Day 111: It’s done…mostly

Well, the kitchen is done. Mostly. There are a couple tiny things to finish:

  • put the island light in
  • outlet covers
  • install the backsplash that we picked
  • some trim here and there

But, for all practical purposes, it’s done. We’re using it. We’re loving it.

The first night we had some people over, I ended up sitting the kids on the island while I made them plates for dinner and our friends gathered and spooned their own bowls of chili from our crockpot. I wasn’t planning for the kids to eat their dinner on the island, but they ended up doing so, snuggled next to the adult friends standing beside them, regaling these friends with tales of silliness and teaching them broccoli games. We all eventually dispersed: the kids to bed, the guys to the football game, the girls to the dining room for tea, but it was a lovely first evening spent using the beautiful gift God has given us.

I want to thank David Kurn for all his hard work, skill, and integrity. We are lucky to have him as our contractor, even more lucky to have him as a friend.

And I want to thank you, Reader, for reading, smiling, and sharing in the joys and angst of transition with us. We might live here, but this is also for you. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

I’ll keep you updated with pictures on the laundry room and bathroom as they get finished in January/February. 

But here’s some more exciting news…I’m ready to move on to my next social/spiritual experience (experiment). I plan to shave all my hair off on New Years Eve and then I will be blogging for a few months about the experience of having no hair, how having no hair affects my identity, and how others react to my having no hair. So, stay tuned….



Day 99

It’s official…after 99 days we have running water!!! No more bathroom dish doing.

Day 76


Just wanted to give you that update.

Now, here’s a random shoutout. To whom? To the renovation project itself! I realized today that I love living here. I’ve always loved living in Bristol, but today I felt the love of living on Otter Street specifically which, before the renovation, was definitely not the case. Here’s why…


Before the renovation started, we always parked in back of our house. It was just practical; we have two parking spaces in the back of our property, which means no vying for street parking and no worrying about the street sweeper. There’s also less traffic back there, so it’s safer for the kids.

But, because we parked in the back, it became the household habit to always come in the back door instead of the front, which meant that we never walked Otter Street and we never ran into the people who did. We were absent from the community out front, which made us assume that there WAS NO community and made us feel isolated.

Neighbor Interactions

On one side there is a family with 3 small children. We had never met the parents, but the kids were always in their back yard, seemingly unwatched. They would often ask to come over to our yard and play, and, if we said yes, they were over for hours sometimes.  This always made me feel uncomfortable. Their parents never came over to introduce themselves, to check on their kids, to see if it was okay that they were in our yard, or to see if we were axe murderers. Nothing. And, if I’m honest, I really didn’t want to watch a bunch of extra kids all afternoon most of the time. So eventually we started avoiding our back yard if we saw that the neighbor kids were out there. Lame, I know.

On the other side is a house full of young guys. Young, loud, crass, pot-smoking guys. On most nice afternoons, all these guys would sit out on their back porch smoking pot, cursing up a storm, and arguing about different topics (my least favorite of which was the physical characteristics of women). So we spent many lovely sunny afternoons indoors doing puzzles because our quiet, kid-friendly back yard was no longer so quiet or so kid-friendly.

Since the renovation started…

Since the renovation started we’ve been parking on the street in front of our house to make room for our contractors’ vehicles in the back. As such, a lot has changed. First of all, the vying for parking thing hasn’t been an issue. Second, now we always come in the front door and we always walk Otter Street, so we’re running into people that we didn’t have a chance to run into before. There are some sweet college girls nearby that we see more often now. We’ve finally met the parents of the kids next door and had some unhurried conversations with them. My husband met one of the young neighbor guys and had a fun conversation about college and football. And over all, we feel more urban than suburban, more connected, and more present.

This is how we wanted things to be when we moved in here. Sure, nothing has changed in terms of the issues that impact our back yard, but a lot has changed in terms of our hearts and how we see the people who are a part of those issues. I guess all it takes is a little renovation.

Day 63

Okay, I lied. I said that the next pictures would be the exciting ones, and I’ve been holding off on writing so I could keep my word, but I didn’t realize how long it takes to receive your cabinets once you’ve ordered them. So, in the meantime, here’s what’s been going on…

  • we have lights in the kitchen now (no more flashlights)
  • the kitchen walls and ceiling drywall is all done and spackled
  • we now have a step between the kitchen and the sunporch, so no more giant leap
  • the vents for the kitchen hood and the bathroom fan have been cut and finished
  • the roof has been recoated

And here’s what’s coming up…

  • framing out the pantry
  • putting up drywall in the bathroom and laundry room
  • finish lighting in the laundry room and bathroom
  • put steps between the kitchen and laundry room
  • install cabinets
  • open the wall between the kitchen and dining room
  • my husband and I also have to decide on countertops and flooring

Over all, the mood in our house is pleasant. My husband actually said that he’s acclimated to our present systems, which is good for my soul to hear. I’m curious how long it’ll take us to re-acclimate once we have a sink again, and a dishwasher, and an oven. It might take about 2 seconds, but I don’t want to take it for granted. And I don’t want to forget our current experience.

I’m so glad that our house is getting fixed up. I’m glad because I think it’ll help us show hospitality even better than we already do. But I’m also aware of the entitlement that comes with having nice things, and I don’t want my kids growing up feeling entitled.

I know a lot of adults who weren’t able to fix up their house – to get their big kitchen or their second bathroom – until they were retirement age, including my parents. As such, that is my standard, the example I’ve seen, so I didn’t assume we’d get to touch our house for a long time (failing foundations do a lot to create urgency).

I also remember the bathroom we had when I was growing up, the bathroom with weak floorboards beneath the toilet that made me think I might fall through the floor if I sat down too hard. My parents’ house is beautiful now, with two remodeled bathrooms, a big kitchen and living room, extra closets and storage rooms, a new laundry room, a new office: all things that we didn’t have when I was a kid. But even without those things my childhood was pleasant, and I actually think that tiny, fixer-upper bathroom did me some good. It made me appreciate what little I’ve had at different times and be thankful when I’m able to improve things.

So I have hope, even as we continue to improve things, that we will be able to instill that thankfulness and gratitude in our kids.



Days 6 & 7

Whew! Yesterday was quite a day. I spent 9am – 1pm building the website for The Mill Open Sanctuary, a contemplative prayer space opening in Bristol. Then 1pm – 5pm was spend redoing the website for Redemption Church now that the location has changed. And then (after cooking dinner and putting the kids to bed) 8pm to well past midnight was spent designing advertisements and editing podcasts for my actual employer. Needless to say I had no time to blog.

My days aren’t usually like that, and I’m thankful because I’d be a terrible freelancer. Having multiple bosses expecting huge chunks of my time is too stressful.

And then I remember that that’s what it’s like to be a contractor. So thanks, David Kern, for putting up with all of your clients/bosses. It takes a special kind of person to do what you do and do it so well.

(The ceiling is down.)


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