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Life renovations

We've been doing some home improvement lately. Or, as we like to call it, "what did we forget at Lowe's today?" (Note to ourselves, we still need a smoke detector in the living room to replace the one that malfunctioned and needed to be ripped off the ceiling.) Over the past month--give or take for my triathlon weekend--we've slowly been making the condo more inhabitable. When I mention it, people have been asking, "oh, are you going to sell?"

Maybe.

There's that farm lease proposal in a different state we'll hear back on later this fall. We'd either rent our current place or, more likely, put it up for sale. But even aside from that we met with a real estate expert and decided the time wasn't right yet, market-wise, if we just want a move. Of course, that doesn't mean we can't put ourselves in a better place in terms of remodeling for when we revisit the topic down the road. Even if we end up deciding to stay, it's nice to just live in a nicer place for us.

We're not talking major wall tear downs or anything. A few years back we put new counter in the kitchen, a new faucet, painted the walls and ceiling, and installed a shelving unit with the top matching the new granite. So that's a major room most people turn to that we don't have to worry about other than a deep clean. But the rest of the apartment wasn't exactly inviting. In fact, it kind of resembled a dark cave of accumulated stuff.

Some of you may remember over the years our tale of putting our dining room furniture into storage and turning the dining room into a combination bedroom and playroom. At one point, we'd put up curtains in the middle of the room around my daughter's bed...trying to give her some dark sleeping space in the middle of her nightly drama over sleeping. (She now goes to bed without us, in her own bed, in the same room as her brother. It's about a 90% drop in evening misery for everyone.) Gradually, toys had taken over after her bed left. Toys spilling off the shelf system specifically meant to contain them. A permanent monorail track, art easel, and pretend cooking area had piles of assorted/related items around them.

Step one was finally getting the kids in their bunk beds and re-homing their toys in their room. Part of a process of de-cluttering in general. So we're not making them bear the majority of the donation and recycling trips. Mama has worked hard on her fiber collection. I took a nice chunk out of the family libraries with re-organizing the bookshelves. Ask the kids, they'll give you a lesson on how their books are arranged by size. "Big books go on the left. Medium books in the middle. Small books to the right."

Three gallons of paint later, we have a re-assembled dining room table that we've actually eaten on together as a family...though now it has a loom, my laptop, and school-related items in a place we won't forget them. The floors have been mopped with wood cleaner. We refinished a piece of furniture to put our tv on. And we really have only two rooms to go...clean the kitchen and our bedroom though we're not painting those.

There is that small matter of having to order replacement pieces from a hotline because the bathroom shelf I went to install was missing all the screws and mounting brackets. But I did manage to hang our new bathroom mirror after ripping a medicine cabinet and corner shelves off the wall. And patching. We have an actual toilet paper holder now. And a new towel rack. And are thinking about inviting guests into our home without embarrassment at the mess our post-kids living quarters had become.

So this post is titled "life renovations" because the cliche is true. Your environment is a reflection of you. It's deeply satisfying on a psychological level to remove so much junk from your life. Literally. And mental baggage as well. Hanging new pictures on the wall and seeing a fresh coat of paint is a brain scrub where you find deep satisfaction in the same way the best part of an Etch-A-Sketch is shaking it to make the drawing go away.

You just have to vacuum a lot of really horrible dirt from underneath the living room rug to get there.

PS I'd meant to work in a little something on how we thought about throwing one of the sponsors of the dad group some work because they're painters. Super reasonable rate though I'd note that purchase of the paint--which has to be through them--is extra. We had a lot of junk to clear first and a lot (I mean a lot) of taping around wood trim, door frames, etc.. Plus washing blinds in the process, etc. So it was more involved than "just painting" and it was easier to simply spread the work out for ourselves over several weekends.

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