Demo and Remodel

We moved into our neighborhood 11 years ago.

When we bought this house, most of the homeowners in this area were retired couples who would sit outside and drink sweet tea, while they waved to my kids.

They were givers.

They would bake cookies for us for the holidays, and surprise me by shoveling my driveway when it snowed.

I would sit and talk with them, and listen to some of the world’s greatest stories.

Just such beautiful generation of people, raised right, and so lovely to be around.

I loved it so much.

In the decade since we moved in, many of those good people have either passed away or moved to assisted living.  Consequently, our neighborhood has become rental central, so we are constantly getting new neighbors.

This demographic is much different.

Renters do not invest, neither in property nor relationships.

Their grass is knee high before they mow.

They don’t speak to neighboring families unless they want something.

They have often moved out before I even knew they were there.

So last year a new family moved in next door.  They have dropped in several different times to borrow everything imaginable.

Show shovels.



Frozen pizza.

At one point I considered putting in a drive-thru window for their convenience.

And mine.

Shortly after they moved in, one of the little girls was making fun of Zion when he was playing outside.  Zoë came into the house bawling her eyes out, saying that the little girl was mimicking Zion and making fun of the autism.  To this day, I have never seen Zoë cry quite like that.

I marched directly out into the street and “lectured” that little girl for 10 minutes.


Mess with my kids.  I eat you.  Roll credits.

Not my finest moment by any stretch.

But it did get me chatting with the mom, who is actually quite nice.

She apologized for the actions of the little girl, who is actually just a cousin who was visiting.

My neighbor went on to tell me about her oldest daughter, who has “severe ADHD,” and is on 3 different kinds of medication…so she understands my pain.


She asked if Zion was on medication, to which I replied a simple “No.”  She asked why.  I explained that I choose to send him to intensive therapy instead of medicating him.  She couldn’t understand why I would do such a thing.  That was okay with me.

I don’t need her to understand.

She finally reached the point that she could tell that this was not a subject for driveway discussion, so she didn’t say much more…though she did manage to slip in that that her daughter wouldn’t be able to function without her meds.

I tuned out completely at that point, though I did feel a small wave of relief.  I thought perhaps this woman might be more understanding than most neighbors when Zion chooses to throw all of our fallen tree limbs into her yard, or go up onto her porch to draw some chalk art, or climb the fence into her yard and pick all of her marigolds.

Or pee on them.

About a week later, I was outside in the back yard, and I saw the oldest daughter drinking a frappuccino from Starbucks.


A few days later, I saw her drinking a frozen coke.

Veddy intedesting.

Since that time, I have seen her with Pepsi, Mountain Dew, and about a zillion other caffeinated beverages.

So it seems to me that baby girl’s severe ADHD may actually be severe bad parenting.

And sugar/caffeine overload.

(Excuse me while I puke, lady. You don’t understand my pain.)

But this is our society these days.

Ingest insane dosages of caffeine on the daily, then take medications to control the hyperactivity.

This is ludicrous.

Let me tell you a little story.

The past couple of months my mom and I have been whipping my house into shape to put it on the market, so the kids and I can move back to my hometown.

Isn’t it incredible how long you can walk past a door caked with kid dirt and doggie prints, and not even notice?  (Or care?)  But suddenly when you’re faced with presenting your living space of over a decade to a stranger, you can find flaws at every turn.

Battered and dirty baseboards.

Missing switch plates.  (The one in the living room has been missing for 6 years.)

Tiny handprints on door frames.

Lime-stained bathroom tile.

Grease spots on the kitchen ceiling.

So two weeks ago, mom chose to dive into the project of the front bathroom.

The plan was simple, yet tedious…

  • Scrape the shower tile with a razor blade.
  • Scrub everything with Lime Away.
  • Paint the walls.

Mom spent hours scraping the tile.  Once she reached an acceptable stopping place, she started to take down the fixtures.

Rusted bathroom shelves.

Dated towel hooks.

Zion’s mural of urine on the wall behind the toilet.

Now, right about the time mom went to pull the shelf out of the shower, I heard her say, “Oh crap…..Angie?

I walked hesitantly toward the bathroom, half expecting to see a mammoth wolf spider.


The shower wall had busted in.  Mom had leaned on it ever so gently, and it popped right open like a can of Pringles.

And guess what was behind that busted tile?

You guessed it.


And lots of it.

I started laughing.

I said, “So, do you think the buyer will notice if we just hang a poster over it?

After a call to the insurance company, and an estimate from my contractor, I learned what I already knew in my heart.  The whole bathroom and adjacent laundry room need to be gutted.

To the tune of about six grand.


Well this is delightful.  Our goal was to make the space aesthetically pleasing, not get into a deep-rooted problem that would cost thousands of dollars and tons of time.

In a perfect world there would never be busted walls or mold or drywall rot.

But life doesn’t work that way, does it?

So I have two choices:

I can heavily caulk those tiles back into place, pretend the issue doesn’t exist, put some pretty paint on the walls, and put it on the market as-is.


I can tear down those walls and demo (demolish) that bathroom to the root of the problem, and fix it for good.

The latter is expensive.

And time consuming.

And all out exhausting.

But worth it.

Same with Zion.

For him, medication is like a crappy caulk job on a rotting shower.

ABA therapy is our version of a complete demo and remodel.

And worth every penny.













  One thought on “Demo and Remodel

  1. March 22, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    I am sure the new homeowner will appreciate you fixing it, too. Mold toxicity illness is awful to live with…

    • March 29, 2015 at 12:24 pm

      Our insurance company has actually been more than generous, and they are paying for a complete tear down, mold remediation, and rebuild/remodel. We are fortunate to have wonderful insurance since I would have a hard time paying for a $6,300 job out of pocket!

  2. Diane wicklund
    March 24, 2015 at 8:24 pm

    Hear! hear! I am with you all the way!

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