Sunday, September 30, 2012

How to Clean the Family Room

It is 1:00 a.m. and I am sitting with a child in the emergency room. (No worries, we are all okay. Just one of the dips on the roller coaster we call life.) I need to finish up some work, but my brain is so sleep and/or caffeine deprived that I can not seem to function properly. In my sleep and caffeine deprived slap-happy state of stupid, I have decided it would be a great time to write a blog post.

I'm sure I will regret this tomorrow.

Before the trip to the ER began, the whole family was engaged in a power house cleaning, which really got me to thinking about how we do things in our house. And in my sleepy-stupid state I'm wondering if other people do things the way we do 'round here.

I don't know if y'all do it this way or not, but I'm pretty sure my way is the best way. So here you go...

How to Clean the Family Room: Limitleless Lisa Style 

Step 1-
Call all 5 kids into the family room to begin cleaning. 

Step 2-
Call all 5 kids back into the family room to begin cleaning. 

Step 3- 
Scream for all 5 kids to get back in the family room. 

Dare them to leave again before it is clean. 

Discuss with one child whether in fact the room is dirty and whether in fact any of the items in the room do indeed belong to her. 

Discuss with another child why the room must get cleaned now.

Try to figure out where the other 3 went while you were distracted. (They are slick that way.)

Step 4- 
While mumbling obscenities, walk around the family room and throw everything that does NOT belong in the family room into the floor. 

Hair bands, silly putty, hanger, skull-printed duct tape, American Girl doll hat, toenail clippers, school ID, tights, odd sock, hair comb, jeans, kitchen scissors, bead, library book, flip-flop (wait, that was mine), cell phone, cookie, half of an Easter egg, hair brush, dog leash (that's where that thing was!) and a wad of paper towel- throw it all out there, right in the middle of the floor. 

Demand that everything be picked up and put in the proper place immediately!

Step 5- 
Walk around family room and remove 90% of the items that were just in the middle of the floor from the various nooks and crannies the kids have stuffed them into. Throw it all back into the middle of the floor. 

Call all 5 kids BACK into the family room. 

Ground one from after-school activities for refusing to help. 

Ground one from phone for mumbling obscenities. (Where DO they learn that nasty language anyway?!)   

Promise to throw away anything that remains in the floor. (Except that flip-flop. That's mine.)   

Step 6- 
Pick up remaining 5 items and dump them in the trash can. 

Send crying kids to bed. 

That's it. Room clean. Easy peasy. 

What? That's not how you do it at your house?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

Constantly striving to do the right thing. That's the motto of our insurance company. They say nothing of the time frame in which they will strive to do the right thing. In our case, they've been striving for 371 days.

Today, day number 371, they had a little slip up. They informed our 'living solutions' agent that they would no longer be paying our extended living expenses. This was not what we expected per previous conversations, but...


The living solutions leasing company called to say they will be out to pick up their items tomorrow. I was rendered momentarily speechless. Their items consist of our beds, table, refrigerator, towels, iron, bedding, sofas, TVs, end tables, dressers, dishes, silverware, and lamps.

True, I have purchased all of those items now but they are all packed, or in storage at various furniture and mattress warehouses. There is no possible way we can get them here by tomorrow. Our best option is to pay out-of-pocket at our expense to keep the furniture- $1,700 for another month- and then try to work with the insurance company to reimburse us for the expense. It's that, or sleep on the floor tomorrow night and put the milk in an ice chest.

Since they've held up our construction process multiple times while their agents failed to cut checks, failed to release the proper amounts, demanded additional inspections while the work ground to a halt, and of course took excessive vacations, I'm sure they will strive to do the right thing here.


But hey, that was not the end of surprises in our day. No, no.

You know that moment in the shower when you have soap all over your face? That moment when your temporarily blind while you rinse your face? That moment just before you reach for the towel so you can see again? That moment was the precise moment that I fell through the shower floor today.


Yep. I heard a big crack and then instantly I was thrown off balance in my temporary soap-blindness as I suddenly plunged a few inches below the level of the shower floor. For the love of all things! What is it with us and rental house showers?!

But wait...

There's more!

A month or so ago (we've lost all ability to keep track of anything except the number of days we've lived out of our home) the Big Guy took Tuna to her very last orthopedic appointment. Or so we thought. Our two-year love affair with the orthopedic clinic had come to an end. At that appointment, the surgeon mentioned that she might have this additional issue somewhere down the line and he scribbled the name of the condition and a surgeon who could fix it on her last x-ray.

Fast forward to this week. Tuna injured her knee last week and needed to see a different orthopedic doctor and while she was there this week, she discussed the current tenderness and pain she is feeling in her previously broken hip. This doctor repeated the name of the new condition and suggested scheduling for surgery when she was ready. She insisted she was not anywhere near ready and did not intend to have another surgery.


She was so wrong. She is ready now. Turns out that hip is really hurting pretty bad and she stayed home from school today which is really unusual for her. After much discussion, she has agreed that the surgery should be scheduled as soon as she is back from her big marching band trip mid-October.  We are hoping some serious medications can buy us a few more weeks to get our house finished and get her through the last of the season's marching competitions.

Our little SCFE with her slipped capital femoral epiphysis is now our little FIA with a femoroacetabular impingement. FIA just doesn't have the same ring as SCFE (skiffy). It will no doubt be a household word for us though as we add it to her list of surgeries. We're going to need to attach additional sheets of paper to her school health forms next year just to get it all listed.

I'm wondering if those handicap grab bars come in oil-rubbed bronze to match our new bathroom?

Well...surprise, surprise, surprise. Another setback with the insurance company. Another issue with the shower in a rental house. Another surgery.

Deja vu. It's like living in Groundhog Day.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Say What?

A day in the life of fire restoration:

(Ring, Ring)
Big Guy: Hey! We're gonna have to  have to put the tub faucet in the middle of the tub. It's the only way we can run it. You okay with that?
Me: Um...didn't you just say you have to put it there?
Big Guy: Yes.
Me: Okay then. Why did you call?

(Ring, Ring)
Big Guy: Hey! We were thinkin'...what if we put the knobs in one corner of the tub and put the faucet in the other?

Now hold on a minute...

Let's think this one through.

This wading pool bath tub is a mere 4 foot by 6 foot. Yes. I'd like to walk to one side of the bathroom to turn on the water, and then walk to the other side of the bathroom to test the water temperature. Um...hells to the no. 

Me: Y'all need to quit thinkin'. 

And then there was this little gem:

The Big guy speaks English and the sheetrock crew speaks Spanish. No matter. Apparently 'What The Flip?' is universal. We all understood the question marks nailed up on that scrap of sheetrock. That scrap said "what the flip are we supposed to do with that?" 

But hey...

Somebody just grabbed a saw and carved out space for that wiring to be tucked into and the sheetrock went on up because...

Around here we just KEEP CALM AND SHEETROCK ON.



Friday, September 21, 2012

Keep Calm and...

One year ago today, September 21, 2011, fire destroyed our home.

Our crock pot shorted out and started a fire that would destroy our home.

My oldest daughter called screaming in terror  for me to come home. The kids took refuge with a neighbor while the Big Guy shouted instructions to the firemen about where our pets were located.

The fire department reported the fire as fully engaged and called for 2 additional trucks from a neighboring fire department for support. They assigned one unit to pet rescue and drained a pumper truck of water into our home. It took 8 minutes to contain the flames.

I drove in frenzy to reach my family. I found my family, shook up but safe...the dogs black with soot and suffering heat exhaustion...and the house...


The ceilings and walls black with soot. Fixtures melted and contorted. 

Sap running out of the wood. 

Furniture burned and melted.

Insulation and water and broken glass everywhere. 

The destruction took my breath away. 

It's been a year. We've lived in two hotels. We've lived in two rental houses. We've lived in limbo. No stability. We've lost nearly every tangible memory we'd collected in our two decades  together. 

This fire has rocked our world. It has mangled a year of our lives. It has made me angry, sad, scared, insecure, name it, I've probably felt it. We all have. 

There are days when we want to scream "STOP THIS RIDE I WANT TO GET OFF NOW!" 

But that wouldn't really work. 

So, we just...  

Keep calm and sheetrock on!

Keep CALM and sheetrock on!



Come on! Say it with us!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012


It's been another busy, busy day!

The whole day turned inside out when the school nurse called to tell me Tuna had twisted her knee and fallen in P.E. and thought she might have hurt her hip. After the whole broken hip ordeal and the two screws she sports in that hip, we don't take falls lightly. I stopped work and took her to urgent care since the Big Guy was tied up with the sheetrock crew and a fixtures delivery.

It's not supposed to be that way. The Big Guy would normally handle doctor's visits while I work, but nothing is normal anymore.

I'm writing this post in the car, on our way to dinner at almost 9 o'clock.

We usually eat dinner out because we don't have adequate space to store food for our herd of 7. Plus, our rented refrigerator doesn't keep food well. And, we don't have any place for all 7 of us to sit and I'm determined that through this disaster we will sit together for meals as much as possible. We're going to maintain some sort of normal if it kills us!

So, that pretty much sums up where we are apart from the house right now. Tuna is out of P.E. and Color Guard activities until we follow up with an orthopedic doc (because the ortho department is our second home),  and we have more physical therapy ahead. We are all sick of eating out and we all hate the rental house with a growing passion. I am exhausted and frustrated from trying to manage 5 kids and a job while juggling endless lists and tile samples. The Big Guy is exhausted from keeping all of the work moving and fighting the insurance company over every board, nail, and brick.

We are all so over this mess. There is this sort of restless, agitated atmosphere among us that threatens to overtake what remains of our emotional stability. We're just two days short of being out of our home one year. It's still surreal.

But...the journey is almost over. I can see the end now. I can actually visualize my home again, because there are actual spaces and rooms.

Master bath.

The wading pool bath tub arrived! And...they got it in without tearing any walls out! And...there are even some walls up in there! I like it!

Upstairs bath.
The walls are really looking good. 

Upstairs bedroom. 

Soon, we'll be ready for paint! And lights! And then I can actually get good photos! The house is so much darker now that the sun is not actually shining through the walls.

Check this guy out:

I have serious respect for anyone brave enough to carry giant pieces of sheetrock around, on stilts, with a nail gun in hand, while stepping over boxes and debris and extension cords. You have to be some kind of hard core to do this job. Or just bat shit crazy. 

Movie night while Daddy works on the house.

Soon, so very soon, the kids will sit in the family room on an actual sofa, and watch a movie on a TV, not a laptop screen. 

Soon, we'll shop for groceries again, and actually have a place to store them. 

Soon, we'll return the rented 8-piece dish set and we'll have enough dishes of our own to eat lunch and dinner before we run the dishwasher. 

Soon, we'll bathe with big, fluffy, colored bath towels again. 

Soon, our kids will walk out the door in the morning and get on a school bus, in their own neighborhood, with their friends. 

Soon, this will all be over.  


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

We're Rock-ing!

The sheetrock has arrived!

We're getting walls!!

It arrived on a really big truck. Huge.

They brought lots of stuff! 

Entire pallets of stuff!

I don't know what all of this stuff is, but the sheetrock crew is going to build walls with it! That's the important part. 

They used a crane to haul the materials from the truck through the door. A crane. In my backyard. Hauling loads of building materials through a second-floor door without steps. It's all so disturbing. 

That- up there in that pic- that is hole. A hole in the floor. Or ceiling. Depends on your perspective and where you're standing. They removed part of the floor to the upstairs rooms to get the materials moved up there. Every time I turn around, they tear something up again!

We have sheetrock stacked everywhere. And that's a good thing. Because...let's say it together...


The walls went up today in most of the upstairs part of the house. The Big Guy took us by to see the progress on the way to dinner. We all oohed and ahhed. It's really starting to look like home again.  

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Best Anniversary Ever

This blog has not been abandoned! We've just been a little bit busy. Okay, a lot busy. Crazy busy. I thought as we entered the final phase of rebuilding our house, I would be sharing more and more here on the blog. Turns out, the deeper we get into the final phase, the less time I have for sharing the journey. It's a fabulous dilemma to have!

Our life reminds me a lot of they lyrics in that Garth Brooks song, Fever.

"He says it's really kind of simple 
Keep your mind in the middle 
While your butt spins 'round and 'round "

Yeah. That's pretty much what our life feels like. Of course, he's singing about a rodeo and I'm referring to wrangling kids and...wait...

You know what? It's all the same. It's exactly like a rodeo.

Speaking of Garth Brooks songs...

There is another song of his I really like. The Dance. It was the last song I danced with the Big Guy to on our wedding night, 21 years ago. Yep, Friday was our 21st wedding anniversary. And we celebrated. Right?

Nope. Not even.

It was homecoming weekend and we have a senior and a sophomore so there was no rest for the weary. The rodeo was on. I was on the football field by 5:30 Friday night with the high school color guard team. There was eye shadow and false eyelashes to apply, layers of bronzer were needed, and there were flyaway hairs to spray down before the pre-game show. Then 3rd quarter brought the mad rush of uniform changes.

At half-time, we watched the presentation of the homecoming court and saw the king and queen crowned. I cried big alligator tears when the crown was placed on a varsity cheerleader with Down Syndrome. I was so proud of our student body, of our high school's staff and administration, and so happy for this girl and her parents, that the tears just rolled.

We left the football field at 11:00 with one more kid than we had arrived with. Something happens when we arrive at any school-sponsored event- we multiply. We always leave with more kids than we arrive with. We had a late dinner and tucked everyone into bed by 1:30 am.

We greeted the sun mere hours later to for the homecoming parade. The Big Guy dropped Tuna off with the marching band and then pulled the anime club float for the Boy. I hustled the little girls to the parade route so we could wave at big sister and brother, and Daddy. The little girls cheered and clapped and gathered candy thrown from the floats while I tried to pry my eyes open and down some caffeine.

Then it was "paint my nails" and "hurry up Mom!" and "do my hair?!" and "where's my tie?!?" and "Mom! There's lint all over my black pants!" and "(BLEEP) honey can you pick up the flowers?" and "come on! We have to go get your makeup on, you're making your brother late!" and then...

I stared in awe at my teens. There stood my son, all shaved and sharp in dress pants and a tie and my daughter, in a dress and full makeup. The Big Guy gave Tuna a corsage and I tried to hold back tears as I realized how quickly the years have passed. But, that moment passed in a flash because we were late for the Boy's date.


It was the Boy's last homecoming dance and his last year to participate in building the anime club float. Senior year is kind of bittersweet. I took photos alongside his date's parents and then I was on the run again. We had a whole hour before we had to meet up with Tuna's friends for photos and we had a purse to buy.  

It was Tuna's first homecoming dance. She attended with friends and we took photos in the park before the dance. I struggled to hold back happy tears as I watched her smile and laugh with her friends. 

The Big Guy spent most of the evening working at the house trying to prepare for the sheetrock crew. We met late Saturday night for dinner at Applebees. These late dinners have got to go. Someone dropped the Boy off after the dance and he joined us. Soon Tuna and her friends piled in. (And true to form, an extra kid jumped in my car when we left.)

It was there at the restaurant, approaching midnight and completely exhausted, that I had a serious moment of reflection.    

I had been bummed because the weekend was so packed with the kids' activities that we didn't even have time to celebrate our anniversary. Then I realized...

This was the best anniversary ever. Ever. We've been married 21 years and we've been through some stuff together. Here we are, approaching the one-year mark of our house fire, still not living at 'home'. But, we are together. We've had each other to lean on and hold through this difficult year, and many others. When I'm weak, he carries me through. When he is weary, I carry him through. We balance each other. 

Our favorite song,  The Dance, says it all...

"Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain 
But I'd of had to miss the dance "

I've spent the weekend so over-filled with pride that it leaked out in big tears! I've got five of the most beautiful, amazing, talented children I've ever known. They are resilient and funny and strong. I got to watch those kids making the most of life this weekend- putting a corsage on a date's wrist, marching in the parade with the high school band, cheering on big brother and sister from the sidelines.

We did celebrate our anniversary and it was amazing. We were just too caught up in the busy moment to notice all of the celebrating we were doing. Those little moments we shared this weekend were priceless. The moment our eyes met and we smiled in pride at how awesome our kids looked all dressed up for the dance, holding hands on the bleachers at the football game, the tired smiles we exchanged from a distance as he drove along the parade route, the exhausted dinner we shared- those were little celebrations that only years of marriage could bring. 
Life is good. This is the good stuff. These are our good ol' days

The Big Guy bought me what might have been the most thoughtful, sweetest gift ever. He gave me 21 red roses (one for each year of marriage), 1 blue carnation (for our son), 4 pink carnations (for our daughters), 1 white carnation (for the baby we sent back to heaven), and 1 budding lily (for our first year together, our budding relationship). Sweetest. Thing. Ever. I so love that Big Guy! 

On the agenda for this week: sheetrock, bath tub for the master bath, and delivery of sinks and toilets.

Yeah, baby. We are getting close! I can no longer see through the walls in the house, so I know it's getting close.   

Monday, September 3, 2012

Rub-A-Dub-Dub, Three Men and a Tub

I don't often get to go to the house and actually see the labor happening over there, but since it was Labor Day, I got to stop by before dinner and catch a rare glimpse and take photos while the work was actually happening. 

I was mortified.

They were bustin' stuff up again.

Let me just preface this with a little background. For many months now, I've been telling the Big Guy that I did not think the showers and tubs were going to fit into the house after the framing was completed. The Big Guy assured me that everything would fit just fine. It did not fit. 

Let me explain the scene in that pic up there so you have some reference. That is a bath tub/shower insert. It is going through a wall. They had to remove- yes, remove- the electrical wiring and then cut the studs loose to create a giant (my description, not theirs) opening in the wall so they could get the tub up the stairs. 


That was just the beginning. 

"Hey, somebody just move that wire and it'll go right on up..."

No. No, it won't. 

"Hmm...let's take it back down, turn it around, lay it this way, flip it, and take it up width-wise."

Yeah. I bet that will work. *mega-eye-roll* (I bet they love it when I show up on the scene with my camera and positive attitude.)

"How'd we end up with just one guy up top?!"

(Go ahead...insert your own punch line here.)

This was not looking positive. 

"There! Now we just have to get it around the corner."

Aha.  Haha. Haha. Ha. Ahem. 

I had to walk away. They tell me they only had to move some studs and some of the railing to 'get it around the corner'. 

Have mercy. 

So, we have three shower/tub combos set. And, we have the foam insulation installed on the main floor. Yay for progress!

We are super-insulated! So much so, we are bursting at the seams with insulation!

Coming soon:

More insulation. More wiring (and some re-wiring). Fur downs. Drywall. 

The end is near-er.