Wednesday, March 25, 2009

House and life update 

We got a new stove Monday! That evening, after the girls were in bed, I started to do some deep cleaning. Time to clean out the fridge so we can use it. First, though, does this appliance work?

Short answer: of course not. It's the only major appliance left in the house.

Turning it on, it sprayed white powder (sort of baby-formula consistency) at me through the vents. Lots of it, like it was snowing. While pondering what to do about THAT, I unplugged the fridge. "Hm, that's strange, it's plugged into a two prong plug. How does that work?" I turned the cord around and discovered that the third prong on the plug had been torn out to make it "work."

We already have reverse polarity issues on the only remaining three prong plug in the kitchen, so (another) call to the electrician and (another) visit to Sears for a new fridge should fix the problem.

Good news: The fans in the attic work, as does the switch to turn them on.

Replaced/will be replaced(*): Water heater, furnace, oven, fridge*, washer*, faucet in the bathroom

Appliances not tested: the 20 to 30 year old dryer and 30 year old oven/fridge in the basement kitchen, microwave.

And, on to life....
K = ear infection, E= fairly normal, just a cough, I am on antibiotics for strep that won't quit, but am feeling fairly good, just a cough and cold symptoms. S = out for the count. High temp and (I'm sure later today) will have chills. He has not been well in the last 6 weeks, looks like it's getting worse again.

Last week we spent with S's family for his grandfather's funeral. It was a very good time and I'm very glad we were there.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Free Burritos! 

Today I was invited by my friend to have lunch at Chipotle, an invitation that I would have a hard time resisting under any circumstances. Today I was on spring break, which means that the opportunity cost of my time is much lower. So off we went.

As usual I dropped my business card in the can to try to win a free burrito. And today the unthinkable occurred. I won!

They called me later in the day and let me know that I had a week to come in and claim up to five free burritos!! I told them - truthfully - that I had dreamed about this day.

In a world where Chipotle Burritos are given away for free, surely God must exist.


Thursday, March 12, 2009


In the last ten days or so, here is what has happened:
I finally posted the promised cute K pictures. She's a little bundle of joy and peace, full of smiles and aptly named. It appears she thinks she's a pirate. Her favorite game is to say "arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr." She laughs when you repeat the "arrrrrr" back to her.
K got constipated from the solids we put her on. We fixed it. 'Nough said. That was the easiest fix of the last week and a half. She continues to love solid foods. As you can see above, K's second favorite game seems to be wearing a beard of food. (Maybe she thinks it helps her look like a pirate?) She has also started rolling ALL over the floor. It's the newest, funnest, thing to do. She's gotten really strong over the past two weeks! It's remarkable!

E has caught another cold. She is coughing up a lung in her bed as I speak. K aslo has it (minus the cough). That said - BLESSINGS! - E does NOT have an ear infection or a high fever!!! It appears having the tubes in is helping!

S continues to, very slowly, much slower than we'd like, recover. He is still sick.
I saw a specialist today to see what to do about my throat. Apparently I never got rid of the strep last month. And I had strep in December as well, so I guess that's not good. "Not good" enough that my doc sent me to this specialist, who gave me a different dose of antibiotic, and told me to see him again if it didn't get better to talk 'tonsils.' (This "reoccurant strep" thing has happened to me before.) That said, I think this should kick it. I'm not worried.

The rodent guy has caught 5 red squirrels. At $50 per squirrel, that's an expensive little family of rodents! I guess it's nice to know that our new house didn't go COMPLETELY unused over the last 9 months to 3 years (or however long it's been since it had regular occupants). The rodent guy ("Josh" -- he goes to our church, so now we know one more church person) is now working at fixing up all the entry points, as it appears we have caught the entire family.

We figured out where the smell in our new house came from -- it was all the stove, after all. It appears, after doing some more digging, that a rodent had NOT fallen into our wall and died, but instead a family of mice had, at one point, lived in the insulation in our stove. I looked in to their little home and I can't blame them! It was easy to crawl into, following the gas pipe up from the basement, and very cozy. But they're not tidy animals, and they left little reminders of themselves all throughout the oven's insulated and hard-to-reach if not impossible-to-clean nooks and crannies (as well as on the floor under the oven). So, the smell came because we'd turned our oven on.

That's the bad news. The good news is -- the mice appear to have vacated the house long ago (none of the traps throughout the house have sprung over the last few weeks and their entry point to the kitchen had been patched up by the previous owner) and WE GET A NEW STOVE! Thanks to a "no down payment no interest for 12 months" deal at Sears, tonight we bought our first appliance for this new house. We decided on a stove with FIVE stovetop burners, oh what luxury! S's really excited about the fifth burner, as it's extra long and a perfect size to heat up our oval dutch oven. We're both really excited about having a gas oven.
Josh the rodent guy is going to drywall our garage next week so that the rodents stop using it as their playground/ accessing our attic through it, and before that we'll have an electrician come in to find out why the outlets in the garage don't work. (IF YOU KNOW A GOOD ELECTRICIAN -- we're still looking for someone, so let us know!!!)

All in all, this house is EXPENSIVE so far! Here's hoping that all these improvements help, long term! And here's hoping that last lingering W2 gets to us soon so we can get our tax return!

Monday, March 02, 2009


Two weeks and one day ago -- Sunday, E's birthday. E had just gotten over a bad cold and ear infection. S had also just gotten better after battling a nasty infection. K & I (as in "me") spent the day in urgent care and the ER where K's respiration count was WAAAY too high and I was merely sick. K got an inhaler for bronchitis.

Monday we found out we would not be able to close on our house on Tuesday, as planned, because of some funny stuff on the seller's end of things.

Tuesday results came back from urgent care and I found out that my "merely sick" was, as I feared, strep. I was laid out for the week. My attempts to go in were shooed by coworkers who felt a combination of pity for my state and fear that they might catch it, too.

Friday of that week K was still sick but breathing better. E came down with a fever. I brought her in to the morning clinic and was told it was viral, just a cold, not in her ears. That night my parents came into town for K's baptism and E's birthday party.

Saturday E's birthday party plans were downscaled as E's fever spiked higher. Her birthday was no where near as fun as I'd hoped. Most of the day she spent staring into space or begging to be picked up. As you can see by the pictures (below) her face was quite flushed.

Sunday the baptism went well. K was all smiles.

Monday we went back into E's clinic where we found out she had an ear infection. She was referred to a specialist and given a shot of antibiotic. S got sick.

Tuesday S stayed home with E. Both very sick. E got in to see the specialist, who made an appointment for surgery in six days (today) for her to get tubes in her ear. By Tuesday night E seemed to be feeling better, perhaps the shot was working. No more fever. S had antibiotics and other drugs sure to help him, too, to feel better.

Wednesday S canceled classes and stayed home. All others were at work or school ... for half the day. At 3 pm E came home from school with a temp of 103.4. Our realtor called that afternoon and given the final closing-cost numbers and told to show up at the bank on Thursday to (finally) close on the house.

Thursday E joined mommy and daddy as we signed a LOT of papers and, eventually, acquired our first home. (E was remarkably good throughout the whole thing.) I couldn't miss any more work because of all the work I HADN'T done the week before (b/c I was out with strep) and daddy had to teach, so for the afternoon E came and napped/played in my office.

Friday was much the same. S watched E for part of the morning at home, a friend came for a couple of hours to watch her while S taught, then S brought her in to my office where she slept and I worked until about 3. From 3 to 5 she rearranged paper clips and coasters (because her own toys weren't fun enough) while I got a remarkable amount of work done, considering.

Friday night S was still feeling nasty, so he stayed home with the girls while I went to the new house to start cleaning. Shortly after getting to the house, I turned on the sink in the kitchen. The small furry creatures in the wall started complaining. Apparently I disturbed their sleep.

Saturday we spent a $50 gift card at Home Depot, and loaded up our car with items we were sure would help make our home feel more like "ours." We also brought along a frozen pizza to break in the oven.

We didn't stay as long as we thought we would. E was not feeling much better and spent most of the time in the new house complaining. The oven worked fine but dust built up in the vent of the oven burned off and produced an icky smell. That smell, however, was NOTHING compared to the smell that showered down upon us as soon as Steve opened the door to the closet with attic access. Apparently this home was not only home to the furry creatures in the wall, but also the furry creatures in the attic. For those of us who knew us in our "hippy commune with squirrels in the ceiling" days, opening this door made the whole house smell like our entry way at that place used to smell. It was gross. I called the critter guy today, and he guesses red squirrels in the attic and mice in the basement.

Sunday I was feeling pretty discouraged. We hadn't been able to keep up on housework because of all the illness, and with the smell of rodent still fresh in my nostrils, I was feeling pretty down about what should have been the good things that had happened over the past week. To top that, our usually delightful toddler had hardly smiled or laughed at me all week. She was feeling so miserable that most of the time was spent with her demanding to be held by me, or daddy, or me and then daddy and then me again as she searched for SOMETHING that would help her feel better.

I decided a little cleaning before church would do some good. We don't normally work on Sundays, but I needed to do SOMETHING.

The first item I picked up was S's coat. It'd been on the floor of our bedroom for FAR TOO LONG. I decided to show it who was boss. Here was one thing I could control. I couldn't make my family better, I couldn't erase the smell of squirrel, but I COULD pick up this old COAT...

Perhaps I was a bit too enthusiastic about the whole thing. The sleeve of his coat wrapped around the ceiling fan... the ceiling fan that wasn't ours, that belonged to this house that we were renting ... and as the coat crashed to the bed, so did the fan blade, cracked off at the base. I think the whole light fixture, thus, needs replacing.

That was the last straw. Could there be any more straws? I didn't think so. I needed an excuse to get out of the house. I needed a break. We had left pizza out at the new house the night before (as we left in a bit TOO much of a hurry, trying to rid ourselves of rodent smell). I could picture THOSE RODENTS all over MY KITCHEN eating the left over pizza, and it was too much for me. So, I used that as an excuse. "Hunny, I'm leaving, but I'm not leaving you. I need a break. I'm just going to go FIX something that I CAN fix. I'll be back as soon as I get the pizza out of our new kitchen." "Grab yourself some coffee as a treat on your way home," my dear husband suggested.

As I pulled out of the garage, I glanced down at the odometer and thought about how much we needed our tax return. "Paying for a new lamp fixture and rodent guys?! What else?!"

--- CRUNCH ---

This, I'd say, was the low point of the day. I looked to the right -- my rear view mirror had been ripped off the car by the siding on the garage door. It's hard to say which one won that fight. Both garage door (again, not mine, renting) and car looked pretty bad.

I didn't get my coffee. I didn't get the pizza out of the house. I ran back inside, curled up on the bed, and cried. S and the girls came in to visit. S called a friend, who agreed to pick K and me up for church (as S & E were still too sick). By the time she arrived, my tears had dried enough, and I was able to relay the story without totally losing it.

She told me about their neighbor, who had bought a house only to find a skunk had been living under it. It took six months for the house to be fumigated enough for them to be able to live in it.

At church the pastor mentioned how so often we don't understand why bad things happen -- we don't understand when kids got sick (my ears perked up) with things like leukemia (I was suddenly humbled), we don't understand why spouses are unfaithful, why good people lose their jobs, how hard life can sometimes be, etc.

A ceiling fan, tubes in her ears, sick husband, rodents, strep, ER, colds, moving, garage door, car door, etc. I was feeling sorry for myself. But this was nothing. Homelessness, leukemia, unfaithful husband, skunk, HIV, no hospitals, no possessions, no transportation... I had a job that allowed me to be sick and friends that could step in in a crunch.

I had it pretty good, after all.

That night I got a phone call. As usual, I had been missing my NC church, my NC peeps. I haven't had time to build the community here that I had had there. The phone call was from the mom of one of my "NC peeps." Her mom lives in town here, and had heard through her daughter that our family was struggling and I might like some prayer. "I was wondering if you couldn't maybe use some food, too," she said. I almost cried on the spot. When I talked to my mom this morning, she said she had prayed that someone might offer us food, to encourage us in all this.

This morning was E's surgery. She's resting now. In the recovery room she wasn't doing too hot, but before her nap here at home she was already showing signs of feeling better. The doc says that, as far as ear infections go, she had it pretty much as bad as it could be, in both ears. I'm hoping this surgery fixes all that. While she was in surgery, I called the rodent guys. They'll take care of it all tomorrow morning. When we got home, I called the insurance guys. All the damage done to the house is covered, without deductible. The damage done to the car has a high deductible, but I am less concerned about our own property, so the mirror can wait. A friend gave us some duct tape, and that is good enough for now.

And I don't have to worry about dinner tonight.

I feel blessed. Truly blessed. In all of this I am humbled by how God lifted us up and taken care of us. I cannot explain all the bad in the world, but I CAN see, in this situation, God's hand in healing. And I realized that, in all this, I am still blessed beyond measure. Thanks, friends, for your part in this.

[Please continue to pray for S. 8 days into the antibiotic, and he is still not better. Thank you for your prayers for E and K.]


P.S. K started eating solid food last week! She hates rice cereal (just like E) but loves apple sauce and sweet potatoes. I'll see about posting a picture here.

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