We have had a crazy time since Sasha and I have arrived home. I got a flu or some bug a few days after we got home and I was feeling really badly for almost a week. I finally started feeling better and started feeling like I was catching up on things. Sasha started sleeping from 8:30 through 7:30 about a week after we got home. She was waking up twice a night for a bottle, but now is only waking up once a night. She adjusted to sleeping in her bed as long as I put her down when she is asleep or close to it. We had her sleeping in our room, but I woke up every time she moved and I think she was doing the same. I held her a lot, almost all of the time actually, in my front pack or just holding her. Brayden and Brookelyn were so excited to see her and loved her right away. I think it really helped that they saw her every day for a couple of weeks on Skype before we got home. Brayden loves making her laugh and can actually make her belly laugh. She loves patting his head when she is in the front pack and he is walking next to us. Brookelyn loves her too. She loves to put the pacifier in her mouth (whether or not Sasha wants it), to help feed her, to help dress her...anything that has to do with taking care of Sasha Brookelyn loves to do. She is a little rough with her since she is so much bigger than Sasha, but her intentions are very sweet. Brookelyn has always loved dolls and holding them or taking care of them gently, so I am not surprised how good she is with Sasha. Of course, Dakota and Colton love her as well. Sasha really has bonded to me and doesn't really want anyone else to hold her. She will tolerate it sometimes, but usually after a few seconds she starts whimpering or crying.
The only things that make Sasha cry are being held by someone other than me or being in the car (which also means I am not holding her). Other than that, she is very easy going and calm. She beams at me when I am holding her or just stares at me like she is memorizing my face. It is an amazing feeling to have her look at me that way. I still cannot believe what a special little girl we have!
The week after I was sick we started getting into a routine, which was great. I have always heard that having three kids was a lot harder than having two and that once you have three you might as well have five since it doesn't matter after three. WOW! Three is harder. I know I have five kids, but since I have two teenagers and two younger ones, it is kind of like I had two sets of two. And now I have a set of two and a set of THREE. Three is much harder than two. I don't know what it is, the laundry, the lack of time, the not having enough hands...there is now not a free moment in the day or night and I have to let things go that I never would have before. I have let laundry sit in the dryer overnight instead of folding it and putting it away. I never would have done that before, but it's a matter of doing it or going to bed and being happier and more well rested the next day. So, having three little ones is harder than two, but I LOVE IT. I cannot believe how fun and rewarding it is to have five kids! This is one of the happiest times of my life and I am so grateful to have each of them!
So we are adjusting well and getting into a routine and then one night Dakota, Sasha and I come home from San Diego and a ton of people are driving by our street to look at a nearby fire. We even had three people come by our house to help us evacuate. WHAT?! I did not get how serious it was and we went to bed. The next day it was obvious that it was close to our house and a bad fire. I drove the kids to their different schools in the morning and then Ray called me to ask me to drop Sasha off at my sister's and come home to pack up important things at our house. I dropped off Sasha and headed home. We packed up our photos, important paperwork and DVD's of the kids. The only other things we packed were three days worth of clothes for us and the kids. It was quickly turning into a worse situation. You could see several fires on the hill on one side of my house in the front and several on different hills in the back of my house. Our house is near the end of a cul de sac which dead ends in a wilderness preserve and our back yard backs up to the wilderness preserve. We see deer almost every day from our back yard and coyotes sometimes as well. It has always been wonderful to be so close to nature, but now it seemed to all be catching on fire. I walked through the house to see if I wanted anything else and then checked out the oldest two kids rooms to get their important things. I had no idea what they would want me to save so I called Dakota's school and asked them to get her from class and have her call me. They only thing of hers I had packed was her art portfolio that she had all ready from the day before when we went to San Diego for a Portfolio Day (where reps from a lot of art colleges come to look at the work of potential students to offer advice, tell what their school is looking for and to answer questions). When Dakota called back she told me that that was all she really needed me to save of hers. I decided to go get Colton and have him get what he wanted (Colton's school is much closer than Dakota's school). As I got in my car I saw that there were two fire trucks on my street and all of my neighbors were packing their cars as well. Ray stayed there with a friend to get a few more papers and lock up the house. We both agreed that we didn't want anything else besides the few things we grabbed and were both surprised at how much stuff we had in our house that we didn't feel emotionally connected to. As I drove down the hill I saw four more fire trucks and several smaller fire vehicles coming up onto my street. Ray said that right after I left he looked out of the door by our family room and saw thirty foot flames from the hill behind our house. He walked through the house and out the front door. As soon as he did he heard a loudspeaker making an announcement of a mandatory evacuation and a few firemen asked him to unlock our gate to the back yard so they could fight the fire from there.
I drove down and picked up Colton from his high school. I called along the way and asked them to have him meet me at the front. When I pulled up I saw he had his friend Austin with him. Austin lives a few blocks away from us so Colton told him to call his mom to ask if he should leave as well. We stopped by Austin's house for him to grab some clothes and then headed to my sister's house to get Sasha. By this point I had heard that our street had been evacuated and wanted to have all of my children with me. We drove up to Dakota's high school (about thirty minutes north of us in Newport Coast) and picked her up. I called Bradyen and Brookelyn's school to make sure they were fine along the way. We picked up Dakota and then drove back down to get the little ones. Once I had all of them in the car I wanted to drive to a safer place. I called Sea World thinking I would go somewhere fun and spend the night in a hotel room down there. They said the park was open but the air quality was bad there because of all of the fires and it was raining ashes. I called Anaheim to see if we could get a hotel there and they said Disneyland was open but people were leaving and the air quality was really bad there. I wanted to go to Palm Springs so the kids could be in good quality air, but heard the roads were a nightmare because of the San Bernadino fires. At this point there are clouds of black smoke coming from several areas and you can smell the fire. We weren't in any danger of getting caught in the fires, but I knew we all should be away from the smoke, especially the younger ones and Austin, who has asthma. So we headed to Mission Viejo mall, which is one of the few indoor malls around here. We spent the afternoon there while Ray went to his office and tried to figure out where we should go.
After several hours Ray called to say the only place he could find was a hotel only about five miles from our house. Because of the strong winds and the way they were blowing, that area was fine and the air quality was okay. We drove over and unloaded our things. It was weird to see all of the fires on the hills in our area. Huge flames and a ton of smoke everywhere. We had to stay inside to have the air be okay. Austin was able to go home since his street was fine, but our street was one of the four in Orange County that had mandatory evacuations. So it was Ray, Dakota, Colton, Brayden, Brookelyn, Sasha and I in one room (the hotel was packed with people who were evacuated or had left their houses because of smoke). Dakota and Brayden slept in one bed, Colton slept on a cot, Ray, Sasha and I shared a bed and Brookelyn slept in the crib. It was kind of fun, but weird to be able to smell the smoke and to see red when you looked out our hotel window. Brayden and I were the last to fall asleep.
We were able to go home the next day and our house was fine. There were ashes everywhere outside and ashed that came through any opening there was in the house (such as the french doors to the back yard). It smelled bad and so I brought Bradyen and Brookelyn to school. None of the children in the area let the kids go outside at all during the day, they just stayed inside all day. Or as much as they could since a lot of the schools have the children eat outside and most of the lockers are outside (high school). Sasha and I stayed away from the house and area all day. Exhausting couple of days. During this time and the next few days we could see fires on different hills in different areas. It would go out (or be put out) in one area and take off in another. Black clouds of smoke were everywhere, but the winds were strong enough that it didn't smell that bad. The strong winds were bad since they worked against the firemen, but they helped keep the smell and bad air from settling. As soon as the winds calmed down on Wednesday or Thursday (I don't remember) the smell of fire and smoke was bad. It was raining ashes and we needed to get out of town. We headed out to Palm Springs on Thursday afternoon. It was an easy two hour trip and it has been wonderful. The air quality was just too bad for us to stay there with the children and a lot of people left town if they could. I don't remember what they had posted, but all the experts agreed it was unhealthy. We kind of threw a bunch of things into the van and left town. We have been in Palm Springs at a friend's house since Thursday evening and having a great time.
It is a beautiful house three bedrooms, four baths, a pool table, foos ball table, ping pong table, a beautiful pool and jacuzzi on a golf course. Oh, and two golf carts, which the teenagers and little ones love. Of course, it is crazy. Three little ones in a house that is not child proof and has a pool in the back yard!!! I am not getting a lot of sleep. But we are all breathing fresh air. The house really is beautiful and the owners (friends of Rays) have offered it to us to stay at several times, but I just couldn't see going with two little ones. And now here we are with three...
One last thing...Sasha is handling all of these changes wonderfully. In the five weeks we have had her she has gone from her orphanage to the Melia, to the Somerset two days later, to our house in Orange County with new people, smells, time zone..., to a hotel for a night with a new bed, back to her new house, and now to another place in Palm Springs. Not the way I would have wanted her beginning time with us to be, but that is how it has worked out. Being in the hotel was hard for her. I couldn't set her down for a minute. Other than that, she has been fine with whatever we do or whereever we go. Again, as long as I hold her. Which is fine with me. I know things will settle down again soon. We feel lucky to have eachother and our home. I feel badly for all of those who have lost their homes and important personal possesions. It was awful to see the beautiful land that was burned by the all of the fires. The hills around our house and up to about thirty feet behind our house were all burned. It's so sad to see it all.