Sunday, November 29, 2009

November wrap up-picture style

Thw month began on a low note. This is what a hot water pipe can do when it bursts in a concrete slab of the foundation of a home. The whole carpet area from the wall to the rear of the dresser was wet. The bathroom had water coming up into it, and the carpet surrounding it became wet too.

The water leaked through half the hallway, and into the master bedroom (along the wall) and in both bathrooms.

The water damage from another view.

On a higher note, R celebrated his 47th birthday. R always reminds me that the best birthday present he gets is knowing he's a father-after waiting 20+ years to get married, and have children, his children are his treasures.

Mr. E turns two-no sippy cups, no cut up food, he is Mr. Independant all the way. Our world would be much quieter (and a lot less interesting) without him, so we are definitely blessed to have him with us.

These two guys have their birthdays just one day apart. I think G loves it even more because it guarantees an extra day of birthday celebration.

G at preschool. Hard to believe that next fall he'll celebrate his birthday in kindergarten! He's so active, so different from his older brother, and I love how he has boundless energy.

I'll never forget giving birth to him alone in the hospital w/ just the standby ob present, and telling R when he arrived 20 min later that he had another son. I definitely think those early minutes with G have forged an incredible bond, and his coming quickly reinforced how he has kept me on my toes all these years.

R with M outside of Donuts with Dad. It was such a cold morning, but we were all up at 5am so we could go, and I helped out passing out donuts to all the kids and dads. It was truly a memorable experience.

Mr E at preschool, waiting for cupcakes to be passed out for his birthday.

No coaxing needed, E knew what was needed, and he went for it. Love my little boy!

This picture is bittersweet. It is the last one I have of any of my boys in this room at the preschool. Five years, three boys, and grad school and work under my belt, the team of women that have helped guide me through parenthood and its challenges have remained unchanged since M was there long ago, and they truly are our extended family.

M and his soccer coach at the team dinner-always the one running the wrong way, yet alway heard kind and positive reinforcement from his coach-and by the end-he was running fast, and the right way too! We definitely received support to continue soccer in the years ahead, which we are eager to do-and with R as assistant coach!

G and his teammates at his soccer dinner; three and four year olds have boundless energy, and G learned how to be a good teammate.

My favorite Thanksgiving ritual-the family dinner at our preschool. This was the first year all our boys actually sat (and ate) their dinner together.

My two younger brothers and me with our boys. Pictures like this make me appreciate having a large family today,

Our holiday picture for this year. I took it locally at one of our favorite parks, and it reminds me of how active our family really is. Always on the go, in sweaters and sweats, on the move to the next big adventure. This is the image I've held in my mind through all the chaos of the past month, knowing that whatever came our way, nothing was more important than preserving the love and care for this family.We may not spend any money this holiday season, but I certainly feel richer than I ever have before.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Holiday planning....

I was kicking back last night w/ R, watching the Food Network, when it hit me-Thanksgiving is next week. Its strange because with all that we've been going through, the holidays have been the furthest thing on my mind. On one hand, I have kept up with the boys birthdays, making cupcakes and treats, bringing them to preschool, and having special time with them. But Thanksgiving and Hanukkah and Christmas, eh, its there on the calendar, but I haven't gone into overdrive because of them. I've been using Fly Lady's approach, as I did last year, and its helped me stay calm and not overdo it, because really that's the last bit of stress that I don't really want. I already knew that the theme for this year was homemade gifts. Flip photo books and handprint gifts for everyone, keeping it sweet and simple. Homebaked goodies for friends, neighbors, and teachers. The kids are getting homemade coloring books (my friend shared a neat site with me, and I can use pictures that I've taken of them), and I'm going to make them some new toys out of stuff we have here at home (putting my creative juices to work). I found a link to make Advent ornaments, so we'll be doing that, and making a Jesse tree too. I'm sure I'll find Hanukkah stuff, I just need to look a little more. We hope to be able to spend time with the grandparents this year, the gift of time is what we're focusing on. The kids have seen ads/commercials/talked with playmates about toys, but really, no one seems focused on one thing or another-so I'm not going to push the issue by asking what they want. We'll probably go see Santa, but as Matthew has already been asked by others what he wants, and just gives a shrug, I don't know how that will go over with him. My MIL may or may not give us $30 ($10 for each child), and if so, we'll apply it towards a zoo pass for next spring. Otherwise, I'm not going to get worried about it-I know she has a lot on her mind these days, and frankly with her health going up and down this past year, what I really want is for all of us to just spend time with her. R and I are on the fence about going to the aquarium or to the national parks, we have year passes to both places so both are options. We're only waiting to see how him mom feels, so perhaps we'll see her, or take a trip to see my sister and brother in the Bay Area. Its strange how even though money is tighter than its ever been, I'm actually looking forward to the holdidays more. I really think this will be the year the spirit of the holiday season really hits home for us.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Paddlinig through challenges

The first week of November has been quite a doozy for us. Sad to say, the first 10 days have been overshadowed by our house issues, but then again, it could be much worse. We have a lot of problems as the result of the leak, first of which started with water coming into the house mid week last week in several rooms. We finally got squared away in a hotel for last weekend, and it provided much needed respite away from what was going on. We had to eat out quite a bit, and I'm keeping the records to give to our insurance. I was so glad to get back in the house on Saturday, if only to start up the dishwasher and washing machine (to rinse them out), because I knew we were that much closer to eating at home and being able to sleep under our roof again.

The repairs are not cheap, and the reroute we decided to take instead of fixing just the one broken pipe has set us back $3200 (minus the $300 the insurance is actually paying (they were only going to cover the broken pipe getting fixed, which was $1300, but minus our $1000 deductible is what they pay.) We wanted to take every measure to ensure that this does not happen again-paying for a deductible once is hard enough, but paying for it twice-let alone not knowing what kind of damage that could happen, is much worse. With the payment plan I set up, we'll have that paid off by the end of February, so that's the good thing. Another upside, the insurance has already paid a lot for what has had happened, including the initial leak detection, the cost of the hotel to stay in for three nights, the fee for drying out the house, and will also be covering the repairs that occured as a result of the water damage. Thus far, we have major damage to the carpet in our hallway and master bedroom, and the flooring in both bathrooms.

This has been incredibly stressful, but has shown how resiliant R and I are, and how even under a great deal of pressure I can manage to keep our family going. There's going to be a lot of sacrifices ahead, if only so we can ride out the financial fallout that has occured. No one ever expects to have $3200 cash up front for one repair, on top of other emergencies (I believe I mentioned in a previous post that our pool equipment was stolen, and that will cost $1700 to replace), but it does and has happened. Talking with the various companies that have traipsed through our home over the week, we're one of 100 homes in this area going through this right now. Its an ongoing thing. Ugh.

On the bright side, I have my husband and my kids. I have my health, my two legs that can walk, and my mind that can work until the wee hours and do what work I can to help us get through this crisis. Someone has already told me that 2009 has been quite a year and maybe next year will be better. It strikes me as funny though, because my first and constant thought is we're going to get through this and I can't wait to see how much headway we make (along w/ getting rid of other stuff we were already doing) by the end of the year.

So the first 10 days of November has been quite a mess, but the month is far from over. I can't wait to celebrate the birthdays this month, the first that starts today. I also can't wait to celebrate Thanksgiving, helping out in M's class through the month, and figuring out what to do during our vacation from school. The good times are right ahead, and I'm excited :)