Duct Tape & Therapy Techniques To the Rescue

10 Jan

It was all fun and games until water burst forth from the wall. Our household improvements and  reorganizing was going swimmingly, brilliantly even, in the few days since we’d been back from Juquila on my winter vacation. I’d gone through three years worth of kid clothes and organized the sales/giveaway clothes, plus reorganized the kid chest of drawers. I did laundry and put away all the clean clothes. I reorganized all the toys. I finished cleaning out my closet (I’d mostly gotten it done over a 3 day weekend but there was one little section left). Conan put up new shelves in the kid room and the kitchen. He did a ton of cleaning. We bought thrilling new gadgets, such as a napkin holder. It was feeling like a sensational vacation.



Behold! A napkin holder! On our new kitchen table!!!!! We’ve moved so far beyond our piece of plywood on saw horses….


My new spice rack!


Okay, so I haven’t gotten to the kid books yet. But the kid toys are organized by type of toy, whether you can tell by the picture or not. It’s a miracle!


New kitchen shelves and a new faucet to replace the leaky one!

We were a cheery and energetic bunch. It really was how I wanted to spend my vacation- at least part of it. For one thing, it felt like claiming my space, making this house even more into a home. Conan and I desperately needed the sanity from more organization. The constant clutter from not having a place for everything was driving us crazy, even though we’re not exactly super organized types.


Khalil was the other motivating factor. He is suddenly not a little baby- he’s a giant and active baby who can’t be contained to a small space in the living room. It was totally unsafe for him anywhere else in the house, which was frustrating for everyone. So once I reorganized and he was suddenly able to go into the kid room and play with all the big toys, it changed his whole outlook. He was ecstatic, and we were pleased as punch to watch him crawl and semi-walk around and play like the 10 month old he is. It’s so satisfying to see the toys getting used at age-appropriate times. For example, Khalil can play with all the shape shifter things and the blocks because they’re all accessible to him now. Lucia can play with her puzzles because they’re properly stored where she has to be supervised to play them so we don’t lose half the pieces. It’s earth-shatteringly wonderful, even if it may not sound like it to you (in which case you must not be the parent of small children- you don’t have an existence based around total family chaos!).


It was my second to last night of vacation, and most of our projects were completed when Conan started drilling to put up the last new kitchen shelf. He dropped the f-bomb, which he doesn’t do nearly as often or as easily as I do. I rushed over to see a little fountain raining down out of the wall. Yikes. “How can I help?” I asked, calm because there’s always something to do in the midst of an emergency. “Hold here,” he said, and I put my fingers over the hole in the wall (only partially effective) while Conan turned off the water.


Once the flooding of our house was safely averted, the black rain cloud of doom came out. I asked Conan what we’d need to do to fix it. “Bust open the concrete wall and change the pipe,” he said. Immediately, tears welled up in my eyes. My doom cloud of worst-case-scenario hovered over me. Panic squeezed my chest. I envisioned the last little bit of my Christmas bonus money, the money we were using on home repairs and some upcoming needed dentistry, going to this disaster instead. I imagined that it would send us into more debt. I lamented that all of this fabulous, life-improving repair and organization we’d done was all for naught, that this instant of miscalculated drilling had ruined everything. Not that I blamed Conan; it was the fault of bad luck, miserly fate, etc. Fault or no, though, it felt like the end of the freaking world.


Because I’ve now had many years of practice with these end-of-the-world moments, and thus far the world has yet to come to an end, I managed to refrain from real crying. Bless my little heart, I was even able to tell myself that yes, it felt like the worst thing ever, but it really wasn’t. It wasn’t even the worst thing this month! Plus it wasn’t even certain that all the horrible consequences that I could imagine would come to fruition from this. Thank you very much, these three decades of having a therapist for a mother is totally paying off. I finally took advantage and continued breathing. The world continued to revolve on its axis, and continues to this very day, believe it or not.


But welcome to Oaxaca, where two different plumbers have stood us up for days on end (and those are the recommended plumbers!). Despite this, thanks to Conan’s craftiness, we’ve had water this whole time. Even that first night, we just let the water spray out into Khalil’s plastic bathtub so we could take showers quickly (always a necessity in my tropical paradise) and then Conan turned the water off again. The next day, Conan knocked out part of the wall. But it wasn’t as much of the wall as I had imagined. Then he rigged up a fix for the pipe until a plumber deigns to visit us. And it’s the dry season, so we’ve got some time before we need to fix our wall. It definitely doesn’t negate the wonders of our other home improvements and the joy that they continue to bring to our whole family.



The original quick fix for drilling into the pipe. Crafty and stylish.


Getting even craftier as the days go by without a reliable plumber. Welcome to Oaxaca!


The duct tape that Conan used to fix the pipe gets the gold star award for most useful thing on the planet, by the way (brought down from Kentucky by my mom- way to go, Mama! Everyone here is jealous of my duct tape). It has not only saved the day in our renovations, but it is also my go-to fix for nearly everything. I’ve used it to cover holes in our window screens, like the hole some stray cat made trying to get at an empty can of tuna. I use it to make these cheap cloth boxes more durable and less likely to be eaten by moths and ants. I use it to put Lucia’s name on her lunchbox and other school stuff. I use it to hold my cell phone together- my oft-dropped, two-year-old, cell phone, the one I used as a flashlight at night for the year and a half we were without electricity. Now when I drop it or a child throws it to the ground, the battery doesn’t come out. And it looks cool (according to me)! We all knew duct tape was useful, but this tape with multicolored designs on it is the bee’s knees, for sure. And now we are using it to tape up the hole in our piping. It’s the most stylish house-flood-prevention ever!



My too-cool-for-school cloth boxes, remade with cardboard and rockin duct tape

Thus, I’m continuing to bask in the glory of an organized and clean house. I feel all smug and satisfied every time I walk in the door, like a cat that’s just presented you with the innards of his recent kill. When I told my students that I spent 5 days of vacation binge cleaning my house and that it was fantastic, they all just kind of looked at me in disbelief. Indeed, 20 year old me would never have believed it possible, either.


I’m exceedingly proud of Conan and myself for getting all this done with two mini-hurricane children under foot. But I’m also still patting myself on the back about not having a major breakdown over this plumbing disaster. It was like my little rational mind made a nice cup of chamomile tea for my little emotional mind in the midst of disappointment and panic, and it was a lovely little tear-free moment for everyone. I wouldn’t exactly call it wisdom, but it’s close enough for me. So thanks again, Mama, for all these years of free therapy, and the duct tape to boot.

2 Responses to “Duct Tape & Therapy Techniques To the Rescue”

  1. juliainman January 10, 2016 at 7:46 pm #

    Love it! I told Terry it’s a must read and he’ll love the pix.

    • exiletomexico January 11, 2016 at 8:09 am #

      Yes, I’m betting Terry will appreciate Conan’s tactics on this! Hugs!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: