Tuesday, August 30, 2011


When I say this summer has been the craziest summer ever, I mean that quite literally.  Not one thing has happened that we planned on, and everything is just going crazy all at once.

Mid-July I was trolling the “Hosting with AFS” Facebook board and feeling all nostalgic when a post popped up from a mom in New Zealand who was looking for a host family for her daughter.  I spoke with AFS about the possibility of being a welcome family for that girl, and was told she had a placement in the works but that if we wanted to be a welcome family, we should contact our area team.  So we did and were immediately fast tracked to be a welcome family.  It took a couple of weeks and we were initially matched with a girl from Finland but they found her a permanent home, so then it was a whirlwind of who we would choose to take.  It finally came down to Hong Kong and Iceland as the two countries we’d host from and, deciding to take a break from Asia, we chose the girl from Iceland.  We were told she’d be a late arrival since we started everything so late in the summer, but surprise, surprise, it was all approved and we had roughly one week between when we were allowed to contact Kristin and when we had to pick her up.  She arrived on August 12 and starts school on September 6th.  More on her time here to follow.  But first…

In the middle of the matching, interviewing, and applications process for that, I flew to Tucson for 10 days to start my library degree.  It was the most stressful 10 days of school I’ve ever endured, not to mention the two weeks leading up to it, which was a “reading period” that involved reading a couple thousand pages of information and attempting to synthesize it before 8 straight days of classes, group projects, paper research and writing, library tours, and computer projects.  By day 2, I ran from the classroom and hid in the bathroom and cried.  It was hot, I had jetlag, I missed my baby, I was stressed, and I was staying in a dorm I dubbed “The Pit”.  As a bit of a reward for my survival, Mike let me book my last night in a swanky hotel near the airport and a friend gave me a ride so I didn’t have to pay a cab.  The morning I was due to leave, the flight was oversold, and so I offered to give up my seat, which got me a $300 travel voucher for future travel.  Since the AFS host moms from last year are planning on a trip to Las Vegas this fall, I can probably travel basically free, which is a good thing, since…

The day after Kristin arrived, I went to brunch with friends.  I got home to find Mike and our neighbor frantically running up and down the stairs.  The toilet upstairs had overflowed, and Mike and Kristin had been unable to shut it off.  The resulting flood swept into our basement and I called the fire department, not really knowing what else to do, which resulted in giant holes being knocked in the ceiling to drain out the water.  Two days later, the cleaning company and insurance company arrived, and we’ve been ceiling-less ever since.  Our carpet looks practically brand new however!  Work begins tomorrow—an electrician is coming to install some new lights downstairs so it won’t be so dark, and then the contractor will come and do the dry wall, mud, paint, etc. 

Unfortunately, when the cleaning company ripped up the bathroom floor, they discovered black mold!  OF COURSE THEY DID!  So, now we have to get that cleaned up.  They talked about the clean up process and how basically we will need to take out the vanity and get that replaced, as well as the floor.  In looking over our options, we’ve decided to have the bathroom replaced.  Everything in there is kind of basic grade, not very nice stuff, so if we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it right and not half-ass it. 

So then came the crazy weather phenomena, like the earthquake and then a crazy thunderstorm from hell that knocked over Mike’s radio antenna.  That now has to be either repaired and re-installed or replaced.  Then came Hurricane Irene, which caused our power to go out for about 12 hours.  When it came back on, the air conditioning no longer worked.  Believing it to be an a/c problem, we called the emergency service line of our heating and air contractor, but when they came out, they discovered that a blower inside the furnace had burned out, and in putting in a new one, the entire system was off balance and making all kinds of crazy noise.  The air conditioner itself is just fine and dandy, but because the furnace controls the movement of the air, it has to be dealt with as part of the air conditioning system. 

They came out this morning to quote us the price for repairing and for replacing the furnace, and we are going to go ahead and replace the damned thing.  It’s 11 years old and we would probably be piece-mealing it for the next few years till it reached the end of its natural life cycle, so we might as well just take care of it and be done with it.  They are coming to work on Thursday. 

Just as a reminder, in case you’ve forgotten, we’ve had a 17 year old from Iceland here through this entire venture.

So upon discovering all this, I had myself a 30 minute nervous breakdown, walked around the block, called my dad, tossed a couple of rocks, and now I’m ready to roll.  We’ve been wanting to a lot of these repairs for a while now, and this is kind of the impetus we need and the opportunity to do things that we would have liked to do for some time.  I have decided to turn into an eternal optimist as a result of all this.  My opinion now is “Better the furnace died in August than in December and we freeze half to death!”

I will call the insurance company again tonight and see what’s what.  Hopefully they’ll cover some of it, but I have my doubts.  I was talking with my neighbor yesterday and suggested that he sprinkle holy water between our two plots of land.  He thought I was kidding till he heard about the furnace, but now I’m sure he’s thinking about it. :)