Tuesday, October 14, 2014

13 Ways Home Improvements Are Nothing Like HGTV

Spoiler alert: Our kitchen is finally finished and we love it.
This was a combination of hired in and DIY.

Let me tell you something, HGTV is not reality. It is nothing like real home improvement or renovation projects. I mean, it's similar in that at the end you may have a new room, but one travels a very different road than those shown on the HGTV.

13.  Not one person wore safety glasses.

12.  Not one of the tile or cabinet guys were "television attractive". 
I'm not saying at all that another human is ugly, but you know what I mean.
No Property Brothers or Paige Davis. Which is probably good,
cause that would have been distracting. 

11.  We wore our work clothes. 
There were no hoop earrings or wearing my good jeans.
I mean, really.

10.   Most of the time, there was no more than two people 
working in my house at the same time.
I did not, at any time, have a team of neighborhood volunteers show up to
demo cabinets or rip out tile. I did have a friend show up and help me clean,
though, and that was life-giving.

9.   None of the couples I've seen on HGTV ever seem like they are 
needing a marriage counselor. 
Listen. Two truths: 
My Spouse & I have a solid, happy marriage. 
There were times in this process that murderous glances were exchanged, words were spit out rather than spoken and there was weeping and gnashing of teeth.  

8.   We are spending 100% of our own money. 
There is no going "over budget". We don't have a sponsor.

7.  Major decisions aren't usually left up to an 11 year-old.
By major decisions, I mean she got the final say on how to
cut the corners of the granite, whether or not we were going to cut off part of
the counter, that sort of thing. Maddy is the real deal about designing and decor and whatnot.
So, when the cabinet or granite guys had a question, sometimes I deferred to her.
When the tile guys wanted to know what pattern we wanted the tiles to lay,
I interrupted Spanish for 5 minutes to ask my 6th grader.
Yay for homeschooling, cause I'm not sure that would have been an excused absence.

6.   Our DIY parts are truly DIY. 
There is no one standing over us guiding us along, giving us expert advice. 
We have to consult Youtube for expert advice. :)

5.   The workers on HGTV show up on time.
Enough said. 

4.   HGTV projects almost always finish on time.

3.   When the project manager and the homeowner disagree, 
the homeowner doesn't usually take a "mental health break" at the beach 
to preserve said project manager's life.
This happened. The fact that I'm not writing this post from a
jail cell proves that the beach break was a good call.
No murder charges for me. Yay!

2.   Most homeowners are not living in the project home.
It's awkward having strange men in your house working all day.
We work in our home, so it was just weird. 
The makeshift school room.
I failed to get a picture of the bookshelf with the toaster oven & microwave on it.
Good times.
1.   Our home improvement project is actual reality.
We did not stage it. The photos below are our ACTUAL
new kitchen that I really want to kiss on the mouth.

This was the original kitchen. 

Cabinet construction.

You haven't lived until you get your jelly from the fridge in the living room.


We have counters! 
This was my only decision I made that I went against Maddy. She chose the backsplash on the left.
She didn't hate the blue, it just wasn't the "safest" choice, so she was leaning toward the neutral.
I took a chance a went with the more coastal looking blue. 
We wanted to do as much of the work ourselves as we could,
and since my Spouse can do anything, he put the backsplash up.
This is pre-grout.
Here it is!
Pretty snazzy.

We went coastal with the napkin rings, too. 

I love the kitchen. Love it. This townhouse is still a work in progress, but we are progressing! 
So far, we've had ceilings retextured & painted, all painting done (every square inch), the kitchen & dining, new blinds throughout...There's more odds & ends, but I can't think of them right now. :) 

The girls' bathroom is nearly finished. I'll get y'all some pics of that when I can. 
For now, I'm enjoying this kitchen!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Moving Stories & the Absurdity of Grace.

Hello, Friends! 
So, remember a few weeks ago, we left Houston bound for our Florida home once again?
Well, we made it. 
We closed on a townhouse in a town we had only ever been to a handful of times, 
starting about 6 weeks ago. Seriously.
We were sold on this cutesy little coastal town and these sunsets:
I mean.
Talk about 'fire in the sky'. 
We are absolutely loving our new town. It is small (population of about 35k), 
and the Main Street ends at the marina. It definitely suits us. 
The Lord is so good to us in the most ridiculous ways. Listen. We have made near 'bout every financial, marital, and life mistake you can think of and the God who painted that sunset let us move here and be salt and light in a place with this SALT AND LIGHT! 
It's the absurdity of grace. 

Moving to this dream-like little community comes with some real 
first world problems and stories.
Actually, it's me.
I come to this little community with first world problems and stories. 
Bless these people. I hope they are ready for this crew.

We bought this place with the intention of getting some updates taken care of as soon as possible. 
It's definitely "outdated" by all home-fashion-decor-whatever-standards. This is so foreign to me. 
I mean, I go in beautifully decorated homes and I love it. I appreciate the work it takes to do it.
I admire it and I'm proud of the owners for making a house a home. 
But, I don't want to do it. I want it done. I just don't want to do it, 
nor do I want to spend what it takes to do the extra things. 
Makes sense, right? *I'm shaking my head at myself*

So, first things to be done are popcorn ceiling removal and painting every single square inch of this place. And I mean every square inch. I don't care to have popcorn ceilings removed, but they had to be painted anyway, so down with the popcorn! We decided to "rough it" on air mattresses until we got this part done. We knew it would be much easier with out the furniture. 
Blessing #EleventyFive is that Spouse's relocation package includes up to 
sixty days of storage for our belongings. 
This is amazing. 
Not too bad, right?
Well, in true Melissa fashion, there was a mishap. The second night of sleeping on the air mattress, somewhere around the midnight hour, Spouse turned over to hear and FEEL "SSSSSSHHHHH" right in the face. I'm guessing I over-inflated our bed? Anyway, the air blowing out of the hole was causing the pup to lose his furry freakin' mind. He was going bazooka bat crazy and 
Spouse and I were cracking up. 
The bed was deflating under us and our tortilla-flat pillows and 
we were cackling uncontrollably. I even snorted. 
Also, girls with ample birthing hips are not made for sleeping on hard floors, kids. 
That mattress was promptly replaced.

Spouse spent last weekend prepping walls and doing as much as he could possibly get done in the house before painters showed up on Tuesday. He also was working as fast as he could, since he had to leave town last week. Awesome. 
So, on Tuesday, when the popcorn was being removed and 
our house looked like this, he never saw it:
Our house looked like a scene from Dexter. Think less blood and more paint and drywall. Also, it smelled like an ashtray. The previous owners smoked, and although the house had been thoroughly rid of the smoke smell, scraping that ceiling down just aggravated it. Yuckafornia.
In the midst of all this crazy, my girls had their first day of homeschool classes.
They handled the chaos like pros. Only Jesus.
Let me explain this. I had to be out of the house each day, all day last week while this work was being done. And, I had to take my dog. It's boiling hot out. There's only so much I can do all day. A friend let me come hang out at her house and do my laundry one day (another blessing from the Lord!). 
I picked the girls up from school that first day and we walked in to this mess:
This was nutty. My kids were talking to me but I couldn't hear them.
All I was hearing was the voice in my head:
My Spouse is in Denver and going to sleep in a comfy bed and we are supposed to sleep in this house!? We can't even breath deeply in here! There is no freakin' way. I'm not wanting to spend a lot of money. Well,  get over it. Get out of here. Just go.

Plus, Spouse was feeling guilty so he insisted on it. *Grin*
We took ourselves down to the awesome hotel at the marina 2 miles
down from my house that has pet-friendly rooms and this right here:
Boom. Two nights right here, kids.
I can't believe I get to live here and I'm not even 65! 
So freakin' cool!

Oh. Check this out. Read this story and stay with me. 

I couldn't get my key to work in my mailbox. My cool neighbor came to help me and he couldn't get it to work, either. The girls and I drove to the post office (which my Spouse thinks should be disband all together) to see if they could help me. 
While waiting in the long line, I heard patrons call the employees by their first names. 
"So good to see you, Frank! Thanks, Jim!" Seriously. 
I'm all giddy cause the town-folk are on a first-name basis with their postal crew!? What!? 
(Our mail person at our other house is less than desirable.) 
Anyway, I watched Frank help two people at a time to keep one guy from having to wait in line unnecessarily. So efficient! Not at all typical of any post office I've ever been in. 
Sorry. No offense, y'all. 
So, this lady came out and said, "Does anybody need help with forwarding or pick up 
or anything that is NOT mailing a package?" Hey! Yes! That's me! I walked up, 
tell her I just moved and showed her my key to my box I can't get in. 
She asked for my address and said she'd be right back. 
When she emerged from the back, she said, "Can you go home?"
I'm confused.
"Yes. I can go home. But, then what?"
Are y'all ready for this?

"I'll meet you over there."
"What?! You're gonna go to my house?"
"Yah, I'll meet you over there in a few minutes. I'll go straight there."

Oh. My.
Do you know what this means!?
People who live at the beach are happy people! 
These are happy, helpful people and I LOVE THEM ALL!

She came to my house in 99° heat with her spray lubricant and some tools and dern if she didn't get my mailbox working properly and retrieved the Big Sister's Apologia Science book! 
Yay for the Coastal Postal Service!
Such absurd grace, I tell you!

Amazing, right?!

Now this. This right here is stressing my junk out.
I want my kitchen to look nice and I want it to be inexpensive. 
Not cheap. Just inexpensive. 
And I don't want it to take too long, either. 
I don't have the attention span to drag this jazz out too long.
And, there's the issue of my not caring enough about it.
My struggle is that I'm trying to be forward-thinking and consider re-sale value and 
long-term cost effectiveness. While being a good steward, I also want to be eternally 
minded and guard against the excess trap, ya know?
So difficult.

So, there's a few scenes from our grace-filled past two weeks.
Popcorn is removed. Rooms are painted. Remodeling bids are in progress.

My Spouse has painted so much since flying back in to town late Friday night. This dude works.
I'm watching him roll walls this very second while parked in a camping chair writing these words. 
He is grace.

I've scheduled the movers to deliver on Tuesday, bless their souls.

You know what y'all should do?! Follow us on Instagram @Spouseisms for more goodness.

You know what else you should do? Tell me your stories of absurd grace?! I know you have some!


Sunday, August 17, 2014

How Houston Changed Us.

Well. That’s it. We’ve packed it up. The moving company is en route with my crock pot and we are on the road headed East. We are pumped to be bonafide, Salt-Life wearing, Life Is Good sportin’, paddleboarding Floridians again. I’m looking forward palm trees, key lime pie, & Publix. Oh, sweet Publix.

We have been in Houston for just over two years. If you’ve been here since the beginning, you know it was only supposed to be three months. But, we loved it. When it was nearing time to leave, we knew there was unfinished business there. We didn’t know what it was, we just knew there was something more in Houston for us and something more in us for Houston. I do hope we impacted the city a little, because Houston sure impacted us.

We are changed because of our time here. How could we not be? We left a town of 35k people to a city of about 5 million. There is a lot to love about our little country hometown of Plant City, Florida. I like to tell people it’s the “Southern-most point of the Bible-Belt”. (I made that up, PC. You heard it here first.)
Then, the Bayou City happened to us. Yes, I know Houston didn’t “happen to us”. The Lord used our time in Houston to change us. And, as hard as some of it was, I’m grateful.

We know what it’s like to be the visitors at church. When the pastor says “Greet the people around you”, we see it differently now.

We have become Tex-Mex snobs. We loved fajitas before and were looking forward to the amazing fajitas we would get when we got here. And, for the love of tortillas, we have gotten snobby about them.  What’s your favorite Tex-Mex dish? Where do you get it?

We have become the city mice. We lived fairly rurally in Florida and went straight to downtown Houston. We eventually made it to the burbs, but I’ve not been more than 3 miles from a Target or a Chick-Fil-A in over two years. There's that.

We learned what it’s like to have to pay for water usage. Ugh. For the first time in my entire life, I didn’t have well water. We got our first water bill. Welcome to the city.  We love it, right?!

We learned what it’s like to have to plug in to groups. We had to be so intentional about meeting people and finding our places to serve.  And, then sometimes it didn’t work out. Which brings me to…

We were reminded that sometimes, you just aren’t gonna be everybody’s cup of tea. This was fun. Except not at all. But, there were times when I just had to come to grips with the fact that some people just didn’t care for me. That is all I have to say about that.

We know why Texas pride is different. It’s contagious. Like the good kind. The traditions, like those homecoming mums, are crazy awesome. No one really knows where it came from, but it is so over-the-top Texas that you can’t help but love it. I am equally perplexed and amazed by it. You have the Aggie traditions and Go Texan Day, a bunch of stuff. Anyway, I have long since loved my palm tree stuff, so I’m gonna have to step that up a notch or seven in order to adequately represent.

We are officially a Blue Bell people. We knew of Blue Bell Ice Cream before, and I had heard people go on about it. But, once I visited the creamery in Brenham the first of SIX times (!!), I was sold. And, it really is better.
Also, I’m sorry, Texas Fam, I am a one of a kind, and so is Dr. Pepper, I just don’t love it. I went to the museum, had a float and it was so cute.
I’m not drinking the DP juice.

We view grief differently. One of our pastors at Bayou City Fellowship, Vernon, speaks of pain and suffering like no body’s business. Learning to let people grieve for as long as it takes is counter-cultural. Even counter-church cultural, in some  ways. I was definitely a “get it together, press on!” kind of Christian. Even in my self-talk. So, when I would experience a season of depression or blues or doubt, I would beat myself up over it, rather than allowing for sadness and lament to the Lord. No more. Dude. “Sadness is not a sin” is so very liberating to the Christian who has been told to “Find the Joy!” all the dern time. Which brings me to…

We have been a part of a church plant. Our church was a baby church of six months when we got to Houston. It was a breath of fresh air we didn’t even know we needed! Totally different from anything we had ever been a part of : simple, bare-bones approach to worship services and gatherings; taking the same approach to programs, our calendars have not been filled with “church” activities to do more things “at church” than in the community. I don’t even know how to fully explain it, but it’s been a great experience for us.
We are so sad to leave it. 

We are changed because Jesus didn't waste one minute of time we spent in Texas. Not one. He grew us in ways too deep for a blog.

Mostly, we are changed because we have been loved. These Texans (both born in and brought in) have loved on us in the sweetest ways. 

Houston, We love you back.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Dear Moms Who Don't Get to Pee in Private

Moms of Littles Who Don't Get to Pee Privately: 

Listen to me. Just hold on. 

You know how all you want to do is go to Target alone? So you can think? I get it. I remember.
Now? No joke, I now want my 11 year-old to come to Target because I value her opinion on housewares. I don't care much for the housewares. She does. She didn't always. There was a time when I had until about 11am to get to Target and get home or all hell would break loose and my Spouse's children could give Stephen King inspiration. 

Also, I'm currently, this very second, in the parking lot of a movie theater where I am waiting for my teenie to come out of a movie with her little friends and NO grownups. What!? I don't know what to tell you. I'm not sad or fetal about this. I'm excited for her.
She chooses her friends well. They are solid.
And this is the natural progression, if we do it right.
The goal is to work ourselves out of a job, right? 

I know some of you feel like you are drowning in your own breast milk right now. Others of you are pretty sure your kid will be the only kindergartener not house trained. This is highly doubtful. You might think about pulling that pacifier before then, though. But that's another post. :) 

I promise you, the time does pass. There is a little freedom to come, for both of you.

Let us not become weary in doing good, 
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9
This was either yesterday or July 2006. They are the same to me.

If you can just get through the long days, the years really are short. 


Monday, July 28, 2014

Snippets & Photos & Not-So-Breaking News.

Sunset Paddle in Englewood, Florida. 
Sweet Blog Reader's O'Mine.
I was hoping that would sound like Guns 'N Roses, so this post is a fail from the start. 
Read on at your own risk.

My last post was June 3rd. I don't even know. So much has been going on I don't even know where to begin. I JUST, as in this very moment, noticed I didn't even finish our road trip series. 
From May. Seriously?
Spazmatic Adjustable Blogger.

In true Spouseisms fashion, I'll bring you all up to speed in snippets 
& the ever-faithful iPhone photo dump.

'Member that time I told you we were downsizing and moving to an apartment? That was about eight weeks ago. I also said something like "I wonder how these plans will change as soon as I hit the 'publish' button?" Actually, it was exactly like that.
The view from the girls' room. Lovely.
A few days after we got moved in, my girls went to Carolina Creek Christian Camp and rocked it.

We've been in training for our second sprint triathlon. 

Our family reward for our first sprint triathlon was a trip to Englewood, Florida to the girls' favorite beach condo. We have gone for many years, but not at all since moving to Texas. We got to sneak out a day early so we were pretty pumped. But. It was an all-nighter. We drove from 3pm til 9:30am on 4th of July. Nuts. 

We got to spend some sweet time with Spouse's grandparents. Sixty-four years of marriage this month. Grandma doesn't know who we are anymore, but she's still pretty witty. She took care of Papa for a bunch of years and now he takes care of her. 
The photo on the left is from their wedding day. Awesome.
4th of July in Plant City with Uncle Jarrett. 'Merica.
We had a fab time at the beach. The water was beautiful and serene and all that is lovely in the world.

There was some Cranium shenanigans.
The annual Beach Family Feet Photo happened.
Because we're brilliant, we ended our triathlon reward vacation with another triathlon. 

It was not pretty, Kids. My spouse went totally beast mode, and I definitely finished. Ha.

Photo cred: Cafe Press
I saw a mom pushing a stroller at the finish line wearing this shirt 
and I decided not to do any more triathlons.
I'm kidding!

Here's what's up, Kids. [Expect my voice & run-ons.]

That's my oldest in the middle, helping lead worship rally at VBS. Such fun for her! So proud & thankful for the leadership there for allowing her to take part at the last minute. 
 A day before we were leaving we got a little intel that would lead us to make the decision to fly Spouse back home at the end of vacation. The girls and I would stay a "few extra days" to look for a place to live! (What!?) Yes. But, it was all on a "it looks like this could happen in the next 30-45 days" conversation. We knew it was a bit of a gamble, but it made more sense to do that rather than us get home and have to turn around and have to come back in a few weeks. 

So, my girls got to spend a few nights at a friend's house and my sweet friend, Debra, and I went on a House Hunters Tampa Bay adventure.  Spouse and I had been leaning toward an area of Tampa Bay that neither of us had ever even been to before. He mentioned one night when we were in the "dreamy phase" of the possibility of getting back to Florida. We liked what we saw online and started from there. 
Seriously. That's how this went down. 
I spoke with a realtor on the phone and decided to like her. When we met, I decided to just love her!

This photo is just to show my inspiration in house-hunting. *Grin*
'Member that time I was a spazzy house hunter? Not this time, Jack! 
I was on point with "Location, location, location" and Spouse's voice in my head saying, "Book it!"
The first day was about 10 hours of driving and we only went inside two houses. This was the first one: A three-level townhouse in a smallish, coastal town with boat slips available and across the street from the Pinellas Bike Trail. We are definitely not "fixer upper" types, but this one didn't scare me. The next day, we spent a few more hours in the area and looked at a few more houses. Five total. We made an offer on that first townhouse. Spouse signed the contract sight unseen. 

These "few extra days" the girls and I were staying became six days and this man was sure we were never coming back! When the negotiations were over and the home inspection scheduled, he knew we were going to be even longer, so he drove all night to get to us. 
We were so grateful to get to go to church together on Sunday in Plant City.
Church Selfie!
Then, there was more shenanigans and ballyhoo. 
They were crying at themselves.
We got treated to a nice dinner of shrimp & grits by my brother & sister-in-law! So fun! 
I think, since my bum was still sore from that race, I felt we should get a pic with this bicycle art thing.
I don't really know, check out Spouseisms on Instagram for more interesting pics. 
After Spouse got to see the home he had committed to buy and the inspection went as expected, we hit the road to get back home to our Houston family. I was anxious to see them and already felt like I had been away too long! 

See how happy we look? We drove until 4:30 the next dadgum morning and we were not so perky, let me tell ya! Spouse even went to work! He's a champ. I'm not. I checked out and demanded no one speak to me. I can't tell you at all what my children did all day. They could have gotten piercings or tattoos and I wouldn't have known it. But, worse, they watched that ridiculous H2O.

So there's that. We are looking at a tentative closing of mid-August. The girls are registered for several homeschool classes and volleyball. We found some youth sailing classes they want to take (because we are right near the MARINA!), but Spouse says I can't sign up for everything at once. Something about transitioning and home renovations and schooling the children. I guess. If you're in to that sort of thing.

There have been so many lessons learned and ways the Lord has made Himself ever-so known throughout this process, but they warrant their own posts. Hopefully, I'll get to it.