Monday, October 6, 2014

Letting the Dust Settle

We've been letting the dust settle 'round here, both literally and figuratively.

Let's discuss the literal first.  Because that's just easier.

This is my husband lovingly sanding the wainscoting in our dining area.  It's not so much a dining room as a designated eating space within our kitchen.

This is what the wainscoting looked like pre-sanding:

Here's a shot after Jared finished with the orbital sander (we still need to hand sand the rail at the top and the top of the baseboards):

Maybe it would help you visualize the space if I showed you a picture of the whole messy, embarrassing space?  Ok, fine.  But I warn you, it ain't pretty (obviously some stuff is moved around for the sake of sanding).

The plan is to sand the wainscoting and paint it white.  Then I want to paint the wall above it an aqua color.  I also want the frame around the sliding glass doors to be white, which will require a lot of hand sanding first.  Our next-door neighbor proudly told me that he built that custom shelf and curtain rod above the sliding glass doors (the curtain rod is down in the picture above for sanding purposes).  I wonder what he will say when he finds out I painted them white...

Eventually I want to paint our upper kitchen cabinets white and the lower cabinets gray.  That's a project for another day.

We have all had the nasty upper respiratory infection that seems to be going around.  You should have heard the coughing as our house--and lungs--filled with dust from the sanding.

I couldn't believe how much dust settled around the house from Jared sanding the dining area.  It's on every surface.  EVERY surface.  Not just horizontal surfaces and not just in the kitchen.  It's in the ice dispenser of the refrigerator.  On the kitchen faucet.  On the toaster.  On the entertainment center in the next room.  Some neighborhood kids came over to play in the middle of the project, and one girl left with dust all over her black pants.

And Jared wore the dust as well.

This was the first project we have started inside our house.  Yes, we have lived here over a year (since August 5th of last year), and we are JUST now starting our first project in the house.

Of course, we did recently complete a big project outside the house:  we repainted the front porch.  This took us weeks to complete, due to intermittent relentless rain and the tedious nature of the project.  Our front porch covers the whole front of our house, so this was no small project.

First, Jared power washed the front porch.  Then we scraped off any loose paint.  Then we used wood filler in a few places (like where the old house numbers were) and sanded those areas smooth.  Then we bought the good ($$) paint and veeeerrrrry ssssllllooooowwwwlllyyyy applied two coats of paint to every side of every spindle and pillar.

After all that time-consuming hard work, you know the before and after pictures have to be dramatic and satisfying.  Are you ready to see them?


I didn't have a great picture of the whole front of the house.  This was from the first day of school last year (two weeks after we moved in).  Notice the brass house numbers and the brass mailbox behind me.

Are you ready for the super dramatic reveal??


Here's the after:

So different, right?

Oh wait.  It's actually not dramatic or satisfying in the slightest.  Ugh!

Ok, so what you couldn't see from a casual drive-by or from pictures of the house when we bought it was that the white paint was cracking and peeling all over the porch.  If we hadn't refinished it this year, water would have damaged the wooden posts.  In fact, we had to remove three of the spindles (did you notice one missing from the front in the "after" picture?) that had already started to rot from water damage.  Of course, no home improvement store carries spindles in the exact size we need, and being that we are not handy people, we have not yet figured out how to get wooden spindles in the exact right size and shape to replace the old ones.  Sigh.

A closer look at the porch will give you an idea of why this project took so long.  We had to paint every single surface, every side of every part of the railings.

We did take off the old brass house numbers.  We bought super cool brushed silver ones in a modern font, but we haven't made time to put them up yet.

We removed the old white and brass mailbox and replaced it with this silver beauty:

 Someday I'll update the brass doorknobs.

Any bets on how long it'll take us to complete the final details of this project?  I'll give you a hint:  the correct answer probably doesn't end in 2014.

As far as letting the dust settle figuratively around here, there's just been so much going on.

Jared has been traveling a lot, including going to Russia, Germany, and South Africa.  Thankfully, he did not bring home Ebola from his trip to Africa.  However, I did make the mistake of watching a special on Ebola while Jared was in Africa.  Not a smart move.  He's had lots of trips to here and there, each lasting a day or two.  Not long enough to kill me, but enough to wear me down.

Nolan has had about 547 doctor's appointments and tests in the last couple of months.  We had to quit seeing his pediatric gastroenterologist because he made it clear he was not interested in helping us.  He repeatedly told Nolan there was nothing wrong with him, and he said Nolan was making himself sick in order to get out of school.  I don't even let Nolan stay home from school when his stomach hurts because he hasn't had a day without pain for at least a year and a half.  About an hour after that doctor crossed several lines and made me bawl, Nolan tested positive for Fructose Malabsorption.  This means he cannot digest fructose, which is the natural sugar in fruits and vegetables.  Chains of fructose, called fructans, are in wheat and brown rice, so Nolan also cannot eat foods containing wheat flour or brown rice flour.

If you're interested in learning more, here are two helpful articles:  Understanding Food Allergies and Intolerances and All You Need to Know About Fructose Malabsorption.

We have been doing other tests, and in a couple weeks Nolan will undergo a test to see if he is also lactose intolerant.  It has been quite overwhelming learning his new diet and trying to explain it to other people.  It's hard to see Nolan feeling left out when he can't eat what other people are eating.  It's overwhelming trying to figure out what to feed him and how to make sure he gets all the nutrients he needs.  Plus he has still been in pretty bad pain, even after changing his diet.

We met with a new pediatric gastroenterologist, and I'm hopeful that he will help us get Nolan feeling better.  We have seen slight improvements here and there, but I am still waiting for Nolan to go one full day without stomach pain.

The whole mess with Nolan led me into a messy place with my faith.  I had to wrestle with God over the fact that my child is still suffering despite my pleas for God to heal him.  I know that some of you may not get what the big deal is about just changing my kid's diet.  And that's okay, I don't expect everyone to understand.  For me, the hardest part has been watching my child suffer with pain and discomfort.  Then there are littler things that pile up.  It's been a matter of getting worn out with so many appointments and tests.  So many schedule changes and asking favors to make sure all my kids are taken care of.  So much money.  So much explaining Nolan's pain only to have his doctor not believe that his pain is real.  And then "the answer" came, and it's not a very easy answer to take.  It requires so much time, effort, and money just to feed my child.  And then he's in pain and running to the bathroom anyway.  Everyone has their limit, and I've been living at mine for the last couple weeks.

God helped me to see that the heart of the issue was that I wasn't trusting Him.  I wasn't trusting that He has a plan for my child, and that plan will be good even if it involves pain right now.  I wasn't trusting Him to take care of every detail each time we need to make an appointment or test.  I wasn't trusting Him to provide the extra money necessary to buy Nolan's special foods.  I've been trying to do all of this on my own strength, and I don't even have close to what it takes.

A Bible verse came up three different times in three different places during that first week after firing Nolan's doctor and getting his diagnosis.
"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him and I am helped."  Psalm 28:7
I am still, as always, a work in progress.  There are a lot of areas where my hope is secure and my faith is steady.  God chose to reveal to me an area of weakness so we can work on it.  I'm learning how to let Him be my strength when I feel too worn out to keep up with all of this (or how about before I get worn out?).  I am more than happy to let Him be my shield when people's words or actions threaten to offend me, and I need him to cover me with grace.

Of course, the rest of life has continued to go on--and get messy--in the midst of everything with Nolan.  We've dealt with kids' behavioral issues, work stuff, church stuff, adults behaving like junior highers (anyone else know what I'm talkin' about?), etc.  I joined two Bible studies, which are awesome but each comes with daily homework.

So maybe this wasn't the best time to bust out the orbital sander and start a new project.  Maybe I just wanted to focus on something else for a minute.  Maybe I needed to feel in control of something.  Maybe I'm just sick of this house looking exactly how it looked the day we moved in.

I don't know.  I'll let you know once the dust finally settles.


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