Day 99

It’s official…after 99 days we have running water!!! No more bathroom dish doing.

Day 94

Some exciting photos are coming to you next week, but I thought I’d get one last post in here before that happens. Here’s where we’re at:

  • Cabinets are fully installed.
  • The door was put in.
  • I bought faucets.
  • We picked out and bought a countertop.
  • We picked out the floor tile.

Coming up…

  • Countertops, sinks, and faucets go in on FRIDAY!!
  • For the first time in over 3 months we’ll have running water and a dish washer!
  • Flooring is being purchased and picked up next Tuesday.
  • We need to pick a paint color and back splash tile.
  • We need to pick a flooring for the bathroom and laundry room.

I’m all over emotionally today. On one hand, it’s sunny outside, our lives will soon be a lot more back-to-normal with running water, my birthday’s coming up, and since the kitchen will be mostly done soon we’re hosting a gathering on Christmas Eve. On the other hand, this is the busiest time of year for both my husband and me work-wise, we’re getting closer to running out of money for the remodel, and yesterday was my beloved-boss’s last day at work. Oh, and Christmas shopping, don’t forget that.

And I’m sure you’re in the same boat. So to spread some Christmas cheer, here’s a little relic from my childhood: Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” by Vince Gill.

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Day 76

THE CABINETS ARE HERE!

Just wanted to give you that update.

Now, here’s a random shoutout. To whom? To the renovation project itself! I realized today that I love living here. I’ve always loved living in Bristol, but today I felt the love of living on Otter Street specifically which, before the renovation, was definitely not the case. Here’s why…

Parking

Before the renovation started, we always parked in back of our house. It was just practical; we have two parking spaces in the back of our property, which means no vying for street parking and no worrying about the street sweeper. There’s also less traffic back there, so it’s safer for the kids.

But, because we parked in the back, it became the household habit to always come in the back door instead of the front, which meant that we never walked Otter Street and we never ran into the people who did. We were absent from the community out front, which made us assume that there WAS NO community and made us feel isolated.

Neighbor Interactions

On one side there is a family with 3 small children. We had never met the parents, but the kids were always in their back yard, seemingly unwatched. They would often ask to come over to our yard and play, and, if we said yes, they were over for hours sometimes.  This always made me feel uncomfortable. Their parents never came over to introduce themselves, to check on their kids, to see if it was okay that they were in our yard, or to see if we were axe murderers. Nothing. And, if I’m honest, I really didn’t want to watch a bunch of extra kids all afternoon most of the time. So eventually we started avoiding our back yard if we saw that the neighbor kids were out there. Lame, I know.

On the other side is a house full of young guys. Young, loud, crass, pot-smoking guys. On most nice afternoons, all these guys would sit out on their back porch smoking pot, cursing up a storm, and arguing about different topics (my least favorite of which was the physical characteristics of women). So we spent many lovely sunny afternoons indoors doing puzzles because our quiet, kid-friendly back yard was no longer so quiet or so kid-friendly.

Since the renovation started…

Since the renovation started we’ve been parking on the street in front of our house to make room for our contractors’ vehicles in the back. As such, a lot has changed. First of all, the vying for parking thing hasn’t been an issue. Second, now we always come in the front door and we always walk Otter Street, so we’re running into people that we didn’t have a chance to run into before. There are some sweet college girls nearby that we see more often now. We’ve finally met the parents of the kids next door and had some unhurried conversations with them. My husband met one of the young neighbor guys and had a fun conversation about college and football. And over all, we feel more urban than suburban, more connected, and more present.

This is how we wanted things to be when we moved in here. Sure, nothing has changed in terms of the issues that impact our back yard, but a lot has changed in terms of our hearts and how we see the people who are a part of those issues. I guess all it takes is a little renovation.

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.)

*

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?

*

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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