A flute in one hand, a power tool in the other

Amy- Week 20

Many people believe they simply don’t have the time to take on big projects, especially when it comes to young families with kids. For many, this is most likely  true. Others claim not to have the wherewithal or skills to pull it off. Also, usually true.  When surveyed 8 out of 10 people confidently refer to our situation as “biting off more than one can chew.” Luckily for us, both are chewing….just usually not at the same time. Does that count?

I know you’re wondering how we are pulling this off. Here is the half glass full version:

Yes, we work full time jobs, but we are teachers. Which translates into “we get the summer off”. It is correct that we have two kids BUT…really one of them is 10 and totally age appropriate for A. Being another excited and ambitious set of hands with a hammer and or B. a free babysitter who is always happy to do it and C. practically an adult, right? So, again the whole 2 KIDS = WE CAN’T DO IT theory doesn’t really apply here. Plus, we have an Ergo baby and we’re not afraid to use it. ALSO…we totally know what we are doing so we’ll get it done extra fast. Like before the end of summer. Really, what’s the big deal? Clearly all attempts to poke holes in our master plan are completely futile and unwarranted.

Aiden loves hard labor
See, he’s totally into it!


And if we empty half of that glass the ugly truth starts to set in:


Remember this?
Remember this?


In reality, Joe works for many of the summer weeks with his marching band which leaves only 5 weeks of time off from work. I know, who are we to complain, most people don’t get even close to that. While Joe was at work and I was still on break  I found that there was not much sense in dragging two children into an uninhabitable house all day by myself to try and get things done. Children are too frequently thirsty and snacky and whiney to actually make any progress. The only thing accomplished is complete and utter frustration. No, thank you. Even without a big side project I would usually say that normal life is super busy in our house. After all, let’s face it, maintaining ONE house and the hair of UNO dog is plenty for anyone. I do find myself feeling a little miffed that the messes at house #1 just keep happening. It seems very inconsiderate and downright selfish for the dishes and laundry to just pile themselves up like they do. It’s as if they are completely oblivious to the new level of mess that is happening elsewhere in my life. When you find yourself cleaning the floor with a snow shovel you can officially say you have taken it to the next level. Don’t worry that is only happening in house #2. Also in the glass half empty version we quickly discovered that aside from sledge hammering into walls, Aiden wasn’t really all that into hard labor. Turns out he’s equally not into free babysitting no matter how cute and curly-headed his little sister may be.


NOT feeling like babysitting
NOT feeling the babysitting

Lastly, we’re not fast at this whole rehabbing thing since we usually need to research obsessively for weeks before attempting the next project. To make matters worse, Joe has to stop after each little step and over-think the next one. Projects can really drag on that way.  [edit from Joe:  Hey!]  So, in short, it’s not easy and the kids (bless them) make it a touch complicated.  The summer has come and gone and our lofty timeline has stretched into next spring.  [edit from Joe:  To be fair, our original timeline was way back when we didn’t think we would be tearing down walls, building new walls, or finishing the upstairs.]

So, here’s how we make this work:

During Joe’s summer band weeks we maximized the weekend days and diligently headed over to the house on weekday nights. Needless to say, we were busy.

Once Joe was off work things opened up for me quite a bit more. Most days we simply took turns working at the house while the other stayed home with the kids. Being the early riser that he is, Joe would head over to the house in the morning while I stayed at home with the kids and ran our house #1. After working all morning at the other house, Joe would return for lunch. After feeding everyone and getting Lucy down for her nap I would head over to house #2 for a bit of work myself. Admittedly, Joe put in WAY more hours than I did. Infinitely more. Someone has to raise the kids.

When we were feeling more ambitious we would take the kids with us in the morning when it was still cool outside and work together. Working together went so much faster and was so much more enjoyable than working alone. That is, when the kids were happy. After putting in a morning’s work we’d head home and eat lunch, usually returning later in the day to finish the job.

Now that school has started and we are both working full time jobs things have really slowed down. Just to make matters more hilarious we also happen to do a lot of things the hard way, surprise! We make most of our food from scratch and spend a crazy amount of time cooking and washing dishes. We do cloth diapers, have a big dog and no yard (which means multiple walks a day) and we are commuters to and from work. So, we can’t just run through the drive through for dinner, skip the laundry another day or let the dog out to pee. Plus we do other time consuming normal people things like give our toddler a bath and take our 10 year old to piano lessons. For the most part my weekly schedule is normal except that I an a single parent more often. Joe has been teaching kids how to play music by day, comes home to eat dinner with his family and then rehabs the house by night.  So you could say that Joe has a flute in one hand and a power tool in the other. And for those of you who like a good math problem every once in a while: flute + power tool = no free time. Joe would say that he is really more of a clarinet player but “clarinet + power tool” just doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it? During the weekends we’ve been taking the kids with us and trying to get as much as possible done to make up for lost time. Thankfully we have parents who are willing to help take the kids so we can work even faster some days. That is a life saver.

I know you are wondering what we do with the kids while we’re both climbing the roof and covered in cancer dust. We’ll at first glance, we simply lock them in the car. No but really they like it in there. I mean….it’s not what it looks like.

What is actually happening is they are sitting on the only soft and un-mosquito laden surface around (the backseat of the car) and watching a movie on the laptop. No, the doors are not locked. The windows are rolled down and they are not overheating in there. Usually this is early in the morning when the weather is nice. When the mosquitoes aren’t bad Lucy can also play in her sand table or Aiden will begrudgingly kick a ball with her around the yard.

[edit from Joe:  It is now August in Indiana…  the mosquitoes are ALWAYS bad.  Seriously, always.  We can’t leave them outside anymore.]

Amicable sibling time
Amicable sibling time…  earlier in the summer, before mosquitoes took over our yard.


Most of the time they watch movies and junk out on screen but sometimes they read books or just act silly together.


Peacefully watching a Movie
Peacefully watching a Movie


Other ways of passing the time include rolling each others fingers up in the car windows. Okay that’s not entirely accurate. That only happened once and only to one child. And she was fine…really. What does this mean? Our time working together doesn’t last more than the length of an animated feature film (if we are lucky) plus 10 -15 minutes of, ” we’re almost finished”. Then someone has to take the kids home and love them (which we do even if it doesn’t sound like it) and try again later.

Now that I have whined and complained sufficiently I’ll take this opportunity to tell you that life here never has a dull moment and we like it that way. We truly are gluttons for punishment and enjoy our crazy exciting life. In the midst of hot weather, tall ladders and asbestos siding falling on our heads we are intoxicated by our dream. Step by step, we’re doing it and we wouldn’t have it any other way!


Happy dirt
We even take the time to draw smiley faces in our plaster dust. That’s how much fun we’re having.


Now who wants to sign up for babysitting? No seriously…who?


Read the previous post here: Brain explosions

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