Saturday, December 29, 2018

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Once again, I'd like to just thank everyone for their support and help during this mess.  In the middle of a real hard time, I really do appreciate how blessed I am by your help and support.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

First, good news!  The son's Medicaid got turned back on!  Thank goodness!  My care coordinator was nice enough to stalk the state and make sure they knew that I needed to refill his medications, so they put a rush on the approval and got his insurance back where it should be.  Which is going to be a relief being able to tell his therapist that next week and was also a huge relief going and refilling his medications and not being out nearly 1000.00 to do it.

Christmas around here went.  That's about all I can say about it.  Christmas Eve the son was in a terrible mood and didn't want to do anything but throw a fit.  The aftershocks have made his moods worse, I've noticed.  Some aftershocks have been pretty bad, one a 4.9 the other morning that I heard coming a good ten seconds before it hit and scared the crap out of me and we've gotten ones definitely above a magnitude 3 the past few days following that (the seismologists comfort me in all of this, though, by assuring everyone that this is a completely normal aftershock pattern after a earthquake of the November 30th magnitude).   Bright side he seemed to snap out of it a bit and have a good day Christmas Day, so that was something.

The day after Christmas I went and took down all of the Christmas decorations, desperate to get life more back to "default normal" for the son's sake, and honestly I need the room that the decorations were taking up to organize the masses of mess I have yet to get through.  It's been like peeling an onion around here.  I get one pile of mess worked out, open a new cabinet or turn around and suddenly there's another pile of stuff to start to tackle.  Today I was working on getting the den mucked out and put up where it needed to be (a shot of said den in progress up top).  We've got another full load of stuff for the dump, so we'll have to go and do that later in the week.  It's been really hard going through and getting things sorted when you have a son running around destroying the parts of the house that you managed to get cleaned up and get put back together, but I AM getting there.  Slowly.  So, so slowly.  

I'm hoping to make a decent amount of progress in the den in the next couple of days.   But I also have my birthday coming up within the next couple of days as well, so I have to find time to make a cake for dessert as well and I'd like to find time to make another batch of cookies as the kids have helped my husband eat the Christmas cookies and they are almost gone.  So, we'll see how much I get done in the cleaning front.  Wish me luck on that.

And so, let's get onto the money saving things we did this week!

1.  We got our Shop Your Way points in for the month from Sears, so we pretty much ran down to Sears as soon as we got a moment to quickly use the points in case Sears ends up closing up at the end of the year.  I found that they had Land's End things on close out and it was all 70% off, so I was able to get the daughter a few pairs of leggings and the son a pair of elastic waistband pants for free with the points and I was able to get a few bras for free as well, which I desperately needed some new ones, so I was happy to get those.

2.  Years ago I signed up with Maker's Mark bourbon as a Maker's Mark Ambassador (I think you can still sign up on their site, but don't hold me to that).  It's actually been a really fun thing to be a part of, even though I don't really drink much at all.  I had forgotten to update my address with them when we moved here, so I thought about it one day and realized that I hadn't heard anything from them in years, so I went and updated my information a bit earlier in the year.  So, I was able to get in on their really neat Christmas gift that they send to their ambassadors every year.  I remember one year I got some ribbon and some wrapping paper for free from them and this year they sent me a nifty pair of free socks :).  

3.  I wanted to make bread to go with Christmas Day dinner, but my dough hook was bent in the quake (how, we have no idea as it's a pretty solid chunk of steel and it just baffles my husband as the bowl it was sitting in wasn't terribly bent, which you would think it would be with the hook getting bent as it was standing up vertical in said bowl).  I had tried to use it before and it had actually dented the inside of my mixer bowl.  I had stopped it in a panic as soon as it went nuts on the counter and hammered on the bowl and I realized how bad the bend in the hook must be for the balance of it running.  I tried to bend the hook back into true and got CLOSE, but couldn't get it straight, so I had my husband look at it.  The hook was still bent enough to totally throw the mixer off balance and you had to hold it or it would rock all over the counter., but it wasn't beating up the bowl anymore  My husband took the hook apart and then put it back together without doing anything else to it and got it to work to the point that I can put the mixer up to about 4 (out of 12 settings) before it starts to go off balance, so at least I can make bread with the hook for the time being if I watch it carefully and keep a hand on it, just in case.  

We looked at finding a replacement for the hook and quickly realized that we had a huge problem with my mixer in that there are NO parts for it available!  Viking just stopped making anything related to their small appliances when the plant that was making said appliances shut down and we didn't realize that aftermarket wouldn't pick up the slack and make parts for said appliances.  My husband and I talked about it and we both came to the conclusion that we're going to have to replace my mixer because if it can't be fixed it's only a matter of time before something major goes on it and we can't fix it, not to mention the dough hook being off.  I've tried kneading bread dough by hand a couple of times since I had the bicep tendinitis and the frozen shoulder and doing it by hand is just asking for pain, unfortunately and the bottom of my bread maker started leaking, so using that to pick up the slack isn't going to work.  So, I'm going to have to find money in our current razor thin budget to slowly save up to replace said mixer.  I'll still keep the Viking after I get a new mixer just because I have all the attachments for the Viking and that'll save me from having to purchase things like a pasta maker attachment for a Kitchen Aid and I'll just be able to pick up one attachment at a time as I can afford it.

So, yeah, depressing, but I at least got bread made, which definitely saved us some money from buying it at a bakery or something :).

4.  We went out for an early birthday dinner last night and used the two gift cards we had to Red Robin toward the dinner.  With the two gift cards combined (one only had a bit left on it) we were able to get dinner for 3.00 out of pocket.  And it was yummy and I didn't have to cook.  Always a nice treat :).

5.  We were able to get the kids some new bikes for Christmas.  We picked them up on sale from Wal-Mart, which was a LOT cheaper than what we were finding elsewhere and we purchased them with money my mom sent for Christmas for the kids for that purpose.  Now we just need to find some more adult sized training wheels for the son's bike somewhere and the kids will at least be able to practice bike riding this summer.

6.  I cleaned and oiled my sewing machine after I got done using it to make Christmas gifts, luckily being able to find my sewing machine oil to do so.  I've found a bit of regular maintenance will save you so many costly repairs in the long run on a ton of different things.

7.  I've started, finally, using the air fryer and I have to say I'm absolutely in love with it.  I love being able to cook just a few handfuls of fries for the son instead of having to preheat the oven and using an entire cookie sheet to make a few handfuls of fries and the air fryer makes really GOOD french fries!  I'm looking forward to trying it out on cooking other things.  I went onto Pinterest and a few other sites and started pinning and bookmarking recipes that I want to try out in the air fryer in the coming months.

8.  I took advantage of sales this week to get soda (for the son) on sale cheap and managed to get some hamburger and thin cut pork chops on sale for decently cheap and got some lamb chops super cheap on clearance.  I actually kept the pork chops and hamburger defrosted and am thinking of making it into different meals later in the coming days, thus saving me from having to defrost meat later on.  The lamb chops we're having for dinner tonight.

And, yeah, I'm going to call it good there.  The son is starting to throw a fit again, so I'm having a bit of a hard time thinking with the noise.  I hope you all had a good week!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Chrismas 2018: Gifts to the Family

Welcome to the second, and final, post on the gifts I'm giving for Christmas to the kids and husband this year.  I am going to do some things late or finish up a few gifts later on, but for now I'm just going to call what I have done good and feel grateful that I was able to get done what I did.  I am happy with what I did get done, anyway :).

So, let's get to the gifts I'm giving and/or made for the family this year!

First up let's start with the gifts I'm giving to my daughter.  I aimed for two gifts per person this Christmas.  I was going to aim for four, but just ran out of time, so embroidered pillow cases for the kids, some handkerchiefs for the husband and such are on the agenda for hopefully this coming week, but here's the two gifts that are currently under the tree.

First up we have a brush/art roll I made for my daughter.  I used materials I had on hand for everything I made this year, so I used some canvas material I had, a remnant of quilt binding that I had for the ties and binding and for the smaller pockets, I was originally going to make some out of canvas and then embroider them myself, but due to the time constraints I changed my mind.  Instead, I used an old pair of embroidered jeans that my daughter loved from when she was younger and cut out the embroidered parts, zig zagged around the edges and then sewed those on as pockets for smaller brushes or other art supplies.

I thought, overall, that it turned out pretty well and I think my daughter will like it.  She's getting some brushes and other painting supplies for Christmas, so I wanted to make sure she had a really nice place to put them all.

Next up isn't a gift I made, but one that I put together anyway.  Originally I wanted to make jewelry to put into this myself, but I didn't have time, so instead I found another way.

My daughter loves necklaces now and has been asking for a jewelry box for Christmas.  I couldn't find a nice one that I liked, though, so I figured I was out of luck.  And then my eyes lit upon my old jewelry box.  I bought the jewelry box when I worked at Walt Disney World when I was in college.  It was one of the items I had found, fell in love with, and was determined to pick up before I left Disney to go home.  And so I did.  And I kept that jewelry box for years.  A while back, though, my husband got me a bigger jewelry box that I loved, so I emptied out my smaller box and had just put it up and took care of it all of this time, not knowing what I wanted to do with it, but I just didn't want to get rid of it.  So, when my eyes fell upon the box, I realized that it was a perfect opportunity to give my daughter the box that I had fallen in love with all of those years ago.

To go in it, I included a necklace I had made for my sister a lot of years ago that she had sent me a few years ago with a bunch of jewelry that she didn't want anymore that I knew Armina would like (since it's purple and all).  Then I took a few other necklaces that I was able to find at the used stores and things over the last year and voila!  Now she'll have a nice beginning jewelry box and some necklaces to start her jewelry collection.  I know she'll love that one :).

All totaled I spent 2.00 on the gift to get a few of the necklaces.

Next up are the gifts I made for the son.

First up is a panel project I found at the used store.  The panel was 1.00.  I used fusible interfacing I had around the house to use as batting for the pages and used thread I already had, so the gift cost a total of 1.00 to make.  I know that the book is a bit young for the son, but he loves to flick things, so I am hoping he'll like to flick and flip the pages on the book and hey, if he can read I'm hoping that he'll get a kick out of reading "The Night Before Christmas" and enjoy the pictures too :).

I also made the son his yearly sensory cube as he absolutely LOVES these things!  Every year he plays with the cubes until he darn near destroys them, so I couldn't let him down this year.  For the materials this year I used materials I had around the house.  Leather, cross stitch fabric, striped upholstery type of fabric, fleece,  fake fur and a shiny velvety fabric.    I think he'll really like this one.  I made this one smaller than last year  so he'll enjoy it more as he really likes the smaller cubes versus the larger ones :).

And finally is the gifts I made for my husband.  He really liked the neck pillow I made him for Christmas last year (actually we both end up stealing it from each other we both like it so well *laugh*) and so I wanted to make some more this year, but with more stuffing in them so that they'd be more supportive on the neck.  Originally I had plans to embroider them like last year, but I didn't have time, so I'll just embroider them a bit later.  I was also going to make him some tool rolls, but he couldn't remember what he wanted me to make them for, so that got put onto the back burner until he can figure out if he wants some made or not :).

So, there you are folks.  What I've been basically doing yesterday afternoon and a good portion of today.  But, yay for getting the gifts done and under the tree!  That makes me feel good anyway :).

Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

First, I'd like to thank everyone again.  The outpouring of support and encouragement during this whole mess has been a huge blessing in mine and my family's lives.  Thank you!

I've spent the last two weeks trying to get over that darned kidney infection while also dealing with two kids home as their schools were shut down due to the earthquake damage, aftershocks and various health things with the kids.  Alvah has been a challenge since the earthquake.  He's been kind of bipolar.  One minute he'll be happy as a clam and then suddenly he's unhappy with the entire universe and starts hitting himself and others.  It's been unsettling to say the least.  It doesn't help that his eczema has been going nuts since the earthquake.  Armina's allergies have also reared up in a huge way.  SHE has eczema now, which she hasn't had since Kindergarten, her eyes are swollen and puffy, she's got a sore throat...the poor thing is just in pure allergy Heck right now.  This is NOT a good time to be allergic to dust :(.  Poor kiddo.

In the middle of all of the earthquake clean up, Alvah's Medicaid got denied due to his mental health professional's office and the state having an argument over who the release of information form was supposed to go to even though my care coordinator had sent in at least two blanket release of information forms to the mental health office it's frustrating beyond belief as everything could have been avoided if someone had called ME or my care coordinator in the month everyone was kicking a can down the road that happened to impact my kid in a bad way.  I had no knowledge of it at all until the doctor's office called me a few days after the earthquake and asked me to go in and sign another release of information form in person so they could fax over Alvah's records before the state cut off his LEAST two weeks later then they should have by their own admission.  I rushed over and signed them within an hour, but it turns out it was already too late as when I went to refill his medications I found out his Medicaid was turned off.  The pharmacy, bless them, was able to run his Clonodine through on a discount card thing and I was able to afford to refill it, but I've been rationing out the store of Risperidone we have as that stuff is 400.00+ to refill it.  Even with a discount card I'm not sure how much that would hurt to refill.  My care coordinator is trying to work voodoo behind the scenes to get things rushed through and turned back on, but for now we are in Medicaid limbo.  Thank goodness Alvah's therapist's office was okay with back billing Medicaid once it got turned back on.  Please send up a prayer that it gets turned back on quickly for the sake of my anxiety.  I have nightmares about suddenly having to pay therapist bills out of pocket as that'd run anyone into the poor house very quickly.

We've heard nothing from the disaster relief inspectors, but they've been busy, unfortunately, having to condemn a bunch of buildings and homes in different areas.  My husband and I went to do some last minute Christmas shopping for the kids yesterday (since we had literally yesterday to get it done since both of the kids were actually in school) in Eagle River and we were able to see some of the damage Eagle River suffered first hand.  We stopped off at where the Salvation Army used to be (it was there before the quake) only to find the building surrounded by caution tape and a couple of huge obvious cracks running down the building and a sign on the door saying only authorized personnel could enter.  The Eagle River McDonald's has been closed since the quake and we're not sure if it is even going to reopen it's been down so long (obviously it's not a good sign if something is closed that long).  A lot of buildings had boards where windows used to be, including Carrs in Wasilla when we stopped off to get some groceries today and we could see where a part of their sidewalk sank as they had cones around the area to keep people from walking where the ground might be unsafe. 

It's actually kind of surreal walking around and seeing the damage and things and you stop and just send up a prayer thanking the Lord that you and your family are still here. 

I did, though, call the disaster relief office today and made sure our application was in the system and we were on the list.  Depending on the electric baseboard heat has been kind of rough.  It keeps the pipes from freezing and things, but downstairs gets pretty darned cold at night and we're all having to bundle up a bit to keep warm.  I'm dreading seeing what my electric bill is going to be after running the electric heat all month.  My husband is hoping that the disaster relief will help us pay for the electric bill in the time it takes for them to get here and inspect and things, but I figure worse comes to worse I'll just have to let it go for now, wait, and then redo our budget billing after we have the furnace in working condition again.  I'm going to HATE to see what that bill would be per month, but it's the best I can do to keep on top of that expense.

But, yeah, let's get to the money saving things that happened this week.

1.  I finally managed to get all of the broken glass (I HOPE) off of my kitchen counters.  MAN that took a lot of cleaning.  Glass dust is really hard to get out of crevices and things.  And I wanted to make sure that the counters were clean, clean since we were going to make Christmas cookies and the LAST thing you want is to run across a little piece of glass while doing something like that.  Which we did get that done (yay!).  I didn't have time to make gingerbread houses yet, but I'm hoping to wrestle time to do that somehow. 

This weekend is going to be dedicated to getting Christmas gifts sewn downstairs (if the sewing machine works *fingers crossed*).  I was going to try and do them earlier, but it took me all week to get the den mucked out, things put away and such to the point I could actually get TO my sewing table.  So, hopefully that'll get done.

I did find while cleaning the floor that the linoleum took a terrible beating and is actually cut and/or dented in places where I have realized that mopping the floor isn't going to be wise as I'm worried it will leak through to the sub floor, trap moisture and we're going to end up with mold issues.  So, I'm down to cleaning the floor on my hands and knees, carefully, and wiping the floor dry after I'm done.  Not fun, but it is what it is.

2.  My husband and I managed to put in the new toilet.  It's been wonderful having a working toilet again and much to my surprise Alvah was able to figure out how to flush it immediately, so that was good.

3.  My mother-in-law gave me a Red Robin gift card for my birthday at the end of the month.  I still have a gift card with some money left on it from earlier in the year, so by combining the two cards together I think we can at least eat out for my birthday.  The kids will certainly enjoy getting to eat at their favorite "fancy" restaurant :).

4.  My Jolly Time anniversary popcorn bowl took a beating in the earthquake and wouldn't even sit right on a flat surface.  It's still got some bends in it that I'm afraid to bend out since the bowl is enamel coated metal and I don't want to crack the enamel, but after some careful work I managed to get it to at least sit on a flat surface again to the point we could at least eat popcorn out of it.

5.  I rebuilt my bread box...kinda.  The wood is splintered on the inside in places, but I got it to go together enough that it holds together and the door will shut...kind of sticky, but it shuts.  I will probably have to replace said bread box at some point in the potentially near future as it's pretty whomped on, but for now it works.  I use my bread box constantly, so I'm glad I was able to get it back together again.

6.  My husband and I took advantage of free dump days at the dump for people who needed to dump earthquake debris.  The Burough actually waited quite a while before opening the dump for free, so a lot of people had already paid to dump their stuff, but we weren't able to get to the dump for a while after the quake due to my husband's work schedule, getting the hot water heater replaced, putting in the new toilet, etc.  Taking advantage of the free dump saved us a ton on dumping fees just from the sheer weight from broken glass and things we took in.  I was really grateful that we had that available and ended up having to wait longer than we had hoped to dump some of the multitudes of earthquake debris we had.  We still have more we'll have to pay to dump, but we're definitely grateful for the free load we got to dump.

7.  We took advantage of a free event that was a lot of fun and the entire family got to attend.  My son's classroom Christmas party.  It happened to be at a time after my daughter was out of school for the day, so we, as well as all of the other families in the son's class, were able to show up and have fun with the kids.  It was a lot of fun and we got to take home a few new Christmas ornaments from the crafts they were doing in class and a new piece of Christmas artwork for the walls. 

I also took the opportunity to say "sorry" to Alvah's teachers and therapists as the gifts I had put aside to give to them this year got destroyed in the quake.  I felt bad as I try to give something to them every year, but it just wasn't going to happen this year. 

8.  I managed to get my spice cabinet pretty much cleaned out.  I still have a bunch of spices and things that are under the lazy Susan shelf that are working their way out slowly but surely and I'll have to vacuum them as they work their way to where I can get to them, but for the most part I THINK I found and cleaned up the majority of the damage.  It's been depressing opening it up and knowing that even the containers I have left, a lot of them lost a lot of stuff that was in them, so I'm carefully rationing what I have left until replacements come in and things.  Except cinnamon.  Somehow that all survived and I have tons of that left.  So, that's something I suppose.

I found while cleaning the kitchen that a bunch of my cabinets came out from the wall in the quake and there are definite gaps, so my husband is going to have to spend some time this weekend screwing my cabinets back into the wall.  At least they held.  That's definitely something to be thankful for.

9.  I started to try and find a replacement dough hook for my mixer as my other one got hit and bent in the quake.  Not having much luck (the mixer hasn't been made in years), but I'm hopeful my husband can bend the dough hook back so it's close enough to true to work right.  Here's hoping or I might have to buy another mixer so I have something to mix bread dough in.  Yes, I use my dough hook THAT much.

At least I finally got the glass cleaned out of the mixer *knock on wood* and we were able to make cookies with it and not worry about eating broken glass.  That was a good thing for sure.

10.  I made sure to use all leftovers the last few weeks.  We have some things in the pantry we need to use up because they got coated in Teriyaki sauce or something similar and I don't want sticky things sticking around in the pantry because...well bugs for one and because mold for another...not to mention the potential to attract mice.  So, I took a couple of meal's worth of chicken bits we had left over from different meals, combined them together and made Chicken Helper with them.  It worked and I didn't have to worry about the chicken going to waste.  Tonight we used up a little bit of cheese that we had left over,  a little bit of sour cream we had left and some leftover taco meat and corn chips and made nachos for dinner.  Worked great and used up a bunch of stuff we had to use up.

And there you go folks.  Some of the ways we saved money this week.  At the moment my exhaustion is suffering from exhaustion, so I'm going to head to bed so I can get up super early tomorrow and get to work on gifts.  I hope your week went well.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Christmas 2018: Gifts from Daughter

Well, I was going to start posting up one gift a day on here, but with how busy I am and how far behind on gift MAKING I am, I'm going to have to do things different this year and just kind of do a "gift dump" post as I go along to show you what we've been working on around here for gifts.  I'm in panic mode on getting gifts done on time at this point and we still have cookies to make, gingerbread houses to make and decorate, Christmas cards to fill out, Santa letters to mail off and just all the general things you should gradually be getting done in December that did NOT happen gradually this year.

So, welcome to the amended "Gift a Day" series here on "The Make Do Homemaker".  May you, hopefully, find some inspiration on what you can make for your family and friends this year in the process :).

Today, I decided we'd start off with the gifts my daughter has decided to give out, so far, for Christmas.  So, let's get to those!

 First off, up top we have some of the gifts my daughter is giving to Alvah for Christmas. 

We were at the used store right after Thanksgiving and I hear my daughter let out an excited shout.  I turn around to her trying to remove a small Snoopy from the stuffed animal rack (it had a clip on it to clip onto a backpack or something that was kind of hard to remove from the stand).  She smiled as she asked for my help and said, "Look!  It's brand new!  I want to get that for Alvah for Christmas!".  Alvah loves Snoopy and has since he was little and I was impressed with her eye for finding that one.  I helped her remove the Snoopy, which was missing a price tag, and we went up to see how much it was.  When we found out it was .50, Armina was doubly proud as she knew she was getting a gift Alvah would love super cheap.  I am so proud that I'm passing down the bargain hunting thought process to the next generation *sentimental tear*.

We were than sitting at home later that same day and Armina was brainstorming on what else to give to Alvah for Christmas (he's kind of hard to shop for, go figure) and her eyes fell upon a small bottle of water that Alvah had gotten from his teacher as part of a Halloween gift bag.  I'd drank the water and had put the bottle down on the table and Armina snatched the bottle up and asked if we could make a small sensory bottle out of it for Alvah as she knew he liked the ones I've made him in previous years. 

Armina had to sacrifice a small bottle of glitter she'd gotten with a nail polish kit from one of her Aunts as I couldn't find any glitter in the house to save my life and then I helped her with the corn syrup and distilled water solution to make the glitter float.  She chose the color of the water as she wanted the glitter to really show up well (which it does) and then I super glued the lid onto the bottle.  It came out nice looking and cost us nothing to do as we had all the materials around the house to make it.

When we were at the store the next day I pulled out a coupon for a free box of Jolly Time popcorn we'd gotten in the mail for taking a survey about popcorn consumption.  Armina had helped me take the survey (I know, weird thing to do together, but I take the time with the kids when I can get it) and her eyes lit up when she saw the coupon and asked if she could have it to buy Alvah a box of his favorite microwave popcorn for Christmas. 

At this point the child was on a roll *laugh*.

I was digging around in my closet looking for a certain bunch of Christmas decorations and stumbled across a snow globe you could personalize that I had bought at 90% off at Target years ago.  I had been using a bunch of those types of gifts for years to help pad out Christmas gifts and this was pretty much the last one in the stash.  Armina asked if we could make a snow globe for Alvah to go under the tree too as Alvah really likes snow globes.  Since it was plastic, I said sure and Armina chose a Christmasy scene from the front of some old Christmas cards we had and we put the scene into the snow globe.  So, another gift down for near free (I mean I think the snow globe ended up being about .50 after the clearance discount years ago).

We then checked the mail that same day and one of my product missions came in from "The Upside" a new product testing outfit I signed up for through Smiley360.  "The Upside" just does health and beauty products and my first mission was for "Udderly Smooth" lotion.  I tried out a small amount on Alvah's eczema (a really tiny amount since you never know how his skin is going to react) and then Armina asked if we could wrap the tubes up so she could give them to dad for Christmas for his cracked heels.  She was super excited about the idea because shopping for dad is even harder than shopping for Alvah (and she does have a good point there *laugh*).

So, yeah, so far when it comes to Christmas gifts my daughter is totally whomping me on getting those done.  I'm proud of her, though.  She put thought into each gift and still managed to do it on a shoe string budget.

So, stay tuned as (hopefully) I get to share some of the gifts I'm working on around here for Christmas as well.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Shopping Goals: December 2018

First, be prepared here as I'm (obviously) way behind on blogging, projects and life in general at the moment, so there's definitely going to be some catch up I need to get done.

When it CAME to shopping goals for this month, my plans were to look for a bit more cheap beef, maybe look for a cheap ham toward the end of the month, stocking stuffers...just normal stuff and just call it good.  Well, that was pre-earthquake, so now post-earthquake, the list of things just gets longer the more I go through things.  Sigh.

I'm on my second round of antibiotics for my kidney infection.  Bright side is that this time I feel like the antibiotics are working a lot better, so hopefully this time I can lick it.  I'm tired, but a lot more functional than I have been since the earthquake.

A Christmas miracle (I'm standing by this even though Christmas is still a few weeks away)  happened when I went and dug out the Christmas gifts in my closet.  I'd been dreading cracking the closet open for fear of what I would find under the huge pile/wall of everything.  A miracle occurred in that the gifts to the kids were in boxes and the boxes survived the earthquake because a huge pile of blankets fell on top of said boxes before the really heavy stuff started to fall on top of those.  Everything appears to be in one piece.  I was so relieved.  I desperately want to give the kids something close to a normal Christmas this year after everything they have been through the past few weeks.  The presents under the tree seem to still be in one piece as the heavy things from the shelves above landed on clothes or books (and the books survived okay I think), so that was good to find as well.

Downside to that is the gifts I had scrimped together to give to "Toys for Tots" didn't fare as well.  I made a note that I'm NEVER going to get another cute character snow globe as a possible yearly donation ever again.  What a mess.  When it broke, it took out a bunch of my old artwork from college, which was kind of upsetting (at least it helped to hold down the glitter and absorb the water), but I got over it as at least it wasn't pictures of the kids or something that I would feel like I'd never be able to replace.  I've sent up a prayer and apology to my grandpa as I try to donate to "Toys for Tots" every year in his memory as he was very proud of his service in the marines, but this year I just can't afford to replace the donations, so the organization is just going to have to get it done this year without my help, unfortunately.  Same thing with walking by the Salvation Army kettle this year.  It depresses me not being able to donate, but it's just not going to happen this year as we need every penny we can scrape together.

Right, so new shopping goals.  I'm still sorting through my spices and herbs, but I had a decent amount of loss.  Salt was actually a big one.  Regular salt in every spot bit the dust and then every specialty salt I had just went everywhere, mixed with other stuff and was just ruined.  I bought a box of kosher salt when I went shopping this week so at least I had salt to add to things for some flavor, but yeah...that was depressing.  I'm not worrying about replacing the salts at the moment just because I didn't use them everyday and I just have better things to worry about right now.

I also found out the hard way that if you have to clean up a bunch of Cheyenne pepper, black pepper or things like ginger with a damp paper towel as your only friend?  Wear gloves!  Those suckers will burn you if you expose yourself to them too much!  I learned the hard way so you don't have to!

We lost dishes and things, of course.  The CD player in my ancient stereo that I always used to listen to music on while cleaning or sewing blew it's stabilizers in the earthquake, so I'll be on the lookout for a replacement for that and things.  I had to order Alvah a new TV for his room as his TV screen started burning out in one spot that is spreading as time goes on since the earthquake (it's an old liquid crystal display, so goodness knows what hit it to cause that to happen), so at least that is on order.  At least some things are getting replaced so far.

So, for shopping goals I'm going to start out with my Earthquake list  (I set it to public so hopefully you all can see it okay) on Amazon and work out from there.  Mind you not everything on the earthquake list is things that need to be replaced anytime's just a list of things that I'm adding to as I find things broken.  Like the flatware/silverware chest.  The one we have that my husband's grandfather gave us flew off the sideboard and had the microwave land on it, so it is pretty broken, but you can jam the lid on and it will still protect the silverware inside, so I just added it to the list to remind me that it is broken.  I'm just going to add to that list as I find more things that are broken to remind me to buy, replace or fix the things on said list.  Others, like the stove top popcorn popper are more of a "yeah, we should probably get one of these as a back up plan" as with the microwave not working right making popcorn for the son has become a bit more problematic and made me realize a need for a "plan b".  I hope that makes sense.

Some things, like my sewing machine, I haven't had a chance to fire up yet (pray with me that it survived the shaking and everything works right as I NEED that in working condition right now), but will just update the list with things as I find/need them.

Some things I've already gotten because I had to.  Kosher salt got bought because I needed salt desperately, although pepper isn't far behind and I'm making one little pepper shaker of pepper last as long as I can (once I saw what the stores were charging for pepper).  Sprinkles were bought because we are going to make Christmas cookies this weekend come Hell or high water (I'm determined) and gingerbread houses are not far behind (although spicing on said gingerbread houses MIGHT get kind of interesting, I'm thinking they'll still smell good).  To help, I at least had a few things of sprinkles survive the onslaught (with the peanut allergy, Betty Crocker sprinkles aren't cheap).  Toilet paper was purchased because all of my paper products ended up ankle deep in water in the laundry room and the toilet paper just kind of clumped into a solid mass with a lot of it, which doesn't work.

So, yeah, onto the rest of the stuff on my list to get.

Regular Stores:
  • Mechanical pencils (some of Armina's school supplies didn't fare too well in the earthquake when it hit the school.  At least we finally got her winter coat, her lunch box, her backpack and her violin back from the school yesterday :)
  • Orange rolls (a family Christmas tradition)
  • Candy canes (the son has been blowing through the ones on the tree)
  • Stocking Stuffers (I have exactly two days where the daughter will be in school as her school is the last one that is going to be reopening for classes next week, so I am trying to figure out how to get some of this stuff with her's challenging).
  • Powdered sugar (as it usually goes on sale pretty cheap this time of year)
  • Kosher salt (picked it up so I'd have some salt in the house)
  • Flavored Rice (the few boxes I had to mix things up at dinner time got destroyed via teriyaki sauce)
  • Kid snacks/boy food (having the kids home for the last two weeks has blown through a lot of what I had stockpiled for Christmas break)
  • Sour Cream
  • Cream cheese
  • Wet cat food

  • Bikes for kids (they need new ones now and we figure it'll be a good thing to get and put under the tree to them from my family back East.  We let them ride them around the garage during the winter to help stay active)

Water Softener Store:
  • Water filter for water softener (after the earthquake they are recommending everyone replace theirs)
  • Water softening salt

Hardware Store:
  • Sleds (we are getting plenty of snow and the kids need new as the shed collapsed on their old ones)
  • Nails
  • Screws
  • Picture hangers
  • Small frame staples
  • Look for weights for pressure canner when it comes in (I would like to get the weights for it so that I can use it easier instead of having to babysit the pressure for up to two hours, depending on what you are canning).
I'm going to call it good there.  I'm sure there is more that is on lists that I've written all over the place as I find things, but I'm still kind of disorganized after everything, so I'll get there.

How about you?  Need to get anything this month?

Saturday, December 8, 2018

November 2018 Earthquake Update

First and foremost I want to thank everyone.  Your kindness and support during this time has been one of the few real bright points this entire week, so thank you SO much for that.  I needed every bit of it.

This has been a real ride this last week and just crazy and stressful.  First there was the aftershocks.  So.  Many.  Aftershocks!  We topped up over 3,000 yesterday, I think.  Up until a couple of days ago the aftershocks were just constant, which kept me in a constant state of shot nerves.  I finally slept downstairs last night instead of bedding down on the son's floor on a pile of blankets and I still felt unease about it.  Nerve wracking doesn't even BEGIN to cover it.

Then there was the son's stomach bug, which turned out to be a nearly week long affair (I called his pediatrician and I guess it's a nasty bug going around), so that was fun with a broken toilet.

I got so dehydrated on Friday just from not thinking to drink much and then not having water available TO drink (my emergency water somehow surfed from my pantry, across the hallway and was jammed over by the hot water heater in the laundry room) that by the time I went to the doctor on Monday I had a pretty significant urinary tract infection and kidney infection.  I didn't realize how badly it was effecting my ability to think until the nurse asked me if I was on the keto diet (as I had worrisome amounts of protein in my urine) and I couldn't remember what that was and other things that I should have known, but for the life of me couldn't remember.  Just as an aside I want to thank you all for your donations to my paypal as due to that generosity I was able to pay for that doctor's visit and BOY did I need it!  

Then there was the home owner's insurance.  Which turned out to be as useful as a screen door on a submarine.  I went from calling them Friday and them telling me to put things on credit card and take plenty of pictures and they'd get an adjuster out to confirm damages to calling them on Monday and them acting like I was insane for even thinking that I might be covered for earthquakes in an earthquake zone.  The insurance is going to cover 100% nothing.  I broke down for a while after getting off the phone with them and then tried to think of what else to do.

At least my husband's classic car insurance through Hagherty was worth something.  It sounds like they are going to fix my husband's car, which at least we have that going for us.  We had a guy show up and take pictures day before yesterday and they are getting quotes from body shops and things.
Cracks, cracks everywhere.
After finding out that the home owner's insurance was going to cover 100% nothing, I called FEMA, but our Federal government hasn't, in all of their infinite wisdom, declared Alaska a national problem, so I'm worried that's not going to happen either especially how quickly Alaska got on the ball and started to repair roadways and things to get the state back up and working again (nothing shuts this state down and after this quake it really showed how much Alaska could get done when the brakes were taken off).  Governor Walker, on his way out the door (literally, we were right in the middle of transitions for our state government this week), declared a state of emergency for the state and the old and new guys in office came up with a disaster relief grant program you can apply for.  It went live at 8 am on Wednesday, I believe, and I was awake at 6 am and called when the thing went live at eight (and then called, and called and called again that day until I got a person instead of an answering machine) and applied for the disaster relief.  The grant you can get is limited in what they cover, but I'm praying they might pay to at least replace the chimney and maybe the man door to our garage (which we use as the main door in and out of the house) as you have to basically kick the door in to get it to open now and there are gaps in the door frame and a few other necessary repairs that we're not sure how in the Heck we are going to pay for.

We told them about the hot water heater as it kept going out for no reason after the earthquake and wasn't cycling right.  You had to actually drain the tank to get it to refill and fire.  It finally just out and out quit night before last.  So we went and bought a new hot water heater on the house account and my husband installed it yesterday.  I have to say it was nice being able to take a shower for the first time since the earthquake (I had been running lukewarm baths for the kids instead of worrying about showers and using up what little hot water we'd have for the day doing that).

My mom called and told us she'd bought us a toilet and we could pick it up at Home Depot.  I cried when she told me that.  As gifts go that was one of the most heartfelt gifts I'd ever received.  My best friend bought me a new canner.  That also brought tears.  Blog readers paypal donations came in with different messages of encouragement...more tears.  Thank you, everyone.  I can't say that enough.

I finally got courageous enough to go and check the outbuildings yesterday.  I found a miracle while there.  We had foam insulation left over from building the chicken coop and my husband had put it in the shed so it was protected from the wind.  I don't know how that foam insulation fell in such a way to protect the lawn mower, but it did.  I was so grateful when I found that as there was NO way we could have afforded to replace the lawn mower (seen up top).

The 40 ft van was bad, but not as bad as I'd fear it would be.  Some of my family heirlooms might have survived from the look of it, but it's going to be a while before I can get back into the van to fully check the damage as it's going to take a lot of work to get through all of that.

The other two outbuildings, though, are gone.  The shed actually sank/shifted and bulged it's sides out and the barn cracked the main roof supports in the quake.  We're just going to worry about demolishing them later.  That's all we can really do at this point.  

On top of everything else, Mother Nature decided to have a version of, "Hold my beer" when it came to Alaska.  Friday we had the quake.  Saturday we got 60 mph gusts of wind.  Temperature went up to unseasonably warm weather which melted snow, quickly tanked the temperatures to create wonderful amounts of ice and then dumped about 8 inches of snow on us.  All in a couple of days.  So, I'd like to apologize to any neighbors who might read this and ended up in possession of pieces of our gutters as I didn't have the opportunity to clean them up before they blew away.

Cleaning has been slow and hard.  Having a sick son and me being sick on top of it just didn't help me out much, never mind the aftershocks and things.  But, I'm getting there.  

The mice in the pantry ended up being a blessing in disguise as I didn't have much food to lose compared to how it would have been.  I did end up losing a bunch more jars and food, but due to the shelves being away from the walls and all of the jars being stored with their rings on and in boxes with high sides...I didn't lose too much there, which was a miracle.  

It took me days to get the kitchen in enough order to actually cook in it again and I'm still cleaning and working on it.  We ate out a LOT this last week, which we just put on credit card and will deal with later as we really didn't have much of a choice.  Poor Alvah has been freaking out in his own way since the quake and one of the main things he desperately wanted was to do was get McDonald's french fries for every meal once his stomach let him keep them down.  I think it's because McDonald's is familiar and comforting to him.  

Both of the kid's schools are still closed and will hopefully open at the end of this coming week.  The head of education for the state came out and said that the kids will not have to make up the school that was lost due to the quake, so we'll see how it effects second quarter grades once the kids get back to school.  In a way I am dreading the kids going back to school as I don't know if I'm ever going to be okay with letting them out of my sight for the rest of my natural life, but I also realize how important it is for the kids to get their lives back to normal as much as possible during this entire mess.  

I've had a couple of people e-mail me and ask me if I had a wish list on Amazon yet on items we still needed so they could help out in small ways.  I just wanted to say I'm working on it.  I'm compiling lists as I go along and will put one on Amazon when I can.  Honestly I think that's going to be the best way for ME to keep track of everything that I need to replace.  I lost a lot of spices and herbs and such. Bright side is that my everyday plates and bowls (well some of them anyway) were in the dishwasher when the quake hit, so I have plates that are a bit chipped and things, but usable.  

As things go that life can throw at you, this one is financially devastating on a level I hoped to never have to deal with.  So much for paying off bills and getting ahead *deep sigh*.  I'm just grateful as it could have been so much worse as there are others up here who are.  We have a bunch of homes in Jewel Lake that are being condemned due to earthquake damage, people lost their homes to fire and aren't covered because the fire was due to the earthquake, etc.  

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Earthquake November 2018

Note:  This post was started to be written yesterday (Saturday), but I didn't finish it until today (Sunday) due to me wrenching something in my back during the earthquake which resulted in a TERRIBLE headache all day yesterday and then my son was vomiting all day, so yeah...I was pretty busy and miserable.  The fun never ends.

Yesterday (November 30, 2018) started out not a whole lot of fun.  I got Armina to school like normal but the son woke up with lower stomach issues, so I called him in sick to school.  He seemed like he was starting to feel better and my husband and I started talking about maybe taking him shopping later in the day with us as it was our normal shopping day.

And then, in a heartbeat, everything changed.

The earthquake didn't come in like a normal earthquake tremor.  It didn't start out as a gentle shake.  No, it hit the house like a jackhammer and it just got worse.  Honestly, I can only equate the whole experience to what it must be like to be inside a jack hammer while it is running.  The husband got to the son's room before I did, grabbed Alvah and held him in a death grip in the doorway.  I was able to see that much as I rushed down toward them before all the lights went out.  I got the crap beat out of me as things flew off the walls, doors popped open and things fell out at me, but after a few whollops I got to the doorway and we just held onto each other and held onto that doorway for all we were worth.  

I have never been that scared in my entire life.  The force of the hammering the house took was awful.  My husband and I didn't say it out loud but we were worried the house was going to go if it kept up much longer as the force of the quake was just that severe, but we also knew there was no where you could run to get away from it.  I mean all of the land in every direction was moving.  All you could do was ride it out.  And pray.  Boy did I do that.

That was the longest moments of my life.  We waited out the initial quake and then were trying to figure out how to get down the hallway and find some type of light source when the aftershock hit which was nearly as bad as the initial quake.  Once it was over we quickly formulated a plan on getting some clothes for Alvah (since he'd just about gotten up when everything happened) finding coats and things and trying to get to the school to see if Armina was alright after my husband ran outside fast and made sure the gas line was still secure and not leaking.  I called the school about 18 times as I rushed to find clothes for Alvah, but all you got was a busy signal.  Everything was just chaos.  All I can say through this entire event was thank GOD for the invention of the cell phone and also for the fact that we never got rid of a real land line with a corded phone, because those things were so important yesterday.  

I was frantic to get to the school and see if it was still standing and if my baby was alright as tsunami warnings for anyone near rivers or water to get to high ground lit up our cell phones and we fielded calls from family.  It just seemed like it was impossible to get out of the house quickly, which was driving my husband's and my anxiety up to new levels.   Things were just everywhere.  Anything that used to be off the floor was now on it, or so it appeared and there was broken glass pretty much everywhere.

Sorry for the crappy quality of the photos.  My phone didn't like the dim light and then the new "app" version of Photoscape is vexing me on trying to figure out how to convert things properly.  I managed to, in the dim light, fight the laundry room door open, hoping to get clothes from the dryer for Alvah as my bedroom was a huge pile of...everything...and just saw stuff.  It was awful.  We had standing water all over the floor about an inch deep (the hot water heater had sprung a leak in the earthquake and shot water everywhere) and the freezer had flown open and dumped food everywhere.  Luckily, it seemed, all of the meat that hit the water was still sealed so I was able to shove it all back into the freezer and shut the door somehow.

I then realized that water was leaking from somewhere upstairs and later found a bunch of standing water in the kid's bathroom and realized that their toilet tank was gone.  We drained the toilet tank as best we could and will have to get a new one on Monday somewhere if we can.  For now we're using a five gallon bucket of water from the tub to flush the toilet.

Then my daughter's boyfriend's father called and said he was at the school, Armina was safe and would I like me to have him take her home.  That man is getting one Heck of a Christmas gift somehow, that much I can tell you, as that moment of pure relief was only compared when Armina launched herself out of the truck and into my arms.  Her winter coat and all of her school stuff is still at school as they quickly evacuated the school and just handed out blankets and sweatshirts and things to the kids to keep them warm until they could be picked up.  We've since gotten an e-mail stating the school is out till at least Wednesday and an e-mail from her orchestra teacher saying all the instruments are okay, so that was a relief for her to hear.  All the schools in the borough, the superintendent said in an e-mail, put their earthquake protocols into effect efficiently and with great speed, all of the kids did stellar and only minor injuries were reported.  That was a good thing to read.

Once Armina was home we all piled into the truck and got warm while we waited for daylight so we could go in and survey the damage better. It is so dark so late here right now, that we realized that there was really not a whole lot we could do in the house for a little bit, so we came up with a game plan of sorts.

We piled into the truck to see if the highway was open so my husband could go into work as he learned the airport was shut down and they were asking anyone who could make it in to do so as they needed everyone they could get.  We drove down to the round about down our road only to see flashing lights all over the intersection to get onto the way to the highway, so my husband turned around and headed back to the house to see if he could get some info on how everything was shaking out on his emergency radio.  While he drove my husband started by calling his brother to see how they were as I'd already exchanged texts and things from my mother-in-law and found out they were safe.  While talking to his brother my husband found out that there was collapses on the highway, bridges were out and other stuff that was going on.  When my husband realized that they had the highway shut down going into Anchorage, he gave up on going into work (since the only way into Anchorage is the highway) and we went back to the house.  It was then we finally started to really LOOK at the damage.
The chimney, my husband quickly saw when we were pulling into the driveway and had some light to see, was missing brick and was possibly separated from the house.  On closer inspection it definitely was, so he went and shut off the gas to the furnace.

The power came on for a little bit and we felt a lot of relief as it is a lot easier to see what you are doing with lights on and we could run the electric heat since the furnace is out of commission until a big question mark.  And then the power went out again.
We were without power most of the day after that.. Thank God it was decently warm out for this time of year.  I cleaned up the remains of our life in objects as best I could, trying to dig out our supply of emergency water (everything on the shelves by the door in the pantry was on the floor, we had a bottle of teriyaki sauce break all over the hallway, I just found our emergency supplies by the hot water heater at nearly the end of the day yesterday as cleaning up the laundry room and pantry took hours.

With the sunlight we could get coming in the windows we did the best we could with a broom, a dust pan and our bare hands (goodness knows where work gloves were in the garage...everything fell, lighter fluid broke open and other things) while my husband scrambled to get out and find parts to hook up our generator to the house, in case we didn't get power on for a few days (as our electric company was scrambling to get 20 substations back online and repair as much damage as they could) and get some groceries.  He found a store open and got what milk he could, got some eggs and got the things on our shopping list the store had since we knew we could at least run a generator to keep the fridge going.  We didn't realize at the time that a lot of local stores got hit hard and are going to be shut down for quite a while possibly.  Target is closed due to water pipes that broke and possible other damage, Wal-Mart was closed for gas leaks (not sure if they are open now or not, honestly), a part of Carrs roof in Wasilla completely caved was a whole lot of not good.  A section of Vine road in Wasilla just fell in, some roads have parts that just kind of disappeared.  

We even have a small fissure along the side of our road, but I'm hoping it's just the snow pack that broke.

I sent the family on a mission to find the cats.  My husband quickly found Prince when he shut off the gas to the furnace as Prince jammed himself behind the furnace and wasn't moving for anything, but I was worried about Belkar as well...she's kind of stupid and I was worried she got under one of the 18 bazillion piles of things that fell and had gotten killed as I was expecting her to be meowing up a storm and all was deathly silent.  My husband found her jammed into a small ball under our bed, safe and sound, thank goodness, so after that I just concentrated on one pile of broken things at a time.

Most of the photos shown were taken after I'd actually cleaned up a lot and the husband reminded me to take pictures for the insurance company (oops on not taking them ahead of time).  We lost a lot of stuff.  My husband has tools that flew out of drawers, off of shelves and anywhere they could and hit the classic car he's had since he was 16.  It's got some pretty substantial damage to it.  A lot of the tools that hit said car, broke in the process.

My kitchen was one big pile of broken glass.  I lost vintage Corelle, Pyrex and milk glass pieces I'd been collecting forever, regular dishes, every single serving platter I have, you name it.  The microwave and everything on, or in, the sideboard flew and landed on the floor.  The microwave is KIND of working, but I'm not sure why it's under-powered like it is (or so it seems to me).  All I use it for anymore is really defrosting meat and popping popcorn for the son, so if it dies I'll figure out an alternative. 

In all of this, one thing kept coming out of my mouth, "Thank GOD I collect Tupperware!"  That stuff saved my flour and sugar containers from being lost and even kept their lids on, those dishes flew out of the cabinets and bounced.  The only thing that even popped it's lid was the container of popcorn on the sidebar and that's because (I'm relatively certain) it had the silverware and microwave bouncing off of it.  Something hit my brand new Misto bottle I had just gotten in from Amazon and actually darn near punched a hole through it, but the old Misto bottle was still on the counter and so I just switched out the parts.  My new laptop somehow managed to stay on my desk and nothing heavy flew on top of it, so I'm typing on that right now.  I'd just gotten it in the mail Thursday night, so I'm glad that it survived long enough for me to at least fire it up and start to figure out how it works.

NOTE:  The following is written on Sunday, after getting some sleep, a couple cups of coffee, having a son that's not throwing up and feeling less like my head is going to explode.

The biggest worry for me when we were without power and we were being warned that MEA (our electric company) might not have power restored for a couple of days (thank GOD for smart phones and being able to pull up their Facebook page to get updates on my phone), was food spoiling.  Our generator is a nice big one, but electric heat takes a lot of power to run, so we knew we could at least heat necessary spaces to keep the pipes from freezing, get the well running so we'd have water and stuff, but my husband was worried he wasn't going to be able to run the freezers while doing that.  We figured we could try and stagger what we were running, but weren't sure how well it would work.  Normally I would have considered canning as much as I could, and thank goodness a lot of my empty mason jars survived (I hope...I haven't opened the box yet, but it seemed the box itself made it through the earthquake without getting crushed by anything).  But I am not going to be canning much anytime soon.  Dang, I'm tearing up as I type this.  My wonderful Presto pressure canner...old reliable, that I have had for about as many years as I've had children, didn't make it.  I'm not sure what fell on it, or how far it flew and whacked off of something, but it's now more egg shaped than circular, the top was's just gone.  Armina's TV is broken beyond repair and we're not sure about how well her DVD and VCR work because...well...her TV is broken and transferring things to another room to check on the status of those items has to wait until we can get to and from those places easily again.  The new TV in my bedroom fell over, but not off the shelf it was on, so it survived and the other two TV's...the wall mounts did their job and did them well and they rode things out okay.

I'm not sure about the state of Christmas gifts at this point.  My closet is one big cube of stuff when you manage to get the door open enough to see, so I'm not sure what might have fallen and broken stuff in the process.  The gifts under the tree...some heavier things fell into them from the wooden ledge above, so I have to check those out, but tying up the tree because it leaned all the time actually saved the tree from going over.  The star fell over, but the tree seems to have survived the onslaught and somehow came out straighter after the fact we think.  I've still got to try and see if the son's closet will work on it's track still as it's kind of sitting not right and his door is definitely not closing and out of whack.  The man doors on the garage are nearly impossible to open now and we have a hole in the door frame where wood cracked and popped, but at least it's a small one.  What was left of the gutters popped so many nails that I'm worried about solid chunks of ice filled gutter are going to come down on us at any moment so I'm rushing the kids out of danger every time we go outside.  We might have to tear down the barn.  There's cracks where there aren't supposed to be and the roof is dipping in the middle where it shouldn't, but the husband hasn't had a chance to go down and really do a complete survey of the damage to see how bad it truly is.  We haven't even cracked open the shed or the 40' storage van to see about the damage, but I'm honestly figuring all the stuff in the 40' van is probably gone at this point.  There is NO way the shelves didn't collapse in that type of a quake.  I have family heirlooms in there we didn't have room for in the house and I'm already bracing myself to accept that things like the dollhouse my grandfather made for me when I was a little girl, and was hoping to pass onto my kids, is probably gone.

The retaining wall along our driveway is just gone and needs to be completely redone.  I'm hoping our well casing came through okay because our wishing well protector thing really jammed into the well when everything hit.

This is rough guys.  Really rough.  I'm so overwhelmed I went past "I can't even" about two days ago.  I'm like a lot of other people up here right now.  I just tackle one pile of stuff at a time and am trying to remember to document things as I find them.  I had gotten organized, thank God, and had put all of my home owners insurance information into a binder in the den and was able to get to that.  The big sewing cabinet with all of my material in it actually popped the doors open on it, but rode the earthquake okay, somehow.  All of the material kind of packed around the glass jars I had in it so they didn't fly out and break....which is a relief as I have a big jar of buttons in there that would have resulted in a much bigger mess in the den and I was able to get to the binders for insurance since they were in that.  I've been carrying around a piece of paper with our insurance companies number on it from that binder ever since.  We have a claim filed with them and will hopefully see an adjuster on Monday (they are closed on the weekend) and my husband filed a claim with his classic car insurance online (they are closed for the weekend for an event...sigh), but at this point I have no idea what they are going to cover and how much we'll be able to fix with what we get.  FEMA money might cover what they don't...I don't know.  I know that right now we're putting everything we need on the one credit card we have (Care Credit switched one of our cards to a Mastercard a few months back) and we'll just deal with it all later.  It's all we can do at this point.

I haven't eaten much of anything in two days and didn't drink enough on Friday in the way of non-sugared beverages, so I'm probably going to have to go to the doctor's on Monday to check for a UTI and make sure my back is okay.  Goodness knows if I can get in with everything that has happened, but I'm probably going to have to try.

We didn't sleep the night before last.  We got so many aftershocks, a lot of them bad enough to wake us from a sound sleep and preparing to launch into the nearest doorway, that sleep just wasn't happening very well.  My husband and I slept on the floor of our bedroom in the one corridor of floor we could find, piled the kids in our bed and luckily with the help of his Clonodine at least Alvah was able to get some sleep before he woke up vomiting yesterday morning (with a broken toilet that was even more not fun than it would have normally been).  Last night was at least better on the aftershock front.  We had a couple of good ones that had me bracing to launch myself to get Alvah and Armina into doorways if needed (I slept on Alvah's floor last night while my husband went to work to try and help get the airport up and running) and Alvah woke up a lot which had me waking up ready with a bowl if necessary, but we got through it a lot better than the previous night.  We're still getting aftershocks and every one that hits just makes your spine stiffen, adrenaline spike and your stomach bottom out as you wait to see what will happen.  It's this part of Alaska's new normal for the time being, I think.

I have gotten e-mails and messages on Facebook asking if there is anything people can do to help.  At this point, guys, the year has officially broken me when it comes to stuff happening.  I'm done.  If you want to help and can, please do (just please do me a favor and don't do the GoFundMe route as I guess that can really screw up your taxes and things and I just plain don't need more to deal with at the moment).  At this point, I am not turning down help if it is offered.  Period.  If you want to ship me something, e-mail me and we'll figure it out.  If you want to donate, I have paypal. The e-mail is

Sorry I didn't reply to all of the e-mails and things that have poured in.  It's been insane here.  I'll try to provide more of an update later.  For now, though, I'm out and off to try and get my living room somewhat livable so I can get the kid's lives back to a bit more of a normal status.

Thanks for the e-mails, the concern and the prayers.  Please, keep the prayers coming.  Alaska, and my family, needs them.