Tuesday, March 31, 2009

TGI Tuesday!

Tuesdays are always my "Fridays"- the days I use to get to the grocery store, catch up on laundry, and get the house clean for our "weekend." Today I woke up extra early to do laundry and Paprika helped me grocery shop this morning, which freed up almost the whole day to spend at the park. It was worth it! We had such a fun time!

Here are some pictures from our day:

Paprika took three dinosaur friends to the park today. She had a wonderful time playing pretend with them- she fixed them salads, introduced them to some nice "snakies" (big sticks), and made sure they had blankies and naptime.

We stayed til the sun went down! Paprika did not want to leave. There were a few promises made in order to get Paprika to come home- mostly concerning Mr. Mustard taking her out to do fun stuff tomorrow while I'm at the doctor. I hope he can keep the promises I made! ;-)

Mr. Mustard is home from a long few days of work, and we are probably going to watch Dancing With The Stars together, to see what he's been working so hard on these past few days!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Wild Goose Chases!

Mr. Mustard has been working a lot, which leaves me and Paprika with loads of free time on our hands. On Saturday, we roadtripped up to Valencia to see Devon and Riley. Paprika had a blast!

Sunday, we went to the Open House for the house selling up the street. It's a beautiful old Craftsman, and in need of loads of repair. The upstairs is totally unliveable. But it looks darn good from the street. They're only asking $1.4 million for it (excuuuuuuse me?), so we had to go have a look.

The Craftsman House:

Paprika had such a wonderful time tromping through the house and playing in the backyard. After we left, she kept saying, "Let's go back to Paprika's house!"

Well, we didn't. We went and found "dinosaur eggs"- which is what she calls the big concrete balls outside The Corner Bakery. We had ourselves a very nice dinner, and just relaxed at the table for awhile.

Paprika has recently become the most wonderful restaurant dining companion- I'm not kidding! She likes to sit for a very long time. When I ask her if she's ready to go, she'll say wistfully, "No, I'm having sooo much fun people watching." and "Let's stay. This is sooooo relaxing!"

I'm really enjoying my little dining companion and have taken her out to eat almost every night this week!

Mr. Mustard and I have been talking for long time about buying a house- you know, a place with a yard and in a good school district. We love our current neighborhood, but the schools are beyond terrible and private school isn't an option...and we really want to have a backyard for Paprika.

Last night I was browsing the MLS, and found this incredible deal on a house in a fantastic neighborhood. Good schools, flat backyard, the works! They are asking $299,000- which for LA, is basically like saying you'll sell your Lamborghini for 50 bucks!

I contacted the listing agent and she told me that they already have 20 offers on the property...but if I wanted to take a look, I could.

So, Paprika and I packed ourselves in the car and drove over there. The place was swarming with people. It was definitely a feeding frenzy, and I just know they set the price that low so people would overbid it by a lot. The house was falling apart- I don't even think the plumbing or electrical works. And at least half the windows were boarded.

I had mapped out a few other properties on our radar, and we went and had a look at those. Just drive-bys because they all looked occupied, and we only trespass when a property looks abandoned!

Just as we were about to head home, we found this property that had a teeny tiny For Sale sign out in front with a phone number scrawled across the front. I called the agent (possibly the owner?) and got hung up on three times. Finally, I talked to him and he said we could go inside and look at the house, and that it's in foreclosure. Before I could ask him the price, he hung up.

When I went in, my jaw dropped. It's exactly what we want! It's in a simply breathtaking neighborhood, surrounded by gazillion dollar homes. It's a on a huge lot, with 4 beds, 3 baths.

Okay, so it does need some work. It looks like no one has cleaned since 1953, and everything, and I mean, everything is green shag. And, of course, there were lots of boarded up windows.

So, I called back and he told me the price, and it's still too much money. $1 million. Gahhhh! But it was fun to look, and Paprika certainly enjoys the life of a trespasser!

Afterwards, we went to Chipotle and people-watched. We're no closer to finding our little house with a yard, but...it's nice keeping our eyes open and dreaming!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Fire

Sometimes when I look back at my life so far, I am struck by how extraordinary it has been. Life has not been boring, that's for sure! Even though my goal has been to live a quiet, simple life- I find that often times, things happen in my life that just don't really happen to too many other people!

Case in point: right after college, I moved from Indiana to San Francisco and took a job as a graphic designer for The Gap. I moved into a house with six other roommates- the same house where The Real World: San Francisco was once filmed. I got settled, I was a single girl with my first "real job"- life was good. I was 21 years old, and life was so open to possibilities. Then eight months later, on June 8, 2000, at 3:20am, everything changed.

Kitchen Post-Fire:

Side-View of Kitchen:

More Kitchen:

I was asleep when a fire, set off by a burning candle in the bedroom next to mine, raged through the house. In a matter of minutes, everything was gone. By the time I woke up, the entire house was engulfed in flames. The walls were on fire, the curtains were on fire, my shoes were on fire! The windows had shattered from the heat, and smoke was so thick you could not see two inches in front of your face. I had about 15 seconds to get out of the house (my bedroom was on the second floor) before I would have passed out from smoke inhalation and been burned alive.

Miraculously, everyone in the house made it out alive. I have learned that in fires like this, people often do not make it out alive. So easily, I could have lost my life that night. 15 seconds. That's it.

One of Many Firetrucks At The Scene:

Personal possessions thrown out my bedroom window by firefighters:

The fire was intense- it took every material possession I had ever owned in a matter of minutes. My parents' wedding rings were gone. The journals I had written over my entire life were gone. Photographs of my most precious memories, also gone. And of course, every scrap of clothing, every book, my computer, even my toothbrush - gone.

It was also quick, fast, unexpected, and violent. Being trapped inside that house was terrifying and left me emotionally shocked for years afterwards.


I would wake up in the middle of the night with dreams of my internal organs burning me alive from the inside out. I could not be around even a candle. I could not eat food that had been cooked...burned, in my mind. To this day, I still wake up in the middle of the night to make sure the stove has been turned off. I am reminded of lasting traces of the fire all the time. It was a defining moment for me.

The fire also gave me gifts. It gave me an appreciation for life, and also made me realize that the things we have in our lives- "the stuff"- is all just stuff.

The Stairwell:


Some people think my life was spared because God wasn't through with me yet, or my life had a special purpose not yet realized. I am not arrogant enough to go there. I have seen too many good people die- parents gripped by cancer who leave small children behind, teenagers killed in senseless car accidents- to think that God spared me somehow.

But, for whatever reason- whatever twist of fate- I was spared...and it was a miracle...and for that, I am grateful and have consistently tried to make my life worthy of a great purpose since the day I was given this second chance at life.

Closet Next To My Bedroom:

So, why am I bringing all this up now?

A few days ago, I got a Facebook friend request and email from one of my roommates in the fire. I hadn't talked to her in almost nine years, since the fire happened. She just did a commercial for Mutual of Omaha about the fire, and she talked about how it transformed her life. Her story and link to her video is here: http://ahamoment.com/pg/moments/view/117

It was so interesting reconnecting with her after all these years. After chatting with her over email, I went through the pictures I took of the aftermath of the fire. In a moment, I was transported back to that day. I haven't looked at those pictures in over eight years, since I picked them up from the photo lab (that was back in the day...you know, when we used actual film in our cameras).

My Bedroom:

The View Out My Bedroom Window The Day After The Fire:

The fire was covered in USA Today and in the San Francisco Chronicle, because the house we lived in was famous, and the fire was so big and destructive. I remember it being surreal reading about something so monumental in my life in these newspapers. For so many people, they read that story, and then tossed their paper aside, went on with their day, and promptly forgot about it. For me, of course, I live with that story every day.

It was a defining moment in my life. The defining moment? No. Somehow I have had enough of these defining moments throughout my life to fill volumes! For example, in just the few weeks after the fire: An electrical transformer exploded on top of me while I was walking down the street, a 2x4 board flew through my car's front windowshield while I was driving cross-country (missing my head by two inches), and I got sick with Scarlet Fever. And that was just in the three weeks following the fire! All that, as unbelievable as it sounds, is true...and is a story for another day!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Third Trimester Today

Today marks the start of the third trimester! The past few weeks have been really emotional for me. We are so excited, and so grateful to be at this point in the pregnancy. Being here also makes us think of Vivian and Annemarie, and wanting them here, too.

I bought some clothes for the new baby, and hung them up in the closet last week. Seeing all those new clothes hung up was bittersweet- I looked over at Vivian and Annemarie's section in my closet, and wished that they had a whole wardrobe, too. I have two outfits a piece that I kept for each of them, and now I wish I had more...but I know that in Heaven, they don't need clothes!

So, we keep on, keepin' on! Having that ultrasound on Thursday really helped. I love looking at this baby, who represents so much hope and joy in our lives. Twelve more weeks to go (more or less)! Let the countdown begin!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Test Results!

Just got a call from my doctor's office- I failed the one hour Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT) which tests for Gestational Diabetes. They also told me that I am anemic. They are putting me on iron supplements starting today. Next week I go back for the three hour GTT, which means I can't eat anything before the appointment except this nasty beverage, and then they do a blood draw once an hour for three hours to check my levels.

If I fail the three hour test, I'll be diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes, will meet with a nutritionist and be put on a special diet. The baby will also be monitored even more closely!

Not a big deal at all in the big scheme of things- just a little annoying! My appointment is at 9:45am, which means my commute to my doctor's office (on the other side of Los Angeles) will be in rush hour traffic! Better leave the house by 7am! Oy vey!

The Same Old Song And Dance

We spent all yesterday at the Children's Garden again. Paprika can't stop talking about it, so we figured, why not?

I met up with Mr. Mustard and Paprika after my doctor's appointment. They were already having a blast and Paprika was drenched with water. She had a really great time! Here are some pics from our day!

Inside The Tunnel (there is a really neat prism in the middle of the tunnel, which makes her look like she's sitting for an '80s school portrait):

At The Fountains:

Making Friends With a Grasshopper:

The Rainforest Greenhouse Misting With Water:

Running Through the Sprinklers and Water Misters- Doesn't It Look Like She's Walking On Clouds?: