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- An Army Wife’s Home Improvement Valentine
An Army Wife’s Home Improvement Valentine
Her top-secret operation is transforming their house one DIY project at a time.
- Photo: Photograph by T.J. Felix
“Operation Chaos”: Outlining the Plan of Attack
“If you ever need anything done, ask an army wife,” says T.J. Felix from Manhattan, Kansas, otherwise known as the “Little Apple.”
Feeling guilty for not mailing her husband a care package nine months into his deployment to Iraq (her boys go stir-crazy in the post office), she came up with a secret mission — which she dubbed “Operation Chaos” — to conduct a series of home improvements with which to surprise him upon his return.
This was an ambitious campaign. “I didn’t know what ‘sheen’ was,” she admits. “I had to Google ‘sheen.’”
(For those in the same boat, sheen, or “luster” in a general sense, relates in this case to how much light a paint reflects from its surface. Paints that have a semigloss or glossy sheen reflect light whereas flat or matte paints absorb light.)
To get up to speed, she did online research, watched how-to video tutorials, consulted with a contractor friend, and set up a “top-secret” photo album on Facebook. Her friends and fellow army wives cheered her on from the virtual sidelines, offering advice and sharing resources, and occasionally mailing her materials. Sometimes, friends or family would come over to help babysit T.J.’s three children while she ran to the store or applied a coat of paint.
She worked her way through a long list of projects while her children napped. “I don’t mess around,” she says. “I don’t wait well.”
Her husband knew something was afoot, but apart from seeing the Home Depot bills, didn’t have knowledge of any of the specifics. His savvy army wife made sure to position the camera carefully when they would Skype so as not to spoil the surprise.
So, where to begin?
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