I read once that remodeling (putting on an addition, building a house yourself, or just substantially changing your current living situation) is one of the most stressful things you can do to a marriage. And after these last weeks, I believe it!
Actually, John and I have been doing well during the process in terms of our relationship. But there certainly has been plenty of stress. Take last week, for example. We were in the midst of having the painting done, and John arrived at the new apartment one morning early to discover it "trashed" (in his words). The painters had done a lot of taping over the current woodwork but then if, in places, the tape and plastic came up, they completely ignored it and painted over everything. Large areas of the floor had paint spattered liberally across it. The woodwork around doors and windows was, in some areas, almost totally covered in paint.
After recovering from the initial shock, John got on the phone to the manager of the paint store and asked him to come over and look at the mess. The manager was nonplussed. "Don't worry, we will clean it all up when we are finished . . . it will all work out!" The walls still needed a second coat then so there was no point in starting the cleanup yet.
More misadventures followed. The workers doing the painting didn't bring their own tools and kept asking John to go out and buy things. They didn't have a paint stirrer, so didn't stir the paint and before John could stop them, large sections of the walls came out with darker or lighter colors because the paint wasn't mixed. John kept having to ask them to redo areas and they were soon rather irritated with him and his "high" standards. The workers made fun of John's attempts to speak the local language and began to have rather sour attitudes.
Finally, thankfully, a local friend came to help the situation. He also got the manager involved, and this time there was a real change. The manager brought in some skilled laborers (as it turns out, the other workers just got hired for the day and didn't actually know anything about painting) and they totally repainted the apartment. I then spent one day touching up some edging and some overspray on the ceiling, and then John and our helper, Lou, spent some more time cleaning off the paint on the woodwork, and now, happily, it looks great! Whew, what a road to get there, though!
I was happy with the way the colors turned out, which I'm glad for since it's really hard to choose from just a little paint chip! The main living room/dining room has two walls that are a dark red, with two walls that are a darker tan color. The entryway and hallway are also the tan color, and then Clara Anne and Chloe's room is a really happy purple. The baby's room is a happy green color, and our bedroom is a happy blue color. Taken all together, it looks like Easter eggs at the end of our hallway with the three bedrooms, all happily colorful. But I do like it--it will be impossible to be depressed at our house! Plus, once all the furniture gets in it will soften the colors up a bit. Right now they are all really . . . happy! (for lack of a better word!)
I have to admit it was fun to have a paintbrush in hand again. Some of you may know that I spent about 10 summers (give or take a few) doing exterior painting as a job. This job began way back when my dad, a schoolteacher, decided to use the summer months to paint and make some extra money. He had various partners over the years including, as we grew up, both of my brothers and myself. Then I recruited John after we met, and we spent some serious time on ladders together before we were married as well as when we were preparing to come to this country. We did some big barns together as well as houses and even a bunch of interior work at an apartment complex. The pay was good, I enjoyed the work, and once I had learned the skills, it kind of was like riding a bike--you just never forget how to paint. I loved painting with my dad--we had time to talk, could set our own hours (start at 7am and you can go home at 4!), out in the fresh air (ok, sometimes it was beastly hot/humid/bugs/etc), but we made tons of memories during that time. I feel like I learned a lot about life--doing a good job, working hard, pleasing the customer, learning a skill, etc--through painting! But I digress . . .
John has been working so hard to get things ready at the new place, and the past few days have really seen great progress. Some of our new items (a lovely, white, clean, new bathtub!!) have arrived and been installed. The old kitchen cupboards (a bright yellow metal, coated with grease) have been taken out and the kitchen guys have the design of the new kitchen all drawn up on their computer. They will be building the cabinets in the next week or two at a different location and then installing them.
So, the work continues. We may be able to move in as little as two weeks, but I think two to three weeks is a better estimate. John has to be gone Tuesday afternoon through Friday noon of this next week, so we won't be doing much remodeling then. And we still have some things to purchase--mattresses for the girls' big girl beds, lamps, things like that--so we'll see how quickly that all can happen. We're getting excited, though! Moving day is coming soon!