Our Home: Weeks of Work. This week we bring you the next part in the “Our Home” series. Last year, at exactly this time, we were doing all of the things you see in the pictures below. Clearing, moving furniture, painting, fixing and repairing. Since school was not out for the summer yet, I would come here most days by myself, or with little man. Elijah would crawl around in just a diaper, as we braved some intense humidity and heat. Summer seemed to be setting in way faster last year than it is this year. I sit here today amazed at how much hotter last June was during this same week of the year. Although our lease only began on July 1st, we had bought most of the furniture that remained in the apartment, so we asked the landlord if we could come in and start getting the painting, and so on, done. He’s a nice guy, so he didn’t seem to mind too much. He did, however, mind the color that we chose for the walls, but since he’s a nice guy he just sighed, scratched his head, and then said that pink or yellow would have been better choices. Haha, he’s a good guy but clearly we have completely different ideas when it comes to home decorating. There were probably about 2-3 weeks between the first time that we came over to the apartment after the Klugs left, and when we moved in. We enjoyed our first dinner in our home, and then spent many days working here, but we didn’t officially move in too quickly because we wanted the paint fumes to dissipate.
While Justin was at work, I sorted through cupboards, removed things from walls, filled holes, repaired, and even did a large portion of the painting. There were no complains from me because, just like my dad, I absolutely love this stuff. I happily worked away everyday, covered in sweat and often sipping on a beer. Occasionally I would find a babysitter for Elijah and leave him at our old apartment while I was off working at the new one, but I liked to take him with me, and having him playing upstairs in the playroom. He was so young and chubby a year ago – he really has changed a lot. He found all kinds of treasures and got extremely dirty crawling through the dirt that was left behind when I moved furniture and lifted carpets. Below are some pictures from those
days weeks spent making this house into our home. Almost all of this time was spent not really feeling like this place was ours. Having a lot of McKenzie’s belongings still here made me feel like they weren’t really gone, and perhaps I was just redo-ing their home for them. It was hard to accept because everything here that reminded us of them, was now ours.
The playroom was all set up and ready for Elijah when we arrived, so he had a lot of fun playing up there while I sorted through each room in the apartment. He was in heaven! Below, It is funny looking at these photos a year later because now Elijah can reach way above that shelf where the books are, and he loves to sit there and page through book after book. A year ago he was using the shelf to lift himself up, and he couldn’t walk yet.
After clearing all of the rooms, and covering the furniture in the middle of the room, we took a trip to B&Q to pick out our paint colors. Of course, in true Chinese fashion, things were complicated and we got back home exhausted. The lady helping us was clearly the designated person in charge of paint sales, but she totally misled us. Justin had used an online calculator to work out how much paint we would need according to the length and height of the walls. We had everything all figured out, but this lady fought and fought with us, telling us we were about to buy not nearly enough paint. We should have known not to trust her when she later told us to dilute the paint with water before applying it. We managed to get everything into a taxi, and then all the way back to the new apartment, but since Elijah was strapped to me in the Ergo, only one of us could carry paint while the other waited outside with the other cans on the sidewalk. Since I could barely lift even one of them, Justin started the journey back and forth up and down seven flights of stairs, THREE TIMES!
Imagine our annoyance when we got well into painting and realized that the lady at the store was completely wrong, and we had spent double what we should have. We were highly unimpressed with the fact that we had about about 20 liters of paint left, AFTER we were done painting most of the apartment. If the process involved in buying that paint wasn’t so exhausting, we surely would have gone back to that lady to complain, but we couldn’t bare carrying the paint back downstairs, into a taxi, back into B&Q, and then all the headaches of the language barriers.
We managed to sell one of the large cans that was 3/4 full, but we still have two brand new smaller cans, and a half full large one. Needless to say, I have been painting anything and everything I want and I don’t know how many crafts I have done using this paint. Too funny!
Just outside our apartment’s main gate, we came across a tiny store selling the most amazing boazi. Over the last year, we have now eaten more of those boazi than I could ever recall, and Elijah loves these steamed meat buns very much. Have a look at him at that the little Chinese restaurant HERE. To keep me going during the day, I would sometimes eat a bag of those boazi and wash them down with a “Hi Tiger”, a Chinese energy drink.
Justin would often come directly to our new apartment after school to stay there all night helping me. One of us would bath Elijah upstairs – in his MASSIVE new tub – while the other kept painting downstairs. We kept windows open and fans going, to keep the air moving, and that only meant that the mosquitos were plentiful and humidity was high.
Leftover ribs and an ice cold Tsingtao beer for lunch!
Justin was always amazed by how much work I had done during the day while he was at school. I liked that he was so proud of me and that I could do these things alone. I’m sure he knew that I was capable of getting these tasks done, but he sure was pleasantly surprised when he arrived to help every evening.
We would often buy snacks or take-out, lay a blanket down by the window in the lounge, and have a family picnic while we took a break from the work. I loved working here during the week, but weekends were my favorite because we got to hang out and work on the apartment as a family.
As the apartment changed and we slowly made it into our own, we realized that we were already making some of the special memories that we would share in this home… for however long that might be. We may only live here for 2-3 years, but each home that we live in around the world holds different memories that we will treasure forever.
Next up in this series: Moving Day! If you’ve ever lived in China (and moved in China), then you will know that this can be quite a challenging experience. Chinese moving companies are pretty rough. Those men will carry a refrigerator up a staircase, strapped to their back with a single rope, but you better not be anywhere near them as they get through the door. The less experienced guys simple THROW boxes and other valuables to the ground. We were also leaving the apartment were we had become a family. The place were we had brought Elijah’s home for the first time. Needless to say, moving day was quite emotional!
More on that next week!