Day 63

Okay, I lied. I said that the next pictures would be the exciting ones, and I’ve been holding off on writing so I could keep my word, but I didn’t realize how long it takes to receive your cabinets once you’ve ordered them. So, in the meantime, here’s what’s been going on…

  • we have lights in the kitchen now (no more flashlights)
  • the kitchen walls and ceiling drywall is all done and spackled
  • we now have a step between the kitchen and the sunporch, so no more giant leap
  • the vents for the kitchen hood and the bathroom fan have been cut and finished
  • the roof has been recoated

And here’s what’s coming up…

  • framing out the pantry
  • putting up drywall in the bathroom and laundry room
  • finish lighting in the laundry room and bathroom
  • put steps between the kitchen and laundry room
  • install cabinets
  • open the wall between the kitchen and dining room
  • my husband and I also have to decide on countertops and flooring

Over all, the mood in our house is pleasant. My husband actually said that he’s acclimated to our present systems, which is good for my soul to hear. I’m curious how long it’ll take us to re-acclimate once we have a sink again, and a dishwasher, and an oven. It might take about 2 seconds, but I don’t want to take it for granted. And I don’t want to forget our current experience.

I’m so glad that our house is getting fixed up. I’m glad because I think it’ll help us show hospitality even better than we already do. But I’m also aware of the entitlement that comes with having nice things, and I don’t want my kids growing up feeling entitled.

I know a lot of adults who weren’t able to fix up their house – to get their big kitchen or their second bathroom – until they were retirement age, including my parents. As such, that is my standard, the example I’ve seen, so I didn’t assume we’d get to touch our house for a long time (failing foundations do a lot to create urgency).

I also remember the bathroom we had when I was growing up, the bathroom with weak floorboards beneath the toilet that made me think I might fall through the floor if I sat down too hard. My parents’ house is beautiful now, with two remodeled bathrooms, a big kitchen and living room, extra closets and storage rooms, a new laundry room, a new office: all things that we didn’t have when I was a kid. But even without those things my childhood was pleasant, and I actually think that tiny, fixer-upper bathroom did me some good. It made me appreciate what little I’ve had at different times and be thankful when I’m able to improve things.

So I have hope, even as we continue to improve things, that we will be able to instill that thankfulness and gratitude in our kids.

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Days 14 & 15

After this summer of traveling, the kids are used to this arrangement. We’ve now slept in one room in various hotels, airbnbs, timeshares, and relatives’ houses, so they took very little convincing to try it in our own house. (It’s not a bad way to teach your kids to hold their possessions [even their own beds] lightly.)

Our bedroom is on the second floor and next to the bathroom, and I took the kids up there right after dinner. They both lay down in their travel beds immediately and I changed their clothes and brushed their teeth right in bed. I read a couples books, turned on the sound machine, turned off the light, and was out of there. 10 minutes start to finish.

But here’s how it goes normally.

I take them up to the second floor and we stop in the bathroom. They fight over who gets to stand on the step stool to brush their teeth. If Augie wins, I brush his teeth while Rosey brushes hers. If she wins, she brushes her teeth and Augie takes off to who knows where to do something that is of maximum importance only to him. 5 minutes later I get him back into the bathroom and we brush. Meanwhile Rosey makes her way downstairs and back up again only forgetting some vital toy or blanket downstairs. I finish brushing Augie’s teeth and tell him to go upstairs to his bedroom on the third floor while I carry Rosey downstairs (she insists) to get the forgotten item. I then carry her up two flights of stairs, down the hall, and into their room. I lock the door behind me: no escape!

It is now time for jammies. Augie and Rosey have the biggest bedroom in the house so, after I get their day clothes off, they run around like wild beasts, chasing each other in their newly nude freedom while I tell them several times to come back and get their jammies on. Once again, they argue over who goes first until I tackle Rosey because she’s the easiest to subdue. Then I tell Augie that he can sleep naked with no story time and he lets me get him dressed, but he’s “not happy about it.”

Deep breath.

I pick out two books and hope they pass inspection because otherwise Augie will get to the shelf and pick out the longest ones possible. The kids sit in their reading chairs. I read. Rosey then complains that Augie is too close to her even though he hasn’t moved. Augie gets offended at being falsely accused of something and I can’t console either of them because the whole thing is irrational. Finally I scooch their chairs farther apart and I’m able to finish story time and get them into bed.

They have various stalling techniques that they can employ at this point, but let’s say it’s a good night and I get out of there without 5 songs, 4 prayers, 3 sips of water, 2 potty breaks, and a partridge in a pear tree. Let’s say I get out of there with a simple g’night: this whole thing has taken an hour and a half.

In a small house there is much less distance, much less room to run wild, several fewer rooms to entice little interests, several less steps to haul things up and down. In my smaller house I got the kids to bed tonight in 10 minutes.

I’m not complaining.

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Day 10

We had a friend couple over for dinner last night, even though all we have to cook with is our makeshift kitchen. It was refreshing! We made vegan chili in the crock pot and washed all the prep dishes before our guests arrived so we could just enjoy conversation late into the evening. This was the first time they’d seen our house since the start of the renovation, and both of them commented with enthusiasm about our smaller space and all the neat systems we’ve put in place to make it functional (Laura is an event planner and decorator and Andrew is a cook, so affirmation from them felt good).

My affinity for having a smaller house hasn’t waned yet. I’m sure it still could, but so far I’m really enjoying it. When we bought this house we were hosting dinners, meetings, and other events at home several times a week, so having a big house with lots of nooks and crannies for people to melt into was attractive.

But having people over for dinner slowed down when our second kid was born. Hosting meetings went out the window last year when our church got an official office space. And now our church isn’t meeting in homes anymore (at least for now) so most of the time our house seems way too big for us.

As such, I’ll confess that I’m a little nervous I’ll miss the smaller house when this project is over. But let’s not go overboard on that. I know it’ll be nice to have a downstairs bathroom. It’ll be wonderful to get a kitchen sink back (two in fact, if I get my way). And I can’t wait, especially at this time of year, to get my oven back (pies, cinnamon rolls, acorn squash, apple crisp, etc.). So since we don’t plan to move anytime soon, we’ll just have to combat the tiny-house nostalgia by inviting lots of people over on a regular basis. Anyone want to come for dinner?!

(P.S. – Every year around this time [ever since I was pregnant with Augie] I get a horrible case of hives. I don’t have a clue what I’m apparently allergic to, but whatever it is comes out in September and makes my life miserable. Ahhhh! I just want to scratch my skin off! Why this is relevant is because I’m taking a lot of Benedryl, so if this post doesn’t make any sense, blame it on the drugs.)

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