Thursday, July 7, 2011

How do I do it?

Love these rings . . . .

I get this question a lot and I've gotten it quite a bit the last few weeks. How do I renovate an apartment and blog about it and not neglect the children? Am I superwoman?

I thought it might be helpful to take a minute to try and clarify some of the behind-the-scenes logistics that go on around here. First, pretty much anytime "I" am doing something involving long stretches of concentration or power tools, you can assume that all the kids are asleep (rare) or that Eric is watching them. He's a teacher, remember, and doesn't have busy summers. His summer course was canceled last minute this year and that was the final impetus that decided us in favor of spiffing things up in the rental unit. He has plenty of independent work he'd like to be doing but we both knew that being landlords would be equivalent to taking on a part-time job and that's what we've been doing the last few weeks.

Look how I only sort of tip to the side when I'm in a highchair.

Even smaller projects, like building a nightstand, are things I do on the weekend when Eric is putting in time with the kids. It's a fun hobby for me and Eric supports it and it's the kind of thing I tend to blog about. But it's not like I'm operating a furniture store on the side or anything.

Also, the work we put it on things like this is pretty evenly divided. I'm the main blogger around here because Eric has plenty of writing projects of the sort that earn money or advance his career. It makes for more interesting reading to write in the first person so I only write about my half of things. I also tend to do the more interesting stuff. Anyway, I'd certainly rather read about paint color than about the experience of extracting 8000 staples from a wooden floor. But Eric is very generous about taking on some of the grunt work and (literal) heavy lifting that I don't want to--or physically can't--do so that I have the freedom to do fun stuff like finish floors and paint. He is also more gung-ho about plumbing and electrical work which are two things I wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole. He's pretty aware of the risks involved and he doesn't do anything too complicated--we're not afraid to call professionals for the hard stuff. But no way do I want to hook up a dishwasher.

And we both kind of enjoy this sort of work. Not that we have very long experience, of course, but I think we're a pretty good team. Our approaches to DIY projects complement each other nicely. I like to do things "right" and Eric likes to figure out how to make do and rig something up. Usually the best solution for our budget and skill set is something in between. Our too-short kitchen counter, for example: If money and time had been no object I would have had us remove the counters, pry them apart, level the base cabinets, buy a new short section and cut it correctly the second time around. Eric thought we should just leave it or maybe jam something in there. In the end, we did use his solution but then I made it look nice and it worked out fine.

Wonder how many fingers I can suck at once . . .

So how do I do it? With a lot of help and by temporarily making these sorts of things a high priority. We didn't do any school during June. I didn't clean my own house at all last week. We didn't order take out but we didn't eat any very impressive meals. Eric didn't get any independent writing projects done. But it wasn't necessary to neglect the children. We only had a babysitter on Friday when it was really crunch time. The kids sometimes hang around when we're working on something but they respect power tools and they are good at keeping their distance. We're very careful to unplug things immediately and the kids have shoes with better toe protection than mine.

I couldn't be happier that our early adventures in home improvement are going so well. I've always been extremely over-optimistic and Eric is always very pessimistic when it comes to these sorts of things and I think we are starting to meet more in the middle (though he did just ask me to research how we could install a roll-in shower--maybe we'll try something simpler next!)


Emily said...

love the cute pics of Gregory - and appreciate the explanation - sometimes I feel inadequate thinking about all that you are getting done!! :) Love the new posts - keep up the great work supermama!

Robyn said...

these pics of Gregory are great! LOVE the new camera, Q! ;)