Friday, December 26, 2008

24 weeks tomorrow & Casa Buendia updates...

So tomorrow I will be 24 weeks--that's right, 6 months!! 4 more weeks & I'll be entering my final trimester. Not a whole lot to report pregnancy-wise. The baby is definitely growing by leaps & bounds--I hope to get a new pic up soon.

I did not get to workout at all this week again because of all the chaos here at Casa Buendia. And I got really sick on the 23rd & 24th which really sucked.

As for the Casa Buendia nightmare: I think in my last blog I shared that we had no heater & we thought that was bad, but then we ended up also having no insulation & that was even worse. Well they took it a step further. To do the repiping of the plumbing through the attic they had to cut open a lot of walls in here to access the plumbing. Most of those was not a big deal, except the wall in the master bedroom that was against the garage--that was very cold. But then of course they couldn't just leave it at that, they also had to cut open the wall in our master bathroom, the one facing outside. And on the outside they removed the wood panels on the exterior of the house. So we were totally exposed to the outside. Of course they put up some sort of construction paper type material for privacy, but it didn't do anything to keep the cold out. We might as well have been living in tents outside!

So on the days the workers are here we have to be out of the house. Vincent is pretty bummed about this cuz he's on his Christmas break from school & wanted to spend it with us & he can't. It really doesn't affect hubby & Karla cuz they work every day, but since I don't work 5 days a week it does affect me. And it really sucks cuz I'm pregnant & I want nothing more than to relax with my feet up all nice & comfy on my days off (especially when I work 13 hour shifts & am on my feet for the majority of those shifts). So the workers were coming on the 23rd & it was my day off--I had nowhere to go except for a doc appointment at 2pm. So I headed to the mall & wandered around (& ended up buying some maternity clothes that I need badly--I hit the clearance racks & got 2 pairs of pants & 3 sweaters). At some point I wasn't feeling too well & thought I probably needed to get some lunch. As I was trying to find parking so I could eat (which was not easy to do on the 23rd) I knew I was feeling worse. I will spare you all the details, but I did end up throwing up in a parking lot. I then headed to the restroom of the nearest fast food joint where I parked & nearly passed out on the floor in there. I was really close to calling 911. The biggest reason I didn't was cuz I know they'll give me meds & I don't want any while I'm pregnant.

So I had asked hubby to not have the workers come on the 24th. It was Christmas eve & I desperately needed to get laundry done & I needed to rest. I had asked him this before I got sick. So he calls me while I'm out & starts telling me that they won't be done with the piping on the 23rd so they're coming on the 24th. I BEGGED him to change the arrangement, but he wouldn't budge.

I headed home around 5 pm only to find the workers were still at my house. So I went up the street & parked & fell asleep until around 6:30 & then headed home. On the morning of the 24th I was sooooo exhausted & still not feeling well. I told hubby I HAD to get some sleep (on top of being sick I had stayed up til 3:30 in the morning to get the laundry done--and we had to be out by 8am for the workers). So I ended up spending my Christmas eve in a parking lot sleeping in the back seat of my Hummer all day. They had promised hubby they would be out around 3pm, but it wasn't true, I came home around 4pm & they were still here so I again parked up the street & slept until 5:30 or so & by then they were gone. At least the repiping was done & the heater was able to be used (never mind that we still don't have all our insulation & we have big gaping holes in our walls). But the water STINKS (like burned copper, from the new pipes).

So the workers did not come on the 25th, thank God. I got to sleep in & I actually felt a little better. I was able to go to work today (the 26th), but am still sooooo very tired. And I have to work tomorrow too. Hubby says the workers will not be here on Sunday.

Today they started removing the acoustic ceilings. They did the master bedroom & Karla's bedroom. They said it will take 2 more days to complete the acoustic ceiling removal in the house. We still have holes in our walls too, not sure when that will be finished. After they finish the acoustic ceiling removal they are going to take a break waiting for the insurance to catch up--& the insurance won't be here until Jan 5th.

We spent much of Christmas packing up all our stuff, everything that is sitting out had to be boxed. We have a portable storage unit in front of our house & they put all the boxes & much of the furniture in there today. I am quite irritated because I come home to find nowhere to sit, all chairs, stools, & couches are gone. I guess I should be grateful that we have our bed at least. But what really has me pissed is that they put our house plants outside--the biggest one is sitting outside the back door & the others they put in the portable storage unit. I'm sorry, but these are PLANTS, not furniture. They require LIGHT & they are HOUSE plants, they can't be outside in the winter time. One of them has great sentimental value to hubby, so he is irritated as well, but I think I'm actually more irritated than he is right now.

I think that's all the updates I have for now.........

Sunday, December 21, 2008

23 weeks today & other Casa Buendia updates

So today I am 23 weeks--one more week & I'll be a whopping 6 months!! Things are going well, I feel pretty good I have to admit. I did not have time at all this week to workout I am sad to say. It was a very busy week & I had appointments & places to be very early every day of the week. I will definitely make an extra effort for next week to be sure to get at least some of my workouts in.

My email that updates me on my weekly progress states that the baby is now 11 inches long. As for formula: I went & checked out the organic formulas in a couple of different grocery stores (mothers kitchen & whole foods) & both stores had the same 3 brands. After looking them over I am almost 100% positive I want to make my own formula. I talked to hubby about it & of course he is supportive of the idea. My biggest issue is how to travel (& just be out & about) with a liquid formula instead of the usual powder variety. Hubby says that Karla & Vincent were both on a liquid formula, they never used the powder kind & they had no problems with that issue. I am still doing lots of research on the topic & learning lots though.

I am also looking into the whole vaccine debate. I really feel I need to educate myself on the subject before I can make a decision. I've never taken sides either way with that topic & now I feel I must. I got a couple of books when I was at mother's kitchen yesterday, I am reading one of them already.

The baby still moves softly, but I definitely feel it more often now. Pretty soon I think I'll be able to let other people feel it.

As for Casa Buendia--the nightmares here still continue. We still haven't gotten very far with our insurance. They say they'll pay for the repair of the water leak, but NOT for the replacement of the carpet, which is ridiculous in our opinion. And now the whole water leak situation appears to have gotten much worse--we have discovered that it ruined our heater & the ducting for the heater/air conditioner as well. So that's gonna be a whole lot more work. As for the smoke damage repairs--we are still stuck with the insurance--our estimate is for $40K & they are willing to pay $13K. We told the guy we hired to come & do the attic so we can have our heater back cuz we are FREEZING!! They came out yesterday morning & took out the insulation (cuz it needs to be replaced after the smoke--almost all the houses in the area are doing this) & then they went to clean our ducts & found water in them (also yesterday morning we found we had water dripping out of the vent into the guest bathroom floor so we had asked for a roof inspection--that guy will be here Monday morning, but now it looks like it was just coming from the duct probably). So they inspected the heater & it is full of rust now from the water leak. They said they can't put new insulation in until they put the new ducting in--so now we are REALLY FREEZING--we have no heater AND no insulation!!!! (for those reading this who are out of state, we are having a record breaking cold winter here this year to top it off) Life is grand, aint it??? So our guy we hired put in an emergency call to our insurance to get things moving quickly & he says we should have a new heater & ducting by Tuesday. I am not holding my breath for that to happen though based on everything else.

My neighbor on the other side (up Alder Creek) came over Saturday & asked if I was aware that I've had water pouring out from under my garage door for several days now. I laughed & filled him in on the whole story. He was shocked, but said he kept seeing the water coming out & he said he tried to get into our garage a few times to turn off whatever was leaking, but our garage is always locked. He said he figured we must be aware, but he just wanted to make sure. Thank God there's no one patrolling water here because of droughts, we'd be getting fined pretty big me thinks, LOL!!

Karla & Kahlil came home Friday from Puerto Rico. We picked them up at the airport & went out to dinner & brought them home. I had bought an electric heater for Karla last week, but then started using it (quality control, you know??). So after the whole insulation/heating issue yesterday I went back out & bought two more heaters so we could each have one in our rooms while we sleep. We have never had electrical issues at our house, we rarely trip a breaker, but for some reason we were instantly blowing fuses with these three heaters. So we had to pull out extension cords & get each of them on a separate breaker. It took a little trial & error to find out which outlets went to which breakers, but we did eventually figure it out & we all at least had those heaters going last night, but it's still at a maximum of 60 in here even with these heaters going (& that's the daytime max, I didn't even look at how cold it was during the night!).

So last night at 1:30 am we were awakened to the lovely sound of the smoke detector. We have a total of 3 of them I think--one in the master bedroom, one in the hallway, & one in our entrance. The ones in our bedroom & hallway are the standard type that run on batteries. The one at the entrance is wired into the electricity of the house--& it's SUPER loud & SUPER scary sounding. It was, of course, the one wired into the electrical that went off. Hubby & I both flew out of the bed faster than we ever have I think. We ran to check on the kids & they were fine. There was no smoke or anything. I have set off that fire alarm in the past & normally the air has to be thick before it will go off. We have no idea why it went off. It either has to have something to do with the insulation above it being gone or else we are now having some sort of electrical issues (I'm wondering after setting off the breakers with the heaters, which isn't usual for our house). Hubby somehow managed to disconnect it & we went back to bed.

I guess that's all the updates I have for now......they are still working away at Victor's house & the Hicks house is still just sitting, waiting to be bull-dozed. I see workers at my cuz's house off & on, but I have no idea what the status is there or what they're doing or what's going on. We are dreading the water bill (because of the leak), the gas bill (because it's a hot water leak) & the electric bill (because of the electric heaters) this month!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

22 weeks on Saturday & other Casa Buendia updates.....

So I was 22 weeks on Saturday--I worked overtime on Saturday for extra $$$ & was super busy yesterday, so couldn't get to this blog until now.

The baby is now the size of a spaghetti squash. I still feel it moving around several times each day, but they are very soft movements. They come once in a while, so I can't really grab hubby's hand & put it there expecting it to happen again, sometimes I don't feel it again for hours. I am sure as it gets bigger & stronger that will change.

I'm still working out as best I can. I did ride the bike a couple of times last week, but I still have to do pilates & yoga inside the house for now, the floor is still very flooded out there in the garage. At least on the bike I am above the floor, so I can put on my shoes & tiptoe to the bike & ride to my heart's content. We also have a back-up pantry in the garage (cuz our kitchen is too small for us) that we have to make our way through the flood to get to & our washer/dryer are out there. Today is actually laundry day, so I'll be out there a lot today making my way through the flood. And today it's pouring rain, it started sometime last night & I am told it's supposed to rain all the way through Wednesday. I love the rain & we do definitely need it, but the last time it rained our garage flood got even worse. I'm assuming it's because the surrounding ground is now saturated with rain water & can't hold as much water from the leak, so it starts pooling inside more.

Anyways, as for the pregnancy, all is going well for now, my next appointment with my OB is Dec 23rd & my next appointment with the high risk is Dec 30th for another ultrasound. For now my heart is doing ok, so I don't have to continue to see the cardiologist regularly unless that changes, thank God. I was really getting exhausted trying to juggle so many doctor appointments.

I can't really think of anything else to report with the pregnancy......I'm still slowly trying to shift back to healthier eating more & more all the time. I am doing pretty well, just wish I could get back to eating meat. I was craving shredded chicken, so I think I'll make some for dinner tonight & see how it goes.

My brother in law stays with us some nights, but spends most nights at his sister's house. One night when he was here we started chatting about health related stuff as we always do & he was telling me about a recent issue of baby formula being contaminated with melamine. He told me to look into it. I was already planning to do an organic formula (because with each passing day I am more & more certain that I will not be able to breast feed). But as I look into it I cannot find enough proof that even these are not contaminated. If you're wondering why they're contaminated it's just like everything else, it all comes down to greed. Melamine is a product used to make some plastic materials, but it's very high in protein. So they can put it in the formula & get a higher protein content reading without putting so much milk. It's absolutely sickening how greedy people can be. So now I'm doing some research & toying with the idea of making my own formula. It just seems like a lot of work, but I think once you get a routine down it won't be--so then I just wonder about travelling with the home-made formula, certainly not as easy as travelling with a powder formula, but of course if it's better for the baby it's worth it. But this is something I'm still thinking over. I joined a yahoo group that was recommended by the people who devised the recipes for the home-made formulas--there are a few to choose from based on your needs.

I am finding myself overly protective over the baby in a way I never expected to. I felt it first with the fire situation--not coming anywhere near the area because of fear of what the smoke might do to the baby. And I am still feeling it with other issues. My sister in law graduated with her master's degree on Saturday--I wanted to be there, but then heard my brother had the flu. I sort of panicked, not wanting to catch the flu for the baby's sake. I ended up not going & I do feel I made the right decision, even though I am sad I didn't go. My mom & stepdad both said it was really, really nice. But flu is airborne & there is really no way to protect myself unless I went wearing a mask. If it had been any other sort of cold I wouldn't have cared, cuz I just have to make sure I wash my hands, etc. But the flu is a bit scary to me right now. I know that getting flu & having a fever can be very dangerous to the baby. I feel safe at work cuz airborne illnesses are not that common in the hospital & if they are there we isolate them & wear masks when we enter their rooms. And right now during my pregnancy they don't even give me an airborne isolation patient, which is nice. So again, it comes down to handwashing, etc. But it's also very rare to see anyone hospitalized for the flu.

As for fire-damage/slab leak updates: we are almost ready to get started on the slab leak. It's definitely getting worse & we cannot continue to live like this--it's really frustrating. We got an estimate from the plumber, we got an estimate on replacing the carpet for both the bedroom & the garage, & we just need an estimate for getting an epoxy seal on our bedroom floor before laying the carpet (this has been recommended a few times to us, it will waterproof the floor & protect the carpet, furniture, etc on the floor in case a leak occurs in the future--our insurance states they WILL NOT pay to repipe through the attic, so all we can do is fix this leak & pray for no more in the future). And hopefully they can get started on that this week. I also can't wait for the smoke removal process to begin, it's getting really cold now & we can't run the heater until the ducts & attic are cleaned. Karla is about to come home from Puerto Rico on Friday (where it's all warm) & get a major culture shock suddenly having to live at 30-60 degrees, which is what is has been in our house these days. She already says it's too cold here when we keep the thermostat at 70 in the winter, & it's gonna be even worse after coming home from Puerto Rico, so this is really gonna be bad. The only thing the insurance argued was repainting the house--they will authorize cleaning & then if that doesn't remove the smell of smoke they will then authorize painting. But several companies have told us that flat paint (which is what we have) absorbs the smoke smell (glossy doesn't they said), so it's gonna HAVE to be repainted. Hubby spoke with the fire restoration guy & he said with the money they allot for the labor of cleaning they can probably paint for the same amount or close to it, so he told us not to worry, they will paint. We are really quite happy with the way the insurance is handling the matter so far, I am happy to say. Although we are looking into switching to USAA insurance for both car & house--we are told they have the BEST rates & we know someone in our community that has this insurance & couldn't say enough good things about it--the insurance actually called them when they heard of the fire to make sure they were ok, before they made the call to the insurance to report it, can you believe that??? And we also got a notice that our homeowner insurance rates are going up soon.......

As for Victor's house--I still pick up his mail daily, but recently when they dropped off a new dumpster they put it in front of his mailbox. In our community we have the world's laziest mailmen. Where I grew up the mailboxes are on the house, by the front door, so the mailmen HAVE to walk up to the house to put the mail in. Where I live now the mailboxes are on the street, at the curb, so I would assume they already have it easy, but they really take advantage & will not get out of their vans to put mail if anything is blocking the mailbox. It's really a pain. So hubby & I went over there to ask the workers if they could move the dumpster so we could continue getting his mail. As we walked through the house we couldn't believe our eyes--they have completely gutted the house. There is nothing--no drywall, no counters, no cabinets, no toilets, no showers, NOTHING, not even a floor separating the first & second floors. Just a wide open wood frame with some piping remaining for plumbing & gas & electricity. They did move the dumpster for us & they told us they are almost finished with the house. Once rebuilding is approved (which is a big process) a new crew will arrive to start on that job I guess.

As for the Hicks--I saw them the other night, they came by to borrow some Christmas decorations. I told them about Victor's house & how they had gutted it all. I asked the Hicks if their house was the same. They said no because their house is not salvageable at all. Their entire house is going to be bull-dozed down & then a whole new house will be rebuilt. They told me that with Victor's house they are going to try to save as much of the downstairs as possible, but that the whole back wall of the house will have to come down, that one wall is not at all salvageable. We are all hoping that the bull-dozing will happen soon, cuz that's gonna create a big mess, lots of dust, etc. We don't want to do a bunch of cleaning & then have to do it all over again. We are actually putting the outside cleaning process of our house (pressure washing, painting, etc) on hold until after they bulldoze the Hicks house.

I remember shortly after the fire I took a good look at the 6 burned houses surrounding us & said that the Hicks & Victor got the worst of it by far, they were TOTAL LOSSES, absolutely nothing salvagable, & it stands true. But I remember Victor arguing with me that the Hicks had it much worse than even he did. And I guess he is right, based on the rebuilding process & the fact that their house will have to bull-dozed & completely rebuilt.

I think that's all the updates I have for now............


Hubby just called--we have encountered our first issue with our insurance. Our first smoke damage estimate was for $44K I believe. When the final was written it was $39K, but then we added on the fish tank & my wedding gown. So I don't know the exact total after that, but around $40K, those two items weren't really that pricey. So the insurance just called hubby & said we were approved for $13K worth of work...........we aren't sure what this means--hubby asked them to fax the approval to him so he could see it. If we cannot resolve this we still have the name & number of a Christian public adjuster that will go to bat for us if need be. So we are not worried, just trying to understand the process for now & moving forward.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Here comes the wind.....

So the last couple of days here the clouds have been moving in & it's been getting darker & definitely looked like it was gonna rain. I must say that right now we really need the rain to wash away all the ash & other debris particles leftover after the fire.

But alas, I got up in the middle of the night last night to use the bathroom (as I do many times each night these days) & heard the wind roaring outside. It has continued to roar through here since then.

Normally when the wind picks up here I like it. I love to listen to the sound of & it blows out all the smog & leaves the air so fresh & clean. But not this time. This time it is merely picking up & spreading around all the ash & debris particles. The air quality is horrendous here right now.

I had to go run some errands today & once you are out of the immediate fire zones you can clearly see that the whole area that was subjected to fire is sitting in a brown haze.

I suppose if it keeps on blowing it will eventually blow it out of this area, but then some other poor folks will just end up breathing it I'm sure. We were hoping for rain, lots of it, to wash away all the ash & debris particles, but no such luck.

And of course the wind is blowing the tarps off of Victor's & the Hicks' houses. It's amazing how much more difficult it is to secure a tarp to a house with no roof. If a roof just has a hole or leak it's pretty easy to secure a tarp to it, but if there is absolutely no roof left (as in the case of Victor & the Hicks) it's really hard to do. They did put up a frame on top to be able to put the tarp, but it's just a frame, not a solid, sturdy, actual roof. At least there's no immediate chance of rain right now, I'm sure the workers will get both of the tarps secured once again shortly.

I dropped off my wedding gown at the dry cleaner's this morning. They said it starts at $160 & they won't know the final price until they are done. Our fire restoration guy is gonna cut us a check for it as soon as we have the total price. And we did have to add on the fishtank filter to the list of fire restoration stuff. The fish had died during the fire & when I went to clean up the tank there was a layer of ashes in there. The filter was really clogged up with ashes too. And then the filter wouldn't work anymore. So we're gonna get that replaced & maybe put some lights on the tank too (we've been needing those for a while now). And then I want to put some plants in there (I can do that without spending $$) And later on when we have a little money I'll put some fish in again. I am planning to do a coldwater tank this time--with some orandas & black moors.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

21 weeks & other updates.........

So today I am 21 weeks. I don't know what the baby is the size of, I didn't get my weekly email that tells me that yet for some reason................I could look in my book, but I'm too lazy today.

I have done some pilates & yoga this week, but not as much as I would have liked & I really miss the bike. I think next week I'm gonna try to move my workouts back into the garage. The blower is keeping it somewhat more dry out there & the ozone machine removed the bad smell that was out there.

I have been slowly making efforts to shift my eating habits more back to my norms. I can't do this completely, meat is still very unappealing to me at this point. But I've been eating a lot more veggies lately & I bought some whole wheat sourdough to try to get myself back to whole wheat bread. (I also made some wheat banana bread this week & have been tolerating that, but it's not WHOLE wheat.

I've had a lot of leg cramps at night lately. It's hard to sleep. I know this is usually caused by lack of potassium, but it can also be caused by lack of calcium or magnesium. I went out & bought a ton of bananas & have been making banana malts on a daily basis. It's been slightly better since I started doing that.

I am busting out of almost all my clothes at this point. I can still fit into my sweats, although the one pair of maternity pants I have are by far the most comfy. But almost all of my tops are now getting too short. I really don't want to spend money on clothes I'm only going to wear for a couple of months, but I think I'm gonna have to, at least for a couple of things. I'm just waiting cuz money's tight & Christmas is upon us, so we are trying to provide for the kids when it comes to that. There is no money for me buying clothes right now.

I haven't given updates on the garden in a long time I think--it's doing very well. In fact, it's surprising thriving despite the weather shifting & winter almost being upon us. Most of the stuff is still producing & a lot of it is even blooming with flowers right now. The tomato plants look the best they've looked all season & they've provided us with 2 tomatoes now. I know that's not much, but we started them late & then battled those ugly horn worms a lot. They are flowering a lot right now & are SUPER bushy. There might even be more tomatoes hiding in there. They are hard to spot while still green, but once they start turning red they become more easy to spot. The cucumbers keep on producing regularly as do the chile plants. But we've still never gotten anything from the zucchini plant & the bell pepper plant. The herbs are still doing great too. Still nothing on the watermelon plant, but the cantaloupe plant has a little melon on it, it's just still really small for now. I'm sure we would've gotten more if we had started the garden in the spring. But we'll do much better next year, that's for sure.

As for the fire situation--our estimate for the smoke damage is $44K. We are waiting for our guy to finish writing it all up according to the specific software that the insurance requires & then he'll submit it & we'll go from there. Our insurance is submitting checks to us now for all the money we were forced to spend during the mandatory evacuation (hotel, food, clothes, toiletries, etc). I think it was around $500 total. I also still want my wedding dress cleaned. It's been in the garage & I want the smoke smell out. And I want MY dry cleaner that I know & trust to do it. So we'll still have to submit that receipt & get reimbursed for it.

We did open a claim for the slab leak, but haven't seen the total on the estimate for that one yet. He's writing up the estimate for repiping through the attic, so it's not gonna be cheap, but we aren't sure if the insurance will ok that or not. I wanted to repipe through the attic when we had the first leak, but we didn't want to spend the money (our insurance wouldn't cover that leak, saying there was no damage, I guess somehow the soaking wet carpet we had to rip out & throw away doesn't count as damage??) So now that we have ANOTHER leak we are thinking there will be more in the future & we don't want to keep dealing with this & now we really want to repipe through the attic. But we have to wait & see what the insurance has to say about that. We definitely have damage this time, though, a lot of the wall between the master bedroom & garage now has water damage & will also have to be replaced. This is not gonna be a cheap job, that's for sure.

I think that's all the updates I have for now.............