My parents came to town this weekend since my mother has some time away from teaching for Spring Break. The last time they were in our home, Bradley and I had barely been in the home for a month. Approximately half of the walls still needed painting, the living room barely had any furniture, there wasn’t a single decoration (because you have to finish painting before you can decorate), and it was a small miracle putting together one of the guest rooms so that it was at least suitable for sleeping. It has been almost a year since that visit – quite a few things have changed. I’m excited to show them how the house is coming along. It is also exciting to have a pair of eyes that can appreciate the transformation. Outside of my parents and Cherie, few people know just how far we have come since those peachy beige walls.
Can we talk about southern women and the frenzy we go into when company is coming? I assume that generations of deeply routed southern traditions runs in my blood. And if I have children, I will dutifully pass along the craziness. There is something about knowing that guests are coming that has you washing the baseboards and dusting the light fixtures. Conditions that you see fit to live in everyday suddenly appear barbaric and disgusting. A small tumbleweed of dog hair usually wouldn’t make me blink (because if it did, I would barely be able to keep my eyes open). But every piece of dog hair is now my arch enemy – a personal foe that I seek victory over. And don’t get me started on the obsession over how the house smells. I’m convinced that there is some terrible odor lurking around that I cannot smell but others can (Craziness. Pure inherited craziness.) So I’m digging out the Febreeze and the candles. I’ve even decided that all of the clothes need to be washed even though no one will see them. Regardless of the stress, it is a natural response. It is a sign that I was “raised right” and that I care more about the comfort of my guests than my own inconveniences. With that being said, the next time you come visit please brag about how clean the place looks.
My parents arrived in Smithfield on Good Friday. We enjoyed a beautiful dinner at Harper’s Table – hands down one of my favorite places to eat near Smithfield. The menu is amazing, the drinks are delicious (I highly recommend the Suffolk Sidecar – a mixture of bourbon, apricot brandy, and orange with a sugar rim), and their pork belly biscuits are a must eat. There is also something adult-like about enjoying a nice meal with family. And thank goodness I didn’t have to cook it.
The first picture shows that nothing can stop my Momma from achieving the perfect flower bed – we had one shrub remaining and she tackled it head on. Never stood a chance. The second picture is an obligatory “before” shot of our bare flower bed before we got to work.
Saturday was “a big hot day,” as Reed says. (Brett and Erin – everything is a “big hot” something around here. Bradley heard Reed say that once and now we tag “big hot” onto just about everything. For example: “That was a big hot sermon, pastor.”) It started early with Bradley and my father tackling the ceiling fans in the guest rooms and my mother and I storming the aisles of Lowe’s for shrubs and flowers to decorate the front of the house. The men were almost done with their task by the time we returned from Lowe’s and the messy pictures below serve as proof that they were successful. The pictures are also proof that life is ironic – I spent all week in a cleaning craze (please refer to paragraph two for a refresher) only to have two men leave one of the guest rooms covered in ceiling dust and insulation. You have to laugh…to keep from cringing.
The hard work and the mess were worth it. Our guests can now enjoy overhead lighting and a gentle breeze.
After my mother and I had a chance to get most of the plants in the ground, we all loaded up in the truck for lunch at the Ice Cream Shoppe downtown. A few hot dogs and BLTs were the perfect fuel to finish up the afternoon with a bang. Bradley and Daddy worked on putting up our new (beautiful, amazing, perfect) red front door and Daddy pressure washed the front of the house to give it a little extra sparkle. We all stood in the front yard for a bit, admiring our work, and were excited to see how it came together. My mother said “It looks like a totally different house.” Amen to that. Dinner was pizza delivery because we were all exhausted, a little sun kissed, and too smelly to be in public. The men vegged out in front of the TV after dinner while Momma and I gossiped in the dining room. We hit the sheets early so we could make it to the 8:30 am Easter Service at church the next day.
A pressure washer is a powerful tool for a homeowner. If you look closely, you can see how the space below the hose is darker than the space above it. The back of the house looks much improved and my dad was able to get the paint off the side of the house from where the previous shutters had bled on to the siding. Dang miracle worker.
Sunday morning came early but we made it out of the house in plenty of time to grab some biscuits from Hardee’s on the way to church. The church service was beautiful. At the 8:30 service, we typically have a toned down version of what happens at the 11:00 am service. The majority is the same, but we typically have fewer songs and special events. This Sunday was an exception. We heard two beautiful songs from our hand bell team and the youth group put on a great performance. The pews were much fuller than usual and the sermon was perfect. It was such a nice service and a wonderful time to have my parents visit the church where Bradley and I will be married.
Getting close to done! The flower bed looks much better and the door is just as perfect as I wanted it to be.
After church…we went back to Lowe’s. Because you never get everything in one trip. Ever. This trip was to grab a new doorbell, new molding for around the door, blinds for the dining room, and a few other odds and ends. We weren’t home very long before the men went back to Lowe’s…because you don’t get everything in two trips either. (To be fair – I picked up the wrong set of blinds, because I didn’t realize that there are so many varieties.) While the men were gone, Momma and I put a new coat of paint on the outdoor chairs, slapped on some new cushions, and set them on the front porch – which can actually be enjoyed now since the overgrown bushes are gone. The men returned and were quickly able to finish the molding and put up the blinds. We all sat around for bit while the sun was hot before finishing up our work day with a little more pressure washing and log splitting. (Yes. It was 80-something degrees on Sunday. But we just cut down about 14 trees and had some of the logs left for firewood. Bradley has been hard at work getting it chopped and split. I anticipate very warm winters in our future.) We concluded the day by grilling some pork chops and corn on the cob before settling down and calling it a day.
Before and after: the first picture was taken off of the realtor’s website. The door and shutters were burgundy and the bushes were overwhelming the front of the porch. The second picture shows what a difference black shutters and a red door can make. Not to mention that the flower bed will now produce beautiful plants that can be enjoyed from the porch. So stinking happy about how things came together. And don’t ask me about the white circle on the upstairs screen – that is a story for another blog.
Overall, it was quite the weekend. We were able to get so much done with the help of my parents. And after spending the majority of our time working on the inside of the home, it was nice to see how that time and love can translate into wonderful outcomes on the outside of the house. And no matter how old you get, you always seek the reassurance of your parents that you are doing well in life. My mother told me that our house is really coming along and that she could tell that we were trying to incorporate things from our families. That small compliment meant a ton to me. And having my Daddy come during his vacation to work on our home with us is a true testament to how much he cares for his children. And, the truth is, we all need a little help from time to time. Sure, Bradley and I could have gotten the door up ourselves. And with long days and an occasional sharp tongue, we probably could have gotten the ceiling fans up. But the time and energy given by my parents will allow us a little more time to relax and enjoy our home together. When you look at it like that, what greater gift could they have given us?
In other news, two baby birds have made a home in our outdoor light fixture. Thankfully, Momma Bird let me grab a quick picture. (Cleaning this out is going to be so much fun…)