Friday, April 27, 2012
Thursday, April 26, 2012
The picture above is one of the "before" shots. Those white tiles on top of the cream cabinets are gone now. We replaced them with some lovely floor tiles. (Don't ask, it was the best overall option. And actually, we didn't replace them, we paid Joseph the plumber to replace them.) The countertops looked really nice. So nice, that we decided we wanted to plunge into re-painting the cabinets. Ourselves. Oh my word, what a nightmare! We are no strangers to painting. In America. We have promised ourselves that we will never again paint in Nigeria. Ever. Labor is too cheap and time is too precious to try that again.
First of all, it took Ryan 3 trips to the paint store to even figure out how to navigate the basics here. Then, he had to figure out where to buy paintbrushes and rollers, because they don't sell those in the paint store. We gave up on paint trays when none of the hardware professionals had any idea what Ryan was talking about. Ryan brought home the brushes and rollers and we laughed because they were horrid. But he'd gone to many stores and they all sold the exact same ones. They were our only option, so we set to work. It took about 5 strokes for us to realize that we were in trouble. Ryan looked at me and said, "I wouldn't give this paintbrush to a volunteer to paint a VBS craft with."
Anyway, we persevered through the first coat and began the second and realized that we were totally in over our heads. 36 hours, and a huge mess later, he called in 3 different painters, got quotes on the whole house, and now we've been rescued from ourselves. It's amazing, Ryan spent 3 weeks trying to get paint for our house only to be told that the colors we wanted weren't available. The man we're using came for an hour, took our requests and money and came back the next morning with everything we needed. All the Nigerians keep telling us that everything here revolves around who you know and we're beginning to believe it. We know Johnny. He knows paint. He goes to the same shop Ryan had visited 3 times and comes out with gallons of paint that Ryan was unable to acquire. Maddening!
Now, we're camping out on the floor of a vacant house on our compound. Because the paint here smells so yucky that we couldn't sleep in our home. Not to mention, 5 kids + wet paint = bad news. So, we're schooling and sleeping in one house, cooking and eating in another. It's fun, you should try it.
But seriously, I am encouraged. We've had an electrician in all week as well and it's beginning to seem more personal, more like it's our house. Things that bothered us are being updated. And, I am seeing an end in sight. If we could just get the nice people in Lagos to let us have our crate, we'd really be able to make it ours. But, for today, I'll take some fresh paint, functional lighting, and fresh countertops.
Thursday, April 5, 2012
One of the things that I’m most struggling with in our new home is the fact that it takes FORever to accomplish the most basic tasks. Want to make pancakes? No problem, just whip up the batter using 12 different ingredients. Make sure you sift the flour to get rid of creatures. Oh, wait a minute...the pitcher of milk in the fridge is curdled because you’ve only had 3 hours of electricity a day for the last 3 days. So, just pull out the milk powder and mix up a pitcher of milk. Now, get out your maple flavoring and whip up a batch of syrup. Well, you get the picture.
Productivity looks very different here. I’m trying to adjust my expectations. Really, I am. I’m making progress. Little bitty baby steps of progress. I haven’t reached the point where it’s not maddening to me. But I will. Soon. I hope.
Anyway, one of the areas that’s been hard for us is getting our house in order. It’s no secret that our house has always been one of our hobbies. It’s been hard to see headway this time, partly because we are waiting for some of our house stuff that is on the crate. Partly, it’s because you can not just go out and shop for what you want. There is no Home Goods, no Rooms to Go, no Target. We have loaner furniture to use while we get our house in order. Our plan is to have our furniture made little by little. While we were trying to decide where to start, we found out that the bed we’re using needed to be returned sooner, rather than later. So, that made our decision easier.
We used a Pottery Barn catalog and Ryan drew a picture of what we wanted with measurements. Then, we met with a carpenter. After that, the carpenter had to purchase the wood. Then, the wood had to dry before the bed could be made. Finally, the bed was finished and the carpenter delivered it. Then, for 2 days we went around as high as kites from the smell of stain that permeated our entire house. Gotta love that Nigerian paint!
I have to say that we were satisfied with our first furniture order. Enough so that we gave him plans to make us a dresser and nightstand too. If those work out, we have a running list of “next” projects. It may take 18 months to gather what we could order in 2 hours at an American furniture store, but that’s part of the adventure, right? Oh, and just in case you're wondering (because I know some of you are) it cost us about 1/3 of what it would cost us to buy it from the Barn, so that's a good thing!