Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A job well done!

As mentioned in a previous post, Neil has been hard at work in the garage for the last several weeks preparing for Christmas morning. Santa gave him quite the assignment this year: 3 bookcases and a train table! But Neil, being the hard worker he is, conquered his task like a champ. Even with a slight interruption, which I'll talk more about in a minute, he met his deadline a day early, and Christmas morning the kids were presented with a much better functioning (and looking) play room!

Around mid-November, as we were examining our loft, we decided the first thing it needed was some kind of storage system. The toys and books had no shelves or bins to call home, and Chloe was using a large tupperware container as her coloring/"restaurant" table. Classy, I know.  Besides that, the area was just huge and needed some space fillers. In our last house the kids' toys were scattered between their bedrooms, and it worked just fine. But because we had a designated play area in the new house, we really wanted to utilize it and keep all the toys there.

After some searching, I tracked down some bookcases and a train table I liked. Neil looked them over in the store, drew up plans in his head, and made a Home Depot run for wood and supplies.  By Thanksgiving, he had made decent headway with the bookcases, and was on his way to finishing everything well before Christmas.

Then, he did what he does every Thanksgiving morning: played football with the boys.

About 5 minutes into the game, this happened:

He caught his right ring finger in someone's pocket, and CRUNCH!  Pretty much shattered it from the knuckle down.  He thought he had just dislocated it, so he stood on the side lines for a few minutes while the guys started playing again, trying to pop it back into place.  After a few more minutes he concluded the pain was not going away and he needed to call it a day.  I felt so bad for him when he walked in the door only 30 minutes after he'd taken off to go play.  He was tough though, hardly complained, and simply wrapped it up against a popsicle stick.  I wish I'd gotten a picture of it those first few days.  It was pretty ugly, swollen and bruised.  I guess it just didn't occur to me since Neil wasn't making a big deal of it.  Well, a week passed, then another.  The finger wasn't getting any better.  He couldn't even begin to bend it, and it was still hurting a lot.  Finally, he went in for an x-ray to see what the trouble was all about.  Within 48 hours, he was scheduling surgery!  Crazy.  And all because of a harmless game of Thanksgiving flag football.

Surgery took place December 10th (my dad's birthday).  They actually had to put him under for it, which he wasn't too thrilled about.  Here he is shortly after he came out of surgery. 

The surgeon told us that he had to re-break the bone because it had started fusing back together on its own. Apparently Neil went a little longer than he should have between the initial break and the surgery.  Ouch. The surgeon also placed 3 pins in the bone to ensure it would heal properly.  Double, or should I say triple Ouch! (1 for each pin - get it?).  Neil went back last week to have his stitches removed, and goes back again next week to have the pins removed.  They are underneath the skin, so I'm sure that's going to make for a fun doctor's visit.  It will probably be a while before things are completely back to normal.  Neil says what drives him the most crazy is that he can hardly bend his finger.  He has been working at it, but it's definitely going to take some time and patience.  Especially considering the break was on (and just below) the knuckle.

So back to this Christmas assignment!  This finger business naturally slowed Neil down.  But I was really amazed at how quickly he was back out there working, despite his fat, dysfunctional finger.

Here are some pictures from along the way.

These were taken December 1st, just before Neil's surgery.  The bookcases were fully assembled minus the back (beadboard panels), which Neil didn't screw on until just prior to the final coat of paint.

December 4th - Neil started the train table while I sanded down the bookcases.  What a job that was!  Thank goodness for an electric sander!  Thank you, Dad and Mom Halliday for the early Christmas present!

December 23rd - Neil adding the back paneling to the bookcases.  You can see the train table in the back.

And then below is sweet Ryan inspecting Daddy's work while enjoying a sugar cookie!

We did the second and final coat of paint that same evening.

Thank goodness for a sprayer too!  That made this process so much easier (and faster)!  And the finish couldn't have been more perfect.  We did a little research before starting the project and found some very helpful tips for achieving that smooth, professional finish.  It really worked!  They turned out so beautiful!

So here is the finished product (inspired by this).  I am planning to break up the monotony of toys and books with some baskets, and I'm envisioning a canvas United States map up on the wall centered above the middle bookcase.  Thoughts?  I'm not a decorator by any means.  It's just what I have in mind.

Here's the train table (inspired by this).  Ryan has been glued to this thing since Christmas morning.  He is absolutely, positively smitten.  And I love it.  I get so much pleasure out of watching his excited little face beam as he pushes the trains along the tracks while repeating the same 3 things over and over again:  "Tug, tug!" (chuga chuga), "Too too!" (choo choo), and, my personal favorite,  "Ahh-bort!" (all aboard).  He is most certainly a boy who loves his trains.  And that is exactly how it should be!

Neil did such a wonderful job.  He has no idea how much his efforts and hard work have meant to me.  I am so blessed to have a husband who not only has these amazing skills, but who actually enjoys putting those skills to work to create something so beautiful and useful!  And to think of how little we paid compared to what we would have spent had we purchased this stuff at Pottery Barn!

So this is what the loft is looking like now.  It doesn't feel complete to me yet, but these additions went a LONG way to help!  Do you like the red and blue slide?  I think it's a bit of an eye sore, but the kids love it, and there's certainly room for it in there. :)    

There are still a handful of things I'd like to do to complete this room (throw some color in, window treatments of some kind and something for the wall), but we'll get to it in time.  Chloe has a play kitchen that she has loved and used faithfully for over 3 years.  It has seen better days, but has held up really well overall.  I recently had an idea to build an extension of hers since we have the space and since it's been such a popular "toy" for both her and Ryan over the years.  As I got to searching around online, I fell in love.  Just look at this!

photo and creation courtesy of Crafting Chicks.

and THIS!
photo and creation courtesy of Blue Eyed Yonder.

Aren't they both adorable? I'm kind of leaning toward the second, though I love them both.  Believe it or not, I'm planning to tackle this one on my own!  Found some plans for it online, and it's a reasonably inexpensive project.  Neil says he'll help.  Should be interesting.  Not sure when we'll get around to it, but hopefully by summer.

Anyway, hats off to Neil, who truly outdid himself with all of this.  I really am so proud of him, especially given the circumstances with his finger.  Thanks again for a job well done!


Twinkies said...

Poor Neil. Pete did the same thing back in college. He did it while de-pantsing another player. He kept trying to pop it back into place too. I finally made him go have it looked at. It was a nasty site.

I might have to come over to ripon to steal your stuff. They look beautiful!

You can use old small dressers or small book cases found on craigslist for super cheap for the kitchen.

Jamie Lamb said...

That is a huge playroom! I wish we had something like that. Maybe Neil needs to go work for Pottery Barn making furniture. Everything looks great!

paulak said...

Wow, that looks amazing. Nice job on the shelves and table. Neil is very talented. I love the pottery barn look too.

Cumorah said...

love it. love it. love it! everything looks awesome - it's in moments like this {reading posts like yours} that i feel inspired to be more handy. and then usually...within an hour or so, the feeling has worn off, and it's back to life as usual. Kudos to Neil! and good luck with the kitchen set!

Shauna_Rae said...

That looks so nice! Your husband reminds me of my dad - he was always building furniture for us - he STILL is building things for me. You are LUCKY to have a carpenter at your beckon call.

Allison said...

So Awesome!!!! It all looks amazing! Neil has such a gift! So sorry about his finger!!! Lots of love to you all!!!

Lizzie said...

those shelves are beautiful! what a good team ya'll make :)

and that poor finger?! OH NO! glad it all went well.