Sunday, October 28, 2007

I cooked breakfast... for my DOGS!

Since I have the pleasure of homeschooling my girls, I have decided that they should enjoy a hot lunch and a hot breakfast once in a while. (This decision also came about because we all get REAL tired of PB&J and cold cereal.) So, I recently thought I'd splurge and make french toast for breakfast. Since I am not known as a "morning" person, I was excited to find a recipe online for overnight french toast. All ingredients are mixed up and poured over the bread, and the entire thing sits in the fridge over night.

As everyone was pulling themselves out of bed and prepping for the day, I popped the soaked bread into the hot oven. When the girls made it downstairs, the smell of warm bread and spices filled the air. Yummy.

However, no one liked my fabulously gooey creation. All the girls politely tried a few bites, then opted for frozen waffles. Sigh. After trying one slice myself, I wasn't real thrilled either. So, Abbey and Eli enjoyed a hot breakfast of French Toast. :)

I know my dogs are spoiled, but this really seems over the top!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Fine black soot...

When the girls and I were camped out in Raleigh, NC this past spring, I blogged about cleaning out the trailer's RV water heater. (Read the post from March here.) I ended up covered with a super-fine dusting of soot that left black smears all over my arms, shirt and face. It was like the ash that would result from burning the tissue paper that you wrap around your Christmas presents. Maybe that experience was a foreshadowing of this week.

Today, the girls and I emerged from our hobbit hole home to enjoy a picnic dinner at a neighborhood park. The air was free from the fire's caustic odor, even though the entire 360 degrees of horizon were shrouded in smoke. I knew that the layer of ash around our home was indicative of what I would find at the park - and I was not mistaken!

Every sidewalk appeared to have a fine dusting of ash, gathering in random piles in between the visible footprints left as the girls ran on ahead of me. As we approached the playground, we found a large remnant of ash - as large as the girls hands. Only the Lord knows how far this piece was carried by the fierce Santa Ana winds, or what it was before the flames rendered it this black, shapeless form on the concrete.

Katelynn helped me wipe off the picnic table - it was like some woman's face powder had exploded, yet I don't know anyone who would wear smoky black makeup. Even after a dry wipe-down, a wet wipe-down and another dry wipe-down, the smooth concrete was still leaving black marks on every paper towel we used. I gave up on clean, and settled for "good enough".

The girls and I enjoyed a gourmet meal of PB&J, pita chips, strawberries and grape Kool-Aid. Yummy! The girls quickly dispersed to the play equipment, and I settled into a quick game of Sudoku. I love listening in as the girls let their imaginations rule their play. At one point, I heard something about a Time Machine. :)

It wasn't long before the sun sank below the layer of smoke covering the Pacific. I gathered up the zoo and was quickly amazed at the amount of black soot covering my daughters hands, feet, faces, and a couple of bums. Whew! Even a scrubbing in the tub didn't even take all the cinders out of the fine ridges and whorls of Beth's footprints.

It was a good time OUTSIDE. I only wish I could have brought the dogs, they need to escape the house too. However, the fine particles of ash that would be kicked up when they run through the grass could really do harm to their lungs. I'm hoping the weather forecast of rain showers this weekend come true. All of southern California needs the washing.

Check out this link to Google Maps. Our local PBS station has worked with local fire authorities as well as SDSU to create this interactive map of the San Diego fires. For your reference, our home is in Eastern Chula Vista (zoom in to the southern portion of the map), west of the Otay Lakes reservoirs - the map does label the Eastlake Country Club. You can see how close the fires came.

Our local CBS station also has some great information. You can check out their website here.

Thank you for your prayers. Keep praying for our spirits and for the Lord to open up ways for us to help those who have suffered loss.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

fire·storm (fīr'stôrm') Pronunciation Key
n. A fire of great size and intensity that generates and is fed by strong inrushing winds from all sides

How weird it is to survey my home and have to decide what I would take, and what I would leave behind in case of an evacuation. I've often looked at my belongings and truly tried to figure out what I would pack into the suburban if evacuation was necessary. Monday, October 22, 2007, I got my chance to see what was important enough to pack up in the truck.

I woke up early on Monday morning - determined to get the kitchen floor mopped before the zoo awoke and wrecked havoc with my finely tuned plan for the day. As Scott prepared to leave for work, I turned on the news, eager to follow the fire that had begun the day before in Ramona - a small rural community to our north. I had talked with a friend from flyball who lived in Ramona the night before, and she was safe at the time, and didn't feel she needed to evacuate. The mornings news painted a very different picture. All of Ramona was being evacuated, as well as parts of San Diego - namely Rancho Bernardo.

I slowly swept up the dog fur and remnants of meals from the kitchen floor while I listened to the morning newscasters paint a very grim picture of where the fire was expected to head. Four years ago, San Diego had been devastated by a fire that swept through entire communities, removing home after home. This current fire was already predicted to surpass the Cedar Fire of 2003 - and will probably go down as the worst firestorm in San Diego history.

After talking to another flyball team mate, I learned that there was a fire near us and it was heading west - toward our peaceful neighborhood. I headed outside, armed with my camera, to see if I could see any evidence of this fire. To my surprise, the sun was just rising behind the eastern mountains, hidden in a deep layer of smoke.

It felt surreal to return to my house chores, while fires were quickly burning through the lives of people in nearby communities. I kept the TV tuned to the local CBS station while mopping the floor, and did my best to explain to the girls what was happening as they slowly woke up and found me downstairs. It was hard to balance my need for information with a desire to protect the girls from the horrors occurring around us.

Scott and I had already talked a few times in the early morning and had decided that I would take time during the day to compile a list of important papers, etc. and would pack the truck to be ready for a possible evacuation. It took a while for me to prepare my mind for the task ahead of me, but the Lord kept my mind calm and my heart full of His peace.

Diapers went into the washer, clean clothes were folded, the oven was cleaned. (Don't ask why - it just felt necessary.) Eventually, at the end of the day the truck was packed with almost everything on my evacuation list. Laptops, current files, and a few odds and ends were all that was left. The natural light coming in from the smoke filtered sunlight gave the appearance of perpetual sunset. Everything had an orange glow.

Scott returned home around 7:30pm, in awe of the sight before him as he drove home in the dark. The hills to the east of our home were full of bright orange lines of flames. From our driveway it was possible to see 3 separate sections of the fire racing down the slopes. Eventually, the smoke drove us inside - our eyes burning and our throats scratchy.

Putting the girls to bed a short time later was tough. Scott and I had not yet come to a decision whether we were going to stay or leave. Voluntary evacuations had been called for 4 neighborhoods adjacent to ours, but it appeared that the topography of the land to our east would protect us, as long as the Santa Ana winds tapered off and didn't carry burning embers across the Otay Lakes Reservoirs.

Eventually, we decided to stay put, but to stay alert for any call to evacuate.

The next day dawned and it was evident that the fire has passed to the north east of our neighborhood, but it was still unknown if it would shift and possibly threaten Eastlake once again. I ventured out in the morning to get some food to last us for a day or two if we need to move to the trailer. There was a fine layer of ash over everything in sight. Cars driving on the road looked like they were spitting up gray plumes as they drove through the settled soot. The dogs had left solid black footprints over my newly washed floor on their first potty break of the morning.

It has been a tough three days of forced seclusion. All of our windows are tightly closed against the harmful particles floating around. It is quite warm, so I gave in and put on the air conditioning. The girls definitely have a bit of cabin fever - tempers are very short and sibling rivalry are at an all time high. We did have a brief excursion out to Scott's work last night to bring him dinner. It was a pleasant change from breathing the thick, dry air at home.

Currently, we are unpacking our evacuation gear, and are trying to get back to a "normal" schedule. Please pray for San Diego - many lives have been drastically altered. Pray for air quality - right now it is extremely unhealthy to be outside for any length of time. Pray for the Lord to reach out to those who don't know him - motivate His people to put feet to their faith and to care for the hurting in San Diego.

Alec... I blogged! Are you happy now??? *evil grin*