Monday, August 8, 2011

Funny Story, or Murphy's Law (they are really the same thing)

Of course the flooring project dragged on forever, it is in fact still dragging on --- there is still the tedious job of trim work and caulking and touch ups and the such.  But there is always the darkest moment before the dawn and we are past that now.  The following is the story of those darkest WEEKS!!!

The project actually moved remarkably smoothly until we hit the second fireplace with its crazy angles and the staircase (which we righteously fubared)  With those rather substantial blows to Robert's patience and my confidence, we embraced the work zone environment that we have lived in much of our life together.  (I'm not saying it was the right thing to do, just the comfortable thing)  Works in progress were left untouched, scraps scattered about, piles to jump over, things like that.  The front porch became a catch all for yard sale, displaced items, and the saw set up.  It wasn't pretty....

So, naturally, that is when the insurance adjuster showed up to take pictures!  I wanted to scream "Oh GOD, why did my mother have to be right about this?"  But I smiled and gulped, slightly relieved she wasn't the health department having realized that the beagle is a menace to society, and took her on the tour, trying to explain we weren't crazy white trash hoarders, just a really great lost episode of Renovation Realities.  For her part she was very nice and sympathetic, but she still kept taking pictures of the disaster.

That would have been humiliating enough, but then the phone call comes 10 days later that she now needs to do an inside inspection.  though she refuse to admit it, I am positive that this is because the underwriter saw our hot mess and did not approve.  I stalled for time, and got 3 weeks...

So i yard saled, and hauled off, went through no less than half a dozen magic erasers in the kitchen alone.  There were multiple trips to the dump, and good will.  Robert was brow beaten into doing what I perceived as potential safety violations; hanging the handrails back up, and new batteries in the smoke detectors.  We also spent father's day at Lowe's and running new electrical upstairs. My hands were raw, my nerves were frazzled and the flower beds didn't get weeded.  But considered where we had started from I was satisfied with what she would be walking into.

She was again beyond pleasant , and even said "I hope you didn't clean for me"---yeah right!! and took 4 pictures, one of the heat pump, one of the circuit breaker, one of the kitchen and one of the living room,  She never walked into any other room, even though WALT begged her to go upstairs...

When she left I stood on the sidewalk and thought REALLY?  Then I came to my senses and called Janice and told her to come straight over and hang out, the house was as clean as it was going to get. . . ..

The fresh flowers were a nice touch I thought.

Amazing how empty it looks without recycling overflow.

Some of the child directed artwork remains. . .

It smelled even better than in looked!!

The much beloved new bedroom!!

Every piece washed, and about 20% had gone into yard sale!

I think that there will be tool corner for as long as we live here.

Doesn't everybody have a tee pee in their living room??

Monday, June 27, 2011

Barrelling ahead at the astonishing speed of negative 55 mph

We seem to be stuck in the construction reality of the more we do the more that needs to be done. Work begets work so to speak.

The floor itself is 100% finished in 3 of the 4 rooms, and my mother, who is always SO helpful and supportive and demure, has pointed out how much better the house smells...
cheap carpet + multiple puppies = acidic smells

Our bedroom, the first room is 90% finished... paint is done, quarter round is down, furniture is largely in the correct place.  The hope chest needs to come downstairs and then painted to match the furniture to serve as TV stand.  several pictures both large and small need to hung, a small hole needs to be mended in the closet (which will hopefully help cut down on the number or farmhouse mice we get in the winter) and then there is the mantle.  we have all the materials, just nervous about the tiling process. so it has been setting there for approximately a month.

The living room has the floor and some quarter round and some painting, it is currently housing the majority of the tools and misplaced stuff, and some yard sale stuff and a tee pee.  Don't believe me?

The steps are currently under construction.  Like the mantle, it's a bit of uncharted territory.  As I type this 8 are installed with 5 left to nail down.  Then there will be holes to patch and that should be interesting, updates on that dilemma for certain.  Here's the progress so far:

The most exciting news of the last week or so is that Slinky has come to peace with the wood steps and is now moving freely through the house again.  No more hours of whining waiting for rescue!!!

The black hole/junk room has also been floored, just this weekend, with paint and a major change in purpose and furniture, pics coming in the next update!!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

First the walls

I had a plan.  A brilliant, researched plan.  The plan was to take EVERYTHING out of the bedroom, or the blank slate method.  I call it the "reality tv intervention" method.
This did not happen.  There was a fair amount thrown under a tarp on the porch, where some still lives (the truth is ugly sometimes).  The rest got moved around.  What wasn't stepped on or dripped in paint got to stay.  That was a mini purge of its own.

But plan be damned the walls got painted.
This color:

Which looks like this on the walls:

The mighty WALT was a mighty big help  (he paints in minimum clothing for ease of clean up)

There is always that moment where you have trouble determining what is wet and what is dry, what needs a second coat and what is safe to set furniture against.  This is that moment for the big man:

But by the next afternoon we called it good.  Trim work and touch ups can drag on forever.  All you can see are the tiny flaws. . . .
Still I think it turned out pretty great . . . . . The walls look pretty great anyway.

As for that pile, well that is the next step  . . .

Monday, May 16, 2011

And So It Has Begun (the massive remodel)

I am hoping to document this whole mad project in some type of coherent photographic sequence

As for a quick-ish explanation:  The beloved farmhouse is old and therefore drafty, cold and crooked.  The living room floor is particularly miserable in the winter, you can feel the $$$ slowly seeping out.  We had added two layers of insulation under the floor.  We also added a propane fireplace.  It is STILL frigid.
At the same time, the junk room black hole has become Slinky's emergency bathroom and the smell is unpleasant and impossible to completely nix.  The carpet is also the cheapest carpet ever made and poorly installed.  So with some careful budgeting and a sell at Lumber Liquidators, we became the proud owners of 1000 square feet of prefinish 12mm hard wood.  It was 47 boxes.  It took two loads in the pickup.  That was a long day.  My arms hurt.  There were massive piles of boxes everywhere.

We started in our bedroom:
Not like it needed it or anything.  the lovely red trim with the black laquer furniture.  The catch all of holidays, mismatched socks, and clothes in need of attention.
The color choice seemed so perfect when it was a 2 year old boys room.  But for the last year it has caused more than one restless night.  I may have created all his midnight terrors with this awful paint!!
But there are small pieces I will miss:
and this:
No one was more eager to help with WALT, and we started with ridding ourselves of the red:

Big Man got the high spots:

And by the end of Day 1, we were here:

If only it had stayed so simple, but that's for another post!!!

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Descent into Chaos

Guess what is happening at my house????

pay careful attention to the ears . . . .

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Updates on progress from the black hole!

The weather "washed out" our plans for the yard last weekend, so I talked the hubs into a blitz through the black hole! In about an hour and a half we emptied 4 boxes, took 3 boxes of yard sale items to the building, started a 4th yard sale box, and took down to big bags of trash.  There was even a wide enough path to bring out the Dyson for a vacuum!
Here are the pics . .  refer back to the Feb. post to compare before and mid point (we aren't really at after yet)
This we we have a shortned spring break and so I am hoping to make some additional progress!

Humble tricks of the trade I have mastered

It is nice to wake up to a clean house on Sunday morning.  VERY VERY NICE, addictingly nice.  And I think I've figured out how to make that a weekly ritual of this karmic high.  Dinner guests on Saturday night!!  I like to cook, I like company so it's a win, win, win for me.  It also motivates the hubs to get more involved, which is like double bonus point score.  As a tag team (and excluding laundry and WALT's room, which I did Friday night) it took just over an hour to straighten, vacuum, mop and wipe down the rest of the house.  Then there is good food, good company and the unmatched feeling of a guilt free Sunday morning with my coffee and a good book (current reading is John Irving's "A Prayer for Owen Meany.")  Reading is another unexpected reward of a more functional home!
Yard work season begins in about 3 hours. Robert is weed eating right now, but that's his gig.  A new batch of lilies and irises go in the ground this afternoon.  Thus contributing to my goal of cutting down on the amount of weed eating by expanding my flower beds.  The mission is to completely cover the front "slope" outside the fence with perennials by the end of next summer, thus cutting about 200 square feet of yard work torture.  I have been keeping the cost down by excepting any and all freebies (the lilies and irises from today are mom's extras from a recent purchase) and buying the clearance flowers at Lowe's after they have bloomed for the season.  Right now it looks like about 90% is going to come back from last year so I am stoked!
Will try and take some pics of the progress today!
Now off to have that 3rd cup of coffee and a bit of guilt free reading!!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Reality Check

My child no longer needs me to actually be physically present when he goes to sleep.  He is six, I am aware that this is YEARS past the national average, by probably 5 years or more, but it is still a bit unsettling.  The slowly steady-ing (is that a word) of his breathing steadied my breathing and slowed down my random brain.  I am finding it hard to go to sleep.  I should be reading but those damn crazy housewifes won't let me rest.  On the up side, here I am on my blog.  Wide awake and full of words.

Speaking of this humble little blog.  It is truly humble.  I was messing around on the dashboard and saw that I had 66 total views. Julie and Julia I am obviously not.  Alas, sigh, and oh well.  Do I really want the whole world to see that picture of my kitchen?  Probably not.  The glass is half full . .

Now for the all too often plea for help . .  My husband has BOXES, large overflowing BOXES, of trophies.  I have mentioned scaling down (or completely eliminating) these boxes, since they simply sit in the up stair closet of limbo.  All such attempts have created 1 of 2 reactions ---the glaring stare of suspected jealousy that I don't have any such trophies and therefore want rid of his, or the why did you kick my puppy pout.
I have suggested that the Special Olympics always need trophies, but to no avail.  Any advice/suggestions will be greatly appreciated. 
--Thanks in advance Tammy!!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I had one of those hold back sobs because you are in public weeks a few weeks ago.  It was the overwhelming fear (or "mean reds" in Breakfast at Tiffany's speak) that everything I do is half ass. The house is never completely clean, I'm never completely put together when I leave the house, my paperwork is always less complete/timely/thorough/perfect as I hoped, and of course this blog is often neglected.

I am bad to put myself, and therefore the things I value, at the bottom of the list.  I have a suspicion that if the house really bothered Robert it would be clean, and not because he cleaned it.  I am trying to strike a better balance, but I dont think it will be the last mini meltdown.

I have a running partner and as a result I am 1 run from being finished with the second week of 9 in the couch potato to 5k.  It is going well. Robert is surprisingly supportive WALT likes going to the park.  It seems to be a winner for everybody!!

It was a quiet weekend here. Did some deeper cleaning in the bedroom.  Amazing what takes up residence under the bed.  Easter weekend has been blocked off as painting weekend.  It is still the blue/red paint of WALT.  It is going to change to Grass Green with white woodwork. Bright, man friendly, and most importantly not red!!  (the red did not follow WALT upstairs either. Red is dead on Pioneer Hill Lane)
The plan is to completely  empty the room and only bring back in what we use and love.  Everything else will go either to the dump or the growing mound of yard sale in the out building.  It will be our own mini-makeover show.  Pictures of before and after, and any particularly dramatic moments will be posted.  I am excited minus my closet dread.

The coming weekend is Spring Cleaning of the Yard.  Will post pics as progress unfolds (which is weather permitting of course!)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mental Health Day

Today is my once a year treat of not going to work.WALT had a doctor's appt at 8 a.m. and then we just came home. I could justify it a hundred different ways but I'm not gonna, cause that's just mind clutter!!

The house is holding steady.  Some weeks a bit of progress emerges, in the black hole and other small trouble spots, and some weeks we just worry about the big stuff --dishes, laundry, dog hair.  We have joined a gym, the YMCA in fact, and try our best to make it twice a week.  We swim and swap out WALT to work out.  I have decided to try a mini triatholon in the fall.
I think this could sound like I have abandoned the house projects but I think it is really just the opposite.  I think the house is now to a stand alone point, minus the blackhole, that doesn't require near the level of effort.  So now I actually have some opportunity to enjoy myself and my life.

I have spent most of the day in another deep clean/purge of the wild man's room.  Seems like we need one every couple of months or so.  I don't know why but I truly love to be in his room.  Cleaning up the little scenes that he has created in a wonderful insight to that clever little mind of his.

Spring fast approaches.  Next weekend begins yard work FOR REAL (we piddled some this past weekend) and so the projects and photos will pick back up.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Black Hole

Here it is, the unfixable area, the quandry, riddle, enigma, dark secret of my house.  It has been undefined from the first time we looked at the house with the realtor, a pass through room that has become a dumping ground.  I don't like anything about it.  I never have, and I fear that I never will.
Due to the age of our lovely old farmhouse Robert wants to move the TV and sectional into this room because it is so much warmer in the winter and we would have a more formal (meaning easier to keep clean) area downstairs.  But of course this means we have to clean this mess first.
So this is where we begin:

Friday, January 14, 2011

The quandry of the wrapping paper

I have a lot of wrapping paper.  It is one of those strange things that I seem to inherit.  Truly.  A whole box from Robert's mother and another from my grandmother.  I am also not immune to super cute paper 75% at Target after Christmas.  And I can't seem to throw away an undamaged gift bag, I reuse them (when I can find them)
And so a corner of the junk room became an ineffective wrapping area.  A trunk, under the bed box and wrapping paper tote, along with a collection of bags scattered around and on top.

I divided and conquered so to speak.  All the damaged bags and ends of paper were trashed (there were several thanks to the Slinky pup)  Then I decided some needed to be available on a year round spare of the moment basis.  Christmas on the other hand only needs to be around for about 2 weeks (since I am always last minute.)  As such the under the bed box is now housing all the multi purpose bags, tags, paper and bows.  The trunk has all the Christmas goodies.  Hopefully the trunk is field mouse proof as it will be moving out to the building with the rest of the Christmas goodies.  The wrapping paper caddy is now in the yard sale pile (the damn thing never would stand up for me anyway)

So this is what I ended up with . . .

much better I think.  But here's what I wasn't really prepared to find.  A reminder of how much my grandmother loved me. These are all the handmade bows I made out of construction paper in college.  When I had time to do something other than dishes, repairing toys, and staring at facebook.  It was also a time I was broke and had no TV, but they are actually pretty nifty all the same.  I hope they inspire me to keep on keeping on so that sooner than later I have some time on my hands again to pursue my long lost artistic endeavors  . .

Controlled Chaos minus the control

We are on the tail end of 6 snow days.  For the sake of my sanity and my bank account I am desperate to get back on Monday.  I have filled my week with a sizable amount of devotion to the medical updates of Congress woman Gifford (I am morbidly addicted) and emptying the junk closet in the junk room.
I have made some progress.  All of my college pics are now in 2 photo albums.  I also have a sizable pile to incorporate into Christmas boxes (Christmas stuff from the past few years found after Christmas and stuck in closet no doubt)  The Christmas boxes are still on the back porch due to the several inches of ice on the outbuilding steps so that needs to be done ASAP.
I also have a number of nice things that just don't really fit in my life anymore.  These probably need to go on eBay or craigslist.  I have several Audrey Hepburn barbies and 2 American girl collection dolls.  I just always ASSumed that I would have a girl that would love and cherish these things, but alas that doesn't seem to be in the cards. I also have a handful of Thomas engines that I got wrong that need to go as well and I am hoping that there are some Robert things in the closet that can go as well (He has a collection of Starting Lineup figurines, or man dolls as I like to refer to them)
So the closet is empty.  Spread ALL across the room.  Piles of like items and piles of just items.  Piles and piles.  Now comes the tricky part.  Getting all those piles to go away with out filling the closet back up.  I need to dedicate an afternoon to starting an eBay shop I suppose.  It is all intimidating for some reason.  I also need a few more photo albums for high school pics. 
I am also struggling with Robert.  He has every jersey he's ever had and seems to have some unhealthy connection to all things Marines.  Including but not limited to uniforms that will NEVER fit again and seemingly meaningless paperwork, including his range scores and classroom materials. He has the bag with all his obscenely short PT clothing and it is in the stay pile.  We also have a whole section of our closet dedicated to dress uniforms.  This doesn't included the 4 trunks in the attic space containing gear from Iraq.
My own true dilemma is this --- our war correspondence.  I wrote Robert almost everyday.  And these letters detail my pregnancy and then WALT's infancy.  I didn't do that well keeping a journal but the letters actually do the job nicely.  I started gluing the envelopes into a journal but it got huge and impossible to close.  I suppose I just put them in a box.  Seems uncelebrated that way though -- so any and all suggestions welcome!!!

Pics soon of the chaos and hopefully the calm to follow . .

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A New Year and New Hopes and Challenges

It's been about a year since this blog became a plea for help and then a documentation of my attempt to lighten the load.  I am both a bit disappointed and elated at the same time.  I wish that I had learned to love to do the dishes (especially the big nasty pots you have to scrub and won't fit in the dishwasher) but I haven't.  But I have begun to implement the simple concepts that make big differences, especially the one in one out.  (though in fairness while I have adopted "one in one out" I am still struggling with Robert and WALT)
My house still gets messy.  Come by any Friday and I'll show you.  The difference is that every Saturday the house is reset.  For the first time since I have had my own place the holidays came and went with the normal stream of people and I didn't have to pull a single all nighter to make the house presentable.

This Christmas marked another important and hopefully far reaching milestone here at the Farmhouse.  It was done without credit cards.  With some diligent watching of sale papers and late night bidding on ebay the boys got everything they wanted.  It was not the biggest Christmas ever underneath the tree, and it took an incredible amount of resolve to keep to the budget, in fact we when realized we had gone over on the boys Robert and I parred our gifts to each other down to small token gifts.  It does however feel pretty good now that its January and the bills aren't rolling in.  (especially since we have worked 4 whole days on this pay period which is another set of issues completely)

So the blog will continue.  There are still closets to be cleaned out and corners to scrub.  And documentation helps me keep on track. I am hoping that by this time next year all the closets (and my building) serve their intended purposes of being servicable vessels of rotating storage with items that are used at least anually.  (rather than their current state of over filled areas filled with momentos of times gone by)
We also have the loftier goal of some major house rearrangement and remodeling.  We have yet to repaint our bedroom since we switched rooms with WALT and the blue walls and red trim of his toddler days are not quite the backdrop for the tranquil retreat I so desperately need.  We are also hoping to move the sectional and flatscreen upstairs in the spare bedroom/junk center.  The living room will then become a bit of a more formal space and the piano have room to be actually used.  This is advantageous in a couple of different ways.  The over riding practical reason is that the upstairs stays a good deal warmer than downstairs and we have been huddled up in blankets trying to play the wii.  I am backing this bold suggestion of Robert's because it eliminates the possibility of having a junk room.  At the same time it keeps the reality of family messiness out of sight of the unexpected guest.  So as progress is made, the changes will show up here, in both wordy Sarah insights and pictures.

I also am hoping to add a new element. As mentioned above we are trying to break the credit card habit and live within our means.  More than within our means, really to live in a way that eliminates the debt that my lovely child and the farmhouse and the accident prone animals have racked up in the past 4 years.  So when I get brave and honest I am going to add it all up and then I hope to make at least a monthly entry on how much is gone.  This may take longer than getting my house truly organized  but may be even more important.

I am snowed in and have started some new projects, complete with pictures, so updates should be happening soon!!