Boys will be Grown Men 

But to us mama bears, they will always be our Cubs, or Man Cub as he is now. My son grew up so fast, it does seem like yesterday that he was the tough guy at day care in California. He was sent some cowboy boots from our family in Texas and although he was only 2, he managed to change the rules for the day care center all on his own. Because us Texans are rough and tough, he had to show his California friends just how tough, and how hard he could kick with his new cowboy boots. After just one day of his new cowboy attire, we arrived to school the following day to see a note posted on the door “No Cowboy Boots to School”.

It was certainly not the first time he opened our eyes to the unexpected. He continues to surprise me as a grown man. And most of the time, I am always up for the adventure! His recent challenge is close to home and it has been a big one.

His grandmother (my mother) has an old manufactured home on her land and offered to lease it to Evan. I was thrilled because Evan has a German Sheppard, Zeus, that is his complete partner-in-crime; and his girlfriend Sarah. Finding a place to rent with his giant dog would be a challenge.

So with optimism we go to view the home which had been previously leased for quite some time. The viewing was more like an investigation to a home invasion of rats and putrid scents. What in the world were we supposed to do with this?! I felt like I was doing a foreclosure inspection. The same smell, the same condition, the same dread.


Walking in, the smell of urine is so strong your eyes are burning. The filth leaves you wanting to bathe in sanitizer and the overall condition sends my optimism out the door screaming for help. What a mess!  My brother, Mike, tried to bring my optimism back in. He tried to remind me that it WAS a 1950s manufactured home, of course it needs repair. (He being optimistic is a ploy to keep me encouraged so he would not be asked to fix this mess). My optimism looked at him, laughed and kept running. It was my son who stopped my escaping optimism and brought it back to a hint of reluctant hope.

My son does not normally like doing these things. In fact, pretty much his whole life he has thought I was a crazy nut for the projects I create. But this time, he brought the crazy to me and me being me, I took the challenge.

Because our budget was very tight on this, we knew we could not do one of our famous guts. Hard to convince anyone to put much into a decaying manufactured home. The three of us, myself, Evan and Sarah came up with our plan while walking through Lowes for ideas.

The old Formica countertops were awful, the dark paneling was worse. The fireplace looked like part of the dark paneling because it blended in and the smell had to go.  The kitchen vent hood looked like it had been a recent home to the rats that had left there mark everywhere and I mean EVERYWHERE. 

Our budget was 1000.00 for kitchen, living and bedrooms. Sounds impossible and probably is, we are certainly not done. I gathered up my left overs from a recent remodel, purchased some clearance tile, rented a wet-saw, borrowed a paint sprayer and purchased a truck load of paint and we got started!

I will spare the photos of the rats, even the one that was found fried in the breaker box.

Evan and Sarah started with the demo. Removing the urine-soaked flooring. In doing this they found that several areas of the subfloor were soft. Some areas we found to be rotted by falling through the floor (but both Sarah and I were graceful in our falls). Basically a lot of rotted subflooring.  Larry, our savior, began working on this while we got to work painting. The priming took hours and hours and hours. Everything needed primer.  The years of leaks, build up and just yuck needed way more than a good cleaning. My brother (and Evan) had recently replaced the roof so we just had to deal with the evidence of the precious failing roof.

Once we got the rooms primed and floors removed, my optimism came back in and offered a hand. Together, Sarah, myself and Evan began tiling the countertops and bringing in a back splash that would lighten the kitchen. We went with white, mostly because it was true picture of at least one part being clean.

The job was harder than we thought due to the un-level walls.  Certainly not perfect but definitely improved. We still have the ceiling to paint, but painting the vent hood a happy color was an immediate must.  One more push for hope and encouragement to keep us pushing on.

It wasn’t in the budget to have the bullnose edge so we improvised with some creative use of coved trim. Primed and painted the cabinets, and we did a colorful centerpiece with the vent hood and island. We still have more to go but we are making progress! Grout tomorrow and then I am back to work at my REAL job but I think it is an awesome start to dazzling this decay! And still under budget! 3 days of hard work brought this home to a great start in being not a forever home but a great home for now.

Oh and we gave a new face to the fireplace!


And a happy color to the walls… Bye-bye brown and yellow stained ceilings (well almost all of them anyway). New floors will be right around the corner!

Those cowboy boots have brought one young man a long way, and Sarah right along with him. Proud of these two!  Hard work can lead to amazing results!