Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Great Townhouse Project of 2013 - Before and After

"How was your summer?"

The question everybody asks when school starts again. Usually I can just say, "Great! Really fun!" but this year I had to hesitate.

Great? Sort of.

Fun? Um . . .

Yes, I got to take a truly amazing trip with my mom and sisters--that was the highlight, for sure.

But to be perfectly honest, this past summer was a hard one for me. It was full of hard work--physically hard work--which can be gratifying, but also exhausting. 

It was also a lonely summer for me. Sure, I had helpers occasionally, but a lot of the time I worked alone. Just me and Pandora.

Toward the end, I wondered if the project would ever get finished. I wondered if we'd run out of money. I wondered if the guys at Home Depot knew my name yet. And I wondered what every other person I knew was doing, because for sure they were having more fun than me.

Yes, I got whiney. Hey, I was tired! The project definitely took its toll on me, and I was happy to be finished with it.

I think my favorite day was the day we took the final set of pictures (some of which I'm showing you here). My word, the house looked beautiful! (Of course, it's full of college girls now, so who knows what it looks like, but I'm sure it's in good hands.)

So, because so many of you have asked, here are some final pictures of the Great Townhouse Project of 2013. 

Let's start in the basement. It's hard to see how nasty it was before because it's basically one big, open room, but here's the before photo. 

See those tiny wooden slats on the ceiling? I painted each and every one of those suckers. That's right.

And here's the finished product (a few furniture pieces were added after we took this photo): 

I know this doesn't thrill you much, but I have to include some pictures of the utility room. Early in the summer, B took on the utility room as his own personal project. On the first day, he moved the washer and dryer to clean behind them and found not one . . . not two . . . but THREE thongs . . . in which, it seems, some mice had made a very nice, if not thin, nest. 

Thankfully the mice were nowhere to be seen this summer, once we removed their *ahem* bed.

Here was the utility room before (note the cans of paint and paint thinner tucked back behind the furnace. That's right! We nearly had a heart attack.):

And the utility room after (notice the brand new water heater. My pride and joy.):

OK, moving upstairs. Remember the half bath on the main floor? Seriously disturbing sponge painting in a funky green and gold. Still gives me shivers to think of that.

And the filth! Ugh. All over the house. I just couldn't capture it with my camera (these are the times when an infrared camera would have been helpful).

Anyway, here's the downstairs bathroom now:

Sadly, this picture doesn't capture the gleaming grout on the floor, but let's just say that hours on my hands and knees with a bottle of Soft Scrub (twice!) really did the trick. 

Moving on to one of my biggest projects of the summer, the kitchen. Remember the ugly green walls (what was WITH the previous owners and ugly green?)? The hideous checkered/appled wallpaper border?

Also before (note, again, the filthy grout):

When the water heater blew, we decided that replacing the kitchen floor would have to wait for another year or so. So, once again, I grabbed the Soft Scrub and went to town on the grout. (Thinking over that now, I probably should have sealed the grout when I was finished. Next summer.)

Here's the kitchen now:

Don't you love the indoor/outdoor rug that I bought from a friend for $20? It covers a multitude of sins cracks.

Here's another angle, looking back the other way:

I know you can't tell from this picture, but, trust me, that grout is CLEAN.

Moving into the living room. Here's where the biggest transformation took place, I think.

Before (sorry it's a blurry picture, but I wanted you to see the old dining room chandelier and the opening into the kitchen:

And one more from before (take a good look at the floor):

And here's the living room now:

I absolutely LOVE the new floor we had installed. It took a big chunk of our budget, but it was so worth it. (And I have to stop and say that Empire--yes, that Empire--was fantastic to work with. Who knew?!)

Moving upstairs. On the first day, Julia and I were immediately grossed out by this:

We never knew what that was dripping all over the wall, but this was the state of the stairway going upstairs. 

Here is the stairway (headed upstairs) today (sorry, the sun was shining very brightly that morning):

No drips. No splatters. No hair or lint covering the carpet. Just a nice, clean stairway. Ahhhhh.

The bedroom at the top of the stairs used to be bright yellow.

Now it's a soothing color of grayish/periwinkle (B thinks it's purple. No.).

Be prepared because a seriously nasty picture is coming your way. Remember the hall bathroom? The one with the shower and the hideously filthy floor? 


(I warned you!)

Soooo much better now. I might even use it.

Quickly now, let's head to the master bedroom (I only call it that because the bathroom is attached, or en suite, as they call it in Europe.). This is the room that was totally tan--even the ceiling. It was so dark in there, I don't know how anybody could stand it.

Here it is now:

And from another angle:

Here's the totally tan bathroom before:

And after:

I know, I know, it's not that much of a change, but I think the lighter color really makes everything look bigger, don't you?

So there you go. My summer project is complete, and I hope I never have to do that much work on a house in eight weeks again. 

Until next time. . . .

Monday, September 9, 2013

A Mama Story

Tell the story, they say. Just tell the story.

About how you are a spoiled mama because your girls go to college eight blocks from home and how you know you’re spoiled and you don’t take it for granted. Tell about how you know that they will leave at some point and that’s OK.

Even though you may not like it, it’s still OK.

Tell the story about how Kate needed to go for a while. How we all agreed that she needed to do this, as hard as it might be.

Tell the story about how she decided in the last week, at the very last minute that she didn’t really want to go but that what she really wanted to do was to stay here with her friends for her senior year. And how she sat you down on the Monday before she was supposed to leave on Thursday and how she looked you in the eye and said, “I don’t want to go.”

Tell the story about how that crushed your soul. How everything in you wanted to keep her here—who needs to fly away anyway?—but how everything in you knew that the best thing for her would be to get out of her hometown for a little while. So you sat with her, listened, and then said, “You do not have a compelling reason to stay home. You don’t have a dad who is sick. Your family is not in crisis. You just don’t have a good reason.”

And then, how you said, “But you do have one compelling reason to go.”

“What’s that?” she said through arms tightly crossed over her chest and a slight sneer on her face.

“Because you signed up. You told them you were coming. You said you’d be there; people are counting on you. And God has things to teach you there.”

You signed up.

Tell the story about how you went to visit your girl last weekend and how much fun it was to be with her, how easy, and how much you wanted to pack her in your suitcase and take her right back home with you, but you didn’t. Instead you bravely hugged her and tried not to cry and said, “I’ll see you at Thanksgiving.”

While inside you were thinking, “Thanksgiving is so stinking far away.”

You signed up, mama.

You signed up for a lifetime of heart-tugs and breath-catches. You signed up for a lifelong battle with your own will that wants to protect your girl and shower her with stuff and make her feel good about herself when you know in your heart that the best thing for her is to let her go and not provide every blessed thing she might want and to sometimes tell the truth about who she is.

Tell the story about how you got on that homeward bound plane with a sinking, sad feeling inside and tears ready to spill. How you didn’t want to let go of her or leave her there or wait three long months before you stroked her beautiful, long, brown hair again.

Tell the story about how not a minute goes by that you're not thinking about your girls—all three—and praying that they are OK.

The story of motherhood is fraught with longing and tears and wonder. It’s a story that’s hard to tell, with emotions so deep they cannot be spoken. It’s a journey that wears you out with frustration and regret and love.

But it’s also fraught with high-fives from little victories and loud laughter and knowing that you both have done the right thing.

Not the easy thing, for the easy thing would keep her right here, tucked safely beneath your wing.

You didn't sign up for the easy thing. You signed up for the right thing the moment you became a mother.

The right thing. Because right is always better in the end.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Good Reads

Happy long weekend!

Here are a few links that I've enjoyed this week (or last). Maybe they will fill a few quiet moments as you enjoy some time off.

5 Ways We're Making Parenting Harder :: Amen and amen! Would everyone just settle down already?

Saying Goodbye to My Child, the Youngster :: by Michael Gerson. For those of you sending kids off to college or those of you who might someday send you kid off to college. Get the kleenex handy!

And then, speaking of parenting, there's Miley. Obviously you don't have to click on these links, but just in case you're interested in what I think are some good perspectives on the situation. . . .

Dear daughter, let Miley Cyrus be a lesson to you :: Roadkill Goldfish. "Dear Daughter, I am going to fight or die trying to keep you from being like Miley Cyrus."

And then this for the sons:

Dear son, don't let Robin Thicke be a lesson to you :: The Matt Walsh blog. Such a great perspective.

That's it for this week. Enjoy your weekend!