Last week I wrote about our family tearing apart our living room.
It was our children's plan to rip out the old walls, insulate, and put up new walls all in one weekend.
The toughness of the hardwood holding up the old plaster put a crimp in these plans. Instead of having all the old cleared away by the end of Saturday, some of the stubborn wood remained on the wall.
Exhaustion showed on everyone's face. Rachel planned on spending the night with Rebecca and Andy.
Before they left for Kaukauna and a night's sleep, Rachel sagged against a kitchen wall. "I just want to go home," she moaned. "I'm tired, dirty, and I want to see my kids."
Of course, Rachel didn't go home. She had ridden up here from Madison with her brother Russ and Rachel's no quitter - she would work as hard as anyone on Sunday.
Russell puttered around in the living room until 10 p.m. During that time, Rob guided his sons towards the bathroom upstairs for showers.
Eight-year-old Seth had something to say about that. The dusty kid looked at his dad and said, "But I had a shower this morning." He had been such a trooper, hauling out pieces of wood to the outside wagon and pulling nails from the wall. It might not have been obvious to him, but he definitely needed a shower.
Rob, Ethan, and Seth took the bedroom upstairs. Rob had the bed and they inflated air mattress for the boys before settling in for the night.
Eventually, Russell inflated another air mattress, squeezed it into Bob's little office, and made a bed there. Bob and I were last to shower and crawl into our bed.
Morning came early for me, 5:30 a.m. I had an egg bake and a French toast bake to put in the oven. Some people slept as late as seven. Everyone gathered in the kitchen for breakfast before charging the living room project again.
The rest of the boards came down and the insulation went up. Soon the blueboard started to be screwed to the walls. Time for the weekend project ran out after only a few boards were in place.
The crew looked tired and discouraged. Their big plans to do this project for us had fallen short. Christmas with the family had been planned for here, but could that happen with the room unfinished.
"Go home," Bob told them. "We'll figure something out."
"If all else fails, we'll move Christmas to someone else's home," I added.
But they weren't finished. Our son-in-law, Andy got on his cellphone and called a friend. Tom would be arriving Monday morning to finish the blueboard.
And that's exactly what happened. Our children went home (exhausted and dirty again). The next day with aching muscles, they returned to their real jobs. About 8:30 a.m. Monday morning, Tom arrived at our place with his tools.
Bob became Tom's assistant, lifting and holding sheets of blueboard. Bob recognized a person who knew what he was doing. He said he learned a lot from Tom.
For two and a half days, Tom worked on our room. He even taped and mudded for us. Christmas would be at our house after all. It didn't matter to us that the walls were unpainted and the molding lay in pieces. We were far enough along to plan for our Christmas Day party.
After Tom left to pick up his son at Milwaukee airport, Bob and I started picking up and cleaning. We had tools, sawhorses, molding, and stuff to move.
Bob lifted the drop cloths and started vacuuming with his shop vac. After he got the big stuff vacuumed, I brought out my household machine and went to work on the carpet. The powdered plaster had gotten deep into the nap. I emptied my vacuum cleaner multiple times. Finally, I had to stop and wash it out - the filter was pure white. This I did multiple times until I decided it was good enough - now I'm contemplating taking out the carpeting and changing the floor to something I can mop up.
Christmas arrived. A tree got decorated and I made a ham and lasagna. Almost everyone came. Poor little three-year-old Arianna came down with another virus Christmas Eve. Rachel, David, Eli, and Arianna would be staying home, convalescing.
The room still needs paint, but Bob says no one else has walls decorated like ours. "It's not mudding. It's art," he said.
Eventually, we will finish everything. Right now we're still looking forward to Christmas with the rest of our family. Fingers crossed that we will soon find a date when everyone is healthy.
Bob and I wish everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year.
Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; Sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net; http://www.facebook.com/susan.manzke.