Monday, September 26, 2011

It seems like our lives will never be "normal" again.

I think back to the days when all we had to do was a few chores in the evening. Make dinner. Do dishes. Wash and prep Nora's bottles, make our lunches for the next day. Maybe a few loads of laundry. Clean a bathroom. Then? Collapse on the couch with the laptop or the remote control. I had time to upload and sort through pictures. I had (some) time to blog.

Weekends were full of errands--some fun, some not. We had family dinners. We occasionally went out to eat. We spent plenty of time playing with Nora. Once she was in bed, we'd watch TV, or maybe rent a movie.

Life is just so much different right now.

I don't really mean to complain--I know how lucky we are to have a house, even if it is one that takes up so much time. And despite the imperfections and the amount of work it is requiring, I really do love it. I love having space. I love having a driveway, and a backyard. An actual dining room. Multiple bathrooms. It's just that I guess I thought that after five weeks of living here (six since closing), we would be able to sit back and enjoy it a bit more.

I never intended for us to end up with a fixer-upper. I knew that this place needed some work, but it all seemed so minor when we were looking at it. But it turned out that things that seemed small ended up being a bigger deal than we thought. And simple things take more time than we planned. The funny part is that compared to other houses we looked at, this place needed considerably less work. Can you imagine if we had ended up with one of the other ones? Good god.

Before Nora's birthday party, the pressure was enormous. My dad was coming to stay with us, and if we didn't get the upstairs in decent shape and prepared for new carpet--and then get the carpet installed--we couldn't get our new bedroom furniture delivered, and my dad would not have had any place to sleep. Plus, we invited like 50 people (we are crazy) to our baby's first birthday so we wanted the house to look at least somewhat decent.

During those first weeks, we worked ourselves ridiculously hard. There was no rest. During the week, we worked full-time jobs, came home with Nora, fed her, (briefly) played with her, bathed her, and put her to bed. Once she was down, we maybe ate something, and then we worked, worked, worked until we collapsed into bed at midnight. The next day, we'd do it all over again. Weekends consisted of multiple trips to Lowe's and Home Depot. My mother-in-law generously offered to take Nora for a few hours each day, so that we'd be able to get more work done. When we did have Nora, one of us took care of her while the other did some kind of project around the house. It was exhausting.

The week leading up to the party was crazy, but we did it. The carpet was installed on Thursday, my dad arrived on Friday, and our bedroom furniture came a few hours after he did. The party on Saturday was a success.

After all of that, you'd think we would give ourselves a little break.

You'd be wrong.

On Sunday morning (Nora's actual birthday, mind you), two of our (very handy and do-it-yourself-savvy) friends arrived at 10:00 a.m. I took Nora on a very hefty Home Depot run while Michael, our friends, and my dad ripped down nearly all of the drywall in our family room and started to replace it.

Two weeks later, we are still working on that damn drywall project in the family room. Last night, we went to put primer on the new walls and ceiling (finally!) only to be faced with a fairly significant setback.  :::sigh:::  Such is life.

Last week, I came down with something--extreme nausea and dizziness--so I was down for the count for five days. On the one hand, it totally sucked to feel like that, and to be so unproductive. On the other hand, OHMYGOD IT WAS SO NICE TO CATCH A BREAK. But as soon as I felt decent again (on Friday), I put myself back to work.

The past two weekends, we've slowed down a lot. We do our projects when Nora is napping or in bed for the night, but otherwise, we are trying to treat our weekends like normal weekends. Still, I just want to know when this is all going to be over. If you've moved into a house that had a lot of "projects"--how long was it until you were truly settled? (Please don't tell me never.) I know that "constant" home improvement projects come with the territory of homeownership, but this is just ridiculous.

The place is starting to feel like home, but like I said before--I just want to be able to enjoy it. Is it too much to ask?

On the bright side, Nora's room is nearly complete (finally) as we have been working on hanging things up on her walls. And we just finished the dining room this past weekend, so that's something. Photos to come soon. :)


basebell6 September 26, 2011 at 10:47 PM  

omg you are SUPERWOMAN!!!!! and dont forget it!

[i am such a weeny i bought my house a full year before i needed it and it sat empty while we fixed it up. i can NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT imagine living in a house while you are fixing it up and NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT imagine doing it with a baby. ie SHE SLEEPS THROUGH THAT NOISE?!! blaine wakes up if i do the dishes while he's asleep!].

yes indeed; super woman!

Kari September 27, 2011 at 7:35 AM  

If it makes you feel any better-we've lived in our house for two years and I always find something I want to work on! It's neverending that's for sure.

And on a big bright side-The Bills beat the Pats! Let the confetti fly! (Aaaand the Colts are still 0-3 but we ALMOST beat the Steelers! hahaha)

Jen September 27, 2011 at 8:51 AM  

I totally understand how you feel... my daughter is 7 months old, we bought a "project" house mid-June and my husband and I are spending every spare minute redoing things. So far we've updated our 1970's panelled family room, added french doors to open up our living room, added picture frame moulding to the dining room, built a bar/mancave in the basement, added beadboard to the nursery, and painted pretty much everything. It's exhausting but it's so worth it to make it ours. Next up - gutting the 1/2 bath, project starts this weekend.

We have started to take some time to return to normal life, so we're also going to a football game and to the apple orchard this weekend. After an entire summer of home improvement, we didn't want Aubrey's first fall to be spent solely indoors too. Good luck with the house, and give yourself some credit, it's hard work and you've made great progress!

Natalie September 27, 2011 at 11:15 AM  

We bought a fixer-upper. There was wall paper EVERYWHERE!

I took us about a year and a half to get the wallpaper down and paint. We are now going back to every room and doing some more updating.

We did everything in steps. First we took all the wallpaper down and painted. Now we are going back to do new trim and crown molding.

When you took Nora's first year portraits what do you use to hold the fabric?

And don't worry everything will start to come together and be completely worth it!

Anonymous,  September 27, 2011 at 1:20 PM  

We are in the same boat. The next time you turn around, you find somehting you want to rip out or replace.

We have had our house for 2 years and learned that if you give yourself a month(s) between each rip-the-walls-off-oh-my-god project, it helps to feel like you are not living in an episode of extreme home makeover. And, that way, you give yourself time to enjoy the work before starting again.

Helen September 27, 2011 at 3:42 PM  

What you just wrote is pretty much exactly what I fear/know is going to happen to us once we close on our house. At least it will give us something to do this winter, I guess? ;)

caren September 27, 2011 at 6:31 PM  

We live in a 100 year old fixer upper. We've gutted or are going to gut every single room. We also built a bathroom that didn't exist before. Its been 3 years and we just recently finished the 2nd floor. The only room left is the kitchen and then the outside. Out of the gate we took on a lot but then we slowed down for a while because seriously, it's not worth the rush. We wanted to still live our lives and be able to enjoy our weekends. Don't strain yourself because you'll just end up hating it. We take a break between each huge project. It helps.

Amanda September 27, 2011 at 9:29 PM  

We still had our apartment for about a month after we settled. In that month, my dad was at our house almost every day. He built a room in the basement, redid the doors and molding in the basement, and we helped paint. Upstairs we did pergo floors and dad did the molding, crown molding, and a new patio door. After those major modifications that took about a working month, we did about 3 more weekends of big projects. We have at least 3 more weekends, but we've taken a several month hiatus. Keep you chin up, you'll get there. It took me life changing event to force me to slow down though. Damn over achievers.

Lesley September 29, 2011 at 9:54 AM  

I applaud you and Michael. For reals. We've been in our house 4 years (4 years already! Remember coming to our housewarming party???) and we have sooooo much left to do. But, I can't complain because I cannot imagine doing it with a little baby!!! We're rushing at this point to get the big things done before our little one gets here in April: half bath downstairs, new carpet upstairs, new closet doors, new paint for the ENTIRE HOUSE (minus the full bathroom upstairs, which is the nicest spot in our house and the rest doesn't match...) you'll get there and it'll feel like home soon!

Vanessa October 3, 2011 at 4:13 AM  

I love this post. I hope that someday I'll be a breastfeeding mom! I love your baby posts as they give me inspiration for the furture (hopefully!). You are amazing to juggle so many things so competently. Really.

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