Posted by: angelnorman | February 26, 2008

Home improvements, not the Tim Allen kind.

Ever since I became an adult, I’ve made it a personal goal to try my best to live by the Erma Bombeck quote, “Before you try to keep up with the Joneses, be sure they’re not trying to keep up with you.” I think it quite possibly the wisest piece of advice I’ve ever stumbled upon, especially for mothers and young women– those who are most often tricked into thinking that it’s okay to make comparisons of themselves with their peers in that category. For me though, it’s been a life-changing piece of advice. It’s saved my self-esteem from dragging the ground on many occasions, especially when comparing myself to other mothers; mothers who stay at home yet who afford the name brand clothing, or who can read books all day long and never tire of their toddler’s demands for more, or those who took off all the baby weight within the first 6 months. I’ve realized over the last couple of years that I can’t compete with anyone along those lines, and I may as well not even try. Besides, my life is grand. Perhaps to someone who works outside of the home, is a single mom, lives in a cramped apartment and/or doesn’t have a good relationship with her spouse, I’ve got it made. I am Mrs. Jones in that scenario.

So it’s a personal habit I’ve created to not instantly compare myself to others.

That was until the Joneses moved in next door. Well, the Georges.

Up until the summer of ’07, I had some neighbors next door who, well… let’s just say that they didn’t care much for their home. When they left the house and it went on the market, I did some research and found that it was being sold as-is, and WOW did it need some work. In many of the rooms, there was no flooring at all… just sub-floor. The toilets both were cracked on the top, so exposed tanks in both bathrooms. The bathtubs looked like they had been beaten with sledgehammers. It was absolutely ridiculous. And the asking price was so low that I actually felt my house depreciate.

So then the house is purchased and immediately, people go to work on it. For months now, they’ve been re-doing their porches and building boat sheds and tearing down trees. God only knows what they’re doing on the inside of the house. I am elated to have them as neighbors. Not only are they quiet (all construction aside), but they always wave and are friendly when we see them… and just their concern for their property says to me that they’re decent people.

But they need to stop showing me up.

The other day I noticed that they had re-landscaped their front yard. Now, my one shrub in the front flowerbed (and to give you an idea of how comical this looks… the bed spans the length of my house. Yeah. And there’s only one tiny- DEAD- shrub) looks like crap. And they removed their rocks that lined the driveway and planted trees. Two pretty matching trees which I am sure will look lovely when they bloom. Their gravel driveway makes my gravel driveway, with all its weeds and bare spots, look sad indeed. And their deck is absolutely stunning. Mine has crap piled up on it all over the place. Leaves, broken pottery, broken furniture that I handpainted, sidewalk chalk, sand toys (and we don’t even own a sandbox) all clutter my deck. And please don’t even get me started on how it’s needed to be pressure-washed and maybe even re-stained for like 3 years now.

We’ve never raked our yard. Ever. We didn’t even own a rake till I bought one last year. He didn’t use it.

We have this brightly colored and extremely obnoxious playground equipment that we got from a church yard sale for $15… Nick refuses to play with it, but it is sitting in our yard, fading in the sun.

We still haven’t even put up our swimming pool from the summer. It’s covered in dirt and God only knows what else and is folded haphazardly in our yard, most likely by the wind because you know we haven’t touched it.

Oh, and there’s three rugs out there that need to be thrown away… that were supposed to be thrown away like a year ago. The last time I moved it, at least 30 beetles and other crawlies freaked out and started running around. They’ve made a home out of it… nice.

We haven’t mowed or weeded in months. When Mike sees our neighbors doing this, he scoffs. “It’s winter,” He says bitterly.

I’m now the proud owner of the house with the ugly yard.

I can’t help but compare myself this time, especially since my big dead tree on the side of my house (the one that I should have cut down when I first moved in) lost a rather large branch yesterday and landed right in the neighbors’ driveway. Thankfully, no cars were parked underneath, so no damage was done. But I think they were perturbed anyways. Last night, one of the guys came over and asked if he could just pull it down for us and chop it up for firewood. We apologetically complied with their request and at some point today, my new neighbor will be doing a bit of lawn maintenance for us.

But in exciting news: I finally talked Mike into fixing my back door and the sub floor underneath. We are about to get some new vinyl flooring for the kitchen too! Woot for home improvements finally being done.

This weekend, someone could be blogging about how their lazy neighbors with the gaudy playground out back are finally doing something to improve the value of their home. Ya never know when you’re going to be someone’s blog fodder.

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