Day 74

This past week, the doorway got opened up, the kitchen hood vent went in, the ceiling insulation went in, and we bought our new appliances!

Coming up…

  • opening the kitchen/dining room passthrough window tomorrow
  • installing cabinets on Friday
  • installing appliances on Saturday
  • My husband and I need to order countertops and decide on flooring

So you might get some good pictures next week.

In the meantime, I’ll tell you, my husband and I have been having some pretty intense talks with God lately. But before I tell you how mine went, I have to tell you a story about my son. (Bear with the length of this post.)

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Yesterday my son, who is 5, got the tiniest, most pathetic sliver in his finger. It was so tiny and sunk so shallowly that I probably could have wiped it out of his skin with a tissue, but he wouldn’t let me touch it. We sat on the hallway floor near a bright window for at least 20 minutes, me holding some tweezers and talking him down while he sat 3 feet away protecting his sliver finger from me like a prized possession.

“It’s going to hurt!” he sobbed.

“It already hurts,” I said. “You might as well let me take it out so it STOPS hurting.”

“How long will it take?”

“Less than a second, but you can’t move.”

“But it’ll hurt!” he sobbed again.

“That’s why you have to be brave,” I said.

“I CAN’T!”

“Yes, you can.”

And it kept going like this for an annoyingly long time. (Just so you know, I tried tackling him first but that had way worse results than the patience tactic.) Finally, I got him to stick his hand out and hold still, with obvious reluctance, and I popped the sliver out in half a second. He then smiled and went on his merry way.

Why do kids make things so much worse for themselves?

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This past week I took in some really great media (a live sermon, a political radio broadcast, a tv show, and a friend’s novel) but the end result was me getting pissed at God last night for not making a better world. The logic went like this:

“If God is so good and so all-knowing and so powerful and so able to create anything, then why didn’t he think to create a world without all the crap? Without fear. Without cruelty and abuse. Without corruption and violence? Why didn’t God create a world where Jesus didn’t HAVE TO save everyone? Why didn’t God create a world that included free will WITHOUT a fall? Why didn’t God just not create the snake? I assume that God could have, but just didn’t. God, in his ‘all-wisdom’ thought it would be better this way, with the loss and the heartache and the sacrifice. God’s a glory-hog. 

“And (the rant continued in my head) don’t just pull the Job argument and say that I wasn’t there so I don’t know, because that’s a copout. And don’t just roll your eyes saying this is just a stereotypical ‘problem of pain’ or ‘problem of evil’ because it’s not. I’m asking why you didn’t do better? IT WAS YOUR JOB TO DO BETTER!”

And I cried into my pillow on my way to sleep because I couldn’t trust that God had the world’s back. Of course, deep down I knew that this wasn’t purely altruistic; I had a specific instance in mind.

At least a year ago, maybe two at this point, our house got broken into. The person took our computers, my purse with my id, my credit card, $200 in cash. But what bothered me wasn’t the stuff that was taken, it was the thought that there were two small children asleep upstairs, and this person who was roaming around our house uninvited looking through our things might not have just been a thief. So now every night I check and double check the locks on each downstairs door. I check the locks on every window, even the third floor. I look behind the shower curtain, and under the beds, and in the closets, and behind the bathroom door. And sometimes, if it takes me too long between one place and another, I have to start all over again because, “what if someone slipped past without me noticing?” I know God loves us dearly, but I also know that God (and we) are not always best served by everything going well.

So I imagine the kidnapping of my children. I imagine the death of my husband.

“It hurts!” I sob.

“You might as well trust me so that it STOPS hurting.”

“How long will it take?”

“Less than a second, but you have to believe me.”

“But it’ll hurt!” I sob again.

“That’s why you have to be brave.”

“I CAN’T!” I scream in my head.

“Yes, you can.”

And I realize that I am the same as my 5-year-old son, and that God has my back even if it’s going to hurt, and that God is a far more patient parent that I will ever be.

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Day 63

Okay, I lied. I said that the next pictures would be the exciting ones, and I’ve been holding off on writing so I could keep my word, but I didn’t realize how long it takes to receive your cabinets once you’ve ordered them. So, in the meantime, here’s what’s been going on…

  • we have lights in the kitchen now (no more flashlights)
  • the kitchen walls and ceiling drywall is all done and spackled
  • we now have a step between the kitchen and the sunporch, so no more giant leap
  • the vents for the kitchen hood and the bathroom fan have been cut and finished
  • the roof has been recoated

And here’s what’s coming up…

  • framing out the pantry
  • putting up drywall in the bathroom and laundry room
  • finish lighting in the laundry room and bathroom
  • put steps between the kitchen and laundry room
  • install cabinets
  • open the wall between the kitchen and dining room
  • my husband and I also have to decide on countertops and flooring

Over all, the mood in our house is pleasant. My husband actually said that he’s acclimated to our present systems, which is good for my soul to hear. I’m curious how long it’ll take us to re-acclimate once we have a sink again, and a dishwasher, and an oven. It might take about 2 seconds, but I don’t want to take it for granted. And I don’t want to forget our current experience.

I’m so glad that our house is getting fixed up. I’m glad because I think it’ll help us show hospitality even better than we already do. But I’m also aware of the entitlement that comes with having nice things, and I don’t want my kids growing up feeling entitled.

I know a lot of adults who weren’t able to fix up their house – to get their big kitchen or their second bathroom – until they were retirement age, including my parents. As such, that is my standard, the example I’ve seen, so I didn’t assume we’d get to touch our house for a long time (failing foundations do a lot to create urgency).

I also remember the bathroom we had when I was growing up, the bathroom with weak floorboards beneath the toilet that made me think I might fall through the floor if I sat down too hard. My parents’ house is beautiful now, with two remodeled bathrooms, a big kitchen and living room, extra closets and storage rooms, a new laundry room, a new office: all things that we didn’t have when I was a kid. But even without those things my childhood was pleasant, and I actually think that tiny, fixer-upper bathroom did me some good. It made me appreciate what little I’ve had at different times and be thankful when I’m able to improve things.

So I have hope, even as we continue to improve things, that we will be able to instill that thankfulness and gratitude in our kids.

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Day 50

The contractors are moving so fast now. All the hard stuff is done so here’s what happened in the past few days…

  • Framing out the new bathroom
  • Finishing the subfloor
  • Putting up drywall 

Next week we’ll be framing the new pantry, installing cabinets, widening the doorway between the new kitchen and the dining room, opening a passthrough in the same wall, and picking out all the bathroom stuff (sink, shower, toilet, flooring). The pictures coming up will be fun ones!

Now for the rest of the post…

I realized this past week that I’m always most successful at connecting with people when I’m talking about the ways in which I have failed. Failed at friendships, marriage, parenting. Failed in jobs, at logic, or in social graces. Failed at being good at even the things that I’m known for being good at.

I wish that weren’t true. I’d be much more proud to connect so often over successes, but when I imagine that conversation it just feels icky: “You’ll never guess what happened! I got promoted to senior editor, nominated for best artist, and won the PTO bakeoff all in one day! And my husband said because of me he’s the happiest he’s been in years. Isn’t that crazy?! How was YOUR day?”

It’s possible that it’s just the circles I run in, but the world seems to be a pretty broken place, and that world includes me. I’d always like to say the loving thing to my husband. I’d like to have hair that just perfectly cascades. I’d like to host every open mic night with precise pacing and delivery. But the truth is, I have a much greater impact on the world when I feel the need to apologize, when I feel ugly, when I feel embarrassed…and live to tell the tale.

Sure it’s not fun, failing. It wasn’t fun being unpopular in high school. I definitely didn’t enjoy accruing the student debt of two degrees only to realize that I DON’T have a knack for teaching. And don’t even get me started on the Mommy guilt that built up as my kid refused to sleep for 3 years.  These things might get resolved in 2 hours on the big screen, but in real life they leave scars.

Fooled you though because scars are cool. You thought I was going to say scars are bad. And maybe they are if you plan to be the perfect sort. But, obvious and slow to fade, scars are the bearers of good tidings to those who hurt in secret. Scars let others know that you’ve been there too. And we all need to know that we’re not alone.

So try as I may to have it all together, to be a great parent, a great graphic designer, a great leader, a great daughter, a great housemate, a great creation, etc., it’s probably better that I don’t always succeed. And I genuinely hope God hears me when I say, ” I don’t want any more failure…but when it comes, thanks.”

 

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Day 45

First, I have to mention that our contractors have kept our washer and drier up and running this entire time. That has not been easy, so I really appreciate their thoughtfulness and effort. That being said…

I love laundromats. This weekend is the first time that our washer and drier are not in commission, and I realized yesterday that the kids have no clean underwear, so today the three of us are at the laundromat.

It’s not that laundromats are all that awesome. On the contrary, a lot of them are dirty and need remodeling, they’re expensive, and the crowd there can be dicey or just plain awkward. But I love laundromats because they remind me of grad school when I was starting to visit the l-mat for the first time. Sure I’d technically been an adult for 4 years already, but grad school was the first time I felt like I was doing very adulty things. I lived in a house/apartment instead of a college dorm. I bought my own groceries. I chose my own bank. I was no longer a college “kid.” And it was always nice to go do laundry because I was stuck at the laundromat without my computer (a desktop) so I really had no choice but to spend an hour or so reading and, of course, people watching.

So it’s fun to spend this morning sharing the experience with my kids. They’re using the time alternately between playing with toys and watching “The Magic School Bus” on my phone (with headphones), but they’re not bothering anybody. We are definitely being people watched, though.

This week the contractors…

  • Found and replaced a cracked sewer pipe.
  • Rebuilt the laundry room subfloor.
  • Finished the electrical in the kitchen. 
  • Insulated everything.
  • And Gary and I remade decisions about cabinets and flooring.
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Our contractors discussing the electrical. There’s another guy in the other room digging out the sewer pipe.

Day 39

It’s been quite a week.

 

  • We picked out cabinets.
  • The contractors demolished an old chimney.
  • Plumbing in the kitchen is done.
  • The kitchen radiator got lifted up today, so we can finish the floor.
  • We can see where the lights are going.
  • The electrical is going in this week.
  • The laundry room floor is being rebuilt this week.

So things are moving and that’s an encouragement. Emotionally we’re still doing okay as well, though…

  • My son just learned the word “hate,” and thus I got my first “I hate you” from him, and it was because I wouldn’t give him a juice box. (When I pointed out that saying that over a juice box was a waste he recanted pretty fast.)
  • My husband and I had our first fight about the remodel (though it was more about cleaning responsibilities than the actual remodel).

On the other side of this past week I’m still hopeful and thankful. It’s October, the best month of the year! We might not have an oven, but we’re not going hungry. My husband and I aren’t perfect at loving each other, but we DO love each other. My kids aren’t angels, but they’re growing and learning. And I’m not tired, I’m happy.

That’s a big deal.

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