Everyday Life, Home Renovation

The Six Emotional Stages of Home Renovation

Our 4th Fixer Upper

I may have mentioned a few times lately that we’re in the midst of fixing up a house. It’s our fifth go round with a fixer upper. I guess deep down inside, we really like it, but right now we’re in Stage 4 of the Six Emotional Stages of Home Renovation. What are these emotional stages I speak of? Well, in case you’re considering buying a fixer upper, or in case you’re smack in the middle of one, here are the six stages we go through each time. Let it be a warning or encouragement to you, whichever the case may be.

Stage 1 ~ Euphoria

You bought a fixer upper! Congratulations! You can’t wait to get in there and make it awesome. Now’s when you get out a notebook and make a bunch of lists, including a timeline for when you’ll be done. (Go ahead and add five to ten weeks to that now). Let’s do this!

Stage 2  ~ Super Human Strength

The day after the sale is final,  you are pumped. On the show Fixer Upper, they call this “demo day,”  which in reality it takes at least a week or four. This is when you feel all manly or strong-womanly and you riiiip all of that old flooring out and sa
y “to heck!” with icky sinks and wallpaper. “None of this is cool enough for our house. Get it outta here!”

Stage 3 ~ Reality Check

Here’s what the reality check stage sounds like: “Oh, that’s what’s under the carpet? Eesh.” The gas line to the gas stove is broken? Ergh. It’ll cost how much to fix??? The expenses are piling up and there is even more work to be done than you realized. But it’s okay! You’re not afraid of hard work and it’ll all be worth it. Right?

Stage 4 ~ The Depths of Despair

Thoughts such as this pour through your brain like a ticker on Sports Center: “We are never going to be done with this reno!” “We haven’t had a free Saturday in months!” “Our marriage is in shambles, our kids hate us, and this stupid floor is still buckled!” It’s a dark time. But up next is…

Stage 5 ~ The Dawn of a New Day

One day you walk into your fixer upper, and it hits you that things are looking fairly lovely. The new floors bring a lightness to the environment, the fresh paint is like a breath of glorious mountain air. Sure, the light fixtures are still ghastly, but you’ll get around to that. You start thinking about how nice your family photo will look on the living room wall, and how cozy you’ll be around the fireplace in winter. Maybe your Christmas tree could go in that corner over there next to the window. Hmm. You’re almost done. Just four more full days of painting to go. (Also, this is when you realize you should probably start packing up your current house. Cue the coffee maker.)

Stage 6 ~ Relief and Renewal

It’s moving in day! The sinks work, the floor is (mostly) level, and you’re putting up curtains and finally tasting the fruits of your labor. This stage is kind of like a second round of Home Renovation Euphoria, but it’s a bit tireder, more subdued emotion. Still, there’s a deep satisfaction of a job well done that lets you sleep like a champ your first night in your finally finished fixer upper.

And for some home renovators, there’s also a seventh emotional stage. It usually strikes the dreamers and/or particularly robust home renovators, and it’s one that you should avoid at all costs. It crops up a year or two after you’re done, when you see this nice but run down, totally killer deal that’s actually closer to the office/school/church/what-have-you. It may have a bigger yard, or more square footage.  Maybe it has that porch you always wanted but didn’t get out of your last fixer upper. Whatever it is, something about it makes you get that look in your eye and think “We could totally fix that place up.” This is called Insanity, my friends, and it is The Seventh Stage of Home Renovation. Go buy a new car or a trip to Tahiti, but DO NOT buy another fixer upper. Trust a girl who has been sucked in five times. Tahiti sounds really nice, doesn’t it?

Everyday Life, Home Renovation

Renovation Before and Between Photos (and What Should I Do With A Badly Placed Wetbar?)

Time for a Home Renovation # 5 update! We are finally at the stage of fixing up a house when the house begins to take shape and it doesn’t all look like doom, doom, insanity, and doom anymore. I can now share some before and between photos. They’re not before and afters, because, well, it isn’t after yet. We’re still in the middle of everything. Our Before and Between photos aren’t HGTV worthy or anything, but I thought I’d show you just the same.

Hallway before:


Hallway with floors ripped out and new paint:


We’re currently putting in hardwoods and refinishing them, sanding down and refinishing the staircase, and I’m hoping we’ll get around to replacing that light fixture soon…

Girls Bedroom before:


And between…


Cutest wallpaper remover ever, right down to the pink cowgirl boots…

And almost done (new carpet goes in next week!):



Family room before:


Family Room between with new paint and new but unfinished hardwood floors:


Which brings me to my biggest conundrum about this house – I love the stone fireplace and the cool floating cedar mantle, but what is with the odd bookcase on the right? And, worst of all, the horrendous wet bar as the focal point of the room? I’ve seen some great transformations of wet bars into cloffices or craft desks and storage, but when it’s right next to your fireplace in the room you’ll live in and entertain in the most, what do you do? I’m thinking either rip out the cabinetry and closet doors and put in shelves to make it a bookcase, or just rip out the upper cabinets and put the TV in there. It does contain an electrical outlet, so maybe it’s meant to be. Any ideas? Send them on.

I probably should have never started watching Fixer Upper, because now I think “What would Chip and Joanna do?” and then I think, “Stop it. They have a whole crew. And hundreds of thousands of dollars.” The house we’re fixing up is going to take years to be beautiful top to bottom, and will never, ever be perfect. Happily, perfection isn’t my goal. I just want it to feel like a home for my family.  We have a ways to go, for sure, but now that I can see the end in sight, I’m quite pleased with our progress.

Thinking of doing your own home project? Check back tomorrow for The Six Emotional Stages of Home Renovation.

Children's Books, Three Book Thursday

All The Deep Legends: Three Book Thursday, Legends Edition

girlreadingjwsmithWelcome to Three Book Thursday. This blog feature is all about our favorite children’s books of the week, and celebrating those moments when we can say, ‘Yes, just one more book.’ See all the posts in the category here. And check out our other series about children’s book’s, Friday Favorites, here

I’m not entirely sure how this came about, but on our last trip to the library my kids picked some pretty serious books. Think Arthurian legend and Greek mythology picture books. I was kind of squeamish about them – how would they handle some of the themes? –  but then I remembered how important it is to inspire children with hero stories and acquaint them with the larger picture of humanity. I definitely want to inspire my children to greatness while at the same time making them aware of their smallness in the grand scheme of things. So! We read these books they picked out.

PersephonePersephone, by Sally Pomme Clayton – The tragic princess tale is a dark one, with Hades taking the daughter of Demeter, Earth Goddess, to his kingdom in the Underworld, but this particular version doesn’t go into a whole lot of detail about the Underworld. Instead it focuses on the legend of the seasons that came from this story. Greek mythology is not something I’m extremely familiar with, but it’s pretty fascinating and has infiltrated so many cultures. I’d love for my children to be familiar with it to some extent, and this is a start.

Lancelot (Tales of King Arthur)Lancelot – What a long story! But man does Isaac (4) love stories about knighthood. He’ll sit there the whole time, staring at the pictures and taking in the heroism of this Aurthurian legend. Hudson Talbott has written many picture books about these legends and I’m hoping to get lots more from the library. I’m also toying with the idea of showing The Sword and the Stone to my kids, but I can’t remember much about it. Maybe I’ll have to preview it (right, who has time for that?).

Lady LollipopThose are the major picture books we’re reading this week. In the chapter book genre, we’ve been reading Lady Lollipop, which is such a perfect preschool chapter book, although I have to admit that I’m enjoying it as well. Ella has been reading the Frozen chapter book series. I read the first one with her, and they’re better than I was expecting, similar to the Disney fairy books we love around here.  Winter is absolutely the best time for reading, and we are taking full advantage of it.



Favorite Reads of Autumn and Winter 2015/16

As I mentioned yesterday, things have been busy here lately. It has been a shockingly long time since I posted about actual books on this bookish blog. So without further ado, here are some books I’ve read in the past few months:

The Favorites

The Lake HouseThe Lake House – Kate Morton is masterful. The Secret Keeper is still my favorite of hers, but The Lake House is everything a Morton fan would hope for. The characters were likable, the setting was stunning as usual, and the ability she has to seamlessly weave past and present is unparalleled. Seriously, I wish everyone else would stop doing the whole back and forth from past to present thing except for Kate Morton.

Emily of Deep Valley – This book deserves a blog post all its Emily of Deep Valley: A Deep Valley Bookown but suffice it to say I loooved it. If you’re a fan of orphan stories like Anne of Green Gables, this lesser known book could be just the cozy, light read you’re looking for this Winter.

Spring Harvest – Reminiscent of Heat Lightning and Winter Wheat, Gladys Taber’s novels are mid-century, mid-Western stories about a slew of characters all connected by the community they live in. It’s amazing how Taber can explain how the community sees a person and then a few paragraphs later explain what’s really going on inside the person. I love a character-driven novel, but I know they’re not for everyone.


Blackmoore – Eh. I wouldn’t recommend this one unless you just like reading romance Blackmoorenovels that are completely clean. The characters are interesting but not very real or believable. Edenbrooke by this author was better, though still on the “fluff” side of literature. But hey, reading a bit of fluff is not a crime. Let’s be clear, though: if it claims to be “adored by Jane Austen fans,” be very wary. =)

Far From the Madding Crowd – This is a classic and I cannot argue with how great Thomas Hardy was at rural England and tragic love. I also cannot get over how I loathe the main character Bathsheba and so I simply do not like this book. Gabriel is a great character and almost makes up for her, but she is such a heartless fool. Just once, I wish Hardy would have written a book about a smart woman who doesn’t get herself into worlds of trouble.

Books from my to-read list that I didn’t finish:

The Daughter’s Walk – There was simply too much drama for no apparent reason in this book.

The Lost Heiress – The plot sounded good, but the writing of the main character didn’t really draw me in.

I am really excited about a few new releases for this year, including a new one by Helen Simonson, author of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand and Shauna Niequist’s Present Over Perfect. 2016 promises to be a busy year, but I hope to find lots of great books to share on the blog just the same!

As always, please share books you’re enjoying in the comments!


Home Renovation #5 – A Very Good Excuse for Not Blogging

It has been a while…let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

(Long live The Princess Bride, most quotable movie ever).

You know what the internet really doesn’t need? Another home renovation blog. However. Since I am writing this blog, whatever my life features a lot of tends to be what ends up here. That’s always, always books and reading, and it also includes parenting, meal planning, friendship, and lots and lots of coffee. Lately, we’ve thrown another plot twist into our journey and, you guessed it, it’s a home renovation. A big one.

Picture this: a tall brown house on a hill, surrounded by tall trees, just a short walk from a beautiful river, with a nice wooded back yard and visions of wreaths on the windows at Christmas dancing in its head.

Are you seeing this in your mind? Hello, Orchard House and all that is beautiful in Little Women (1994)

Except for the beautiful snow, and the candlelight…oh yeah, and the fact that it actually looked like this:


With crumbling cedar siding, a smell inside that makes you wish smelling salts were still a thing, holes in some of the walls, and a built in skateboarding ramp in the front entry way due to foundation issues. And that’s just for starters. I’d also like to mention that this house was practically a 1990s Wallpaper Museum. It’s just too bad I ruined it all before I thought about all the money we could make off of people who are dying to see room after jaw dropping room of floral wallpaper. It’s too late now…I only have one room left to strip of its wall paper. One room! This is our fifth house my husband and I have renovated as a couple,  and I’ve got to say, wallpaper should be illegal. Eeee-leee-gal. 

My husband has worked tirelessly at patching walls, ripping out old floors, researching contractors for vinyl siding and other jobs beyond our expertise, and now we’re about one month away from living in this house. It’s hard to believe, and I’m trying to keep all my thoughts about it on the light side because the truth is, I wasn’t expecting to move so soon out of the cozy cape cod we’re in now. We bought it when we realized we didn’t want to live beyond our means and downsized. That was four years ago, when we had just two tiny tots. Now we have three and a work-from-home husband/father. I know we’re outgrowing what most would consider a starter home, but I had fully embraced the Small House Love ideas. It’s all been a lot to work through in my overworked brain. That’s not to say I’m unexcited about gaining more square footage in a quaint neighborhood in the kind of house I’ve wanted since I was a little girl. Not at all! I’m pretty excited.  Especially since my awesome husband let me pick white vinyl siding. I’ve always wanted a white house! Here it is currently, after new vinyl but before new trim paint on the porches:


So! I’m excited, I’m busy, I’m juggling two houses, and I’m not reading a whole lot. But I have to be perfectly honest. I’m not reading partly because I bought a fixer upper and partly because of Fixer Upper. No, I’d never seen that show before a few weeks ago. I finally caved and watched it because I got tired of saying, “We bought a fixer upper” and then having people say, “Oh, I love that show!” and having to say, “No, I’ve never seen that show, I’m just talking about buying a house that needs fixing up.” TV is not my thing, but now I have to admit that I love that show. And every time I mention I have a fixer upper I also have to say that I just do the boring stuff like take out all the wallpaper and redo tile. I still desperately need Joanna Gaines to come to my home and decorate for me. Also, why is all this decor and furniture not in the home’s renovation budget? Anyway! I have a fixer upper, I’m watching Fixer Upper, and I’m trying not to think too deeply about the fact that we’re going to be moving across town in just a few weeks.

Oy vey.

I have been reading books, though, and I’m hoping tomorrow to post a quick list of my favorite reads of the past few months. And maybe I’ll even get a Three Book Thursday up this week! But I’m only on Season Two of Fixer Upper, so we’ll have to see about that.

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