Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Two weeks

It's been two weeks since our house caught on fire. I don't think I have ever been so tired, for so long, in my life. I just can't seem to get a decent night's sleep, either because of children climbing into bed with my husband and I, or waking every hour, or the temperature, or just insomnia.

Yesterday was a rough day. We were all irritable and tired. But Lucy has taken a nap the last two days and seems to be in a better mood, so today was much better. The mood of the youngest seems to set the tone for the day round these parts. We spent a long time at the pool yesterday, and today we went for a while. Jude had his semi-annual allergy appointment and had his highest ever scores for breathing. That means that his medication  regimen is working - we tweaked it in early June when the cottonwood was flying and he wasn't sleeping. We're adding Zantac back in, as he's been complaining of heartburn. Who could blame him, really?

I postponed my July intensives at Meadville Lombard until January. It will make for a crazier fall semester, but my family needs me here this summer. I'm having a lot of sorrow around being away from my home and yard during the summer months. I was in CPE last summer, so I had a lot of plans for lounging around, reading, and gardening. The kids miss the swing set, sandbox, bikes and trampoline.

I printed out my UU History and Polity readings and am going to start those, as well as my MFC competencies when I can find time. It's hard to find quiet time in the hotel suite.

I want to give a shout-out to ESL Savings and Loan, my bank. The teller at the drive-thru WALKED two packs of quarters out to my car because I had a sleeping child in my car and they are too heavy for the pneumatic tube. I couldn't believe it! They always provide excellent customer service, but this is beyond the pale!

Tomorrow, my MIL and my niece and her two kids are coming over to swim. I hope the weather is warmer than it's predicting. This weekend we're headed to Keuka Lake for the holiday weekend, and then the following week, home to PA for Arts Festival. I can't wait. We're taking the dogs with us this weekend too, which will be wonderful. I miss our cat and bunny too...

No progress on a rental house, though I'm now helping to search for options. We've got to get a yard!

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Trying to normalize life as much as possible while displaced is daunting. But one small thing I'm grateful for is Google Sync. I was able to restore all my favorite places, Chrome settings, etc. in one fell swoop! I finally broke down and ordered restore disks from Mozy.com, as the slow wireless connection at the hotel doesn't allow for downloading 54 1.3G files. And since I don't have a cable modem here, I temporarily made my cell phone a hot spot - and it's pretty darn fast! Technology I am grateful for :).

This morning, the kids and I went to church. It is the one place that still feels like home. Sitting in the back of the sanctuary, listening to Poetry Sunday; meeting outside under the Standing on the Side of Love sign, showing our support for gay marriage. It was fabulous. Hugs by friends, sympathy and soul food. I miss my internship church work, but it is good to have the time to reconnect with my home church.

Then I went out and bought pillows and a new down comforter. I hate down pillows, which is what they have at the hotel, and with my neck problems, it will be lovely to have normal pillows. I love the new down comforter and duvet - they are so pretty and will smell like us, not like hotel laundry. Really, the little things matter.

Tom did laundry tonight, which was a gift. We don't have a lot of clothes so it doesn't take too long, and it's nice!

I'm looking forward to having my dogs back. I miss my morning walks and meditation. It's hard to meditate with six people in a small space. The pool doesn't open till 10, so I can't swim early, though they probably wouldn't care. They have been super nice to us. Emma apparently has carte blanche at the pool but I credit the bikini ;).

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dreams of Disaster

I've been having nightmares. As if the reality isn't enough - Jude's been at the ER for an exploding glowstick to the eyes, and Lucy fell in the hotel pool the other day. I follow her around in my dreams, protecting her from a myriad of disasters - water, vehicle, you name it. Jude is always in the background - there, but generally safe and a source of info. I must trust the girls to take care of themselves, as they don't figure in these dreams.

Lucy and Jude have been coming into our bed every night. It's hard to sleep in the hotel - our room is a loft, so unless we turn all the lights out and stop talking at 8:30pm, the littles have a hard time getting to sleep on the sofabed in the living room. I don't want to ask the girls to switch out of their bedroom, as they need their privacy at 15 and 12.5.

I am supposed to be able to start looking at rental houses over the next week. It will be good to be more settled, though our hotel is in a great and convenient location to shopping and friends. Today we're going to visit our dogs, which will be great. I really need a puppy fix.

Tom has been out at the house every day, meeting with inspectors, auditors, restoration and laundry companies. He is a saint. Today, he is meeting with an environmental company, who are checking for asbestos and lead paint; I assume, because the house is 19th century vintage.

It is intriguing to me how we can stretch the rubber band self just so far, and then, for me, I need to create safe haven - what is known and beloved. Making the hotel as much like our house as possible has been a source of calm in the storm for the kids and I. Even doing laundry and folding it is soothing. The regular routine of our days is shattered, but I'm trying to restore it - it seems like a biological need.

I've been able to reschedule my Meadville classes for January so I can stay here next month. It won't impact my graduation in May; just require travel in January and March. We all need to be together. I have a visceral reaction to being away from my children right now. I see it for what it is, but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with. My Wellspring group had its last meeting yesterday. It was fabulous. What an amazing group of people and I'm so excited that they are going to continue on in Wellspring 2 next year! I am thrilled to be able to grow and learn from them for another year. That is the joy of a 2 year part-time internship - the opportunity to have a deep relationship with the congregation and the staff.

In any event, rain is forecast today and the kids are stir crazy. We're going to make some returns, hit the library, visit the dogs and go to a museum. It's kind of nice to be in Mom-Mode for the next month or so. Maybe I'll even get a pool-side tan ;).

Continued blessings on all who have emailed notes, money, support, and brought meals. We are so grateful and feel so lucky to have an amazing community, both locally and across the world.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

What a Fire Teaches Me

1. Everytime I look at my children, I get tearful, and am filled with gratitude that they are all safe. Keep tissues with me at all times.

2. Neighbors are the salt of the earth. One that I barely know rode up on his John Deere tractor the day of the fire and handed me a check for $100. He wouldn't take no for an answer. Our next door neighbor took in the kids, fed them pizza, cared for our cat, and called her niece to bring us clothes. Said niece dropped them off at the hotel the day of the fire and if it wasn't for her, I wouldn't have had a shirt on my back the next day.

3. I love my dog even more than I knew. He's being loved to death by a dear friend and her sons, who were thinking about getting a dog. It's a good trial run for them. But I just made coffee for the first time since the fire, and the habit of grabbing his leash, rubbing his silky Golden ears, and watching him hop up and down is sorely missed.

4. Speaking of coffee, I am ever more grateful for Starbucks and a coffee pot of my own. Hotel coffee is...sustaining, but not very good.

5. Losing all your clothes allows you to redefine your wardrobe, but it takes time. I don't have much in the way of ministry clothes yet, and when I got dressed to perform a wedding yesterday, found myself digging through my daughter's clothes, and borrowing her size 8 (children's!) Justice tank top to wear under my blouse. I do wish I liked to shop more. Shoe shopping itself is enough to make me want to scream.

Shopping for essential clothes with my 15 and 12 year old yesterday almost killed me. A whirlwind tour through DSW, Marshalls, Plato's Closet, and Target = sore feet, sore back and happy girls. I am also now shod with new sneakers. I still like to bargain shop though! Plato's Closet was a definite WIN.

6. Children are resilient, but only to a point. So are adults. I'm looking forward to church and an afternoon by the hotel pool, catching up on work. And yes, the wireless at the hotel is finally fixed! It will be good to catch up on work and setup my new laptop. I missed my media!

7. Love my iPhone. Couldn't have survived without it.

8. Don't shop at WalMart. They don't care if you have no underwear and will not help you out in a pinch when your new checks won't be read by their cash register.

9. Do shop at Anne Taylor Loft Outlet in Waterloo. My checks wouldn't clear there, but they called the bank, and figured out how to use my Red Cross debit card so I could buy clothes to perform above mentioned wedding. They also secretly took 40% off of my total order.

10. Mariott also gets a huge round of applause. They didn't have rooms available for us to stay consecutively, but the hotel manager moved other people around to accommodate us in our suite until semi-permanent housing can be found. Julio is my new bff.

11. Traveler's Insurance also - well, I just want to kiss them. You know that State Farm commercial where the insurance agent magically appears after an accident? Well, that should be Traveler's commercial. Chad was there within 2 hours. He referred us to Mike, who called us, texted us, emailed us, dealt with the hotels within 6 hours of the fire. 72 hours later, we were hooked up with Rich, our large claims agent, who explained everything in minute detail, over and over, and is awesome. They are covering everything in the house, plus the reconstruction (or whatever happens). They are helping us get everything laundered to try to salvage the kids' clothes, have a cleaning company coming in to take everything out, and a placement agency negotiating a  rental. Looks like we'll be out of the house for at least six months.  They are also reimbursing the Red Cross for our hotel stay and grocery/clothing money. The agent said, "You have insurance. Other people don't. We want the Red Cross to be able to take care of those other people."

12. I really am not attached to material things. That doesn't mean I don't burst into tears when I realize I don't have a hairbrush when I get out of the shower. I also miss my bed. And it's not coming back, people. It's a charred mess on my back lawn. I also miss my awesome Born boots that I got in Chicago at J-term this year.

12a. Just because I am OK with losing my stuff doesn't mean my kids are. iPods have been replaced, sparkly shoes have been bought. Making things as normal as possible is vital for the kids and even me. It was a huge relief to climb into the shower on Thursday and have my brand of body soap, shampoo, shaving cream, deoderant, etc.

13. I have the best friends and church(es) in the world. My best friend has watched my kids. The church has given us money. Our friends and even people I don't know have donated to PayPal. I am so grateful to each and everyone of you. It has allowed us to get groceries so we can eat our normal food and accommodate the kids' dietary needs. It has allowed us to buy undies and shoes, to replace my laptop, to feel some modicum of safety net.

14. If you already have tickets to an amusement park when your house burns down, GO. We went to Seabreeze with our homeschool friends on Friday and it was definitely what we needed! It was wonderful to go on rides, eat junk food and see my kids smile. And I laughed when I climbed to the top of the water slide with Jude and a little boy assured me that "it is perfectly safe." I thought, "now this is a child who has never been through a fire. Nothing feels perfectly safe and isn't it odd that we're here doing some "safe" thrillseeking!"

A friend brought lettuce out of her garden for our salad, and another brought pasta and sauce and lettuce for our dinner that night. It was twice as delicious because it was given with love.

This is the first I've had Internet since Tuesday. We're headed off to church for my oldest daughter Emma to sign the membership book and become a new member of First Unitarian of Rochester today. A landmark day for sure :).

I have much to be grateful for is the biggest learning. I was already grateful; I just didn't know how much.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fire and Gratitude

I am on a bad keyboard, but a quick note. Our house caught on fire today in the basement from an electrical issue. We are all safe, humans and pets. We are so grateful to our neighbors, Lauren Sample, Liza Artman, Mark and Rose Bowler, the Lyons police dept., fire dept. ambulance, chaplain, the Red Cross, Steve/Crow, the Dickasons, for hauling stuff, doing laundry, taking pets, etc. We are so, so humbled and grateful for the support on a Facebook group, the offers of help. We can't even believe the love we have received.

I had just run to WalMart for dish soap. I cannot thank my daughter, Emma, for getting the other 5 kids and the dogs and cat out safely. Emma deserves a medal. All 7 kids have been amazing - we have  friend and his 3 kids with us too.