So you thought Story #28 was the final chapter in our renovation saga? Not quite. Check today’s Times-Picayune for installment #29, the final final chapter. Check the online version for cute pix by Kathy Anderson.
Ready or not, baby makes 3 in Mid-City
NOTE: When Bart Everson and Christy Paxson celebrated the completion of their post-Katrina renovation in early February, they counted on having another four to six weeks to get the house ready for the arrival of their first baby. But Persephone Jean EverPax had other plans.
By Stephanie Bruno
Christy Paxson stood on the rear deck of her North Salcedo Street home holding a tiny bundle in her arms and facing the sun.
“Time for some Vitamin D,” she explained.
The bundle, of course is the newest resident of the Mid-City home that Paxson and her husband, Bart Everson, share: Persephone, their 3-week-old daughter.
The baby’s early arrival caught Everson and Paxson off-guard and still holding a moderately long list of small tasks to complete on their renovation.
They had hosted a party in early February to celebrate substantial completion of the work, to welcome Endymion back to Mid-City and to rejoice over the anticipated arrival of their daughter.
Soon after the party, they gathered some friends and moved furniture around upstairs to create a nursery. That meant moving their own bedroom to the office, and the office to their upstairs living room.
Though tasks elsewhere in the house remain incomplete, Paxson is satisfied with the way the baby’s room came out. Purple with turquoise trim, it now features a colorful bedroom set that the couple found at Imperial Furniture on St. Claude Avenue.
“We looked around a lot and finally settled on this,” Everson said. “It came with really awful butterflies attached to the headboard and the top of the mirror, but we realized we could just unscrew them and replace them with something we like. So we bought the set and took off the butterflies, then shopped online for something to replace them.”
They settled on ceramic knobs, painted with fish.
“She’s a Pisces,” Everson explained.
For now, Persephone appears oblivious to the knobs, the purple walls or even the Vitamin D she has been soaking in with the sun’s rays, as she sleeps peacefully in a crib, wedge-shaped pillows on either side to keep her from rolling over on her tummy.
Getting the lead out
Both Everson and Paxson are on leave from their jobs, his at Xavier University and hers at Dwight D. Eisenhower Elementary School in Algiers. The family leave is allowing them time to adjust to the demands of caring for a newborn and to manage some of the highest priority items on their home “to-do” list.
“One major development is that we have had the house tested for lead paint,” Everson said. “It had crossed my mind before, and we probably should have done it sooner. But every time I would look into it, I would hit some kind of dead end.”
The problem was solved when Everson contacted the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, a national nonprofit with a strong local presence.
“I found out that they will do a free lead test in a home where children are present,” Everson explained. “They came in and took swabs on lots of different surfaces. They even had some kind of detection gun that they could point at the wall and get readings.”
Everson said he and Paxson were relieved to learn that interior lead seems isolated to a few areas, like the bathroom. The exterior is where the greatest concentration has been found.
“The exterior paint on the house seems to be an issue,” Everson said. “We have known for some time that we needed to paint the exterior, and we planned to, eventually. But now we know that it will have to be handled very carefully. The good news is that because ACORN did the testing and found the lead, we qualify for free lead abatement when the time comes.”
Food, glorious food
When that will be, neither Everson nor Paxson can say. For now, there are middle-of-the-night feedings to tend to, interrupted sleep to contend with, diapers to change and burping techniques to master. Learning new baby-care skills leaves little time for anything else, including grocery shopping or cooking.
Everson said he probably has a little more time for food chores than he is willing to admit.
“If word gets out that we can probably feed ourselves, then people might stop bringing over food!” he said. “And that would be very bad.”
Stephanie Bruno can be reached at email@example.com.