All things bright and……

   
Sometimes as parents, we say things to our children without thinking them through- sometimes make rash promises to them that they somehow remember with remarkable clarity, considering how everything else you tell them seems to slip in one ear and right out the other. And sometimes these words and promises are spoken by the other parent without you even being aware and then the parental ‘unit’ as a whole is held responsible. For instance-
“Mom! I’m tired of sleeping in Lina’s pink, girly room. When are we gonna get around to painting our room?”
“I’m not sure about that buddy. It’s not exactly on the list of priorities right now. But we’ll do it soon.”

“Well, when we do paint it, I want it bright red.”

“Bright red?” 

“Yes, and maybe dark blue and turquoise.”

“Hmmmm. Well, I’m not sure that will happen.”

“But mom! You said we get to pick out all the colors for our own room.”

“I said what?”

“Yah! Remember? Or maybe it was daddy? Yep, it was daddy. He said red would be fine.”

“Well, I made no promises of that sort.”

“But daddy said…..” etc. 

You get the picture.

Fast forward a few weeks and still, not having forgotten ‘the promise’ and ignoring all mommy’s suggestions of how nice and boyish a tasteful sage green would be in their room, they begged to go to the paint store. I finally yielded, with the proviso that I would have at least some small say in their final color choices.  

“Oh, you poor chump,” you might well be thinking to yourself at this point. “You took all your children to the paint store and let them pick out a color? How long have you been a parent?”
And yes, in hindsight, I now see that I should have gone to the store alone, picked out a dozen colors that I myself liked and then let them pick from my choice, thus fulfilling the terms of the promise and making myself happy into the bargain. But no, naively thinking it would be a fun outing, last week, I and my five children marched into the paint aisle at Lowes and approached ‘the wall.’

You know what wall I mean- the wall covered with little squares of every possible color shade imaginable- ten bajillion little colored squares, all shiny and bright like candy and every one ‘the perfect color’ for their bedroom. 

Thus the battle began. 

“This is the red I want mom! It’s perfect!” says the oldest child, holding up a scarlet card so vividly bright that I can hardly look at it without watering eyes.

“I don’t think I want red at all,” says the second. “How about a nice orange? Look- this one is called psi, psi….ummm.. What kind of pumpkin?”

“Psychadelic pumpkin,” I reply drily.

“Have you ever seen a black bedroom?” the third dreamily asks, thumbing through a rack of ‘midnight dreams’ and ‘matte ebonies.’ “A black room might be cool.” 

“I have to pee, mom,” says the fourth. “and look, Haha! the baby is running down the aisle pushing a paint roller!”

Back and forth we went, I trying to explain to my children about matching tones and how a color on a small card might look pretty, but once painted on four walls would be absolutely overwhelming, they insisting that it would be ‘so fun!’. I finally talked them down from the red, only to have it replaced by an almost equally garish blue. From ‘stormy sea’ to ‘tranquil sky’ we fought it out but in the end, the promise won out. Eight tearful eyes stared up at me and pled- “but daddy said we could choose.” ‘Ballistic blue’ it was.

The only thing I could do now was try to tone down the blue with a milder color- perhaps a gentle yellow? But once yellow was mentioned, out popped the ‘egg yolks’ and the ‘tropical sunshines’.  

I was so exhausted by this point that I said yes to the first one they agreed on but when I got to the counter and saw just how French’s mustardy it was, I quietly whispered to the lady to make it two shades softer. At long last, foot sore and battle weary we took our cans and headed to the car.

But once we were home and I had opened the yellow paint can, I saw my breath had been wasted on trying to tone it down. It looked three times brighter than in the store, and once on the walls, well, you’ll see.

 
It is difficult to describe the bedrooms in the upstairs of our house and even more difficult to get a good picture of them. There are crazy angles and rooflines everywhere and are full of what would generally be called ‘character.’ The boys room is particularly character-ful. It is an enormous space in the shape of an L (“L for Lewin!” the boys like to say) 

There is a small platform running around half of it with two steps leading to the ‘main floor’ if you will. There are sloping ceilings and big skylights and four enormous holes for windows without, of course, any windows in them yet. So deciding where to put our lovely colors was a challenge. But I did my best. 

I hoped the color would grow on me as I progressed but by the time I got it all up, I texted the hubby.   

“What do I do if I really don’t like the color we picked?”

“Do the boys like it?” he texted back.

“Ummm, yes. The boys love it,” I grudgingly admitted.  

“Then keep it.”

“Maybe the blue will make it look better,” was my next hope. But I guess I’m just a boring person. I don’t care for loud colors in a house and by the time I was done, I felt like the room was screaming at me. It didn’t help matters when the little neighbor girl popped her head in the door to see the progress and immediately said, 

“Oh my goodness! It looks just like my school gym! Those are exactly our school’s colors!”

  
 I’m sure some of you locals know exactly what school she was referring to. And although I have nothing against said school (Go Chargers!) it wasn’t what I was hoping for in a bedroom.  

But of course, the boys loved it.

By the end of two very long days of painting, I was exhausted and frustrated and trying to think of a way to make the room look better. I looked at the yellow and blue and tried to think of what it reminded me of, other than a junior high basketball team and then it hit me.  

It looked like Legos.  

Maybe I could salvage the situation by making a Lego themed room. We already had Lego yellow and Lego blue- since we had come this far, why not go all the way? I asked the hubby what he thought. He said he would try and find some accent paints to go with what we had chosen- in Lego colors.

To make a long story short, he came back with these.   

 My hubby has a gift for choosing colors and he suggested using gray to go on the platform part of the floor. (we are painting all the floors upstairs and saving up for carpet some day). I never would have thought of gray, but heaven knows, I’ve stepped on enough gray Lego pieces in my life. So on went the floor paint.  

   
And by the way, in order to give you a sense of the size of this room, the hubby and I measured just this back section and realized we could easily park the trailer in it.

Well, I thought the floor looked okay. But where to put the other colors? I couldn’t decide if his next idea was insane or brilliant. He suggests painting the light wells to the skylights different colors. Would that be totally over the top? But I figured at this point, there was no going back- might as well embrace the insanity. I got a ladder and started in.  

After the first light well was finished, all I could see was another sports team (Go Seahawks!) but I kept going.   

 And by the time I had finished the fourth, I had to admit that, although definitely bright, the effect was at least interesting.   

But I still needed to tie the colors in more.  

Underneath the plywood covered, windowless windows are four rectangular holes in the wall with storage space behind them.  

  Eventually the hubby wants to finish these out and put little hinged doors on them, to keep toys in etc, but that probably won’t be happening for a while. So to cover them up, I cut four ‘Lego bricks’ out of wood, painted them and nailed them in place, along with some very temporary curtains to cover the ugly plywood windows. 

We also needed some kind of rug to cover the vast floor space, so on our way home from church one day, we swung by a salvage store that just happened to have the very rug we needed. It had just come through the door and was priced incredibly low. We grabbed it, along with some smaller accent rugs in equally loud colors. At this point, I was all in. Go big or go home, right? And somehow, remarkably, the room came together.  That, or I had just been looking at everything so long that I was willing it to work, whether or no.

    
    
   
Yes, it’s bold and loud and childish and Lego-y, but really, nothing describes my children more. And after all, it is their bedroom. Why shouldn’t they have a say? They have certainly waited long enough to live (and play Legos) in it. 

   
 

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The half way house

I’m not really sure what would be considered the half way point on this monumental house project of ours. Was it way back when we restructured the whole thing, gave it a new frame and floor plan? Was it when we spent two months digging out a full basement just so we could jack the whole building up a few inches and put some proper feet under it? Was it before the first or after the second complete wiring of the house? 

The hubby says, on average, that the half way point for most home construction is the sheetrock. Of course, I don’t think that average really counts for our house considering all of the special, extra and unexpected things that came with it, but it is true that a myriad of tiny things still need to be tackled now that the sheetrock has been installed.  

Obviously, there is the painting- lots and lots of painting- priming and cutting in and spraying and rolling and the backbreaking labor that results in 4,000 (4,000!!!) square feet of colored walls and ceilings. But we are nearing the end of that.   

 There is all the extra wiring that now needs to be done- the outlets and light switches and smoke alarms, not to mention (we counted twice, thinking we must be mistaken) the seventy-two (SEVENTY-TWO!) light fixtures that need installation. To be perfectly frank, at this juncture, we are nowhere near being able to afford real light fixtures in numbers that large so if you ever come a visiting in the future, you will probably be greeted with the sight of a lot of naked light bulbs hanging from the ceiling. We’re taking baby steps here, folks.

But naked or not, we finally got them all installed and today, for the first time ever, instead of searching for a plug at the end of a bewildering tangle of extension cords crisscrossing the house, you can now flip a switch and get some light in return. And you can’t imagine the wonder of a plug in an outlet! Don’t get me started on the marvel of outlets! These are exciting things folks. 

Even more exciting are the two bedrooms. For all intents and purposes, the house is still a construction zone. We are still functioning with one toilet and no other running water. There is no kitchen of any description unless you count the recess in the wall where my fridge will someday go. But last night, Oh Joy! we ditched the trailer for the night and slept in a couple of upstairs bedrooms we had been pushing to get ready.  

    My craft room and my girlie’s room were the first rooms we had painted and we got to thinking that maybe, if we could put a few finishing touches to them, we might just make them habitable. This meant dealing with the floors first, which were really in terrible condition.  

They are original hardwood, but after much consideration, we decided they were too damaged to try and restore. So this meant me and my palm sander got down on our knees and tried to remove as much of the ancient rubbly mess, sheetrock mud and paint residue as possible.    

   
Then lots of shop-vacuuming and damp-mopping and finally, several coats of a good floor paint.  

   
   
Then, there was a little trim to put up and we even managed a few doors.    

    

Eventually, we want the entire upstairs carpeted, but since that isn’t really in the budget right now either, we found some nice carpet remnants and had the edges bound, just to make the floors a little comfier.  (And please disregard the plastic where the windows should be. Be patient. I imagine we might just get those durn windows finished sometime this century.)     
   

But windows aside, some generous folks donated a few used beds to our cause so that by the end of a very exhausting day, we were thankfully able to collapse onto something comfortable.

   
   So now, although I nearly despaired many times along the way, I can finally say, nearly nine years (NINE!) to the day after we purchased this place, we are sleeping in it. 

Of course, we aren’t technically living in it yet. We are still going to be in limbo for a while, trudging back and forth from trailer to house for our water supply and a place to cook our meals. We are now working hard on completing one of the four (FOUR!) bathrooms and the kitchen will be after that, although it might just be a hot plate and a sink for a while. 

All that to say, I think we can safely say that we are past the half way point now, although I’m not sure we will ever be able to call this place truly finished. But isn’t that true of most things in life? What good would heaven be otherwise? 

For today we are grateful- grateful no longer to be seven people sleeping in a thirty foot camper- grateful for a couple of rooms that (when the door is shutting out the rest of the house) actually look mostly completed- grateful for so much support and help from family and loved ones and grateful for a light at the end of the tunnel. (and a light at the end of a switch.)