:the number of years I've been wed
Last year, I wrote an anniversary post for J. Months after the fact, he shared with me that he bookmarked the post and went back to it and read it when he needed a pick-me-up. It made me feel honored that my words would touch him in this way - and put a ton of pressure on me for this year's post!
In honor of the kitchen renovation that has consumed our time, our home and our budget for the past four or so months (including planning time), I thought I would use some specific examples from the kitchen that show you why I still love J fourteen years later.
1) The Decision - The decision to renovate our kitchen is itself a measure of how much J loves me. About a year ago, we considered moving. We had even found a house we liked and made an offer. When that fell through, we looked at other homes in our neighborhood, but we didn't find anything that was exactly what we wanted. You'll notice that I said we looked at other homes "in our neighborhood." That's because I adore our neighborhood and have no desire to move. J, on the other hand, would move to the suburbs in the blink of an eye were it not for his wife's entrenched desire to live in a neighborhood, not a subdivision. So when we didn't find the perfect home in our neighborhood, J floated the idea of looking in a neighboring county. With great hesitancy I agreed to at least look at a few online. Ultimately, we decided to stay where we are - and renovate our kitchen. J is gracious and would never say it, but were I not so in love with this part of town, I'm sure he would have found a way to move instead of living through a renovation.
2) The Plan - Once we decided to renovate, we had to figure out exactly how to make our kitchen functional. This was no small task in a kitchen with five doorways. After months of polling friends who visited, J was the one who insisted we needed help. He called one design firm and set up a meeting. When that one didn't work out, he encouraged me to meet with someone else and try to find the right fit. I did and I am so thankful that he persisted in this. We needed a full blown plan. We needed a blueprint to work from. And my analytical husband knew this from the start.
3) Crisis - No renovation goes exactly according to plan, no matter how much help you have in crafting the plan. In our case, we found the unpleasant surprise on Day 2 that an HVAC vent was running through the wall that we planned to cut for a pass through. This revelation came close on the heels of other bad news regarding the stove (more on that later), but J didn't let the HVAC crisis get to him. He's good in a crisis, whether it's a crisis with our home, our children or something else. As we head into the teenage years, I'm sure I'll come to value this trait even more.
4) The Process - There are thousands of big and small decisions that go into a kitchen renovation. I don't think it's possible to make this many decisions without some conflict. I remember my frustration boiling over at one point when J wanted to cross examine me on a choice I'd made (I have no idea what the choice actually was - I just remember my frustration) and I told him that I felt like our kitchen renovation was somewhat analogous to our process for buying a flat screen TV. With the TV, J was the one who cared the most. So I deferred. I told him that I wanted the 42" but I didn't complain when he bought the 46." I wanted the same deference on the kitchen. J didn't cease to have an opinion after that conversation, but he did defer to me on many, many decisions. Such as...
5) The Colors - We're several days (a week?) into the renovation when I realize that I haven't picked a color for the hallway. B has picked the color for her room and we've agreed to a shade of blue for the kitchen. So what is the perfect color to transition one from Secure Blue to Poseidon Turquoise? I called J as I stood with the ring of Sherwin Williams colors in my hand. "Do you care what color I paint the back hallway?" "What? No. Just pick one. Whatever you think is fine." "OK! Thanks!" In case you're wondering, Lily Yellow is the perfect transition color.
6) Trust - I found out a few things about J over the course of this renovation. One important thing: he can't visualize anything. So every time I suggested something, he would ask, "Can you show me a picture?" Well, no, I can't show you a photograph of the image I have in my head. So at some point, he just had to trust me. One such case was the desk area. I really wanted a different countertop material to distinguish this area from the main kitchen area. J couldn't visualize it, but he let me go with the New Venetian that I wanted. And it looks great:
7) Encouragement - While J is the numbers guy in the family, he has encouraged me throughout this renovation to not compromise solely for the sake of cost. The sink in our old kitchen was a divided sink that wouldn't hold a soaking 9 x 13 pan in any configuration. I wanted to replace it with an apron front sink. Then I priced them. Have you? Well, they cost about ten times the cost of a regular stainless steel sink (I am not exaggerating - ten times!). I came home from the store resigned to getting a plain divided sink. But I really didn't want a stainless steel sink. J wasn't willing to give up so quickly. He looked online and found the perfect compromise: a large basin sink that wasn't apron front and was half the cost of the apron front. And every time I use this huge, beautiful sink, I am thankful that he encouraged me to get it.
8) Honed - While J encouraged me not to compromise on the choices we made solely for the sake of cost, there were certainly times when we needed to compromise with each other. I'm not a fan of granite countertops. The high sheen makes me feel like I'm in a cold, formal and uninviting place - pretty much the exact opposite of how I want my kitchen to feel. J wanted granite. I wanted soapstone. He could care less about how shiny the counters are. He just wanted granite. The compromise here? Honed granite countertops instead of polished ones.
9) Appliances - And then there were the decisions that J made so that I wouldn't have to make them. He cared more about the appliances than I did, so he offered to take the lead on this. Unfortunately, the first round didn't go well. We agreed on a stove he'd found and only after it arrived did we realize it was the wrong kind. We debated whether to just use it anyway or get the kind the kitchen was designed to have. The clincher in our decision to ignore the budget and correct our mistake was when J asked me, "If we keep this stove, will you cringe a little every time you look at it?" Me, hesitantly, "Yeah, probably." J: "Me, too. Let's just get another stove."
10) Splurges - We have a pot filler in our kitchen. Until a few months ago, when I was trapped on the sofa recovering from surgery and watching lots of HGTV, I had no idea what a pot filler even was. Now I own one. This was purely J's idea and I must admit that I love it. It uses the space behind the stove nicely and I love not having to carry a pot of sloshing water from the sink to the stove. Instead, I can fill it right on the burner. This definitely didn't fall into the necessity category and I love that J wants to shower me with gifts, even during a kitchen renovation.
11) Side Project - In the midst of a kitchen renovation, we decided to finish B's room a bit more as well by painting it the colors she wanted and getting her a loft bed. The bed had to be assembled and I have the spatial concept skills of a newborn. That pretty much left the task to him. I was his assistant, handing him screws, pieces of wood, etc. And then it came time to turn the bed over. Ummm.... the ceiling was too low. I'm still not sure exactly how we managed it, but I followed J's instructions, we maneuvered the bed around and B now has her very own loft - complete with sleeping and reading areas, much to her delight.
12) Contractors - As we neared the end of the renovation, it was increasingly tiring to have contractors in and out of our house. The pantry was up, the shelves were in, but the walls had not been painted. At this point, I didn't care. It's a pantry, who's going to see it? But he really thought it needed to be done. So I called in the final set of contractors...
K and I spent the morning painting it. J was right. It looks far more finished. And K loved helping me.
13) Surprise - For our wedding, J and I received a hand made ceramic tile from my pottery teacher at Vanderbilt. When she gave it to us, she said, "Maybe one day you'll have your own home and can install it in your kitchen." Fourteen years ago, that seemed a long way away. But here we are, years later, renovating our kitchen. I knew I wanted our kitchen to have blue walls and the colors in the tile fit perfectly. Then, eight days before our renovation started, J broke the tile. It was a complete accident and he felt terrible. A friend suggested we install the tile anyway. I talked it over with our contractor and we decided to break the tile in a few more places and install it with grout in the cracks. I dare say I love it more than I would have whole. It's the perfect reminder that life - and marriage - never go the way you plan. There will be breaks, cracks, fissures along the way. And you can choose to mend and celebrate them or you can try to hide them. I'm thankful to Jason for the surprise gift of brokenness that adorns our kitchen, the very heart of our home.
14) Anniversary - I'm thankful to be celebrating another year married to J. He's not perfect, but neither am I, so that works out well. He compensates for my weaknesses, listens to my desires, meets my needs both spoken and unspoken. And he'll get to spend many more years eating the food I prepare in this kitchen...
J, thanks for living with me, loving me and caring for me - through a kitchen renovation and for the last fourteen years.