The Third Rack

Recently, Mike and I did some construction on our house. We decided to not just renovate our kitchen, but move our kitchen into a whole different room in our house-we are extra like that. You hear a lot of construction horror stories from couples or families who have renovated their homes and dealt with disasters, but Mike and I really lucked out in the whole process. We had awesome contractors who were reliable and attentive to us and they did amazing work. Sure we ran into some hiccups and delays during construction, but I think after planning and replanning a wedding during COVID, nothing really could phase us.

All smiles on the day before construction as we prepared our three-season room to become our kitchen!

Any sort of work being done on your house gets annoying after a while, but when I found myself starting to get irritated or frustrated with the inconveniences of living in a construction zone for so many months, I’d think about my parents. Mike Sr. and Mo Money did major construction to their home back in 1993, when I was just two years old. After realizing it probably was illegal to shove four children in one bedroom they decided to add a second story to their ranch-style home. They moved our family of (then) six plus Boxer dog, Sam I (Not to be confused with a dog we got after Sam I died and named Sam II, but that’s a story for a later time) down to the basement while construction workers built a second story, completely reconfigured the first floor of their home and renovated their kitchen. Four children ages 2-7 and my parents in one little basement living like refugees. This was of course the pre-Jane years when I was still living my glory days as the youngest child in the family. Jane, in a classic youngest child move, rolled into the family two years later when my parents already had a big enough house for her to sprawl out in and a brand new kitchen. Jane never suffered like the rest of us-Classic.Youngest.Child) I don’t remember anything from this big construction project, but I’m sure my parents remember it all. I often wonder if they still have nightmares that they are back living in those close quarters with their young children. I did find a few photos of the 1993 construction to try and “jog” my memory of the events the last time I was at my parents. Let’s take a look:

Here we are looking like a bunch of Hill Billys out on the front lawn. I’m in the red sweatshirt, looking dazed and confused, holding my head. My older sister Bridget is in the green. Let’s zoom in a little:
I don’t remember what happened here but knowing Bridget and myself, I’m going to assume the two of us possibly got into a fight involving the rake in front of Bridget, resulting in injury. If you look closer my mom is behind me, tending to her garden, probably trying to disassociate both mentally and physically from her children/all that is going on around her.
And here if you look closely you can see me in the red shorts, shirt lifted, exposing my bloated white belly, being restrained by my sister Maggie. You can tell 1993 was a good sales year for my Dad seeing as I was clearly well-fed AND my parents were putting a whole second story on their home. Looking back at these photos I’m starting to wonder if my parents actually allowed us inside at all or if we spent all our time outside. I would not blame them in the least if they kept us outside.

Mike and I do not have children yet, so thinking back to the construction my parents went through all while keeping four small children happy and alive, I could not complain. We really only had to deal with massive flies getting in the house during construction, which I guess in a way IS like dealing with children sometimes.

When Mike was away on business I was left on my own to battle the flies. I also had a very traumatic experience with a bee that caught in the house. I tried to save it and let it free but the rescue mission soon went south and I ended up stomping it to death with a boot. It was a sad day for me.

Although we did not physically do any of the work ourselves, any construction project is a lot of work with all the decisions that come with it. After work and on the weekends Mike and I were out looking at cabinets, handles for the cabinets, countertops, appliances, backsplash, lighting, etc. We made so many trips back an forth to Home Depot and Menards too that we lost count.

Mike is super sporty everyone-he played soccer in high school and was captain of the tennis team. It wasn’t until just recently he told me that all the seniors were the captains of the tennis team by default, but it still counts.

Getting a good price on cabinetry took some work as well and we had to go to a few different places to find the best price while still getting quality cabinets. We finally settled on a cabinet place in the neighborhood. I remember sitting at the cabinet place with Mike, waiting for the woman who worked there to finish whatever she was doing on her computer to give us the final cost. Mike was probably sweating thinking about the price but I was distracted looking at a cup of very nice promotional pens on her desk. They were awkwardly placed in the middle of her desk-halfway between her side and the customer side so you weren’t sure if they were just “For the taking” or you had to be “gifted” with one. I mean they looked like nice stylus pens and they were very shiny. I could have reached over and grabbed one but then I would have to lean and stand up ever so slightly from the sitting position. Doing this would draw attention, which I wanted to avoid. I’m sure she placed the pens there knowing the customer would have to do this, which didn’t exactly scream “Here, take a pen!” and I didn’t want to be rude. So I just sat there staring at the pens and then Mike and I discussed the pen situation on the ride home. (We’d discuss the price later but the pens were more important). He agreed that it was unclear whether the pens were for the taking or not, but he made it clear that when he went back to drop off the check, he was getting a pen. “We’re paying enough for these cabinets that we should be able to have all the pens we want!” he said. Sure enough the next week after dropping off the check he arrived home with a pen for me. Not all heroes wear capes.

Appliance shopping was another thing that took up a lot of our time. Driving out to the stores one day Mike asked me what kind of appliances I may want for our new kitchen. “I don’t really care,” I said “Just as long as we are sure to get a good, quality microwave. That’s all I really want.” Mike nodded, smiled and said saracstically “I’m so glad we are redoing our entire kitchen just so you can have a good microwave.” I laughed as I realized how ridiculous I sounded but I use the microwave A LOT. I heat up a lot of things-I love heat. Our old microwave was just awful, I couldn’t stand it. I’m pretty sure it was one of the first microwaves ever made. It had a DIAL! Plus it was too small for me to fit my Dunkin’ coffee cup in to reheat it. (Yes I know you’re probably not supposed to microwave the Dunkin’ cups but I was already probably glowing in the dark from the radiation that 1980s microwave was omitting so just LAY OFF!)

Thank goodness the “Cooking Guide” on the right gave us instructions on how long to heat up our TV dinners and bacon strips we are eating so often.

When we were trying to decide on whether or not to get the double oven or standard stove-top oven that was an easy decision for me-The less ovens I have access to, the better. I do not enjoy cooking so having a double oven seemed like a nightmare to me. I could just imagine my siblings suggesting things like “Why don’t we do Thanksgiving at Kathleen’s she’s got that double oven.” I could not let that happen so we decided we could “Add it down the road” if we thought we wanted it later.

Shortly after our new oven came I tried to clean it because I’m basically Suzy Homemaker these days but must have done something wrong because ever since then the racks have not fit in properly.

During the kitchen renovations, I thought I was going to get a break from cooking. I even found myself smiling at the thought of having no excuse but to order take-out for dinner because we had no working kitchen. But to my disappointment, since we were MOVING our kitchen to a different room, our contractors informed us we would have full use of our old kitchen while they built our new one. After hearing this devastating news I told Mike I needed to “be by myself” for a while.

The months went by and before we knew it our beautiful kitchen was done and ready for us to move into it. Mike and I thought it would be a great idea to go through our old kitchen items and get rid of things before we made the transfer over. It was a great idea in theory but unfortunately after starting this task we soon learned that we are both psychopaths and have emotional attachments to certain kitchen utensils. I tried to get rid of one of our old, ugly, very rusty spatulas but Mike informed me that it is his “favorite spatula” and he likes to use it when reheating his pizza. I told him as long as we stay up-to-date on our tetanus shots the spatula could stay. Then Mike suggested we go through our silverware and get rid of any forks/knives/spoons that didn’t match our newer set. But in going through the drawer I had to stop Mike from getting rid of the knife I specifically like to use for butter AND my honey spoon. The knife is more lightweight than our other knives so it’s just nice not to do any extra heavy lifting when I need to spread some butter. And I don’t use honey often but when I do I know what spoon I’m going to grab. So off to the new kitchen our junk went.

Our newly renovated space. Try and guess which is the before shot and which is the after.

It’s taken some time to get used to our new kitchen. One big learning curve is our garbage disposal. We never had one before and neither of us had the luxury of growing up in a garbage disposal household. As children after finishing dinner Mike and his brother manually scraped any remnants from their plates into the garbage. Me and my four siblings were basically fed scraps to begin with by my mother so we never had anything left on our plates to scrape into the garbage after dinner so this whole garbage disposal thing has definitely taken some getting used to. But everyone said we HAD to have one and Mike really wanted one so being the loving wife that I am we got one. Mike likes our garbage disposable but I am not sold-they seem like they have a lot of rules about what can and cannot go down them. After weeks of shoving potato skins down our garbage disposable I found out this is on the “do not put down the garbage disposal” list. Whoops. I mean any potato type out there took a trip down our disposal-russet, red, sweet you name it. I was also putting carrot peelings down there too which I guess is a big no-no.

One thing we both agree that we love is our new dishwasher and it’s third rack-yes it has not just two racks but three, allowing us to be extra lazy and shove extra dishes in our dishwasher so we don’t have to hand wash them. We were very confused by the additional top third rack when we initially got the dishwasher, we had so many questions-Is this factory error that we have more than two racks? What do we put in this special rack? How does this work? But now we love it. It is also a big conversation piece when out with friends. In fact one night I even asked Mike to send me pictures of it while I was out with a group of friends and we were discussing dishwashers:

Being the always supportive husband he is he actually tried to go above and beyond and send me a video of the dishwasher but unfortunately my service wasn’t great where I was out at and the video would not download:
I mean is that not the hottest third rack you’ve ever seen or what?

We almost didn’t get the dishwasher because Mike was unsure about the bar on the outside. He was worried it was a “Safety Hazard” and people might bump into it. “Bump into it?!” I remember saying in disbelief because this thought never would have crossed my mind, “You’d have to be a complete DIMWIT to bump into that bar, it doesn’t even stick out that far! If someone bumps into it, that’s their own fault for being an idiot and not looking where they are going.” Mike agreed that it might be far-fetched so we ended up purchasing the bar-handle dishwasher with the surprise third rack. Two days after it was installed who do you think accidentally ran into the bar, resulting in a giant bruise on her leg? Me.

For a some time we grappled with the question “what do we do with the old kitchen?” For a while we were kind of in a limbo stage, still trying to figure out what to do, so we were kind of just put junk in our old kitchen for a few months. My nieces and nephews started calling the old kitchen “the play room” after I brought up a dusty box of toys from the basement and stored them where the oven used to be. We loved the suggestion but there were a few things in there that didn’t exactly scream “play room” during that limbo stage. See if you can spot them in this photo: (and please note, we moved the box of toys out for the kids, we did not actually let them play in there)

From left to right you can see the toys, then you have a sharps container of used needles, some chemically based cleaners, a drill, screwdriver, etc. All great children’s toys right?

We love having our new kitchen. I have been practicing my cooking skills in it, we’ve hosted many parties and had a lot of laughs around the kitchen island already. We are excited for all the happy memories we will make in our new space!

My niece Bridie approves of the new kitchen and even claimed “Her Spot” at the kitchen island.
Guess which of us is the youngest of our friends in the picture above.
I made “The perfect Pizza” one night for dinner so Mike had to take a photo. Half cheese, half veggie and fully delicious.
We really like dips.
The new kitchen is great to cook in and all but it’s also great for calling in take-out.