Construction Week 51
We’re literally going into the one year mark since we broke ground on the work yard depot. I can’t believe that it’s gone so fast.
This week was a better week personally, and yet yesterday brought with it a bit of a meltdown on my part. It was just a culmination of stress and feeling like I’m hardly home these days, and missing my family and desperately needing a 5 minute period of time to have an undivided, uninterrupted moment to talk to Chris. When we only get to see each other for a few hours of the day and there are so many things to be planning and thinking about every second counts, and last night there weren’t enough seconds.
I think I just needed to have a good cry and let the stress out too. Not think, know. When stuff starts building up I try to suck it up, but then throw in a poor night of sleep and at some point I’ll be crying. My feelings need to get out, and that’s how it happens. I read recently that cryers tend to be more emotionally healthy because they don’t bottle things up. We’re going to go with that.
We’re two weeks away from move in, and I keep looking around at all the things that I wanted to get done, and looking at the number of days we have left, and yesterday I had to face the reality head on that it’s not humanly possible for it all to happen in the time we have. And that’s hard for me.
In my mind, months ago, I thought I would be able to get started out there sooner than I did. That’s the hard thing about having a full time job… When I did get started things didn’t move as fast as I anticipated. In the past month I’ve had to deal with sick days, and days to catch up on admin stuff. And, with any construction project, things never go as planned. Some things come together great and go really smooth and you come out of it thinking, “Wow, that went way better than I expected it would!” The project turns out great, it comes together faster, etc.
And then there are the parts that you think would be simple, but end up being the things that turn into a time suck. Yesterday morning I hit my wall with installing three, yes three, drawer pulls. Done it before. Just wasn’t working yesterday. I was hungry. I hadn’t slept well. I walked away and left it for Monday.
I’ve spent a lot of nights awake trying to make plans in my head about what course of action to take to get certain things accomplished. And then those plans may or may not have worked out. And yet, last night as Chris and I talked through things he pointed out that we’ve gotten a crazy amount of stuff done in the past year considering there was nothing but a driveway at the beginning of December. And, we’ve gotten a crazy amount of stuff done in the house in the past month. Would I love to have more done? Yes.
But, last night as I let out all the feels, I had to come to terms with the fact that what I undertook was crazy ambitious. Building all the cabinetry through the house, the bathroom vanities, storage shelves, closet built ins, furniture, office built ins, doors… it’s. crazy. I also had to come to terms with my own expectations.
You see, I had this vision that we would get everything done, we would gradually be moving things into the storage rooms with every trip out there, and then we would spend two days doing the big stuff and then we would be there and while the guys spent the rest of that week moving the work yard I would be sorting stuff and decorating for Christmas, and at the end of the week we would have a work party and then settle down for a nice peaceful Christmas with everything done and in it’s place.
Yeah, I’m not sure what I was thinking.
Moving and building NEVER goes like that, unless you have zero pressure to be out of your current place and can move into the new place after it’s completely done. But then there’s the unpacking and settling in. And, we’re moving a week before Christmas. Because someone is moving into our place.
Last night Chris and I talked through the priorities, and even before he came into the room I just knew I had to pick the top three things that needed to get done in the next two weeks, and just do those. And the rest will have to wait until January when we go back to work. We need a break, and I need to be okay with just living in the space in a not finished state until we go back to work. And when we do go back to work, we’ll be able to do things not under the gun. I was honestly at the point where I was starting to think about doing things less than what I had originally planned and wanted, just to get them done, and that stinks. I don’t want that. I want things to be done the way I’d been dreaming and planning because I know that’s what’s going to work best for us for the next who knows how long. I don’t want to be looking at things in the house and regretting that I whipped through it just so I could say it was done. I don’t have to do that. So I won’t.
The things on the top of the priority list?
- Get the drawer boxes built and installed in the kitchen so we can put things in them when we move in and use the kitchen. Drawer fronts will wait until the new year so they can be done well and right.
- Get the bathroom vanity built and installed so we have a fully done bathroom upstairs. The pieces are all cut and just need to be put together. Counter top is already poured and just needs to be glued on, then Evens can install all the fixtures.
- Stairs need to be done. This is going to start Monday. It needs to get done before we move in because we’re going to need to be going up and down them every day, and the plans we have require some stuff to dry for 24 hours.
- Storage room shelves need to be finished and put in place so we have places to put things. The sides are all built, just need to be sanded, and the plywood for the shelves cut, then paint everything. We should be able to do these this week. Once those are done we can start moving things.
We won’t be finishing the office until January, so we may be working at the kitchen table for a few weeks. Not terrible when you consider that we just work on a table in our living room right now. The closets won’t be done until January and we may be living out of suitcases or have make shift shelves for a while. And that’s okay. We may not even have doors installed upstairs for the first couple of weeks, and we’ll just deal with it.
I honestly think that if we were moving at any other time of the year it wouldn’t have been such a hard thing for me to get to this place, but because we’re moving right at Christmas I had my own expectations of what I wanted things to be like. Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I love to decorate. I wanted things finished so I could do all that. But, it just won’t be that way this year. We’ll put our tree up, I’ll put up some decorations in the living room and kitchen, and we’ll call it good. It’s stil going to be Christmas. Heck, my parents renovated our house back when I was 16, and completely gutted it. The cabinet installer was literally putting cabinets up on Christmas Eve morning and my mom was following behind him putting dishes away and cooking dinner for 22 at the same time.
Once I get over that hurdle in my brain I’m okay. It’ll be what it is, and that’s it. I guess all this is to say that if you were expecting, or anticipating “reveal” pictures right after we moved in, they aren’t going to happen :)
So now that we’ve had that little heart to heart, do you want to know what we have been doing?
I knew you would.
Outside there’s been a hub of activity. I don’t have pictures of all of it because I’ve been working inside most of the time, and really only go outside to go to the bathroom, get water, or bolt for lunch when it’s break time so I can grab a Coke from the cooler before they’re all gone. But, the guys have been busy.
One exciting thing was that they got the water tank put in place, and Evens got all the pipes connected. We’re all piped for water, we just need to finish connecting the things that use the water, like the bathroom sink, kitchen sink and upstairs toilet. Oh, and a shower. Showers are good.
Speaking of showers, because we sold the property, and knew the funds would be there, my dear sweet husband went ahead and bought us the solar hot water tank, which has also been installed and is ready to go. He was going to hold off for a bit because funds were getting tight, and if it was summer that would have been totally fine by me. But, it’s not summer, and the weather has cooled off a lot in the past two weeks. At least 10-15 degrees at night from October. It’s the coolest it’s been this time of year in the past few years. Half the time our fans are on low now just to keep a bit of air moving, not on high so that we don’t melt. THIS is what winter in Haiti is like when there aren’t crazy weather patterns rolling through. And, a COLD shower when you live in the open air and it’s in the low 70’s doesn’t feel good at 5 am. SO thankful for that little tank of love!
The guys have got the foundation walls and roof pillars built for what will be the sand washing area, and the foundation for what will be the workshop (welding/carpentry) is half done. We weren’t expecting to even break ground on these until after the new year, so YAY!
Thony has been working on getting one of the rooms in the depot ready to start moving things. He’s built new storage shelves and is in the process of cutting the wood, which will go in the metal forms. The floor got cleaned really well after storing tools and construction materials for a year, and a coat of epoxy floor paint was put on it to protect things. Once the shelves are in place we can start moving filter lids, diffuser basins, tubes, and other things. This week all the construction plywood and stuff that we’ve accumulated from pouring the roofs on the buildings will get given to a friend who rents this stuff out. It’s in rough shape and we don’t have room to store it as that room needs to hold tools and filter construction stuff.
Evens has been hard at work getting all the solar panel wiring finalized. Our batteries have arrived in Haiti and we’re anticipating a call any day now that we can pick them up, so we want everything to be ready to install. You guys, Evens is a genius when it comes to this stuff. It’s been so fun over the years to watch him grow in his skills since he first went to school until now. We went into the office storage room/power center where all the inverters and charge controllers are, and he’s done a beautiful job of running all the wiring.
Sail (Sigh-eel) has been working on getting the upper deck surface finished so we’ll be able to install the washing machine and wash sink in the laundry room and not have to uninstall it to do it all later. So, we’ll be able to do laundry after we move, which is a good thing… lol!
They’ve been finishing painting, and just doing a general clean up around the property. We built a dog enclosure and put word out that we’d like to adopt a full grown dog for security if someone is leaving and needs a home for theirs. Chris doesn’t want to deal with a puppy.
The floor tile is pretty much all in place. Abner was working on getting the last edge pieces in yesterday. He still has to mortar the joints, as well as do the ceramic in the bathroom and do the stair project I have for him, so he’s probably going to be working a lot of long days in the next two weeks. But, we’re getting there.
As of yesterday the bathtub support was installed. I left that project in Johnny and Evens hands, and haven’t seen the final result yet, but I’m sure it’s fine. They’re both smart and the instructions were pretty straight forward.
Like I said, Johnny has been working on building shelves, and we’ll keep plugging away at that this week.
The kitchen has seen some big changes. We got the counters poured a week ago, and like I mentioned in an earlier post, we got them sanded. My cement burns are finally almost all healed. That sucked. We had to do some levelling around the sink this week, but this time Johnny and I covered ourselves in plastic bags. I chose the wrap and tape it around your body method, and he chose the make a hole for your head and arms dress method. I wish I’d gotten a picture because we apparently looked funny enough that when Chris came out and saw us he let out a big laugh.
Anyway, the counters have been sanded, sealed and waxed. And they look amazing. The thing with concrete is that it will have variations and you have to be okay with that. It will have pit marks, and you have to be okay with that. Around the sink, because we had to grind it down more, we have exposed aggregate. While it’s not the look I wanted for right there, Chris wanted some of that, so we both win. It adds interest, and the polished exposed stones actually look pretty cool. So far we love them and I’m excited to live with them.
Johnny wiping off the cement water from the grinding process. You can see the part under his arms is shiny. That’s the part that was sanded.
Johnny was given the big job of doing all the finishing on the cabinets. He spent about two days measuring, cutting and nailing in all the end pieces and the toe kicks to seal everything up. I then followed by filling all the holes with putty and caulking. Until doing all this I had never used painters caulk, and I’m a convert. I love it. It’s amazing how much it changes the look of what you’re working on before you even get to the paint stage. It gives you some wiggle room for error too, which is a nice relief if you’re a bit off with things. It’s what pro painters use to get a really nice finished project on built ins and painted furniture.
On Monday all the kitchen paint touch ups will be done, and I need to start priming the cabinets, and then paint them. I want to do that before we start using the kitchen so all the surfaces are protected. It’ll mean more work with sanding and what not later on if we don’t.
And, one of the biggest changes in the kitchen is the backsplash! Tada!
It was a bold choice, but we love it, and knowing what we’re doing with the cabinets and the rest of the kitchen is making both of us excited because it’s going to look so good. The tile is white, black and grey, so it ties in with the counters really well. The upper cabinets are all going to be white, and the lowers are going to be a fun color. It’s becoming more fun for me because Chris is finally starting to put the pieces together and he loves it.
Johnny helped me get the bones of the entry done, then I took care of all the finishing. It’s mostly done, with the exception of one frustrating drawer front, and a cabinet door that needs to be redone. It’s my first time working with overlay hinges, so I accidentally made the cupboard door too wide and can’t just trim it down because it’s shaker style. After the new year… lol!
Kind of fuzzy because the space is tight and the light pours in the door. After we get power hooked up I’ll be able to use the overhead light and take pictures.
This picture is after one coat of paint, and without the drawers in place and before hooks and stuff were installed. You might notice that the paint is really white against the off-white walls. Not a contrast that I would normally like or go with, but I’ve worked with this paint before, and over time it actually changes color to an off-white. I think it has polyurethane in it, which will yellow over time. In our current place, anything that we painted with the white paint is now the same color as the walls. It’s hard to tell in the picture, but if you look at the upper cabinet inside, it’s slightly different in color. I sprayed that cabinet about a month ago, and only painted the face frame this week, so already in the past month it’s changed a bit. I suspect that if I took a picture six months from now you wouldn’t notice a difference.
It’s looking really good. Under the bench is a rolling drawer that’s divided so Chris and I will each have a space for our shoes, and the lower cabinet has three drawers. Top drawer will be for things like umbrellas, etc, and then the kids each have a shoe drawer. I’m so excited about having a place to hang things and to put shoes away. Most often we take shoes off just outside the door, so this will be more storage and a place to tidy things up to. And, having a place to sit when you’re putting shoes on is going to be nice. And no more back packs in all places of the house…
We got wood cut for a few things and I did some sanding yesterday. Those will get put together as there’s time. Once we get the depot cleaned up I can move my wood that’s being stored in the office out there, and we can clean up the office. Most of the cabinets are screwed in place, and I already have the shelves and drawers built. We can at least put the shelves in place and put things in the cabinets where they’ll go, even though there are no doors on them. And, we can put a piece of plywood on the tops and set up a printer so we can print things until we can do all the finishing stuff. If there’s any extra time before we move one of the things I would like to do is get the last two cabinet pieces installed. The cabinets make a wrap around work station with 4 desk spaces, and the last two cabinets are drawer towers that form the two “arms” that come out. If you can imagine, it’s like a square with a 5 foot opening on one of the long sides that opens into the center of the work area. If we can install those two “arms” before break, I can putter away at installing drawers if I have time and want something to do.
Because I’m basically writing once a week here are some fun things that have been happening in the midst of construction:
- On Thursday Chris called to let me know that there was a problem with one of our two inverters, which help turn our solar or generator power into something we can use. It meant that the fans and the overhead lights weren’t working, but the wall sockets were. He wanted me to be prepared that we might not have fans for the night. When I got home, the sun was starting to go down, so I checked the lamps in the rooms that had them, and we had lights. The only rooms that didn’t have lamps were the kitchen and the bathroom. After trying to prep some things by LED candle, I remembered my twinkle lights on the kitchen shelf that Chris always mocks me for keeping up year round. Plugged them in, and voila. I decided to check the outlet in the bathroom, and it had power too, so I grabbed a set of multi-colored lights I had in a cupboard and plugged them in, then hung them over the mirror. Later Alex went to go to the bathroom and stopped dead and yelled, “Is it Christmas!?!” No kid, it’s American Thanksgiving, we plugged in the Christmas lights, and your dad is singing you Merry Christmas to the birthday song. Sorry for turning you into one of those awkward missionary kids…
- On Friday at break the guys found a garter snake nest against the fence by the sand washing area, which resulted in some fun conversation. Snakes, because of voodoo and Biblical reasons, have a lot of meaning tied up in them. It was fun to be part of the conversation. The funniest point was probably when one of the guys said, “If I walked into my room and saw a snake there, I’d poop my pants!” At that one of the other guys said, “Yeah, but if you and your wife walked into the room, and she was scared of snakes too, would you protect her, or run away and leave her with the snake???” :)
- We celebrated American Thanksgiving on Friday with a group of friends. It was the first year in a long time where we weren’t hosting in some way. We told everyone that because of the move we would have to step back from a few things this year just for sanity sake. It was a lovely evening with everyone, and we ate amazing food. Missionaries can bring it when it comes to potlucks. We all get so excited to do something “normal” that we do amazing food. Our friends decided to break from traditional turkey because a lot of us eat poultry regularly, and did pulled pork. It was delish. Green bean casserole, mac & cheese, sweet potato casserole, corn… SO GOOD! And I’m pretty sure there was as much dessert as there was main course. Just a fun night all around.
- Olivia got her ears pierced this summer while we were on vacation. She’s been scared to try changing her earrings, even though it’s been five months – 3 months longer than they told her she needed to wait. She has a tendency to get her self all worked up about what she thinks might happen versus what really happens. Even as we tried last night she would freak out at the possibility that it would hurt, even though it didn’t actually hurt. Today we finally got her first earrings out, and I put new ones in. She was shocked that it didn’t hurt to put the new ones in, then proceeded to run around cheering. There is absolutely no drama in our household…
- The lady that bought our property is visiting now. We wanted to have some time to talk through details, show her things in more detail, and introduce her to some of our friends and fellow missionaries. She made arrangements for a group of her kids to come out each night and sleep over, swim, and just have fun with her. The fun part is that they have NO idea that she’s bought the property, and she isn’t going to tell them yet. She’s just told them they were coming to spend the night with friends of hers, and with each groups she’s just casually asked, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could find a place like this to move to?” I would love to be a fly on the wall when she tells the kids that they’re moving, and that they’re moving here. So excited for them!
- While I was writing this I kept stepping away to help Chris lower plants down from the roof so he could load them in the truck. Tomorrow they’ll be riding out to Camp Mary and get unloaded in their new home. It’s the first load of stuff that will be moved. Feels crazy, and now our deck is bare because all my pots are gone! We’re excited to see how this stuff does when it gets planted in good dirt. Everything grows so well out there.
- This pretty much sums up our kids relationship right now…
And one last thing, because it’s pretty. This is sunrise in Camp Mary.