Several weeks ago, Jake asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I’d been wishing for a really nice fire pit like Alice has in her back yard. (Of course, her back yard also has 100-foot pine trees – with bears occasionally in them, summertime highs of 60 degrees, a salty ocean scent, and views of snow-capped mountains to go with her crushed rock fire pit surrounded by really cool log stools to sit on. And her back yard has Alice, too, but I can’t have EVERYTHING!)
So, I told Jake I wanted a back yard fire pit surrounded by crushed rock with really cool log stools (except I don’t think our scrawny cedar tree stumps would have quite the same effect) and twinkly lights in the trees like Bonnie’s.
Off we went to Lowe’s, where John was in hog heaven dreaming of all of the projects he could accomplish with unlimited time, patience, and money. He and Jake started pulling out bricks and stacking them in a circle, calculating how many they’d need and how high the pit should be and what color would look best and all of those boring details. It started looking like some serious money was going to go into a project I thought would cost MAYBE $75.
While we were there, I got to looking at tile and thinking “if we’re gonna spend THAT much money, we might as well spend a little more and get something that I REALLY need and want.” Our house was built in 1994. Vinyl flooring was standard in most kitchens, and I also made the most unfortunate choice of carpet in the dining room.
Carpet. In the dining room. With three boys. And their friends. And Joshua. And Grant Garrett spilling an entire plate of spaghetti sauce. And who knows how many football boys who didn’t ‘fess up to dripped pizza roll sauce. And several dog accidents. Need I say more?
So, we decided to bite the bullet and pull the trigger and take the bull by the horns. Some expressed doubt (*cough*Doug*cough*) and others said things like “man, that killed me!” (*cough*Jonas*cough*) but those same people loaned tools and advice and space in a dumpster and a “YOU CAN DO IT” pat on the back (thanks Jonas! And Tim! And Darrell! And Bill! And Doug!)
And our kids. They were amazing. I can’t even say how much work they did – and did with a smile (except for the times that John and Jake butted heads because they are too much alike…) Jordan was a whiz with the tile saw and all of the angles that had to be figured. Jake muscled through that stubborn vinyl down to the bitter end, and Alyssa did a lot of dirty work with an iron, boiling water and a scraper. Erin was a grout master and always has vision for projects like this. Micah willingly helped with everything. I can’t say that the project itself was FUN, but it was FUN to be with all of our kids and laugh and make memories with them. John is a fabulous handyman – I’ve always admired the way he tackles a project, and he does things right the first time.
Yet…the project isn’t completely finished. I still have to seal the grout. John has to put new baseboards down. The carpet seam has to be re-stretched and tacked down. Our stove is still on the deck and fridge is still in the living room. There are still about 6 tiles that need to be laid in the pantry. And if this project is like some others in our history, it might be 2016 before some of these things get done. 😉
For those of you who have read this far and are wondering – what does this have to do with weight loss? Well, for one: laying tile for 8 hours earns you 35 points plus!
And for another: my blog is about struggle, determination, and balance and I guarantee that those were all involved in this project.
But I have to laugh when I think of what Jake said a couple of days into the endeavor: “A fire pit would have been a WHOLE lot easier.”
Here are some “before” photos. Pardon the mess and don’t judge! 😉
If you’ve ever wondered what’s underneath your carpet…here it is:
And in case you wonder what you might find under your stove that hasn’t been moved in 17 years…here ya go:
We had to cut the carpet to divide the living room from dining room. I was at work during this “no-turning-back” moment, so the guys handed off the scary job to Alyssa. 🙂
Then, the really dirty work started. John thought the vinyl would come up easily. NOT. We hacked away at it, scraped, beat it, screamed at it, and seriously thought about TORCHING it. In the end, we had to sit a hot, steamy iron directly on every square inch of vinyl until it heated enough to be pulled away from the paper backing and adhesive below it. Then we had to pour boiling water on top of THAT mess and wait for it to soak in, then scrape it away with scrapers and chisels and any other sharp-edged tool we could find. This was HARD, and SWEATY, and SLOW, and AWFUL. Just looking at these pictures makes my stomach hurt. 😉
My glamour shot: I was tired. It was late. 🙂
No yuppie women here! 🙂
HINT: If you have to ruin some irons, get them from Goodwill for $3.99.
Well, we finally got the floor uncovered, but found that the builders had spray painted the trim on the concrete floor so we worried that the paint would have to come up before the thinset would adhere. Thankfully – Bill said it would be fine as it was.
Next John “popped a line” of chalk to get a straight line to start thinking about laying the tile. We had originally thought we’d lay it in straight vertical (or horizontal?) rows but John’s friend Darrell (who does a lot of tile work) said that while laying it diagonally would mean more cuts and more work, we would like the results better.
The first bit of mortar (or whatever it’s called…) in the kitchen/dining room is laid…
Lots of cutting and figuring:
And THIS picture was taken after we got home from the New Year’s Eve party, about 1 a.m.:
John didn’t want to lay the tile diagonally in the laundry room because there would’ve been too many cuts and wasted tile. So we decided to put a fun transition piece between the kitchen and laundry (and also between the game room and dining room.)
This is my favorite part!
No BUTTS about it…this was a tough project! 😉
Had to crawl through a few windows…
And make a few tricky moves:
We made a *few* Home Depot runs…
And the grouting started. Isn’t she pretty?
John did a lot of “figgerin'” in his head. Which is funny to look at but is really smart, because as your momma and daddy always told you… “If you do it right the first time, you don’t have to do it again!”
The LAST TILE! (Well, except for those few little ones in the laundry room.) Hint: save the last pieces for the ones that won’t show (under the stove, etc.) because by then you almost won’t CARE what it looks like. 😉
Grouting the kitchen/dining:
And the (almost) finished result!
I sure do love these people!
Thanks for letting me share! I know it’s certainly not the biggest or most amazing or fantastic project, but we are pretty excited about it! A fire pit may have been easier, but this is A WHOLE LOT BETTER!