For as long as I can remember, it seems like long Holiday weekends were reserved for doing some sort of house project. Whether it was landscaping, painting the fence, digging a trench, building a deck, tearing down a deck, remodeling a kitchen, or hand scrubbing the aluminum siding, my family always had something going on. It was mostly work at my parent’s house, but also by grandma’s, and my grandpa’s house too. And then as we got older, add in my brother’s house, and now mine. So while most of my friends would be spending this Memorial Day weekend attending the local Polish festival, going to the movies, having family BBQs or attending cool events called Meat Fest, I would be tearing apart my house.

We live in an old house. And by old house, I mean it’s almost 100 years old. The previous owners had lived here for 53 years. That’s a long time. And when we bought the house, it looked like they didn’t do any upgrades since maybe 1968. So you could say it was a fixer-upper.

For some reason, when it comes to doing major work on our house, we always pick the most inopportune time. For example, we bought our house three months before our wedding. And for some reason we thought it would be a good idea to gut the first floor, put in a completely new kitchen, redo the hardwood floors, update all the electrical, and paint everything. Oh, and have it done before our wedding so when Aya’s parents came in town from Japan they could stay at the house with us. Good idea, right?

Looking back, it was incredibly stupid to plan a wedding and do a major house renovation at the same time. But you know what, we did it. My bachelor party was having my friends come over and paint, but we still got it done. And you would have thought we would have learned our lesson. But nope, when we found out Aya was pregnant we decided we needed to renovate our upstairs bathroom and the room that would be Ellie’s bedroom. So four months before Aya’s due date, we gutted both of those rooms down to the studs to start from scratch. (It was Labor Day weekend when we tore everything apart.) And during those four months we had a two week trip to Japan, birth classes, midwife appointments at a birth center an hour and half away every other week, Thanksgiving, Christmas shopping, Christmas, and New Years. But it sounded like a good idea at the time. Maybe I like the pressure, or maybe I’m just crazy, I’m not sure, but we got it done. The plumbing wasn’t functional in the bathtub by the due date, but everything else was done.

So, a year and a half later, we decided to tear apart our bedroom. It’s the hottest room in the summer, and the coldest room in the winter. It’s not insulated and has only one very old outlet. It also has nasty yellowed stained floral wallpaper and a shabby ceiling fan that vibrates the house when it’s in use. It was time for a change. But this time, there is no deadline and there is no reason. There is no major life changing event on the horizon. It’s just because we want it done. My only goal is to have it done as soon as possible so I don’t have to sleep on the living room floor on an air mattress anymore. Which actually isn’t all that bad. Instead of falling asleep watching TV on the couch, I get to just fall asleep watching TV. But could you imagine if we invited friends to our house for the first time and they saw a mattress as soon as they walked in, in the middle of the living room? If I handed them a glass of wine with a wink, what would they think? I needed to get this done quick.

This was going to be a messy dirty job. And this long weekend was the perfect time to get things started. Since the house would be a big dirt cloud for the weekend, I had Ellie and Aya evacuate to grandma’s house. And my dad and my friend Mike came over with crowbars ready to strip the wallpaper. I had a bright green dumpster in the driveway, a fresh pot of coffee, a dozen donuts, and a mind full of dreams. It was going to be a good Holiday weekend.

To continue reading to part two, click here.

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