Monday, July 2, 2012

The road to a functioning kitchen

Our baby girl was born in February on the coldest day I'd experienced in years.  The temperature in the morning was minus 18 degrees.  I didn't care; I was just glad that we were moved back into our house before I went into labor.

We brought our daughter home to a house without a functioning kitchen and without a carefully decorated nursery to call her own.  These things that others take for granted wouldn't come for several months.

Only a week or two after Z was born, we had contractors come in to build our kitchen cabinets.  Prior to her birth, the cabinets had arrived and been inspected by these contractors.  There were two broken cabinets to be replaced and several missing pieces to be ordered before the kitchen could be assembled.  The parts arrived, but in our sleep-deprived state, we neglected to take a look at them before we scheduled the guys to come back and put together our kitchen.

Big mistake.

At the same time that we ordered our kitchen cabinets, we ordered bathroom cabinets in a different style and finish.  When the replacement kitchen cabinets arrived, they were not the same look as the rest of the kitchen cabinets.  The manufacturer had used the bathroom cabinet finish and style.  Oops.

The guys were disappointed, as the very cabinets that they couldn't install were the ones that they would generally install first to ensure that everything was straight and even.  But if they didn't work that day at our house, they wouldn't get paid.  So, they asked me if it was ok if they did as much as they could that day and come back when the correct order of cabinets had arrived.  I agreed.

Our baby must have gotten used to the noise of power tools while in utero because she didn't seem to be bothered by the work being done 20 feet from her crib.  I remember feeling her startle in my belly when she heard the nail gun as Mark was installing the hardwood floors in our kitchen and dining room.

The island in our kitchen is triangular, with the shortest side featuring three doors.  The middle door has a glass front, and three shelves to use in displaying dishes.  The two other doors were included for looks only and did not feature shelves.  Why? I asked our designer at Home Depot.  Can't we put shelves in there to make it useful?  She said that she didn't know how it was possible to build shelves into those spaces.  But can't we just order some boards and have the installers cut them to size?  I tried arguing with her, to no avail.

When our installation experts went over the plans with me, they asked me why there weren't shelves built into those two extra doors.  Wouldn't it be more useful to have some shelves in there?  We can just order some extra boards and cut them to fit the space.   I could have hugged them.

So, our kitchen now had cabinets.  Next on the list:  dishwasher installation, sink fitting and countertops.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

How to sand and seal your floor in one week

Maybe Mark felt a little pressure from me to quickly finish the flooring project given how soon we'd be welcoming our first child into our home.  My pregnancy-induced nesting instincts and hormones could have made me a little emotional about needing to have things finished before the baby arrived.  Also, my predisposition toward planning.

But, imagine yourself in my shoes.  While others in our prenatal classes were discussing nursery colors and washing onesies, I was moving all our belongings to our unfinished basement, keeping shower gifts protected from dust in plastic bins, and packing a bag.  Not for the hospital, but for a week's stay with friends so our floor could be sanded and sealed.  Would you be completely rational and unemotional in this situation?  I didn't think so.

So, Mark and I agreed to divide up tasks, enlist the help of friends, and try to have our floor finished and livable within a week.  Ambitious?  Yes.  Achievable?  Well. . .

I was in charge of ensuring that all the necessary tools and materials were ready and waiting when needed.  Once again, I relied on my favorite hardware store for advice and a referral for a business that rented out sanding machines.  They haven't let me down yet.  All was ready and waiting for Mark and a few buddies to get to work.

I realize that it was January and we live in Minnesota, but did we really have to have a snowstorm during this critical week?  No, not flurries or a few inches of fluffy, snowman-friendly snow.  A real storm with high winds, limited visibility and weather-related travel advisories.  Yes, a snowstorm.

Just how did that affect us?  Well, for one, our friend Nick, who had graciously agreed to give up most of his weekend to push a sanding machine around our living room and kitchen, lives about 45 minutes away from us.  That's on a good day, with no snow-related travel advisories.

Nick's wife, understandably, didn't want him traveling alone in the dark with the bad weather.  So he stayed later than he planned, and Mark drove him home and came back to our house to do more work.   He spent the night on the couch in the basement one of the nights, after having worked until 3 AM to finish some sanding.  Thankfully, our neighbors didn't hear the loud machine (Mark asked later and was relieved at their answers).

The long and the short of it is that the work got done, though a lot of sweat, tears and stress went into this project.  I am not sure Mike and Deb saw me in the same light after that week.  I hope I'm forgiven.