This is what I wrote my friend recently about our “house renovations” and on doing such things in Thailand:
Renovations in general are horrible in this country. Imagine how long it should take you, and then double it. And have something go horribly wrong, and try to fix it in another language. And then add three more days.
And as it turns out, that was an understatement.
Upon returning to Mae Sot, we knew we had a small window of time to get things settled and move into the house next door. We had about a month before we had to be back in Bangkok for our adoption class, at which point we wanted to have our updated photos taken to give to our caseworker.
We put a door between our two houses, which was estimated to take a day. It took 3 1/2 days. They scored & cut a beautiful hole in the wall–perfect lines and beautiful. They fit the door frame into the wall: beautiful.
And then they put the door in, measured to fit the frame and made by the same company. No go. The door didn’t fit. They had to trim the door on top & bottom, and in removing the frame again, two large chunks of concrete fell from their gorgeous hole.
So we patched it up and tried options B, C, & D. Fast forward three days–and hey, we have a door! And it looks good. And most thankfully, we’re still friends with Matt.
We then started to paint our new house: the first room (for baby bunny!) went perfectly. Two coats, and beautiful.
The second room (our bedroom): While we’ve been gone, fire ants built a nest in our air con, so when I turned it on while painting–trying to survive the 100 degree temps–I suddenly felt bites all over my neck and shoulders. Fire ants invaded the room, falling from the aircon and pouring out in every direction. We decided to sweat it out while painting and call the air con guy to come clean it.
And then it took five coats to get it even. Five coats of paint in 100 degree temperatures.
And then last: the studio & main living area & kitchen-will-be-laundry room. We called a friend for help. And as it turns out, she painted houses for a summer job years ago, and is amazing at it. So while I did about 20% of the room, she NAILED it. That was God’s little gift to keep us afloat.
Then we were just days away from moving our bedroom over to the new place. As we sat in bed watching a show, there was a distinct scratching noise under the bed. Very distinct, and very alive. We were pretty sure it was a mouse or rat scratching the plastic bag that holds our Christmas tree.
So, at 10:30pm, just a couple days before we’d be cleaning it all out anyway, we unloaded everything from under our bed. And guys, that’s like our attic. It is our only storage space in the entire house, so that has all our Christmas decor, suitcases, camping gear…it all came out. Dusty and everything.
And no creature to be found. But he was still scratching.
Now Stephen laid down on the floor and started looking closer with a flashlight. There was definitely something alive, but stuck behind our bamboo headboard. Evidently stuck, because he wasn’t coming out. And with the shadow he was making, it appeared more stick-like than we anticipated.
We started to wonder if it was a snake? But how was it scratching against something?
We dug closer, and in the end found the world’s biggest (and dumbest) dragonfly. A dragonfly. About 4″ long, it was stuck behind our headboard and frantically flailing it’s wings, thus sounding like scratching against the bamboo.
I guess I’m glad it wasn’t a mouse|rat|snake.
And I guess it did push us to move things and get them sorted sooner, since now the entire contents of our house were scattered around the community space.
For yet another two weeks, we spent all day every day working around the house: starting about 6am and working to 3:30pm, when we shoved everything into side rooms so that the kids could come to play. And then we’d pull it all back out at 6pm and work until late in the evening.
And then we had bread days strewn in there, when we’d try to move everything aside to make piles of bread and have toddlers running around the house all day.
I don’t even have the words for the chaos.
In the end, we have moved into the new side of the house! We put in additional electrical outlets for Stephen’s studio and the kitchen area. We built shelving for the laundry room & bathroom, all of our books and games, and for Stephen’s recording & music gear. We have a little room set up for when baby bunny joins us.
We also rearranged the community side and absolutely love it. There is so much more space for people to come in! We have a room for the babies and toddlers, complete with soft flooring and baby-safe toys. We have an area of toys for the younger kids (trains, cars, and simple puzzles), and still another area for the older kids (coloring, board games, & difficult puzzles). We have computer tables set up and a larger sitting area for parents within view of the littles. We are currently working on one more technology area–we have a simple computer set up to play extremely simple video games (Tetris, Mario, and other free games from the 80s) that the older kids love. We’re also trying to get our old iPad set up to play a few simple English games. Both give the kids some fun and help them learn basic technology.
And my favorite: the reading nook. I love that the kids love books!
The kitchen is also re-designed with bread in mind. I have separated out my ingredients into what the bakers use and what they don’t, making it easier to know where things are and help them take responsibility for cleaning their area. We have also set up a Housewares room–the Warehouse, if you will–that has a shelf of all bread ingredients. This will help us to very quickly see what we need each week and give them more responsibility in it all. The other side of the shelf is for sewing projects, as this is now the sewing room, too! It’s so nice to have the sewing machine in a closed room while kids are in and out of the house. Lastly, this room will be the storehouse for The Breakfast Club, too, including dishes and bulk foods.
So, despite the work that took us all of four weeks and a whole lot of chaos to accomplish, we love it. And then we left the next day for Bangkok. We’re already looking forward to being home to enjoy it all!