Once we got home from the hospital, Tiara was still weak and very wobbly on her feet but like always she recovered pretty quickly. The doctors had started her on a new medicine, Depakote, which she is still on today, almost 10 years later and it worked miracles for her seizures. She was still having seizures everyday, but nothing like before. One of the side effects of Depakote is increased appetite, resulting in weight gain. She immediately started gaining weight and I mean, really fast. Which was not a big deal at first but then as the weeks went on and she continued to gain at least a pound a week things got out of control. More on this issue later as it begins to become a very big problem in the future.
I was so happy to be back home with my 3 girls and was still trying to figure out our routine. Lou was off working all the time, Tabitha had what seemed like endless amounts of club soccer all over the county. Tiara was off balance and falling all the time and Trinity was only 5 months old and already trying to crawl. I think Trinity learned from a very young age that she had to keep up or she would be left behind. The poor kid was always crawling after one of us, or trying to get her fair share of time in my arms.
During this time we lived in a 2 story house in Costa Mesa. Tabitha had her own room and Trinity and Tiara shared a room, even though it seemed as if they both slept in our room with Lou and I. One day, I found Tiara jumping on her bed. Super normal behavior for a kid and it would not have been a big deal except her bed happened to be pushed up against a wall under a window. When I caught her, the window was open and it looked like she was going to go flying through the second story screen. I was terrified and scolded her but once Tiara gets an idea and something she likes, she will always find a way to do what she wants. So from that moment on, every time I left her unattended for even a second, I would find her jumping on the bed. I kept the window closed but Lou was freaking out about the whole situation and then she started falling down the stairs almost everyday.
Our staircase had glass supporting the handrail on the bottom level instead of spindles, so she would miss a few steps at the top of the stair case and then coming rolling down and hit the glass. We were worried the glass would shatter on her or she would break a bone, or her neck as she fell down the stairs. We then decided to put up baby gates at both the top and bottom of the stairs, to prevent her from walking down on her own or going up to jump on the bed. Good idea, right? Well, they worked for Trinity because she wasn’t tall enough to climb over them but Tiara would try and scale the gates or push them over and then fall onto the stairs, which was even more dangerous if she was at top of the staircase. The whole situation was just getting ridiculous and too dangerous. I couldn’t watch 3 kids on my own in a 2 story house and keep everyone safe. It was becoming impossible.
Lou was making more money than he had every made and for the first time in our lives together we were not in debt. I had always wanted a one story cottage type house but Lou liked the newer Mediterranean style, which is what we were currently living in at the time. We discussed it and decided even though we didn’t want to put ourselves back into debt, we had to buy a new house and fast otherwise Tiara was going to get really hurt. Lou got us pre-approved for a loan and said “You can find a house for $650,00 or less. The more you spend, the less we will have for fixing it up.” Perfect. I called my mom, loaded up the kids in my mini van and started driving the streets of Costa Mesa and Newport looking for a house. This was almost 10 years ago and you couldn’t get a house in Dover Shores for that price and most of the houses on the Eastside were really tiny or complete fixer uppers. I also have to mention that I refused to live anywhere but Eastside Costa Mesa or Newport Beach. Lou would have been really happy moving to Irvine or South Orange County where we could find a more reasonably priced home, but I would have nothing to do with it. I had to live right here next to my family.
I found a house within a week in the Eastside Costa Mesa neighborhood with a Newport address because back then it was an unincorporated area. ( It was incorporated into Newport Beach a year later, which was really good for our property value.) It had 3 nice sized bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and both a living and family room, each with fireplaces. The kitchen was a great size, but the counter tops were covered in these brownish, green tiles, with brown grout and all the bathrooms weren’t much better. The whole house was really grandma looking, but I loved it instantly and saw the potential, plus it had big front and back yards. Land, love it.
I called Lou at work and asked him when he could come see the house. He said, “I don’t have time to look at the house Tiffani, I am trying to work. If you like it, just buy it.” “What? I need you to see the house, Louie, please. What if you don’t like it and then you are mad at me forever? It is older and I know you like newer houses, so you have to see it, please. If you don’t hurry someone else will get it and I want it.” This discussion went on for 2 hours. Me calling and begging him to leave work and see it and him saying no. Just so you know, Lou was more stressed than I have ever seen him in my whole life and not acting himself. But I didn’t think he would like the house and I just couldn’t risk buying it without his approval. Finally I got him to see it the next day. He walked in, looked around and said. “I hate it, but if you want it, I will buy it for you.” And that was that. I told the agent we wanted it and Lou negotiated the deal.
After the deal was done, Lou said ” You have 2 weeks before we move and $20,000 to fix the house. I can’t help you with anything and I don’t want to see any workmen in the house after we move in.” Lou hates having workers in our house. Even now, I always try to schedule stuff when he isn’t around because he acts so weird when strangers are in our home.
Remember I now had a 6 month old, a 4 year old having seizures everyday and a 10 year old and I had a huge list to accomplish. I had to replace the kitchen counters, put in a new stove and dishwasher, recessed lighting, carpet, flooring in the kitchen, baseboards, crown molding, switch out the mirrors in the bathrooms, add closet doors to Tabitha’s closet and paint every room in the house. That was just the inside. One of my good friends husband who was super handy was out of work at the time and offered to help do all the electrical, plumbing, and baseboards for a great price. He then commissioned his brother in law, a painter to do all the painting and I found a great granite guy who worked through the night for cash, and my friend did the carpet. I literally drove around at all hours with my kids passing out cash to workers to meet my deadline. The funny thing is that I didn’t have one problem. Everyone who helped me did exactly what they promised and everything came out the way I wanted. And so two weeks later, Lou took half a day off from work and with the help of movers we moved into our new safe one story home, where we still live today and hope to live forever.
Hope you enjoy my before and after photos. Of course I have fixed a few more things since we moved in but basically all the big stuff was done during those two weeks except the windows which I did 2 years after and the speaker system.
My Journey with Tiara, to be continued next Monday…..