You may be wondering where I’ve been. (You may not be, but I am choosing to believe that you have.) Well, after the whirlwind that was the Christmas season, my husband and I buckled down for a home improvement marathon that’s still being run.
My bright idea was to set up our kids’ rooms for Christmas. As you can see, we missed the mark by a few weeks, which actually turned out fine because it took us nearly that long to put their Christmas toys together. Psst…There’s still a two-seater Radio Flyer in the basement, unopened. Don’t tell them.
My grand vision, as all of them do, had the potential to be completed in one day. For example, I, somewhere in the dark, mathematically-challenged recesses of my mind, calculated that five rooms of curtains (none with curtain hardware), wall art, decorations, bed linens, and paint, could be completed in one day. A cinch, right? Especially in a house with three toddlers. Three sick toddlers and two sick parents.
Along with my frequent superhuman machinations, I’m also extremely clumsy, which is never a fruitful combination. Plus, my husband has a keen distaste for tedium. I find it calming. My husband, however, does not.
So I’ve decided to share a few key concepts, of which one should most definitely be aware, and prepare for, if you wish for both of you to survive any joint home improvement project:
The ‘I Was Just…’
You’ve painted three-quarters of a room. You did alright, considering this was your first painting project since 2006. There’s not too much paint on the ceiling, or the floor. You’ve been in this room for three hours. You left Honey Buns downstairs to put up a few curtain rods, but you haven’t heard much since two hours ago, when you were jarred by a loud thud and went running, thinking he fell off the ladder. You were relieved to find that he merely dropped the drill and took a chunk out of the newly-laid hardwood floor. Your back is starting to hurt because you’ve been bending, for hours, into contortions generally unnatural for human beings, and, truth be told, you’re a little bit hungry. You hear footsteps. You bite your lip in anticipation of hearing the rhythmic purr of the drill, or at least metal clanging against metal. Instead, you hear the refrigerator open, your husband gulping, and then the door close. You try to hold in your angst while politely asking, “Hey what’s going on down there? You’ve been putting those two rods up for hours.”
“Measuring. I was just measuring.”
The “Where Did You Buy These Again?” also Known as “These things are CRAP!” also Known as “I Can’t Figure this Out.”
It took you several weeks of searching to find high-quality kids’ curtain rods. You went to a few large retailers and were dismayed to find that the butterfly finial you had picked out literally crumbled in your hand. You searched and searched for items made out of other materials than plastic. You are finishing up painting the last wall, when you hear from the other room, “Hey, did you know you bought a double curtain rod?” You are sunk. You knew it was Clearance, but you didn’t notice it was a double rod, and, if your memory serves, it wasn’t. ”It was Clearance,” you respond, feeling that may get you off the hook, but you don’t actually leave the room to survey the situation. You finish your wall and saunter on into your son’s bedroom. It’s a double rod, alright. He’s already mounted two brackets, and he’s looking at the wall, shaking his head.
“What’s wrong?” you ask.
“Where did you get this again? This thing is a piece of shit!”
Upon careful inspection, you realize they sent you the wrong rod, and you’re sitting, cross-legged, on your son’s bed, being literally bitten by metal springs, asking Pottery Barn to send you a replacement.
Man’s Best Friend
Some will say a dog is man’s best friend. I am here to tell you it’s not. It’s putty. It’s spackle. It will give Sugar Lips unabated permission to drop things, drill holes, and search the house for previously ignored cracks, dings, or other openings, so he can sneak around like Boris and Natasha to fill them. You may see him stealing up the stairs with his arm to his side. What’s in his hand? Putty. For what, you ask? “Uh, I found a hole in the wall in Michael’s room.” Have fun, dude. Have fun.
The ‘You Should Do This…’
If someone recommends that, perchance, you should complete the task instead of them, there’s usually a reason. For example, I’ve only broken three light bulbs in the past three days (so far) and dropped one lamp. When someone recommends that, “Maybe you should do this,” maybe you should.
You painted the entire room yourself, you know, because it apparently takes fourteen hours to mount two curtain rods. The next morning, in the sunlight, your Funny Hunny comes in to size up your work. “Missed a spot,” he reports smugly. You explain that you haven’t painted in a long time, and that the room most likely needs a second coat. “And here. And HERE. AND HERE!” Are you being mocked? Is he trying to be helpful? Better yet, is he going to slap on the second coat of paint? You huff a little and walk away.
“Have you seen my…”
Brace yourself. This will happen often. Your Cuddlemuffins will travel, with his tools neatly collected in a blue plastic beach pail, throughout the house. At one point or another (and probably another), he will ask you where ‘you put’ the level. Or where ‘you put’ the flathead screwdriver, knowing fully well that neither of you have been in the same room all day. Just don’t answer. He’ll find it.
In the same category as “Have you seen my…”, It’s Gone! takes the situation just one step further.
Here’s how it goes:
You: I need the blue painter’s tape. It’s downstairs. We have two rolls. One is new, and one’s already started. Can you get it for me?
Him: Where is it?
You: It’s either in the closet in the laundry room, in a kitchen drawer, or in Matthew’s closet.
Him (after five minutes of rummaging): I can’t find it.
You: Try the office or the basement.
Him (more rummaging): I can’t find it.
You: Please check again. I know it’s there. It didn’t get up and walk out of the house and we didn’t use it.
Him: I can’t find it. It’s gone!
And then you walk downstairs, open up one drawer in the kitchen, and return upstairs with the roll of tape around your wrist.
See also: Exacto knife and husband’s wallet.
It’ll Be Alright…
You’ve been working hard for days, finally begin to enjoy the spoils of your labor, when you realize you had forgotten a shelf for your daughter’s room. You ask the ol’ Drillmeister if he minds putting it up. He doesn’t. You shower. Ten minutes later, he’s back, telling you the shelf is (wait for it) a piece of shit, and he’s got the putty in his hand. “It’ll be alright. We’ll just have to sand that down and put some more paint on it.”
Of course it will.