Saturday, March 31, 2012

If We're Ever Going to See a Rainbow...

We have to stand a little rain.

Yeah, yeah...I get it. But, in our HOUSE?

C'mon people. Really?

I knew it was going to rain in my house. I could see it in my crystal ball. Plus, it's March. And what does it do in March? It rains. Oh, and the wind blows. Yep. It rains and blows. So it didn't really take a genius to see what was coming from that whole tarp on the roof thing I shared here a few weeks back.


Tarps on back of house
led to this...

A trickle of water in the upstairs bedroom.
which resulted in this...

Small pond in the kitchen floor.

And then there was this...

The big guy is sweeping the water through the hole for the floor vent into the basement. 
Because apparently the temporary fix is just to shove all the water to the lowest level of the house so it can go down a drain. Aye yi yi. 

They have assured me that this is a normal part of the construction process, that the water has hurt nothing, and that the roofers will be out soon. That is so not reassuring. There is not supposed to be water puddled on my floors. This, I am sure of. 

Alas, it is a new day and today, the sun is shining. Hi ho, hi ho, off to shop we go.

We've picked out our sofas and chairs, but we still need to decide on beds for the kids. 

Oh, and we need to pick up a calculator while we're out. I can't believe how many times in the last five months I've wanted a calculator. 

Oh, and an iron! We're going to need our own iron when the leasing company picks their's up. 

And towels. We don't have towels yet. Just the rented ones. 

Faucets. We need to look at faucets today. 

And shower inserts. 


We still haven't picked the tile. 


Thursday, March 29, 2012

What Are You Smokin' Lady?

So the other day we were shopping for stuff, like we do ALL the time right now. You know, stuff that we once owned. Stuff to fill our house back up when it is ready to move into. Every house needs a sufficient amount of stuff, right?

Anyway...this simple shopping trip for mundane stuff turned hysterical in an instant.

Here is the conversation I had with a total stranger at Hobby Lobby:

Stranger: Oh! I just LOVE that box! That is really nice!

Me: Yeah! I got it for the Wii... Isn't it cute?

Stranger: (takes one step back and stares at me in utter shock)

Me: (What the hell is wrong with her? Surely she has heard of a Wii.) A Wii...a game system...I thought it would hold all of the controllers and games and stuff...

Stranger: OH! I thought you said WEED. "I got it to hold the weed."

I cracked up!! A weed box! No wonder she was looking at me that way. She said "I thought, I can't believe this girl just said that...I wonder if she'll stand here and say it again?" Then she said "and that is an awfully BIG box."

I could not stop laughing. The big guy, who by the way looks a lot like a Grateful Dead band member, caught on and started laughing. The cashier caught the whole thing finally and she got the giggles. We pushed our new Wii box out to the truck laughing the whole way. I could not get over the mortified look on that woman's face when I said Wii box. 

We proceeded to the paint store and started trying to match paint samples for our newly selected brand to the cards I've been carrying in my purse for oh, five months. Several minutes into our paint chip perusing we realize we are standing next to the same lady shopping for paint and the whole fit of laughter started all over again. We had to fill the paint store associate in on our weed box scenario. 

I'm sure none of our future shopping trips will be that much fun and I'll certainly never look at the Wii box without giggling. 

Wii Box

Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring Break Sprung

Spring break has sprung. What did we do for spring break? We shopped, we met with subcontractors, and we pored over the inventory sheets.

Wait a minute….isn’t that what we do EVERY week? Yep. Pretty much. 

We met with more subcontractors. Oh, wait. I said that already, huh? Well guess what? I’ll be saying it again, and again, and again because it just keeps happening, and happening, and happening. Actually, I don’t meet with subcontractors. The big guy does. My role is to ask him umpteen-eleven times who he met with and what they said and who he is meeting with the next day. And I’m really good at my role. Just ask him. It’s okay. You can ask him more than once too because he is super-patient with repetitive questions.  (colossal eye roll)

We pored over the inventory sheets trying to count how many cereal bowls, dinner plates, and salad plates were accounted for and what price range we were given for those items. Then, we gave up. We gave up because the numbers didn’t come anywhere close to what we owned and the prices varied tremendously.  And then we remembered what the kitchen looked like when the inventory was put together and we laughed.

Kitchen floor and over-stuffed chair, post crock. 
Oh hey, there's the rest of our dishes! Right under the insulation and the ceiling. I can see the little bits of bright, red stoneware peeking through here and there.  

So, off we went to the store to buy new dishes! I don’t have a pretty picture for you because the wonderful folks at Pryde's of Old Westport wrapped them all up very nicely and they will stay that way until we actually move home and put them in our new kitchen cabinets.  I can assure you though, that they are ah-mazing and I cannot wait to eat on them.  If you are in the Kansas City area, I highly recommend Pryde's- great staff and a fabulous selection of kitchenware.  If you are not in the Kansas City area then you probably have an IKEA in which case I don’t want to talk to you anyway.  Hmph. (unintelligibly muttering,  can'tbelieveIhaveawholehousetorestockwithnoIKEAwithin8flippinhours) 

We couldn’t let spring break slip by without a little fun.

What? Shopping is not fun?  

No, no it is not. Not anymore. We are all seriously sick of shopping for stuff we already owned. 

So we had a little surprise visit to D & B. The girls had milkshakes then we were off to play games. The big guy made his littlest girl’s eyes light up when he landed the spinning light on the 1,000 ticket space. She clapped for him while the tickets rolled out…and rolled out…and rolled out. He is her hero.
They have arrived at D & B, but they don't realize it yet!

Tuna does smile! Must be the milkshake.
The Spin Master, AKA Little Bean's hero. 

And what do you do with all those tickets?  

I’m not even going to talk about what is going on at the house this week because really…nothing is as exciting as the new dishes!

Oh okay, fine. They are starting the HVAC work.

See? Not exciting. So not exciting. I’m sorry Mr. HVAC, but new dishes are the thang! 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Flame-Fish's Story

Warning: Sappy reading ahead. Just keepin' it real, folks.

In the days immediately following the fire, our younger kids used their homework journals to process the trauma. For quite some time afterward, I was too raw to really appreciate their stories. I actually broke down and cried at their school when I read Little Bean's depiction of the fire, complete with "my daddy almost died." (He didn't, but imagine how scared she must have been to think that.) The months have passed and the wounds have closed a bit and now I am ready to wrap myself around their stories and share them with you.

I want to share Fish's story with you. She titled it "The Flame." Fish is eleven and I am typing her story exactly as she wrote it- please forgive any errors- except for changing the kids' names. The ending makes me cry big, happy tears.

My dad, my three sisters, my brother and I just left the house to go to the grocery store. When we got back my dad stepped out of the car, and said "it smells like burning plastic." We all smelt it. My brother and us stepped out of the car and he said "it smells like someone is barbequing." Then, he pointed down the street and said I think its coming from down there. By the time he finished his sentence, my dad had the door open yelling "call 911." My brother and sister pulled out their cell phones, and dialed  911. I was very scared. When the police answered the phone they asked my sister "this is the police. What's your emergency?" She stood there quietly for a second and then she said "I don't know." She turned around to dad who was running inside with the water hose. She suddenly caught on. Oh the house is on fire!!!! By then they thought it was a prank. When they got here my dad was inside spraying at a big red glowing ball right over the picture cabinet. He thought it was fire but it was wood, dust, and heat particles getting ready to ignite. I was horrified. 

Mom was not there yet. She was still at work. Tuna (my older sister) had already called her but she didn't answer. When she finally got mom on the phone Tuna was screaming so mom was on her way and she took forever. When she finally got there, Jai and Jenny (my dogs) were out on the lawn, but Jai was a black mop of soot and they both had pnuemonia. There was one pet that didn't make it through the heat, it was a beirded dragon named Merlin. We had 1 lizzard, 1 fish, 2 frogs, and 2 dogs. Oh and we can't forget the hermit crab who surprisingly lived. I don't know how it survived. 

That night before we left our neighbor Becky gave us dinner and dessert. She is the best neighbor I have had. After we left we went to a hotel called the La Quinta and met a lady named Ryan. She was really nice. For the few weeks we were there no one changed our laundry or brought in soap cause they were scared of our dog Jai. Now we our in a rental house in ___. Hopefully soon we'll be back home. So if something trajic ever happens to you like this remember me. I'm telling you this "don't be afraid everything will be ok you'll make it through."

Let me just say something here about La Quinta. Please know they were fabulous! The reason we did not get clean sheets is because the housekeeping staff were terrified of our Great Pyrenees, and well...he does look like a small polar bear.The people there were wonderful and they even coordinated all of our many visitors and drop offs. Oh, and they had hot chocolate always available in the lobby, which would explain why the kids beg to stop there every time we drive by the place. 

This is the photo Fish wants to share with you:

Our home as a disaster scene.
This photo is still rough on me. The lady in mask and gloves is from the fire restoration service. She is there to package up anything salvageable for cleaning. At this point, our carpets and the bottom few feet of wall had been removed as part of the water remediation effort so the furniture and what not are all jumbled in the middle of the room. The ceiling fan is drooping in the top of the photo. Seeing a stranger in our home in a mask working with a flood light still seems a bit surreal. 

So there ya go. The Flame, by Fish.    

Take note, if anything tragic like this ever happens to you, remember this amazingly resilient little girl. Everything will be ok. You will make it through. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Wait For It...




You're not going to believe it.

I don't believe it.

Fish just come in waving something around, very excited.


Are you ready?

Do YOU know what it is? 

Do you?

Look closer!

Now do you know?

Do you see it?


(A what you say? You can catch up here.)

That's it. Mystery solved. Now what on earth will we ponder?

Why children don't look for the toilet paper BEFORE they sit down? 

Why the professional framer ripped out a wall stud and then stepped on the nail that was holding it in?

Why a slow cooker set to medium can take down an entire house?

The wonders of the universe await and we are free to ponder them now because we know what a handle for a Jaru is. 

We have freed our minds.

Ah, we shall sleep good tonight.   

*Just to clarify...this is not 'THE' Jaru. We actually managed to acquire, unknowingly, a new Jaru and Fish just happened to notice the logo on it. We've been joking about the mysterious Jaru for months after it appeared on the inventory list and unbeknownst to us, there was one hiding in our toybox. Who knew?  

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Still Smiling

Our family has really been through the ringer with this fire. We've been on a roller coaster of emotions and it has taken a toll on all of us.

We all felt sheer terror when the fire ravaged our home. We all felt the fear of the unknown as we settled into temporary shelter. We all felt disoriented as we tried to adjust to life without any familiar items or surroundings. We all felt insecure and anxious as the weeks dragged by waiting on the insurance company and the mortgage company to complete all the red tape so the clean-out could begin. We felt sadness and hurt as our belongings were tossed into dumpsters.

It is an adjustment to be sure, and we don't always take it in stride. The rebuild is well under way and we can all see the goal- we'll be home before we know it. Still...there is tension, fear, uncertainty, stress. We lash out at each other sometimes. We yell. We cry.

One of us though, one of us...has been completely unaffected.

One of us has been strong as steel.

One of us has managed to smile every single day as if nothing ever happened.

One of us gets up every single day ready to take on the world with a big goofy smile.


Yep. One of us is oblivious to all this mess.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Oh Dear, Oh Dear, Oh Dear

The nicest thing about the rain is that it stops, eventually. ~Eeyore

There is some serious progress happening at my house!

New kitchen ceiling.
That, is my new kitchen ceiling! No more charred wood. Just for comparison, here is what it looked like post-crock:

Kitchen ceiling post-crock, from the dining room.

Kitchen wall and ceiling, above stove.
Quite an improvement, yes?

New kitchen ceiling, from kitchen into dining room.
Huge improvement. That's what I call progress. Hey, wait...

Look at that pic again.

Is that...natural light coming through the dining room ceiling? Why yes. Yes it is. 

Above the kitchen.
Holy moly! There's a hole in my house, dear Liza, dear Liza. There's a hole in my house. Dear Liza, a HOLE.

Um...I don't feel so good about that. 

Image from
It looks clear on the radar...but out the window, not so much.

According to our local KMBC "meteorologist Lisa Teachman has a look at what could be a rumbly Thursday."

That's just freakin' fabulous.

It's going to rain in my house.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Idiosyncrasies of an Inventory

You know those insurance commercials where they show everything all topsy turvy and then the insurance agent comes along and everything is made right again?

Yeah. TV magic. They leave a few things out.

We had something known as Replacement Cost on our policy. In my mind that meant, something burnt/overheated/melted and the insurance company would pay to replace it. Well...not exactly. In reality, the insurance rep itemized every single item in our house after the fire restoration companies took what they could attempt to clean. Every single item. Holy moly. Then, she made up a spread sheet and we had to add in a value for every single item. Every single item. Criminy. Then she returned the inventory with a check. Gasp! The check included the depreciated value for the item. Sigh.

Now, we shop for the item. We locate the line item number and record it on the sales receipt. We send the receipts in to the insurance company. They send back the replacement cost up to the limit or ACV (actual cost value) that they placed on each item. Oh fuuuuudge.

Problems, much? Yes.

First of all, we are a family of 7. There was a LOT of stuff in our house even after the fire restoration companies hauled away truckloads of our stuff. Second, a total stranger inventoried our stuff. She called our stuff names that are worthless to us.

Like this:
Handle for Ja-Ru. 
What in the name of toyland is a Handle for Ja-Ru?? We have no idea. It was worth $1.98. If we replaced it we would be paid $3.30 more. Anyone know where to buy a Handle for a Ja-Ru? Anyone know what a Ja-Ru is? And why we had one in our home?

So, this weekend I wanted to buy a toaster. Easy-peasy. Locate item on spreadsheet. Go buy item. Record line item number on receipt. Send off receipt and wait. Cripes. How many more items do we need to buy?

Toaster. Line 178 to be specific.
The inventory is the bane of my existence. If you have never had an inventory of your home completed by a total stranger, then you have never been properly humiliated. Trust me, there are things in your home you do not want to appear on an inventory. And your kids! For the love of all things sacred! Your kids do things you do not want to share with fire restoration company employees and insurance agents and demolition crews.

Case in point:
Top for a crutch.
Top for a crutch. I know. It seems innocent enough. The thing is, my teenage daughter, just days before the fire, had removed the tops from her crutches- you know, those gray, rubber, phallic-shaped things that go under your pits?- and drawn hair and other, um...accompanying features on them. She named them; Rick and Nick.  I'd given her a stern talking to between my own immature bursts of laughter, but since she had zebra-striped covers for them, I didn't make her throw them out. Who knew so many people would be traipsing through my house handling Nick and Rick?  

Sometimes, the inventory list, the bane of my existence, gives me a good giggle. 
EyeBROW curling things.
I can assure you, I have never in my life, curled my eyebrows. The very thought of it cracks me up. Yes, I'm sure she meant eyelash curler. Simple mistake. But, when I Ctrl+F and search for the line item number for my eyelash curler, it won't exist, because she called it an 'eyebrow curling thing'. So not helpful.

How can I get the full replacement cost for my eyelash curler if I can't locate it on the inventory? How? Whatever in the world will happen to us if we can't match up our replacement items with the inventory list?

We will get truly annoyed. That's what. Then we will momentarily forget how thankful we are that we had insurance and that nobody was hurt and that most of the animals made it out safe. For a brief period of time we will act pissy and say nasty things about the lady who did the inventory. Then, we'll pull up our big kid pants and march right back to the store. Because we've got a handle for a Ja-Ru to shop for. And eyebrow curlers. And a toaster.  

Stupid crock. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Operation Rebuild Begins!

It's started!

We have finally reached the end of the demolition and the rebuilding has commenced!

In other words, they quit tearing stuff out and started putting it back together, hallelujah!

Today, the stairs came down.

Looking upstairs. 
And new stairs started going up!

Looking up the basement stairs. 
I am so excited I could just pee! I mean scream. I'm so excited I could just scream. 'Cause I don't pee when I'm excited. Or scared. Or laughing. Hmm-mm. I don't do that. (I might be known to pee when really big field spiders crawl out of the newspaper I'm reading. I might do that.) 

But, WOW! Would you look at all that wood? I mean, really! How exciting is that?! 

Lumber delivery.
Cue the Mӧtley Crüe music. "I'm on my way, I'm on my way, Home Sweet Home."

Monday, March 5, 2012

Have You Heard the One About...

So this Irishman and a Scott walked into a house...

And this is what happened:

House with primer, ready for framing!
They worked out a contract and the painting got underway. Our friend Steven and his crew turned the house all nice and white!  All of the remaining woodwork and brick has been sealed with shellac. Shellac is made with the secretions of the female lac bug found in India and Thailand. It's purpose in my house is to seal all of the smelly, burnt-insulation stench into the wood so we won't ever smell it after we move back in. Which is interesting, if you ask me, because it STINKS TO HIGH HEAVEN. 

So what happened to the Irishman and his friends when they walked out of the house? Heaven only knows. They had to have been high from all those female lac bug secretions. 

Lovely arches-
The big guy toyed with the thought of removing these arches from the doorways. But, as the painter reminded him, "if Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" and this Momma said NO. The arches and coffered ceilings were some of my favorite features. 

Shellac on the brick fireplace.  
The red brick on the fireplace was not one of my favorite features. It was always so dark, though not quite as dark as it got after the fire attacked it. But, I personally believe you should not paint brick so I vowed to leave it be. Now, we have no choice. We either seal it, tear it down, or live with the stink working it's way out of the pores for years to come. There you go- my hands were tied. It had to be done. 

What else did the week bring? 

Well, there was a small showdown with the previous landlady. I'll spare the details here but it began when she changed the locks before we left, it got crazy when the police were called, and it ended with her leaving under threat of arrest and us carrying the new keys. 

The moral of the story?

Do not mess with me. Do not mess with my family. We have been through hell. We are busy trying to rebuild our lives and our home and we will not be pushed around. If you can't play nice in the sandbox, I will lock yo butt out of the sandbox and flaunt the shiny gold key. I am nice, and friendly, and all...but my patience does have an end. 

We are strong as steel I tell ya! You can burn us and beat us but we just get stronger.

I think we settled into our new temporary home very nicely this week. We at least unpacked most of our boxes and got organized enough to cook a meal in our new kitchen and wash dishes in the WORKING dishwasher. Gosh, I was almost giddy when it ran the first loads.  

What else happened to our strong as steel family this week?

We went and watched our budding performer in her 1st grade play. She looks strong as steel in those feathers, eh? Like an Angry Bird. 

Little Bean as a Blue Bird

No...she looks adorable! I love that toothless smile. Her line was "she took jazz, and tap, and ballet, and practiced her dancing 8 hours a day!" 

So, what's up this week?

The lumber's coming! The lumber's coming! Tomorrow, all of the lumber for the framing and re-construction will be delivered. Our friend Brad, and his crew will start the framing this week. 

Confession: I don't really understand what framing means. I'm pretty sure my house already has a frame. But, if I understand the men and their contracts at all, I'm pretty sure this means they will be building things in my house as opposed to destroying things in my house. 

I'm all about that.