Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Personal updates & menu revision

Hi! Thanks for stopping by! It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

We are having an absolutely lovely Spring. The past six months, however, have been pretty eventful for my family, and not really in a good way. Read on only if you're interested in hearing loads about my personal life ;)

On September 11, 2014, we had a house fire. It all started in the afternoon; it was a bit of a windy day. A tree limb fell in my neighbor’s backyard, taking down their power line. This caused a grass fire in their backyard. The fire department came and put it out. Then our local utility provider came to make repairs. Somewhere in all this, a power surge occurred, which started a damn fire in my house!

Unbeknownst to me, this fire burned inside the walls and attic of my home for hours. Around 8pm, I went to the garage to retrieve something. It was so full of smoke, I could barely even see in. The lights wouldn’t come on. I was momentarily paralyzed. My husband is a fireman, and was on duty this particular day. I thought of calling him at work… 'Hi, honey. The garage is full of smoke, what should I do?' Of course I realized that this sounded ridiculous. I took a deep breath and called 911 instead.

The operator told me to get everyone out of the house (oh yeah, duh). So I fetched my son from his bed, still in nothing but a pair of underwear, and we went and stood out on the front lawn. At this point, I was pretty much in denial that my home was aflame! A few moments later, we could hear sirens. I didn’t count how many ambulances and fire engines responded, but it was a lot. The whole street was lined on both sides with emergency vehicles. My neighbors rushed over to find out what was going on.

The firefighters went into the house. I’m not sure what I thought was going to happen, but I truly wasn’t prepared for what happened next. They did find fire! It finally dawned on me when I saw them starting up chainsaws, in preparation for cutting out ceiling. I thought, ‘Oh my god, my house! My precious home!’ And then, ‘I have wedding cakes to make! Shit!’ 

I was shaking, despite the fact that the temperature was around 75 degrees outside. My neighbor and friend brought me a heavy winter coat, so I wore that along with my shorts and wool slippers. What a fantastic ensemble for the whole flipping fire department to see me in! I had been baking all day for a wedding that weekend. The house was not up to my usual standards, either. Sigh. My husband arrived home and was relieved to see that Owen and I were completely unharmed.

It didn’t take very long for them to get the job done. Soon my house was no longer burning. There were huge, gaping holes in the walls and ceiling of my dining room. There was insulation and burned debris all over the place. There was some water. My husband said that they did a good job of minimizing the damage done to the house. The fire marshall stayed for a while investigating a possible cause. Eventually, everyone left. We locked up the house and spent the night in our neighbors’ guest cottage, right next door. I was still able to do the cake for one of the weddings that weekend, but the second one had to be cancelled and refunded. Luckily, that couple was really cool and understanding about it.

The months that followed involved us living in an extended-stay hotel while our house was being restored. We visited the house frequently. It was rather depressing at first, and progress was made slowly. After a couple of months, things finally started shaping up. We decided to renovate the kitchen (which wasn’t damaged during the fire) at the same time. There were lots of decisions to make. Before the fire happened, we had also decided to try to conceive a second child. 

Our new baby was conceived while we were hotel dwellers. So, as you can see, these two stories overlap. It was a stressful time, but I think we managed as well or better than can be expected. I turned 30 in September. Scott turned 36 in the middle of October. By the end of October, we found out I was pregnant. The holidays happened. We moved home in the beginning of December. We got a Christmas tree, and unpacked all of our belongings back into the house. It was wonderful. We were very happy to finally be home again, and to have a home that was much nicer than the one we had before! The pregnancy was going well. I had some nausea during the first trimester, but not severe. We had a blood test to check the sex and to discover chromosomal abnormalities. It came back clear and we found out we were expecting another little boy. To be perfectly honest, I was a bit disappointed. I had really been hoping for a girl. I got over this in a few days. We started trying to choose a name, but had not completely settled on one yet. 

At my routine 18 week ultrasound, a severe birth defect was discovered. Our poor little boy had an extremely rare neural tube defect called an encephalocele. His outlook was very poor. If he even survived the pregnancy and birth, his life would not be the kind of life any parents wish their child to have. With heavy hearts, we decided to terminate for medical reasons (TFMR). We were devastated and confused. Why would this happen? We had no family history. I didn’t drink or smoke. I took prenatal vitamins for three months prior to conception. I gave birth on February 6th, 2015. We named him Michael.

The first week after we lost Michael was very difficult. Some of my friends brought over dinners, and we received several flower arrangements. We spoke to family on the phone frequently. The second week was easier. The flowers wilted, and I threw them away. I went back to cooking, which made me feel useful again. I prepared an order of wedding invitations. We shared the news with our 6 year old son. We were all sad, but we were doing okay considering. 

As I write this, it has been a little over a month. I joined a Facebook support group for mothers who have terminated for medical reasons. It has been a huge source of support and understanding. I have been feeling kind of lost, like I just don’t know what to do with myself. I hadn’t booked summer 2015 weddings, since I had thought we’d have a new baby in July. I’ve thought about working outside the home, and even applied for a couple of jobs. I was offered both, and I ultimately turned them both down. I decided that I just want to be home; to spend time with my family and figure things out together. I feel great physically, and have started going to the gym regularly again. I'm doing my best to eat a healthy diet, but have slip ups quite a bit!

I’m going to continue operating my cake business. I’ve always found baking to be therapeutic, and I’m looking forward to booking new jobs and doing something I know I’m good at. However, in order to reduce my stress and make things as enjoyable and simple as possible, I’ve decided to pare down my offerings. I’m only going to do wedding cakes up to two tiers, and I’m not working with fondant any more (at all). So, this leaves two tier buttercream, naked, or bundt wedding cakes and cupcakes. I believe that this combination makes for beautiful, practical, and affordable cake displays for weddings. I think it’s the best way to go, and I hope that engaged couples will agree. I'm going to share a couple of my favorite photos that illustrate this set up.

I think that’s all I have to say, really. I have shared a lot of personal details here, and I feel better for having done so. I'm not out to try to garner sympathy; just venting, I suppose. 

Thanks for listening!

Above photo: Ashley Cook Photography
Below photo: Ellis Photographic / Britta Ellis