Wednesday, June 29, 2016

An Empty Nest

This den/game room that opens off the kitchen was Mark's bedroom 
for more than a year, until Dylan moved out a month ago.

Dylan has been gone for a whole month now. I do miss him and the house seems very quiet, but I think I'm adjusting. I had hoped by now to have my annual summer deep-cleaning finished, but since the last week of school I've been so sick with sinus, ear, and chest issues, compounded by the stress and smoke of the too-close Cedar Creek Fire, that I just couldn't find the energy to do more than minimal surface cleaning.

I will say that going from four people to two has made a big difference, even with just a surface cleaning. There are fewer dishes left on the sink and less clutter throughout the house. It's much easier to stay on top of things, and I'm liking that part in this season of my life. Nonetheless, would I have traded away the 26 years of noisy, messy, chaotic life with my children in exchange for a quiet, tidy house? Not for all the riches in the world! Children are one of the most important things that magically turn a house into a home.

Mark slept in the middle of this room for 13 months, between the piano, 
television, love seat, and stacks of boxed yard sale and food storage items.
The ancient big-screen TV belongs to Dylan, but he decided not to move it just yet.

I really, really thought I had taken a picture of the den/game room during the time it was converted to Mark's "bedroom," but I can't locate it. So, instead, here are some pictures of how it looks now that he has moved into Dylan's old bedroom. (I keep current photos of all the rooms in my house for insurance purposes, just in case, say, our house burns down in a forest fire...)

With no closet or dresser space to call his own, Mark's few clothes 
were just stacked on the love seat and rocker.

We didn't rearrange the furniture in the den/game room for Mark when he came to stay. After all, I didn't know how long this arrangement was going to last. Still don't, really. So we simply put Mark's bed in the center of the floor, which didn't leave much space for anything else. He piled his few clothes and belongings on the love seat and rocker, and he rarely used the room for anything other than sleep. Dylan quit using the room to play his video games or to play the piano, because they were too hard to get to. I've missed listening to Dylan on the piano this past year. Now, when he visits, he often goes straight to the piano to pound out some tunes!

Mark's bed literally reached from the TV to the foot of these steps into the kitchen.
(What is now the "den" actually used to be Jacob and Dylan's bedroom.)

For a long time, Mark didn't even have a real bed. He went through two nice air mattresses, but both eventually began losing air no matter how well we patched them. Finally, Dylan pulled the top bunk off his bunk bed, dismantled it, and moved it into the den/game room for his dad to sleep on. That was a much better arrangement.

Looking into Mark's new digs from the hallway.

Now, though, Mark finally has his own room, along with his own dresser and closet. Unfortunately, for the first few weeks he was still just living in a mess, a jumble of furniture moved in or shifted while Dylan gradually collected all his stuff to be moved into the new apartment (which is only about a mile from us). Not very homey for Mark. Yet.

Now Mark has room for his bi-pap machine and oxygen concentrator.
The "Call of Duty" skull banner was made by Dylan, but he decided not to take it.

Finally, a week ago, I started to feel well enough to plunge into my summer cleaning, so we started with reorganizing Dylan's old room. Although Mark had moved into it immediately after Dylan's departure, it still needed to be thoroughly cleaned and set up for him. We spent two days tackling that job. Here are the results, with a 360-degree view of the refurbished room.

I bought the small, white bookshelf for the room, which Mark and Sarah assembled for me. I used it to hold the kids' old books, the ones that weren't favored enough to move with them when they each got married, as well as several books I brought from school. Since I'm retiring at the end of this next school year, I brought home my personal books that I no longer use for my students, such as my collection of Shel Silverstein's poetry books.

I couldn't bear to take down the Arrow of Light award from Dylan's Cub Scout years. And notice the empty shelf high above the white bookshelves. This was Sarah's bedroom from the year we bought the house in 1993 until she got married in 2011, and the two high shelves on either side of that window were always filled with stuffed animals and dolls. After she got married, we moved Dylan into this room, and then those shelves were always filled with his Little League and soccer trophies. Now that he took away his trophies, the little shelf looks sort of sad and forlorn.

However, I did manage to fill the shelf on the right side of the window
with cool music boxes and trinkets, gifts from my children and my dad.

Mark now has a tall dresser all to himself! The stuffed pup on top
was a Mothers Day gift from Jacob in 2010, so it stays!

I brought the desk in from my home office, located just off the master bedroom. I figure it will be a good place to work on bills and other financial stuff when Mark is at work and the house is empty and quiet. My other, much larger desk, with my computer and printer and writing stuff, remains in the office. Taking out one of the desks gives me much more room in my little work space.

The cute little bunnies and kitties on the heart shelf and the light switch plate
are remnants from the years of Sarah's occupancy. Mark's Grandma Helen,
Sarah's great-grandma, gave Sarah the bunny light switch plate.

Now Mark has plenty of closet space!

Finally, yesterday when I deep-cleaned the den/game room (which Mark and I have decided to simply call "the den" now that Dylan has moved out), I realized we'd forgotten to move one very important piece of artistry: the Big Mouth Billy Bass wall plaque Sarah had given her dad for his birthday and Fathers Day last year, his first back with the family since our divorce in 2006. So I banged two nails into the wall and hung it right above Mark's bed.

Now it is finished.

Billy Bass sings "I Will Survive" and "Don't Worry, Be Happy."

 And Mark even has his own bathroom to himself now!

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