Casual Friday + Renovation Update: Progress, Not Completion

  • This week felt mostly…meh. The renovations are going well and the contractors are wonderful but I have low-level anxiety (and sometimes medium- and high-level anxiety!) about the whole process. And, after our run-in a broken pipe last weekend, I think my resting stress level is higher than usual.
  • Honestly, though, I feel like the bigger issue has been social stressors. I’m an introvert by nature and think I’ve moderately offended several people lately (who are more extroverted) by my distance and general lack of enthusiasm for interacting; then there are some challenging dynamics with working relationships. I’ve also started thinking through corporate tax season which always fills me with dread even though it’s objectively not that bad and our accountant does 90% of the work.
  • Ironically enough, the best boost to my funk this week has been interacting with people! One of my best friends came over to watch White Christmas – an annual tradition for almost a decade now. Bing Crosby et al. did not disappoint. We sipped tea and sang and laughed and provided a running commentary on all our favourite quotes from the movie. It gets better every year. After weeks of crummy weather, I managed to fit in a long walk with the same friend and we met up at the school playground with our broods + other pint-sized friends on a rare sunny afternoon. I also went out for coffee with a new friend who has been encouraging me in so many ways in a mentorship capacity. I guess I’m a strong introvert but need a healthy dose of one-on-one time with friends to feed my soul. And John has just been the best – calming me down and listening to my irrational mental spirals surrounding worst-case-scenario reno talk or (likely) irrational perceptions of social situations.
  • Bible reading. After abandoning my year-long reading plan on day #311 (of 365), I’ve had a hard time getting back into a groove. I think, for now at least, I’m going to approach this with my 3x/week makes a habit (courtesy of Laura Vanderkam) which feels like a good cadence and right now I’m working through an Advent devotional gifted to me last year.
  • I didn’t make a formal holiday fun list but we did watch the new Home Sweet Home Alone movie, along with the original Home Alone + went to see a free showing of Elf with the kids at our town theatre. Fun things will still happen even if we don’t cross them off a paper list. It’s more environmentally friendly this way, too, right?!
  • I also didn’t circle back around to recycling the Advent Kindness Jar idea I mentioned last week. I got the labeled jars out of the Christmas box and that’s as far as I got. Maybe next year? I’m just telling myself it’s still okay to say no to good things.
  • Random: a friend (who has a 1-year old) and I were discussing soothers (aka: pacifiers) this week – the various perks and pitfalls. I immediately thought back to our trip to Denmark where Abby was transfixed by the sight of soother trees. Danish kiddos leave their soothers hanging from a tree (often with notes) when they are officially ready to part ways. It was hilarious to watch Abby’s confusion as she saw literally 100’s of her soothers hanging from trees around Copenhagen.
Flashback to 2012


I enjoy finishing things.

I like to wrap things up – literally and figuratively – with a tidy bow and stow them neatly on the shelf (that proactive tendency got me in trouble last week). I thrive on being productive and efficient. Give me a box and I’ll try my darndest to check it.

None of these things happen with a renovation.

It has been a months-long process. By many standards we have had an easy, low-key experience. But it has still felt like a long, arduous and overwhelming journey – especially for a maximizer like me.

While sometimes I would do well to channel my inner Gretchen Rubin (who says most decisions don’t require extensive research), there sure is a lot of research that goes into a major home renovation.

When we started planning things, I typed up a master list of all the to-do’s. Items to buy. Things to decide. People to consult. It was overwhelming. My temptation was to get discouraged. Sometimes a meeting with our contractor would do nothing more than give me ten new items to add to the list.

But, slowly, decisions got made. We selected a brand of windows. Then we selected the width, colour and style of trim that would surround them and which way we wanted the windows to open. Then we picked the width and style of the interior framing. Then we picked a white paint colour for the interior trim (which is more overwhelming than one might think) and the sheen of said white paint colour.

We picked exterior lights (this took several trips to the store). Then we picked soffit. Then we learned the soffit we had selected was on backorder until 2022. Then we picked new soffit. Then we picked the colour of the fascia and gutters.

We’ve picked where outlets will go and what gets turned on with what lightswitch; we spent time debating the relative merits of a surprising array of different doorbell options.

On one of our final visits to the contractor section at our local hardware store (they now recognize us from a mile away, even with masks, on a first-name basis) as we were agonizing over yet another decision – this one quite costly with much higher stakes than our doorbell hunt – I remained upbeat. We walked away without making a decision. But we had more intel. Just the having the information was progress. I knew a decision would come. Maybe it would take two more trips, or ten, but eventually, we would get there.

Could someone else have made all these decisions faster? Absolutely – renovations, and decision-making in general, are most definitely not my forte. But by plugging away at one item at a time, I’m learning to aim for progress. Whether that’s big progress (when we finally decided on the colour and style of our metal siding and ordered the supplies) or baby steps (I think the doorbell falls into this camp).

While it can feel agonizingly slow, we are making progress.

It will be a while – months for some items – before we get to call this project complete. But we’re headed in the right direction.

14 thoughts on “Casual Friday + Renovation Update: Progress, Not Completion”

  1. So funny- I actually watched White Christmas last year for the first time ever!! I specifically listed it on my “fun list” of sorts, because I do love Bing Crosby’s music and had just never seen it! It was great! I think It’s a Wonderful Life is to me what White Christmas is to you- one that I love to watch every year. 🙂 I’m totally up for watching White Christmas again this year though. I love that it’s set in the 50’s, too. Something about that time period always captivates me and I definitely associate that era with “traditional” Christmases- the sound of the music at that time, the old fashioned cars, the style of dress, the more traditional home roles with the Mom in an apron, kids playing with wooden toys, etc. A totally different life than we experience now. Maybe that’s what I like about It’s a Wonderful Life, too!

    Good luck with the renovations! What exactly are you all doing? Besides obviously something with windows and doors? I don’t envy you having all that going on during the holidays!

    1. I don’t think I’d actually like White Christmas nearly as much if I had only started watching it recently. I just have such deep sentimental attachments to it! And something that you end up doing every year (but only once a year) just takes on a life of its own and feels extra special. I agree – movies set back in that time do feel nostalgic and warm and cozy. Also – in the middle of a pandemic and with so much negative news, it is nice to watch a feel-good story that simply entertains. I’m excited to watch It’s A Wonderful Life again!

      We’ve been doing bursts of renovations over the last few years! First was excavating our whole yard to replace the drainage and jackhammering the basement to upgrade plumbing (ugh). We refinished our basement (got windows that were to code, painted, ripped up old carpet etc.) over the course of a year or two. We’ve basically done nothing to the main floor of the house since moving in, but over the winter we’re looking to repaint all the bedrooms upstairs + upgrade light switches/sockets to white from the 1970’s beige!).

      The current renovations are the biggest project to date. This summer we replaced almost all the windows (our home was built in the 1970’s, and some of the windows were original!) and demolished our very rotten (but much beloved in bad weather) carport. The last few weeks we’ve (and by “we” I mean contractors) have insulated the whole exterior and are now adding metal siding, the remaining new windows + a new front door; before Christmas they will finish the siding on 3 sides + build a new deck + replace all the gutters. In the spring we’re going to rebuild the carport/finish siding on that side (doesn’t make sense to do this before we add on the new carport) and work on our entryway. So almost all exterior stuff right now. And we have SO much landscaping that needs to be tackled. The property has never really recovered from all the excavating work 4 years ago (we’ve had piles and piles of the flagstone we had to pull up for that just hanging out on our driveway) and since the contractors have been working in really soggy conditions the last few weeks, much of the lawn looks like a mud slide.

      It can feel overwhelming (especially when I see friends that buy homes that are basically already updated or have mature landscaping that hasn’t been torn to shreds by excavators)…but we really are making progress!

      When we bought this house (our first) we said we didn’t want something that needed work…but the house was a really great deal (basically the only house we liked that we could afford in the town we loved), so suddenly we’re renovators.

  2. Going slow and going small makes so much sense… especially with your renovation… and the pandemic…
    I wish you a mellow, happy, and meaningful holiday <3

  3. Home renovations are tough! Making all the decisions is not easy, then having to live through the chaos while all those choices come to fruition is a challenge. I had not heard of soothers…those look interesting!

    1. I think in Europe they call them dummies or pacifiers. Maybe they do here in North America too? We just always call them soothers in my house!
      One of my kiddos loved, loved, loved soothers and the other barely had any interest.

      I think it might feel less stressful if I was just away while all this was happening, but there are so many decisions to make on the fly as well. I’ve been so thankful we work from home because the contractors pop in regularly to get feedback or change plans.

      Overall, though, this is less stressful than many renovations because 90% of it is happening OUTSIDE this time. I know people who are getting their kitchen renoed and it sounds horrible. Washing dishes in a sink and making everything in a microwave. I don’t think I could cope with that, especially at Christmas!

  4. I always think renovation is so much work and so many choices. my mom did it twice with two new condos and I can just see how much work it is. I don’t think I can handle so many details everyday. 🙂 But seeing the final outcome must be rewarding.
    sorry to hear that you got some issues with people who don’t respect your personality of an introvert. I totally understand that some people might get offended as if you are not friendly with them. but honestly I think we should just be ourselves and hang out with people who respect us and don’t over think of others. life is too short to care what others think.

  5. I’m going to chime in on an earlier thread and say that I have a similar emotional attachment to It’s a Wonderful Life. My sister and I have watched it ever since high school, and we can quote our favorite lines and scenes. I actually have never seen White Christmas- I should though, I bet I would enjoy it, although not as much as you do, having seen it year after year.
    I’m also an introvert. I have to gear myself up or social interactions. Afterwards I’m always happy that I did, but I wish it weren’t such an effort.
    Home renovations are stressful!!! I’m glad you have a good relationship with your contractors and that things are going well overall. Good luck with it.

    1. I watched It’s a Wonderful Life yesterday evening – it really is a great movie. I think I’ve only seen it once. I might not watch it every holiday season, but it definitely deserves to be in regular rotation and I can 100% see having a deep emotional connection to the movie (like I have with White Christmas).

  6. Ugh, home renovations sound so stressful and exhausting. It took us forever to find a house because we knew we could not handle major renovations – with our personalities, it would be really rough… Mostly because my husband does not like to make decisions! So it took us over 2 years to find a house, which was fine because we were ok with our current house and it was worth the wait. Even now, there are things about our house that we don’t love but I think the thought of moving/looking for another house is so undesirable. I love our house and less about it bothers me but my husband HATES living on a hill, especially since we are on a corner lot so the snow removal is so much work, even with a snow blower since the hill on the north side of our house is STEEP!

    I think we are very similar in terms of introvertedness. I am a hard core introvert! Becoming a parent empowered me to say no to more things. If I got pushback or attitude about it, it confirmed that person didn’t deserve a prominent role in my life. Luckily, most really understood, especially those who had kids and knew me well. During the worst phase of the pandemic, I did find that I needed outside social interactions. I didn’t realize how much being in the office would fill my cup, so I was reaching out more to set up walks and outdoors coffee dates, etc. But I’ve needed less of that during the past year since the first year of life is so exhausting and planning things on the weekend is tough w/ unpredictable nap times and needing to be there to breast feed after naps. I think 2022 will be a better year for doing more things for myself/finding way to fill my cup again.

    1. We said so often we didn’t want to do ANYTHING to a house, but then we fell in love with the town where we lived. It’s so walkable and everything we want/need is basically within walking distance (work, school, grocery store, dentist, our family doctor, a university, cultural items like a small movie theatre, lots of restaurants, massage/chiropractor, hardware store, a dozen restaurants…this is all literally within a 15 minute walk from our house IN A TOWN OF ONLY 6,000 people (give or take depending on the time of year because of the university). It’s just such a nice place. But it’s a lot more expensive than other places because of all these amenities. So we passed on a much newer, bigger house that needed no work because we would have to drive for everything. I don’t regret the decision, but it definitely has a lot of pros/cons).

      I find it hard to strike the right balance with introversion. Sometimes when I push myself to do things with friends I really get a big boost, but too many of those activities (even if they feel good at the time), can definitely wear me down. Overall I think the pandemic has helped because I can be more selective (for instance, I always found December exhausting because of all the parties and concerts, but a lot of these have stopped for now + I also feel like I can SAY NO since people are no longer expected to say “yes” to everything.

      Overall the best for me is one-on-one. I like meeting friends to go walking or running or meeting over coffee. I’m trying to schedule more of these in 2022, but have had a pretty good routine going in 2021. And just being selective and knowing I don’t have to say “yes” to everything. It’s a work in progress, but I’m getting better at this…

  7. When we owned a house, I dreamed about all the renovations we could do and which we would get to decide… but then the whole process felt overwhelming and we hardly made any changes/renovations while we lived there. Now that we rent again, there are things I’d like to change, but we can’t because it’s not our property… sigh. The irony!

    I feel you on being a strong introvert, but enjoying one-on-one time with good friends. I just spent two days with a friend who came to CA (she lives in Germany now) and I miss having close friends near by.

    1. I was the same when renting – thinking about all the DIY’s we could do. And then we bought a house and I realized I am not at ALL handy (which really is a very useful skill to have when owning a home). We laugh – but it’s mostly truthful – that we should hire someone to hang paintings for us. We hung a curtain rod a few months ago and it was laughably dreadful. Like 30 minutes to get 4 screws in place.

      Yay for seeing your friend. Those special one-on-one moments can be so fueling for us introverts 🙂

  8. Oh, renovations. Sigh. I have lived in brand-new places – but still renovated – and older places – also renovated! Mostly by others, as I am not what one would call “handy”. 🙂
    I’m in a rental now – have been for nearly 5 years – and so have literally not done anything to it other than moving my own things around. It’s interesting – I think about what I would want, if I were to buy around here, and… I honestly have no idea! Part of it is that I haven’t explored houses / condos / etc. in the area, as I’m not looking to buy, so I don’t know what is even available. But I suspect that when I do buy it will be a condo-type dwelling, where external maintenance is at least taken care of. (Right now, the best part of my life is Larry. Larry is the maintenance guy. Larry is magic. :>)
    I HOPE against hope that you do not have further delays and that your sanity is not tested by more challenges with supplies and old-home surprises. (I’d insert a fingers-crossed emoji here, but, well, I’m on my computer. Ha!)

    1. I do miss renting sometimes! When something broke…some came to fix it. Now the buck stops with us, and it definitely can feel like a lot of pressure.
      We are NOT handy and I’ve started to realize what an asset that is for owning a home. But we’re slowly building up our contacts of people we trust – contractors, electricians etc.
      We’re mostly done for a few months now; we have to order supplies that will take 12 weeks to arrive and we need warmer temperatures to drill some support holes for beams. On one hand, I’d love to be done – but I think a break from it all will do me good!

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