Wednesday, January 29, 2014

SNOWmageddon: The Snowpocalypse of 2014

Rumor had it that it was going to snow. Ok, fine. Whatever. Didn't really phase me, other than I thought it would be a nice little feel of home for a minute.

Suffice it to say that "snow" has a completely different meaning in Georgia than in Utah and Idaho.

I noticed the first flurries at our house around 10:00 or so yesterday morning. The kids had fun watching for a minute, then the day went back to usual activities. Chris called at 11:30 to say that Georgia Tech had closed campus for the day and he was getting on the train to come home. At least it was actually snowing on campus.

It was at this point that I took this picture from our porch.

The white layer on the ground was kind of pretty, but nothing really amazing to me. I first started to catch on that this was a bigger deal than I anticipated when Chris didn't show up...and didn't show up...and didn't show up. He takes about 45 minutes to an hour to get home from when he leaves campus, and we had easily passed the hour and a half mark. I tried calling him a few times, and every time I was given an error message saying "All the circuits are busy. Please try your call again later."

He finally made it home an hour and 45 minutes after getting off the train--almost two and half hours from when he initially called to say he was on his way. There still wasn't much snow on the ground, and it was even a nice, light powder that would easily have blown off to the sides if everyone had just driven the speed limit.

Not a good day to be a student driver!

While I was still waiting for him, I had gotten an automated phone message from Jane's school. They said that, due to the weather and traffic, the buses would be 25-30 minutes late dropping kids off at their stops. Chris had only been home for a few minutes when he turned around and left again to go meet the bus. Notice how stopped the traffic was.

He finally got tired of waiting and called the school to see what the deal was--turns out the buses had yet to arrive at the school, let alone have the kids anywhere near home. Chris politely commented that it would have been really nice to inform the parents of such a detail, then he went to tell all the other parents sitting around at our bus stop that their kids weren't coming.

He came back to the apartment and we waiting for another hour or so to hear anything from the school. I was getting antsy at this point, especially given Google Traffic's assessment of the situation:

We decided that relying on the bus was not the best plan that day and determined that Chris should go get Jane. He left, yet again, armed this time with blankets and food and water. That was at about 5:00. At 6:46 I finally got this text:

I have Audrey. We're coming home.

Audrey Jane seemed rather unphased by the whole incident. They watched a few movies at school, had a snack, and then even had dinner. The REAL excitement of the day was when Jane lost her very first tooth ever. Way to add adventure to adventure, babe.

Traffic had stayed horrible. Luckily, no freeway travel was required, though Chris did get this shot while driving across the overpass.

In the end, they were safely home by 9:20--more than four hours after Chris left to get Jane, and nearly seven and a half hours since school was closed. It was a long evening. I was really glad this morning to wake up with everyone safe and warm and in their own beds. I know in that regard, we are some of the lucky ones.

I'll admit, it's been pretty easy to make fun of Atlanta and Georgians in this particular situation. Really? It was less than two inches of snow. Two inches. I was talking to my dad on the phone and we were trying to come up with something comparable where Georgians would mock Utahns complete lack of ability and utter uselessness--humidity, maybe?

I have enjoyed a few of the jokes popping up on Facebook.

We even had a few personal stabs from a man Chris taught on his mission in Norway.

I saw you talked about snow and some place shutting down because of that....this is my car I use to get to work.

...and tomorrow we'll have a big barbeque...ahh spareribs.

There is a lot of complaining and blaming going on, too--it's all someone's fault, right? Schools should have been cancelled earlier, if held at all. Businesses should have let employees leave sooner. The Governor of Georgia and mayor of Atlanta should have known better and done something to prepare better. And on and on and on.

From what I can gather, the actual crisis that led to Georgia being declared a State of Emergency came down to two main issues. One, the entire Atlanta metro area was released from work and school at the same time, putting an already commuter-heavy city ALL on the roads at once. Not the most brilliant plan. Two, it was actually pretty cold. It didn't take long for the snow to freeze onto the roads and make the entire city basically one big ice rink everywhere you went. That is legitimately difficult to drive on (especially given that no one here has snow tires or even all-weather tires). It still hasn't actually warmed up enough for the ice to melt.

I don't really care about the politics of it. I do think it was amusing that 2 inches of snow in Atlanta headlined above President Obama's State of the Union address on CNN today. That's really saying something about this little disaster. Mostly, though, I just wish everyone would quit whining about it. Yes, there are things in the system that warrant greater attention and change. Yes, some people made decisions that could have been different. But they didn't. And now we're done. 

I like the flip side to this story. There are hundreds of teachers who stayed well beyond contract hours to take care of all the kids stranded at the schools--at 10:00 last night, there were still 250 kids at Jane's school. At 2:00 in the morning, there were 15. By 8:00, still 5. And the teachers were all still there. Kudos to them on understanding what crisis requires and not abandoning those kids in favor of getting themselves home.

There was a Facebook group set up by a resident of Atlanta called SnowedOutAtlanta, where people posted where they were and what kind of help they needed, and others in the area who were able could respond and help faster than any police or ambulance could get there. People were walking the roads handing out bottles of water and sandwiches, inviting people into their homes to use the bathroom. Some delivered diapers and formula to those stranded with babies. A family in our ward was sheltered in a corporate office building overnight and given dinner, breakfast and lunch before they made it home this afternoon. I even heard one story of a lady who took about 20 kids off a stranded school bus, fed them all dinner, and let them spend the night at her house while she called all their parents to let them know they were safe. Regardless of whose fault it is or isn't, those are the stories that should be getting more attention in my opinion. Look for the helpers.

To end on a less serious note, we did let the kids out to enjoy the goodness of the snow this morning. It's not all panic and fear and abandoned cars. Sometimes it's mittens and hats and oops I forgot to put on socks.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Saga of the Washing Machine

We bought a really nice washer and dryer set from RC Willey when we first bought our house in Salt Lake.

Unfortunately, things worked out that we ended up putting them in storage for eight months while we lived in our Albuquerque closet apartment and washed all our clothes at the laundromat.

And then they finally resurfaced when we moved to Atlanta. Hooray!

Six months of the wonders of doing laundry in our own home...and then the washer died. Remember the stitches?

Never having needed to fix this particular machine before, Chris did a lot of research online in an attempt to figure out what was going wrong. From everything he read, it was the motor. That was a common thing to break down and fixed most problems when replaced. So, we ordered a motor.

It came. He installed it. It didn't work.


We were (sort of ) lucky in that we can send the motor back, but we will have to pay a 25% reshelving fee. Nothing to scoff at when the part costs $200...but paying $50 is still better than the whole $200.

With Chris's hand largely out of commission and me being super sick with the flu while pregnant, we finally "gave up" and called a repairman. Chris found a company that had a Bosch guy, which seemed promising. Hire the guy that knows the machine the best, right?

Wrong, turns out.

The repair guy came (a day late) and made it pretty obvious pretty quick that he really had no idea what he was doing. In fact, he actually broke the machine more. Snapped one piece clean off. He did not have any other grand insights about what might be wrong, let alone how to fix it, and let us feeling much more confused and frustrated. To top it off, he called Chris this morning with his recommendation:

Buy a new washing machine and don't get a Bosch.

I don't know about you, but when I pay someone for their expertise, I do in fact expect them to have expertise. Good thing they refunded the fee we paid for the visit, although that other piece is still broken.

Next step is to buy a new control board--basically the brains of the washer. This is risky because it's not returnable at all, period, end of discussion, and it also costs $200. Here's hoping that it actually solves the problem.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Pregnancy + Flu = Bad Combination

All things considered, this has been one of my more mild pregnancies. For the first ten weeks, I never threw up. I had some pretty intense nausea that regularly glued me to the couch every evening, but as long as I could sleep in a bit in the mornings and get a bit of a nap in the afternoons, I was mostly fine and still functioning.

And then I got the flu.

It came on a bit slow at first. Chris got it first actually, and while he was sick the house kind of fell apart. I was feeling mostly ok but I didn't have the energy to stay on top of the housework by myself. By Thursday, it was overwhelming me. I finally called my visiting teacher and asked if she might be able to come do the dishes since that was the thing that stressed me out the most. Something about standing for any length of time combined with uncovering dishes that smelled of things that shouldn't ever have to be smelled...loading the dishwasher just wasn't on the top of my list. Or even on my list.

Wonderful friend that she is, Charisse came and spent four hours cleaning the kitchen. She unloaded and loaded the dishwasher and hand-washed everything that didn't fit. She cleared off and scrubbed the dining room table. She cleared and wiped all the kitchen counters. Swept the floor. And took home a load of towels and of Jane's school uniforms to wash since our washing machine is out of commission.

As soon as she left, I went to bed...and I basically didn't get up until Sunday afternoon.

The only other time I remember feeling this sick was when I was in junior high and got sick with something--strep throat? the flu?--and went to bed on Sunday night only to wake up again on Thursday morning with no memory of the intervening time. This time around I was at least conscious of what was going on at some point each day.

I had not thrown up at all during this pregnancy until I got the flu. Then I was throwing up fairly regularly each day. Could've been worse, but it was bad enough that over this last week I've lost about seven pounds. That's a lot in a short time.

The happy positive review--we've had a lot of help! My count may be somewhat fuzzy since that's all my brain has been for the last four days, but I believe we've had at least three people bring dinner over. Two people have taken batches of my kids' laundry to wash. Our home teacher came over to help Chris give me a blessing. And someone else surprised us with chocolate cookies. It was a pretty thick silver lining.

Fingers crossed we're coming out of it now--and thank goodness all the kids had flu shots.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

BLOOD & STITCHES--Consider yourself warned

I was running a load of towels through the washing machine this morning. It only had about five minutes left on the timer when I noticed that it was making a weird noise that I hadn't heard before. Chris was quicker to identify that it wasn't just a noise, it was the fact that it wasn't spinning when it was supposed to.

Since it was so close to the end of the cycle, we just moved the towels to the dryer and Chris started taking apart the washer to see if he could identify the problem. He was only a few minutes into this process while I was sitting at the table eating lunch. My meal was interrupted with a calm but determined statement from Chris that went something like this:

"Laura, I have a problem and you are going to have to do something about it."

I jumped up to see this lovely sight.

He had sliced his hand while taking apart the washing machine. I jumped into action and started making phone calls until I found someone who could watch the kids, then I drove Chris to Urgent Care.

I was rather less-than-impressed with the receptionist. She very adamantly insisted that Chris and only Chris could sign the admittance paperwork and she would not tell anyone we were there until he had done so. That was slightly problematic given that he had cut his right hand (being right-handed and all), and his left hand was very firmly holding the wound closed so it wasn't gushing blood everywhere. This was the only time in the entire day that I just about lost my cool and hit someone. Seriously. She really did make him let go of the cut and sign the paper, and then she told me to throw away the pen that was now covered in his blood.

I feel like there could have been a better way to handle that, don't you think?

We managed to get a real picture of the cut while we were waiting.

We just so happened to be looking at the cut like this when who should walk out into the waiting room but the doctor herself.

She saw blood and responded much more appropriately. She brought out gloves and gauze and got real pressure in the right place on his hand, then went back to start setting up for stitches right away. Yay for real concern!

First order of business was stopping the bleeding, which luckily didn't take too long.

The funny moment was went they removed the gauze after having lots of pressure on it, it squirted a little bit. Good thing they had already moved Chris's sleeve up.

Then the doctor injected lidocaine all around the cut to numb it before stitches. Chris said that was the worst part of the whole thing.

Then stitches. Four total.

I would like to insert here that I am very first-trimester pregnant, which means I am perpetually nauseated and can gag at the slight of very innocuous things, like a hair in the sink. And yet, I sat and watched my husband bleeding and getting a shot and having his hand sewn back together and never had any problem. Go me.

They did do some x-rays just to make sure that he hadn't nicked the bone at all and not noticed. Chris was pretty sure he would have noticed, but he let them x-ray just in case since his hands are his livelihood. You try computer programming without use of your index finger. Sure, it can be done, but let's keep all ten fingers functional, shall we?

Pregnant me couldn't go in, so this is the best picture you get.

He finished with a prescription for painkillers and a nice bandage all around his hand. The washing machine will have to wait for another day.

Once that adventure was all over, we picked up the kids only to realize that I was in fact the only person who had eaten lunch. I fed myself first because I didn't have the energy to feed anyone else until I had eaten...and then Chris cut his hand while I was eating. I figured this was a good day for another McDonald's/Panda run.

Everyone agreed--except maybe Jane. Hard to say. And I just can't catch a break and get a picture of my face looking normal. We'll have to work on that, Christopher.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Elephant in our Bathroom

Urban Dictionary defines the phrase elephant in the room as a very large issue that everyone is acutely aware of, but nobody wants to talk about.

Well, we've had an elephant in our bathroom.

I even painted a picture of an elephant in a bathroom. (My favorite painting ever, I might add).

But, this wasn't just any elephant in the bathroom. This was that big, exciting, mind-blowing, mildly terrifying bathroom elephant. It really looked something like this.

Or, even more accurately, like this.

Baby #4
coming August 2014

I'm nine weeks today.

Official due date is August 18, 2014
...which happens to be the first day of the semester for Chris, just like Jane's due date (and birthday) was.

If you look closely at the painting, there are four small plus signs on the towel. This was to represent the fourth, although at the time I still wasn't sure which fourth it would end up being. Fourth baby...or fourth miscarriage. We had the ultrasound last week. As it turns out, finding a healthy heartbeat decreases chances of a miscarriage down to less than 2%. I think it's time to start getting ready for a baby!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Audrey Jane, the SIX-year-old

Happy Birthday to Audrey Jane!

Today was supposed to be the first day back at school from winter break, but it was too cold. (We're not in Utah.)

We still had fun--we went to playgroup in the morning. When Dad came home, we dropped off Megan and Ben with a friend and went on Jane's birthday date at her restaurant of choice--Panda Express. Mom and Dad approve.

She opted to open her presents at the restaurant with just the three of us.

Man, I don't feel old enough to have a six-year-old. I think we'll keep her, though. :) Love you, Audrey Jane!