Thursday, February 19, 2015

Trial By Fire

So, as established in the last post, we lived through the first three weeks. (I think, I don’t really remember, but I’m still here.) Jeremie stayed home that third week, and we were looking forward to settling in as our new little family of three. Little did we know how crazy our lives were about get!

On Wednesday night, we finally put the last touches on the nursery by hanging my “gallery wall”. (While I was pregnant, J had ripped out the carpet and laid beautiful wood floors.) I sat in my cozy nursery chair that night and just sighed with satisfaction. I thought it was the most adorable nursery I had ever seen.

As if that night couldn't get any better, our sweet friends Erin and Stephen brought us a mountain of food from Zoe's.  A good meal that I didn't have to prepare was worth gold.  We had a great time catching up them as we chowed down on chicken kabobs like cavemen. 

That week was REALLY cold, so the next day, J built us a cozy fire and headed out to get a truckload more of firewood for the winter.  Now THIS is what I had been waiting SWEET baby....taking a a warm fire.

So J returned home and started unloading firewood while I was nursing Greyson.  I noticed smoke coming out of the little gas keyhole on our fireplace. (The fireplace is wood burning but has a gas "igniter" to start the fire.) I knew that just wasn't right and at the same time it hit me that it was smelling particularly smokey in the house. I called J inside and he thought maybe the fire was just dying down and I was smelling the ashes. So I headed upstairs to get away from it and yelled to J that it smelled even worse upstairs.  At that point, I really felt like something was wrong.  At that moment, our neighbor started banging on our door and yelling that our chimney was on fire. As J called 911, I ran out the house thinking: "Is our house about to burn down? Is this gonna be our story?"

I headed over to the neighbors, and from their second story loft, had a direct view of our chimney in flames.  Looking back, I wish I had taken a picture, but I was too upset to do it.  At that point, I had no idea how far the fire was gonna I just started praying. 

Even though we live around the corner from the fire department, it felt like YEARS until they got there. Finally, 4 fire trucks and about 25 firemen pulled up and got to work!  I snapped this pic from our neighbor’s kitchen. Yeah, Mr. January through Mr. December were all there.

I love how the MSU flag is still flying proudly!

So from this window I watched these guys with their masks, ladders and hoses climb up on the roof and shoot water down our chimney.  In the meantime, J came in and told me the fire had spread to the attic so they were getting busy there too. After about 3 or 4 hours, the show was over and I was left in the foyer of my neighbor's house still in my slippers with my 3 week old and a handful of stuff the firefighters yanked out of the house that they figured was important.

Our other neighbor from across the street was around while all this was going on, and had been through a terrible house fire in the past. He offered for us to stay with him and his wife for a couple nights and we agreed.  Listen-these people took us in like their own children.  They fed us dinner, made us breakfast, helped us wash and dry clothes, let us dump all our smoky stuff in their house, and loved on Greyson while we needed to deal with house stuff. (And being a mama herself-Brenda offered words of encouragement and hugs while I cried it out a couple or seven times.) If you don't believe in God's presence and provision....we need to talk! We are forever grateful for our sweet Brenda and Ed.

Besides labor, that was truly the longest day of my life. We stayed up till 1:00 a.m. washing and drying clothes since what we had all smelled like smoke. We were both still sleep deprived and I was nursing around the clock.  At one point, around 12:30 that night, Jeremie and I were changing Greyson's diaper, he was screaming bloody murder, and we looked at each other and were like "What just happened to us." FINALLY, everyone got situated and we were able to put the day behind us.  Greyson slept in a ~100 year old heirloom crib that Brenda and Ed had...we yanked the stuffed animals out and put it back into circulation! The little bambino had not a clue what all was going on.

Let me interrupt and say that my hubby was a ROCK through all this.  He was calm as could be while the fire was happening and went back to the smoky, dark, cold house several times that night to fetch things I needed that I had forgotten about.

The next day we headed over to the house to grab some clothes for the next couple days and the rest went with a cleaning company. Let me just say, I was NOT prepared for what I saw when I walked through the front door. 

I was totally shocked. It looked like a bomb had gone off. The water/foam spray that they had shot down the chimney flooded the first floor, and what was sprayed in the attic caused the ceilings to fall in. [ Lots of people are asking how the fire got started, and the short answer is we really don't know.  It could be a number of things, but quite possibly the fact that a dry summer caused a crack in the bricks and an ember got caught in that crack and just heated up.]

We spent the next hour being followed around by the clothes company with trash bags itemizing what was "911" (clothes we needed back in the next 48 hours) and what was not anything we need in the next 4 months vital. There was obviously no electricity at this point, and the house was smelly, wet, dreary and freezing. I felt like I was holding myself together pretty well until I went up to the nursery. Now-fortunately, the nursery was one of the least damaged rooms-but it just looked so sad-and broke my heart to remember just the night before I was rocking sweet Greyson up there. J made me leave and after a small breakdown in the front yard I collected myself again. 

I can say that we were VERY fortunate in the fact that we really didn't lose a lot of our belongings. Most of the damage to the house was actually from the firefighters putting out the fire. (Which we are totally grateful for.)

So the clothes cleaners actually took anything textile related (rugs, sheets, curtains, etc.).  Then an electronic team came in and took TV's, computers, etc.  THEN a few days later, an actual moving company came and took EVERTHING else. Every pot, pan, picture and book. Totally moved us out. Then the demolition started.

Meanwhile, me, Jeremie and our newborn moved into the Residence Inn. I cringe as I even type the name Residence Inn. Don't get me wrong-the place was very nice and the people were so sweet, but 5 weeks in an efficiency hotel room with a newborn is was not a party.  This was our world for over a month.

I think what made it harder is that Greyson was still too young to be out and about in public yet (for my comfort level), so I did feel sorta isolated and closed in.  But J was awesome about taking care of him for a few hours while I would go run errands. (Boy going to the grocery store has never been so exciting!) And while J went on a business trip for a few days, CC (my mom) came to the rescue and flew out to spend that time with us.  Pretty sure her new grandson had a lot to do with it. : )


I was SO sad that we weren’t able to spend the holidays in our home. I had daydreamed for months of decorating, hanging Greyson's stocking on the mantel, and watching him stare at the Christmas tree. And what hurt more was knowing that most of my Christmas decorations had been destroyed since they were in the attic.  Regardless, the Residence Inn wasn’t gonna stop me from putting up a Christmas tree! We found this pre-lit tabletop tree at Lowe’s and it might be the best $15 I’ve ever spent. Greyson was obsessed with it and would stare at it and just kick his legs!

And one night, we made ourselves some hot chocolate, loaded G up in the car and rode around looking at Christmas lights. So that helped spread the Christmas cheer.

But our favorite hotel pastime was this. 

The bathroom was right next to this closet with a big mirror, so I would put Greyson in front of it and he would stare at himself long enough for me to get a shower and put makeup on. I also tried to make the most of the dungeon hotel room by doing a couple of photo shoots with Greyson. I tried the naked baby poses, which just earned me a bunch of pee in my face. (HOW do newborn photographers do it?) So the next few times, we covered Ole Faithful up and just used cute outfits. (Fortunately, we had a professional photo shoot at 5 weeks old.) I have to admit, being in a small room with no house to clean or chores to do really did help me to focus on Greyson and learn about his habits.

 More hotel fun:
Greyson turned 1 month old!
Chatting with Dad
Ready for the Egg Bowl! (Apparently the Bulldogs were NOT.)
I will fill in the blanks later, but now, we are comfy in a great little townhome just down the road from our house while it gets rebuilt. (April is the projected move in date.) But let me just say, I was NOT a pillar of strength through all this. Like I said on Facebook a couple months ago: I am human and mourned over the fact that we didn’t get to settle into our home with our new baby and darling nursery. But Greyson obviously couldn’t care less and the fact that I don’t have a “gallery wall” in my makeshift nursery has not stolen any of the JOY of being a new mom. And I’ve already learned so much from this. I’ve learned that God can provide physical and emotional strength beyond what I thought possible. (Isaiah 41:10) I’ve learned that I probably valued my “stuff” more than I should and that I CAN survive with less amenities! I have seen goodness and love pour out of others. Our friends, neighbors, and some complete strangers have shown us graciousness by providing lodging, meals, babysitting, and lots of prayers. And lastly, I’m learning from others who are going through or have gone through MUCH harder circumstances and still exhibit obedient faithfulness. A speaker at our church conference last weekend said “Job had faith that couldn’t be shaken……because he was shaken.” So here’s to learning from the bumps in the road and allowing it to draw us closer to Christ! 

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