It Has to Get Better. At Some Point. Probably not Today Though.

Something goes wrong around our house pretty much every day now. In fact, I can’t remember a day in recent memory that wasn’t plagued with a disruptive event of some kind. It’s been a rough three months since moving away from Richmond.

We’ve suffered two immense, life-altering events: the devastating loss of my father-in-law and the trial of Bob’s failed cardiac procedure and subsequent stroke.

Now, the smaller complications seem to arrive daily. We’ve spent weeks dealing with some sort of intestinal indignity that plagued each of the kids leading to so much laundry (SO MUCH LAUNDRY). At the same time, four (4!) of the five members of this house were gifted with a terrible summer cold that left us coughing and hacking in sad family-band-style unison.

Just as we were on the mend and things were looking up, a brief summer storm last night (that the weather casters were pretty casual about) picked up a (relatively secured) patio umbrella (many, many feet away) and shot it through one of the boys’ bedroom windows in super dramatic fashion.

This didn't used to be so sharp.

This didn’t used to be so sharp.

The crash sent us scuttling to the basement for safety and as we were riding out the rest of the storm, we noticed the drip-drip-drip of a leak coming from one of the pipes underneath the hall bathroom. The one that drains the toilet. Because, of course.

So, at this point, with all of the things going wrong, all of the ill health, all of the exploding house parts, I think it’s time we ask ourselves the tough questions.

This house is totally haunted, isn’t it?

I can think of no other explanation.

Home Improvement(s)

We have been in the new house for just shy of three months now. Our modest initial plans for this home centered mostly around a few interior updates. When a couple of those interior jobs turned into more difficult projects than we originally anticipated (looking at you weird beam in our great room), we decided to do a mini-makeover to the exterior while we waited on a handyman to take over inside.

Plus, the warm weather arrived and we began spending so much time outdoors that I could no longer ignore the possibilities – so many possibilities – for a simple, updated, fresh exterior that was more our style. Also, I cannot leave anything alone. Ever.

Here’s what we started with after clearing the porch of what the previous owner left behind:

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The front door was in need of a more welcoming paint color. With the tan siding, proposed new black shutters and gray fieldstone-faced front porch, I thought a yellow would be perfect.

Now, in case you’re wondering, Bob and I have a super precise method of picking paint colors that goes something like this: (1.) take three small children to Home Depot on a Saturday precariously close to lunchtime; (2.) look for desired shade amongst thousands of offerings in the paint department by giving your spouse only a vague description of a yellow “that’s, you know, warm;” (3.) ask rowdy, hungry children to settle down; (4.) get huffy with spouse when he picks several colors that aren’t “warm” enough; (5.) threaten misbehaving children with consequences they know you will never follow through on; (6.) find every possible yellow swatch but the one you really want; (7.) realize that one child has pooped in her pants; (8.) grab whatever yellow is in closest proximity, pronounce it perfect and place the order.

Here’s what we ended up with:

IMG_2726I finished putting the first coat of paint on the front door just hours before Bob suffered his stroke. And, during the lengthy hospital stay that followed, I became determined to finish it for his homecoming. It took my mind off circumstances and afforded me an opportunity to be in control of something.

I replaced the kick plate and tried to do the same with the door knocker, which was engraved with the last name of the previous occupants. However, I could absolutely not find a door knocker available with the same center hole dimensions as the one I wanted to replace. Since I wasn’t too excited about drilling another hole in the front door (I have no idea how to even do that), I removed the engraved last name from the existing door knocker with some high-grit sandpaper and roughed up the rest of it in a like manner before covering it all in some red spray paint I had stashed in the basement. It turned out to be a satisfying short-term fix, even if I did feel a little weird about erasing their last name.

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The porch is actually a great size and there is a seating area at the bottom of the steps which means we didn’t need a spot for a bench or chairs. So, some potted plants were in order. Everything on the front porch, with the exception of the plants, came from the old house. Bob loathes the hiking sticks in the corner but we use them all the time and they are very handy right there and proper storage and organization is MY thing so, therefore, I win.

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Switching out the shutters took a bit more expertise. The previous shutters were a rust color and showing signs of wear. I suppose I could have painted them but that seemed like a lot of work and with the sun hitting this side of the house with intensity, I wasn’t sure if the effort would be worth it. Plus, did I mention they were rust-colored?

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Now, they’re black and look super crisp and fresh. The hardest part about replacing the shutters was finding versions that were the exact same dimensions as what was previously there. I wanted this to be a simple swap so keeping the same size made for easy re-hanging (says the person that totally didn’t re-hang them). My dad had the new shutters in place in a matter of hours though so, mission accomplished.

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If you saw the rest of the yard, you might cringe so I won’t pan out too far in the photos. We inherited a huge variety of plants in varying degrees of health so next week a crew is coming to remove everything so we can start from scratch. (Too much for Stroke Bob to take on and too much possibility of snake encounters and/or poison ivy for me.) I’m so excited to have a fresh slate with the landscaping though and until that’s all in place, I’ll just have to focus on everything we have managed to accomplish in the past three months. Most notably, the fact that I’ve kept the flowers alive.

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Stuck In My Head

Bob is being tested for seizures. That sounds scarier than it actually is. His neurologist wants to ensure that his brain isn’t having teeny, tiny little seizures following his stroke. You know, just for fun.

The testing (called an Ambulatory Electroencephalogram) involves GLUING little electrodes to his scalp which measure brain activity (hope it shows he still has some!). He has had to wear the electrodes for 48 hours and in order to best protect them and ensure they stay in place, he was outfitted with a hilarious head wrap that keeps all of the wires contained and connects to a FANNY PACK which serves as the portable battery for this entire get-up.

You can imagine how thrilled Bob is.

And, because just so much of the past three weeks has been hilarious in its awfulness, we tend to find the funny in everything at this point. When he walked out of the doctor’s office on Saturday afternoon, his resemblance to a famous portrait subject became immediately clear. Tell me you can see it:

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That is Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer on the left and Man who is Totally Over All of This on the right (published with his permission). I guess he’s missing the earring but I kind of think he nailed the soulful eyes.

Anyway, we’ve been listening to a lot of music lately. It helped Bob during the long afternoons in the hospital, motivates me to clean things when all I want to do is nap and totally boosts the kids’ mood when we have a dance party with the music turned UP.

Here are some of our favorites, songs in constant rotation, just in case you need a pick-me-up, too. We’ll be listening to them all this afternoon as we spend hours UNGLUING ELECTRODES from Bob’s scalp. (Can you believe they just give you some spray solvent and plastic gloves and let you have at it? I find it hard to believe that this will end in anything other than a buzz cut.)

Lost in My Mind by The Head and the Heart – This song has been in heavy rotation for awhile now. However, I think I just heard it running behind a new movie promo while shopping at Target which means I’ll start hearing it everywhere soon and it will cease to be such a treat.

The Mother We Share by CHVRCHES – This one has one (1) bad word in it. (Sorry, Dad!)

Forever by HAIM – Just like everything else in my life, I rely on Target to find fashionable new music for me. This song was featured in their kicky summer ads so I tracked it down. It is impossible not to dance while listening.

And, lastly, an old one with a ridiculous video. Just pretend you’re watching for Jeff Beck’s guitar skills and not Rod Stewart’s hair.

People Get Ready by Rod Stewart with Jeff Beck

Hope your Monday involves less fanny packs and more music!