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September 24, 2009


Early Sunday afternoon I looked into the living room to see Jack perched atop two vintage jewelry boxes that have somehow stayed out of our storage container. He was on his toes with legs stretched out, fingers wiggling, working hard to get a grip on something just out of sight.

This is the mental and physical posture that for now defines our life at home.

He’s in a place where tiptoes are the difference between his haves and can’t-haves. The volume knob on the stereo, the spice jars on the kitchen cart, another piece of cheese from the cutting board. The light, the door handle, the faucet, the refrigerator door. He so loves to stand and stretch that our playtime has assumed a Richard Simmons quality.

His parents (that’s .5 parts me) are in a place where over-extension seems the only way to get a grip on those just-out-of-reach things that we’re aiming for. When our 8-to-5 is over, we want to come home as parents, friends and spouses. But we also come home to hard hats; until The Project – our home addition and renovation – is ready to live in, we’re still on the clock as our own contractors.

Jack uses footstools, boxes, the foot rails of wooden chairs, open drawers. If those fail or are taken away, we’re always within reach to lift him up or hand something down. Ladders, scaffolding, weekends, lunch breaks and the tiny bit of daylight at the end of each workday are the time-stretching, height-extending resources that keep us perpetually on tiptoes. We’re slogging through the things we can’t afford for a professional to glide through – caulking, gutting, and eventually insulating, flooring, tiling… . (When I get any further down the list than that, I get a little light-headed.)

Sometimes we have to wait.


We come to a new step only to be rained out, or struck by the flu, or skipped on the delivery route. (The waiting really is the hardest part.)

We knew September would arrive with a lot of progress and a long to-do list. And I’m still sure that all the sweat equity will make us more satisfied in the end with what we did, more sure that we earned the new space and convenience. For now we’re reaching, climbing a little higher as we’re able, taking a little help when we can get it.

Jack likes to check out the top shelves from across the room. Later, when he’s stacked two jewelry boxes to use as steps, he puts his arm up and fumbles for what he knows is there but can no longer see. Some days we have to stand back from the piles of lists and budgets and timelines for a wide-angle look at our undertaking and its many obstacles.

It’s still there, and we’re getting closer.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. milkandmusic permalink
    September 24, 2009 6:34 pm

    Love the pictures and the post. Sweet little tip-toes.

  2. September 24, 2009 7:02 pm

    oh this is good. really really good post. The tippy toes of a toddler and the over-extended yawning of a parent/worker/hard-hat wearer.

    And having gone 4 months without a kitchen for a job that was s’posed to take 3 weeks, but was delayed due to two measly cabinet pieces that didn’t come in for MONTHS….you can see that I totally understand waiting is the hardest part. And that I might possibly be still bitter about years later. 🙂

  3. September 25, 2009 11:52 am

    so sweet… and adorable!

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