Monday, February 13, 2012

The Worst Week Ever (and a few kitchen "before" pictures)

Our family has just gotten over the Worst Week Ever.

We've been planning for some time to remodel our kitchen.  When we moved into our townhouse six years ago, it was in livable condition.  Other than cosmetic updates, there weren't a lot of things we needed to immediately change.  We replaced the old appliances with a set from a scratch and dent store, and that seemed to tide us over for awhile.  But over time, the rest of the kitchen really started to bug me.

The drawer insides were made of plastic, and on plastic tracks.  Imagine a spine-shuddering "squeeeeeak" every time they were opened or closed.

The counter (what little of it there was) was made of a scratch-able, porous material that refused to come clean, even when scrubbed with a Magic Eraser.

The vinyl flooring, even when clean, never looked clean because of the ugly color as well as its numerous nicks and gouges.  

The fridge did not fit properly into the space for the fridge because we didn't measure before we bought it.  So the door didn't completely open, and it blocked the doorway to the kitchen.

The cupboard shelves were not adjustable, making it nearly impossible to store some items.

The stove almost blocked the light switch.  We got used to it after a while, but imagine walking in when it's dark, and having to grope behind the stove to turn on the light.  Plus, the stove was immediately next to the doorway, meaning I was scared to use the two right burners once we had kids running around.

Really insufficient lighting.  The kitchen faces East, so it gets a ton of morning sun, even though it only has a bizarre, skinny window in the corner.  But in the later part of the day, I always felt like I was squinting to cook or bake something.

There were other gripes as well.  Not having a proper work surface meant every time I was cutting something, I was either cutting things held in one hand (not recommended)  or using a cutting board on the slippery cooktop surface (also not recommended).  Not having the kitchen connected to the dining room was a little uncomfortable, too.  I at least wanted to be able to see one room from the other, as they share a wall.  The layout, in general, felt all wrong.

We finally decided on the best solution for the space, given that we are bound by an outer wall we can't move, inner walls full of ductwork and plumbing, and a budget of $5000.  That budget is just a shot in the dark, combining what I think we'll get for a tax return and what we'll be able to pay off on credit cards in the short-term, as well as what I think will get us a decent kitchen from IKEA and some of The Mister's sweet architectural vendor hook-ups.  I really have no idea what the final cost will be, but $5000 seems like a respectable goal.

We prepared.  The Mister took two non-consecutive weeks off from work, to work on the kitchen in two stages.  I set out to do a little extra cooking and baking to store some easy meals in the freezer that could be reheated in the microwave.  I bought a few bins to store some of the pantry goods and utensils to keep them clean and somewhat accessible during the demolition.

The Friday before The Mister was to start tearing out cabinets, I woke up ready to carefully pack and organize half the kitchen.  But then there was a nagging nauseous feeling, which turned into vomiting, which turned into an entire day of trying to entertain two kids while I was nearly passed out on the floor.  By late afternoon, things were not improving.  I started sending desperate texts to The Mister, telling him he needed to get home ASAP.  He hurried as much as he could--his office was having a bowling competition, for prizes, and he was winning.  By the time he got home, I was wiped out, and the vomiting was getting worse. It was the sickest I've ever felt in my life, and I was beginning to think I might be better off in a hospital.

Since having children, my biggest fear has been that in an emergency situation, we wouldn't have someone to take care of the kids, and now we had no idea how to get me to the hospital when bedtime was approaching.  It was finally decided that The Mister and the kids would drop me off at the ER, alone, and then return home for bedtime.  As much as I didn't want to sit in the hospital by myself, we had to do what would be least disruptive to the kids' routine.  In addition to the debilitating nausea, I was wracked with guilt and anxiety.

If anyone has been in the hospital for any reason, even for something like having a baby, you know that you are never allowed to rest.  People are constantly checking your vitals, asking you questions, running tests--at one point my doctor became convinced something other than gastroenteritis was going on and I got an ultrasound to check for gallstones.  To make matters worse, the nausea just wouldn't settle down and I was eventually given a drug, through my IV, that sedated me, so I couldn't keep my eyes open.  I was admitted overnight, and taken up to the dark, deserted orthopedic floor, where they put warnings on my door about wearing necessary protective gear.  I found that out later, after wondering why all my nurses were covered in plastic and wearing masks.  After an uncomfortable night, a few forced bites of food, and a talk with a doctor, I convinced the staff I was ready to go home.  I was exhausted and unsteady on my feet, but the nausea had subsided and I knew once I was resting in my own comfortable bed, I'd feel better.

This is what I came home to:

The Mister was not going to waste one minute of his time off work, so he put the kids in front of the TV and went to town on the kitchen walls.  The contents of the cupboards had been piled on the dining room table, there was dust everywhere, and I had no idea what my kids had been eating for meals.  Don't get me wrong, I was glad so much progress had been made, but I thought it would be done in a more organized way.

I spent a lot of time in bed the next couple days, intermittently getting up to clean a few things, do laundry, and organize.  I wasn't up to taking the kids out, so I had to try to entertain them in the house while The Mister worked on wiring, which turned out to be a bigger, slower, project than he had planned.

Midweek, the kids got upset stomachs.  Then The Mister spent one whole night vomiting and the next day resting in bed.  And work on the kitchen had to stop.  People offered to help, but there wasn't anything anyone could do for us.  We couldn't go anywhere and no one could come over. We were just a family of crabby, contagious people stuck in our own messy house.  And although the kids were probably too "sick" to play with friends, they sure had the energy to run back and forth, screaming their heads off each and every day.

I'm happy to say we're finally on the other side of the Worst Week Ever.  The house is still pretty messy, but  one section of kitchen is finished and ready for cabinets.  We even got the stove plugged back in so I can use it, although it's sitting in the middle of the room. We're ready to venture out to our regularly scheduled activities again.  The Mister goes back to work for a week, while taking care of a few little things in the evenings, and will resume the kitchen demo on the opposite wall next weekend.  And no one, I mean no one, is going to get sick!

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