Before the Dawn

The last few days have been particularly tough. With Ryan and my parents being off this week for the holiday, we had great plans of sheet-rocking. Alas, things do not always go according to plan and here we are on Thanksgiving-eve with very little work done at the house.

I began to despair and gave in to depression this week. It’s been so hard to keep going day after day and finally I just let the sorrow wash over me. I want to go home.

But just when things seemed darkest, the light broke through almost all at once. Our inspection finally came through for the house; we passed and can now start work. Insulators were able to work us in on their schedule and now our walls are all insulated.

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And greatest, shiniest beam of all, we got a FEMA trailer!! We will be able to live here while we work on the house and quit burdening my parents’ generosity. The kids will have their own room on the far other side of the trailer from our room! We are in the back of a quiet trailer park where the kids can be out side a bit. Unfortunately, our beloved Jackie-Dog won’t be able to join us just yet.

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Even if we aren’t as far along as I had hoped, we are still baby-stepping forward. We will be able to go into Thanksgiving with happiness in our hearts and packing tape in our hands! Our heads are above water again and we are ready for this next baby step.

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Kitchy Construction Paper Crafts

Without consent, the holiday season is upon us. I’m having a harder time than usual getting in the holiday spirit; the weather is hot, my brain is consumed with the house and we are still living as guests. Invited or not, Thanksgiving is this week and the best I could come up with is kitchy holiday crafts!

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In our house, the dining room was entirely blank, we never got around to decorating. While some would be discouraged or anxious to finish the room, for us, it turned into a blank canvas for seasonal decorations. When a wall is bare and needs to be painted anyways, there’s no harm in taping or tacking construction papers to it. This went on for four years. The kids had so much fun thinking of things to add to our craft wall and the rotating decorations were fun for everyone.

Obviously, we have no dining room wall right now. My parents have beautifully decorated and fully painted their house, so no thumbtacks though their walls! However, the bottom of my parents’ benevolence has not yet been reached and they let us hang up some kitchy crafts and decorate for Thanksgiving with mostly construction paper.

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Pilgrim Diorama

More than that, they found some sticker crafts to add to the fun. As the kids and I sat down to make decorations today, I uncovered nearly a decades’ worth of laminated construction paper Thanksgiving place mats my sister and I made throughout the early 1990’s. Not only are these crafts kitchy and simple, they are generational!

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My parents’ house is looking more and more festive. Maybe construction paper and tape is all holiday spirit is.

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Nothing Like That Second Hand

The majority of the books I own were bought second hand. There is a book store in town that’s a bit of an institution now, Cottonwoods and of course many websites. My go-to is Better World Books. In addition to new and used books, they “rescue” books discarded from libraries and donate profits to world literacy funds. Oh and they have free shipping.

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In my latest order from BWB (that’s what us cool kids call it), I ordered The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson. After writing my last post, I decided to sit down and start readin. I opened the cover and found this gem.

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“The most horoble [sic] Book I’ve ever read”

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The stories are meaningless and have no point”

It’s hard to know how to take this little insight from the previous owner. Should I dismiss it out of hand because he can’t spell? I’m no stellar speller, so that seems unfair. How many books has he read? It wouldn’t so bad for this to be the most horrible book he’s read if he’s only read 2 books and the other book was Canticle for Liebowitz. If he were a better editor, he wouldn’t have repeated himself calling the stories both meaningless and without point. Can his literary criticism really be trusted?

From the check marks he put on the Table of Contents, it appears he read 3 out of the 26 stories so I’m going to go ahead and say no. No, this man-boy’s warning will not deter my reading. But it does encourage me to keep buying books second hand — the personality is included for free!

What’s the best thing you’ve found in a second hand or library book?

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Shirley Jackson, Spooky Scary

A second post in one month? A post that doesn’t have to do with how our lives were crushed by flood waters? Heck yeah, get yourself ready for some book talk!

Despite the abnormal circumstances of our lives, I have been able to do a surprising amount of reading. This year I set no specific books to be read and instead have followed my interests. Apparently I have been very interested in being spooked.

Since we’ve been evacuated my reading list has included, but is not limited to: 2 Shirley Jackson’s, 2 Neil Gaiman’s, 2 Dean Koontz’s and 2 books about asylums. I have come to some conclusions.

  1. I really want to finish the Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz
  2. Shirley Jackson is my new favorite. I’ve read the short story The Lottery, The Haunting,  We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Bird’s Nest. On my temporary, evacuee bookshelf is The Sundial and The Lottery and Other Short Stories. At least one of those will most likely be started this evening.
  3. There’s no reason I should have put off reading Neil Gaiman this long. I read The Ocean at the End of the Lane and loved it. I really wish I lived in a world where I could have read it in one sitting. I then listened to him read The Graveyard Book and enjoyed it tremendously! I can’t decide which of his to read next. Suggestions?
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An old book shelf my dad built when my sister was a baby — still in use and still painted with balloons

I also just finished like 12 hours ago read Nelly Bly’s Ten Days in a Mad House and I’m enthralled. I want to order Around the World in 72 Days. It’s a great off shoot of what I’ve been reading of Anne Lindburgh and Amelia Earhart!

Hopefully work will ramp up at the house in the coming weeks, maybe that will cut into my reading time. If not I’ve got quite a few titles lined up! What are you reading? Do your reading tastes change with the weather?

Happy Reading!

 

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Update

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. We have never been busier or have less to show for our efforts.

It’s been a month (again) since I’ve posted, over two months since the flood. I feel like so much has happened but at the same time, there’s not a lot to report. We are still waiting for a FEMA trailer, but we have reason to believe it will really be soon this time.

Thanks to dehumidifiers generously borrowed from friends and family, the house is finally dry!! We’ve spent our time getting paperwork and permits and fixing little things that need to be up to code so that we can pass an inspection to start rebuilding. Hopefully by Thanksgiving week enough ducks will be in a row for us to begin closing up the walls. Finger’s crossed.

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I took the kids to the house for the first time. The debris up and down the street had been cleared up and things look considerably more normal. The kids were so excited; they went around the backyard pointing out all the things that were still there. When we went into the house, Evangeline took careful survey then told me, “Mama, I thought the house was going to be a lot scarier than this!” A flood of relief crashed over me. After that, the kids spent over 30 minutes just racing through the house in, around and through all the open walls and repeatedly yelling “ECHO!” because that never gets old.

As soon as we got out of the van, the girls ran straight to the swings. To see the kids effortlessly happy in our own yard where I’ve heard them laugh and giggle so often before made my heart swell. Before I knew it, I was crying.

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I had been so nervous about the kids responding badly to seeing the house, I didn’t know I needed to be on guard myself. I want to go home. I want to be back in my house, I want my kids to be back in their own space. I am completely depleted by this whole experience.

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We had some great opportunities to get out of the muck and mire of depression though and have some fun.We spent one day in New Orleans, we went to the Fall Festival at the Rural Life Museum and we celebrated Evangeline’s 6th birthday!!

Birthday parties have become quite the event around our house. It was nice to do something “normal” even if we had to tweak our traditions some. We rented a pavilion at the park in my parents’ neighborhood and threw the most awesome dinosaur party that park has ever seen! The food was good and the games were fun, but the best part was getting to see friends and family and just enjoy ourselves!

We’ve done pretty well keeping up with Homeschooling. Most weeks we get 4 solid days of lessons. This week I’ve had more to do for the house, getting ready for Halloween and preparing for Felicity’s tonsillectomy this Friday. Somehow, sit down lessons haven’t been happening as constiantly. C’est la vie. Evangeline got a science text book and illustrated encyclopedia for her birthday, so her thirst for knowledge is still being quenched.

For those who don’t know, Felicity will be having her tonsils out this Friday. For over a year now we’ve been trying to get to the bottom of her sleep apnea. Her ENT believes taking out her very swollen tonsils will make a huge difference. We have a few rough weeks ahead of us, but we think things will be much brighter on the other side.

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Besides pediatric surgery, I have a long house to-do list, then Thanksgiving wants to happen too. Don’t be surprised if it’s another month before I sit down to write again. I’ve been reading like a fiend and have so much I want to write about. My brain says “type” but my energy levels say “sleep”. If you think of us, send up a prayer, then consider if you want to babysit😉

 

 

 

 

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What Has Happened Since

It has been a month and a half since our house flooded and quite a lot has happened since. We are still waiting for FEMA housing; we were assigned a trailer in an existing lot that unfortunately is on the complete opposite side of town and would be at least an hour commute. I am hoping FEMA allows us instead to be placed in a lot nearer to our house. In the meantime we are, again, staying with my eternally generous parents.

Our house is gutted from the waist down and we are waiting (and waiting and waiting and waiting) for the studs to dry out enough for us to put the walls back together. That will be step one in the very long process of fixing the house. The large debris pile outside our house was finally picked up this week; it looks like our house again! The full street hasn’t been picked up yet but the lower and lower the piles get the closer to normal it looks.

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We powered through and started homeschooling Evangeline. She finished her first full month today! It has certainly been an exercise in patience for me. The structure of day and the newness of the lessons go a long way to engage Evie. She is our most sensitive to change; this whole experience has affected her the strongest. I know doing our lessons are beneficial to her but I also know when her attitude changes any further attempts to teach will be futile. I’ve come to embrace the phrase “why don’t we finish this after a 5 minute recess?” Some days we just don’t make it back to the school books.

I am proud to say though, that we have only taken two days “off”. Each week we do math and phonics, handwriting, catechism, science and reading. I actually cut one book we were doing because she just hated it and it wasn’t worth fighting with her every time. That’s a personal achievement for sure! All illusions of picture perfect homeschooling went out the window with the flood water and now I’m trying to find our new normal.

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This month and a half has been a lot of work, personal growth and quite a few tears. We have seen such generosity from family, friends and strangers though — money, lodging, food, mattresses and oh so many diapers! It goes against our nature to admit we do need help, but as soon as we do, the response is incredible. I’m only able to blog (my personal public therapy) because amazing friends gifted me a laptop! We know this is going to be a very long road and we won’t be back in our home soon, but the love and kindness of so many people gives us hope and strength.

We’ve been able to squeeze in some fun too, in between the work, schooling and crying. We always love an afternoon at the library and park, we’ve had some birthdays and Evangeline, and I were invited to a local production of one of my all time favorite musicals

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We have bad days but they seem to be fewer than our good days. Keep us in your prayers if you say them. We have so much on our horizon and the weather has started to turn cool; we are surrounded by reasons to be optimistic. I leave you with some cute pictures of the kids doing cute things.

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So, That Happened

When I posted last, I was a week away from meeting my one month goal of regular blog posting. That was 18 days ago. Normally, I’d say there’s no real excuse besides life, but this time I think I do have a pretty good reason.

 

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We live in Baton Rouge.

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Our house took three feet of water and we had to evacuate Saturday August 13 as southeast Louisiana began the flood of a century. We are thankfully not without a place to go; we’ve been bouncing between my parents’ house and a condo we have access to for the next week.  We are knee deep in the insurance and FEMA claim process and hope to be granted temporary housing soon.

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We were able to save a lot of our furniture, but we did lose a bit too. Right now we are focused on what we need day to day. It kinda sucks trying to cook real food without my fully stocked kitchen. The kids don’t really know what to do with themselves being outside their normal environment and routine.

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Despite hell and high water, homeschooling starts tomorrow. Originally, I planned to start after Labor Day, but I think the structure and work of homeschool will be good for Evangeline. She seems to be the most affected by all of this. Of course our cute homeschool area and the so so cool desk we made for her are gone, but we still have all her books. I’m replacing supplies as we go, but we are going to make a go of it this week.

So this is just a quick update to let you know I haven’t given up and our homeschooling adventure just got more interesting.