Sunday, August 31, 2008


Our next door neighbor's house burned down Friday night. Dante discovered it, really. Allan and Jonah were already sleeping and since it was a Friday Dante was 'staying up late.' We were upstairs playing when Dante asked me, 'What's that funny noise?" It sounded like the cat knocking down a glass or two in the kitchen. I hate it when she does that! So I ran downstairs to yell at her but when I got to the stairwell I realized she wasn't downstairs because I didn't hear the familiar thump as she jumps down from where she isn't suppose to be. Now I smelled smoke and heared a noise from next door, like someone was shoveling up broken tile. Why in the world would the neighbors be doing construction work at 9 pm? I went into the backyard to see if maybe they were having a bonfire-we all firepits in the neighborhood and use them often. The flickering light that usually comes from a small fire in a firepit didn't seem right, and the smokey smell was starting to smell more chemical then wood. When I looked over the fence I saw four foot flames coming out of our neighbor's living room!! I have never ever screamed so loud in my life. I sent Dante upstairs to get Allan, grabbed the phone to call 911 and ran out to the front lawn to see if Mike and Becky's cars were in their driveway. It appeared that they were not at home. Allan in the mean time dragged the hose to that side of the house to try to do something, anything, to stop the flames. 911 dispatched, I ran screaming out into the street, sending Dante to our good friend's house to arouse Rich and Gina to come and help while I knocked on doors and rang doorbells trying to get fire extinguishers and any other kind of help. It seems kind of silly in retrospect. The house was engulfed by the time the fire department arrived. Watering down the flames with a hose was pretty much the equivalent of peeing on it in a blind attempt of saving property. I was also screaming because sparks were landing on our roof. I was horrified that the house next door was on fire and terrified that ours would catch as well. By the time the four fire engines arrived with the three police cars a good crowd had gathered. Allan was still using the hose, but was smart and started wetting our fence and side of the house facing the fire. Rich attempted to put out a blaze in the garage with a fire extinguisher. When the police arrived they stood at our front door and told us to get our pets and get out of the house. We had two minutes to evacuate. We grabbed Jonah, who was still sleeping, and Rocket the dog, Allan moved the car up the street and I grabbed as many pictures off the wall as I could carry and the officer would allow. He was not kidding. Two minutes to GET OUT. We stood across the street in our sleep clothes along with the rest of the neighbors as we watched the firemen at work. It took 45 minutes for the house to be totalled. Flames roared out all the windows and roof.Smoke rolled out of every opening. Every time embers landed on my house I just cried. Good friends and strong German beer calmed my nerves as we all stood barefoot and in our pajamas for the next three hours as the fire was squealched. My house was saved. The neighbor's is a total loss. Here are some grainy and dark pictures. I don't have any pics of the actual flames. I was too hysterical to even rememeber my camera. Luckily it was in my purse in the car and I could retrieve it as we were banned from the house for four hours. Before we were allowed back home the firemen used a giant fan to blow out all the smoke from our house. It still smells a bit, but more like campfire than housefire. Jonah is pretty traumatized by the whole thing. He keeps talking about it, which is a good thing. He also says he will never ever touch fire because he doesn't want our house to burn down. That, too, is a good thing. It will take a while for all of us to get over it. God bless the firemen and police officers. They were amazing. The kids want to bring them cookies and thank you cards. I think that is a great idea.

The singed page was in our backyard...

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Day of School

Well, I made it through the day dry eyed! I guess I cried it all out before the 'Big Day.' Wednesday I actually have to LEAVE Jonah; today was just an 'open house' to help ease the transition for the three year olds (and their parents) into seperating for a few hours. Jonah had no problems. In fact he asked me a few times, "why you still here?" He is very excited and proud to be going to school like his big brother, Dante. He was so excited in fact, that he woke up two times asking if it was time for school, then got up at 5:30, dragging his backpack upstairs to our room and telling us to get up. I hope his enthusiasm lasts throughout the year. Dante could have cared less one way or the other. When asked if he was excited to start 1st grade he shrugged and nodded at the same time. That is ambivialance at its best! He came home happy but tired. The next two weeks are half days only: a good transition for everyone.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Head Gear

I had no idea that head gear even still existed. My seven yo Dante was born with a large underbite. When his first teeth came in on the bottom, he looked like a cute little bulldog. Now the cute puppy teeth are turning into a bite problem. (HE isn't biting, but rather his teeth aren't lining up properly.) So along with our oppressive mortgage, we have now invested a good 10 grand into orthodontia work. He started out with a bar like spacer across the back of his bottom teeth to prevent them from tilting backwards and to spread the bottom mandible to accomodate his larger upper jaw. Last month he got a another spacer that attaches to his top molars and form fits the roof of his mouth. A metal wire hook lies agains his canines. Stage III: rubber bands attach to those hooks and also to his new head gear. It is a mask like contraption that fits around his face to keep his chin from moving more forward and to pull his top jaw out more. The goal: Stop the projection of his chin and improve his bite and have his teeth line up.

This whole 10 plus year committment was hard for me to make. I kept thinking about my older sister stuck in a Milwaukie Brace for scoliosis and 6 years of braces that didn't work and then she ended up having to have oral surgery, anyway. What a nightmare social life she must have had. (Not that she ever once complained about it-at least not that I remember. But then she is seven years older than me and we didn't really run in the same circles. I do remember trying on that Milwaukie Brace a few times when whe wasn't looking thinking she was so cool. I tried the retainers a few times too but they never fit.) I also remember my own social hell growing up and was giving myself anxiety attacks trying to decide what to do. Allan and I decided to go ahead and do it. I consciously made an effort to present it all in a fun way. All this dental work has become JEDI TRAINING. (who knew that 30 years after Star Wars originally came out, we would become official Star Wars geeks. I get it from my kids, not the other way around!) The spacers equal youngling training, the head gear has become initiation to becoming a Paduwan. (For you non-Starwarians, it is 1st and 2nd stages in becoming a Jedi Knight. ) I think we may be overdoing it though. While at the beach (Dante's 'favorite place in the whole wide world,') he kept asking me when we were leaving to go and get his head gear. He bugged me ALL DAY about wanting to go to the orthodontist. He wants to wear his 'droid face' to school, too. I draw the line at wearing it to school. I am all for personal identity and being strong emotionally I have learned from personal experience that the 'FREAK' label never goes away. He may be in a nice small protected Catholic school, but kids are still evil no matter how hard you pound love and Jesus and religion into their heads. I would rather he learn about mean kids later than sooner. So instead I will be the mean mommy and NOT allow the head gear at school. I am continually reminded that times DO used to be that children were forced to endure huge social injustices, real or perceived. (Pimples and a drinking age of ain't fair!) Having a sister who lived through head gear hell, and my living through mean kids taunts, I hope to shield my own from the same. (I'll just post picutes online for the whole adult world to see instead!) He is really disappointed that he in banned from the device during school hours. Between that and forcing him to brush those thousand dollar teeth and making him eat anything green and that grew on a plant, I really AM the meanest mommy ever.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Last Days of Summer

How can school be starting already next week? I am so not ready to send my boys back to school. We have had such a great summer and we have such fun together. I am really sad to see these carefree summer days end. Jonah starts preschool MWF and I am already trying hard not to tear up just thinking about it. I think I need to take a "mommy's little helper" (aka xanax...the milliniums version of Valium. All the fun without the addiction!) before leaving him at the school's gates. Dante's preK teacher, Ms. Mary is going to be his teacher. All the faces and the facilities will be familiar, yet because another chapter is turning in our lives and the reminder that someday my kids will leave for good makes me want to go to bed with a pillow over my head and cry my eyes out. But no time for that! My kids are growing up and I need to squeeze every moment that they still think I hung the moon out of them. Soon enough they will think I am an idiot and during those years I want to cherish the memories of these. Here are some of the Summer of 2008's parting shots...

Hunting for letterboxes: Helping mommy with the clues. We were in San Diego here at Presidio Park overlooking the bay. The Old Mission and Museum is closed now for renovation but the grounds are still open and beautiful. I haven't been here since I was in my friend's wedding on the lawn here almost ten years ago.

Father Junipero Serra. All of the California Missions from San Diego to San Fransisco are here because of Father Serra. He was a Fransciscan and legend has it that he walked from each Mission to oversee their completion barefoot. That is over 1000 miles one way. Barefoot and in his brown Friar's robe. If you are ever in Southern California you will find many landmarks named after this holy man.

Serra's blessing of the site of Mission San Diego de Alcala on July 16, 1769, marked the beginning of the European settlement of California. To read more about Fr. Serra click here:

I have no pictures as of yet of the Mission SD de Alcala because it is currently surrounded in scaffolding. It will reopen as a museum run by the San Diego Historical society on October, 1 2008.

Mommy's group Pool Party at Suzanne P.'s house. Our mommy group has been together 6 years. When we started Dante was just a baby and half the kids in that picture weren't even born yet. We still meet once a week-they are my sanity break! (the mommy's, not the kids!) It was a fun day-Suzanne grilled us hot dogs and hamburgers and Suzanne C. brought her Amish friendship bread. When's the next party, ladies?

Well the tourists are gone and we have our beaches back, hooray! We love our little cove in Oceanside. We call it Dante's beach, but it is really Buccaneer Beach. We love it here. And all the more now that we aren't rubbing sunscreen sticky elbows with the tourists from Arizona....

We hope you all enjoyed your summer as much as we did! May your days trasitioning back to school be smooth...and not too teary!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

This was our third year attending "Scripps Night at the Ballpark," an event that has been taking place over the past seven years and sponsered by the Padres and my employer. For 12 bucks per person you get: a t-shirt, entry to the Padres game, and 'tailgating' fun before hand which includes live music, at least a dozen differnt inflatable jumpy's, clowns, balloon hats and swords, hotdogs, chips, drinks and ice cream. Oh yeah-and cracker jacks and peanuts to take over to the stadium. Our kids love it. We took Tante Omi and Onkel Opa with us this year and have decided to make it an annual event for all of us. They are both from the East coast and love baseball. (We tried to get Onkel Opa to remove his Angel's luck!) Last year we made it to the 5th inning before Jonah was ready to go home, this year we made it to the 7th inning stretch! Maybe next year we will finish the whole game. The Padres were still on their losing streak last weekend, anyway. We lost, 2 -zip. It ends up being a long day for the boys-the pre party starts at 3 pm and the game doesn't start until 7 pm. Their usual bedtime is 8 o clock. Both boys were fast asleep before we even pulled out of the parking lot. Nothin' like a good day of baseball fun to make little boys sleep well. Even with kinked necks in the back of a minivan...