Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 in 13 Pictures

I'll start this post with the very best news I can possibly think of.  Last night the power came back on.  Paul was already asleep when the email came in and I was almost afraid to believe that the lights in our house would actually really be on when we drove over the next morning.  Still, we packed up and made the drive and we weren't disappointed!  We have heat and light and all those other things that I'm sure I'll be taking for granted in a week or two, but which I'm savoring right now.

I've also been overwhelmed and amazed by the kindness that we've been shown, both through all the prayers for our family and through the donations that have made this entire thing so much easier.  Thank you to each and every one of you who prayed or donated or shared the link for the indiegogo account.  I just can't even put into words how much it means to us.

Moving on to something completely different...

Dwija is hosting a link-up, 2013 in 13 photos and I just had to join in.  I'm not quite organized enough to know exactly which month all of this photos are from, but they are in order and more importantly, they're my favorites from this past year

So here we go.  2013 in 13 photos:

Patrick was not a fan of the jacket that I squeezed him into for his baptism.
And then Sadie rediscovered her nun outfit and the house became an imaginary convent for a while.

Ballet was one of Sadie's other passions this year, and she loved her ballet class.

There were lots of afternoons in our backyard...
and lots of digging in the mud.

We visited some of our favorite places in California
before making the long journey home.

Once we were back we enjoyed the time between Daddy's summer semester
and fall semester.

I got in as many picnics as I could!

And Patrick kept growing and growing.

Once our little bunny started therapy she could communicate with us so much more clearly.
And she really began to shine.
Then winter arrived...
And what a winter it has been.
From the ice storm to finally coming back home!
Now what will 2014 hold?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Okay... so I'm doing this...

Escape from the room play pen...
I know in the past I've mentioned having a problem asking for help... and an even bigger problem accepting help.  It's just... almost impossible for me to do.  I mean, any help.  Help watching the kids?  Nope.  Help with meals after I had a baby?  I got it.

In the past I've been able to put up sales to raise money when the car has broken down or some other disaster has come up, but this time I don't even have a place to sew or electricity to sew with, so I feel stuck.  I was so pleased when I shipped out the last of the sale orders for my Thanksgiving Sale.  I'd done it!  December was going to be a piece of cake.  Easy peasy.

And then this storm hit.  It's funny, I was sitting at my sewing machine when it was raining down, listening to the rain turn to ice on the roof, watching icicles form on the trees and power lines, marveling at it all, praying for Paul who I knew was standing out in the cold for the entire night... and I knew that it was bad.  But I had no idea how bad. I'd never seen an ice storm before.  I really had no idea the damage that was being done, or the damage that would follow in the aftermath in the days to come.

We've been without power for eight days now.  My carefully crafted budget has been destroyed.  Our bank account has slowly dwindled as the expenses of not having a house, or a kitchen, and having to drive long distances to get anywhere have piled up one after the other.

She decided to turn it into a camping trip.
And so I'm closing my eyes and doing the thing that I most hate to do.  I'm asking for help.  Plesee pray that we have power soon.  The newest numbers came out and 1500 more people don't have power this morning.  My heart sank when I saw that.  And another cold front is supposed to hit in 12 hours...  I guess more like 10 hours now since I saw it on the news a couple of hours ago.  My optimism that we'll be home any time soon is falling.  Paul's entire break will be spent in a motel room (with now sick kids...), with the stress level steadily rising.

The power company released a list of the places they'll be working on today.  Our area isn't on the list.  They released a list of where they'll work when they finish the first list.  We're not on that one either.  I'm trying not to panic.  I am trying to trust that everything will be okay and not sound like I'm snapping at someone every time I talk.

I'm trying not to be angry.  I'm thankful for the workers out there in the cold, but oh the city.  Eight days without power, all the surrounding areas have declared a state of emergency, but not the city of Lansing.  Oh no, we're just fine here in Lansing.  Sure you can drive down Michigan Ave and see downed power lines down the side streets, eight days after they fell, but that's okay.  They'll be back up eventually.  It just might take a week or two.

(Pulling myself out of the mini rant...)

This morning I made a little indiegogo account.  It's to cover the cost of the motel, food and gas and all the other things that keep popping up.  Here is the link for anyone who's interested.

Thank you to anyone who prays or donates or shares.  Here's to hoping this will all be over soon:


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Sisters and Settling in to Our New Temporary Home

The babies are asleep and I am enjoying our pitch black, clean hotel room, with every light turned off lest I wake someone up.  There is scalding hot water if you turn on the facet all the way to hot and it comes on every single time you turn the handle, which is a pleasant change.

It's like a little slice of heaven.

Paul took Maggie to therapy this morning and got to see her in action.  He was amazed at all that she can do.

However he missed the incredible cuteness of yesterdays session, when she climbed up on a swing next to a sweet little four year old boy who's also in ABA at the same center and rested her little head on his shoulder while they swung together.  Then he came over and asked her if he could play in the balls with her and they did for a few moments.

She was upset when she came home to our packed up room though.  At the moment she won't let me out of her sight when we're in the hotel and she sobs and screams for me the entire time I'm in the shower or using the restroom.  The changes have all been a little too overwhelming.  Hopefully life will be back to normal soon (Tomorrow?  I'm praying that's not just wishful thinking!).

Tonight Sadie, who is sick, climbed up into bed and glanced at Maggie.  "Keep her away from me.  I'm sick." She said as she slipped under the covers.  "Do you want her in the other bed?"  I asked, thinking that Maggie might also enjoy her space.  "No!"  Sadie said as if the idea was ridiculous. Of course they would be in the same bed. "Just not too close."She added.

Maggie was not having it though.  She got up and I could see her glow in the dark binkie cruising around the room.  She lay down next to the door while I walked Patrick around the room (he definitely has not been his easy-going-to-sleep self outside of his own room).  I thought she'd begun to doze as I put him into his crib.  Then I heard a tiny noise and turned around and saw her laying across Sadie's pillow/head.  By the time I grabbed my camera she had moved:

And then:

She wasn't exactly complying with her sister's request for space.

And finally:

I'm pretty sure Sadie was the one who cuddled up to her.
The giggle fest (with all three of them awake) lasted from 3 am to 6 this morning so I'm really, really hoping for a quiet night tonight!

I should probably call it an early night though... just in case three is the new seven!

The Highlights

The power has been out, but it hasn't been all bad!  I'm now turning my attention to the good and the cute as I take a ten minute break from packing.  Here are some of my favorite pictures :

They sure can take up a lot of space in a big bed...

While Sadie went out with Daddy, Patrick and Mae and I went to the kids room.

Patrick was up to no good.

Maggie had fun dropping the fish into the water and watching them.

Boomer mostly cruised around in his water room shoes.

Then it was back out into the main play area to get more wiggles out.

Patrick headed over to visit with some girls.
He's so funny to watch.
He spends almost all of his time following girls around the play room and being cooed over.

Oh no!  They're ignoring me!

Trying to break into the staff room.

Refusing to put our sweater on as we rush out to the car...

The evening sky.

The only picture I got of Sadie since she was off having fun with Daddy
in the science part of the museum!

The Post that I Had to Write but That You Really Don't Need to Read

Feel free to skip this post. I'm apparently way too whiny right now and I'm just not doing a good job of containing it.  Once this is out of my system I promise to be way, way, way less grumpy.  And again, totally feel free to skip this post which is basically a review of our experience in a particularly unpleasant Best Western in South Lansing.

I am not handling this whole electricity-less thing well at the moment.  I know you probably already know that, since I've been on and on about it on facebook, but let me get it out of my system (I understand if you want to skip reading this part and scroll down and look at the pictures).  We're going on  a week without power.  We don't know when it's going back on.  Our power company is elusive.  There are rumors that it will be on Saturday and rumors that it will be two weeks from Christmas Eve since apparently the power company can't fix the it-might-be-a-transformer that is blown on our street in a timely manner (Paul talked to two workers who said "We don't know why you don't have power.  Somebody who lives here said they heard that it was a transformer." earlier in the week).

I've been trying really, really hard to hold tight to what we do have right now.  We do have a room for the five of us, and it does have heat.  I've been trying to hold the image of Mary having baby Jesus in a stable and have been reminding myself of how much better this is than that every five minutes or so.

But my temper is so, so short right now.  We haven't had hot water in days (since Christmas Eve if memory serves), and yesterday they turned the water off for the afternoon and part of the evening altogether.  I was really hoping that the water being turned back on would mean that there might be both hot and cold, but alas, that was too much to ask.

Then there was the horrible request I made that someone come and actually clean our room.  After five days with five people in one room it was getting a little gross.  I'd been cleaning daily, but without having any cleaning supplies it needed a little extra help.  And so I cleaned everything extra well yesterday morning (two hours of cleaning), so that it would be easy for the cleaning person could come in with their tools and finish the job (because surely they would now that most of the guests had left!).

A housekeeper was just about to do our room when we left to go see if our power was back on... and six hours later we came back to a filthy room with salt and mud still  on the floors and salt and mud from little feet getting up and down on the beds, still on the sheets.

Paul went down to the office to ask them to change the beds and clean the floors and a woman who seemed to be some sort of housekeeping supervisor told the front desk in an annoyed tone that we hadn't asked for it to be done so they didn't do it.

I really didn't know we had to ask for basic cleanings.  Is that a special Best Western thing that I missed?

On top of that our keys cards keep getting deactivated.  At one point Paul stood in line for over half an hour to get it fixed(we later found out that when the man in front of us who was in line for the same reason got to the front he was told the machine was broken and they couldn't fix his card).  Finally I tracked down another staff member on our floor to let us in (and looked pathetic when I could tell he was about to say no).  It happened again tonight, which meant the outside door didn't work and we were stuck out in the cold until a person passing by opened the door (after he'd stood in line again to get it re-keyed already once today... it ended up taking three tries).

Tonight is our last night here (last night now).  We're finding someplace else to stay tomorrow (today!  Yay!)

We've had kind offers of homes... but one thing holds me back from accepting.

Mae is having such a hard time with all of this that I can't imagine imposing the current difficulties she's having with these changes on anyone else.

I'm really, really hoping that tomorrow we're going to go by and the lights will be on and this whole thing will be on its way to becoming a memory that we'll be one step closer to remembering fondly.

I've been feeling so silly and wimpy for being so dependent on power... but with the cold temperatures that have been moving through we're pretty dependent on our heater at the moment.

And I know I probably don't understand what's going on (according to the mayors comments on the news), but apparently all the counties around us have declared a state of emergency, but the city of Lansing is refusing too.  Which feels kind of strange to those of us without power for a week now.  I have a hard time believing with 400 lines down and thousands without power after a week that we don't qualify... but...

I'll just go back to figuring out how to pay for food because after a week of not having a kitchen my budget is completely and utterly destroyed.  I was so, so excited when I thought I had it all worked out for the month and the bills paid and then this happens and turns everything upside down.

And now for the pictures.  For those of you who read this I'm really sorry for being so whiny right now.  I'm just at wits end.  Anyways...

We've been very, very thankful for our museum membership and have been spending a lot of time there, to give the kids a chance to run around.  Here are some of my favorites from today:

Okay, scratch that.  The internet here is too slow to load pictures... so... maybe later.

Since I started writing this we found a cheaper room in a nicer part of town, closer to Paul's work and our home.  Thank goodness for hotwire.  I'm packing up and I'm actually pretty excited because in a few hours we'll be out of here!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas: Holiday Storm Edition

For anyone who was curious about every single thing we did over Christmas (hi Mom!)... I made my very own photo album journal... so that we never forget "that Christmas when we were trapped in a hotel for (a yet to be determined) number of days:

We stopped by our house five times today to see if the electricity was on.  The arrival of power is slowly creeping towards our home from both sides.  "Look!"  I shouted as we rounded the corner.  "That house has lights!  Maybe our house will have lights!"  All of the blocks leading up to our house from the east and west have lights.  But there's a small cluster of houses still sitting in the dark and ours is one of them, or was as of 7 pm tonight.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed for tomorrow but... I'm trying not to get my hopes up.  Because outside it's still pretty cold (it snowed all day) and it still looks like this:

Christmas Day was snowy, but Christmas Eve was icy and clear.
At least the ice was pretty...

And while our house was 38 degrees on Christmas Eve when I snapped this picture, I'd be surprised if it was above freezing at this point.  On the upside, the turkeys and chickens I've been hoarding in my freezer are still frozen solid. Even the ice cubes are still frozen. So that's something.

We actually thought about toughing it out and coming back to the house, power or no power, to have Christmas at home.  But then we did a test run yesterday and despite getting the fireplace up and running the day before, day 2 involved the house filling with smoke (it seems snow was now blocking the chimney, and by the time Paul got it fixed it was pretty miserable) and even when the fire was intolerably hot next to the fireplace, it was still freezing cold three feet away.  

And since our little sensory seeking bunny isn't afraid of fire, she (and all the kids) were being kept safely on the other side of the baby gate with me while I read Little House on the Prairie, wondering all the while how on earth they survived (they were apparently way, way tougher than we are).  Still since the cold wasn't even budging a tiny bit, we ditched the dreams of coming home today:

They weren't exactly brave little troopers.
Even with the cold Patrick was ready to play.  He let me know that he needed the yellow bouncy ball down and he got down to the very serious business of having fun.  Eventually his sisters, who were watching him, decided to join in:

In fact it was so cold that I went out and bought a pair of pants on the way to the frozen house.  If you know me you know that that means that it was very, very, very cold.  It was fleece-tights-aren't-cutting-it cold.  So clearance jeans at Target it was.  And they were warmer while we trying to tough it out for a few hours.

Although Sadie told me I looked weird and not like a princess:

No one was more shocked than Sadie.

And here's my Thred Up dress that I had all picked out for Christmas Day.  

Maggie is so cute when I get dressed up.  She kept handing me a pink dress to wear, and when I put it on she repeatedly hugged me.  When I changed out of it she spent a solid five minutes trying to convince me that satin-y pink fabric was what I needed to be wearing around the hotel room.

Trying on my Christmas Dress.

Then the real Christmas Eve excitement began.  There were signs all over our hotel when we returned from the house saying that Kay Jeweler's in the Eastwood Town Center would be handing out Teddy Bears to all the children in the hotel.  The Teddy Bears were from a Saint Jude's benefit and were really cuddly.  When we came downstairs there was a line of kids displaced by the storm and Santa began handing each on a stuffed animal.

Patrick and Sadie were excited, but Maggie's whole face was transformed into a huge smile.  She glowed as she grabbed her bear and hugged it against her chest.  And she fell asleep cuddled up next to him.

Bears (and a puppy) from Kay Jewelers!
Then we came back to the room and after some convincing the kids finally fell asleep.

And then it was time for the work to begin.  I'd found tiny $4.99 Christmas trees on clearance at Meijer and had gotten a few ornaments for each of the kids and I set them up while Paul drove across town to rescue a few packages that had been delivered (according to the UPS notification I got) about five minutes after we left the house:

Hotel Room Christmas Trees
Meanwhile the babies dozed (andI was especially relieved that we go with the Saint Nicholas is a saint in heaven with God approach because with all the peeking Sadie was doing the gig would have been up last night...) while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads:

Here's Boomer with his new furry friend.
Santa picked out a dog for him.

And here are the girls with their bears.
And then the presents that we'd hauled across town came out:

They were seriously, seriously spoiled by our friends and family:

Finally Christmas morning arrived:

As expected, Maggie went straight for the Christmas tree bulbs.  I'd had a feeling she would love them in all their round sparkly-ness:

Maggie, who has been more than a little overwhelmed by this past week, retreated to a quiet corner with some of her play fruit (her favorite present):

Sadie staged a ballet recital for her new friend "Kate":

And Patch had a blast zooming cars around the wooden floors:

After a great deal of playing I managed to wrangle them into there Christmas outfits for breakfast downstairs and Mass:

And somehow Paul and I got out of our pajamas too.

We had a quick breakfast in their little matching outfits:

And made the long drive to our parish for Mass.

We thought we had time.  We thought we were early.

We really should have checked the website.  

In the craziness of the last few days I never went online and checked Mass times.  I always check Mass times for Holy Days.  But not today.  I just assumed they'd be the same as Sunday... which was a bad assumption.  Let's just say that we made it about forty minutes of Mass... which means we missed about fifty minutes.  

But with the way things were going (two kids struggling with allergies/reactions because somehow things have slipped through in the craziness of not having a kitchen all week, on top of the other stuff) there was no way we could have made it through the whole thing, so my scatter-brained-ness might not have been an entirely bad thing.

Moments after the drama (below) unfolded.
Oh and because this post isn't long enough, I have a story.  

Maggie is apparently following in her sisters footsteps.  She wants the Eucharist.  She wants to receive badly. 

The last few weeks this has become more and more apparent.  Last week her monkey leash kept her from rushing the altar.  

Today she took advantage of me having just received to make her move.  After the last two weeks it's obvious that she's realized that's the best time to attempt to carry out her plans.  And so she did.  

With all her little might she grabbed the chalice and thank goodness Father was paying attention and managed to stop her before I even moved an inch from the spot where I was rooted.

I'm horrible.
I asked her to take off her sweater.
Hysterics followed.
As we walked to the car Sadie said:  "I think that she wanted to tell Jesus, 'Happy Birthday!'"

She loves bubbles.

Then there was time in the pool and a quick visit to the hot tub to warm up before we came upstairs to get ready for dinner.  Maggie loved the hot tub.  She must have said the word "bubbles" a hundred times.

New boots. And a tutu.
What more could a girl want?

Can I tell you how thankful I am that some places were open tonight?  Because we drove and drove and drove and at first every single restaurant was closed.  And then we saw a full parking lot and:

Finally!  Some place was open!

And so a buffet it was.

We made one last run by the house (still dark) and came home to tuck the babies into their beds.

I hope this is our last night here.

At least yesterday I remembered to bring my phone charger along, so my phone is no longer dead!

I know it's silly but I especially missed my kitchen and being able to make good, healthy (and safe) food for everyone.  But it really can't be much longer now.  And we did have a wonderful day, despite the fact that it wasn't anything like I pictured when I was planning all those weeks ago.  Still I'm certain we'll be remembering with laughter for years to come.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas!