting, moving, sorting, hauling, cleaning rocks, hammering, screwing, vacuuming drywall dust.  It was an education.

3. Every day I would pick the kids up from school and update them on the days activities.  They loved coming home and seeing the progress that had been done while they were at school.

4.  They loved the tile store.  LOVED.  I went to dozens of tile stores multiple times.  We needed tile for 2 bathrooms and I just couldn't decide.  Every time we went they were allowed to bring along their Nintendo DSs.  Of course they loved it.

5. My kids are troopers.  They adapted incredibly well.  Eleanor took naps while they jackhammered.  The kids happily rode as I drove to stores looking for sinks on school nights during dinner time.  They were understanding when I had to make last minute changes to our schedule because I needed to meet with the tile guy or the plumber.  

6. Lots of fast food.  Lots.  Not just because I had spent so much time running errands or making decisions, but sometimes because I couldn't get into the kitchen or because the electricians left without turning my power back on.

7. Patience.  The children learned the value of patience; the value of putting up with minor inconvenience for a beautiful home.  They learned the value of going without (giving up Disneyland passes) so you can buy something else instead.  The children are incredibly happy and thriving in our new space and any sacrifices we have had to make are completely worth it to them.

8. Connor is brave.  One of the main reasons to get this done now rather than wait another year is Connor was becoming increasingly unhappy sharing space with his 2 younger brothers.  He had no space of his own and his personality is completely different than the other two boys.  As soon as his "new" room was clean and available he started sleeping in it - even though that meant he slept "next door" for a while without electricity and a bathroom.

Monday, January 21, 2013


I'm not sure what the best measure of time is.  When we first purchased our home I knew it was temporary.  I hated it.  I cried when we closed escrow.  It was tiny and ugly.  I figured we would move in 2 years.  Then the market crashed and we weren't going anywhere.  We painted, revamped the kitchen and painted the outside sunshine yellow (to the dismay of some of our neighbors).  It was too crowded, messy all the time and had crayon on all the walls, but it was our home.  A home that our children were comfortable in.  A place they could go outside and dig a hole in the middle of our grass or pull all the buds off of our flowering bushes because they were collecting "candy".  I didn't care.  I didn't like the house so I didn't work on keeping it pristine or beautiful.  I kept it functional and comfortable.

Then we hatched a crazy plan to add 1,200 sq feet, 2 bedrooms a bathroom and a basement.  We would have no yard left.  I hated the plan.  We wouldn't be able to live in the house during construction.  We scrapped it due to cost.  William was a newborn.  I remember going to the meeting with the architect with William in the baby carrier, just a few weeks old.

Then we hatched another crazy plan; buy the house next door and join them together.  I wasn't on board with this one either.  We would be over-leveraged and I didn't want to be a landlord.  But I was willing to go along with the first part of the plan and we became landlords in 2009 to the best tenants in the world.  I could set my clock by their rent check, to the hour.  The kids loved playing with the neighbor-boy.  The tenants never had a question or complaint in 3 years.  They were fabulous and I was sorry to see them go.

After the failure of our first plan I was hesitant to tell a lot of people about our crazy plan.  We had no idea if we could afford it, if the county would let us join two properties together, if we could find an architect who would be willing to work with us, our crazy plan, and our strict requirements (like living in the home and doing some work ourselves).

Then on April 7th, 2012 we started the second part of the plan - join the two houses together.  It was a whirlwind of activity every morning at 7 am workers would come to our home and see me in jammies, there were last minute decisions to be made every day, furniture and boxes to be moved, fixtures to be purchased, lots and lots of discussion - sometimes internationally when Caskey was traveling abroad.  Seven months later we were done . . . sort of.  We were living in the house with the workers gone.  A few more weeks and knobs were installed, mirrors delivered.  Its beautiful and I love every bit of it.  It was worth every single decision, napless naptime, fast food dinner, cranky children at the tile store, no vacations for 2 years, every budget cut.  All of it.  It was worth it.

The upstairs:

Master Suite - aka: sanctuary 

Eleanor's very own bedroom: 

Girl's Bathroom

Boy's bedroom

Lainy Ann's Bedroom

Kitchen (no longer 'eat-in')

Living Room

Family Room

Dining Room (old living room):

Boy's Bathroom

Forever Table

This is our new dining room table.  I would like to say its our first dining room table.  When we were first married we used a round marble table that was from Gary's office as a dining table.  It was large, heavy, bulky, cold and only sat 4 people.  For larger parties we compromised, as only you can with a bachelor, we custom ordered glass to lay on top of a pool table and used that to seat 20 for Thanksgiving dinner.  It was a little tall for a regular chair, fortunately we had plenty of office chairs to choose from.  I custom sewed table cloths in large odd sizes.  Today I have to fold them over 3 and 4 times in order to use them on our smaller tables.

When we moved into the new house I went to a local furniture shop in Montrose and bought the only table I could find.  It was blond/white and $125 for 5 pieces, including 4 chairs.  What a steal!  We figured it would be temporary so I didn't worry when Lainy Ann stabbed it with her fork, Connor used markers on the bottom and the spokes on the chair broke and fell out.  We purchased folding chairs to use instead, then we found the exact same chairs at a garage sale, we purchased them and they broke too.  *shrug*  What do you expect for $125 and 8 years?

The last few months we have been hosting large sit down meals for 20 or more.  We have been using up to 3 tables including our sad tiny kitchen table.  

But now we have our perfect dining room table.  I have hunted far and wide for an all wood, no extensions, 10 foot table.  This isn't just furniture for us; this is life.  This is meals with our family and our extended family and loved ones.  This is Thanksgivings, Christmases, Easters.  This is family game night, friends game night. I anticipate boyfriends and girlfriends sitting at this table and getting interrogated by siblings (and daddy).  I anticipate fiancees and grandchildren all sitting at this very table; spilling milk, drawing a picture for mommy, laughing, joking, playing games and enjoying each other.  

This is life.  Our life.  Which requires a table for 12.