Monday, July 30, 2007

Midsummer Project List Begins...

"Midsummer Projects"

Admittedly, I was falling into a slump the past two years or so, becoming more lax within the organizational structure of the home interior, not for lack of trying mind you, rather we spent enormous amounts of time and energy renovating our former home over the course of almost one whole year. Secondly, moving across the country was an issue for me, obviously requiring huge chunks of thoughtful decision processes to muster deep in my brain, choosing where and how our furniture and household affects fit best within our eastern new home’s inner walls.

It took me over one year of observing and deciding just “how” our lower floor was to be composed for optimal usage and energy flow. The “Midsummer project” actually initialized in a humble way, after I fell into a slumberous dream one night, and that’s when a light bulb blasted off in my head, waking me at precisely 3:23am with enough of a visual plan and idea to begin the endeavor. I actually gathered enough gumption to rise from my slumber and those thoughts became a solid link to the emminent reshuffling, a reorganizing structure to formally continue to move the stuff (ah-hem – crap!) within the lower floor specific rooms of;

  • Cold storage room
  • Sump pump room
  • Rec room and learning area
  • Exercise room

And last but not least;

  • My office/studio which dearly was in dire need of “tlc”.

Several weeks ago now, with a huge thrust of gusto, I donned my running shoes, and set off to blast one room at a time, which I can honestly say, “I did” and “I have”.

It is my honest opinion when an entire room requires a reshuffle, it’s more convenient to completely empty the room if at all possible, or at least remove all physical clutter on each surface and especially the floor. With my trusty helper son, we moved and hauled items around. We grabbed and hauled each box, every bin, tools, and whatever item was in our way, hoisting and heaving our muscles high to lift and crash land them all onto a section of flooring allocated for the temporary wasteland piling nearby within the next room. It allowed for a greater ease of movement to access the room of choice, the cold storage room in this case, and the humble beginnings for what would take many hours of labour to become completed. We temporarily opened up an emptiness with an entire room ready for its next step.

One room at a time, we commenced the “emptying detail”, and then revamped each item to a new location offering a better potential for organizational structure. I won’t kid you, and admit taking on this task has been utterly daunting, most overwhelming and exhausting at times, and especially physically with the manual labour accompanying it all, but I had a helper and upon occasion, up to four of them. Our little gophers and big muscle power kidlets made themselves available to tap into their energies here and there, so when able, they assisted when called to task.

This summer had a varying ambiance to last season’s same July month’s timing, mostly as there are no workers to wake up early for and prance about while we tiptoed amongst their presence. We weren’t underfoot to subtrade workers this year, merely here by ourselves, a great realization to functioning well together as a team without undue distractions. Dare I say my own time card has been punched in daily averaging approximately ten-hour workdays since the inception of this goal-setting workout? Dare I say one son averaged similar hours to me at the onset of the project in the first three rooms? It’s a true fact! Nuts? Maybe, but then I haven’t the time to set aside for such things ten other months of the year with schooling in session in our homeschool syllabus. I have a time limit for this "Midsummer project" and I intend to see it through to the end before too long now. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, though you are only able to see one room in this post! smile

Together, we’ve moved, yanked, shaked, rattled, and rolled about many items each day, every day in fact (except for Sundays thus far), many hours every day, until satisfaction was indeed – guaranteed after passing each room’s final inspection! We called upon our in-house inspector, my hubby, to provide another opinion and conclude if all was sufficient for passing marks on the “midsummer’s goal sheet listing” page.

I will place a disclaimer here lest you feel this sounds all rosy. Physically speaking, our adrenaline was pumping full throttle, so often the days turned into late nights. So tired were we, we hit our pillows almost in tears a few times, or at least I did, stiff, sore and yet landing with a smile for the huge accomplishments of the day. It was tempting to pull off “all nighters” three nights in a row for me, but I had to develop some tough discipline measures and continue the project by enforcing daily deadlines for everyone, though I broke the rule many times myself. By each week's end, I found I was in dire need of extra rest, so rather than continue with the temptation to do more, I bid good day to the area of work, and banked much sleep to recover. I would implore you, if you feel tempted by being as a I am, a project orientated person who likes to work and complete soon after beginning something, do set yourself a standard of rest and adhere to it.

The past few weeks have been filled with baby (monster!) steps, using huge amounts of energy to fulfill essential criteria required for completing each of the goals intended within my midsummer projects list. I’m currently on week five in our home, and today was a self imposed “nothing day” for all of us here. Hard as it may seem to admit it, we all needed to lay low and rest up. Tomorrow is another story….the first day of another week of work!

Taking time for sunsets is a must!

By day we work, by evening we watch the sunset, and then I’m often found working again until the wee hours of the morning when I drop into bed and we begin anew by dawn. On weekdays we work hard, though by weekend we rest and play (and nap!).

Nightly before surrendering to fatigue, dreaming of a deep and well deserved dreamy slumber, and as my head collapses on my pillow, neck and shoulders tight and so very sore from the day’s physical demands, kinks pulling and tugging on every muscle in my body, I’m hardly able to suppress the big smile developing on my face from the deep inner thrill of feeling most productive each day. Yes, it is so very satisfying to produce great results within a time period of one’s goal, and my goals include a multitude of tasks this summer to benefit our home and family.

Furthermore as the timing couldn’t be more perfect with other priority commitments not intently pressing me elsewhere for the time frame at hand , I have the freedom to instill long hours if I dare. It is here I shall boast proudly however about my terrific husband who has realized the outcome of such things, being witness to the progress each day in earnest brings, and has been so fabulous at firing up his outdoor barbeque and creating great meals for the dinner hour. Knowing I can forge ahead as long as possible each day has made a huge difference to me. I am actually far ahead of schedule as I type tonight, and for that special detail he assists me with, I am most grateful to him.

To my hubby; Love ya baby and thanks for begin my biggest cheerleader!

To the children; who have bounded up and down the stairs with water bottles, fresh coffee (yes, every child here knows how to make their parents coffee!), lunch, snacks and whatever else they feel we require to have little breaks from the tedious tasks at hand. Thank you to our gang at home for every little thing, and for lending me your muscles each day along the way.

There are moments when I feel the tasks in progress have been so long overdue, I have experienced triumphant emotions when completing each step along the way and finally checking it off the long “Midsummer projects” goal sheet list. I've been known to take photos and sit for a long while just to absorb what took place recently in its space. Admittedly so however, at no time in the past can I recall touching and organizing so many of our family’s possessions, but then, I haven’t ever taken on such a huge task in such a short of time before either. By winter, I shall have other priorities to focus on, taking me away from the midsummer timeline presently available to me, so progress must continue until all written and desired goals are concluded, and formally attained. At least this is my sincere goal.

All that said;

May I share our success thus far with you here?

In the beginning..

Please allow me to attempt recording the “Midsummer projects” online, sharing with you as I meander about my home in search of creating more efficient methods in organization which will ensure our family’s ability to live more simply, live less cluttered lives, and free up more time in the future. It is my greatest hope to also pass along and share my favorite websites and other resources with you, so “buckle up and get ready for a very wild ride!

As I write about our "Midsummer projects" on this blog, I will post some former owner photos I took when viewing the home before we purchased it, to show the contrast of work we've accomplished to date. See for yourself the sweat falling from our brows over the past year...laugh.

Beginnings. Where oh where to begin?

At first I decided our storage room was the very first area in need of an overhaul. The built-in shelving system was filled to capacity with storage items, all required temporary movement to a holding place, along with other bulkier items into the next room. Once the room was empty, and our voices soon echoed in the vast emptiness, I cast my eyes up and down perusing the interior trying to get a feel for what lay ahead. Recently the floor had been sealed and painted to protect this storage space from moisture, and the fluctuating temperatures the outdoor vent plagued it with from outdoor air flowing through.

Vent covered by former owners.

When purchasing the house, our home inspector made a recommendation to install a better venting device for this storage room, the smell of must caught his attention noting this on the inspection form for us, (though we never noticed the same when we first toured the home). Before the family moved here, and after we took possession of the home legally, as suggested, my hubby was present and began directing the hired contractor to tear the room apart first thing. The ceiling was dragged down, with new insulation and firewall replacement detailed. The air vent to the outdoors was plugged at first with styrofoam insulation material, so it was removed to allow more air to flow through the room when the renovation was completed.

At first sight this cold storage room looked great, all that home canning a feast for the eyes. However the wooden shelving was filled with mold growing underneath and against the wall support posts. It carried and oozed a smell over time they had temporarily masked when we viewed the house. IT HAD TO GO!!! ALL OF IT! The wood was so damp at times, it bowed heavily in the center spans.

Last summer, after we lived here for a while, and the room was filled to capacity with storage (including some furniture), too much humidity became a serious issue when the moisture was so heavy from the outdoor humidity, bits of green furry mold begin to grow on our brand new ceiling. Luckily our son entered the room soon after it began to form and discovered the plight we were thrust into. We were heartsick when finding so much moisture in the room, also knowing the danger mold offers by becoming airborne and ultimately ending up in lungs to destroy health.

In a quick flash, all present belongings stored in the room were suddenly and swiftly required to be removed, and action taken within moments after the discovery were ensured to rid the room of the green furry stuff, without intentionally endangering the family’s health by allowing it to become airborne. There was absolutely no way scrapping could be allowed with a palette knife, rather intense and immediate mold killing action was in due order.

Rubbermaid bin-lover!

Every box and paper item was damp and in dire need of pitching to the roadside for garbage day. Thankfully I’ve always been an advocate of using Rubbermaid bins, labeling each for handy findings later on. These were fine, not damp and not smelly...whew. A few furniture items were stored in there, taken outdoors to air out and are now stored in another location, though since revamping this room after that fateful day last year, aren’t required to be there. Eventually they’ll return to this area.

Don’t you just love those sudden projects requiring all to be placed on hold, sleeves rolled up and assistance called in? ugh. Our painter came to the rescue, drying up the room quickly, killing the moldy bits, and lastly applying two coats of kitchen/bath paint for deeper moisture vapor protection. The room was sprayed, dehumidified and an essential oil to kill mold and musty smells was diffused for three days afterwards.

For this year, my midsummer project was to gut the room, dismantle all the built-in shelving on the walls (as they still carried a bit of an odor that would not go away, even after all the painted sealant and mold killer our painter had applied on its surfaces) and finally, the plan was to invest in stainless steel commercial kitchen shelving on wheels from Costco. (These aren’t available online to see, sorry, but they are GREAT!) They can be wheeled about for easy cleaning or are portable for a move someday to bring along with us.

You can see the outside vent next to the new shelves here near the ceiling, the old wooden shelves removed from site.

While my hubby was away for a week to attend our friend Michael’s funeral back west, work proceeded round the clock at home, including a long drive to the nearest Costco over an hour away to purchase our steel shelving units. While there, we also purchased a dehumidifier, the most fantastic piece of equipment anyone could own with moisture always prevalent in a basement from a mandatory sump pump on the basement flooring.

Each shelving box weighed a ton! Our older son and I almost required a third person to assist us in changing the boxed shelf unit’s location from the store’s shelf to our cart! When all was said and done, assistance was offered and desired after purchasing the items at the checkout and a crew moved each shelf into the van for us. What a relief! Each shelf weighed upwards to 200 pounds each in the box! No wonder! No kidding!

Love those wheels for easy movement if necessary.
They lock too.

Inside the van when accelerating towards the direction of home, we laughed aloud after looking at one another, wondering just HOW we would get them into the house later on. I’ll share the secret with you. We dragged them out and plopped them onto the garage floor until assembly was required but it took three of us to drop them from the van onto the floor! During assembly soon afterwards, the boxes were split open, and individual items contained inside were carted indoors several at a time by “helpers”, leaving the cardboard recycling behind and ready for the curbside garbage pickup later on that week.

The greatest investment ever - a dehumidifier!

The decision to purchase the shelving units came two months ago when hubby and I were at Costco one afternoon. While perusing the organizational area for garage helps, when we gutted that particular area earlier in the spring (wink), we noticed the heavy quality of the stainless steel shelves on wheels. One unit was on display at the store to view the product closer and I knew right then, they would be perfect for replacing the built-in shelving within time. I also noted the size of the boxes for purchasing the unassembled ones, noting we’d need the older van with the seats down to transport them home from the bulky load prospect. The largest concern was whether or not this store would still have any in stock when the time came, almost two months later, and no where on their website could I find these same shelves noted there. We took a chance and drove to the store location, holding my breath all the while until I saw a stack of them still there. I figured three were going to be perfect, and I realized later on when loading the three we purchased, there would be no humanly possible way of loading one more even if I wanted to. But, we did get the dehumidifier in there and other assorted smaller grocery items, frozen goods into the large cooler at the back near the doors. All the way home, I felt the van was becoming airborne with the additional weight in the back.

Our shiny protected and sealed concrete flooring.

During the first week of room-gutting on the lower floor, it felt as though we were working in three rooms or more at once (we were!), as items were handled and sorted in general. Within the process, naturally we uncovered a variety of interesting “missing” items from other household locations which had been forgotten and moved about by little folk; therefore it was their daily tasks to become gophers, our courier mail deliverers zooming about room to room with buckets, bins and empty laundry baskets filled with a multitude of assorted items. This obvious ‘additional’ task should have all pitching in, but it always leaves me to ponder what the topic of “organization” is really all about. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this yourself, but when I organize a particular area, every room seems to become upside down as I uncover goods from other rooms where they don’t belong. The task would remain incomplete and cluttered if we overlooked the process of ensuring all items have their own exact home and locations, therefore they must be returned to their holding areas.

Containerized; with extras now to spare, only
these aren't in their final resting places just yet.

LOVE the clear options available in stores today!

Everything seemed to become a crazy tornado, spewing everything - everywhere! Every room seemed upside down, messy and often heavily ladened with cumbersome temporary stacks of STUFF; a great myriad of items in need of attention AFTER rooms became complete. At the end of my first three days, I had to rescue the rest of the house with, yet another task of reuniting items to their former glory, and spent an entire full day doing so. Ugh.

At the end of a long day, as I moved from one mess to another, and yet another, for sanity purposes I learned to place blinders on to overlook and forgive the bombing damage recently culminating around other rooms inside of the house. I had to throw in the towel to work my weary body all the way up the stairs towards bed often and allow the blinders to squash my temples to keep focused and get to bed. Isn’t it amazing how that happens!

So, I must always remember in the future as I continue the “midsummer goal list”, the initial goal of one area promptly becomes a multi-formatted room to room resorting, reorganizing, much more work obviously than previously planned.

Note to self; Leave room at the end of the day to gather and tidy “other areas” ridiculously affected by initial projects! The old saying that “one thing leads to another” should be monogrammed onto my forehead this past while, so true!

All the Christmas decorations were brought inside from the garage and added ino the storage area, solid Rubbermaid bins exchanged for clear ones (very cool to see inside!), and then stacked on my wooden table in the new location. After rolling in the two stainless commercial shelving units, they were quickly filled assembly-style with the children all-assisting in the completion. My myriad of food storage bins, canning jars, and many other assorted items were replaced to their new homes. Some of the food storage containers were washed again, and require refilling, especially since last year’s mold episode required us to dispose of everything perishable in there. I noted these food storage items on my grocery shopping list, another thing to do! ugh...laugh

At long last, this cold storage room is now safe from further troubles with moisture, all except the outdoor vent which will be resolved this week with new styrofoam insulation and permanent sealant. The can resting on the wooden table is an insulation sealant for the cracks in the ceiling tiny spaces next to the concrete walls.

As far as being an efficient cold storage room, it is cool in the winter, however without proper ventilation, we've decided to keep the door open, likely just remove it to keep all our hard work from falling by the wayside again. But then, we may change our mind when the winter looms nearer and the hockey equipment comes indoors.