The Thomas Fire

So last week was a doozy. Monday night I was putting Max to bed and kept hearing the Hubs's phone buzzing over and over again in the living room. In my mind I was like, "OMG you guys and your group texts are getting out of control!" Well it was a group text, but when I finally came out and took a look (Aaron was putting Cadence to bed and I'm unabashedly nosy), that's when I learned about the fire. And it moved so fast, by the time I skimmed the messages - which had been going back and forth for like 20 minutes - the fire had already made it from one end of town to the other. When Aaron came out we turned on the scanner, texted our families, and got on social media to see what was happening. Meanwhile, the power went out all over the city and didn't come back on until the next morning.

My parents live adjacent to the neighborhoods that were worst off, and I spent the entire next day watching their house on the news while they were evacuated. The houses directly behind theirs went up but theirs, and amazingly their whole neighborhood, stayed safe. Also amazingly, only one person died in the fires. Even though there was very little time to escape, people left as soon as they were told and saved their lives as a result.

Now we're starting to deal with the aftermath. Most of the evacuations have been lifted. Hundreds of homes are completely gone in our city alone (the fire is still burning and has hit at least 4 cities now, ours was just the first and hardest hit).  So many people are displaced and lost everything. For most, insurance will pay for them to rebuild of course, but I feel for the people who were renting and weren't insured. Not to mention just the thought of losing all your possessions. Some friends of my family who lost their house also lost all of the photos they had of their daughter who passed away several years ago. There was just no time to even think about what to bring with them when they had to flee. Hubs works at a bank and has been talking to lots of people who fall into that category and he says it's really emotional. I can only imagine. It's bad enough just watching these neighborhoods that I've known my entire life disintegrate overnight and seeing friends go through this incredible loss. I'm suddenly very grateful for my tiny house that is still standing.

So we're all trying to get back on track now that it's been a week since the worst has passed. The air quality here is horrific though. You can't go outside without a mask and schools have been closed going on two weeks. At first the east winds were pushing the smoke out to sea (let me tell you that was the first time I truly appreciated the Santa Ana winds!), but now the winds have died down and we're all just living under a huge cloud of smoke, with ash raining down. Here in our house, the kids have had colds and coughs, and Max seems particularly sensitive to the smoke. We were able to borrow an air purifier from my parents and that helps. But boy does it suck being stuck indoors all the time! Aaron and I have been meaning to drive around town and survey the wreckage but it just hasn't worked out. Even being in the car you can still smell and taste the smoke.

Nevertheless, we're trying to get into the Christmas spirit. Our tree and lights have been up since right before the fire, decorations are out, and I'm mostly done shopping. I'm looking forward to the festivities even though it's lots of running around! It's been too quiet this past week or so. I will say it's been amazing to see our community come together, and so, SO many people helping out. I wish I could do more but at least was able to bring some clothes and toys by for an old friend who lost the home she and her family were renting, along with all their stuff. I hadn't seen her since high school, and although the circumstances suck, it was nice to reconnect.

I have all the confidence in the world that our city will recover just fine. I know there are people already making plans to rebuild. It's going to look a lot different around here I'm sure, but this tragedy actually brought our community closer, so I really think it will be even better than ever once it's behind us.


Holiday countdown

Now that Halloween is over it's nearing time for our annual holiday marathon to the New Year! In the past the craziness of the holiday season has been a bone of contention for me, but in my old age I've come to accept it, and dare I say even enjoy it. Well, most of it anyway. Don't get me wrong, I still daydream of vacationing in Hawaii instead of rushing from house to house to house for Christmas, but with two little kids who love visiting their cousins and grandparents, for now it's better to just suck it up and play along.

But first a little rehash of Halloween! I was pretty excited for it this year. I even decorated the house right around the first of the month. Cadence was super excited too, and dressed up as Mal from Disney's Descendants. She's obsessed with those movies, which honestly is fine with me. At least it's a change from the nonstop stream of cartoons that we watch on repeat, and some of the musical numbers are enjoyable (my personal fave is "Did I Mention," it's just so catchy). Also I'm not gonna lie, I'm relieved to see her admire a female character for once. Not that I have a problem with her mostly being attached to male characters, only wanting to listen to male singers, and preferring boys in general, but I do have a problem with her overall disdain for girls. I'm not sure what brought that on, but it had been going on for months and finally seems to be fading a little. Now she's been telling me she's playing with the girls AND boys at school, likes purple and sometimes pink (before those were relegated to "ew" girl colors and therefore to be hated), and might even be willing to wear a dress from time to time. So anyway, she was Mal, we sprayed her hair purple, and she wore her costume to school two days in a row and was totally stoked.

Max was a puppy, because I figured this was probably my last year of getting choose his costume myself and I wanted him to be something snuggly. He was so cute! He loves dogs too so he was actually pretty happy in his costume. He of course refused to wear the hat/puppy face so I painted a nose and whisker spots on his face (which were mostly rubbed off in the first 30 minutes but whatever). He can't say "trick or treat" yet but he can go "woof woof!" when you ask him what sound a dog makes, so that was pretty adorable. And he caught on to the idea of trick or treating pretty fast and had a blast. We went out with the kids' cousins and a couple other families as usual, and it was exhausting as usual, but fun.

Now we get a little holiday break for a couple weeks, and in the meantime we have some more house projects to do. Nothing major, but we're getting a new screen door to replace the retractable one we've had for a while. I didn't realize when we bought it that the bottom would be loose enough for the cats to easily squeeze underneath and escape, so for the past few years we've had 2 very classy cinder blocks on our front porch to block them in when the door is open. And now the screen has torn so even the cinder blocks don't keep them contained anymore. (I'm just starting to realize how white trash my life must sound...) So hooray, soon I will have a nice screen door and NO CINDER BLOCKS to step over! That should probably take my trashy-meter down at least 10%. Also we're going to do a little hot-spot cleanup on the side yard finally. And I'm going to secretly get rid of like 30% of my kids' toys and clothes before Christmas. Shhh!


Jobs and heat and cold

So I have a second interview tomorrow that I'm a little anxious about. The first interview went really well and was actually super easy, and tomorrow I meet with the hiring manager. It seems like a really nice place to work, but it's the same commute I had been doing for about 6 years before I got laid off, which I am not thrilled about. That's my main concern about the job, but the reality is there's not much available any more locally than that.

On the bright side I've been working a lot with my dad on expanding his business. If our efforts pay off I'll be able to work full time for him, which really means working from home taking orders and doing administrative stuff, and weekends filling orders. Eventually he would like to pass the business on to me when he retires too. So I'm making that my end goal. Whatever job I take right now is "temporary" in my mind because I'm doing whatever I can to grow my dad's business until I'm making enough money to quit. I really hope that happens sooner rather than later, but I'm guessing realistically it will be at least a year or more.

In other news it's hot as balls here lately. Apparently we're beating all kinds of heat records in our area, which is super fun when you don't have AC, let me tell you. Today is the first day in a few days that it has been cool enough to even stay home (it's like 90 today). Supposedly tomorrow will be a lot cooler, and I'm praying to every god I can think of that it stays that way for the rest of the year. I'm so sick of autumn heat waves! Seems they've been nonstop since the end of summer and I am ready to put away my flip flops and sundresses already and stop having to shave my legs for a few months!

We've also been fighting colds and coughs nonstop around here. Max came down with an ear infection and when we went to the doctor yesterday we discovered that Cadence had one too! They've each had a cough for at least 2 weeks (and so have I), so I'm hoping the antibiotics finally knock it out. I just don't understand why these sicknesses seem to linger all the time lately. I hate giving them antibiotics and I wouldn't if it was just a cold, but with the ear infections I figure we have to. We go to a large family practice and the doctor we've been seeing lately seems to jump to antibiotics every time we visit. Next time we go for a checkup I think I'm going to talk to our regular pediatrician about it and see why that is.

Yeah so not much of interest happening in my life. I've noticed that my party planning posts have gotten lots of hits since I posted them on Pinterest; unfortunately I can't afford to plan any parties right now! I have tons of ideas too. I would love to do a kids' Halloween party someday, and a vintage Christmas party. Last year we hosted Friendsgiving and that was a big hit. Maybe it would be fun to write some posts about the parties I want to throw until I can actually afford to throw one. That will ease the itch and give me something to do when I need to hide from my kids for a few minutes! (Yes that's what I'm doing right now.)