And so it came to pass that it was her time to spend 184 Days in the prison of flood recovery. She prayed three times for this thorn to be taken from her flesh, as it grieved her soul greatly. But finally, the end was at hand.

From the dark day in November when my daughter flooded her bathroom and then then went back to playing while the toilet spewed forth until the final completion of all necessary home repairs, it was taken from my life six months and three days.

The cleanup was intense, recurring, and ugly.

The last remaining step in the process was to replace the carpet in Ali’s room where the flooding had leached in brought ruin.

Replacing carpet seems significantly easier than gutting a bathroom and completely retiling and bathtubbing it, an it even seems easier than completely cordoning off the kitchen to scrape and repopcorn the ceiling, all of which had already been completed.


Except for the fact that my daughter is a hoarder. And I was Proverbs 22:6-ing it and training her up in the way she should go, which was clearly hoarding.

(Maybe I misunderstood the concept of “should.”)

So every surface of her room,


every drawer in her room,


every floorspace on her needing-replaced carpet,


was completely loaded with priceless treasures. Treasures that needed trashing before workmen showed up.

The night before The Big Dump, I prepped her and her brother.


“We’ve got a lot of work to do tomorrow. We’ve got to throw many things away, but it will be fun – because we’ll find all kinds of toys and treasures that you’ve forgotten about.”

And the next morning, she was ready to go.


We had a trash box, a donate box, and a sentimental-stick-in-the-basement box.

We started sorting, and Noah started de-sorting.

We sorted faster, and he de-sorted faster.

We exchanged hopeless looks, and distracted him with new and fun toys.


But ultimately, after two days of work, we achieved DeJunked Nirvana.


(Okay. I didn’t throw away that much, but I certainly thought about blowing up the room and starting over.)

In the process, I ran across some especially curious finds.

1. Such as, the one remaining tiny princess shoe from the Christmas of 2009.


I still want to hunt down the childless idiot doll designer at Disney and ask him what-in-Jasmine’s-name was he thinking when he designed those shoes that were so tiny not even a brain surgeon could even get them to go on those stupid doll’s feet.

2. The Treasured Target Cardboard Collection: authentic floor-droppings from Targets all around Birmingham.


(My friends always thought I was embellishing my daughter’s hoarding tendencies when would I tell them that she has a drawer dedicated to cardboard-from-the-floors-of-Target, but this photo proves it – I was not.)

3. A Corner O’ Styrofoam. Also a hugely exciting Haul from Target.


4. This guy.


I have no idea who he is, from what world he came, how he broke into my daughter’s room, or what his intentions were. But he has now passed on.

5. To prove that perhaps the mess wasn’t entirely Ali’s fault, I present to you Exhibit A: unopened baby presents circa 2007.


(I apologize to whomever gave me those precious gifts. I assure you, I treasured them. In the back of her closet.)

6. While I’m at it, I apologize to the gifters of these as well.


7. It’s bad when her room is so messy that her toys themselves start passing along veiled threats.


8. Although we found enough Legos to sell on eBay and feed the world, there was a bowl with this collection, carefully set aside:


And tucked neatly next to the bowl were these directions, front and back:



When the two were combined, this was created:


Her first set of hand-drawn Lego Instructions. My husband’s lego-built heart grew ten times that day.

9. When all was said and done, the room was cleaned out, and the carpet installers were on site, I went to move a plastic shelving unit out of her closet. The type with the shelves held together by hollow tubes.

As I picked it up and tilted it, I was showered with her final art installation: hundreds of chestnuts, molded and partially disintegrated.


When the carpet was installed and I went to move the shelves back in, somehow a second batch that had been holed up and waiting for the exact right moment to plan their escape and all came tumbling out, covering the brand. new. carpet. with chestnut dust, particles, and nuts.

She’s a special kid.

Our ultimate load included five garbage bags, a box of trash,


and a giant stack of donate items (I hope someone gets good use out of that first year frame – apologies once more to the gifter.)


We also removed the carpet from the hallway and replaced it with hardwood,


And Ali, who was surprisingly proactive about throwing away or giving away even more than I thought she would, was thrilled with her new carpet, but even more thrilled to have a purged room.


And I was just happy to be done. 184 days later.

For those of you who asked the final tally of what that one cursed toilet flush cost our family, here’s the breakdown:

State Farm originally gave us $3,680 for our troubles.

On three different occasions as the project grew and more damage revealed itself, I spent hours calling, emailing proof, nagging, negotiating, and making them wish they never agreed to insure me to get them to give me more money. I even had my wonderful carpet guy and friend George to call my insurance guy and explain why I needed more of The Farm’s cash. Due to my general pain-in-the-buttedness, State Farm sent me three more payments for a total of an extra $1,798.51.

So the total Insurance payout was $5,478.51, which does not include the nine day bill from ServPro for untold oodles of dollars, because State Farm paid them directly.

Our total repairs and upgrades (such as getting a new bath tub while the bathroom was torn out, and getting hardwood in the hallway, an area that State Farm staunchly refused to admit damage but clearly also had ruined carpet) cost $6,352.01.

(This does not include the amount that we spent to go ahead and get the outside of our house painted while we already had multiple workmen coming in and out of our house.)

(And then the amount that we’re spending to finally get sod in our front yard because the house’s new paint job really made the mud pile of a yard look significantly worse.)

So ultimately, we got:

  • New bathroom tile, floor and walls
  • A new bathtub
  • New carpet in one room
  • New hardwoods in the hallway
  • A kitchen ceiling paint job

for a net of $873.50. And six months and three days of construction hell.

It is not a route I recommend, but I am gravely concerned that my daughter might feel differently.


24 thoughts on “The Final Fix.

  1. I have a terrible, horrible mind blowing fear, nay phobia, that you daughter has “the gene” in her body that may have come from her Great Grandmother. Hoarding at its best in the making. It all looks great, sorry, for now. Please do not let her have the Millie gene.

    1. You know, though, she didn’t mind getting rid of stuff. I think I just haven’t properly taught her the fine art of purging. Probably because I only do it in spurts, myself.

  2. Awesome post! And by awesome, I mean I’m “sorry (??) for your troubles and new renovations. And I’m glad I don’t have the only little hoarder out there! Thanks for sharing the evidence. Did Ali have a great grandmother who was in the Depression?

    1. Yes, actually. And she had every single letter that she ever received from anyone. And stuffed in between those letters were crisp $20 bills. So nothing could be thrown away without being thoroughly sifted.

  3. I AM SO RELIEVED!!! That my 6yo son is not the only junior hoarder in the ‘Ham. He gets it from his Dad and we (I) are trying to convince him a purge is needed, soon!
    Her room looks great, congratulations on getting it all done.

    1. It’s amazing to do it, and surprisingly, she really enjoyed it! She LOVES it now. So if you need her to call your son and give him a motivational speech, let me know.

  4. Wow, this made me feel a LOT better about K’s room. I thought it was bad, but she doesn’t come close to touching Ali’s hoarding! Unfortunately I am the hoarder in the family. It’s bad. I know. I am getting better though! I recently gave two pick up loads of stuff away. That was HUGE for me! Glad you’re all finished with the remodeling! I love the hallway hardwood flooring!

    1. I’m not technically a hoarder, because I don’t mind getting rid of stuff. It’s just a matter of prioritizing the purging process, or doing it as I go through life (do some people do this?) that I can’t seem to get a handle on.

  5. Ali and Beege would be absolute best friends. They could compare junk collections, and reminisce about clogging various toilets.

    Everything looks great – so glad for you that it’s finally done!

  6. I am so glad this will finally be behind you! The room looks great… Hopefully Ali won’t decide to plug her toilet whenever she feels like she’d like a room make-over. ;-) In our family I am definitely the hoarder. I’m trying to change my stashy ways but it is hard, very, very hard….

  7. She looks thrilled with her room. The cleaning pictures gave me flashbacks of my childhood room. I got a lot better as I got older, but it is still an ongoing battle to keep those hoarding tendencies from taking over. Luckily, I married someone who likes to have clear surfaces in the house, so that makes it easier for me. Of course, he is very much an “out of sight, out of mind” type of person, so we do have some scary areas that I have to tackle from time to time.

    1. I married someone just like me – we don’t mind getting rid of stuff, we just don’t prioritize it. Hence, our basement is atrocious.

  8. Wait, ‘repopcorning’? Your’e supposed to scrape it off and then eventually you decide to get it off the rest of the ceilings too! :)

    I have that exact same “My First Year” frame, also from 2007. I do have it filled with pictures but am missing three months for some reason. Maybe I’ll get it done before he leaves for college.

    Well, my son’s room doesn’t look so bad now! My mom is a hoarder though, so I am working on teaching him to let go of stuff before it gets out of hand.

    1. Yes, but scraping popcorn (or even having it scraped by someone else) is a phobia of mine. Especially since the prior owners did it to our bathroom, and it looks HORRID.

  9. I fear my 11 year old is a hoarder. The last time we cleaned his room, there were tears when I asked him to donate some of the crap he hadn’t played with or used in years. I will not be going back in there until summer vacation.
    Great post. Love the blog.

    1. Those are the type of kids that you have to clean their room when they’re away – and hope they don’t miss it. Or so I’ve heard – I’d be scared to do it!

  10. Please don’t take this the wrong way — but looking at Ali’s room makes me realize my own CAM’s room is not awful. In fact, it’s quite normal.


    You are awesome and I love this post, but probably for nothing that has anything to do with why you posted it!

    p.s. She’s not a hoarder. Her space is just too small for the treasures she loves. That’s how we look at it; there will come a day when she wants to throw away everything from when she “was a baby,” and I dread that day. So for now, while everything is of equal importance, I relish it. (Well, okay. I may throw away the tiny scraps of paper when CAM’s not looking. Or home. Or in the same state.)

  11. glad your house is back to normal. it makes me feel all happy inside to know that you purged. i love getting rid of stuff :)

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