The Art of Family Projects...

As I leave winter behind and enter spring season, I am uplifted and encouraged.  Much like the bourgeoning flora, I am renewed.  I long to drop the heavy cloak, both metaphorically and truly.  Although in early fall, the idea of heavy sweaters, wool socks, and cozy fires invigorate me with a scence of love and security; over time I have grown tired of its burden.

I look forward to the long sunny days, the outdoor activities and spring festivities.  I am particularly excited by transformative projects.  In our household we have always had “transformative” projects.  So much so that for most in my family the idea of “another” project brings distaste if not disgust.

We live in a hundred year old farmhouse.  It was not the farm house of a landed aristocrat but rather of a lowly sharecropper.  Actually the story goes; the home belonged to a well digger.  He used a forked stick, much like the bone of a chicken only much larger.  Legend has it that when used the pointed end would be drawn down earthward pointing to the place where one should dig, where water flowed beneath the ground.  It all sounds a bit like Ouija board type stuff, but never the less we have had numerous old-timers stop by our place over the years commenting on these amazing stories relating to this old place.

The reason they usually stop, speaks to my original objective; they come to comment on the glorious work my husband has done on this place.  They will talk about the days they played here as children and how markedly different the place now looks.  My husband with help from my children transformed the old farmhouse from a one story twelve hundred square foot “shack like” structure into a twostory two thousand six hundred square foot home.  It can count a wraparound porch, double back decks and some built in closets among its many additions and transformations.

Although daunting and at times overwhelming, this home is a treasure to me and to my family.  It warms my heart when I see, even my son taking someone new to our home on the “tour,” when they come to our home for the first time.  Anyway why shouldn’t he:  It is his elbow grease mixed in with that of his father, sister and lesser his mother.  I was the visionary; able to see potential where others could not.  I would labor for hours, daily on just the perfect combination of colors, textures, transformative structure changes, etc.

We spent a year without a kitchen, and a year with a bathroom upstairs at the end of a ladder and another with black plastic and tape as a wall serving as shelter from the cold.  At the beginning of the adventure we all slept in the living room with plastic and duct tape over the floors.  The addition of the first completed room was anticipated and celebrated probably more than any other.  Freedom at last from “each other.”  It is hard to imagine doing it all again and understandably why remodeling projects are not looked on with favor in our family.

However, although looked on with distaste I can tell you both my children can conceive of, create, and fix anything they set their mind to after their long arduous apprenticeship with their father.

My daughter at an Engineering camp the summer before she left for college was called out by one of her professors.  He said to us, ”you have got one hell of a daughter there,” she came in and worked the tools better than any of the young men in the group.  They did not take kindly to her for it either.  He said, “I took notice and watched from afar as she struggled to work and persevere without their help and with their sexist disdain."  It was a proud moment for us all.

My son has gone on to buy his first home.  A “fixer upper” in central Austin.   Much to his father’s chagrin.  But, they both got in there and turned a bland fifty’s bungalow into an open concept kitchen bathed in external light.  It is an entertainment mecca.  I believe they thoroughly enjoyed each other company through the process in lieu of its many and often overwhelming challenges.

So with this in mind.  We pick one small project per year and devote our spring to it.  So as the time approaches I prioritize my list and begin the narrowing down process.

So many things to do…so little time.


Written by:
Tara Ubelhor M.Ed., LPC