Monday, November 30, 2009

After two stories of alleged child abuse appeared in the paper in two days, I was wondering what the alleged abusers in each case were thinking. Did a certain man from Mat-Su really think that slapping his baby girl would make her want to eat her oatmeal and peas? What was the logic of the then-25 year old in trying to make a 15 month old (whose mind is just developing) perform any task? If she had failure to thrive, why didn’t he know what food to give her that she might enjoy? What kind of psychology were the two Anchorage men applying to the five year old in an odd child care arrangement and entrusted to them by “trying to scare the sh—“ out of a little boy to “toughen” him up with a “redneck flamethrower”?

What these men did was terrible, but I want to ask about something that goes back further. Why were they not taught better? I am not interested in warehousing and wasting lives in prisons; with some heinous, ignorant crimes being committed, there comes a point where there seems to be a need for basic family education classes in addition to or perhaps instead of health and personal finance in high school. In the old days, it was called home economics, but now it is often renamed Family and Consumer Sciences and covers everything from clothing repair, hygiene, cooking and nutrition to budgeting, child and human development and working within the community.

When I was in high school, I laughed at a poster of a girl of an indeterminate teenaged age. She was holding a darling baby and looking all forlorn with a caption underneath her stating, “Parenthood is like being grounded for 18 years.” I don’t know of anyone who was persuaded to use birth control by the poster. Some of us just loved kids and enjoyed babysitting and didn’t see it as a problem. Sex has been around for a long time and teenagers having sex is not going to go away. Whether or not to have abortions or use birth control is a matter of what the family teaches, but how to successfully run a household is a science and the schools need to prepare students for it, whether or not they have children.

Supporting yourself is tough enough, but raising a family is a hundred times harder. Most people will engage in premarital relations and whether they do or not is immaterial because almost all of the kids leaving high school will have to support themselves or be responsible for someone else. Sex can cause babies. Choosing between an abortion and having a baby is like choosing between jumping off a cliff and doing an infinite decathlon. Like jumping off a cliff, the decision ends right there. For the decathlon, as with a child, you have responsibility for it as you push on with new choices and events being thrown at you every few hours even when it’s slow. By teaching students (preferably freshmen) about the basics of home economics, they can be better prepared to handle the decisions, be it about family planning and other life choices that they will have to make for the rest of their lives.

When I read of the parents who abuse their children or who have made choices on behalf of their children that are out of society’s range of comprehension, I wonder what kind of training they had to prepare them for parenthood and for managing their lives. Did they know what raising a child and family would entail?

I wonder how many obstetricians and midwives watch babies being born, all born with essentially the same “stuff,” go home and cry (or drink off the feeling) fearing that the parents will watch a bundle of potentialities be snuffed out by ignorance.

By mandating home economics classes, school districts can make a positive investment in the next generation and future of our children.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Building up. . .

We got our insurance for our house today-- now we can look at building. My husband has an appointment with the bank on Friday, which will probably result in yet another appointment with them, given how they do things. We don't come out ahead-- we get to (God willing) get a bigger loan and build a bigger home. My husband is pretty much doing this and he asks me to look like he is asking me-- but this is really his project and there is nothing that I can do about it. He is considering letting me have an area where I can have a livingroom that doubles for yoga, which is nice, but he can dream all he wants until I ask if we can do something and he gets irritated with me and says something like, "Tea, we are really pushing it financially!"

Disasters are not good for fragile situations. He has the loan.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Unfriending People on Facebook

Probably one of the oddest things I have had to do is unfriend people that I don't like. One of the events happened right before my house burned down. She was a lady from my church's sister church and she'd always been witty and funny so I had invited her to be my friend. What happened after that was a rediculous mess where I started hating FaceBook. Somehow, she turned every conversation in to something about her. At the age of 47, she thought she was still cute fir being under 4'10" and called herself "a real firecracker!" in a conversation that had nothing to do with her or her height. . . and managed to turn other conversations into all about her. I am old to say this, but I posted a status with something like, "OMFG! My laundry is done!" She asked what the F meant. . . since she is the daughter-in-law of a guy who is considered a great writer in our church, the comment was meant to be as catty and as passive aggressive as I took it. A comment on my page about my funny kids turned into her talking about her kids who are all a year ahead academically. (But are under psychological care for what I think is probably learned behavior from her." I unfriended her after just a few days because I started bracing myself for her to post.

A few days after my house fire, she, the co-owner of a business that is doing well, said that she wanted to help me out. I declined and declined and finally told her in a message, "I don't like you. You annoy me and you have made me hate Face Book with your comments. While I appreciate your offer to help me, my expression is not for sale."

Today, a friend that I had made a few months ago through another friend, a young man who lives overseas and who wants to study in the States, instant messaged me. He was asking me about social mores and customs and seemed to be dreaming about living in the States for a while and asked me a pretty detailed question about intimacies. I unfriended him, in spite of his apology. I wonder if he was just trying o figure out Americans, but he knows that I am twice his age (at least) and I was pretty offended. I realized thatI had know idea who he was and he had access to my life on my page.

I realized that I knew few on my page and it spooked me.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mommy to Martha Graham

We had a function with the school the other night and Starshine had to put a poncho over her head and dance with it. At one point she asked if she could get toilet paper out of the bathroom and run with it-- at least she asked. She thought it would be cool to have toilet paper flying overhead!

I have a thing for covering my hair but I don't do it very often now. Starshine was trying to get me to put a napkin over my head when this photo was taken. She was telling me how pretty I'd look and I was giving her a giant smile and asking, "Prettier than this?"

Bunches of these were taken by Darrin and I drew some charactures of myself based on them, all with heavey eyelids and gargantuan teeth! I have some with a "sweenky eye"expression that are hilarious. I never saw myself as I do now!

The event was a dinner at their school. We had a dessert auction and all the kids served. Several of them, including Basil, got to practice their auctioneering skills which got better as the evening wore on. As much as I love my children, I stress out in the crowds. There is another dinner coming up that Bash volunteered me to cook at and told everyone how good I am at it. Go I shall, as long as I am not sitting in the midst of a couple hundred children and adults!

At one point I looked around to find Calamity Jane and then I saw her off in a corner with a friend. They were in yoga tree position and holding still. Later I asked her why they were doing it for so long and she explained, "We wanted to see who could hold the position longer and quieter." This morning, a Saturday, my kids were up at 6AM (they'd sleep till noon every school day) and I suggested that they try competitive yoga and Calamity Jane said, "These are the wrong people!" OK, combat yoga is out!

Monday, November 16, 2009

And. . . she's in!

Other than that the tester couldn't understand her, Starshine had taken over the test. After several silly questions that wouldn't stop, and a book that was many pages thick, my pre-school aged daughter took a deep breath, smiled and turned her book to the tester. "Show me orange!" she told her.

"Where is his elbow?"

The problem was. . . while I knew what she was saying, the Ph.D. with the speech degree was clueless, but very much amused. The purpose of my daughter being there was not to have her IQ tested, but to speak enough to be evaluated. They soon formed a detente where each one asked one and the test was soon over.


I am sad-- Starshine is going to pre-school soon. My last, 9 of 9, qualifies for special needs pre-school because of her speech. On one hand, I am thrilled because she has so badly been needing the interaction with other children, but on the other hand, I will miss her. We'd planned to send her to a yuppie-style children's play group once my other kids got settled, one that would do music or perhaps art. Thanks to the fire, we are having to take her to the public school, which is fine, but I'd wanted to indulge in this little treat for her, but really for my ego. You don't dream about having children and sending them to a public school special needs class. You imagine yourself going for lattes with other mommies for an hour or two while the children interact, then you imagine going back and hearing how well behaved your perfect child was.

Starshine won't care and this lasts longer and she will probably be more fun and I will have time to actually accomplish something creative with my 8-16 extra hours per week on my hands. Her school is close by and they have a huge playground.

As they grow older and move on, so must the mommies and daddies. With my eldest daughter, I was 25 when she was in kindergarten. I will be 42 when Starshine is in kindergarten. Children age their parents.

It's always nice to see the testers. I have known them for almost 12 years, they having met my eldest son when he was only a few months old. They said he had speech impairments and I was like, "You cannot tell this at 6 months!" As time went on, his problems became more pronounced. I got him help because I liked the teachers, but I really thought they were just looking for an easy case! (I was so delusional!) It was when Guy was 5 that his younger brother, Basil, showed up as average to advanced even in my eyes that it sunk in just how bad off Guy was. Guy is in junior high and still has delays.

They don't expect Starshine to have long lasting delays with her speech. The hope is to get her caught up by kindergarten, but sometimes they get worse as the kids develop. I will miss Starshine during the day when she is away at school, but I fully expect her to be herself and get into mischief when she is at home, just as her siblings manage to do! With her, I am happy for her to be going to pre-school, and I may go for lattes with the other moms, but I will laugh when I retrieve her and hear of how my littlest miscreant has pulled pranks and said goofy things and left people scratching their heads!

Friday, November 13, 2009

So my kids called 911. . .

This was written on a day that nothing burned down and plenty of good things happened. I was within two miles of my gas running out and I filled up my tank, I got some knitting done before my class this weekend, got my kids to where they needed to be. But. . . I took a shower in the late afternoon and got a pounding on my door shortly after I got out, "Mom! Nine one one is on the phone!"

I stepped out, I'd been hollaring at a child to find a hair brush for me. "Yes?" Apparently one of my younger children had called them and I was asked for my information. I looked at the caller ID to make sure it was who they said and gave it to them. A police officer came over within 30 seconds (we practically live next door to them) and I started rambling about my house fire. I think that may be part of why they called 911, because I had told them that in an emergency to call them and that was why I started rambling as I recalled the fire. Oh-- I had to share, I knew he'd understand.

Over the years, several of my kids have called emergency services and I never know who did it. I am torn between putting the phone up too high for them to reach it (a four and a five year old) to just banking on them doing it only once per child and letting the matter rest.

The officer spoke to my kids and told them that it is OK to call 911 in an emergency. Of course no one admitted to calling, so it was the dreaded phantom who breaks into bags of chocolate chips, gets into cookies and then glues the ends of the packages shut, sneaks into preservative laden dips and puts them back into the cupboard instead of the 'fridge where they belong and risks giving us botulism, etc.

In 20 years when I am 60, will this be something that I will recall or care about with the raising of children? Will there be something besides 911 to call for emergencies?

I am grateful for the response, but my nerves. . .

Now. . . some music for inhaling. . .

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Carrie Prejean is not my idol

I normally don't write about current events in SM&OT because my life and my family occupy me enough. I do, however, get into pageants. Beauty pageants are just fun. Certainly there are women out there who do them who do them only because they are closet sociopaths who would otherwise be axe murderers if they didn't have pageants to do. What the public sees as a glow on their faces is actually a glower. What I have seen as a married contestant have been women who like to look great and who enjoy looking at the pageant criteria and applying it to themselves. Mrs. & Ms. beauty pageants are about a married woman or a woman past the Miss age, taking her talents and skills and applying them to her family and community. There are public speaking engagements, often singing and MC-ing, they pose as role models and spokeswomen for various groups. Aside from often keeping them busy in addition to raising families and volunteering, pageants offer women a chance to exercise talents that often go by the wayside once they become mothers and wives.

I have to say that Carrie Prejean makes me able to stand someone who I swore that I would never speak of, the notorious Paris Hilton, famed for her crotch shots and actions that only served to get her ink and clicks, although she did handle David Letterman's jibes with a lot of class.

I'm going to link over to Shannyn Moore's page because Shannyn writes about this better than I do, but go over and watch Prejean's performance with Larry King. Larry asks her several times about what made her decide to settle with the lawsuit that she had vowed to fight. Larry is a journalist and is supposed to ask these questions. He backed off after he asked a couple of times and Prejean called him inappropriate. When King switched over to a caller, a gay gentleman who asked her a question about her stance on gays, she removed her mic and acted very self righteous, repeating that he was being inappropriate. Larry, in my humble opinion, was not being inappropriate. He is a newsman, not her personal publicist.

I really hope that Carrie's actions cost her interviews with legitimate newspeople, and considering who she had declared as her hero before she quit the interview, her actions will get her a manicured-toe-hold with the people that the right has been exploiting for the last 25 years.

Thank you, CP, I am certain that the libertine (I say this with admiration) Ms. Hilton appreciates how you have made her look not only smart, but smart with an impressive, wide span of emotions while you look like you had your upper lip glued to your front teeth. I can stand Paris Hilton now!

A Crumpet Veteran's Day

Veteran's Day (called Armistice Day by me because that is stuck in my brain becaue it was what my grandparents called it) was celebrated "quietly" in the Crumpet household. I keep wanting to get the kids out to honour the veterans, but for now, any event that has to do with my kids under 10, there are emergency trips to the bathroom, lost boots, traded gloves (and tears when one kid isn't aware of some "trade") and jackets that are either three sizes too small or too large. Couple this mess with services that start before 10AM and Tea may as well stay in bed. The kids would in theory be happy and I, in theory, would get a little extra sleep.

I discovered that my 11 and 13 year old children will gripe at anything. All was quiet and they ambled out of the TV room, "We've been watching TV for the last hour and a half!" Lord, have mercy! This was a problem? I would be glad for this if they were bored and wanted to go to the library or to some event scheduled for remembering the fallen soldiers and thanking them, but they thought it would be fun to do something like. . . the water park in Anchorage. I only wish we could afford that!

My husband brought home the makings for lasagna and sat down to help our sons who are in 4th and 5th grades get some homework done that they have been sloughing off at completing. They have to be ridden constantly to do their work properly and it is very, very frustrating. One is worse than the other, but they are both slacking in a major way.

I had to make lasagna at the same time I was making cookies. My kitchen is a tiny hallway and it was very frustrating. In 12 years of marriage, I have made lasagna once at it is just easier and less expensive to make it in a purchased, pre-made pan. The way I make it, I use ten kinds of cheese and it gets complicated. Just the basics makes me wonder why we live; it tastes bad to me. I brought Cloud in to help (she didn't mind) with the cookies and everything was just too crowded. (My rebuilt kitchen will be huge with two ovens and three sinks and lots of cupboard space.)

Starshine got into Cloud's lipstick but she got caught. (In the past I wasn't sure if it was lipstick or marker, but she got sloppy) and she actually got into trouble and had to applogize to her sister and scrub up the mess that she'd made, on her face and her clothes. She was so precious in her eyes welling up with tears and saying, "I'm sowwy. . ." Natually, she was more sowwy (sorry) for having gotten caught, but my husband raised his voice at her and her little heart could barely handle it! It is hard to not let them fall into your arms but she had to cry and see that no one was symathizing with her for having gotten into her sister's things. She cried to Mudd and he said, "I got into trouble for it last year!"

Poor baby!

Calamity Jane built a snow fort with some friends and went outside with her sibs for a bit.

We spoke at dinner about what Veteran's Day is about and why Mom still calls it Armistice Day.

Guy informed me that I get moody when he back talks me. The little brat gets full of himself, challenges me at every turn, and says I get moody. Gotta love it!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I want Magenta

"Life is like a box of crayons. Most people are the 8-color boxes, but what you're really looking for are the 64-color boxes with the sharpeners on the back. I fancy myself to be a 64-color box, though I've got a few missing. It's ok though, because I've got some more vibrant colors like periwinkle at my disposal. I have a bit of a problem though in that I can only meet the 8-color boxes. Does anyone else have that problem? I mean there are so many different colors of life, of feeling, of articulation.. so when I meet someone who's an 8-color type.. I'm like, hey girl, magenta! and she's like, oh, you mean purple! and she goes off on her purple thing, and I'm like, no - I want magenta!"

John Mayer

Monday, November 09, 2009

My house has a soul . . .

Today I was chatting up a very wise guy and I told him that I didn't like my house and he said, "And this is OK; this isn't yours and it doesn't feel like yours."

I told him that this house has a soul. He says he has felt it and asked me, "Does it like you?" I had never considered that. He told me that he feels a warm presence. He's been in when it is just cold and yet he feels warm. He suggested that I think about whether or not the soul of my rented home likes me and maybe we can warm up to each other.

I like it already.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

My brain is letting go of things it was hiding from me.

A poem came back to me today. Wordsworth's Phantom of Delight. I told you that after the fire, I forgot everything that I had learned. Phantom was a poem that a boyfriend in high school gave to me and after I was married to a jealous future ex for a few months, I bought a short anthology of poetry and artwork. (It was purchased from Nordstrom with a gift certificate from my mom. It smelled of roses.) The anthology had Phantom in it with a pretty lady depicted next to it. I memorized it. When I married my ex, he convinced me that I was too pretentious and should abandon my love of art and poetry and getting the book was a rebellion of sorts. Memorizing the poem was another rebellion since a former boyfriend had given me a copy of it and I'd had to throw it away when we got married. Since the fire, I have looked the poem up and it just wasn't resonating with me. It came today to my brain while I was listening to Pachelbel's Canon, another song that I loved back in the day. I was really happy and relieved. I was told that it would all come back, but I didn't know when. I hope it returns in droves! But where did it all go? When my snowglobe of a life was shaken, that box was completely emptied. Fortunately, it was emptied, but not burnt up. The debris is being put back into the boxes and rendered useful to me once more!

I wonder if people who suffer from memory loss feel in any way like I have. Knowing that something that I loved was lost was very hard on me. There are other things that are still gone and I know what they are, but I know that God willing that I have no problems that they will come back.

Emily is coming back, too. I folded laundry and wore my favourite quilt over my shoulders as her bird poems rustled in my head this afternoon. God gave a loaf to every bird, Hope is the thing with feathers-- but my favorite of hers speaks of the hour of lead. That also came back. The hour of lead-- that was how I felt as my house was burning and it lasted perhaps until a couple of weeks ago. Part of me woke up when my house was burning-- I felt like Sleeping Beauty as my sh-- burned and I re-processed my life.

Is it OK that I am coming out of the hour of lead only two months later? I have thought at times that I was shaking it, but having something so special come back to me tells me that I really am shaking the numbness, but at the same time, what I woke up to is still there, so I know it is real. I just really wish I didn't have to go through a fire to get to where I am in the process of going.

Couldn't my destiny have greeted me at my favorite store or bakery, instead, and without the sirens and flashing lights?

Would I have recognized it any other way? I hope that there is good for the Crumpets in this and that it is an easy good, not something like, something terrible is destined to happen so the fire will teach them a resiliency to make them tougher. I've stated before, however, that the good will not come from acquiring things-- the intangibles even now make me feel happy, but nothing will replace the photographs!

Thoughtful without meaning to be (Adorable child story)

When we were staying at the hotel, 7 year old Calamity Jane was just learning to speak Spanish. She was saying, "Buenos dias!" to everyone and really trying hard to show off her new skill and practice it. At the restaurant, she tried to order something and the waitress smiled and said she didn't understand her and she turned to me and rolled her eyes and said, "She doesn't speak Spanish. I'll have to try it in English." She was very annoyed even though she really didn't speak it well enough to carry on a conversation, herself.

One day she was with me at the hotel and the cleaning lady came in and CJ greeted her. The cleaning lady was/is from Guatamala and she exclaimed something very excited in Spanish. Calamity was taken off balance and turned to me and said, "She must be very smart! She speaks 'Panish!"

The cleaning lady gave her a hug and taught her the words for the equivalent of sweetheart and precious little girl, words that escape me now and were not in my head two minutes after she would leave. CJ was beaming and followed her around our rooms asking her about her country and her children. Before she left, CJ told her, "You are the importantest person EVER!"

The cleaning lady said that she made her day. She made mine, too.

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Mundane

I think that my life is mundane, but it is these common things that matter.

My landlord ordered a new stove for me. Thankfully, it is not from Sears. Sears takes their own sweet time in refunding you on orders that they cancel, and then they decide that instead of refunding you via credit card as they said they would, that they will mail you a check to be brought up by a comatose snail. It was mailed on the 20th... it should be here by now because I get things from all over the country in two or three days. I still don't have a portable dishwasher and it has been one month.

I don't know what is up with the stoves in my life. The one that I had had at my house had a burner knob that had come off (this happens with appliances that are more than 10 years old) and we had plans to replace the whole thing this PFD time. The one here had missing buttons. The neighbour who helps out the landlord said that the lady prior to the last tenant took off the buttons to clean it and accidentally threw them away. She said that I could use a computer game stylus to work it. I think the person who took of the buttons was the last tenant who was good friends with the lady who helps the landlord. I feel bad for the landlord because the stove was in otherwise decent shape and she doesn't need to spend extra $ on a house that she rents out. I really wish my house hadn't burned down and that I'd not lit that damned candle because I'd have just replaced my stove instead of having to rely on someone else for all these things. I liked where we were taking the house.

I hate that so many people who I don't know want to ask if we will rebuild the house to being bigger, always adding that our house was so small. It is annoying when people have looked at it after the fire and express with fluttering eyelashes how we could have fit the entire family in it. I am embarrassed over this and I wish they would shut up. Yes, we are making it bigger (I think we will be but that has to do with the banks) because it would be silly to not make it bigger. I don't like how it is happening and yes, we could have survived and the kids done well in life had we not expanded. I don't like that we may appear to be benefiting in any way from this. We are not really benefitting directly-- we are paying off one loan and using good credit to get a little more and entering another 20 year mortgage. I DO NOT reccommend that people light candles in their homes and hope that they will catch fire, like how a fire happened to us. We lost more than we will ever get back. I hate how people give me big smiles and say, "You get all new stuff!" I want to scream at them, "I LOST THINGS THAT I CAN NEVER REPLACE AND I WILL NEVER GET THE SMELL OF MY BURNING BELONGINGS OUT OF MY NOSE!" The things that I love most at this point are the things that people who I know have lovingly gifted to me. Retail therapy is overrated.

You take the good with the bad, but the good does not in anyway outweigh the bad in this case. I ran into a burning building to get my state ID because even in my crazy, irrational state of mind, I knew that getting a new ID from the DMV with no social security card or birth certificate would have been futile and rendered me non-existent for a period of time. I got injured and it hurts me to think that I could have died and been a body recovery for some firefighters and a dead mother to my kids, but it was worth it to have taken the risk, stupid as that may sound. I lost priceless photos of my children when they were still adorable and some evidence of something terrible that happened to someone. Yes-- I will enjoy a new kitchen (I get a new kitchen! woo-hoo!) and the new layout of the house, but it wasn't worth the loss. I did gain a couple of friendships out of this that I plan to treasure for the rest of my life-- bickering children in the past prevented at least one of them, and these friendships-- they may be what God intended and they make me smile when I think of them. Something that also makes it worthy for me is the help that has been offered in creative, imaginative ways from friends and friends of friends. I got a Lowes card. . . and a 10% off coupon for Lowes! One of my church friends bought everyone including my husband and I PJ's and toothbrushes and toothpaste. Another friend organized things. These are the things that helped me get through the first weeks. There was good and bad, but I have never wished nor would I ever wish this on anyone.

I will get past this, but if you ever know anyone who goes through this, let them bring up the bright side-- I am not walking around as a constant downer, needing a smile. This crap comes up when I am shopping or wandering around some place and it's like, "Oh! Tea-whose-house-burned-down." I am so diversified in my interests and before I met most of the people who say these things, we had things to talk about. Grrrrrr!

Two people that I don't know came up to me at the school today and asked if my family would like a Christmas basket. I politely declined, but I got a bad vibe from them for declining. I tell them that I appreciate them offering but that at this time we are doing all right, but to be sure to get the word out.

On a good note-- I still love my ultra short hair cut. I kid you not, it takes 20 pounds off my hips because it draws the attention up toward my face. It is more me than ever. I know you can't tell, but I am high energy and fun-- the long hair made me look like a spaniel. I kept having to resist the urge to point when I saw ducks in the Palmer Hay Flats. . . it interfered with my driving!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Why is he talking about me?

I think that one of the most annoying people that I have to deal with is my ex husband. He's not annoying because he is my ex, he is annoying because of his DNA. I have too many ex boyfriends and fiancees to get annoyed with-- most relationships ended with something that was too big for us to deal with and we parted on good terms. My ex? Once he decided that he wanted out, when our bills got too high and my parents told him that he needed to stop drinking and pay attention to his wife and children, he left the say rent was due and we had no food but some dry cereal and juice and bought a pair of $700 cowboy boots and told me to ask my parents and "the welfare people" for help with the rent.

That was close to 20 years ago. I've given birth to seven more children, gotten a degree and married and have had no regrets. He came up when Tiger graduated and I avoided him. A couple of my kids saw him and told me in private that he seemed smarmy. I said, "I never gave him much thought."

Most recently, I got a tattoo that one of my friends bought for me after my house burned down. This is something that I love and am very proud of. It's a monumental tattoo that goes from my elbow to my shoulder, that commemeorates a huge event in my life. I have met the artist who will do my next tattoo (tribal, of a magpie, on my right thigh) and I just in general love them. (My mom said that I won't be 40 for forever and asked how I will want to look when I am 80. Hey, I worked in an assisted living residence. At least I won't have pasty white skin!) Anyway, Tiger told me that her dad knows about my pheonix. WTF? She said that he told her that he knows about it like it was something taboo, but I was bothered first that he told her that he knew, and second that she informed me.

His wife is nutty as in, seriously OCD. Yes, she has needed medication and various helps with her personality. (Serious mental issues.) When I was in a court battle with them over the kids, she was the epitome of hearing something small about me and making her lawyer tell my lawyer that they "knew" about it. These were things that were not even illegal or questionable, just an intimidation tactic. It would have been unnerving if they were not spending big bucks every time they sneezed in their lawyer's direction! Was finding out through a friend of a friend on Face Book that I have a tattoo a big deal to them that they had to tell our daughter?

I told my daughter that she needs to think about what she is being told and analyse why someone is telling her about it. I've heard personal things about my ex over the years and said nothing to the kids. I know no one who admits to keeping tabs on their exes after the kids are grown up, and when they did secretly stalk them, they didn't tip anyone off. I told my daughter to write down the date and content when he talks about me, but to not tell me unless it seems like my like, health or personal property are in danger.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

So what if they are someone elses' memories!

Gradually I am coming back to life. I keep thinking that I am OK, then I have a little tearfest and memories come back. I so seriously hate my rented apartment's kitchen, but one of my friends gave me some blue ware that I've always admired and since she is leaving State, she gave it to me and asked permission to put it away since I accepted but didn't seem enthused. She told me stories to go with it and one was about a rooster that she bought from a garage sale that is green glass. She said that everyone saw this amongst her blue ware and would bring her glass chickens, pottery chickens, needlepoint chickens and even a squawking chicken! I don't want other chickens, but this one is so cool! Then a good friend said that the Chinese see them as good luck and he thinks that I have to put him where he can watch me! (Knowing the nature of this person, he will set up a live chicken hatchery in my bathtub just to see how I react!)

Other friends have given me things to make it nice. My friend Jane gave me a cookbook from her church and I look in it for her recipes and cook with them.

These things matter a great deal. Cooking is heart breaking for me because there were so many things that had memories that I remembered but didn't actively think of at the same time. If someone else has a disaster like I did, if the person likes me, I will try to give them something personal with a cute story to go with it. I never cook alone! Maybe I will send a bottle of Joy dish soap along with it!

An item that I just purchased is a memory from high school-- my second mom, Sky, let her daughter (who was a close friend) bring a crepe maker to cooking class and I just bought the updated version of it. It's a crepe maker. No, it isn't the best, but it reminds me of Sky who died almost three years ago and I will probably make crepes until my entire family and all my friends are speaking English with really bad French accents. I also ordered a French Maid costume. If I put exercise shorts and a t-shirt under it with little boots, I will be fit to serve my friends with my kids present and I may do that just for the fun of it!

Is anyone up for a bad French accent? OK, I will spare you. But it will be funny in person and I promise that the crepes will be delicious!

Two of my kids are at an inner-city junior high school which they changed to after the fire. The teachers are really jumpy, confirmed by some other parents. Since the kids don't want me to talk to the teachers, I won't, but my husband says they are in a rougher environment. I'd hate to teach there-- from the sounds of it, the teachers are depressed and they sound like they are mere steps from committing mass suicide or taking antidepressants in vast quantities. As much as the kids complain, they don't want me to take them out and send them back to their old school.

My husband is doing all right. It's hard because while his world was shaken up as much as mine, I got an extra rattling with having lit the candle in the first place and been in the house while the fire was burning. The other day, Starshine was watching TV and something came on that caused orange light to reflect on her and the room. Major flashback-- I was suddenly in and laughing as it was just the TV. When I first saw the light of the fire reflecting into the hallway, I thought it was a lamp. . . now flickering candles must mean fire in my mind. I wonder if I will react differently if (Heaven forbid!) it happens again, but one of the investigators said that I probably won't because we are preprogrammed to react to situations and that another fire would be as foreign to my brain as the first one was.

I just had a neighbor drop over to give my family some clothes. It was 9:45 at night. No one answered as we were chilling out. The person kept knocking. My husband answered. "Hi! We've never met, but I heard that yours is the very large family who had a fire and I was getting rid of some clothing. . ." My husband thanked her but declined taking them, excitedly suggesting that they donate to the next family that has a disaster of this nature. I hope she wasn't offended, but I was very annoyed at the late visit and persistent rapping on my door.

My writing is scattered and I am not liking it. There are some classes being offered through a couple of accredited colleges that are on line. They are in writing for the web, basic writing in all genres (a creative writing course offered in many places) and nature writing. Of course I want them all but in reality, it is hard keeping up with my blog so one will have to work.

2 Nov. : This was the three year passing of my dad. "Dad, I can't wish you a 'God grant you many years,' but I love you and I thank you for whatever you did to keep me safe at the house fire with only minor injuries to me which were my fault!" I have a friend whose dad died on 6 December 22 years ago and we have spoken much of our dads. Funny, my dad is prevalent on my mind from October on, but this year it started at the fire. My friend says it will be like this possibly for forever. He knows of the colourful relationship we had and he said that people can't hate each other as much as we did without really loving one another. That made me feel good. But now that 2 November has passed, I am not thinking of him as much. (Granted, it is only the third!)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I wish I was. . . Homeward Bound (Written two weeks ago-- I'm not so blue now!)

I have to resume writing. Bear with me, please. Things are settling, but I feel like the snow globe of my life has been shaken up and I am still bouncing against the walls of it.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman says, "A home is more than a house, it is a state of being. A home provides space and shelter not just for bodies, but for the human spirit." My spirit wants it's roots back.

I want to go back to my burnt down house before the fire and just keep doing what I was doing, fixing it up post babies and keep doing what I was doing with making progress that I liked. The insurance company has taken good care of us and I cannot complain, but where I want to rebuild, they are dickering over the price as they should be doing. I have a roof, so what do I have to complain about? Really, nothing. I just miss my old life and an investigator said that I will never be the same person I was 15 minutes before the fire. I thought he was so full of nonsense when he said that-- it was a dramatic event, it was traumatizing, but I was me and was nohting else!(The guy was told me this as he was guiding me around the house as I, on automatic pilot, focused on just keeping my balance and being polite to the annoying neighbor. He wasn't being cliche to me-- he was being truthful. I kept telling him that he had things wrong and he'd say, "Ok, then you will be the first in 30 years!" and I would say, "I'm quite exceptional, you know." I don't know if he found me funny or if he was humoring me in my attempts to be funny.)

I cannot tell you how many times I have gotten up to go scan pictures into my computer or complete a project that I'd planned on doing in the months before that stupid fire only to putter around aimlessly, wonder why things are out of place and why I can't find things, and realize that they are no more.

I am supposed to say that it was all just stuff, but it wasn't! That crap that I had was part of me, it was stuff that I loved. We had 12 years of memories in that house, and what we had dragged to it from before we moved in. I had my favorite stuffed animal (Lamb Chop) in a dresser, and I wish I'd thought to get her out before I left. Five kids were conceived in that house, six took their first steps in it, two grew into adulthood after moving in with us and one was in junior high when it all happened. We lost pictures and books, and a poetry book from which I read to each of my children since the first one when I was 19. Cloud (in junior high) had saved all of her birthday cards from my dad and all of her presents from my husband on her Gotcha Day and had pictures of the two of them dating back twelve years. The fire took that all in six minutes. My house was not impressive, but it was ours with lots of memories.

My temp house is almost organized. I am in a neighbourhood where we have sidewalks and the houses are old, like 1970's. Narrow steps on split levels, tiny kitchens. The hardest part of the day for me is meal time. I had my issues with my old house, but let me tell you, I, for the most part, loved my kitchen. I knew where everything was, I had decent counter space and I had a decent pantry next to it. My new house has tall, tall cabinets that only Yao Ming could navigate-- if he wasn't tripping over Starshine, who likes to crawl in the kitchen meowing and pretending to be a kitten, or barking and begging and pretending to be an extremely annoying puppy. (So I call her my baby wombat and she never knows how to act over that because she doesn't know what wombats do. They probably act like kittens and puppies!)

I used to stand and eat at the bar ready with a dishrag for the spills and drips, or a napkin or towel, after I served my family around a huge oak table. Now we squeeze around things to sit down. When we are done rebuilding, Starshine will be five years old and won't need me poised to get her things or be spilling her drinks. I may have grandbabies!

The sidewalks are nice. I finally walked this evening. We ate out because my husband was doing a huge project for the insurance company on the table and we left the project, but before the meal was through, I told him that I wanted to walk home. I am sick of eating out. The month in the hotel made me tired of menus. I wasn't hungry.

We don't have a dishwasher-- I ordered a portable one from Sears and they canceled the morning of the delivery and are making me wait while they send my money back to me via the bank. (I started sobbing in the store. A dishwasher is important to me.) As soon as I get my money back, I am going to Lowes for one, and I will buy everything for my built up house from Lowes and sent Sears a copy of my receipts and what I paid. This wasn't the first time Sears messed up an order on me. My NINE children will remember why I don't buy from Sears and they will not buy from them and I talked two friends out of buying washer-dryers from them. Ordering appliances from a place that has it's central odering based a long way away and you get what you get. I totally support places like Lowes to encourage competition with Sears. May they become become "Sears. . . where America shopped."

I had been covering my hair and wearing long skirts for the last three years and have stopped. I am trying some other hair covers that don't look religious. The long skirt that I was wearing on the day of the fire was denim, but I had almost wore a favorite other skirt of a lighter cotton that would have caught fire too easily. When I went back in to the house, I couldn't crawl and had to walk and this, too could have hurt me. (Although one of the firefighters DID laugh quite hard at the idea of me trying to crawl in a long skirt and I had a complex for twelve seconds.)

Since not wearing the things (long skirts and religious looking hair covers) people are back to asking me obnoxious questions about why I have such a huge family. With what I was wearing, I was stereotyped and invisible-- answers to their questions were right there, I didn't have a big family because I liked children and chose to expand, I had a big family because I was religious! (One day I knew someone was stereotyping me and asked me the names of my kids and I said, "Jedediah, Jeremiah, Ezrah, and the boys' names are. . ." I had so much fun as I went into a bad accent!) I love my jeans now and I am back to making myself look nice on purpose. Few people ever looked past the clothes and it was OK-- I was married and a mother. When I take the kids out to eat and I am alone, I've donned the clothes so I don't get bugged. Seriously, I get the 3rd degree on my kids and I don't like it, it's like I am a traveling exhibit. "Your kids are good, do you spank them?" "Do you leave the younger ones with the older ones?" "Who babysits?" I so badly want to ask to see their checkbooks and personal information, but in a long skirt, "My husband doesn't let me discuss that." shushes people.

The neighbors annoy me. One lady looks just like the one at my old house and she smokes on her lawn so the smoke won't go into her house and it comes into mine. She complained that my kids wrote in the dust on her car-- the annoying neighbour kid at my burned down house did that on my car and I never said anything lest I looked petty. So this neighbour complained to my house owner who relayed it to me so, I had to tell my kids to stay away from her. This is sad because I like her kids, but they will probably be just like her so it doesn't matter.

Another dropped by and knocked and knocked and I was busy and didn't feel like answering the door. When I finally did (she kept it up for five minutes and I called my husband first to have him on the line to deal with the kook) and she was like, "I saw your cars here so I knew you must be around!" She had a kid with a runny nose, she'd heard of my family, maybe we could trade baby sitting hours. . . I told her that I am an illustrator and that I don't have time to visit and that I was doing a technique that had required me to be with my art and couldn't answer the door earlier and to call next time before she dropped by. She asked for my number and I said that I didn't give it out.

One of my friends bought a tattoo for me. It's of a phoenix and goes from my elbow to my shoulder. I love it.

I chopped off my hair three weeks ago and I love it. It shows off my eyes and my smile. (I do smile often in spite of the tone of this entry!)

I am not who I was fifteen minutes before the fire. Sigh. I'm not that excpetional. . . ;)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Real estate agents. . .

. . . can be real pieces of work. Your emergency is not theirs. You don't apply to an agency, get accepted and look for a place, you ave to find a place, then apply, then wait!

I'd rather submit applications with money and get accepted and have freedom to look. Then, they don't try to lease the house and tell you anything about it, they stand around without pointing out features. A few nights ago, my husband went to a place with two other couples and the renter seemed to have been abducted at the last second. Was the real estate agent apologetic? Nope! She shrugged her shoulders and said, "They were given 24 hours notice." I realize that she can't lose sleep over this, but she could have pretended to be embarrassed. This place is somewhere between Girdwood and Talkeetna.

When I started crying when I thought about a melted light switch in my house, another agent told my husband that he needed to get me some talk therapy-- I was telling her that I'd never light candles in the pretty house! Oh-- but she offered in a very condescending way that maybe we could get together and talk-- but she was being mean. What gives? I'm not crying much like I had been. . . now the doldrums have set in and I just wants a semi permanent roof!

My relationship with my junk

OK, my life is not all about sadness right now. This past weekend I went out while my family was in church and I walked several miles and took lots of pictures that I posted to FaceBook which is presently down. Here is one of my dog-person. He came over to see the kids in our pet friendly hotel. Tiger said that he went back to her place and slept for 12 hours straight as the kids wore him out!

What is getting to me right now, and I have been told that much of this is mourning, is the junk that I had amassed in my house that all at once I miss but don't want to ever see again. I had rubber stamps, so many art kits. . . what do I actually have time for and what is worth taking up space?

I miss some of my designer clothes that my mom bought me in high school. I have some blazers from the Brass Plum back when it was classy, some J. Peterman outfits that my husband let me splurge on at the holidays, custom cowboy boots and figure skates, that seem impractical to replace. OK, the blazers, yes-- the high necked Victorian blouses that I loved, yes, because they are part of my personal style. My corsets for certain. But do I need custom cowboy boots, riding boots and $300 breeches or $900 figure skates with $300 blades? I didn't use the skates enough to justify the cost! I may as well cost those out. And the breeches-- I can buy less costly ones for my occasional rides-- I don't even own a horse any more!

Last weekend I went shopping and looking at how I will want my new kitchen. I started crying and had to leave. I slept on it and my husband said I was robbing everyone of the fun of this so I allowed myself to try to enjoy it and asked lots of questions of salespeople and customers alike and I brought no one down.

I like minimalist stuff; if we can afford it, I want wood interiors, a Scan-interior look. We may have the house partially unfinished so that I can learn to do things that are reasonable. (One of my friends does rock work and I am going to spend some time with her and see if it is reasonable that I can commit to doing inlays on our counter tops.) My husband says that our house should look more like it's lady. I am slender and attractive, not a lot of fussiness. Intelligent enough to be entertaining, but I am not think-tank smart. I had so many books-- argh! I don't even want them like I had them and if I do, I have to have discreet bookshelves! If I looked like my house did, I'd weigh 600 pounds and be clean, but wear gaudy jewelry. If was how the house got after ten years and I had been in the process of decluttering.

I've been crying over things. I >>know<<< that I shouldn't have run in to get my father's cowboy hats, but I find myself wishing that I had and thinking how I was already in and what trouble would it have been really. . . and of course my cowboy boots and my riding boots were right there. My grandmother's dolls are gone, and the needle point Christmas stockings from my mother are gone!

I had bunches of salt and pepper shakers, one pair that I used to play with as a little girl and I'd make them dance on the dining room table and get married (they were a king and queen) and gosh, they were within an arm's reach in the kitchen when I grabbed my purse!

The other day a friend wanted a book title so I ran between our hotel rooms, I had two copies on a dresser. . . I couldn't find it and it bugged me and then, "Oh. . . it was on my dresser."

I keep coming back to knowing that my family is safe and that we are safe and that we had the added bonus of the old pictures being lightly scorched but OK and that nothing else matters. I have been told that I will mourn the old stuff but find new stuff and ways to occupy my life and space.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I do have to laugh. . .

This evening a dear friend offered to take us all out. This is no small thing to do since with nine people in my family, we are pretty expensive. Cloud wanted to get dressed up which we all did. We looked great!

The kids over the age of 8 got to order adult sized meals and the younger ones got to order chocolate milkshakes. We toasted success and the resiliency of the Crumpet clan. This friend told the kids each individually what they were doing right in what is going on, not just to make my husbands' and my life easier, but for them, too. He talked about what a great group we are. My husband toasted me, saying that the greatest day of his life was when he decided to forgo his doubts and marry a mom with three kids and he said that I made every moment an adventure. I toasted the man who has made everything possible, who has been wise and loving when things have been rough.

The kids were very well behaved, then Mudd started feeling sick and I thought it was the commotion of the day. . . then Calamity Jane "got sick" neatly in her child's portion basket. She didn't want to drive in the car, so we walked the short distance back to the hotel. She got sick a couple more times and as of this moment, feels better. Mudd isn't sure how he feels. This is NOT a good sign!

Seven kids, two hotel rooms, one mom with a can-do attitude! I got through a fire last week, but the thought of dealing with the flu after chocolate shakes and pizza for the little people has me feeling very insecure! LOL

Thursday, September 17, 2009

We are closer to finding a house to lease!

Finding a house is rough! I had no idea how hard it is to find a place to dwell. I think of "to dwell"-- to live, a permanent or at least semi permanent place to live, and I have always taken it for granted. I met a lady yesterday from Guatemala and she came to America the old fashioned way-- over the border 25 years ago. She is now legal, but while I am temporarily homeless, the desperation that drove her to leave her country was sickening. I am homeless, but she had been roofless. I don't feel happy thinking of people worse off than me, but I did whisper prayers of thanks for what we have and asked G-d to take care of those who struggle far worse than we have.

Today marks a week post burn. I was lucky to get out of my house as I did. On the day of the fire, I swore that I had never in any real danger, that there was never much smoke for me to breathe, that I got out with time to spare, etc. Memories are coming back. When I decided that the fire was too big for me to deal with, I left the room fast, went to my sons' room to put out a candle (I had thought that the fire would be contained to the one bedroom) and went to the living room to get the kids who were home out. I saw the bedroom that was on fire as I had to pass it again and it had spread the length of the bed and gone across the room. I must have gotten out right before it went "voomph" (my word for being taken over in flames without an explosion.) When I recollected this to my husband, he said that the fire investigator said that with the polyester covers and the stuff that mattresses are made of, that this would have happened.

I really hope that this doesn't become a focal point of my life-- what COULD have happened. Right now I am thinking about it a lot, but it was only last night that I realized how much danger I was actually in. The first few days after the fire, I was imagining my kids stuck in the house when 7 of the 9 were in school and college. They weren't in any real danger. I was less than a minute away from being seriously hurt. I was moving fast but not aware of how bad it could have been. I keep thanking G-d for the fire safety classes from elementary school so I knew to get out.

I went to bed and slept without valtrex last night, but my doctor wants me to keep a 3 day supply on hand lest I be kept awake with memories as they return. (He wanted me to have more but I am afraid of getting an addiction. I have my favourite pharmacy but it's not open on weekends and he wants me to have access.) When he said this to me a few days ago I was like, "I was never in danger, stop that!" He was a Navy firefighter and smiled at me and said, "Your house burned down in 20 minutes and you had to have been in there for at least five. You are not remembering things and you will be a little shaken up when they come to your mind. Right now you are assuring yourself of your safety." Am I freaked out? I don't know. It's scary for the close call, but there are KIDS in Afghanistan who are under fire every day, seeing their friends get hurt and getting closer calls than I am. People are in custody battles-- put me in the hands of AllState to an Alaskan judge any day! I had PTSD over my custody battle several years ago-- for over a year afterward, with the battle taking 3 years, I was calling my lawyer confirming things that I just missed!

The house-- one of the nights my husband went out to look at a place, he said it looked like the family had just disappeared, like evaporated from the face of the earth. (This was with Another Company, NOT Jack White/Prudential, who AllState suggested.) The leasing agent wasn't even embarrassed! She shrugged her shoulders, "The renters were given a 24 hour notice." The place stank and the dishwasher was open with yuck in it. I realize that the agent didn't have control over what the renters did, but she could have pretended that she was sorry for wasting my husband's time as well as that of the two other couples who were looking.

Why are the renters of that place so rude? I was a single mom and had just had a baby. The owner wanted to sell and there was no way I could get things cleaned up so he could show it, so I told him that I'd like to get out of my lease so he could sell the place and he was thankful for my consideration of him.

Jack White is established, but we had wanted to give a smaller, upstarting company a chance. Well, there is a reason that the bigger companies do better. Maybe if James and I amass a bunch of rentals, we can work with a fledgling firm and help them get off the ground, but we are a family of nine who needs a house three days ago. Jack White had several homes for us to look at and they have been excited to show us the homes. I'm all, "I want to cry! I lit the candle that burned my house down!" and they are saying, "What is done is done, it was an accident and you won't do it again. You have a chance to do a little better, try out a new nighbourhood, see if you like it! Allow yourself to enjoy this!" That is nice. They want us to have a nice experience.

Another rental company was contacted by friends. I didn't know (and don't mind) and I called and asked after a place. I mentioned that I needed a place ASAP as my house had burned down. The woman who had an annoying voice told me a bunch of info on me and when I finally told her to stop talking about me and that I wanted to see a house, she said it was too small. I asked if she had another one in what her first decided was my size. Well, no. . . I couldn't fathom why she gabbed so much at me and yelled at her for wasting my time. That was another small firm. Maybe she was bored?

We saw a house yesterday on Lake Luciele where we could see SP's float plane-- my mother and step dad were in ecstasy when I told them! They'd fly up just so they could be on the lake where she lives. (This can be sung!) I'm not crazy about the x-guv but what got to me about the house was that it has a white carpet. It's like a '70's show house with a cool staircase and very open, lots of wood. A gargantuan intercom which isn't needed in a house like that because it's so open.

Another house is really cute and is a tri-level that I loved, but it's in a neighbourhood that I think was built on a man-made hill. My mom used to be huge in insurance in Alaska and when I looked in the back yard and saw the cliff, then saw what appears to be a sink hole, I thought of what kinds of gymnastics she'd do if she saw it. Really, it was maybe 30' from a cliff and you could see that it just isn't safe. One slightly bad earthquake would send this cute house careening down the wooded yet almost vertical cliff! We could end up with the Crumpet Annual Disaster Relief Fund!

Cloud saw a house on the other side of the area that we live in. She'd have to change schools, but she said that two friends are moving over to the other school anyway and they are on her athletic team. She loves the house and I may go for it. She wants to choose from the donated furniture. . . I will get to design our new house, but I think for her, coping may be to design and do this interim place. She even pointed out the neighbourhood to me, "You can walk every night and we've been here at Christmas and everyone has pretty lights!" She's adorable!

One of my son's former teachers had a housefire a few years ago. Apparently she was talking to a fireman after a fire prevention class for her students and he got a call and had to go. A half hour later, her husband called the school and told her that she had to come home, that their house was on fire. She went and the fireman she'd been talking to was there with his crew.

Last night we went to a church family's house for dinner. They are so nice and sooooo smart. Very learned people. I started crying for my books when I saw theirs. I'd borrowed a book from "the wife" and started to cry more because of course I can't return it. I wanted to know what it was so I could get her another one and she wouldn't tell me so I can't buy her another one! My books. I have so many thank you notes and I looked in my new art supply area of the hotel and only one book survived that I took out after the fire, but it's not in great shape. [I do artwork on my envelopes and it's important to me and the books are gone. :( ] I miss them. If I didn't have kids, I might have died saving my books! I know that bibliophiles understand this.

I had just wanted to update on the rental and I said more. Did you stay with me? I am doing well. Memories are coming out that are bugging me and may shake me, but I have a life to live and lives to lead. I have a penpal who I normally write several times a week just because I normally come up with things to draw and I need to write to him today, and there are thank you notes that I am blessed to write. I am buying a charity box for our new place-- our pushke that we had got burnt up in the kitchen and I hope that some of the money can be washed and recovered and donated to an emergency fund-- it was getting heavy!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Because stopping isn't an option. we are dusting ourselves off. . .

Today is good-- my voice is 1/2 back and I can stand listening to myself speak. My mom was really happy since I talk to her so much! LOL I am having adrenalin let-down. I don't think it's emotional so much as it's physical. It's like a hangover without a headache. My flexibility is crazy and if I did yoga, my teacher would be yelling at me and sending me home. I am almost disjointed, like how you get after you have a baby.)

Yesterday I was actively mad (pissed and I hate using that word) at my neighbour for having hovered and I still don't like her, but the anger is like, "I never have to speak to her again. Since she hovered near me and the freaking fire marshal during the fire, I am claiming a psychological aversion to her face and voice as a PTSD thang and to stay away from me for forever." This, my friends, is beautiful! (I feel bad for her because she is needy, but she is like a donkey who thinks it's a lap dog. I've tried to be friends with her in the past but she has MAJOR boundary issues.)

Church members have had us for dinner which has been nice because we don't sit down as a family in the hotel. I may buy a table cloth to toss over our bed though. . . that is why I prefer eating with friends and at IHOP, we sit down together. When I was growing up, no matter how late my brother's hockey practice went, my mother MADE SURE that we sat together and ate. I have ALWAYS appreciated this. With church friends we have great conversations.

I was really impressed with 13 yo Cloud yesterday. She said that one of her coaches asked why she wasn't looking sad since her house burned down and she was a little annoyed and said something like, "I can't spend my life thinking about that! I have other things to do while my house gets rebuilt!" He high fived her.

I have a life coach who used to be a psychologist, but she tired of the psychologists' regulations. She worked with my eldest daughters when we had a court battle when she was a psychologist and I liked her. She knows I don't need to analyze my relationship with my dog from when I was two and that I really need someone to bounce things off of for a few sessions to get a hold of things. One of the things that she said to me last night (I'm sharing because it is common sense and you all may use this with your own friends) was that while I told her how I felt about candles and oil lamps around my church was to remember that I use knives all the time and seldom cut myself, that I drive every day, etc. and that this was like anything else-- I was not playing roulette with the candle, I had lit them in my house hundreds of times, and that like driving after an accident, or geeze, even after slicing my finger, sh-- happens and I'll get past it.

My husband is a devout Orthodox and I know it's important to him to have an oil lamp in front of our icon wall and I told her that I don't want to make him suffer for my neurosis. Well, I can redesign my house with a great room concept so we see the icon wall and the candle/oil lamp. We can put the lamp a few feet out and high up with a higher ceiling-- do you all get the idea?

I think that my greatest fear is having this control me. I have dreams of candles all over the house and falling after they ignite a fire. I do have some control over my dreams and I do say things to myself like, "This is a dream because in real life I didn't panic and it wasn't like this."

The kids are great. Mudd is five and wants to sleep between his 4 year old sister and 6 year old sister. Normally he is a turkey but he hasn't been. He likes to know that Starshine is OK-- I think she was the one who knocked the candle off the counter top (unless it was Jack the Dawg.)

Guy, Basil and Dmitri all seem OK with things. More put off at the inconvenience than anything else. We had a big yard and their pals near by.

Yesterday I saw my cool neighbour, Andrea. OMG-- I had wondered if she was around but didn't want to call her, "Hey, my house is burning down! You wanna come over?" She was there but didn't want to bug me and seem like she was hanging out with the tragedy! The good people have their boundaries! She sent one of her kids up and told him to see if my kids were OK-- he's sixteen and said that he walked up, saw that my body language didn't seem like there was a death and told it was JUST the house burning. When I say JUST the house burning, I am not discrediting that we lost everything, but JUST the house burning and not a loss of one of the kids.

You know, before the fire trucks got there, my stupid neighbour had called the closest school who called the school where my kids were and before the fire trucks came, several mommies drove by and in soccer mommy voices exclaimed, "Oh, Tea! I HEARD! OH MY GAWD! Can I get you anything?" (Like. . . a latte?) I was ticked, "GET OUT OF F***ING ROAD! Fire trucks are coming!" I think I'm mentioned this already-- there goes my anger!

Tiger is here for an over nighter and this has affected her and Peaches, too. That was their home for the last 10 years.

Starshine is happy-- she always has me to herself even if I am lost on the computer. She runs in and kisses me! Cloud says that she could have bumped that counter when she ran out of the room-- for all we know, the dog did it.

My brother, came out the first couple of days and he was great just to have around. We grew up together being only a few years apart and his seriousness about the situation, then joking when I needed it was like a breath of fresh air.

My sisters came by yesterday and had done a Costco run and filled our fridge at the hotel. I am making a pot roast in the crock pot for dinner. Oh-- we have a dishwasher here! Yay!

I went to the house and cried on the lawn yesterday. The restoration people were there and the lady was so sweet-- now I want to work for them! She found some family pics and told me how she recognized all these different photographer studios but how we all looked happy and not uncomfortable or stiff and what a great mom she knew I was and what a sweet husband I have. Of course I told her our family history!

Yesterday Dmitri's friend Stormy's mom saw us in the 'hood and we spoke and she will have us all over to their place for dinner next week. They knew Dmitri when my husband got laid off and I was pregnant with #9, but I declined her offers of kindness because I didn't have anything nice to wear, we had so little, and MY HOUSE WAS A MESS. I'd met her a few weeks ago and really like her. She and her husband are young but have a huge house and really nice cars-- they are the kind of people that you smile for for having the early success that they enjoy. They deserve every bit of it and a lot more! Anyway, she told me that when my husband was laid off that every night, Stormy prayed for him to get a job.

Well, in the next day or two, I probably won't be dwelling on this fire much and instead biatching about finding a place to rent, and soon we will be ready for the donations of bunk beds and computer desks.

I want to tell you all that your prayers are working and to please keep them up. They are working. A few weeks ago I think I mentioned that I was sick sans my suburban and had to walk to my kids' charter school twice, once to get Calamity Jane and second to sign up for school clubs. What has happened to my family is worse than what I went through then, but we have insurance and we know that in a year, we will be having a "House Cooling Party/Weekend" for everyone to come visit and see pictures of the house that ~*~I~*~ design with our limited resources. I am not as uncomfortable as I was on the day that I had the flu and had to do all that walking. The custody battle with my ex husband was worse on me than this. (We're in better hands with AllState than the red tape of Alaskan judges who really don't give a sh--. I think insurance companies should hire judges because they'd be looking for judges who would make them not liable!) If we didn't have insurance, we'd be up a famous creek, but we will land on our feet. I will add though that the fact that I was the one who lit that candle will always weigh on me, but it won't keep me down.

If you got through this, I thank you!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

So my house burned down the other day. . .

I have nothing but good to say about what has happened. (OK, one neighbour seemed to be fascinated by the loss and I found myself tending to her when I really needed to focus on the fire marshal and my own thoughts. She called the school when I already had things squared away and she gave me bags of stuff as the house was smouldering and I was like, "WTF am I supposed to do with this?" but I smiled and said "Thank you." Her kid lectured me about my kids bugging his dogs while Mom smiled. Whatever!)

On the tenth, I had two kids home. Dmitri was sick and as always, Starshine was home because she is three years old. She'd shut down my slow lap top and I sent her to her room, having forgotten that I'd lit a candle in there. What follows here is nto my report, but parts that are relevant to me.

She came running out in a top and panties and went to the dryer. I glanced up from my computer and saw lights coming out of her room. I thought that Cloud, who loves all things retro, had bought a strobe light or disco ball and I went in to check stuff out. There was a fire on her bed. I grabbed Starshine and put her in the living room with her brother, told him that there was a fire and to not leave the room. (He was on the couch.)

I went into the bedroom and tried to smother the fire but it shot back up at me. I remembered my forth grade fire education classes like they were 'last week' and the fireman's voice was in my head, telling us that when the flames got too big for us to control or that we might catch fire ourselves, to get out. I remembered how he told us that they didn't want to fight fires, but that they were trained to fight them and liked to fight them, but that they really didn't want to rescue someone who could have escaped. (Or something like that.) I wear long skirts and looked down at mine and realized that it might catch fire. It was time to leave. I went to my sons' room and blew out the candle.

(Later, I'd remember that there was a fire by the closet in my daughters' room, but it was what I could handle at the time with the fire on the bed. I like that I didn't notice the fire by the closet because I may have panicked.)

I went to the living room and fell trying to run the kids out-- I slipped on the hardwood floor, perhaps on a piece of laundry since I had clean clothes on one of the couches. For some reason, I laugh when I think of that.

I got the kids out, called 9-11, then went back in. I am one of those people who will be holding my cell phone and ask where it is. I decided that I needed my purse because I wanted my cell phone even though I was holding the cell phone. Flames were quite visible in my daughters room and were spreading. I ran to my room, no purse, paused at some pictures that we'd been looking at the day before and I briefly thought about taking them, but knew if I took one box that I'd have to come back for the others. I was thinking about pictures of my dad that would be lost to the fire that was making a lot of noise and a lot of smoke and I have no doubt that he was there. (We didn't get along. . . Eternity will last a lot longer once I get there and I doubt he wants me to join him!) I imagine him saying to me, "Kel, get your purse and your laptop. I'll take care of these."

I got my purse and my laptop. As I was leaving I noticed that the flames were near the door of the bedroom and going toward the linen closet. Probably little more than two minutes had passes since the fire had started.

I got outside, ran to the end of my driveway where the kids were standing next to my suburban and moved it up the road. (The kids were rooted where they were. Smoke was coming out of their house, they were probably seeing fire in the house through the front window. It was surreal to me, I can only imagine what it was for a couple of kids who didn't understand what was happening.)

(My obnoxious neighbour who I am sure "only wanted to help" called the school who called my kids' charter school and even though I had made arrangements for the kids to be picked up, I got a call from my kids' school. I'm sorry-- this irritated me. I wish the particular woman just sat inside her house. There is a reason I seldom spoke to her before. She had a "need" to help. My house was burning down and she was talking about where she'd be bringing me bags of unwanted clothing. That was so far from my mind!)

I went back to the house. At various moments, I called my husband and my mom. One of my friends-- it's funny how people respond in emergencies. I had everyone who needed to be called, called, and I needed this friend to get my kids. I called her, "Listen to me, I'm fine, everyone is fine, but my house is burning down." She jumped on me, "Don't call me! Call 9-11! Call your husband!" Argh! I eventually got her to understand that I knew what I was doing and that if she could, I needed her help! LOL

When I waited for the fire trucks to arrive (it seemed like forever) and saw fire shooting through my attic vent on the other side of my house, I knew I was loosing the house.

The Red Cross was there while the firepeople were putting the flames out. Two well dressed ladies in suits came and they had vouchers for a hotel suite and personnel items. My husband went to talk to them because I was more, "Is this real?" and dazed.

One of the firefighters is a friend of my eldest. When she said hello to me I ran and hugged her, "I'm so happy you are here!" She knew my mental state and laughed something like, "Well I'm not! This really sucks because your house burned down!" We'd find out that several of the firefighters have kids who attend my kids' schools. I felt good knowing that they were people we kinda knew.

Friends from church have helped us immensely. They knew we'd be overwhelmed by donations and one of the ladies is sorting through clothing. They are all arranging meals for us. My brother who is about to leave state came to help us and brought my eldest daughter out. Tiger was funny-- when I told her where we are staying, she said, "Pool! Do the boys have-- haha! I'll buy you all swimming suits! Kohl's is having a sale!" So. . . she came out with swimwear for all of us! I can't swim right now since I am hacking. She took three days off from work to be with us!

It was peculiar as to what I remembered right after the event and what I remember now. The fire marshal explained that I was amped up on adrenalin and that when I came down, I'd remember things a little differently. I assured him that I was fine. I kept coughing and he kept asking me if I was sure I didn't inhale any smoke. Oh yes, I was sure. . . yesterday I went to the ER clinic because I was hacking a lot and my breathing was at 50%. It wans't a cold. They said it was caused by a combination of the cold Id not gotten over, possible allergies and yes, inhaling chemicals in the smoke. I was in the house too long to have not inhaled.

We found my treasured photos on the lawn. Many were singed, but they were intact. Peaches was thrilled as she'd been looking at them the day before the fire. She is restoring them for me and all the photos of my dad survived. (That's why I feel like he protected them.)

I do not know what the coming year has in store for us. The insurance company is really going out of their way to help us. I am in the mode of, "When we rebuild, I want TWO fire alarms in each room, we will have ZERO candles even for icons, I want firewalls between each room. . ." I am in overkill mode.

It was bugging me how Starshine started the fire because I put the candle in a place that she couldn't reach it. Over breakfast this morning, Cloud provided the missing piece of that puzzle. The cabinet in her room that I set the candle on was wobbly and I had no idea as I'd never used it personally. Cloud knew that it wobbled, but there was no reason to tell me. Sometimes Starshine got in to it. Cloud said that all she had to have done was open the cabinet door with a little force and it may have slid.

In retrospect, I could have saved the house had I shut the window as soon as I saw the fire. There was a breeze and it fed the fire, although once it went into the attic, it was spreading.

My room had major smoke damage and was pretty much destroyed. The smell is sickening. Everything is being gotten rid of.

I learned how heat rises. On the other side of the house, doors were singed for the top 18 inches and were just sooty below. The heat was bad on top.

It was strange looking at the chairs I'd just been sitting in a couple of hours before, charred.

We lost our cat who adopted us during a court battle with my ex husband. She just showed up on the day that I temporarily lost custody and stayed. She was in the boys' room asleep on the top bunk. I cried a great deal for her.

It may take up to a year to rebuild our house. My clan in an apartment is NOT appealing but at least we will be together. I hope to stay in the same area for the schools. My husband and I may become big in volunteering for the Red Cross or, if not major volunteers, in a year or two put in some time helping them with a project.

Even in the midst of the tragedy, there is life. The night of the fire, my brother in law observed that we had just survived one of the scariest events in our lives, but there was Tiger handing out swimwear to the kids, they were excited to be at a hotel with a swimming pool and they were like little electrons around her, laughing and talking. She smiled at me right then and said, "Mom, take the good with the bad!"

Today we had breakfast at IHOP. It was the first meal where were all sat down together since Wednesday night. The kids were noisy and funny, Mudd discovered that where he was sitting that he had to dive under the table or make everyone move if he had to use the bathroom, so he claimed to need to use the bathroom several times. Finally my husband said, "You are not going again." He made a crass potty joke. Cloud realized that she had one of my rhinestone necklaces in her purse (WTF?!! she gets in to my stuff!) but I was happy she had it. Basil was taking advantage of the bottomless orange juice. Starshine was like a puppy on Tiger's boyfriend's lap, insisting that he hold her and he didn't mind. I actually ate enough so the steroids for the smoke inhalation would not make me sick. It was refreshing.

We lost everything, but I also feel like good will happen. We keep looking up and looking ahead.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

School has resumed!

Has it really been almost a month since I last wrote? blogging is one of my most rewarding writing experiences and I have been bogged down with Life!

School has resumed. I was sad over not being able to sign up for classes myself, but now I am happy because my suburban died and my husband is in the middle of a huge project that he couldn't get a little time out to help me get to where I would need to be so I would have had to drop the classes.

My kids are in a language immersion school. We have no bus service. I had been walking them to school, then coming home and having to walk back since Mudd is in kindergarten and starts school late, then walking back in the afternoon. It was a mile in each direction which was no big deal, but another mom drives the morning kids to school and takes them all home and I only have to walk Mudd to school. I look forward to getting the 'burb back, but the walks are really nice. We leave much earlier than we have to so we can look at leaves and berries and inspect the creek that we pass on the way to school. I remember walks with my mom when I was 5 and I wonder if these two will have fond memories of us walking.

The older two have a greater struggle with the immersion program but we are making them stick with it. Calamity Jane is having a great time and comes home glowing about her teacher and all her new friends. Her disposition is so sunny that you can get a tan sitting next to her; everything "couldn't be BETTER! I am so lucky!"

Cloud is doing really well with her sports and music. Her coach is a lady who I was in college with, who won every award for position in her sport that she could and I think she was MVP 4 years in a row. She has recruited Cloud for what she coaches and her music teacher also likes her and has told her to start trying out for things. Her music teacher remembered me from several years before when he worked with Peaches. He was standing behind me when he stopped and said that he recognized my voice. He remembered my last name even though it was different from Peaches' and that was really shocking to me, but he said I am pretty distinct. I think it was me scolding an errant toddler that jogged is memory more so than my voice. I have a way of saying, "Uh-uh-uh!" to naughty 3 year olds that is pretty distinct!

There was a case of Guy getting into mischief at school last week. Ahhh! Junior high! I hate dealing with this stuff, but we resolved it. I know it is just the start even if he is good for the rest of school. (Without going into detail, he has impulse control issues: in real life, these things have to be curbed. Thank goodness he is the only one of my kids to have them!)

With some time to just me and 3 year old Starshine, I am having quite a time getting my house organized. It is suddenly easy. Starshine sits and reads books or plays quietly while when Mudd is home, they get into things. I am shedding CRAP by the garbage bag full. My husband is pretty much a packrat and if I throw stuff out with him here, it's, "What are you doing? There are some more uses to that!" Of course if he throws out my stuff, I am as bad. Right now I am looking at things and saying, "Throw away, give away or keep?" Most of it is being tossed out. Everything we uy eventually gets used up and thrown out and it's bothering me. Since Tuesday is the start of a new month, they accept bags of things so I as of Thursday (two days ago) I started saving things again to take down to them.

I feel like I am getting old and crotchety. I'm evaluating my time. I used to love-love-love helping out in various places that were not nice to go to. Hospice, the prisons, homes for really sick people. . . those were my hang outs. I really enjoyed spending my time in those places when I got out and now I am wondering if I really liked them. Did I like them or was I ale to get a change from home and justify it? "They need me." I am doing radio now and that gives me energy. I like interviewing people and playing with sounds. Just for fun (I deleted it after I showed a few people in my house!) I took an interview and made it sound like we were in a bar and took the man's answers and used my own voices and made it sound like he was getting hit on while I interviewed him. I was painting a scene with sound! Anyway-- the old nurturing gigs that I had don't appeal to me now.

Part of the nurturing that bugged me was getting thanked. I hate being thanked-- interviews, yes, thank me for making you sound good and for the hours I will put in to editing! If I spend three hours sitting with someone who is sick, it's an act of love. Thank me once, then tell me that I bring sunshine into your life or that you get a kick out of me telling you funny stories. I don't really need words and I prefer to keep them to a minimum. I don't know why words of thanks bother me so much, but they embarrass me. These things are not what I want in my life now.

I'm purging things from my life. It is sad in some ways because I am not Florence Nightengale and I used to admire people who did those kinds of things. I still admire them, but I don't want to be like them. I have so much time and I have to be selective and ask how much time I can really devote to things and what I am getting out of them for what I put in to them.

I think that radio and writing about what I do is my area. I love going out on a volunteer event, trying it and writing about it. I have been asked to go out on something because of my work at the Examiner and I can't wait to dive into it. I feel so flaky knowing that I will love it, wish I could stay, but if I do, I will soon tire of it. It isn't about the need for newness so much as it is simply not my calling.

I have been hanging out with some new friends, a certain class of women who obsess over their weight. (It has to do with publicity.) My family practices Eastern Orthodoxy. We have numerous fasts and we just stay away from those foods and if offered, we are supposed to accept a small serving so as not to draw attention to the fast. This particular demographic of women worry about their weight and make an issue of it. They work out a lot, but if they see the dessert cart, they make an issue that goes like this:

"Oooooh! I like that Tiger Mousse cake but I'll need to work out an extra half an hour!"

Then another says, "Oh Shiela! You aren't fat!"

Shiela looks astounded and says in a conspiratorial whisper, "I've put on 10 pounds since June!"

I got ticked at an event and took the plate of petite fours from them as they stood staring at it and talking about how much weight they had to lose. Did they really want that little frosted confection? They'd have to work out at least 20 minutes! I said to them, "Don't stand around talking sh--! Either eat the damned things or don't, but don't stand around calling yourselves fat when there are people starving three blocks away and living in tents!" (I happen to be good at publicity for them, and they are interesting. . . and this may turn into a paying job. This stays in my life.)

This is all for now. There is much more to share, but I have a closet to clean and a birthday party to take a child to, not to mention a dessert to eat!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The summer is slipping away. . .

My life is about to tumble into chaos. What am I doing to myself? I have writers cramp from signing up six kids for school. You would think that the The Luddite School District would have us able to sign up online, but that is not the case. The Luddite School District has us doing everything on paper. I asked if they had string and cans set up at the middle school or if they were up to rotary dials yet and they were not impressed with my sense of humour.

I took Cloud in (8th grade) to sign up and one of the narcs was razzing her, “I see a young lady who wants classes in fashion?” Cloud said, “I can learn that on my own. What I want are some good math and science classes.”

He laughed and said he could get her some hard teachers and she blinked at him and said, “I just want someone who can teach science and math.”

Guy is going in to 6th grade. He’s quite happy about it. He has wanted to be an FBI agent but finally realized that with his speech impairments and reading problems that it won’t happen, so he is shifting gears toward being a mechanic or a carpenter. I told him that this is great, that he can build his own home and live happily. “Chicks dig a man who can fix a bathroom door!” He blushed! He is so cute.

I am getting Basil, Dmitri and Mudd into a language immersion school up the road from me. With Mudd in kindergarten and Calamity Jane at a different school that I am on the board at, I'll have four sets of times to get kids to school. I think we’ll be going to bed at 21:00. I don’t know when I will write for pay. The language immersion will be hard at first. The boys did not learn any of their language over the summer, and they are expected to be reading books that kids in a particular country read at their ages. It’s OK that they didn’t—none of the other kids were doing much, either. They will be doing study groups and working their asses off this year. In a way it is good that I don’t have a lot of money because all they will have time for is school anyway. It will be a challenge. Families have to put in time at the school, four hours each month. Cloud has been putting in the Crumpet hours there—she enjoys going in and helping with the work crews of parents and older siblings, even though she is too old to attend.

Starshine is hilarious. I love the age of 4. I loved the age of 4 with all my kids. (She'll will be 4 next month.) The other day after church I decided to go on a walk instead of going straight home after coffee hour. (Actually, Mudd and I had gone for a walk during church—The Lake beckoned next door! Mr. Crumpet glared at us after a long absence and we tried to sneak n’ slosh back in, both of us with wet shoes! Oops!) As we walked around the back roads in the area, we found the Alaskan equivalent of wild raspberries, watermelon berries, red currants. . . Starshine kept saying, “Look! Nature’s gifts!” Yes, she gets it from me. Then of course she is clingy-- they go through a few phases of clinging as they go from babyhood to 5 years (my mom says “babyhood to 30 years.”) At several points, I got too far away from her and she said, “Mother! You get over here this minute! I have a hand that is free and that needs to be held!” One hand was on her hip, the other hand and pointed index finger were making my wrist gesture of, “Get over here now!”

We were playing Go Fish last night and she is learning her numbers. She knows them, sorta. She has little cards with fish on them and on one, there is a zero. I asked her what number was there and she said, “Four.” We had been saying each number and counting the fish and I said, “Starshine! There are no fish in here! Where do you see four fish?” She explained to me that they were hiding and that she had a very silly story about the mommy fish wanting to make them eat dinner but how they wanted to play hide and seek outside for “just a half hour more!”

Oh-- with church. I don't go often. In the summer, my personal time alone to clean, write, paint, muse alone, is non existent so my husband takes the kids to church. I go more often in the winter, but I still need my down time. I went to make sure that I saw our priest before he leaves in two weeks for more school. I told him why i don't go. He got on me, "Oh, you mustn't take for granted the blood and body of Christ!" (Communion.) I don't even feel a connection to my church, I don't feel like I belong, and he said that? With seven kids still st home, he thinks that I take church for granted? Does he know how little time I have alone?!! So annoying. I felt more cut off from this church than ever when he said that. Mental note to self: claim that I am on my menstrual cycle all the time so I don't go, then he'll do the guy thing, "Oh! Mmmm. We miss ya." Some women don't go while on their cycles.

Basil was very funny last week. I tried a new tactic on getting the kids to clean their rooms and pick up after themselves. Some Ph.D. from Quebec said that parents need to make doing a job it’s own reward and to instill in the kids how good we feel when doing something like picking up clutter. I asked him to take care of the kitchen while I did something else and, following male role model's ways, he told a younger child to do it. I got upset with him and told him to do it. He didn’t as he got preoccupied with the laptop. I went in ten minutes later and he said, “Why should I deprive you of the satisfaction and good feeling this brings you?” He was cracking up then and apologized and did it!