Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Just Call Me Ms. Fix It!

Disclaimer: There are no pretty pictures in this post. Scroll down for that kind of thing.

Do you live with broken things for weeks-months-years and wonder what life must be like to just be able to fix it yourself?

I do.

In a perfect world, I'd just hire someone to do it for me, but the truth is, there are TOO MANY broken or unsightly things in my house to pay others to fix all of them. In a one-income home with a special needs child (which for the uninitiated, translates into thousands of dollars in therapy bills), we have a rather lean home fix it budget.

And no - I don't have a handy husband.

But is what it is. And lately, I've been thinking it's time I try my own hand at being handy.

My inaugural project was actually handed to me in the guise of my four year old daughter handing me a piece of a bathroom faucet.

This particular faucet belongs to "the kids' bathroom" - a room in which I spend as little time as possible. The floor tile is cracked, the lighting fixture is hideous and the cabinetry is just plain enough to escape looking obviously cheap. I'm usually too busy averting my eyes from the maroon accent tiles to care about the tacky little sink faucet. But now that it's broken...

...I've taken notice.

And while my initial reaction was to add it to the list of things that we'll finally fix a few weeks before we put our house back on the market (which should will probably happen sometime in 2017) - something made me stop and reconsider. It was probably the "I'm almost 40 and in serious need of some life direction - hear me roar" voice that keeps popping into my head lately, demanding that I get off my ass and DO SOMETHING already. But either way - It occurred to me that I could just replace the faucet myself.

After looking under the sink and seeing how simple of a job it would be - turn off the water, remove the old faucet, install the new one - I thought, "this is it." It would be my first foray into the world of simple home projects.

Okay - my first foray was actually installing some sliding closet doors that we desperately needed, but they're not all that attractive and I'd prefer that my "first foray" say "new and shiny," not "functional and not terrible looking."

So. First stop - the closest home improvement resource, which would be Home Depot. I used to feel like I needed a nap after five minutes in these giant warehouses...but excitement over this new adventure (and the three children climbing in and out of the cart) kept my previous apathy at bay.

We picked up some pumpkins on our way into the store, because who DOESN'T make seasonal impulse purchases when kids are involved? And we then made a beeline for the bathroom stuff. Which means we looked at paint chips, exclaimed over hoses and searched for the restrooms on our way to the bathroom stuff (again - kids).

After finding the best size/cost option for my needs, I put two faucet boxes in the cart. My own bathroom faucet is also pretty bad, and I was feeling ambitious.

Savvy home improvement shopper that I am, I noticed a list of tools I would need printed on the box. And I knew that we didn't own "channel pliers." So we forged on to the tool aisles.

At this point, I knew my time was running short with the kids. But before they made a break for the chainsaw display, I was able to snag one small item for my own bathroom cabinet: a knob. The original one fell off a year ago and I've been meaning to replace it...well, you know - see above for an explanation on what happened there.

Finally, we made it to the cash registers with our pumpkins, faucets, pliers, knob and three candy bars (what - you don't buy entrance AND exit bribes?). And then we were off!

Once home, I was able to restrain myself from destroying the kids' bathroom just a couple of hours before teeth brushing time...but it was a near thing. I was PUMPED!

I waited until the next morning after putting Oliver on the bus and the twins in from of a DVD. And THEN I was finally able to get to work.

I pulled out my tool bag...

Doesn't everyone keep their tools in an Arizona Trader Joe's bag? organized...

...and opened my shiny new faucet.

Doesn't that look SO much better?

Of course, I first had to turn turn off the water. But guess what? Those knobs are really tight! It was obvious that I was going to have to use a wrench or something. But before I took care of that, I couldn't help myself. I just had to see how hard it would be to loosen that held the other faucet in place under the sink.

NO! I didn't create a geyser of water in my bathroom.

Honestly? I couldn't if I tried. No matter what angle I used, I could not fit that damn wrench in the tiny space around the...things.

Talk about a buzz kill. This job was no longer looking so simple.

And I wondered if a real handyman would actually remove pieces of the cabinet to be able to use a wrench. Or maybe they have special wrenches for tight spaces. The latter seemed more likely...

Not to be denied my new found status of "handy," I checked out the faucet in my bathroom. Maybe I could just replace that one.

I was denied. Same problem.

So after a few minutes of pissed off incredulity, I closed my mouth (which was hanging open in full teenager "affronted face"). And I admitted defeat.

But I still had one other project that I could do! I had my knob. And in just a few minutes, I took my bathroom cabinet from this... this.

I don't like to toot my own horn...but ain't she a beaut?

I think I might name her. Yes, she is a her - like a boat, right?

So as you can imagine, I'm feeling very accomplished. There is nothing quite so satisfying as a job well done.

And the lesson to be learned here? Don't sell yourself short!

Think you need other people to fix your house for you? Look at me! If I can replace a knob on a cabinet, then you totally can too. I believe in you. And more importantly, I now believe in myself.

Sigh. Have any good references for a handyman?

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