As much as I want to just hide my head in the sand (if it's by my house, it's probably contaminated with lead dust) I can't. This nightmare we've been living since September that keeps getting worse as time drags on isn't something I can wake up from or ignore. So until it is over, here are some of the things that have become part of our routine.
Oh, how I hate to clean. I love a clean house, but I have 5 people that I swear go behind me and undo the cleaning I've done. I'll admit that dusting was the big thing I wouldn't do if I didn't feel like it. I tried to keep clean clothes and dishes and keep things picked up. But with lead paint on the outside of the house, I HAVE to dust. Twice a week, I take a wet cloth and wipe down all the window sills. I wet mop the floor twice a week. Once a week I wipe down the walls around the windows. It probably doesn't sound like much work, but we have 16 large windows. And no carpeting. It takes me awhile and I hate every minute of it.
I've spent a lot of time looking into various aspects of this lead fiasco. I'm in contact with the lead inspector, the health department, I've talked with the State Lead Program contact, the EPA Regional lead contact, the head of Lead Safe State. We've also had multiple contractors out to the house to get estimates...2 of which have declined to do the work for us, if that gives you any indication as to what kind of mess this is :( I've also been looking for different ways to fund this small little project we are required to do. I bought a lottery ticket this week, hoping to cash in that big jackpot, but unfortunately my ticket wasn't the winner I was sure it was. In April, there is a lead meeting and at that point the Lead Safe State head will know if there will be any funding to help with lead abatement. We applied for a home equity loan that really was a waste of time, but maybe, just maybe I'll be surprised. I did find that there is a type of loan called a Title 1 FHA home improvement loan. There is one bank in our area that is approved to handle this type of loan. The only problem is the maximum amount you can get is $25K so we'd still have to get a personal loan for the additional $11K that we need. We could try to refinance our house and depending on the house appraisal amount, request that amount instead of just what we owe and use that to help fund the repairs, although I doubt that the house is worth $36K more than what we owe. Another option is to try to finance through larger siding and window companies. For now, we're waiting to hear from the credit union. Sometime next week we'll know something, but considering there is no equity in the house yet, I'm not hopeful.
This is something I have been working on. I've sent a few letters of to the health dept and lead heads, but now my new tactic is to write to our congressmen. If I have to, I'll write a letter to the President of the United States. I'm trying to get my thoughts together so I sound like an intelligent, well-informed individual. The last thing I need is to receive yet another copy of Lead in Your Home: A Parent's Reference Guide. I want to make sure these people do understand that I am completely aware of the hazards of lead paint and it's implications for growth and development. I don't need a lecture on it's hazards. What I want to convey to them is that if they are going to require a family to do something that costs this much money, there needs to be something to help with the cost, whether it's a grant, or some type of loan.
OMG, the stress. I've been stressed before, but this is unreal. The lead is there. But the fact that only 1 of the kids had a high level says something. Even with my poor housekeeping skills, I've managed to keep the hazard minimal. With the exception of that paint chip that Caleb ate. The honest truth is this: for us anyway, if I had been a better housekeeper and cleaned up those paint chips, we wouldn't be here. It isn't the lead dust that poisoned Caleb, it was those damn paint chips from the door jambs. On one hand, the lead is still there on the outside of the house so it needs to be taken care of, but on the other, I just don't know how it will get done. When we do figure out how to fund this, we will be out of our house for the duration of the work. Hopefully, it won't take too long, but this won't be a quick 1-2 day job to replace 16 windows, put siding up over our large house, and encapsulate parts of the porch. We are a busy family: Husband works full-time, I work full time, and 3 of our 4 kids are playing summer league baseball...3 different age groups. That's one aspect of this adventure I'm not going to try to fix until we know when the work will be done.
We're trying to have a good attitude. The contractor we like so far explained that there will be yellow caution tape put up around our property, with signage that tells people to stay out of the work area. I feel like we're living in a condemned house. It will look awesome, like the old houses I dream about ours looking like once it's done. We will take pictures of the progress, just so maybe we can look back on this and laugh someday.