Brave new floor

Spence with floor

Spence. He is le tired.


I know I promised a home tour, and . . . it’s coming. I really, really promise! But I just can’t muster the strength to show you our new homestead still filled with boxes, crumpled newspaper and a fireplace covered to protect us from bees (bees. I can’t).

We chip away a bit more at our epic “to do” list each night, and we are leaps and bounds ahead of where we were just two weeks ago. My mother- and father-in-law were here to help us with the big move last week, and they were such a tremendous help. It felt strange when they were gone, actually, because we hadn’t spent a night there without them.

To be honest? It was sort of nice to feel like a “kid” again. With Spence’s parents here to help, we had ready assistance and other folks to help with decision-making. Though I’ll be 29 next week, I’m still not used to being an adult in the house. That probably won’t change until we bring a child home ourselves.

I just don’t feel grown-up to own property. Call it arrested development or fear or uncertainty, but part of me still expects to wake up in my childhood bedroom with my ‘NSYNC pillow propped in the corner. I slept in a canopy bed until eight months ago, and I’m not ashamed to tell you that. It just was what it was. I was a 28-year-old who still fell asleep with sock monkeys, and all this? It’s . . . challenging.

Exciting. But tough.

For the most part, though, I think Spence and I are settling in pretty nicely! It still feels strange to open my eyes in the woods and not our bustling apartment building (or the aforementioned canopy bed), but I’m getting familiar with my new surroundings and slowly unpacking all that needs to be unpacked. We have a spare bedroom across the hall that’s currently filled with the contents of our future closet (the one we’re working on at top), so I dig through trash bags for beloved shoes or work tops or accessories and eventually find what I’m looking for.

Eventually.

Our biggest stride to date — and I use “our” loosely, given my handy husband has been putting in most of the sweat equity — is in finishing the floor in the closet. The house came with large built-ins in the walk-in closet, but the carpet was stained, buckling and generally gross. An unattractive mirror was cemented to one side; the walls were builder’s grade white with scuffs and discoloration throughout.

It looks different now.

My mother- and father-in-law were kind enough to patch the busted walls and paint the closet last week, and we tore up all the carpet to expose the plank sub-floor underneath. A fortuitous find at Lowe’s had us coming home with three boxes of laminate flooring for about $40 after two trips. At a time of terrifying financial undertakings, that was a major score.

Spence finished putting down the last of the laminate on Tuesday night, then caulked around the baseboards to seal it off. We just need help reinstalling all the cabinetry (it’s super heavy) and we will be finished, and my clothes will no longer be strewn haphazardly throughout the upstairs.

I can’t wait.

I lack decent photos to demonstrate the scope of the change, but here is a tiny before-and-after while we’re still working:

floor progress

Great strides! Great strides.

Lest I take credit where credit isn’t deserved, my help was limited to bringing Spencer tools he needed (after he described them by color) and making sure he always had a drink in the hot room. I did help hold down portions of the floor while we snapped it together and carried boards down to the garage for cutting, but . . . yeah. My assistance typically revolved around doing a mountain of laundry down the hall.

I hate to be a female stereotype, but I was mostly in the way. I fully intend to pitch in on all sorts of other home projects (and have been cleaning like crazy), but Spence worked faster when I wasn’t hovering in the cramped room. I think.

And every little bit helps, right?

Also, I know what baseboards and sub-floor are now — and can talk about them without sounding completely ridiculous. We’re all winners here.


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Bees, mop instructions and other house adventures

cleaning


If you’ve ever wondered who could possibly need instructions for a mop, the answer is apparently yours truly.

Growing up, I was fortunate to have two kind, loving, giving parents who routinely . . . took care of things. Before I fall too far down the rabbit hole, please know that I am in no way suggesting Mom and Dad sent me into adulthood without, you know, basic life skills. They did not. I learned to drive, balance a checkbook, cook and generally act like a decent human being far before I got married.

What I didn’t learn to do? Clean.

Moving in with Spencer, I needed an immediate crash course in . . . how to scrub a toilet. Over the decades I lived at home, my mom routinely took care of bathroom cleaning. I helped out with lots of other chores, of course — vacuuming, most notably — but . . . well, the only time I can recall breaking out the toilet bowl cleaner was when Mom was ridiculously sick. Company was coming over, so.

I grew up in a household where, if you knew visitors were stopping by, your rump sprang into action. Vacuuming was the first line of defense. Now that friends are coming by to see the new house, I feel ridiculously self-conscious about our construction zone. Spencer keeps reminding me — lovingly, but firmly — that everyone knows we’re in the process of moving, and no one is judging us for having cleaning supplies and rags and water bottles on every conceivable surface.

And the dirt. The dirt.

Our week in California set us back a bit in terms of getting the new house ready for our move, but the break was certainly welcome — and worth it! And we’ve still squeezed in quite a bit of updating in the last few days. We got home on Saturday night and were back at it by Sunday afternoon (jet-lagged, cranky and all), and we’re trying to go by several nights a week to tackle small projects.

Mopping was one of them.

After filling a bucket with equal parts water and Lysol, my husband proffered our brand-new mop. He offered to clean the basement while I tackled the kitchen and, well, there are spiders in the basement, so okay.

I dipped the mop in the hot water. Moved it in swishing circles. Stared at the strips of fabric, now sodden and dark, before plopping the mop on the tile floor. Then I kind of . . . swirled it? Started dripping lemon-scented water on everything? But it didn’t seem quite right. Nothing was getting clean, that’s for sure.

Spencer popped back into the kitchen, ostensibly for a lukewarm drink (no fridge yet), and noticed my confusion. I knew something was off, but couldn’t figure out how I could mess up mopping. To his infinite credit, Spencer did not laugh . . . he simply took the mop from my grubby hands, showed me how to dip it in the water and twist the ringer piece so it’s not just soaking wet and weird, then gave me a crash course in scrubbing.

It was a humbling moment.

But I’m learning. Everything takes time. And if I was spoiled enough to not touch toilets back at my parents’ house, friends, know I’ve gotten my just desserts: imagine trying to clean four disgusting bathrooms in the new house you’ve just sold your soul to buy, cursing the heavens and wondering if you’ve made a colossal mistake. Not because you don’t love the house, but because you really would rather not touch the things you’re touching. Not even with gloves.

I’m being a wuss, I know. You might even be laughing at me. I mean, it’s just a bathroom; I’ll live. But it’s unpleasant.

(And we’ve actually decided to just replace the four toilets and move on. In addition to being gross and stained from standing water and goodness knows what else, two are actually cracked. There is no saving them. Better to start fresh.)


Living room


What else have we been up to? Ripping things out, for one. The stained, smelly carpet pictured above throughout the living room, up the stairs and into the hallway is no more: with the help of friends, Spencer pulled it up and removed nails from the subfloor. Together we vacuumed up all the dust and grime and began scheming our next move, which will involve hiring a professional to install carpet in the living room, guest room and possibly the master bedroom while Spence installs hardwood in the hallway and on the main staircase.

Should be interesting.

(Send margaritas.)

We’ve also installed knobs on some of the kitchen cabinets, so we can now open drawers like civilized people. Paint samples are on the walls of the master bedroom and the guest room, and we’re planning to start painting on Sunday. We also hope to have the flooring chosen by next week so we can get that ball rolling and I’d love to install some lights on the path outside, because nighttime is dark.

But the scariest thing? We’re in a war with bees. I won’t get into the nitty-gritty for fear of terrifying the more fearful of us (read: myself), but let’s just say a colony of honey bees has taken a liking to that cut-out alcove above the fireplace pictured above — outdoors, thank God — and started their honey production. We’re trying to either find someone to take the hive away or remove them ourselves with the help of a knowledgeable friend, especially since they’re occasionally flying into the house through a light fixture.

Bees. In the house.

I can’t.

Homeownership is already challenging so many of my lazy sensibilities . . . and I’ve learned tons, especially because my husband is patient enough to explain tasks to me. I don’t like playing the helpless-damsel-in-distress card, though it’s obvious that some jobs are just beyond my ken. (Also, I don’t like heights.)

But I’ve already wielded screwdrivers and hammers, crow bars and sanders. And I used a hose, too.

I think I like this?

I mean, minus the insects.