Almost 30 Birthday

You know, when I was younger, I had some strange ideas about birthday parties. When I was 18, a small group of friends and I donned eighties prom dresses climbed into Methuselah, an ancient RV that my parents had co-bought with some family friends, and we drove to eat dinner at El Chico in the Mall of Abilene.

Also, one time I asked someone what they wanted for their birthday and they said, “A pony”, so I bought them a stuffed horse. Also, I once gave someone something called a “candle garden” (?). Also, I once gave someone an unsolicited birthday hermit crab and she and her mother were afraid of it so it died a slow painful death.

I’m not totally on-board with the “normal” birthday train, so when my coworkers asked me what I did this weekend, I said, “We painted our kitchen countertops.”

Let’s roll back a bit  and do some ‘splaining.

A Brief History of the Wise Family Dwellings

1. The Dungeon- Newlyweds Beth and Alex rent a 600 square foot apartment within biking distance of A&M. The apartment is one bedroom and it’s u-shaped. The only light comes from a sliding glass door in the living room and a small window in the bedroom.  One morning, a pregnant barefoot woman banged on our door to ask us for money, our upstairs neighbors often sounded like they were bowling, there were about three weeks when someone’s toilet would flush every 30 seconds (and we wondered if you could submit a work order for an apartment that isn’t yours), the laundry room always had about two inches of standing water, AND there were about .25 guest parking spots so multiple friends and family members got towed. You can read my ancient apartment ratings review here.

You're looking at about 60% of the apartment.

You’re looking at about 60% of the apartment.

2. The ‘Bend- I like to think of this apartment as “our first golden age”. The apartment itself wasn’t that bad. Puppy Gracie chewed the carpet off the bottom stair so I stapled canvas around it. It was totally the same color though, so…you couldn’t even tell. When you called the maintenance guy, he would come to your house and hit whatever it was with a hammer. Strangely enough, that always worked. We met all our Dallas buddies here. It was an awesome group of people who knew how to have fun and live in community with each other.  We really struggled with moving because we loved living right next to friends so much but we needed a yard, so we found…THE DUPLEX.

Right after this, we totally went caroling around the complex. Be jealous.

Right after this, we totally went caroling around the complex. Be jealous.

3. The Duplex- Fact: Our landlady was an 80 year old ballroom dance instructor who drove a Smartcar. Second fact: This place was basically a disaster from day negative fourteen, when we spent two weeks scrubbing the walls and ripping wallpaper off the walls before we could even really move in.  Also, we pulled a bag of trash out of the intake vent for our air conditioner. Also, the cabinets in the guest bathroom were painted shut and when I pried them open, I found men’s toiletries from the early 90s. Also, there were holes in the wall. Also, the master bedroom had a fun, but the light kit had been removed so it was just two wires.  Also, our sink got stopped up and my enterprising husband took the pipes out himself; incidentally when he emptied the pipes, there was something akin to black moldy jello that fell out and quivered. We were young and stupid so we thought that we could live in a craphole duplex and it wouldn’t bother us. We were so wrong.

We actually had quite a few good times in this crazy duplex. Can't keep the Wise's down with lead plumbing and trash in our air vents.

We actually had quite a few good times in this crazy duplex. Can’t keep the Wise’s down with lead plumbing and trash in our air vents.

4. The House- We bought this sucker in June of 2012. It is not perfect. In fact, it is 50 years old, so it is not even really close to being perfect. BUT it’s in a good school district, it’s just down the street from our international student children, and there’s enough room to host giant shindigs with pinatas and mustaches and Easter egg dying. Yes, the people who painted the rooms before us were colorblind and regular blind, judging from the amount of brightly colored paint on the ceiling/molding/windows. Yes, the closet in one of the kids’ rooms leads out to the garage. Yes, a light switch in our dining room turns off the electricity in the garage. BUT WE LOVE IT.  This house has been such a blessing and it’s really given us a great platform to be able to minister to so many.

Our show kitchen with gray painted countertops.

Our show kitchen with gray painted counter tops.

So, we’ve slowly but surely been working on the house, at least making it livable. The fan in our bedroom is now attached to a light switch so I’m not shuffling around trying to find the center of the room at night. We’ve gotten better, energy efficient miniblinds. We removed the large inflatable camping shower that had been shoved into our fireplace because the flue was broken.

For my birthday, we re-did the countertops. Why did we have to redo the countertops? Well, the aforementioned  double blind previous owners painted the top of the countertops with gray, interior, flat wall paint, which now that I think about it, is probably the same paint that was used in the master bathroom which is so small that I can rest my head on the wall in front of me while sitting on the toilet. Now, let me go ahead and enlighten you that when one paints counter tops with interior latex paint, said paint gets chipped and if you leave a tortilla bag sitting on a wet spot, you will be able to read how many calories one tortilla contains for the rest of eternity. Also, while they painted the tops of the counter tops, they did not paint the sides so we had gray-topped counters with ivory edges interspersed with drippy gray paint because apparently painter’s tape hadn’t been invented yet.

I’d been researching our options for several months. I like the look of recycled glass countertops, but, honestly, they’re a little too fancy and too expensive. There was a countertop re-do kit at Home Depot but it costs about $300 and I didn’t love the way it looked. Enter: SpreadStone Countertop Refinishing kit.

Boom. All of the reviews of this stuff were awesome. It’s easy. It’s durable. It’s foolproof. It’s good looking.


We were sold.

So, we basically spent all weekend applying several layers of primer, rocky paint, polyurethane with several bouts of sanding in between. Also, if you give a mouse a cookie, they’re going to need a new sink (since the old one attacked our glass cups about once a week) and a new faucet (since the old one was literally falling off).

Multiple trips to Home Depot. Looking online at faucets ad nauseum. An awkward conversation with a Home Depot employee who was telling a story so long that I stopped paying attention until he started doing something weird with his fingers and then used the phrase “Faster than I could say whackadoodle…” Sanding with face masks so tight that Alex looked like a senior citizen.

I’m happy with how it turned out. For the price and the relative ease, they look great. Happy birthday, house! And me!


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