Thankful Thursday 7/13/17

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I think it’s easy to get overwhelmed by life and forget to appreciate the small things we have in our lives that are true blessings.  Sometimes, just being mindful of what you have can help you to take a breath and reset your entire way of thinking.  With that said, I thought I would share a few things that I am thankful for today.

1. Air Conditioning.  It is hot, friends.  Over 100 degrees with heat index well above that.  I am so lucky to have a home with air conditioning, and the ability to pay the electric bill to run it.  I won’t lie.  There have been times in my past when I had air conditioning and simply couldn’t afford to run it.  I have also had a broken air conditioner with a house full of pets and babies that suffered from the sweltering heat.  Today I sit in a beautiful home with a brand new air conditioner and I feel very blessed.

2. Tomatoes.  This year, being back in our home, we were able to plant tomatoes again!  What a luxury, being able to step outside and pick fresh fruit to eat!  And how delicious they are!  So flavorful and sweet!  And the accomplishment of growing them ourselves, well, that is pretty awesome too.

3. Summer Vacation.  I love having my kids home for the summer.  The school year is so busy with dance and sports and scouts, you name it.  To have them home, without having anywhere to rush to, is simply lovely.  We do crafts and read books and even do workbooks to be ready for the new school year, but we are all together.  We can wear jammies all day, play outside and make sand castles all morning and stay up late playing board games.  It is relaxed and precious to me.  And it goes by too quickly!

I hope you all have a fabulous day, and that you can take some time to reflect on the things you have to be thankful for.  Until next time, my friends!

We didn’t start the fire…..really!

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Been a while, friends!  Just as I left you with my idea of video blogging PCOS related content, I up and vanished.  I have a really good reason, I promise!  We had a house fire and have been out of our home since mid April.

It all started on laundry day, with my very last load of laundry.  The dryer had just buzzed about 15 minutes earlier when I noticed a burning smell.  I happened to look outside the master bathroom window and saw smoke coming from the dryer vent.

Immediately, I ran downstairs to investigate.  The first thing I did was unplug the machine.  I noticed a very small amount of smoke coming from the left side of the dryer (we have or should I say had, a stackable unit, to help you visualize) so I opened the dryer door, still full of freshly washed and dried clothes.  I pulled out the lint basket, and could see flames inside of the machine.  (Side note, I am super OCD about emptying the lint after every single load, always, and we had even recently taken apart the whole dryer and vent to vacuum every little bit of dust and debris!)

I ran and grabbed a cup of water, throwing it on the flames, which seemed to do absolutely nothing, meanwhile the smoke was filling the laundry room.

The power ended up going out, so I used my cell phone to dial 911 as I rushed to get the dogs outside and then ran out onto the porch with Sara while we waited for help.  It was pouring down rain, I was soaked, and completely freaked out.  We had no shoes on, my cats were still in the house, and by the time the fire trucks arrived, our house was billowing smoke.

I called Abe frantically after calling 911, telling him what was happening, and ultimately hanging up on him as I rushed around trying to figure out what I should be doing.  When he later showed up, I was shocked, it hadn’t even crossed my mind that he would leave work, that’s how scrambled my brain was, trying to digest what was happening.

I hurt myself, running barefoot up a wet, grassy hill to secure the dogs for the firemen.  I heard and felt a big POP, and was suddenly in excruciating pain.  It turns out I tore my calf muscle, pretty badly, and was in an insane amount of pain for several weeks to follow.

The cats were rescued by the firemen, and Abe, who had to collect Brady and Katie.  Moriarty was all chill, and let the fireman carry him and bring him straight to me.

The fire broke the main water line, which the fire marshal says helped to put out the fire.  I knew we had a lot of damage, but I honestly expected to be back in the house within a week or two.  That is, until the contractor told us his estimate for finishing was 3-4 months.  *insert jaw dropping shock here*

The amount of things we lost is mind numbing.  Nearly all of our clothing, I mean everything for everyone of us!!  My craft room and Abe’s office were completely destroyed, nothing left.  The vast majority of the kids toys, all completely gone, lost to the fire and water damage.

The playroom where we spent so much time, where we recently renovated with new flooring and built ins, completely destroyed.

Handmade gifts that took hundreds of hours to make, the kids artwork, photos, books, collectibles from childhood and little keepsake memories, all gone.

But you know what wasn’t gone?  My family.  My kids, my furbabies, even our aquarium full of fish!!  We are all safe, and other than my torn calf muscle, all completely unharmed.

What a BLESSING!!!

Our friends, our neighbors and our amazing dance family took care of us when there was no one else there to help.  When I woke up in the hotel room, hearing one of my babies coughing and then began to cry because I had no medicine, nothing to give them, our dance family answered with cough drops and toys and clothes and toiletries.  I cannot count the tears of gratitude I have shed, being lifted up by all of our adopted family members, when we had no one to turn to and no answers.

Yes, we lost all of our “stuff”, but it turns out we were rich beyond measure and never even realized it.

We spent about 6 weeks in the hotel, before the insurance company found us temporary housing at a rental house near our home.  On the second night in the rental home, we found ourselves once again surrounded by firemen.

A carbon monoxide alarm starting going off, just as we were preparing to go to bed.  Thank goodness, because when the fire department came out, and the fire marshal assessed the home, he told us had we gone to bed that night, not knowing about the leak, we would have likely never woke up the next day.

Take a moment to digest that.

After walking away from a house fire unharmed and living in a hotel for 6 weeks, we nearly died from carbon monoxide poisoning.  All of us, the children, the dogs, the cats, we all could have died.

Well, if we weren’t insanely thankful to be alive before, we certainly were now!!!

Can you imagine?!

So back to the hotel we went, for about 4 days, while the water heater, which was the cause for the leak, was replaced.

Having endured so much, and roughing it with so little, we got a letter in the mail from our insurance company.  What we had expected to be a reimbursement check, turned out to be a non-renewal notice.  The insurance company decided not to renew our policy, right smack dab in the middle of a huge claim!!  The house is demo’d and awaiting construction, and now we had to worry about finding coverage for our home that was unoccupied and destroyed.  Let me tell you, it is not possible.  The answer, is lender forced coverage which can cost 10 times as much for less coverage!

This is when I officially shut down and started having full blown panic/anxiety attacks.  We’re talking, not able to sleep, constant fear and stress, worried we will lose our house!  I started imagining having to rent a trailer, losing the perfect home that we loved and worked so hard for.  It was extremely painful, and excruciatingly traumatic on top of everything else.  Absolutely the straw that broke this camel’s back.

We immediately called our agent’s office, who was shocked that we got the letter in the first place.  They vowed straight away to “rattle cages” and find us answers.  This all sounded good, but weeks went by and time was running out.  I wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t leaving the house, I was super depressed beyond words.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, we got the amazing news that they were able to get our policy renewed…..for a higher premium and higher deductible.  But still, the amount of amazing, sweet relief this gave us…….immeasurable.

So here we still sit, in the rental home, no construction started yet, grrrrr, waiting for some good news and very cautiously able to breathe again, hoping to have nothing but good news and happiness in our future.

We usually have big birthdays for our kids, something I absolutely love to do, but have not been able to do with the two kids who had birthdays since all this madness started.  And we are gearing up to have a third birthday away from home, along with starting the new school year.

I had really hoped we would be home by now, I miss our beautiful home, I miss our veggie garden and spending the days outside swimming or playing or just relaxing on our own furniture surrounded by our familiar things.

I hope we have big news on construction soon, and maybe the contractors will surprise us and finish ahead of schedule.  I won’t nit pick and get into all the other problems we have had with various companies, etc during this experience, because in the end, it just doesn’t matter.  What matters is family, and we are all still present and accounted for.  We will embrace this adventure, and I’m sure we will speak about it often in the future.

In the meantime, hug your babies and furbabies and spouses, tell everyone you love that you love them, and just be happy.  Life is too short for misery, and you never know which day is your last.

Love and blessings!!  xoxoxoxo

March 7th

Of course I know what today is.  I’ve never forgotten, it’s not my nature to forget such things.  I’m sure he thinks I forgot, he thinks very little of me.

When my mother was pregnant with me, it was before the days of regular ultrasounds for gender reveals.  The nurses would guess what you were having based on the fetal heartbeats, and amazingly, 50% of the time they were spot on.  On that cold, December day, when my belated birth was finally scheduled, my parents had no clue whether I was a boy or a girl.  Being the first born after the struggle of infertility, you would think that would be enough.

You would think.

The doctor met my father in the hallway.  Being a hilarious man, at least to himself, he decided to follow tradition and exclaimed with delight that I was a boy!!  My father was overjoyed!  How exciting!  Working in construction, his family gave him a gift when they were expecting me, a sign to attach to his work van, advertising his business with a big proud “& Sons” at the end.  The dream was real!

Except it wasn’t.

That doctor told all of the waiting fathers that the baby was a boy, and he thought it was hilarious.  When my father found out I was indeed a girl, he wasn’t laughing.  And pretty much, he has kept that bitter look of disappointment every time he has looked at me ever since.

What a way to start a relationship, right?  So much of my childhood was spent desperately seeking his approval, yearning so badly for any kind of positive recognition from my father.  I can’t remember ever in my life feeling loved by that man.  Not once.  If he walked through the room and I was having a snack, he would look at me in disgust and tell me I was going to be fat, just like my mother.  When I had to get glasses, he told me I would have to start plucking my eyebrows so I didn’t look like a man.  When I got dressed up for school dances, posed in front of the camera before leaving with friends, he would criticize the way I stood, telling me it made me look even fatter than I already was.  Brought home A and B report cards?  Why aren’t they all A’s?  Maybe I needed to study more, to get those grades up.

What in the actual hell??

I doubt myself to this day with a special kind of self loathing that can not possibly be built alone.  It took over 30 years to hate and doubt myself this much, and I have my father to thank for that.

While he is being doted on and told how wonderful he is today by my Stockholm Syndrome poster child mother, and siblings who never had the pleasure of knowing the same monster as I did growing up, I will resist the urge to wish him to choke on his birthday cake.  Instead, I will take pleasure in knowing that I am finally free from his poison.  I have so much damage to try and undo, so much pain and suffering to heal from.

I will also take this opportunity to be thankful for the amazing Daddy that my husband is to our children!!!  They are so lucky and so blessed to have such a magical relationship with him!!  Thank goodness they will never know this empty, dreadful feeling!!

And for that matter, I thank my lucky stars for being blessed with such an amazing man, constantly dealing with this crazy, broken woman that he calls his wife!!  I don’t know how he does it, but I sure am glad to call him mine.  I may have had an awful, hellish upbringing, but I now end each day knowing how loved and important I am to the people that truly matter, my husband and my babies.  God is GOOD!

*sigh*

Last night, as I was driving Bella to dance class, my phone rang.  Now, I don’t answer my phone when I am driving.  Ever.  I have to be 100% focused on the road, I figure whatever it is, the person can wait.  I did tell Bella she could answer it for me though.  She tried to, but it rang just enough times to go to voice mail.   We could see that it was Abe calling, and I knew he was stopping at the store before going home after work, so I assumed he was going to ask me a silly question, something that could wait.

Meanwhile, Bella is explaining to me that she’s just not very good at using cellphones.  I tell her she is eight years old, there is no reason for her to be good at using cellphones.  Of course, all of her friends have them, she adds.  To which I reply, “Well that’s silly.  You don’t need a cellphone until you are old enough to drive and have an actual reason to use it.”  She agrees, and starts excitedly telling me what they are working on in dance class when the phone rings again.  It’s Abe.

“Go ahead and try answering it again,” I tell her.  This time she is able to catch it in time and happily greets her daddy over the phone.

“Daddy says it’s very important,” she says.  I laugh and tell her to relay the message to me, I can’t talk, I’m driving.  I’m expecting it to still be some silly question about which cat litter to buy, or if he should get milk while he’s out.

“He says he was in an accident.”

My heart stops.

I know I have to stay calm.

“Is he okay?”  I have nowhere to pull over, my hands won’t loosen their grip from the wheel.  I am hyper aware of every car around me, suddenly focused nearly to the point of paranoia.

“Yes, he says he’s okay.”

Breathe.

“Is the car okay?”

Breathe.

“No, he says the car is not okay.”

Breathe.

“Okay.  Tell him we love him, to stay safe, and I will call him back in just a few minutes when I can pull over.”

I can’t freak out, my baby is sitting right next to me, watching me, reading my expression, my body language, trying to gauge how she should react.

“I’m sure he is just fine, and that’s what’s important.  Cars are nice, but they’re just things, you know?,” I glance at her face as I try to reassure her.  She nods in agreement.  “At least we still have your car, Mommy!”

The closer we get to the studio, the more uncomfortable I get.  I am anxious to hear Abe’s voice, to hear what happened, to be reassured myself.  I’m also stressed, worried about the car, worried what we will do, how bad it is.

Once Bella is in class, I sit in the car and dial Abe’s number.

He answers quickly, assures me he’s okay, but tells me the car is undrivable.  The only thing that honestly matters is his safety, but I won’t lie.  The thought of a totaled car was a heavy weight on an already tired back.  I know he is far more stressed than I am, he is very much a pessimist.  I can hear the stress in his voice.  We decide he needs to have the car towed to the house, that we will just figure it out from there.  He tells me the tow truck will give him a ride home and so I hang up the phone and try to digest what happened.

The weather was gloomy.  Dark, cloudy, smelling like rain.  It was too warm to sit in the car with the windows up, so I rolled them down, closing my eyes and letting the breeze cool my flushed face.  As the first tears began to fall, the sky opened up, spilling raindrops into the car window, disguising the sadness and washing it all away.  I saw my reflection in the rear view mirror and laughed.  You couldn’t tell a single tear was shed, it simply looked like I was caught in a quick spring storm.  And before I could reflect further on my sadness, using the gloomy, dark weather as a crutch, the rain stopped, cut by brilliant sunshine.  Another look in the rear view mirror revealed a gorgeous rainbow behind me.

You can’t have a rainbow without rain.

I was drunk in the symbolism of it all, how perfectly it was all timed.

My husband is safe.  He was not injured.  We are so blessed, every single day and in so many ways.  This too shall pass.  It sucks, don’t get me wrong, but it could have been so much worse.

On an optimistic note, while the car does not look good by any means, I am hoping that it is possible to repair it.  I have been doing some research, (I’m a Google Queen, remember), and it sounds like there is at least some possibility that it can be salvaged.  Not right now, not right away, but hopefully soon.  I refuse to be pessimistic about it until proven wrong, so, you know, I got that going for me.  🙂

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