Posts Tagged ‘things I hate’

Old House Problem Number One Billion: Lead

Monday, February 4th, 2019

Sit down, friends, because this is a long-ass story.

In late summer 2017, not long after E had left for deployment, Lincoln and Finnegan had their 3 year and 1 year well-child check-ups. Because I hadn’t gotten Linc’s lead level checked at his 2nd birthday check-up, they sent us home with slips to get both boys’ levels checked.

When Evan and Caroline were babies, lead levels were done by finger prick test in the doctor’s office during the appointment. If the level was high or borderline, then you got sent for a venous blood draw at the lab. It was super easy and non-invasive and also I couldn’t lose the lab slips and then totally forget about it because it happened right there in the office.

A week or so after I wrangled two screaming, miserable children into the lab to get stabbed with needles (it always takes at LEAST two stabs, because they’re tiny people and have tiny veins), I got a call from the peds office saying their levels had come back elevated. They were both around an 11.

Up into very recently (2012), the cut-off for lead levels was a 10, which meant anything under a 10 was considered fine. Now it’s 5. They don’t actually classify it as lead poisoning or take any medical steps to treat it until it’s over 45. Just so you have a baseline for how elevated an 11 is.

Because both boys were under the age of 6, the pediatrician reported their lead levels to the town health department. I talked on the phone for a while with a health department nurse, who told me she wasn’t that concerned, it wasn’t a huge deal. We live in an old house, there’s probably still some lead paint around, although everything has been painted over at least five times. She suggested feeding them more red meat and getting a vitamin with iron.

A few days later, she called again. They wanted to come look at the house. OK.

I gave the nurse and her assistant a tour, I guess to prove that I wasn’t living in a falling down, unsafe shack. I showed them all the construction we had done over the summer when we had to have the kitchen ceiling and walls ripped out and the upstairs bathroom gutted. We talked about how the construction had caused a lot of dust and that was probably where the lead had come from. She seemed satisfied that since we weren’t doing any more construction, we were probably fine.

A few days later, she called again. She wanted to send someone out to do some lead sample testing. OK.

I scheduled an appointment with the woman who does sample testing. She was TWO HOURS late, with no excuse, and then was annoyed that I had an appointment and had to leave after 30 minutes. She also pointed at a bunch of places in my house and declared that they were DEFINITELY full of lead and going to be a HUGE problem. (Spoiler, she was completely wrong.)

She was SO rude to me, you guys. The whole thing was a miserable, degrading, exhausting mess and I’m a college-educated middle class english-speaking white lady. If I was someone who had to take off of work to make appointments or didn’t have a car to drive to the lab or all the free time necessary to fill out paperwork this would have been EVEN WORSE.  

When the surface lead tests came back, the good news is all the interior paint was fine. The lead seems to be isolated on the front porch, part of the basement, and the exterior of our original windows. But the bad news was the entire reason we hadn’t already replaced all the ancient windows in the house is because we don’t have that kind of cash, especially considering we had just paid to have the bathroom redone and the kitchen damage repaired.

The nurse from the health department suggested I look into state or federally funded grants that help people get the lead removed from their house. I spoke to a guy at the town who told me it was worth my time to fill out the paperwork, even though I was skeptical that we would fall within the income guidelines. I picked up the packet and spent days trying to fill it out. Because E was deployed and I didn’t have access to his email (neither did he) it took a million phone calls, faxes and copies of my power of attorney to get copies of his pay stubs, our taxes, insurance, mortgage, investments and everything else.

After I turned in the packet, that guy at the office assured me they would do their best to approve my application. Having four kids made us a priority, so they were going to move as fast as possible to get things started. That was October 2017.

I waited. Somewhere around Christmas, I got a call from a guy at a company called Connecticut Lead. He said since we were part of the lead abatement program, he needed to come to extensive lead testing on all of the surfaces, to make up an exact plan. I told him I had no idea we had been accepted by the program, but yay? I also told him he could come as soon as he wanted. Just after the first of the year 2018, I emailed him the original lead test I had from the rude woman at the health department so he knew where they had already looked.

Connecticut Lead did their inspection and told me they would turn in a report within two weeks to the lead program at town hall. Once the town had the report they had to review it and send it to the health department to make sure it was acceptable.

This is where things fall apart. I had hustled as much as I could to get stuff filled out, turned in, schedule inspections and answer questions within days if not hours. I had been told back in October we would get the lead fixed “before the winter was over”.

Instead, the guy I had been talking to at the town left his job. No one took over our file. When I called to check in, no one knew who I was. When they promised to find my file and call me back, I didn’t hear anything. When I followed up, I was told they HAD reviewed the report and sent it to the health department. I asked if I should follow up with the health department to make sure they were looking at it and was told we were a “priority” file because of the kids, so not to worry. They implied it would be rude to bother the people at the health department.

LIES.

E came home from deployment in February and I was able to fill him in on what was happening. He was surprised we were still in the middle of a process he thought would already be underway, but was happy about the grant approval.

In late March, FOUR MONTHS after the last time there was anything for me to do to move things along, I got a phone call from that rude lead level tester at the health department. She didn’t remember me. She wanted to schedule a lead inspection. I was polite, but VERY confused. Not only did our file already contain an extensive report from a real lead testing company, SHE HERSELF had already done a test. What in the world did she need to come test again??

She said she would call me back. I called the town to check in, emailed the nurse at the health department, and generally freaked out about what was (not) happening, but no one knew.

In early May, the town called and said we needed to update our application. They need to review your financials every 6 months to make sure you still qualify for the grant, and since they had dragged the process out for so long we were at the 6 month mark (with zero results or abatement of any kind).

We got them the paperwork they asked for.

The new lady at the town offices called and told us sorry, we no longer qualified for any grants of any kind. Oh well, bye.

I was beyond upset. All of that work for NOTHING. And this entire time I had been taking the boys in for lead tests, every 3 months. Their levels were coming down slowly but surely, thanks to the vitamins, my constant cleaning, handwashing and keeping them away from the porch as much as possible. But removing all the lead everywhere inside and outside the house was beyond our personal ability or finances.

At this point E took over. He tried to point out that we hadn’t done anything wrong but were being screwed over by people who never looked at our file. He spoke to the head of the lead abatement program and walked the guy through the timelines. While the guy agreed that yeah, it did look like both the health department and his office had dropped the ball, we were just out of luck because our last tax return said we made too much money.

Do you know why we made too much money on that return? Because E had reenlisted in the Navy and gotten a bonus. His pay and my business hadn’t made too much money. The fact that he signed up to serve the country for another 4 years is what bumped us just over the limit. If they looked at any other return for the last decade we have lived in this house, we qualified.

Once we provided as much documentation as possible in desperation (please look at this credit card we maxed out while fixing the bathroom, please please please), we were told there was a tiny chance we could get a waiver. I wanted to know who we could ask, who I could talk to, what I could do because I was SO tired of leaving everything in other people’s hands, but was brushed aside again.

We waited weeks again. Finally we were told they were going to let us keep the grant, HALLELUJAH, which meant we could go ahead with the next step of the process – finding a contractor.

At this point, my husband moved to New Hampshire. He’s still there. He comes home on weekends, mostly, but I’m doing day-to-day life alone with the kids.

There was a bid process, but only two companies bid. We were told to wait, then told we should redo the plan to include updating the heating system, but that ended up being SO expensive even the additional grant the town offered wouldn’t cover it. We scrapped the plan to update anything else and decided to just stick with fixing the stupid lead as soon as we could.

We signed contracts. We signed more contracts. We realized we will basically have to live here forever to have the grant forgiven, but whatever. We need to fix the lead, let’s get started.

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE. Because we live in an old house, and fall within an historic district, we needed approvals on our plan from something called the Historic District Commission. I was told to put together an application and wait for their meeting, where they MIGHT approve it, but if they didn’t we’d have to wait longer. I discovered a friend used to be on the town HDC and that she was willing to put me in touch with someone still on the commission, so I sent a long email explaining what we had been through: the boys’ lead levels, the inspections, losing our files, the many blood draws, my desire to just be told WHAT WAS GOING ON and not brushed aside.

She was incredibly sympathetic, but did we know that our house didn’t actually fall under the purview of the town Historic District Commission? I don’t need their approval, although she said they could write me one based on the plan I submitted if I needed it for HUD.

THIS right here is what I am most pissed about. Did anyone ever apologize for telling us we needed this very specific approval we didn’t actually need? NOPE. No one is sorry, no one is in trouble, no one is going to check and make sure the next family doesn’t get screwed over because no one at town hall will LOOK AT A MAP.

My contractor and I were READY TO GO. Woooooot no historic approvals, which meant we could do vinyl windows instead of expensive wood windows and save a bunch of cash. He wrote up the order to get started and called the guy at town hall to make sure. They actually started work on the parts of the plan that don’t need approval, like stripping and sanding the porch, so at least the porch is now lead-free.

Hahahahaha just kidding on the rest of it though. It turns out that we fall into a STATE LEVEL historic district, which means we need a STATE LEVEL approval. I am still not sure why this wasn’t ever mentioned before. If we needed a STATE LEVEL approval, why didn’t we do that in the first place? My friend at the HDC said the HDC would still write me an approval, even if we weren’t technically under their jurisdiction, so if that approval would have been good enough a week ago, why wasn’t it good enough now?

WHO KNOWS.

The guy at the town told us he would fill out the STATE LEVEL paperwork and submit it. He told me the best-case scenario is that they don’t actually ever look at our application, because if we don’t hear from them within 30 days we can proceed. It was now October 2018, which means in 30 days it would be Thanksgiving, which means we’re looking at Christmas before anything gets finalized which means we’re already into 2019 before the windows even get ORDERED.

I was beyond skeptical. I had been told for more than a year that I just needed to WAIT. Wait for other people to look at the papers, wait for an approval I don’t need, trust them, they know what they’re doing.

I was done waiting.

I tracked down someone at the STATE LEVEL to make sure they got my application.

The guy from the town called. He was pissed. He tried to tell me I messed things up, because now the state historic people weren’t going to let us use vinyl windows and if I had just not talked to them we could have waited out the 30 day process and done whatever we wanted. I tried to point out it had been MORE THAN A GODDAMN YEAR since this process started and all I had done was wait, so I wasn’t sure I believed him.

I confirmed with the woman at the state that I did in fact need her approval, I always had needed her approval, and the paperwork could have been sent in the same day we got our contractor instead of when I was sitting around waiting for the Historic District Commission meeting. If that had been done, either the 30 day waiting period or the approval would have already happened. I sent her proof and pictures that our windows had to be replaced, not rebuilt, and she agreed with 90% of our contractor’s plan and worked out the small details before sending it back to the town.

It didn’t help. Our timeline was already wrecked. Our contractor was already booked with as much work as he could take between November and Christmas. Plus he needed to special order our authentic, historic approved wood windows. The only company that made them had a 6-week turnaround, which put us into January, but then they had a delay, so the current delivery date is FEBRUARY.

That’s February, 2019, a full year after my husband got back from deployment and seventeen months after Lincoln and Finnegan first tested at an 11 for lead.

Last month I took them for lead re-tests (that makes SEVEN venous blood draws) and they’re both at a 6. In July, Linc turns 5 and at which point a 6 is no longer considered elevated.

So this brings us to now. The current project start date is February 11th.

But wait, here’s the best part. One of the rules with this lead abatement work is that we can’t live here while the work is being done. We all have to go live…somewhere else. The good news is the town actually has an empty apartment they lend to families who are displaced because of lead (it’s an old town, this happens more than you’d think). The bad news is it’s a 3 bedroom, with no dishwasher or TV, on the second floor of a super old building with a lot of rickety stairs and no parking.

We’ll be living there somewhere between two weeks and a month. Possibly more. The dog and cat can come with us, but for most of it, my husband will be stuck in New Hampshire doing shift work so I’ll be wrangling the entire circus on my own.

We also have to pack up most of our house into trash bags, to minimize the exposure to lead dust. Everything that’s out, on shelves or walls or counters has to be covered. It’s going to take a week to pack it all up and way more than a week to put it all back.

After they do the actual work on the house, we have to wait for another full lead inspection report to come back, to make sure the abatement and clean up was complete. If this process has taught me anything, it’s that waiting for someone to finish their paperwork takes five times as long as it’s supposed to. I’m assuming it will be April before we get everything back to normal here at home.

It’s going to be a stressful month, to say the least. I was feeling a low level of constant dread even before Christmas, but my current anxiety is at defcon 2.
I realize this isn’t a worst case scenario in many, many ways: the boys don’t have lead poisoning, we aren’t fighting a scummy landlord who refuses to help, we don’t have to move permanently, we don’t have to come up with tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket, we don’t have to pay for a hotel during the work, the kids won’t miss school or activities, and the house is going to be SO much easier and cheaper to keep warm. But the process has made me feel terrible about myself as a human and as mother. I cannot wait for it to be over.

Brutus 2006-2018

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

Previously: 2013 photos of Brutus with the kids 

I’ve spent several days staring at this box on my computer trying to figure out the best way to say that my dog is dead.

I don’t want to say “We lost Brutus this weekend” because we didn’t lose him, the way you think of losing a dog. He didn’t run away, he’s not missing, there’s no chance he’s coming back.

I don’t want to say “Brutus died on Sunday” because he didn’t just die. It wasn’t that easy. He got sick, really sick, really fast and I spent a week talking to vets about whether or not we could help him before we had to make the terrible choice that we couldn’t.

I don’t want to say “I had to put Brutus to sleep” because he’s not fucking sleeping. He’s dead.

I don’t want to say “I had to do the kind thing and save Brutus from his suffering” because when it came down to it, I couldn’t even do that. I sent my husband to the vet with the dog while I took the kids to a birthday party, so I didn’t have to make the decision or tell the kids right away.

And now our dog is dead.

Up until Sunday, November 4th, Brutus was basically a puppy. He was hit by a car when he was 3 or 4. I saw it happen, he went completely under the wheel of a big SUV. I carried him home, threw my infant in the car, and rushed him to the vet. They looked him over and diagnosed…a scrape on his lip. That was it. No other damage. He loved other dogs so much that walking him on a leash was next to impossible. As soon as he saw a dog he’d drag you into the road to say hi, barking and yelping and totally freaking people out. He liked to talk by making these growling-grunting noises. It made him seem scary until you realized it was basically the dog version of purring. When he had cancer last year and had to have a toe removed, he was up and jumping around long before the wound healed and had to have it restitched twice because he couldn’t be still. He was an amazing guard dog, barking loudly and alarmingly at everyone who dared to walk past the house, but calming down when friends came in and he realized they were good humans.

After I posted on Facebook that Brutus was gone and people started sending their condolences, I realized how many people had known Brutus, just like they know my kids. So many friends have pet him and rubbed his ears. So many kids have climbed on him or used him as a pillow or fed him their cheese sticks. We’ve had him since before we had kids, before we bought a house, before we were even real adults. He’s given everyone he’s ever met so much love, and I hope he knew how much he was loved in return.

You’re a good boy, Brutus. We’ll miss you forever.

Brutus at 3 months old, in our old house, on our old couch, when my face didn’t look like I’ve been crying on and off for days:

I took the kids out this week to take pictures, just in case. I’m so glad I did.

 

Balancing Busy

Friday, July 6th, 2018

This is my (and your) affirmation for today:

Just because something works for other people, doesn’t mean it has to work for you.

My Facebook has been flooded with think pieces, sorry not sorry posts, and memes decrying “kids these days” and their need to be constantly entertained. Mostly they’re complaining about Pinterest Moms who schedule their summers so kids are always doing an organized craft or attending a camp or attending enrichment activities. “Kids need to be bored!” they shout, “It’s good for them to learn to entertain themselves!” “When I was a kid, my mom just locked us out of the house all day and told us not to get back until dinner!”

OK, first of all, your mama did not lock you out of the house when you were 4 and 2, which is how old half of my children are. Second of all, do you know how quickly kids get bored? 5 minutes. They’re bored all the time. They live in a constant cycle of dragging their poor, neglected bodies between horrible available options including millions of legos, dozens of ride-on toys outside, the sprinkler, unlimited Netflix, fort-building supplies, and their playing with the siblings I have generously grown with my own body as friends and companions.

Our summer calendar includes a lot of scheduled activities. I’m constantly watching Facebook for community stuff or checking the library calendar to see if there’s something at least one of my kids could go to. We do daytrips, late nights, meals on the go, ice cream for dinner.

I refuse to feel bad about any of it. No, I don’t *have* to fill their summer because I’m a stay at home mom (and judging people who do heavily schedule their kids during summer because they need childcare is some privileged nonsense – I’m VERY lucky “doing nothing” and “being bored” are even options). No, Caroline probably doesn’t NEED to go to 4 different kinds of camp. No, I don’t hate my kids and want to get away from them. We’re just trying to find a balance that works for us. So yeah, it probably does look like we’re ALWAYS doing something and ALWAYS going somewhere and my kids are NEVER bored.  But literally right now while I write this I’ve taken away their tablets, left them on the floor with a box of My Little Ponies and a bin of Magnatiles and told them to amuse themselves. It’s been 2 hours since they woke up and so far no one is fighting. I just know that won’t last forever, so pretty soon we’re headed out to the library.

NOTHING is as exhausting as refereeing bickering children all day, so yes please sign us up for some more stuff. When we need a stay-home-day, we’ll stay home. When people on Facebook feel bad about their own summer schedule, it’s about them, not me. I’m not raising or lowering a bar for anyone else (except for that trip to Disney World, because every month we’re not at Disney World is another month I disappoint my children).

So to be clear, the following options are ALL allowed:

Doing all the things
Doing none of the things
Making a long elaborate bucket list of must-do activities for the whole summer
Abandoning a long elaborate bucket list completely
Doing some of the bucket list but then taking time off
Going to no camps
Going to all the camps
Fulling intending to sign your kids up for camp but forgetting
Taking tons of pictures of everything
Taking no pictures at all
Letting the kids watch Netflix all day
Throwing out the remote and the tablets and declaring all technology off limits
Feeling like whatever you’re doing is wrong
Feeling like maybe your life would be better if you were just doing it the way that one Facebook friend is doing it
Giving up and not caring what other people are doing

And because I am the mom who chooses take all the pictures and do lots of things, here is some of our summer so far:

General Life Update First Quarter 2018

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

Oh hi internet. Once we made it to Homecoming I sort of forgot I had a blog. But I caught my husband checking the page to see if I had posted anything, so I think even he might appreciate a life update all in one place.

First thing everyone wants to know: Yes, it is super great to have E home. We all missed him a lot, for a bunch of reasons, and now that he’s back things are much better. He had two whole weeks completely off of work and now he’s on sort of half-work for a few more days, so I’m able to schedule doctor’s visits, parent-teacher conferences and hair appointments without having to bring 4 kids.

Speaking of hair, I made some drastic changes. I haven’t had hair this short in a decade, and I haven’t been this blonde since I was a child. It’s been a week and I am still LOVING it. (This is a HUGE photo of my face, but it’s my face so deal with it.)

Once E got his bags unpacked, he immediately tackled the to-do list I’ve been keeping. He fixed a ton of stuff, did a bunch of tech support, finished our taxes, and let the kids climb all over him as much as they want. We’ve been having a great time doing some 5- or 10-year life planning as well as some RIGHT NOW updates, like finally replacing our horrible stove and ancient mattress. Buying a new stove and mattress feels very grown up.

Finnegan has quit sleeping at night, which is fun for no one. He’s also nursing as much as a newborn, which I am not enjoying in the least. I had no intention of weaning him until he was ready on his own, but right now getting 8 hours sleep seems worth a little effort. He’s such a happy, pleasant baby during the day and so easy to put down for a nap, I do not understand why he is trying to kill me every night. This isn’t our first rodeo so I know all the things we can do to sleep train/gentle sleep train/not sleep train/cry it out/not cry it out/etc etc etc. I just need to decide if I’m at the point where I have to do something or if I can just keep hoping he grows out of it any minute.

Caroline had her first cheer competition last Saturday. Her team came in second, so she’s really proud of herself. We aren’t pointing out that there were only two teams in her division. Honestly though, she did REALLY great for her first even public cheer performance – the stage was huge, there were a lot of people and lights and the music is super loud, plus it was a long day for a bunch of small humans. Tons of waiting around for a 3-minute routine. She has two more this year – one this weekend and one in April – and I suspect she’s going to start begging to join a full year cheer team as soon as she can. I’m not sure how I feel about being a full-time competitive cheer mom, but I also don’t want to take away something she’s so in love with. She has already volunteered to quit most of her other activities if she can keep cheer.

Lincoln has an acute case of the Terrible Threes. He’s mad he’s not old enough for all the stuff the big kids do, so he takes it out on everyone in the family by being a jerk, hitting people or screaming. It’s not my favorite age. I did manage to potty train him (yay!) and he’s doing great at school (also yay!) and his speech is really improving (thank god) but he’s living in a glass case of emotion and spends SO MUCH of his time crying. It must be exhausting, but I don’t know how to help him.

Evan is such a mystery to me. He’s a really chill kid until something sets him off, and then he loses his mind. He was doing great at school until suddenly he can’t remember basic math facts. He is very helpful and responsible until he gets a screen in front of him and then it’s like he’s gone deaf and blind. He will be super kind to Finnegan and then do something to intentionally make him cry. He has started lying about small stuff to test us, so I’m trying to both assure him that I will always appreciate the truth and also sort of scare him so he knows he gets in big trouble if he’s caught lying. You guys, I don’t know what I’m doing. He’s going to be NINE next month and that’s so old. I remember being nine. There’s so much going on inside you. This isn’t like having a fourth baby that won’t sleep, this is brand new.

I’ve started planning out our summer already (it keeps me sane while I stare at the two feet of snow in my yard), and the kids are excited for various camps and activities that are on our calendar. We don’t actually need to keep quite AS busy as we did during deployment, but if the snow days have taught us anything it’s that being all together in our house is THE WORST, so between lakes, beaches, camps and trips, I’m hoping to avoid the level of togetherness that makes everyone want to strangle each other.

It’s supposed to snow again next week. I am not ok with this.

Evan and Caroline have started asking about maybe not sharing a room anymore, so we’re going to have to figure that out.

I have mini sessions coming up in a few weeks. If you’re local to Connecticut (or local-ish enough), I would love to take your picture! You can see the link here on my Facebook.

A few months ago, I started to follow the keto diet (aka bacon all day) and I really like it but at the moment my sugar cravings are winning. I need to commit again because I’m in search of a ball gown for a ball in a few weeks and nothing makes me more depressed than trying on clothes.

I think that’s everything even remotely interesting about my current life. I’ll try to get up our Homecoming photos taken by our amazing photographer (not me) soon, because who doesn’t love military homecoming photos?! There are just so many it’s going to take me a minute to cull them down.

 

 

 

TODAY IS THE DAY

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

Guess what is happening RIGHT NOW?

My husband is coming home. I’m at the official homecoming down on the pier with the kids. This deployment is OVER and we all survived (as long as I can keep Lincoln and Finnegan from throwing themselves off the pier into the river, which I am honestly a little stressed about).

 

This morning the kids skipped school, we baked E a birthday cake and we’re all wearing special outfits I picked out months ago. I’m even wearing high heels, which I will probably regret but this seemed like an occasion that called for being a little fancy. It’s hard to be practical when you’re this excited.

I’ve had a variation of the following conversation at least 20 times in the last week:

Friend: It’s almost over! Are you so excited?!
Me: Yes, super excited!
Friend: Did those 6 months go by so fast?
Me: …
Me: You don’t have time to hear all my feelings on this topic.

On the one hand, it did go by fast because my plan to keep my family super busy worked extremely well. Our current schedule is a kid activity 6 days a week with 2 on Wednesdays and Sundays. Three kids started school. We did Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year. I fed them approximately one million times, changed half a million diapers, and broken up a quarter-million fights. I dealt with the dog’s dental problems, cancer diagnosis and toe amputation. I potty trained Lincoln. I handled four months of plumbers trying to fix the sewer line. And I had completely forgotten that I ALSO finished the bathroom remodel, which seems like a million years ago now. So maybe six months didn’t exactly fly by.

The time did not fly by every evening when I watched TV alone. It didn’t fly by when I filled everyone’s stockings by myself. It didn’t fly by every time Lincoln threw a screaming tantrum. It did not fly by when I was trying to keep my business going with no real childcare. It didn’t fly by at 2 am when I was up with the baby. It didn’t fly by every time I had to make a decision on my own that I would rather have made with my husband. It did not fly by every time I had to drive somewhere, which is always, because in the last six months I have NEVER been a passenger in a car. Six months is a really long time, but also now six months is over.

The Navy understands that deployment sucks so they’re going to give E some time off and I am VERY excited. I won’t have to take all four kids to every appointment this month! I can go to the doctor alone! HE can take the babies to swim class because I hate swim class! He can also do our taxes, fix the bookshelves, and deal with the next round of contractors. I’m really excited that we’re going to finally watch Stranger Things season 2 so I understand pop culture again. It’s also going to be weird adjusting to having him around. It only takes two weeks to make a habit, I’ve had plenty of time to become set in my ways – feeding the kids and then just eating whatever for dinner myself, staying up too late watching whatever I want, placing random Amazon orders, never having to consult someone else about the weekend plans, pretending I can’t see the dishes in the sink for three consecutive days. It wasn’t quite like being single again, but it was very much about me me me me all the time. And I bet it’s going to be weird for E too. In the past six months I’ve moved around a lot of stuff. I bought new furniture. I rearranged several rooms. There are new lights and child locks on everything. All the stuff that I adjusted to after like 24 hours is going to hit him at once. Plus the weather. Going from 24/7 in a metal tube under the water to the human world full of trees and plants and sky and sun and rain and snow and wind and…other weather stuff has got to be tough on a person. Hopefully his skin doesn’t burn instantly when it first encounters sunlight again.

I have a legit fancy photographer who is taking pictures of our reunion, but if you want some less fancy updates I’ll be on Instagram with the kids. I’m probably posting an Instagram story right at this second. I also gave our names to the Navy media guys last night because all three big kids said they would REALLY love to be on the news, so there’s a chance Caroline will become a local tv star by doing something incredibly precocious in front of a camera. Let’s hope that’s why we’re on the news, and not because Lincoln throws himself in the river.

p.s. Thank you SO MUCH to my internet friends who have kept me company in a dozen different ways during this deployment. I would be 1000% lonelier and more stressed out if I only had real-life, in-person interactions. The internet keeps me sane.