Sunday, November 30, 2008

20 weeks, Casa Buendia, & fire situation updates...

So today I am finally 20 weeks, I have at last hit the half-way mark!!

I now feel the baby move a few times per day, but it's still pretty small movements.

This week it's the length of a banana.

I'm feeling less nausea, though I must admit I have some tonight. When I do get it it's always at night. If I eat pasta with tomato sauce I now get heartburn (which I've never had in my life). And when I sleep I now prop my belly on a pillow. It's kind of a pain in the butt though, cuz I have to turn from side to side several times each night & now I have to drag the pillow with me each time & repositon with it.

I did do some workouts this week, but not as much as I would have liked. No spinning took place for a couple of reasons (air quality as well as garage issues).

As far as Casa Buendia, the nightmares here continue. So we recently discovered we had a slab leak--on Wednesday of this week it appears to have busted into the garage (right next to our bedroom, the side of the room where we felt the heat) & the garage has been flooded ever since. It's not as wet out there now as it was, but it smells horrible now (I would actually rather have the smoke odor back!). Ho hum, we're gonna ask the fire restoration guy coming tomorrow about this too.

As for the fire situation---our insurance adjuster showed up last weekend & was actually extremely reasonable (though he did try to cut 'some' corners) compared to stories we've heard from other neighbors. We had a company come to remove the smoke odor, but I started getting creeped out by the guy & they started getting kinda carried away (at least it seemed so to us) with what needed to be done & they were telling us if we could get them signed up with some of our neighbors he'd do our house for free, & he kept talking really bad about all the other companies, so we ended up firing them. The day before it rained (I think it was Monday?) my neighbors across the street were telling me how happy they were with the guy doing work on their house. They said they had hired one company in the very beginning, but weren't happy with them & ended up firing them very soon after hiring. Later that day my neighbor came over again to tell me that the next day his workers were going to tarp his house to protect it from the rain. He said his guy was really concerned about Victor's house & had offered to tarp it for him. I talked to hubby & we talked with Victor & he agreed, so we called the guy & told him. This guy likes to talk A LOT (& he tells you he does as he's talking to you, which is kinda funny), but aside from that he seems like a really nice guy, very genuine. The next day he came to my door & showed me what they were doing to my neighbor's (the Hicks) house (apparently they have to build a frame first to be able to put a tarp) & he said they would do the same to Victor's house after they finished the Hicks' house. He promised me they wouldn't stop no matter what--dark, rain, etc. And they didn't, they got started kinda late (it took a long time to do the Hicks house) & they kept on working well into the darkness with no lighting at all. It was making me very nervous that the workers were going to hurt themselves walking around the top of the walls on the little edges with no roof or anything around them in the dark. It did rain that night, so we got it tarped just in time, praise God!! The next day they came back & didn't even work on the Hicks' house, they spent their whole day on Victor's house, removing unsafe hanging beams & stuff like that & hauling out a small portion of the debris. They also redid the framing & tarping (I guess they had done a quickie job due to running out of time the day before). I was getting worried that they might be doing stuff Victor didn't want done or hadn't approved, but then Victor called me & let me know what was going on. Again that day they worked into the darkness. I later called the guy from the company to arrange a meeting with him to discuss our smoke damage situation. He will be here tomorrow afternoon. Like I said before--he really likes to talk--& he was telling me how much he works & how much time he spends here now & how he was even going to be here on Thanksgiving morning with the architect looking at the Hicks' house. I saw him come with the architect that morning & they looked at both the Hicks' house & Victor's house together. Later we stopped by the Hicks' family (Adam's sister & brother in law) that lives at the end of our cul-de-sac (the Hicks were spending Thanksgiving there) & Adam was telling me that he saw his guy here even today. I told him he was meeting with the architect & he was laughing saying that I knew more about what was going on with his house than he did. But he again thanked me for keeping an eye on his house & helping out so much after the fires (I think I ended up helping the Hicks & Victor more than anyone else, though I was willing to help anyone who needed it). The Hicks shared A LOT of valuable info with me the day he told me his guy offered to tarp Victor's house. Just the way things are going with them & how it's all working out. These are the sort of things we feel like we need help with for Victor, especially since his insurance is really dragging their feet. They also shared that they applied for city & state assistance in addition to the federal assistance (FEMA) & that Victor should do the same (to help out wherever the insurance is lacking). They also just shared a lot of basic stuff that was really helpful. And we passed it all on to Victor of course. We are learning a lot through all of this.

I guess that about covers it for the updates for now. I will hopefully get a 20 week photo taken some time this week & get it posted on here.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

19 weeks yesterday (& fire updates)

So yesterday I was 19 weeks. It was a very busy day for us so I didn't get a chance to post this blog.

I have now felt the baby move about 3 times. The first was the night of the fire, while I was laying in the bed at the hotel unable to sleep. I was laying there so still (trying to not wake the kids) & realized there was a very small movement going on that was not ME moving. I put my hand to my tummy & yes indeed could feel it, ever so softly, but I could feel it. The next time I felt it was last Monday, I slept in late that morning (well, late for ME, LOL, I was up around 8) & while I was laying in bed half awake/half asleep I felt it again. This morning on the way to church I felt it once again, a little bit stronger this time, but still a very soft movement.

I haven't had time to look to see what it is the size of this week, the last one I saw was a mango though.

I did not work out at all this week due to the air quality here. I will probably resume my workouts this week, but will probably move them indoors (because our garage, where I normally workout, wreaks of smoke). I will have to skip the bike (as it weighs a ton & I can't possibly drag it into the house) & just do pilates & yoga for this week.

There's really not much else going on pregnancy-wise. I see my regular OB doc this week on Tuesday.

As for the fire: it feels like a ghost town here. When we open our front door we can see no neighbors in site, only empty burned houses. Hubby & I have both been feeling the effects of the smoke now. Hubby has a sore throat from it. I have a sore throat, but also have been very short of breath & my lungs hurt when I take in a deep breath & I've been coughing off & on too.

At night when the dew covers the canyon the smell gets much worse. Hopefully this will lessen over time, but we are told it will take a long time.

There are workers here a lot working on a few of the houses. I am a little bothered by how carelessly they handle insulation (which has fiberglass in it) & things like that. I mean, yeah, they wear their masks & protect themselves, but they are just tossing it all over the place & placing it in an open dumpster (so the breeze can carry the particles all over).

I am still collecting my brother in law's mail each day & I check his house thoroughly each day to make sure no one has broken in. It does look like someone had tried to break in (& one house in our area was looted just after the fire) so yesterday morning hubby & I went & did a little more boarding up & securing over there. We are anxiously waiting for his insurance to send people in to retrieve & salvage whatever is salvagable.

I think that's all the updates we have here for now. We have a repair guy & our insurance guy coming today to inspect our house.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Freeway Complex Fire (be warned: very lengthy)

We have been through a lot, to say the least, in the past few days. Time-wise it feels like a blur & feels much longer than it really has been. I still feel like I am in shock as I sit here now & write this. But I feel writing is very therapeutic (at least for me) so I thought perhaps it would help me collect my thoughts & move forward.

For much of last week we had really strong & hot winds blowing through our community. This does happen from time to time, & although it seems like strange weather to me, I have gotten used to it after living here for the past 3 years, as it does happen periodically, though not very often. (More often we get normal temperature winds from time to time, VERY strong at times, & we ALWAYS at least have a nice gentle breeze blowing through here, it's one of the things I love most about living here.) I also wanted to add that I also love living here because it is such a nice community—people know each other, help each other, etc. & it was this old-fashioned goodness that you find around here that was also evident during the fires. Many men in the neighborhood stuck around & fought on their own helping out the firemen.

So Saturday morning I got up & went to work. I leave around 6:30 am. Hubby left a little while after me to go to work. At the times we left the wind was still strong (at least 50-60 mph) & hot, but it had been for a few days & all appeared totally normal & quiet & peaceful. Around 9:20 a co-worker of mine who lives up the street from me called me to tell me she had left work to head home, that there was a HUGE fire in our community. I called hubby, he had just gotten a call from his mom (who lives across the street from us) & he had called the kids to make sure they got out. Hubby told me to call my cousin (who also lives across the street from us), that he was told the house next to her was on fire & her house appeared to be burning too. I tried to call my cousin several times, but there was no answer on her cell phone. I kept calling hubby back, he told me to stay at work, but I could no longer focus on anything & knew I wasn't safe to my patients. I turned on the news on TV at work, but all they were talking about was the huge Sylmar fire. Briefly they interrupted to say they had word of a "Corona Fire" at the 91 & 71, but that they had no details on it at all, only that it existed, they had a helicopter shot of all the smoke & then they quickly went back to the Sylmar fire. I left work & avoided the 71 (on hubby's advice, they were closing all freeways next to the fire) & took the 15 instead & headed to hubby's business in Riverside.

My step-kids escaped with little time to spare, as did everyone I have spoken to who was here at the time of the fire. My step-daughter normally works on Saturdays, leaving my step-son home alone. But on this Saturday my step-daughter had taken off work (thank God she was there & could drive my step-son out, otherwise he may have been stuck, although I am sure my bro in law would have gotten him) & was going to spend the day packing for a month long trip to Puerto Rico, she was leaving the next day. She says she woke up, she smelled smoke, but there's frequently fires in the Cleveland National Forest (just across the 91 from us), so we smell smoke quite often here to be honest, it's usually very small fires that are put out quickly, but the smoke lingers for a while. (I will say that whenever I do smell I always investigate to the best of my ability, just to make sure we are safe, I never just assume we are, but every time in the past this has happened we have been totally safe) So she was up for a few minutes & as she walked into the living room she noticed the blinds facing East were all lit up orange. She went to open it & saw raging fire outside. She went to wake my step-son & said he was sitting up in bed staring at his blinds (also facing East), as if in shock. She started yelling at him, telling him they had to leave immediately. They left, in their pajamas, Karla grabbed her purse & cell phone & nothing else. Vincent grabbed his backpack. As they ran out to the car the smoke was so thick they could barely see & fire embers were flying everywhere. The heat was unbelievably intense. Her boyfriend & his friend came to get our dogs just as she pulled away, as she couldn't fit them in her car. In the few moments they were here they said the fire exploded to even worse, they couldn't breathe at all & felt the hairs on their arms burning. A car in the garage across the street blew up just as they were pulling away as fast as they could. They said the noise & vibration of it was unreal. They felt like they were in a movie, totally surreal.

My brother in law's back yard faces the canyon. He smelled smoke & looked out & saw it, but it was pretty far away. He went out with a hose to start hosing down his yard & house & he said embers were hitting his feet. He turned to get a pair of shoes, only to turn around again & have the fire totally upon his yard. It was HUGE. He knew there was no fighting this with a hose. He told his mother & daughter they had to leave NOW. They scrambled to get out, barely able to see in all the smoke. As they made it to the car in the driveway his daughter asked for her guinea pig, in the garage. He tried to go in but knew the fire was too far advanced. They left, barely out in time, literally. He went & parked somewhere away from the smoke & heat & ran back to try once more to get the guinea pig, but it was then he saw his house was totally engulfed in flames. He looked to our house & saw one of our palm trees on fire. When he called hubby & told him that & then hubby called me, we both knew our house was gone. I was in tears to be honest. Hubby was headed to my step-daughter's boyfriend's work (right up the street from our community) to get the dogs. The kids had gone there too. He tried to get in the community but could not (they were only allowing people to walk in at this point, so that fire trucks could move around freely). My brother in law realized later that part of the interior of the car he was driving (which was parked in his driveway) was melted & fire damaged, that's how hot it was.

My cousin said she woke up & saw her palm trees outside burning. They quickly got up & fled the house with their daughter & dog.

As I drove to hubby's work I called my family. My brother turned the news on & was giving me updates on what he was seeing. He could clearly see my brother in law's house & a few others surrounding us. My co-worker had parked up the road outside the community & ran inside (her husband still inside adamantly hosing his back yard down). Their house did not burn, but the whole back yard is torched. My co-worker kept calling me with updates, she finally told me my house was not burning as of yet. I kept thinking maybe she wasn't sure which house was mine. My brother also saw my house on the news & said from what he could see it wasn't burning. Finally it appeared that the fire in Green River was under control & had moved on to Yorba Linda. By then I was at hubby's work & was able to pull up the news on computers there. But they never returned to Green River at that point.

Hubby & I stayed at his work all day. We could see the huge cloud of smoke in the distance towards our home. My step daughter told us she snuck back in (on foot) after it had been contained. She said our house had not burned, she was going to try to pack, but the house was still so smokey that she couldn't breathe & all the smoke alarms continued to ring constantly. So she had to leave. She stayed in the community for a little while taking photos of the area. There were people everywhere looking she said. Finally the police demanded a mandatory evacuation & all had to leave the community. They even went door to door demanding mandatory evacuation.

It was a very long day to say the least. And of course the uniform I had grabbed to wear that morning the pants are now way too tight (because of my non-stop growing baby) & I was extremely uncomfortable. Also, my legs were aching beyond belief, I had no idea why (I was just talking about this with my neighbors last night & they have had the exact same thing—must be some sort of physical response to the stress). And my feet were tired, I was just miserable. I wanted to lay down. I also needed to eat. But I really just wanted to go home. We were told that if you had ID to show that you lived in the community you could enter. So hubby & I both drove home. There were still several huge areas of fire blazing in the hills of Chino Hills State Park. At night it stood out clearly & the helicopters & planes had stopped making their drops. The smoke was still very thick. We had to take surface streets as the 91 was now closed, diverting to the 71. We each showed our ID's to the police & were allowed in. The guard shack was closed, no guards in site. Everything was quiet & still. It felt like a ghost town, it was eerie. There were doors & windows & garages standing open & things like that, where you could see that people had fled so fast they weren't thinking. Hubby & I were in separate vehicles. When we approached Feather River Rd there was a roadblock & a police officer was there. Hubby explained that our house was not on Feather River & that it was not burned. He begged for us to have 5 minutes just to retrieve an overnight bag. The officer absolutely would not budge. We finally parked my car there & left together in hubby's vehicle. The officer had given us a phone to call to find out when we were allowed back in. From the road-block we could clearly see (even in the dark) the front of the roof of my brother-in-law's house. It was such a shock to see how bad it was.

We headed to Chino Hills to Wal-Mart to buy a change of clothes for us & the kids (sweats & tshirts) & soap, shampoo, & toothpaste. Then we headed to Chick-fil-a to grab dinner. We were trying desperately to think of where there were hotels (many, many people had offered us rooms to stay in, but we felt uncomfortable & since it's a mandatory evacuation our insurance has to reimburse us anyways). It's amazing how you don't pay attention to hotels near where you live, since you don't plan on using them. On our way back down the 71 (which they were now closing & we just had to turn around & head back up to the 60 & across to the 15) one of our neighbors up the street (on Feather River) called & said he was staying at the Marriot (at Magnolia & the 15). He gave us the phone & we called & reserved rooms for us & my brother in law. The kids met us at the hotel, they had been at my step-daughter's boyfriend's house. It was a long night & hubby & I could not sleep at all (I think we each managed about 1 hour of sleep), though we tried desperately & at least the kids slept well. We had called the phone the officer gave us & it was useless. They insisted that WE were allowed to enter (because our address is Alder Creek, not Feather River), only people living on Feather River & Golden Ridge were restricted. We explained that Alder Creek is a cul-de-sac & you can only get to it by driving on Feather River (& of course we live right on the corner of Alder Creek & Feather River), but the people on the phone didn't seem to understand. Every time we called we went through the same routine, so we decided to just try again in the morning in person.

In the morning we headed downstairs for breakfast. The whole place was full of fire victims & they had the news on the TV down there. The night before we had been told we had until noon to extend our reservations for more days. We were hoping we would only be out of our home for one night, but we weren't sure. So after we ate we went to extend our room reservation only to be told that our room had already been booked & they were sold out. We asked for a manager & were told that circumstances had changed overnight & they did what they had to do. We insisted that they cannot change their policy overnight without at least calling us & giving us the chance to extend our reservation, but they wouldn't budge & didn't care. They did finally tell us our room was free anyways because we were fire victims. We told this to our neighbor, but he said they never gave him his room for free. I can't remember if my brother in law got his room for free or not........ After we had left they called us to say they had a cancellation & offered it to us, so we took it.

So we headed back to our community, everything was open now except the area immediately surrounding our house, where the damage was the worst of the whole community. There were road blocks at the intersections of Golden Ridge & Feather River as well as East Fork & Feather River. We went to park on East Fork & ask if we could just walk to our house. The cop insisted we couldn't, no one was allowed in that area. We explained that our house was not burned & that we didn't live on Feather River, but he didn't care. My co-worker's house was just barely out of the area (& she had stayed secretly throughout the whole mandatory evacuation) so we asked her if we could see her backyard. It was completely torched as well as the whole canyon behind her. We could see the back of my cousin's house from here, but not my brother in law's. When we finally left her yard we saw our neighbor (on the other side of us, up Alder Creek) walking down the street to his house, in the restricted area. The cop was turned away talking to someone. I told hubby let's go for it, we bolted down the street to our house & made it in. It smelled badly of smoke & one of our palms is blackened a bit, but yes, our house is basically fine. We really couldn't take a look at anyone else's houses, there were firemen assessing them & we were worried if they saw us they would tell us to leave. We relaxed (for the first time in 24 hours) & my step-daughter came & snuck in too & finished packing for her trip. After we had gathered overnight bags, etc we felt ok about possibly getting kicked out, so we went out & started looking around. The firemen had been assessing the houses & tagging them based on safety (red, yellow, & green tags). For quite a while we sat on a curb & chatted with a bunch of firemen who were taking a break. We are really amazed at how big their hearts are & how humble they are about it. Most of them had come from up north. Then my step-daughter left & we needed to go eat, but we didn't know if we would be able to get back in. While we were eating my co-worker called & said they were removing all the police lines & the police weren't blocking anymore. We stopped at Home Depot to buy wood, we had talked to the firemen about boarding up my brother in law's doors because they were broken & wouldn't close, they told us it was ok to do that. We also boarded up the front door of the neighbor of the Hicks, across from us. They had axed through her door & she couldn't lock it. Plus they wouldn't turn her electricity back on yet, so she couldn't even stay there to guard her stuff. So then we headed home & cancelled the hotel room.

While we were there chatting with the firemen my bro in law showed up. He told the cops about his guinea pig & they let him in & sent him to a fireman. The fireman told him he doubted it would still be alive but that he would try to retrieve it just to see. He went into the garage & got the cage out & the guinea pig was indeed still alive. Everyone around was totally amazed by that.

By the time we got back there were people everywhere. Living in a gated community with a guard shack I didn't think we would be hit with the reporters & looky-loos, but somehow we have been. And then there's been a steady stream of officials who must come assess, etc. The next morning there was a meeting for the victims of the fire. I was pretty sure Victor wasn't going, so I went for him. I got lots of paperwork for him & plenty of info too. The building department was asking that everyone who was tagged stick around, they wanted to speak to them & reassess their homes. So I offered my house to my cousin & the Hicks (straight across from us). I mean, what were they going to do? Sit on the curb in front of their houses waiting in the heat? I represented my brother in law for his house, they left it red-tagged, but said they would allow entrance to the garage, the rest was totally unsafe (which is pretty obvious I must say) There was a non-stop stream of rubber necks (as my friend in Texas calls them) & all the news channels were here. Some were very obnoxious & obtrusive & others were more respectful. Later on FEMA came. They are trying to decide if this should be a federal disaster rather than a state disaster. If it becomes a federal disaster there will be a lot more aid available to the victims, which I feel would be a good thing. With the economy the way it is, I know it's hitting many very hard. And I've heard that there are several houses in here that didn't have homeowner's insurance. Once it becomes a federal disaster the people without insurance will be able to get their houses fixed they said. Later in the evening people came to board up the Hicks' house & my cousin's house. The police & firemen are still patrolling regularly too. We saw a big truck, like a moving truck, in front of my cousin's house & the cops were questioning them, which was good (one house in the community has already been looted). Then we saw flashlights in my cousin's backyard & we headed over there & asked what they were doing. They didn't answer right away & I think they didn't speak much English. When we asked again they managed to say "board up" & we realized it was ok, we had forgotten that my cousin said they were coming. Then the cop was right there looking at us & I said "it's my cousin's house" & the cop replied "that's my job, that's why I'm here" That's great that they are here, but I've still been doing my best to keep my eye on the houses here that are damaged. I am in the best spot on the corner to view them all & felt the need to try to protect my neighbors.

This morning there are still lots of big trucks coming through to do work. And tonight there is a homeowner's association meeting regarding the fire. I know there are some issues among the residents—it's been discovered that beneath the clay tile roofs there is a layer of newspaper. There are a few other issues I've heard mentioned, but none as serious as the roofing in my opinion. More people from the county of Riverside were stopping by assessing the tagged houses. The Hicks are here again today & they told them that we are related to my brother in law, so they brought me the paperwork. But traffic is much lighter overall today, it doesn't feel like a circus like it did yesterday. Hopefully now life will start to return to normal, at least as normal as it can be after a tragedy like this.

There are workers at the Hicks house removing what belongings they are able to. I think they are doing the same at my cousin's house. The workers at my cousin's house have placed a port-a-potty in their backyard. Most people are estimating it will be 6 months to 18 months for the badly damaged houses to be livable again. My cousin's damage (from what I saw) is mostly the roof, it is open in the middle. I am wondering about the Hicks' & Victor's house—will they bulldoze & start all over or will they be able to salvage some of what is still standing?

I haven't been able to follow the news much lately. I am not sure what the current state is on the fires—if they are completely out yet or still spreading somewhere? But I did see a few bits of the houses in Yorba Linda that our fire spread to. I've seen some that are literally just a cement slab with a pile of debris. It is a testimony to the hard work of the fireman (& a lot of neighbors that helped out too) that none of the houses in here are that bad. I've been told that we even had neighbors hosing down our house & plants for us.

I have to admit I've never experienced anything like this. To know that all you have is the clothes you are wearing, it's quite a feeling to say the least. And then once we knew our house didn't burn we at least knew we just had to wait a while to get access to our belongings, but I keep thinking of the others that no matter how long they wait they will not have access, they literally have to start all over again. I wasn't even longing for frivolous things like hair dryer, makeup, etc. All I wanted was soap, clean clothes, clean underwear, & food & water. It's also a horrible feeling to have no where to go. When we were told we had to check out of the hotel we didn't know where to go. It was such a weird feeling. If we had not been able to sneak into our house I don't know what we would've done. I told hubby that in all honesty I don't feel thrilled that our house is ok, I feel very guilty & almost a little embarrassed, in light of what has happened to our family & friends & our house is sitting in the midst of it all. Hubby said that he totally feels the same way. He said until I told him that he couldn't quite put his finger on what it was he was feeling, he was confused, but once I said he realized that's exactly what it is.

At the time I heard my palm tree was on fire & I was certain my house was burning & would be gone by the time we made it home I was trying hard to not think of what I was losing, but of course it was hard. It's true it's just 'stuff', but my mind kept going to the things that cannot be replaced. Like I know my Bible can be replaced, but not all the notes I have taken in it over the years. Things like that. And of course the economy has been taking it's toll on us, so replacing all our 'stuff' would be very difficult for us at this point, as I'm sure it is for my brother in law. If I wasn't pregnant I know for a fact I would have come here straight from work & walked in to see it all for myself. But with the smoke as bad as it was I worried about the risk to the baby & just couldn't do it. Hubby also begged me not to, because of the baby mostly.

I believe there were 15 houses total that were damaged by the fire, but I have looked & the 2 absolute worst (complete losses) are my brother in law & the Hicks (our good friends straight across from us on Alder Creek). There is very little to nothing that is salvageable in these houses. They both have no roof at all. The whole roof & upstairs at my brother in law's house is gone. The wall between the 2 front bedrooms is still there somewhat & the floor beneath those 2 bedrooms is still there (although you can see the one sagging above the entrance to the front door, so it may still fall & I am certain you can't walk up there or else you will fall through). The master bedroom across the back is the worst, the fire definitely appears to have started in the back. The blackened bed frame is hanging through the ceiling of the family room below, stuck in the wiring of the ceiling fan in the family room. There are no other signs of furniture or anything upstairs. Most of the downstairs is a mix of fire damage & water damage. The carpet is still totally saturated even now. The Hicks house has walls standing, but there is nothing inside, just a shell really. My cousin's house is missing the central part of it's roof & the one next to my bro in law had a car blow up in the garage, but the only damage is to the garage. It's an elderly couple that lives there & my bro in law said he was spraying their bedroom windows with the hose to wake them up to make sure they got out in time. The other two I didn't know the people there very well, mostly they have some roof damage, but they are only yellow tagged, the houses are still safe to enter. They have been removing all their belongings over the past couple of days. They were both renters to my knowledge.

The smell of the smokiness in the air really doesn't bother me, but hubby is kinda sensitive to it. And the interior of our house still has a smokey smell (we have now filed a claim with our insurance). Our bed was the worst, that was REALLY bothering me & hubby even woke up a few times in a panic dreaming that he was suffocating because of it. I washed all our bedding yesterday & am working on all our clothes today, but the mattress, couches, etc still smell of smoke. We are waiting for our insurance to come & decide what needs to be done. I have to admit that even though I don't notice it bothering me I do keep getting sore throats & I am sure it's because of the smokiness in our house. But when you get close to the burned houses the smell is really bad. It's this stench that I can't describe, close to that of burning flesh or a rotting corpse. It's just so ugly. It's a smell that is still lingering here when you get near those houses & it's a smell I will never ever forget.

This has definitely been a bad year for us, just one thing after another, when we think it can't get any worse it somehow does. But my heart aches for my brother in law—while it's been bad for us, it's definitely been worse for him. We are planning to try to start some sort of donation drive for him. We would really appreciate anyone who wants to donate. We are collecting what we can (secretly) & will surprise him with it all once we have a good amount of donations. Please contact me if you are interested.

In posting these pics I am reminded of when we took a trip to Yosemite at the beginning of this year. I had never been so up close to so much snow & it was so magnificent. I kept taking pics of it all to share with family & friends who hadn't gone, but the pics just didn't seem to do it justice—you just couldn't capture the reality of it all in photos. This situation is much like that, these pics don't look nearly as bad as it does in person. Having said that, here a few pics I am willing to post to express what we are going through:

The burned canyon:

Firetrucks all over Feather River Rd:

Firemen working (with my bro in law's house in background):

Fireman in my niece's bedroom window:

The house next to my bro in law where the car blew up in the garage:

One of the many news vans that lived here during it all:

The Hicks' (straight across from us on Alder Creek)--it is really much worse in person, everything inside is charred & there is no roof left, only the edges of it remain:

My cousin's open roof (I have many more pics of her house, but it's mostly just debris & I had a feeling they didn't want people seeing that):

The rest are of my bro in law's house:

The back of the house:

Master bedroom window:

Master bath window:

Looking up:

The living room: (if you look in the top right corner of the first pic here you can see a crack where the floor of my mother in law's room is, where I think the floor is weak)


Family Room (the stuff on the bookshelf looks like it might be salvageable from a distance here):

Family room with bedframe from master bedroom hanging through ceiling, caught on wiring of family room's ceiling fan:

Friday, November 14, 2008

18 weeks Saturday & other updates

So on Saturday I will 18 weeks--almost 5 months & almost half way there!! I am posting this early cuz I'm supposed to work the next 2 days, so I probably won't have time. (I say 'supposed to work' cuz I have a strong feeling I'm gonna call in sick for tomorrow) I should be feeling the baby move pretty soon & I am very excited about that.

So for 17 weeks the baby was the size of a turnip, but I haven't looked yet to see what size it is for 18 weeks. Oh wait, I think I may have read that it was the size of a mango--or that may have been for 19 weeks, I really can't remember right now.......

So this week is the first week I haven't had to take any naps. The last time I took a nap (well I actually slept pretty much all day long) was a week ago tomorrow. That is quite impressive at this point. And yesterday & today have been non-stop busy days, so yes, I am exhausted right now, but no, I don't have the uncontrollable urge to fall asleep like I did before. I do still get nauseated every evening around 9 pm, but a piece of sourdough toast with cream cheese on top usually nips that in the bud. (This child is already like clockwork--when it wants to be fed & when it makes me sick, LOL, I told hubby it's gonna be like me with my routines & doing things like clock-work--those that know me well will appreciate this!)

So yesterday I went for the in-depth ultrasound at the high risk OB's office. I really dislike going to this doc's office. It's just soooo ghetto. It's funny cuz my hubby hates going anywhere ghetto. But when it comes to shopping I frequently will go to ghetto stores just to save money. But when it comes to doc's offices I HATE going to ghetto ones. It's just a very different atmosphere & you are treated soooo differently than at non-ghetto doc offices. The problem is I LOVE my primary doc & refuse to change primary docs, BUT my primary doc happens to be in Riverside, so all the docs I see are in the Riverside group & a lot of them are in the ghetto part of Riverside or are serving the ghetto clientelle of Riverside. There aren't a whole lot of high risk OB's around, so it's not like I have a lot to choose from--to my knowledge the one I'm seeing is the ONLY one I can see per my insurance. Anyways, I digress, so I went yesterday & hubby joined me--this was the first time he went to this doc's office with me & he was totally hating the ghettoness of it. He was also shocked at some of the clientelle. (Not everyone goes to a high risk OB--there has to be some sort of risk--those over 35, under 18, with multiple births, things like that) So there were a couple of VERY YOUNG little girls there who were pregnant & hubby was in total shock. There was also a gal who looked 20-something who was absolutely HUGE, she was definitely having more than one. And then there were several pregnant women who looked well over 40 & they had tons of children there with them. Can someone say tubal ligation?????

Anyhow, so hubby finally got to see the baby. It was a fun moment for both of us. We told them we didn't want to know the sex & they couldn't see anyways--it had it's legs crossed, so hubby says it has to be a girl--boys don't cross their legs he says, LOL!! So anyways, I had thought my due date might change with this ultrasound, but it didn't. It's still April 18th for now. And the baby is supposed to weigh 5 oz right now, but it weighs 7 oz, so they're betting it's gonna be a big baby--duh, I'm not even 5 months yet & it's showing up hugely already. They commented both this time & last time that my placenta is low & they kinda have a hard time viewing it. I got tired of wondering if it was placenta previa or on it's way to that, so I asked this time. They said it's not yet & hopefully it won't end up being that. That would REALLY suck, you usually end up on bedrest with that. They keep asking me if I've had any bleeding (& I haven't) though just to make sure.

So I go back for the next ultrasound the week after Christmas. I'm still waiting for the results of my echo report from the cardiologist. And I see my regular OB at the end of this month. This following 3 docs is quite exhausting I must say.

As for me, I'm getting fed up with my work (my main job, not my side job). Starting last month & continuing on this month they have all kinds of mandatory stuff that we have to do on our days off. I am now going there 2-3 times per week on my off days. It's getting really irritating, especially with how tired I've been, not to mention how much gas I'm wasting. Today I went from 2-5 & then I'm supposed to go back from 7:30-10. I'm really, really tired now & am just not gonna go back at 7:30. And I'm also really considering calling in sick for tomorrow. I am just too exhausted. It's been MONTHS since I've called in sick, so they certainly can't tell me anything.

My side job I had REALLY pissed me off (several times actually) so I'm not planning to continue working with them. And I've been so tired & sick that I haven't wanted a second job up until now. I now feel like I'm able to do some extra days & we certainly need the extra income right now, so I'm in the process of starting work for a different registry company. I'll probably call them tomorrow to set up a formal interview & square things away, but I've already done a lot of paperwork online.

As for news at our house--we are quite positive now that we have yet another hot water slab leak in our master bedroom. We had one repaired last year in October. I had been feeling a hot spot on the floor right in front of my closet. Then finally the hot spot spread out to the entrance area & that's when I finally remembered to mention it to hubby & we started investigating & found out that that's what it was. We had to have people come & jackhammer through the concrete & replace part of the copper piping in my closet. They said there was a small kink in the tubing, it looked like it had been done when they originally laid it & it took all these years to wear out that spot, although it appeared that the leak had been going on for quite a while before we realized what was going on. So after that we had to rip out all our carpet in the master bedroom & we were told we needed to wait at least a couple of months for everything to dry out completely before putting down any type of flooring. So we waited & waited & waited & it never dried out completely. We were just realizing that it's been a year now & yet things are still wet under our bed........ And then about a week ago I found a hot spot on my side of the bed. And now it has suddenly spread out to the master bath floor as well. We went to look at our water meter & it is indeed slowly moving even when there's no water on anywhere in house, so yeah, it's pretty for sure. So hubby is planning to rent a jackhammer & do that part himself. Then he'll have someone come & replace the copper piping & then hubby will re-concrete it himself after. That way we save a lot of the cost of labor. I know these slab leaks are pretty common right now in these houses (it's just the age of them it seems), but I've never heard of anyone in here who's been through it TWICE. We are quite irritated to say the least.

On the 22nd I am going to a friend's wedding. I went through my closet & none of my dressy clothes fit at this point (not much of any of my clothes fit at this point, LOL). I went today to several stores to look for maternity clothes. Most stores just don't sell them & those that do have really small & lousy variety to choose from. I ended up at one of those maternity stores. (I remember I kept asking hubby how those stores stay in business--but now I understand how--it's cuz no one else sells that stuff) So I found a nice pair of slacks & bought those--I'll definintely need them for the job interview coming up & I'm sure there'll be other occasions between now & April that sweats just aren't appropriate. I tried on a few dresses, most were too baggy & tent like--I didn't look pregnant, just fat & I didn't like that. I did find one really cute dress, but it was a bit casual. I didn't get it, I'll think about it & maybe take hubby back with me to get his opinion. Part of me hates to spend money on a dress I'm only going to wear once ever (it's not like I'm IN the wedding). Especially with me being pregnant over the winter, dresses aren't gonna be the way to go really. So I'm considering pairing the nice slacks with a nice blouse (& I really have my heart set on wearing my wedding shoes with it), but we'll see.

I guess that's all the updates I have for now................I tried to make up for the shortness of my last blog, LOL!!

EDITED TO ADD: I went out today to the mall & found a silver blouse to match my silver wedding shoes (instead of calling these MY wedding shoes I think they should now be called THE wedding shoes, since I wore them to my own wedding, my brother's wedding, & now Byron's wedding). It's not from a maternity store but it's very dressy & I can definintely wear it again for a special occasion. It hangs loosely & I was hoping to find something more fitted to show off the baby, but it was the only thing I could find that worked for the wedding, so I guess no one at the wedding will know I'm pregnant, LOL!

I also forgot to post that I am still working out as usual--4 days of spinning, 2 of pilates, & 2 of yoga each week.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

17 weeks today (or 18???)

According to the new due=date I am 17 weeks today. According to what my OB verbally told me I am 18 weeks today. I'm betting she made an error & I'm 17 weeks today.

Not much to report, still very tired & still very nauseated in the evening.

I see my high risk OB this week, on Wednesday I believe. They are doing an in-depth ultrasound. Hubby wants to be present for this visit, so we are planning to go there together.

Aside from that not much has changed. I still say this pregnancy stuff sucks. I'm still working out, doing my usual for these days.

Like I said, not much to report........but there's my latest blog............