Monday, February 29, 2016

The Bedroom Story | Part One

The bedroom is easily my favorite room in our house now. I mean, obviously, most people like their bedroom. Until we can get the upstairs completed, which will be Adeline's room, she is sharing the master bedroom with Blake and me. Even with all three of us sleeping in the same room once we move in, I can't explain how spacious and amazing this bedroom is. It even has a door leading to a little deck in the backyard (granted, this deck isn't the most sturdy structure), and big, beautiful windows, and feels so relaxing now. I can't wait to show you! But, that will have to wait until part two, as the journey it really took is two parts. 

The addition kind of looks like someone's attempt to stick a mobile home on the side of the house.

Maybe you remember me briefly mentioning a pool-room-type add-on that was attached to the house in the first fixer-upper post I wrote (you can click here if you would like to catch up, if you are just now hearing about our renovation story). That siding-covered structure to the right of the frame is the addition I'm talking about. This add-on helped support a set of stairs, and from it a deck was built as a landing one could walk out onto from the upstairs. There were several problems with this.

First, the deck and stairs were built mainly from just two by fours, which were dangerously rotted. Each time Blake walked up there to do any type of inspection, I could feel my blood pressure instantly rising. Second, the only spot in the entire house with irreparable mold damage was in this add-on. There was no way to save it without spending thousands of dollars we were never going to have in our budget. It was an eye-sore. It starkly contrasted against the style and feel of the house. It was an easy break-in point for those who had frequented sneaking onto the property before we bought it.

I actually greatly preferred the addition in this state, because at least you couldn't smell it the second you opened the front door.
I don't have a photo of the add-on before we started tearing it out; if Blake has one that I missed from his photos, I will add it to the post later. Inside the addition, where you see the dirt at the back of the photo, had once been the putrid remains of a hot tub. There was also a shower that was almost fixable at best, and a toilet I personally dared not investigate (like I said, this was the easiest point of entry for those trespassing on the property, get my drift). As you can see to the left of the frame, there is a hole for what would have been a window just like all of the other beautiful windows that are original to the house. It is framed up with drywall, which was left bare on the other side in the master bedroom. Not only was this window removed, but most likely either a very large window or set of french doors that would have led from the master bedroom to the backyard. 

One day as we were discussing what our next project was going to be, Blake asked me, "Are you tired of working outside yet?"
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. Working outside wasn't that bad," I semi-lied. It really wasn't that bad, but I am still a total weenie, and I could feel the sunburn already forming in my subconscious.
"This will be harder, and more dangerous."
"I promise to do everything exactly like you tell me to do it, to the best of my ability."
"Okay...we're going to tear down the addition. You'll need gloves."

You have probably figured out that I owned zero "work" clothes, therefore could only use workout clothes. I got a hole in those running pants. :( No gangrene from rusty nails, though! Also, I promise this is the last flexing picture. Blake didn't find the irony as amusing as I did.

A quick snapshot of the remains before we brought the whole sucker down.
Just tearing down the outside took a while, and a lot of work. Blake did more of the demo, I did more of the carrying things away at a snail's pace, since I could only carry off about a third of what Blake could at a time. Once the outside was finally stripped away, it was time for the scary part: pulling the frame down.

I have a video of this coming down somewhere. It was scary and exciting to watch at the same time. Blake was really excited because he said it fell down "more perfectly than he could have imagined."
It actually fell down pretty easily (which was a little disconcerting). Unfortunately, a few bricks crumbled along with it, but nothing that can't be easily fixed. Some day. When we have more important things finally completed. 

Only the tile from the add-on left.
The pile at the bottom right is the remains of the mostly-rotted deck. Notice the stairs to nowhere to the left of the frame, and the floating door (which is bolted shut until we replace it with a window later).
The view from inside the master bedroom once the add-on was gone.
Once Blake decided it was finally time for this structure to go, we considered several issues that would need to be resolved, "what are we going to do with the big hole leading to the master bedroom?" being near the top of that list. 

One morning, I think on one of our weekends off, Blake decided to go garage saling with his mom to see if we could find anything that we would eventually need for the house, and one sale had three large, brand new windows for sale that sell for over $200 a piece. One of these three windows had one small pane broken, but other than this they were in perfect condition. Blake was able to buy them for $25 total. We measured the frame, and found out that two of the windows would fit perfectly with a tiny bit of framing. Talk about a steal, right? 

Before tearing down the addition, Blake and my dad used a bunch of the leftover two by fours from the fallen deck to board up the space. When an opportune time arose, they installed the windows, and Blake and his dad later finished framing them. 

I wish you could hear me audibly sigh right now. I know that all of this may look like a giant mess to you, but trust me, it is a relief all over again to see that addition gone. This new window will someday have a way better view than the piled up remains of the addition and other things we have hauled out, but even now I look out and can see all of the trees (including a gorgeous magnolia tree) in the yard where eventually all of our friends and family will be able to congregate in our pristine back yard. Someday. But, for now, I will take a beautiful room with squishy clean carpet, finished walls, and no awful moldy smell. I look forward to showing it to you in part two! 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Layers Upon Layers: The Downstairs Bathroom Story

This photo is blurry and therefore doesn't super accurately portray what the bathroom originally looked like, but it certainly captures how one felt when looking at it.
The downstairs bathroom was full of layers. Layers of paint on the door and windows. Layers of ceiling. Layers of tile. Even if you tried to pretty it up and call it simply a multi-faceted space, you just walked in and had to wonder where this bathroom actually began. We could make some educated guesses about its true size, but we knew that until we could peel some of these layers back, we wouldn't really know.

The ceiling was covered by a drop ceiling, most of which was just a few pokes and prods away from crumbling. The door and window panes had at least three coats of paint on them. The large vanity style double sink was hiding layers of lazy plumbing. Finally, there was the stick-on tile.

I understand the decision to use stick-on linoleum tile. I do. I have watched Blake tile a floor, a backsplash, and now a bathtub backsplash, and the whole tiling process requires a level of patience and tenacity that I certainly don't possess. If it were left to only me to tile a floor, I would totally do stick-on tile, no question. Even if it wasn't as pretty or whatever, I would be like, "Yeah, but I have a finished floor, and now I have lots of time to do fun stuff like knit and drink coffee."

Here is what I don't understand: the decision to place stick-on linoleum tile on top of another layer of stick-on linoleum tile. What I especially don't understand is why someone would look at this second layer of tile and then decide to cover this with a THIRD LAYER of linoleum tile. I understand it from a selfish point of view, but shouldn't any decent human being consider the fact that someone is going to be in charge of scraping up not one, not two, but now three layers of stick on tile? Could they not conceive that someday, some poor woman would have to do the brainless, hand-numbing and disheartening work? People, this life is temporal. You might live in your house for sixty years, but some day you will move away or pass away, and think of the legacy you are leaving on your floors. Would you want your great-grandchild scraping up linoleum, weeping on their hands and knees all while whispering, "I just didn't think my Pappy was the kind of man to take the easy road." I'M JUST SAYING.

The good news about the scraping is that underneath the layers of carelessness we discovered beautiful, virtually flawless hexagon tile. There were a few minor damages here and there, but it was mostly perfect. The bad news about this tile is that the only way to get all of the stupid glue off is with a tiny razor blade and hours of my time. Blake got as much of the tile off as he could with a big razor attached to a drill or something that he rigged up to chip away at the linoleum (as if how much he knows how to do isn't enough, I seriously don't understand how he knows the names of all the tools he has and what they all do). 

Notice my impeccable window taping skills to prep for scraping and re-painting. 
I could go on about scraping tile, but it would probably be as excruciating as the actual task, and I think I have sufficiently conveyed my bitterness. The moral of the story is one layer of linoleum tile is plenty, and if you don't like that tile, either suck it up or fix it the right way, because sticking on layer after layer of tile because you don't want to hold yourself to a higher standard is how a twelve year old boy would do things, not an adult paying a mortgage. 

In addition to tile scraping, the entire sink nonsense was removed. The drop ceiling was removed, and we discovered that the bathroom was actually pretty tall.  Also, there was tile almost everywhere. One wrong move, and tile would just fall off of the wall. Each time we thought we were making pretty good progress on the bathroom, something else would fall apart. Eventually, though, enough fell apart that we could actually start putting things back together.

Notice by Blake's face that he is simply obliging my insistence to document our hard work with candid photographs. And this is before the bathtub backsplash fell off the wall!
We used a heat gun and a scraper for faster paint peeling, which worked pretty well. The middle panel of the door had two layers of paint over wallpaper, y'all. Just. Why?
After almost two months, or maybe three (remember, we were only working on days off, so it was just one day a week of work), we were trying to decide what in the world we were thinking by getting a fixer upper. We tried to reassure each other when the other was SO DONE with renovation (thankfully, we rarely were discouraged at the same time). We were sure this bathroom would never get done. 

Then, one day, it was finally done. Sure, we still want to retile the shower some day. Blake had to jack up the floor under the house in one spot where one of the previous owners cut through a support beam that made a section of the house sag (that's a whole different story for another time), which left a little hairline crack in the paint in the bathroom, but when it comes to functionality and how far we have come, the bathroom is done. So, here's that before and after for you:

Also, let me explain the pipe on the ceiling. I can't remember what it's for, but Blake is going to build a box to cover it, we just haven't had time for that particular detail yet. It was previously covered by the drop ceiling.


So, here's the list of things we did to this bathroom:
  • Removed so much tile/watched a lot of tile fall off
  • Replaced bathtub tile with gorgeous subway tile
  • Scraped and repainted window trim
  • Watched the tile backsplash of the bathtub fall off, cracking the bottom of the left window frame in half, repairing then repainting the window frame again
  • Patched and somewhat rebuilt walls
  • Painted walls this gorgeous navy color
  • Replaced shower head
  • Replaced light fixtures
  • Installed vanity and sink
  • Scraped and painted bathroom door
  • Installed medicine cabinet above the sink
  • Scraped and cleaned the tile floor
  • Painted and installed base boards
  • Removed drop ceiling, repaired and painted original ceiling
  • Cleaned and cleaned and bleached and cleaned and bleached the toilet, then replaced the toilet lid
  • Repaired plumbing issues
There are a few little things left to be done to make the bathroom more functional. Blake has plans written out for a large industrial-style shelf he is going to build for storage in the bathroom; however, I still have trouble believing that this room has come as far as it has. 

Also, for a little bonus, I am going to show you a semi-room I renovated almost entirely by myself! 
The hallway, before. 

The hallway, after! I can't wait to hang up pictures on these gorgeous walls! As you can see, it matches the dining room, which you saw in last week's post. Also, can you even believe these beautiful doors?!

To give you an update, there has been plenty of material for a future post this week. Long story short, Blake has been working tirelessly to get the water and gas fixed so that we can move all the way into our fixer upper. The water is working (yay!), and we are hoping to have the gas working within the next day or two. If you think of us, please keep praying for our tenacity! Blake is starting his full time job as Camp Director of Jacob's Ladder this week, he is in nursing school, and he works part time as the worship leader for New Life Bible Church, on top of all the work needed for the house. I do as much as I can to help, but there are some things I am just so not qualified to touch, which makes his to-do list ever growing. So much of this house has come together beautifully, and we are proud of the work we have accomplished, but all things considered, the house is about halfway done. Sometimes the unfinished projects looming over us feel never ending, but going back and remembering what the bathroom used to look like has given me a little more wind in my DIY-sails. :)

Thank you all for all of your support and encouragement, and all of your kind words online and in person regarding this blog. I have loved getting to go back and recount this fixer upper journey, and it has made it even more rewarding to get to share it with you!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Dining Room Transformation

I have no idea how many times Blake has had to endure the question, "So, can I paint today?" Bless him, if I were anyone else he would have pulled all of his hair out. This is how little I understand of actual house renovation, because in my mind if the room is empty, it's paint ready. So, as Blake slaved away doing all kinds of projects that I have zero knowledge of or ability to do (ex.: completely gutting a kitchen, and a bathroom, and figuring out wiring and plumbing issues), I begged him to give me something that would actually let us see more transformation. It was like, after watching how quickly and beautifully the living room changed, I was sure I could single-handedly do at least one room. At least.

Blake, immovably focused and driven as he is, slowly wore away under the steady current of my blind optimism and finally relented. "Okay, fine," he said, "you can start working on the dining room. But, I have two conditions: you have to do it right, or else we will end up having to redo it; and you can't expect me to stop and help you very much because I have lots of other work to do that is way higher up on the priority list."

I was elated and totally over-confident. "The dining room? Awesome. I can do that in like, a few days."

Totally ignoring my ignorance, Blake instructed me very clearly: "You will have to take off the chair rails, scrape off the wallpaper and any of the glue that you can, then clean the baseboards and tape off the windows and all of the trim. The moldy spot will definitely need kilz, plus any of the places that need to be patched. After that, we can paint. But, we can't paint until I get more stuff hauled out, because I don't want any of the paint job to get ruined because of the traffic through this room."

Hearing some of those things, I gleefully set off to conquer this room. I didn't hear that whole, "remove the chair rails" part and ripped off all of the wallpaper by hand then returned to Blake triumphantly proclaiming that my work was done and I could start kilzing now. He came in to inspect and said, "No, you have to scrape it. Which you can't do with the chair rails still on the wall." Slightly perturbed that he hadn't marveled at my work, I set out to remove the chair rails. I came back in a few minutes and said "I know you said you couldn't help me, but..." and Blake removed the chair rails (which I kept calling "middle boards," which he endured for a couple of days before he finally said "THEYARECALLEDCHAIRRAILS").

Here is how the mental progression of scraping wallpaper glue went for me:

This is totally easy.

Well, okay, some of this isn't super easy.

I know there is probably a logical explanation for why anyone would put wallpaper anywhere, but I will just sit here and hold a grudge against the person who knowingly chose to put up wallpaper when they knew someday it would dry and wrinkle and peel up and someone, as in me, would be stuck doing this.

For crying out loud, people have walked on the moon, there has to be a more productive way of removing wallpaper glue than with a scraper and a spray bottle.

I'm going to go ask Blake if there is an easier way to do this.

Blake says there's not. Well, well, we will see about that. I'm just going to spray ALL OF THE WATER ON THIS GLUE.

Ew, okay, now it feels like snot.

Okay, feeling like I've gotten a lot done, let's see...I have done one wall out of four. *internally screams*

I may be getting a little ahead of the story, but you have probably already figured out that I did not get this done in just a few days and I did ask Blake for a lot of help. Other than the floor, which we just finished this week, I think the dining room took about a week total, but, working one day a week at a time, the work spread out over a month and a half, along with other simultaneous projects going on that were way less fun than scraping wallpaper glue (it involved scraping teeny tiny tile, more on this nightmare later). 

However, with chair rails and crown molding cleaned and walls painted and floors beautified and a chandelier clean and spray painted, here is the fruit of our labor:

Everything we had to do to this room includes:
  • Removing the wallpaper and glue
  • Removing the crown molding and chair rails
  • Taking down and spray painting the chandelier
  • Removing, cleaning, and spray painting the grate against the wall and on the floor (to the right of the frame in the bottom photo, slightly obscured by our table)
  • Painting the ceiling and the bottom half of the walls that same perfect shade of white as the living room ceiling
  • Painting the top half of the walls my favorite warm hue of gray ever
  • Cleaning the old crusty paint off the crown molding and chair rails where someone painted much more carelessly than Blake Compton ever would using this stuff:
This stuff is awesome. Just look at how great it works:
Top is before refinishing, bottom is after refinishing. does make you feel kinda like this:

Okay, so, just so you can see that transformation right by each other:


Guys, I am so proud of this dining room. I can't tell you how much I have dreamed of family dinners, friend gatherings, and coffee and breakfast with my little girl since we finally finished this room. Now we just need a kitchen to make that dream a reality. Also, I can't wait to decorate a little and make it even more dreamy. 

I hope this reveal has been a little more impressive for you all! Blake is at the house right now working on installing a water heater and other things, and we are hoping that water will be worked out soon so that we can move in and really get to work. In the midst of working yesterday, we did discover that the heating in the house works, and that the upstairs heat is completely electric and requires no gas to run it! This was a welcome and pleasant surprise for us! I have one more post planned for later this week or early next week of another completely finished room, undecorated, but still AMAZING. There are two more rooms in the house that are almost completely done, but--like the living room--need just a little more TLC that we want to wait until we have water working to complete (for example, the bathroom) and reveal. 

Thank you all so much for reading. This journey of flipping our house has felt fruitless at times as we were doing it, but now that I am getting to go back and reveal our hard work and hear all of your reactions, it is amazing to feel like you are all starting to feel as invested in this as we do. I am grateful for you, readers! 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The (Allegedly) Poisonous Roof

One big problem with fixer uppers can be the roof. If there's a problem with the roof, it can be expensive to fix (and especially expensive to replace). Also, depending on how long there has been a problem with the roof, there could be a lot of other problems as a result. Upon inspecting the house and deciding how much we could sink into it and would need to sink into it, it became pretty clear that the roof was going to be the most immediate necessary expense. The good news was that the damage in the house from the moderately decrepit roof was minimal; however, the bad news was that it was an unseasonably rainy summer for Oklahoma thus far, and we knew if we didn't take care of it soon, there would be a greater potential for even more damage.

Blake crunched the numbers and proceeded to weed through various leads for someone to do the roof for an affordable price. One roofer we contacted didn't have the means to get his crew up onto the roof considering the steep angle, oh and also, he was pretty certain our roof had asbestos. So certain, he didn't get it tested, but simply handed us a number of another roofer he knew who might do an asbestos roof for a decent price.

We contacted this roofer, who volunteered to come take a look, kindly reassuring that maybe all hope wasn't lost and our roof wasn't a potentially cancerous death trap. As we waited, storms kept rolling in, and we nervously watched this one moldy spot creep along the wall where the roof was certainly leaking. Without having it tested, the roofer came to the house and confirmed the same suspicion that the roof was asbestos. They offered to do it for almost double what we could afford.

Finally, Blake contacted a third roofer. Once again, though the roof hadn't been tested, he was fairly certain the roof was asbestos. Blake then asked a thousands-of-dollars worth question: what if the old roof was already removed? The roofer said that he would charge the normal rate for putting on the new roof if his crew was not responsible for removing the old one.

Blake did his research, got some help, wore masks, worked fast, and we all prayed. He, his dad, and his brothers removed all of the old roof in one day, and the roofers came by to put the new roof on soon afterwards.

As I was writing this, I was asking Blake a few questions to make sure I was getting the story right (he obviously kept me a million miles away from this project).
"So, no one actually ever tested the roof, right?"
"No, we never got it tested."
" may not have even been asbestos, right?" I asked hopefully.
Blake smirks knowing that I am trying to cling to any kind of remnant of possibility that he never willingly put himself in a potentially dangerous situation, but ever honest, says "We never got it tested, was asbestos."

After the new roof was complete and I forced myself not to think about whether or not Blake's mask was secure enough during the roof removal process, we were finally ready to start some inside renovation. Blake decided we should start with the room that would require very little work so that we could be encouraged by getting a room done.

The living room was actually the least in need of repair of all the rooms. This was before anything had been done to it, other than hauling out some junk to make room for renovating. Also the carpet doesn't look so bad in this picture, but it was a spongy, moist, slightly sour mess.

This is after Blake had mudded and repaired a few cracks in the walls, and you can also see here the hole in the ceiling (which Blake had cut to a nice neat rectangle to allow for easier drywall patching) that was caused by the roof leak. What you can't see in this photo is the really nasty crumbly, moldy patch also caused by a roof leak, which would be just to the left of this frame. 

Good-bye ridiculous salmon color, even blah kilz looks better than you. Also, the spot I'm painting is exactly where the moldy yucky spot was. If you're like me and have no idea what kilz is, it's a primer that kills and prevents further mold growth.

I finally was able to start some work I felt pretty qualified to do. However, let me tell you a little something about being married to a guy who knows how to do everything, and do it well: you probably don't know how to do anything. Blake lovingly but clearly asserted his expectations when it came to renovating, and it has given me an eye for detail that I could have gone my whole life not having and been perfectly content. Despite the fact that Blake's insistence on a job well done has often caused me to groan and say "literally no one is going to inspect that little place on the top of the door frame where some of the paint peeled with the tape," it has given me a deeper look into who Blake is. I have also found a deeper meaning and reasoning behind Colossians 3:23-24: "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward." So, no, whoever might potentially own this house after us may not notice every tiny detail we have slaved over to make this house beautiful, but God will notice when we are good stewards of what He has given us. More on this later, because it's going to need a blog post all its own.

After working so hard on kilzing the living room and having it completely prepped for painting, we went to pick out the paint color for the room. We discovered that Lowe's was having a huge paint sale, so Blake knew exactly what to do to make my creativity-driven and beauty-craving heart leap for joy: we picked and purchased paint colors for the entire house.

*sigh* He just gets me.

I do have one little bit of bad news that I know is going to upset you, readers: I thought I had an after picture of the living room, but sadly I do not. However, as we are moving in today, we recently pulled up the carpet and will be cleaning the hardwood floors today, so as soon as that is done I will have Blake take a beautiful panoramic view of the now transformed living room. I could be partial, but I think it's pretty amazing.


Okay, so I know you all were disappointed that there was no living room after picture, so let me explain. Because we had so much patchwork and painting to do to all of the places with hardwood flooring, we left the carpet so we didn't have to worry about getting paint on the floor. So, after we finished patching and painting the living room, we didn't take an after picture because the carpet was still there. Now, the carpet is up, but the floor in the living room isn't finished because all of our stuff is being temporarily stored there. However, I do have a little bit of transformation I can show you. I have some good pictures that give you an idea of how good the living room looks now, but the carpet is still there. Once we finish the floor, we will take some really great panoramic photos of the living room (and with that gorgeous fireplace all nice and clean *insert heart eyes emoji here*). Plus, I promise that in the next day or two I am going to have a blog post up that will show the ENTIRE transformation of our dining room. :)

Here is Blake after he had cleaned up and repaired the hole in the ceiling that resulted from the leaky roof.
Then he perfectly fit a piece of drywall up there to replace it. 

One of my absolute favorite things about this house is that all of the original windows are still in, and they all work. They are absolutely stunning, so I made sure to get some pictures showing them look even more stunning as the walls around them changed. Here is one window in the living room: this is with patches and the original weird orangy-pink-salmonesque wall color.
During, with the kilz drying.
After, with the tape removed and all that beautiful wood cleaned. You can also see a bit of the white ceiling with the most perfect shade of white I have ever seen. 

Look at that ceiling, y'all! Also, the corner showed in this picture is the one that was a big moldy mess. Now it is perfectly pristine :)

Sorry again for leaving you hanging, and to kind of leave you hanging again. We are hoping to have the living room floor cleaned this week, but we are focusing on getting our water turned on so that we can actually stay in the house and get LOTS of work done! 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Eradicating Our Home-Grown Jungle

Especially in the last couple of years, I have often daydreamed about having a bountiful garden full of all kinds of fruits, veggies, and herbs. One problem keeping me from turning this dream into a reality is the fact that I have no idea what I’m doing. The other problem is that while growing your own produce sounds like a real money saver, the prep work for this is not cheap. There is one other problem: I have about zero tolerance for outside work. I am super pale, so I get sunburned even if I put on several bottles of sunscreen a day. When I’m outside, every mosquito in a 500 mile radius finds me and feasts. Also, I have basically no upper arm strength. Having a toddler has increased my strength, but as most of you with an elementary education know, anything times zero equals zero.

After we bought our house, I was eager to get started turning it into everything my Pinterest-filled mind imagined. I began daydreaming about crisp white everything and photos all over every wall and an herb garden on the window sill and sipping coffee at the breakfast nook while our potential renters would marvel at my excellent interior design taste. “I thought white everything would give me a headache, but instead it feels like a breath of fresh air in every single room!” they would exclaim, while I would nod knowingly, dropping organic, paleo, homemade, heart-shaped marshmallows into their coffee and say, “Yes, that’s what all of the Pinterest articles said.”

So, once everything was finalized and we could begin our work, I gladly volunteered to help Blake while the guys were at Falls Creek. “So, are we going to go pick out paint colors?” I naively inquired.

I could tell that Blake was trying really hard not to laugh out loud at how precious I was. “Well, I think we are a little far out to be thinking about that. The first thing we need to worry about is the roof, and we really need to get all of that greenery cleared off of and around the house in case we are having to do any of the roof work ourselves.”

“Oh, okay. That should only take an afternoon, right?” I again mistakenly hoped.

“It will probably take a little longer than that.”


For two days, working from morning until evening in the hot June Oklahoma sun, we cleared off ivy from every nook and cranny we could reach, uprooted dead trees, sprayed poison ivy, and even discovered there was actually a sidewalk that went around the house that was completely covered by all of the underbrush that had grown as it sat vacant for two years.

However, pretty soon, we found out that under all that greenery that had gotten way out of hand, was a pretty good lookin’ house.

That one little bit we couldn’t reach drove us nuts. However, it died and fell off about a week later.

During, where I begged Blake to take a picture representing my hard work, and he lovingly obliged. Behind every goofy picture of a wife is a husband rolling his eyes and sighing.

After two days of hard work and sunburned forearms like I have never experienced in my life, I had a little epiphany that I happily shared with Blake. "You know," I said, "I'm starting to see why part of Adam and Eve's perfect life in the garden included the hard work of reaping from the harvest of the garden. There's something about working hard and getting your hands dirty that is therapeutic."

"I think you're right," Blake said, "But we will see how long you feel that way, because we are going to be doing a lot of hard work on this house for a long time."

I'm getting a little ahead of the story, but here's a bit of a spoiler: there have been days where I have definitely not seen the hard work as therapy. However, I have found a lot of value in it: obviously, the immediate value of watching an ugly house transform into something so much more beautiful right in front of your eyes, but also the value of watching yourself get a little tougher, too. While the world is fallen and there is evidence of that all around us, by the grace of God there is also evidence of the stuff He has made us of, too. His grace and redemption give us strength we didn't know we have, strength He created us to have all along.

Whether or not in the middle of moving I will be able to get it written this week remains to be seen, but my next post will be about the first room we finished in the house. See you back here soon! Mi fixer-upper es su fixer-upper.