"In family life, love is the oil that eases friction, the cement that binds closer together, and the music that brings harmony."

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Fires and stress

Well, that was one eventful day and certainly not a good one for a pregnant woman's stress levels.

It didn't get off to a good start when Hannah woke in a grumpy mood with bright red cheeks and screamed when I tried to separate her from her dummy.  While I would normally tolerate the screams and stand my ground, I didn't for two good reasons.  Firstly, it was clear that she was teething and in pain.  Having cut my wisdom teeth a few years ago, I can empathise.  And secondly, I had an extra two eleven year old girls asleep upstairs and the thought of the three of them bouncing around hyper at 6.30am on a Saturday with a grisly toddler, was not something that I wanted.  So the dummy stayed and relative peace continued until 7.30am when the chaos began.

Natasha decided to have some toast - not an unusual desire for breakfast - so she put the bread in the toaster and came back into the lounge.  A minute or so later, I went to make a much need cup of tea and noticed flames coming from the toaster.  Shouting "fire" in as calm a manner as I could, I got the toast out, turned off the electrics and blew out the flames.  We were safe.  My heart was going slightly faster and all the kids had run into the kitchen to see the drama, but a disaster (the whole kitchen catching fire) was avoided.

The rest of the main day was not what I would call my favourite way to spend a Saturday.  What with a miserable toddler, a cold trip out to take hyper eleven year olds swimming, a moody teenager who couldn't find the exact top she had set her heart on in the shops, arguing siblings, and a dinner that was thrown over my freshly cleaned kitchen, I have to say, that I was feeling not my usual happy self.  All I was wanting was a quiet evening with maybe even the treat of a chocolate bar (or two!).

But then more dramas...

As I was relaxing while Hannah had her bedtime milk, Natasha said she could smell fireworks from the dishwasher.  I think I may have commented something along the lines of "Don't be silly" but then she said smoke was coming out of the dishwasher and I thought I had better investigate.

Definitely smoke and burning smell.  And smoke was getting worse.  And I didn't know where the plug was to turn off the electrics.  And husband was out in car.  Cue frantic phone call - "The dishwasher is on fire!  Come home now!"

I didn't realise my husband could travel so quickly as when I saw him sprinting into the kitchen, giving the Olympic runners some competition.  Pulling out the plug, we all sighed and thought it was sorted.  So moaning about the day's disasters and potential blow to the bank account, while opening all of the windows to get rid of the smell, we didn't notice that smoke was still coming out.

We dashed back to the dishwasher as soon as we did spot the smoke wasn't dissipating and Laurie opened the door, to comment, "There's an orange flashing light at the bottom of the dishwasher."  Peering in, I realised that no it wasn't a bomb (as Kaiya was thinking) but flames!  It was well alight but at the bottom of the machine which was only accessible through a small hole in the bottom of the machine.

"Go and get the fire extinguisher out of my car!"  I screamed.  And off Laurie sprinted for the second time that evening.

"Where the hell is he?"  and "How long does it take to get a fire extinguisher?" where my exclamations while staring at the increasing orange glow.

He couldn't find it.  It has only been living in my glovebox for the last five years.

Anyway, he finally had it, pulled the yellow tag and pressed the button.  White powder and smoke filled the kitchen.

"Is it out?"

"I don't know, I can't see a thing yet"

When the smoke cleared, it looked like we were safe and would not need to disturb the fire brigade on a Saturday night.  But a few moments later, "No, it is still alight.  Use the extinguisher again."

This is when we learnt that you can't use a fire extinguisher again, even if there is still over half left, once you have released the button.  I think my comment about men and not ever reading instructions until it goes wrong, did not go down too well!

Deciding the only option was to move the dishwasher out to try and access the fire from the back, we begun to drag it out.  Only to remember that the water pipe was still attached and not very long. We would have to turn off the water too.  Cue the search for the spanner and my remarks about putting things back in the same place means you can find them when you need them.

Finally, the water was off, the water pipe in my hands and the dishwasher in the middle of the kitchen.  But we still couldn't get to the flames.  We would need a screwdriver.  So off Laurie went once more in the search for another tool, while I thought I would turn the dishwasher around to get better access to the back.  In doing so, though, I accidently let go off the water pipe and now there was both a fire and flood in the middle of the kitchen.

"Towels.  I need towels!"  I shouted to any of my children that may be listening, thinking that I sounded like a midwife in the 1900s.

With the mop up in full action, to try and save the floor, I realised that my inadvertent act had put out the fire.  We were finally safe.

Once the dishwasher was safely outside - we didn't want to risk anything smouldering overnight - I realised that Hannah was still up and popped her to bed, before starting the huge pile of washing up that now greeted me.

I miss you already dear dishwasher.  But thank God that we were in the house when it started or we may have come home to find the fire brigade and no house left.

So my life isn't always stressfree.  In fact, far from it.  But at least I can look back and laugh about the comedy that took place and smile with the knowledge that we are all safe.  Now all I have to do is find the money to replace it.

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