This past weekend, we had some lovely friends from near and far who came around to help Chris build the bulk of our deck. He and his friend, Tray, have been working on Sunday afternoons for the past month, laying concrete foundations and installing support posts and brackets. Then, this weekend, with a house full of friends, they were able to work two straight days and build the entire deck. Chris still has to finish one little patch on the ground level, put up handrails, and stain it, but otherwise it is pretty much finished.
This is the view from the yard up to the house. You can see that you come out the back door, and then step down three very large, gradual steps to a large platform.
That large area will eventually get railing around it, and will hold our grill. There is also room for a little cafe table with two chairs up there, too.
You then come down a flight of large, gradual stairs to the main deck level. I love these stairs. I think I’m going to put lots of potted plants on them near the house. Wouldn’t that be cute with bright colored flower pots?
You can also see in that picture above that the built-in bench seating begins on one of those stairs and wraps around the ground-level of the deck. The bench seating will line the back wall of the house (it isn’t quite finished yet), and will have storage underneath for our pool toys and things. Not to mention, it gives us so much more room to seat people.
One of the things I am most excited about is this little area next to the steps. It is unfinished right now, but Chris will finish it this weekend. It was this odd area of space that we couldn’t figure out what to do with. Finally, we decided to use this as the place where the kids’ splash table will live now. I love this because it means that whenever we want to use the splash table, we don’t have to trek out into the backyard. We can just come out on the deck and the kids can go to town while I lounge around. I think we will use the splash table so much more if it is easily accessible. We have also talked about putting an umbrella over this area so the kids are playing in the shade. Still working through that idea, though.
The front of the deck still needs to be finished and made all pretty-like, but you get the idea. I am super happy with how it is coming along. And let me tell you, I have new respect for Chris and his crafty mind. Building a custom deck like this is crazy complex, mostly because there are so many stairs! He came up with this really complicated build plan, and his amazingly kind friends have really just made it happen. I am so grateful!
We celebrated that there was an actual deck to sit on Saturday night with hamburgers and beer. We broke the deck in with lots of laughs, good conversation, and great friends. It has officially been christened, and we are ready for summer!
…just as soon as we get some handrails.
In this corner of the internet, I try to keep things real. I try to tell the truth. The whole truth. And nothing but the truth. Sometimes, that means I tell people about temper tantrums and 3 hour meals and time outs and meltdowns because those things are just part of being a parent. I try my best not to omit those instances because if I only showed the high-resolution pictures with perfect lighting where everyone is looking at the camera…well, quite frankly, this would be a very short blog.
There are bloggers out there who choose to only show the high-gloss pictures. They tell the good stories. The ones where children obey and use their manners and make funny little jokes. The ones where husbands bring flowers home, hard wood floors always look shiny and clean, and toys don’t liter the floor in every room of the house. We all blog for different reasons. I blog to feel connected to people, and to remind myself that I’m not alone in this suburban life I lead. But others sometimes blog to remember the good in their lives and their families. They don’t want to look back and remember the temper tantrums and runny noses. And that’s okay. I don’t knock those blogs. In fact, I love those blogs, too. I read them to remind myself to keep striving and to, you know, bathe myself every couple of days.
For the past week or so, though, I have gotten to experience the “good only” in my household. It seems like lately, every time I turn around, I’m having more fun with my family. Chris and I are back in each others good graces, and we are working really hard to make each other and our marriage a priority again. And we are reaping the benefits of that. Our conversations have been full and satisfying, we’re joking around together again, and we are seeking out times to be together – both with the kids and without.
And the kids are only making things seem even sweeter. Lately, they have been playing together so good. They hold hands when they walk somewhere, they share their toys, they play pretend, they help each other find their shoes. It seems like every little thing they could do to get along, they are doing. I wish I could tell you there has been some big secret is making that happen, but Chris and I haven’t done anything. It’s been all them. The first words out of their mouths when they wake up is, “Where’s Beanie?” or “Where’s Gracie?” and the last thing they say at night is, “Night night, Beanie” or “Night night, Gracie.” When they are getting along like this, life is so much easier.
I would describe myself as a no nonsense type of person. I’m going to call things like I see them, and sometimes that means you may not always see the best side of my family. But even on the days when tempers flare and I’m tired, disheveled, and slightly overwhelmed, I still love my family. I love every hair on their heads. Every tear that they cry. Every temper tantrum they throw. I love them through it all. We love each other despite our imperfections. In fact, we love each other so much that when we have those rare weeks of no time outs and clean hardwood floors (…okay, so the clean floors thing will, like, NEVER happen in our house…), we aren’t so much surprised by the good we have in our family. We are just thankful that every once in a while it comes through in photos, too.
I have mentioned that we are in the process of tearing down and re-building our back deck. And when I say “we,” I mean exclusively Chris. Other than saying, “Man, I hate our deck,” about six months ago, I have done little else. He went all technical on me and used his drafting program from work to draft out our deck plans a few months ago. Then we saved money for, like, forever because a deck is no cheap project. And we are finally now ready to start the project.
In one weekend, Chris demolished the current deck, but was smart enough to leave a little section that is connected to our stairs so that we could let the dogs out.
Our current deck is on the second floor of our house, which posed a few problems. It was really removed from the yard and pool for one thing. It was really inconvenient to get out of the pool and not have anywhere to sit or put food or towels or anything. You had to go all the way up to the second floor for those things. Another problem was that the deck was the major thing you saw when you opened the windows off our living room. And the deck was nasty looking. So it gave a really bad view, and we kept our blinds closed most of the time.
What Chris decided, in his brilliance and glory, was that we should drop the new deck down to pool level. That would give us an actual pool-side area for hanging out. You can see in his drawing that there is a little platform at the top, just outside our back door, for the grill. That way we don’t have to go all the way down to the pool level if we are just grilling something for dinner. Also, you can see there will now be two ways to access the backyard. You can come out the backdoor and go left down to the pool area and deck, or you can go right and go out to the backyard itself where all the playground stuff is. The entire pool will be fenced off, so when we are playing out in the backyard, we don’t have to worry about the kids and the pool. Chris is also going to build bench seating all around the sides of the deck which will have storage areas underneath for our pool floats and toys.
Last weekend Chris finished the demolition of the old deck, and this weekend he and two friends officially broke ground on our new deck. They cleaned the area out, marked it off with string for measurements, and dug giant holes which they filled with gravel and cement for the support posts for the new deck. Next weekend, Chris will start actual building, and given that he has a Masters degree from Yale in Building Stuff (didn’t know that was a real degree, did you?), I bet the entire thing will be finished or at least useable by next Sunday. He’ll spend the next month or so putting finishing touches on it (i.e. installing bench seating, outdoor lighting on the stairs so we can see at night, etc.) and it should be ready to go by summer.
I’m so happy Chris is finally starting this project. For one thing because I can’t wait to have a new deck to enjoy this summer. But mostly because he is happier when he is DOING. Chris is a doer. He likes to be busy, active, and productive. Sometimes that drives me crazy. It makes me want to take a nap just watching him. But, really, that is one of my favorite parts about him. I love that he takes pride in our home, and in the projects he takes on around our house. I love that he thinks outside the box, too. Most people would probably have just rebuilt the deck as it was before. That was the more traditional deck to have. But Chris saw something totally different in his mind, drew a picture on the computer, and is now making it come to life.
This weekend, it was pouring rain. Did I mention that? POURING RAIN. Chris and his buddy, Tray, were outside getting ready to pour the first cement post when the heavens opened up. I watched them when it happened. They stopped working and started laughing and complaining, “What?!?! NOW???? It does this NOW?????”
And then they debated what they should do. Stop or keep going?
And then, being the hard working people they are, they just went on working in the pouring rain for two more hours.
It’s that attitude that keeps our marriage on track, too. Rain or shine, taking it easy or really working it out, Chris is going to show up for me. He will be there because you can always make things better, according to Chris. Sometimes that means tweaking what we already have, and sometimes that means leveling the whole thing and building it over from scratch. But no matter how much we have to work on in our marriage, Chris is going to show up and do whatever it takes. And that makes him the best kind of partner.
If you’ve been around the internets for very long, particularly in the bloggity blog world, then you’ve probably heard of a wildly popular blog called, “Young House Love.” It’s a blog started by a young married couple (see why I like it already???) who started chronicling their home DIY projects around their house. I had heard of the blog before because it has exploded in this age of Pinterest and DIY-ing. And I had also heard they published a super awesome book about their projects, too, which I am dying to get my hands on. But I had never actually read their blog.
This past week, though, I have discovered the actual “Young House Love” blog and I am in love. Their house is beautiful. Their style is beautiful. Their family is beautiful. I adore it all.
There have been two unfortunate side effects of my new love interest. First, I now want to make over our house. Like, right now. We are in the oh so very, very slow process of redoing our house. I love it, but everything in it is outdated. In the two years we’ve been in the house, we’ve been working on it bit by bit, but home renovations are a slow process. Take our deck, for example. Chris has been tearing down our horrid back deck for a couple weeks now, and is finally starting to rebuild this weekend. But it will probably be another month before it’s finished. Since seeing YHL, though, I want results and I want them NOW.
The second unfortunate side effect of my new love interest is that now I believe I can do home projects myself. I went through this phase when I first fell in love with Pinterest, too. Seeing other people be handy and crafty makes me think I can be handy and crafty, too. And that is a false statement. Oh, I know, I know. All you handy and crafty people out there are going to argue, “Oh, Katie! You can do it! It’s easier than you think!” Trust me. It’s not, and I can’t. I have about as much luck with craftiness as I have with the ability to filter what I say. It just ain’t gonna happen. Lucky for me, though, I have a handy dandy husband who can tackle all the projects that I dream up for him. Like this massive deck renovation.
And so, for now, I will continue to read “Young House Love,” and look around my house through jealous eyes. I will pine away at other people’s good fortunes. I will covet thy imaginary neighbor’s house. I will wish and hope and think and pray about what our house will look like one of these day. Like, in twenty years. I will wallow in my materialism and jealousy.
Cause that’s always healthy.