Posts Tagged ‘Connecticut’

Heavy Adulting

Monday, January 29th, 2018

So here is a thing people don’t tell you about being a grown-up: no one knows what they’re doing. I mean, maybe some people know what they’re doing in some scenarios. I hope my doctor knows what she’s doing when treating me for medical stuff. I hope my hairdresser knows what she’s doing when she cuts my hair. I hope my kids’ teachers know what they’re doing when they try to teach division. But every single day as a grown-up I am faced with things I have NO IDEA how to do or how to manage or how to pay for or how to handle and most of the people I encounter aren’t doing much better. I have a very distinct memory of sitting in a college French class, having literally NO IDEA what was happening because I had been faking my way through French for years, and thinking “Oh my God, I can’t wait until I’m done with school and things are easier.”

Let’s just take a moment to laugh at poor, naive, non-French speaking College Suzanne. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Here’s a current scenario. Lincoln’s annual blood test came back with elevated lead levels in August. Since I forgot to take him for the test last year, they couldn’t tell if it was going up or down. Finnegan’s levels also came back a little high. Because lead is considered a public health issue, their levels were reported to the health district and now it is a THING. A thing I have been worried about constantly since August.

The first woman I talked to told me the level wasn’t actually that high. But she wanted to come out at do an assessment. Two people came and I gave them a tour and showed them the house and told them about the bathroom renovation and how it took forever and the walls were all knocked out and it was so dusty and filthy for weeks. They both agreed the construction probably caused the high level and they didn’t seem concerned. Those people knew about lead but thought it shouldn’t be a big deal.

Then I got a call from someone else at the health department that wanted to do the testing the first set of people said I didn’t need. So sure, testing is fine, I’d love to know what I can do to stop the lead exposure. That woman was a nightmare – more than an hour late, unorganized, unfriendly and basically told me I was a bad person for letting the kids live here. So that was super fun. I spent days panicked over how we could afford to have all the trim in the entire house stripped and repainted while staying in a hotel so the kids weren’t exposed to more lead. Not to mention the fact that ALL the windows probably have lead and we just spent every penny of our renovation savings on fixing the bathroom and kitchen ceiling. That woman knew how to do testing but not how to keep her rude opinions to herself. Also she knew nothing about how to fix the problem.

Then I got another call from the first lady at health department. She suggested that I talk to the people at our town’s community development program because the town has grants available to help fix lead paint issues. I told her I had checked out their website and we didn’t qualify. She suggested the qualifications were more like guidelines than rules, so it might be worth talking to them. I talked to them. I filled out a ton of paperwork. I hauled the babies up and down the very steep stairs to their office to turn in reams of tax returns, bank statements and notarized forms. I’m still trying to get the last form filled out by my mortgage company. But after I dropped everything off, it was radio silence. That guy knew he could help but not how to make a phone call to tell me the status of my application. Also, he quit, so he isn’t the guy to talk to anymore.

Last Saturday I got a phone call from a very nice guy who said he needed 3-4 hours of my time to do a full lead inspection for the town. I was confused, because didn’t we just have a lead inspection? He assured me the one done by the health department is subpar and not what the town needs to write an abatement plan. Which they need, because apparently we’ve been approved for a grant to fix our lead issues. He didn’t know, exactly, because that part isn’t his job. His job was to come shoot his little lead paint tester gun at every painted surface in (and out) of my house. He was VERY good at that job. It turns out NONE of that trim has lead paint. None of my walls or radiator covers or doors or even my cool painted antique bedframe have lead. What does have lead is the outside of all our old, peeling, drafty windows, as well as the original paint on the porch and some on the basement stairs.

I am SO relieved. It’s too cold to play on the porch right now, the kids never go in the basement and the inside of the windows are ok. No one is being actively poisoned by lead. The nice inspector is going to write a report and come up with solutions for how to replace all 26 of our original windows and abate the lead on the porch and the basement stairs. He doesn’t know how, exactly, because he’s not a contractor. But he knows the people who can help.

And then, the day AFTER that inspection, I got a letter in the mail from the community development program saying we had been accepted into not just the lead hazard removal program but also a property improvement program. TWO grants to help fix the house. We’re going to be able to solve our lead problem without taking out a huge loan or selling everything we own.

I didn’t know the town even had a community development office. I didn’t know anyone was giving out money to replace old windows. I didn’t know this is something we could have done ages ago. I didn’t know because that’s not my job. But I also didn’t know who to ask for help, which is the frustrating part. There isn’t a class in college or high school or elementary school that teaches you how to just ADULT. Putting all the pieces of this (and, like, a dozen other problems I’ve had in the last month that are far above my normal paygrade) together is hard. Sitting on my couch watching Master Chef reruns and browsing Facebook is easy. I feel like that’s what being an adult boils down to most of the time – using all my energy to deal with life stuff and then waking up and doing it again the next day and the next day and the next day and as soon as I feel like I’ve actually crossed something off my list 5 new things get added. OMG it’s going to be like this forever now, isn’t it?

I’m not ready for that, so let’s just focus on how in the next few months I’m going to get new windows. Hopefully. Because until that happens I’m going to worry about it every day and never really get to enjoy anything. I know that much.


Velvet Mill Winter Farmer’s Market

Monday, January 8th, 2018

We had to get out of the house on Saturday so we went to the Velvet Mill, where Stonington has their farmer’s market in the winter. I had to wear the baby on my back to keep him from a) running away and b) freezing to death between the car and the door (also the mill is huge and drafty and most people didn’t even take off their hats and scarves inside). When I have a baby on my back my photography really suffers – he’s wiggly and throws himself back if he can’t see what I’m looking at, it’s hard to carry my camera strap on my shoulder when the carrier strap is in the way, and crouching down/bending over is hard when your balance is being thrown off by 28 lbs. But I still managed to take a few pictures at the mill (plus a few after).

All that delicious farmer’s market food and my kids begged for cheeseburgers for lunch.

Snow Day Again

Saturday, January 6th, 2018

I am really enjoying using our stay-at-home down-time to work on my documentary photography skills. I actually signed up for a photography class specifically on that topic that starts on Monday. I’m nervous – the last time I paid for a workshop I quit after 2 weeks because I couldn’t keep up with the assignments (also I was 39 weeks pregnant), but this one was more expensive so hopefully my guilt keeps me motivated. Today we are going to leave the house even if we all freeze to death though, because these children are driving me bananas.

Snow Day (The First Of Many, I Suspect)

Friday, January 5th, 2018

The kids went to school for 2 whole days this week, which was the first week back after vacation. We had Thursday off because it was snowing all day. We have Friday off because the wind is terrible and all the shoveling I did today was useless. Then it’s the weekend again. Hopefully by Sunday we can go back to our regularly scheduled activities because this house is starting to feel REALLY small. I might have ordered 12 different kinds of organizing storage container today because if I have to be trapped inside all the time at least it’s going to be in a clean house.

Here is some of what we did today.

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Essex Steam Train North Pole Express 2017

Friday, December 15th, 2017

Previously: 2013, 2015

Taking an Essex Steam Train ride to the North Pole is one of our favorite Christmas traditions. Last year was sort of awful because Finnegan was only 4 months old, it was the 7 pm train, and it was VERY loud. He cried almost the entire time. I don’t think I even took pictures with my real camera – I definitely never blogged it. This year I might have skipped it because E is gone and wrangling four kids on my own at public events is hard, but our boat FRG* decided that to celebrate Kids Halfway Night we would get tickets to the Essex Steam Train North Pole Express. Since it was a group activity (and the FRG subsidized the tickets) it seemed like fate that we should go.

The kids all did GREAT. No crying, no meltdowns, no spilled hot cocoa, (mostly) no torturing each other. There wasn’t even any fighting about who got to sit by the window. We got there right on time and didn’t have to wait long to board. Basically, everything was magical.

Our train car this year was significantly darker than in previous years so my photos are blurry and noisy. I think next year I might – MIGHT – splurge on first class tickets. The fanciest elves host the first class cars, there’s so much more room for dancing, and they have more twinkle lights which would mean better pictures. I’ll also make sure the baby doesn’t rub his grubby fingers all over my lens, leaving some sort of sticky stuff that made all my pictures fuzzy and out of focus.

The gnome jammies and hats are cute enough to make up for a slight lack in technical quality though.

*Quick Navy life lesson: submarines are called boats. What you think of as boats are called ships. An FRG is the family readiness group, which is like a club for all the spouses/families of people on that submarine. They do fundraisers and bake sales and have meetings and they keep us updated on what’s happening with the boat while they’re gone. Halfway Night marks (approximately) the halfway done with deployment date.


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