Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Virginia Beach

I am home in Virginia Beach for the first time since the fire. My parents sold my childhood home the week before my wedding, so I guess I'm not really "home." When they sold it, I said it was ok because I had my own home. I feel weird being at their new place and do long for my "home."

As I was walking up to give Kellen a bath, I passed by a set of stuffed animals. I saw my very well loved white bear. After I read The Velveteen Rabbit as a kid I put this bear up on a shelf because I didn't want him to be too loved. But he was.

I picked him up and said "mine." (It's amazing how childhood memories make us revert back to childish behavior.) I have tried so hard over the past several months to let go of attachments. And yet when I saw this bear I was immediately attached. And relieved. It wasn't in the fire.

I loved this bear. But it was a childhood bear. It is very very worn. And I don't need the bear to remember how much I loved it. So why is it so important to me to actually have the bear? Why do I need items from my past if the memories are always carried with me? I recently wrote something that talked about the fire and the smell of burned memories lingering in the air immediately after the fire. Someone said that the mementos burned but not the memories. But to me it was as if the actual memories were gone. And I felt tonight as though the memory of my childhood bear was revived.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Fire video

I am working on a fire video. I am headed to Virginia with my family on Monday to see friends and family, and I want to be able to capture the emotion and enormity of the fire. I am having to learn video editing software, so who knows if this will actually come to fruition. If it does, I will post the video on here.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

On Vacation

Dan is on Spring Break, so we are down in California visiting my brother and his family in from the Philippines.

It was hard leaving the house. But being on vacation feels normal.

I hope to post at least a few times while I'm gone.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


In six months my child has been introduced to the world. In six months he has learned that a bottle brings him food, that I am his mommy, that if he reaches his arms up I will pick him up. In six months he has learned to roll over, to scoot, to crawl. He has learned to push buttons and to explore. Every day he learns.

Watching him learn to crawl was frustrating. He learned to get up on all fours. He practiced for several days. He rocked. Again, for a few days. He lifted his hand and fell forward. I wasn't sure he was learning because this seemed to be a daily occurrence for a week. He stood in a tripod. He took one step all day. And then one day he took off.

Six months in our adult lives seems so insignificant. But why is it any different than the six months of my baby? In him I see major progress, change, growth. As adults we don't have such major external changes. People cannot see the progression from one skill to the next. But we are challenged to continue learning, continue growing. We make internal shifts, slight changes in perspective that leads us from the person we were to the person we are.

I feel like I am in the midst of a major shift right now. My son makes large outward changes, and I'm making large inward ones. I have, for the first time in my life, learned the art of relaxation, of doing nothing, and appreciating the nothingness. I can meditate, wishing that each moment of meditation would stretch just a little longer. As fearful as I am of my thoughts and of death, I am willing to confront that fear and challenge myself.

I have been thinking a lot about dying. Death and I don't have the best of relationship, and I have kept myself from partaking in many activities because of this fear. As a child I wouldn't ride roller coasters. I hate flying. And I avoid white water rafting. Fear drove my life. Fear drives my life. Since the fire my fear has certainly been exacerbated. But I know I have to let go of it. The harder I try to let go, the more I cling to my fear. But just like learning to crawl, I am learning, little by little. And one day I too will be able to let go of the crutch and stand tall, confident in my support below.


I'm now on Twitter. (Apparently I don't actually want to get fully moved in!)

I'm also finishing up Thank Yous. I don't have everyone's address, so I am going to upload the thank you card to the blog as well. If we didn't send one, please know it wasn't because we weren't so grateful.

Monday, March 16, 2009


We got our security system installed today. I have been counting down the days to this getting done. On any given weekend I can hardly count the number of cars that drive up and back on the street, often slowing down and pointing. Our house was again on the news a couple of weeks ago. With as many people knowing that we have a new house and a baby and knowing our exact address, I've just been really nervous about someone breaking in. I even make Dan check the closets before we go to bed. The system also has a fire alarm attached to dispatch. If there is a fire and we aren't home, they will notify the fire department, and they can hear if animals are inside. Given that Shade was in the night of the fire and that I sent my husband into the flames to get him, it makes me feel so much better to know that we have this little piece of mind.

On another note, Kellen started crawling this weekend. He's been doing the inchworm pull lately, but he has figured out the coordination now... even though he still scoots a lot because he gets around faster that way. We also have his two bottom teeth through the gum. I can't believe they came in at the EXACT same time.

Friday, March 13, 2009


I was watching Grey's Anatomy last night, and Izzie finds out that she has a disease with a 5% rate of survival. Anyone hearing these odds would probably assume that they wouldn't fall in the 5% but rather the 95%. Little Grey comments that her mother came into the hospital with hiccups where the survival rate is 100% and dies. I doubt there are many people who get the hiccups and think they will find themselves on the losing side of .0001% odds. But really, we never know which side we are going to find ourselves on. While Dan and I had discussed what we would grab in the event of a fire, I never imagined that I would be on this side of that fire.

I've been known to be scared. In high school I slept with the light on worried that someone would find their way into my home. I hate flying. I have always rationalized that the chance of something happening to that plane is so minimal. But the reality is that it does happen to someone. Does that mean I shouldn't fly? The fire has definitely brought back the anxiety that I had worked so hard to resolve. I told my counselor that I understood how people became agorophobic (afraid to leave their home). But even that doesn't keep us safe. My home, my sanctuary, burned down.

As difficult as this has been, today is the only moment I have, and I am trying to remember to make the most of it. Waiting until tomorrow makes little sense when we don't know what tomorrow might hold. And having expectations for that tomorrow only makes us prone to exteme disappointment when something like a fire changes all that we had planned. Who knows... I might get the hiccups.

Monday, March 9, 2009

I haven't disappeared!

I feel guilty for not posting... stick with me for a little longer, and I promise I'll be better!

Last week I gave myself permission to do some things that I enjoyed as opposed to feeling like I always had to do things that I HAD to do.

I am back to trying to get the house organized (and baby-proofed). I am also going through another vertigo episode (take 3). I've been working on some writing with this whole experience, so hopefully I'll be able to share some of that on here while I get it put together and ready to send out.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Eat Pray Love

Eat Pray Love is one of my very favorite books. It was one of the first books my mom bought me after the fire. I never reread books although I love collecting books I've read. I decided though to read this book again, wondering if it would have some new insight for me given the last six+ months.

If you aren't familiar with the book, Elizabeth Gilbert (the author and narrator) splits a year between Italy, India, and Indonesia. She has just finalized a divorce, and she wants to experience pure pleasure in Italy, pure devotion in India, and find a balance between the two in Bali.

I am still with her in Italy. She is practicing Italian with an Italian in exchange for practicing English with him. She writes:
"We were talking the other evening about the phrases one uses when trying to comfort someone who is in distress. I told him that in English we sometimes say 'I've been there.' This was unclear to him at first - I've been where? But I explained that deep grief sometimes is almost like a specific location, a coordinate on a map of time. When you are standing in that forest of sorrow, you cannot imagine that you could ever find your way to a better place. But if someone can assure you that they themselves have stood in that same place, and now have moved on, sometimes this will bring hope."

I feel like I've been there. And it does feel like a place. It is here, but it is also somewhere else entirely, as though my reality is running parallel to those around me. Their lives didn't change that day, and I am just trying so hard to redirect my path back to intersect with normal again. Although sometimes I wonder if it ever will. My life was meant to change. And the direction I am headed now is very different than that of six and a half months ago.

A little later Gilbert writes about the Augusteum. It was built to hold Augustus's remains because "it must have been impossible for the emperor to have imagined at the time that Rome would ever be anything but a mighty Augustus-worshiping empire." It went through many changes in the time since, serving as a fortress, a vineyard, a garden, a bullring, a fireworks depository, and a concert hall (among other things). Reflecting on this, she writes:
"I look at the Augusteum, and I think that perhaps my life has not actually been so chaotic after all. It is merely this world that is chaotic, bringing changes to us all that nobody could have anticipated. The Augusteum warns me not to get attached to any obsolete idea of who I am, what I represent, whom I belong to, or what function I may once have intended to serve... one must always be prepared for riotous and endless waves of transformation."

So often we plug along through life so certain of who we are and what we are meant to be. And when something happens that alters that perception, it is easy to get lost in what should have been. But really, this is what is. There is no should have been. We are always changing. And our circumstances are always changing as well. I suppose we have to be open to change, be flexible so that those changes don't derail us. As difficult as this lesson has been for me, I am learning that it is much easier to let the wind carry you to your new path rather than resist that which is before you.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

He slept through the night!

I think I could shout that from the rooftops. He has finally slept through the night for the last two nights. The only other time he did this was Thanksgiving night. Dan and I have been trading off nights and beds so that we get some sleep. Our guest bedroom hasn't been for guests... it was becoming the second master!

The lack of sleep has caught up with us I think. Both Dan and I feel more tired today than on our regular up every hour schedule. I can't even tell you what 2 weeks of sleep will do to my mental state!

He is also on the verge of crawling. He's up on all fours. He can move his legs. And he is putting his arm up. He gets a little hesitant though, so he usually scoots his feet and then lurches forward and falls. This is forward movement though. Our five month old... the overachiever!

I am also unpacked enough that I feel I can scrapbook a little today. I love creative projects. Kellen's scrapbook was the only scrapbook that didn't make it out. So I am working on his letters again. I don't have all of the ultrasound pictures, but that's ok. It's just good to be doing things that bring some joy back.