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 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 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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Day 32

EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!

  • The new floor is insulated.
  • The new floor is built up to the right height.
  • The kitchen door has been widened.
  • The kitchen window has been lifted up.
  • The new circuit board is in place.
  • And Thursday we’re going to look at cabinets.

So things are definitely coming along.

That being said, this morning we realized that our electrician unhooked our hot water, so now we’ve officially been plunged into the pre-industrialized world. My husband took a freezing cold shower anyway. I’m more likely to either just be dirty or build a fire in the back yard to heat water for a bath (remember we have no stove or I could do it there), but the kids are a different story. I think we’re going to go to a friend’s house this afternoon to have a bath party.

It’s always an adventure when you remodel.

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The door and window I mentioned are on the other side of the room. This window will soon be opened up and this doorway widened too.

Days 14 & 15

After this summer of traveling, the kids are used to this arrangement. We’ve now slept in one room in various hotels, airbnbs, timeshares, and relatives’ houses, so they took very little convincing to try it in our own house. (It’s not a bad way to teach your kids to hold their possessions [even their own beds] lightly.)

Our bedroom is on the second floor and next to the bathroom, and I took the kids up there right after dinner. They both lay down in their travel beds immediately and I changed their clothes and brushed their teeth right in bed. I read a couples books, turned on the sound machine, turned off the light, and was out of there. 10 minutes start to finish.

But here’s how it goes normally.

I take them up to the second floor and we stop in the bathroom. They fight over who gets to stand on the step stool to brush their teeth. If Augie wins, I brush his teeth while Rosey brushes hers. If she wins, she brushes her teeth and Augie takes off to who knows where to do something that is of maximum importance only to him. 5 minutes later I get him back into the bathroom and we brush. Meanwhile Rosey makes her way downstairs and back up again only forgetting some vital toy or blanket downstairs. I finish brushing Augie’s teeth and tell him to go upstairs to his bedroom on the third floor while I carry Rosey downstairs (she insists) to get the forgotten item. I then carry her up two flights of stairs, down the hall, and into their room. I lock the door behind me: no escape!

It is now time for jammies. Augie and Rosey have the biggest bedroom in the house so, after I get their day clothes off, they run around like wild beasts, chasing each other in their newly nude freedom while I tell them several times to come back and get their jammies on. Once again, they argue over who goes first until I tackle Rosey because she’s the easiest to subdue. Then I tell Augie that he can sleep naked with no story time and he lets me get him dressed, but he’s “not happy about it.”

Deep breath.

I pick out two books and hope they pass inspection because otherwise Augie will get to the shelf and pick out the longest ones possible. The kids sit in their reading chairs. I read. Rosey then complains that Augie is too close to her even though he hasn’t moved. Augie gets offended at being falsely accused of something and I can’t console either of them because the whole thing is irrational. Finally I scooch their chairs farther apart and I’m able to finish story time and get them into bed.

They have various stalling techniques that they can employ at this point, but let’s say it’s a good night and I get out of there without 5 songs, 4 prayers, 3 sips of water, 2 potty breaks, and a partridge in a pear tree. Let’s say I get out of there with a simple g’night: this whole thing has taken an hour and a half.

In a small house there is much less distance, much less room to run wild, several fewer rooms to entice little interests, several less steps to haul things up and down. In my smaller house I got the kids to bed tonight in 10 minutes.

I’m not complaining.

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