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We brought Hazel to visit the house again this morning. At a loss for what to do, she held piglet close and rocked him. I wanted to put her in my arms and do much the same.

We brought Hazel to visit the house again this morning.
At a loss for what to do, she held piglet close and rocked him.
I wanted to put her in my arms and do much the same.

The girls are disoriented
They sense our displacement, even if they don’t understand all the details. 

We are currently in an extended stay hotel (coordinated & covered by insurance).  We are grateful to have accommodations, but the set-up is far from ideal.  (“Eloise at the Plaza,” this is not)

On Sunday night after Felix was asleep and Simon left to get take-out from down the street, Hazel and I sat on the floor, in a random nook of the unfamiliar room (bc toddlers love nooks) and talked.

I physically got down on her level
and used the simplest terms I could to explain to her what happened to our house & our plans for what’s next.

I asked her how she was feeling.
Her exact response:  "I am confused & sort of frustrated"
Me too, Hazel.  I told her.

I offered to answers to any questions she might have…
She had 3:

  1. Are we in Chicago or Colorado? 
    This question sort of broke my heart - it revealed just how off-balance my almost 3 yr old is feeling and something I hadn’t thought to explicitly address before.
  2. Did a storm come inside Hazel’s house? 
    No Hazel.  The “rain” came from the upstairs bathroom and it fell all the way down our house.
  3. Are all of my high heels wet and ruined?
    Oh Hazel,  they were wet….but they are plastic, so it wasn’t hard to dry them.  
    ( I offered to bring a few pairs to the hotel - which perked her up considerably)
    ((unsurprisingly, I had a very similar thought when I first heard the news))

 She seemed satisfied with this newly acquired information.  Comforted, perhaps.  It was a good talk, I think.  I went to bed Sunday night feeling encouraged…like maybe a positive attitude was all I needed to get my family through this situation.

But then
Last night
 didn’t go terribly well.  
We had to eat out again - dinner was chaotic and the girls didn’t touch their food.  We tried to take a night walk but they were having no part of it and then bedtime was a HOT MESS.  I think all four of us had tears well-up at some point last night.

Simon & I let our frustration (confusion) show. 
That’s not what our girls need right now. 
They are going through a lot too - I can’t underestimate the stress they must be feeling.

Today is a new day…and we will try again.  
Try to do better.

Parenting isn’t easy under the best of circumstances, but I am learning that parenting through the tough stuff is particularly hard.  Even so, I am immensely thankful for my family….we are a little team and I know we will get through this together.

(Thanks for listening, friends.  xo)

In an attempt to bring some normalcy  to a very crappy situation, we brought a stack of the girls’ favorite books to the hotel.  They both sort of…clung to their books tonight. It made me sad.

In an attempt to bring some normalcy to a very crappy situation, we brought a stack of the girls’ favorite books to the hotel. They both sort of…clung to their books tonight. It made me sad.

a question

As you can imagine, this whole thing has been both heartbreaking and totally overwhelming.

I am feeling sort of paralyzed right now….
Like, I have no idea what to do next.

So, if anyone out there has been through a similar situation, I’d be most appreciative of ANY advice/tips/reccos you are willing to share!

How do we navigate the insurance claims process?
How do we go about quantifying the magnitude/cost of lost items? (Any advice on best practices for documenting these things?)
How do we find a good contractor (Have you got a name of anyone in Chicago?)
How do we survive a busted temporary living situation with 2 toddlers?

Please share anything you’ve got for me…
I’m all ears!  Thank you.  Thank you.

Mad Love & Buckled Floors,
Em

broken home

broken heart 

3 days ago, we woke up to a call from our doorman - a pipe had burst.
Water had been running from the 4th floor of our house for 2 days.  
While we were on vacation, our home flooded - top to bottom.

Getting the news that your home is ruined is just as terrible as you might imagine.  It was the worst feeling I have felt in my life.

After a good cry, Simon and I spent the next 8 hours trying to sort out Now What?
My uncle did a walk-though and gave us the lowdown.  It wasn’t good.
We called our insurance company and the fix-it ball got rolling.
He recommended a water restoration team.
They were was at our place within 2 hours, cleaning-up.  They first protected all the stuff that could be saved.  Then started on the demolition.  Ceilings, Drywall, Floors, Carpets & Cabinets removed. 
A plumber came out.
As did the furnace repair man
Followed by 5 days of ALL THE FANS TURNED ON.

(Simon was ready to head home to quarterback clean-up efforts, but by the time he could get back to Chicago, “drying” was the only thing on the agenda.)

I am immensely grateful we were with family as the situation unfolded.
They took care of us….and supported us as we processed things.
We skied hard to try and distract ourselves
and had extra apres-cocktails
Both helped…but neither worked, really.
The pit in our stomachs persisted.
It was this nauseating combination of dread & fear about what was waiting for us back at home.

Yesterday we left the mountains.
My heart started racing the moment the wheels touched down in Chicago.  We sent the girls to my p’s apartment while we went to inspect the damage.  We didn’t want the kiddos to see the house in this condition.  I didn’t know how jarring it would be.

The answer:  Jarring.
And really really sad.

I was not prepared for what I saw when I walked in.
Our house was unrecognizable.
It was like….our house was there, but our home was gone.

I am doing my best to keep things in perspective.
(Everything can be fixed.  We have insurance.  At least the living room wasn’t destroyed.  Etc)
And to keep things as emotionally unloaded as possible, 
But honestly, it’s hard.

As we were about to leave the house and head to our temporary living situation (an extended stay hotel), I peeked under one of the plastic tarps and I spotted something that made me smile.  Sitting on the floor, was our fishbowl and in it - Hazel’s fish, Fred.  He survived!  In that moment, it was a meaningful victory.  A reminder that life goes on.

We will get through this, I have no doubt.  It’s not going to be fun or easy, but in a few months life will return to normal (I hope).  In the meantime, I want to sincerely thank everyone who has reached out with kind words and offers to help (I may take some of you up on your dinner invites!)

Your friendship and support has been much appreciated
Much needed.

xo, 

em

The Damage:  Our Kitchen, last night

image

T minus 6 days until we leave for a week in the mountains.  A family vacation in Beaver Creek!
It will be Hazel’s first time on skis, Fee’s first time in snow school….and the first time the whole A. family clan will be together on the slopes in at least a decade.  Hoo boy, am I excited!
This weekend was spent prepping for the trip.  Unsurprisingly, there is a whole lot of gear you need for a first time (almost) 3 year old skier.  The good news, I suppose, is that ski-coats get marked down dramatically the last 8 weeks of ski-season meaning the cost of pint-sized snow gear was slightly less offensive than I thought it would be (the discount was also enough to justify me refreshing my own ski-look…see above).
 This winter has been a good one….a full one….a crazy ass oneand most definitely a long one This trip has been the event that I have been working towards since before the first snow of the season. The light at the end of the proverbial wind-tunnel.
I can’t wait to see Hazel’s pizza wedge, follow my dad’s tracks, ride next to Simon on the lift,indulge in apres ski festivities with my people.
and point my skis down the mountain and just cruise.
Ah.

T minus 6 days until we leave for a week in the mountains.  A family vacation in Beaver Creek!

It will be Hazel’s first time on skis, Fee’s first time in snow school….and the first time the whole A. family clan will be together on the slopes in at least a decade.  Hoo boy, am I excited!

This weekend was spent prepping for the trip.  Unsurprisingly, there is a whole lot of gear you need for a first time (almost) 3 year old skier.  The good news, I suppose, is that ski-coats get marked down dramatically the last 8 weeks of ski-season meaning the cost of pint-sized snow gear was slightly less offensive than I thought it would be (the discount was also enough to justify me refreshing my own ski-look…see above).

 This winter has been a good one….a full one….a crazy ass one
and most definitely a long one 
This trip has been the event that I have been working towards since before the first snow of the season. The light at the end of the proverbial wind-tunnel.

I can’t wait to see Hazel’s pizza wedge, follow my dad’s tracks, ride next to Simon on the lift,indulge in apres ski festivities with my people.

and point my skis down the mountain and just cruise.

Ah.

a good (night) story

Hazel wasn’t tired last night….
Instead fighting a bedtime tantrum, I offered to keep her company.
(I’m coming off another spell of around-the-clock meeting prep and business trips - so I was in need of some quality time with my girl)

I crawled in bed with Z and by the glow of the nightlight, I told her Auntie Ellen stories.  Those are her favorite.

She is partial to the one where El gets lost in the woods…
and chased by a bear
But I am tired of that one.  I have told it a million times, at least.

I racked my brain for some new material.  
And then, like lightening, I was struck by a genius idea.  (One that I couldn’t BELIEVE hadn’t crossed my mind before).  I knew it was going to be a crowd-pleaser before the words even came out of my mouth….

I told Hazel a great pair of stories:

The one where Auntie Ellen played Belle in her 4th grade play

The one where Auntie Ellen played Ariel in her 5th grade play.

(Musicals + Disney Princesses + Aunt Ellen.  Pure Gold!)

I told Hazel about how Ellen brought the house down with her tour de force performance
how she sang more beautifully than all of the matilda’s put together, 
how she looked even more radiant in her ball gown costume than Belle does in the movie
and how I was so proud of my little sister that I was the first one on my feet for the standing ovation and how I clapped so hard, my hands actually stung.

Hazel asked if Ellen swam on stage when playing Ariel.  
No, she didn’t swim…but she did sashay, I explained.

She asked if Ellen’s Belle gown had sequins on it
Millions!  I assured her.

Then Hazel asked if I brought Ellen flowers….
Did I bring her flowers?!  Did I bring her flowers?!  You betcha!  
I was so moved by her performance that I threw a garden worth of roses on to the stage as she took her bows and I delivered a bouquet taller than Felix to El’s dressing room during intermission.

Hazel liked this response.

My goal in telling Auntie Ellen stories is obviously to entertain my girls - but more importantly these stories are a way for me to reinforce the message I wrote to Hazel the day before Felix was born:  

"There is no need to compete with a sister.  Her wins are yours.  Yours are hers."

And truly, even now - 20 odd years after my sister’s star turn in the Western Avenue School Plays, her performances remain one of the proudest moments of my life.

And they make for an exceptional bedtime story!