Photo: We’re constantly asked by neighbors and family, “what’s your project right now?” Lately, it’s been the yard, which has been easy and exciting and refreshing. We were starting to get serious about painting the living room in dining room (in other words, we’ve been battling over colors and whether or not “accent walls” are legitimate decorating things that we should have in our house). It’s a funny thing about plans and the desires of young parents. Something just seems to get in the way. Above is a “before” picture of the playroom… I took it on Saturday.
Lordy Lord Lord, where do I even begin? We were on such a great stretch, weren’t we? The house, the boys.. it has all just been humming along with such order, such grace…
Let’s start at the beginning of the madness.
11 o’clock in the morning, Eastern Daylight Time, Friday. I’m cleaning in my bedroom, the boys are playing in the playroom downstairs. The phone rings and I answer it.
“Hey, this is [nurse] over at [our pediatrician’s office]! How are you?”
“Hey, I’m well! What can I do for you?”
“Well, we got the lab work back from [Ursa Minor’s] well-baby check-up and the lead test came back borderline. [Dr. Pediatrician] wants to know how old your house is.”
Um. What? Whaaaat? “Well, it’s 100 years old… but there isn’t really any paint in the house…We had every single one of the windows and sills repainted before we moved in because we were worried about this…”
“Oh, ok, I don’t want to alarm you. We just need him to come back in a month to retest. There are things you can do–”
“I mean, I thought that he had to, like, eat paint chips to get that kind of thing…?”
“Well, no, not necessarily… but he’s only borderline. I really don’t want you to freak out…”
Welcome to Freakoutville, Population: Me.
I call my husband to tell him. We both sit on the phone for a minute trying to figure out where the hell there could be lead in the house. Our house is pure stained wood with a little wallpaper in between. No paint, really.
Except in the playroom.
The playroom is totally covered in that ugly pink paint.
I go and look at the windows, and there it is: Chipping paint.
For the love of God. Every time a train goes by, their little hands are on those window sills, their little faces peering through the glass so as to see the train go by. They are probably breathing in lead dust whenever they do it.
Now, you are probably thinking “Well, you don’t know if it’s lead paint, per se…”
We don’t, you’re right. We bought a tester, to confirm, but we’re pretty sure it’s lead paint. The house was built 100 years ago, and lead paint was only banned in 1978. The paint on the porch is clearly not 100 years old, but the decor of this house has not changed in a very, very long time. I doubt that the porch was painted post 1978.
So we had to make a decision. Wait for the test kit to come in (today. We Amazoned it) before keeping the boys away and regrouping or just go on ahead and quarantine the space and fix it.
We took all the toys out of the playroom and washed what we could. We took the old couch out (I wanted to get rid of it anyway) and put it in the barn for now. We have to strip the carpet out of there (it’s fine, it was just loose squares anyway), we have to strip the peeling stuff off, buy encapsulating paint to contain the problem and then we can talk about real painting to rebuild this room.
It stands to reason: Everything about our lives is centered around bettering the lives of the boys. Why wouldn’t they, then, get the best room in the entire house? New paint, new furniture, new design… they will be the beneficiaries of our DIY efforts first. I suppose that is the order of things.
We’ve got gift certificates for Homegoods and Ikea that I’ve been sitting on since last fall. I always knew that we were going to blow the Ikea one on the boys, but I thought I was going to be able to save the Homegoods one for our own bedroom, or maybe the dining room. Now, I need pillows big and soft enough to sit/play/read on and maybe some bins or baskets for storage. I’d like to purchase a skinny bookshelf from ikea, turn it on its side, put some legs on its bottom and put a little pillowtop on the top of it so that it can be a nice bench but also a place to store toys. I am actually excited about heading out to the fabric store to get materials to make new curtains (the fight with my sewing machine, however, will not be so pleasant). I’m envisioning a cool canopy over a corner of the room to make a little reading nook, too.
and I have to come up with a color scheme for this space now. I told The Husband that I’d like to be thoughtful about it. I’d like it to be painted in a way that can grow with the boys, so that when one day they shed their cars and trucks in favor of video games and model rockets (or whatever), the only thing we need to do to that room is change the furniture and now the color scheme, you know?
So my life is going to Pinterest for the next two weeks, for sure!
Oh, and one more thing:
The Husband was saying that this was a two-week project. Then he started scraping a section of wall and the scraper went through it. What’s that, you ask? Oh, no big deal, just termite damage in the header of one of the windows.
The good news? The termites are long gone. This was something that happened a long time ago. More good news: The damage seems to be very contained to this one local pocket. The bad news? The Husband says that this beam is structural (it helps hold up the roof above the porch) so this isn’t a simple fix. We need a carpenter to help us with this one (he says). My neighbor (God bless him) says that it isn’t as big of a deal as we think it is and that it might be an easy fix. The Husband is skeptical. I’m hopeful.
So a two-week project is probably a three week project?
That’s three weeks without a playroom. Three weeks of little bears and all of their toys in my not-so-large living room. There are little pieces of every toy ever in every corner of my otherwise cleanly space. And it’s school vacation week, ya’ll, so that means that I’m solely responsible for keeping two little boys happy and busy all week. Thank God it looks like we’re going to have good weather for the majority of the week.
Speaking of God…
I did not attend church on Sunday.
And frankly, I feel like I didn’t do Lent terribly well. I mean, I gave up sweets and stuck to it, I cursed plenty during the last 40 days, we were able to sustain the Fishy Fridays for about 4 weeks, and I think I read the Bible for about 20 days. That poor performance is bad enough, but more importantly, I was terribly reflective about the fasts that I’d taken on for myself. I did exactly what I hate post about religion: I performed an action without being thoughtful about it at all. I did it “because it’s Lent” and not because I actually wanted to deepen my faith or recommit myself for the tenants.
And, I’ll confess, I was really bitter about the church thing. I’m still of the mind that The Husband gave me an ultimatum at worst, or is coercing my weekly participation at best That made me extremely angry and turned me off to the entire thing. Frankly, I’m not sure that I’ve completely left this resentful space. I’m less angry about it than I was a few weeks ago, but I don’t think I’m not angry.
Ultimately, however, I think we have found a church that might be able to please the both of us. A third option was found in a small, but beautiful Episcopal church that is actually close to the farm where we love to hang out on Fridays. The Husband likes the music and structure, though I don’t know how keen he is on the pastor. He claims that I’ll like it, and he still thinks that is what matters. I have decided to be patient and to at least give it a try. Barring any surprises, we’ll attend services this Sunday as a family. I’ll let you know how it works out.
Musket and cannon fire are echoing through the still-bare trees around my little homestead. It must be Patriots Day in Massachusetts. Every year, from now on, I get to party with Minute Men in April. That’s geek-out worthy, in my book. I think that the boys will be old enough to appreciate some of the events next year! Just another reason to love where I live.
What am I writing about on Wednesday? I’d like a set of circumstances where I can write “I won the lottery” or “the playroom fairy came and just magically fixed the problems” or “a millionaire walked down the street and handed me an AmEx Black Card” or “I’m on vacation in Aruba and I don’t really care what’s happening at my house.”
Yeah, that last one would be particularly awesome…