A Labor of Love

saguaro flowersSometimes I just don’t know where the time goes. The month of April and beginning of May whizzed by as hubby and I managed to stay incredibly busy.  So what exactly kept us so busy?

The major project was helping our son with some remodeling and updating on his home.  Logan bought his house at the perfect time.  Four years ago the housing market in Phoenix, Arizona, had bottomed out and with the help of his mom (moi) he found an awesome deal.  However, the house had been vacant a year and a half and was in dire need of some attention and TLC.

Upon initial move in, the house was given a good scrubbing and a little painting.  The rest would need to wait until Logan could rebuild his savings.  In our opinion, a young person purchasing their first property in their early twenties is quite an accomplishment, especially when you consider our son had absolutely NO financial help from us or anyone else.  Hubby and I merely provided support and housing knowledge.


The finished living room. The only things purchased new – carpet, wall clock, curtain rod


shopping at IKEA is always fun

This visit, Al and I had a ton of fun spending our son’s money during this remodel phase.  We laughed as we watched Logan stress out throughout the entire process.  Is this what’s known as ‘pay back’?

Our son is rather frugal and hates spending money.  Of course, I had a great time shopping with his credit card and going over budget.  Even Al (who is not a shopper) had a fun time at IKEA and the many visits to either Home Depot or Lowe’s.  We hadn’t realized there was part of us that kind of missed the housing industry.  So much so, that Al and I jumped into remodel mode and took over.  We felt this was perfect timing to educate the son on how to remodel.  However in the middle of the project, Logan got very sick followed by an allergic reaction to some medication.  That meant Al and I needed to step into overdrive.  Besides, it was just a matter of time before the open road would be calling and those RV wheels would start moving.  So the project needed to get done asap.

No complaints from us, as Al and I were in our element and having a grand time.  This was a labor of love after all and nothing our son expected.  As a matter of fact, he felt guilty not being well enough to contribute.  Not a problem, he was after all supplying the funds and allowing his mommy to go shopping 🙂

Even though Logan spent more (well actually, I did the spending!) on the updates than originally budgeted, he couldn’t stop smiling by the time it was all said and done.  Although he grew up around new construction and fix and flips, it was never his ultimate responsibility or his nickel until now.  According to him, “All the stress was worth it in the end”.

Hmm, how many people does it take to change a light fixture?  Obviously three!

Logan steady’s the ladder while Al climbs to the top of the ladder and plays electrician. I’m on the plant ledge as an extra set of hands.  Team work at it’s best!  Oh, and do note, the wall color is a lovely, creamy beige that took on a funny tint in the photos… grrrr.  I’ll have a word with the photographer about that 😉

remodelingConsidering we were working on a rather tight budget, I think the improvements turned out nice.

So what all was done?  The majority of the interior was painted by professionals and supervised by hubby and me.  All the carpet was replaced.  The new carpet was purchased and installed by Lowe’s. BTW – We had a great experience dealing with the Scottsdale Lowe’s (Kevin at the Scottsdale Rd – Frank Lloyd Wright Rd location).

Logan and a couple of buddies moved out all the furniture and later replaced (we do draw the line at heavy lifting).  Al and I removed and disposed of the old carpet and pad.  I purchased and hubby installed EVERY light fixture inside and outside.  I did some yard work;  trimming plants


Logan has a pomegranate tree in his backyard

and adding pots.  I painted bathroom vanity cabinets and Al installed hardware.  Once the new carpet was installed, I went into decorator mode to pull it all together.  I still have some things upstairs to tend to that I’ll address in the fall on our return to Phoenix.

We organized the garage (considering more than half the stuff in there is ours, it was the least we could do).  There were a bunch more odds and ends that we did just not worth mentioning but also time-consuming.

If I had my druthers and a larger budget, the word “gut” would have been used.  My son cringes with fear as he envisions his savings account deplete whenever I say I can’t wait to “gut” your kitchen or let’s “gut” that bathroom.  “Take it down a notch, mom, take it down”, would be his response.  I was also dying to replace all the furniture and have the exterior painted, but a young, straight guy in his twenties doesn’t much care about décor as long as he has a comfy place to crash in front of a big screen TV, he’s a happy camper.  So take it down I did… darn those budgets 😦


my son, Logan, and Me.

saguaro flowersWe bid farewell to our son in Phoenix and the beautiful blooming saguaros last week.  Not without lots of hugs, kisses, thanks, and enjoying more than one celebration which included plenty of cheesecake.

During our time in Phoenix, we celebrated Al’s birthday, Logan’s birthday, and Mother’s Day repeatedly.  Come on, after all that hard work, a little play was needed.

And speaking of play, I can’t forget to mention my blogging pals.  By hanging around Phoenix as long as we did, that offered me the opportunity to meet up with a couple of blogging gal pals.

Anne from the blog Vannilla and I finally managed to arrange a meet up.  What a treat to finally meet and after a 3 hour lunch we parted ways with the promise to touch base again in the fall.

Vannilla Rock

Anne and me at Kierlands Commons in Scottsdale, AZ


Nancy and me

Nancy and I spent free admittance day at the Botanical Garden having way too much fun snapping away with our cameras.

And then I always have to meet my blogging friend Amy when we can find time in our busy schedules.  Amy was the first blogger I met face to face.  That was almost 3 years ago.

The remodeling and socializing kept us busy enough, but we filled our schedule with even more……  I’ll share that in the next post.horticulture

Flea Market Fabulous: Designing Gorgeous Rooms with Vintage Treasures
Find It, Fix It, Flip It!: Make Millions in Real Estate–One House at a Time


93 thoughts on “A Labor of Love

  1. What a great job done on the remodelling! Your son is very lucky to have you help out:) And good job by him investing at such an early age, I am sure it will pay off. Glad you guys enjoyed the Ikea shopping – I am always exhausted after a visit there:)

    • Thank you Inger. A visit to IKEA is like a ‘destination’ where we spend hours just meandering around. A great place to spend a rainy day and get in some exercise…. and hopefully NOT spend too much money 🙂

  2. Cudos to your son for such a lovely place… with your help which I’m sure was much appreciated. “Of course, I had a great time shopping with his credit card and going over budget.” LOL! Nice job!

    • Thanks D. My son was definitely stressed when I’d inform him that I have a little more shopping to do. I kept telling him, ‘pay back is so much fun’. He failed to share my humor on the matter, but alas he was ecstatic when the project was complete.

  3. Congratulations to the new home owner! What an accomplishment at his young age – absolutely wonderful! What a great Mom and Dad you guys are to give your time, labor and love and I am sure he will remember this time always.

    • He’s a fine young man and definitely appreciates the fact he can always count on his mom and dad. I’m afraid, the Denver area won’t offer our daughter the same opportunity as Real Estate has kind of gone crazy in CO pricing her out of the market. Thus, she’s even talking about moving out of state.

  4. he’s a very lucky young man to have you for a mom! it looks fantastic.
    it was so good to meet up with you ingrid.i have been so swamped since i got back to this side of the world that i have not kept up with any blogs- so glad to have sone it now 🙂
    enjoy the cooler weather in colorado. Ax

    • Thank you Anne and I had a wonderful time meeting you. I look forward to getting together again for a little baking, hiking, or photography in the fall when we both return to Phoenix. Since leaving Phoenix, we’ve encountered very few nice days which has me wanting to turn the RV around and head back to AZ 😆

  5. Buying your first house is a huge step for anyone regardless of age. You must be proud parents having your son taking this step responsibly at such a young age. It is always a rewarding moment when you see that your kids “get it” and all your hard work is rubbing off on him.

    • Yes, we’re pretty proud of our kids. We both know how difficult raising children can be. So when you realize they actually “listened”, it something worth celebrating 🙂

  6. Very impressive remodel! Lucky son! Thanks also to Bear Tracks. I read your blog on my smart phone and didn’t see your new food blog. Saved it to my links so I can catch up!

    • Thanks Karen. In my next post I’ll make mention of my food blog. Since Greg is gluten free, some of my recipes might be of interest to you guys. It was really fun working on the house, but we were so ready to hit the road toward the end of the project 🙂

  7. I do miss the projects that always consumed our time when we owned a home. We did get to do a few of those on our site at Jojoba Hills. Great job with the remodel you two. And what fun to spend time with fellow bloggers.

    • Does that mean you bought a site? We really did have a fun time working on the house but were ready to hit the road after about a month.
      It’s always enjoyable connecting with fellow bloggers…. hint, hint 🙂

      • Yes, we did buy a site so we will be spending our winters in So Cal for the foreseeable future. The beauty is that if we get tired of Jojoba Hills, we can get our money back and walk away whole. We will be traveling around the southwest more next winter, especially AZ. 🙂

  8. It sounds like fun to me! I love remodeling projects (both home and garden) and miss that part of living in our home-not-on-wheels. (But it will be there waiting for us when we stop traveling full-time, that’s for certain!) How lucky your son is to have such talented and generous parents. Must have been very satisfying for all involved. 🙂

    • Satisfying and gratifying! We too will have another sticks n bricks house someday, but need to figure out “where”. Still undecided in that department. Until then, the travel will continue 🙂

    • Thank you. I’m glad you could make out the light fixture. The photo wasn’t the greatest. All the bathrooms had those 1980’s Hollywood light bars. So I couldn’t wait to rip those out and put in something more up to date and contemporary.

  9. We love IKEA! Wish there was one closer to us.

    Logan’s house looks beautiful. Hope I can use that word to describe a boy’s house.

    Aren’t you the little Miss Social Butterfly! hehe

    • Haha Marsha… yep, love meeting up with fellow bloggers. Considering Logan lives in a pink house (note exterior photo), the word “beautiful” is appreciated by all. The exterior will be painted eventually but for now it doesn’t bother him. Logan’s response to his pink house… “Real men, wear pink” LOL.

  10. You have good reason to be proud! And isn’t it fun helping someone ELSE decorate when you don’t have to live with their choices!

    IKEA — not sure if I can count your photos as an official IKEA ‘fix’ or if we have to drive to Portland to wander around the aisles now that you have ignited the Oh-I-Love-IKEA yearning. 🙂

    • Actually, IKEA was the only place I could find a reasonably priced curtain rod that would bend in the corner, allowing for one continuous rod. Since so many of the products are European, you’ll find unique items at IKEA that won’t be found at any other store in the U.S. They have tons of little rooms set up displaying efficiency living at it’s best. Plus, onsite daycare, sports viewing area, restaurant, and coffee shop. Great place to explore on a rainy day and get in some exercise…. it’s huge.

      • Ingrid: we were regular shoppers at IKEA when we lived in MKE. I furnished my entire photo studio with IKEA furniture and when we had to move back into our house for a few months — when our first sale fell through — we bought $1100.00 worth of stuff from them to get us through the winter — and loved every minute of it! (the furniture — not being in the unsold house) 🙂
        We’ve even stopped at IKEA stores since RV’ing — in Portland and Minneapolis — looking for little gadgets. 🙂

  11. Nice job! And great pic of you and Logan. I saw the link at the bottom of the post to your new food blog ‘Dally in the Galley’. Love your orange scones! I’m looking forward to seeing more of your paleo recipes.

    • Well, he does have a small mortgage costing him far less than any rental but all the remodeling was paid in cash. So yes, he’s doing very well and we are proud. All that a*s kicking paid off LOL!

  12. Your son is very lucky you and Al were able to spend so much time there to help him out. It looks like a lot of love and sweat equity went into all the projects! Love the bathroom before and after.

    • Isn’t it amazing what less than $100 can do to a room/bathroom? I’m hoping to change out the faucet and flooring in the fall, but that’ll be son’s decision. He thinks it looks great the way it is. We’ll probably spend at least 2 months next winter in Phoenix as well. We love all the sunshine in the west.

    • Every morning when I arrived at Logan’s house, I would go out into the backyard to check on the progress of the pomegranates. Very fascinating as it’s the flowers that turn into the fruit. Once our son got over the stress of spending the money, the smiles were non-stop 🙂

  13. Your son seems pretty on top of things if he can buy a house on his own. That’s thanks to a good up bringing. I love reading about fulltiming and how its not all about “camping” and “vacation” thanks for your blog.

    • Thank you Bill and yes our son seems to have his act together…. proud mom. Full-timing is a lifestyle, not a vacation. Hmm, perhaps there’s a post in there somewhere 😉

  14. That is impressive that he can buy a house without help – good for him, frugal pays off. Great that you guys could lend a hand – I always had a list when my parents visited and our kids did the same with us. Sounds like you’ve had a fine month or so.

    • Yep, our folks passed down the “know how” and we’re hoping to do the same with our children. While hubby teaches the nuts and bolts, I try and teach the financials. I’ve been to hundreds of real estate closings, read tons of closing statements, and have dealt with more lenders than I care to admit. Thus, I was able to help walk him through an FHA closing.

  15. Oh the perils of a hard days work, nice transformation, especially the bathroom! The days of IKEA shopping…the bomb! Handsome son…wonder where he gets that adorable smile!

    • Thanks C…. I think he’s a cute guy. In the fall we’ll be replacing facets and maybe even flooring. We’ll see if the son is ready to part with anymore money just yet 🙂 I know, who doesn’t love IKEA?

  16. You did a fabulous job ! And yes, I can’t believe he already has a house ! That is impressive. A pomegranate tree sounds like the cherry on top of the cake for me ! 🙂

    • Thank you. A pomegranate tree AND an orange tree which I forgot to mention. I totally took advantage of those fresh oranges. Buying that house when he did was definitely a smart investment 🙂

  17. Oh you are very good parents to be in on the remodeling. Well who doesn’t like spending someone else’s money? 🙂 Speaking of remodeling we are helping our son and daughter in law with dry walling this weekend. Hmmm sounds familiar.

    • Hopes it’s not a big drywall project. We’ll do little patches but call in the professionals for areas requiring more than one sheet. I actually enjoy painting…. on my terms and may be adding an accent wall or two to son’s home when we return to Phoenix in the fall. Fortunately, my son trusts me to decorate for “him”…. no frilly foofoo stuff but he does get nervous about the budget and controlling me 🙂

  18. I can hear the joy in your blog as you shared the redecorating projects in your son house:) So glad you and Al were in your element with all the projects. Everything looks wonderful! Super job! I’m sure your son is very proud of all your hard work. Great photo of the two of you:)

    All these things are the reason I love living in a MH. I’m afraid neither of us had the same excitement about house projects. But we have done many, many projects at both of our children’s homes. However, it was our credit card that we used:) I guess you can say they are a little spoiled:)

    • Thanks Pam. Al and I actually enjoyed doing the project much to our son’s amazement. He didn’t understand why we were doing so much. He certainly wasn’t expecting all we did. It temporarily satisfied any desire for a house….. emphasis on temporary. We do find ourselves missing a home base and have adopted our son’s place 🙂

    • Thank you. Even though homeownership has presented some stressful moments (i.e. leaky toilets, broken water heater) he’s still happy with his decision to purchase. Plus he lucked out with the timing of the market.

      • Yes getting the market is the toughest part. Here in the Vancouver BC market it is very tough for young people. I think mine will be at home well into their 20’s. Good think we like them, lol

        • Haha…. yes helps when you like your children. Our daughter is almost in the same boat with skyrocket prices in Denver. She rents a room from a homeowner and not sure when she’ll be able to afford to own.

  19. With all that you told me about your son’s remodel and now seeing it all in print! WOW!!! What a spectacular job! His house came out beautifully. I think he got a big bang for his buck! A good Momma and Poppa you both are!
    I have to tell you… I miss you! Yes, we saw each other a few times but it was so much fun to get out and socialize and talk blog talk! I hope you are having fun in Utah. Hope the weather is shaping up and you can get out and hike and photo hop! It is a bit cool here and tomorrow it is suppose to rain.
    Thank You for the shout out! How nice of you!! 🙂 🙂

    • We made it to Colorado the other day and it’s been cold and rainy. I’m missing Phoenix and my new found friends 🙂 We did manage to get a lot done on a very tight budget on son’s house. Thus, when I presented all the costs itemized on a spread sheet to Logan even though we went over budget, he was the first to mention he got a ‘big bang for his buck’. Next up, I want to work on the backyard. I’ll have you come over and see it and maybe brainstorm with you a little bit this fall 🙂

  20. How fun! It rarely seems like work when you’re helping your kiddos.
    We’re spending our son’s money on his ’64 Chevy truck overhaul. It’s been a father/son project since he was still in high school (10 years ago). Now that he’s in the Air Force, he contributes the funds and Ron does the labor. But it’s a slow process since we still work full time.

    • The Chevy truck sounds like a very fun project and yes it didn’t feel like begrudging labor working on our son’s home. Everyday while our son was at work we’d do a little more, and when he’d return from work his smile said it all.

      • Alex, our son, will be coming home for a short visit before he’s stationed in Japan for the next three years. He’s an Air Force captain so he goes where they tell him. Anyway, Ron is working on getting the truck bed work done. It’ll get a new plywood base and then Line-X (rubber) spayed over that. His smile, like Logan’s, will be payment enough 🙂

  21. What fun! I do still love and sometimes miss house projects, especially yard stuff. We’ll have a house again someday so I know I’ll get my fill. I have a feeling we’ll be doing stuff like this for my daughter next spring. Good for you two for doing a fine job on Logan’s dime! 🙂

    • I think helping our kids on their houses temporarily satisfies our nesting desire allowing us to enjoy this mobile lifestyle a little longer, but we too will have another house in the next couple of years. We won’t be one of those full-timers doing this the next 10-15 years. Part-timers yes!

  22. It came out great! Love the picture of you two together. He is away ahead of the curve – we didn’t buy our first home until our 30s.

    • Thanks Pam. I think this younger generation will have it a little tougher than we did so yes, I agree, he’s ahead of the curve and he’s already got a ton of equity in the place as prices have recovered somewhat in Phx.

  23. What a hoot, our Aprils were so similar! Aren’t our children so lucky we love to do remodel projects?
    All look great and you even had some fun with friends! That’s the hard part when we’re at our daughter’s-she’s a task master!

    • My son pretty much turned me loose to do whatever I wanted. Since I used to do this for the public, I’m good at not getting my personal taste involved and designing for the “homeowner” and son knew this. When we return in the fall, I’ll finish up the master bedroom and guest room 🙂

  24. That is a beautiful house! You son is lucky to get help from you and Al. We were in Grand Canyon early this week. 🙂

  25. What great parents you are. Your son looks so happy with the remodel. It’s wonderful to be able to help our children when needed, and all those hugs and together time makes it all so worthwhile.

    • I can’t tell you how many times our son hugged and thanked us. He was so pleased with the end result and I did manage to give him a lot of bang for the buck. It’s just I knew I could’ve improved it even more with a little more $. All in time 😉 Can’t wait to see the finished reno on your place.

  26. Great post, got a good laugh regarding your escapades out spending your son’s money. Unfortunately, I doubt we would get the same, as our son got way too much of the Scot from me.

    Must be starting to get rather hot in Phoenix by now.

    • Yes, it was indeed getting rather hot in Phoenix thus we pulled out last week and now we’re cold in Colorado LOL. We spent a few days in Moab and it rained. Can’t seem to find the perfect weather just yet. We’ll keep trying 🙂

  27. Great post. No wonder you are proud of your son. Fabulous job with the remodel. I can’t believe you were up there on the pot shelf!

    • Thanks. Son was ecstatic with the end result. It was actually my idea to steady the light while up on the plant ledge. And I’ll admit to being a little nervous getting on and off the ladder, but all turned out well.

  28. How much fun..to spend someone else’s money! The before and after photos are great. You son is adorable and his home is just perfect for him…This is what we strive for, right?…watching our kids succeed in life and become caring, conscientious adults..You and Al did good…great kids!

    • I’m pretty darn proud of our children as are you. It’s very gratifying to see them turn into ambitious and productive young adults. It was a ton of fun shopping with someone else’s credit card 🙂

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