Tuesday, November 21, 2017


I find it very hard to believe Thanksgiving is the day after tomorrow.  It seems to have just snuck up on us this year, probably because of the craziness of the last ten weeks..  Somedays it seems like the fire was last week, sometimes it seems like it was months ago, not 10 weeks ago.  10 weeks ago tonight was the last "normal" night in our home.  The power was off, so it wasn't totally normal.  I remember before I went to bed, I looked for Schnitzel.  He usually was in bed with Emma or Jack, but this night he wasn't.  I looked all over and finally looked in the back room.  There was a pile of blankets on the floor, and as I called his name, I saw the blankets begin to move, and then eventually he peeked his head out.  He was buried in the pile of blankets, one of his favorite places to be.

I hated that he died in the fire, but I am so very thankful he wasn't hurt.  He was found in his favorite chair, all curled up like he was sleeping.  I am certain he was sleeping when the smoke started, and he wasn't even aware there was a problem.  If he had been panicking, we would have found him at the front door trying to get out.  But he was curled up in his favorite chair.  He aggravated me and was forever trying to get food or sneak away from the house.  But I miss the crazy dog.  Sigh.

 I saved my old melted computer in the hopes I can get the hard drive out and get the pictures off of it.  It has all the pictures of our mega vacation this summer on it.  I blogged 11 days of the trip, but I'm missing 14 days.
 This is looking from the living room into the kitchen and den and the porch which will become my new laundry room.
 This is looking the other way toward the front door.
They were still replacing trusses in this picture.  I try to go look at what they have gotten done every few days or so and the progress is amazing.  Looking forward to moving back in and getting back to normal.  I hope. :)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

9.5 week post fire

 Once we removed all the contents, things moved quickly.  The roof was the next to go.  They pulled off everything but the plywood and it made it look like a starry sky in the living room.

 It wasn't long after that the plywood came off so they could replace the burned trusses.

The fireplace looks better, but it's not quite done being cleaned yet.

The Attic

 The attic was the last place left with our things.  Because of the fire and the ceilings falling, they were unable to get to it safely until everything else was cleared out.  I didn't hold out hope that there would be much left up there, but there were a few things I really wanted.  In the box above, is a part of our Christmas tree, obviously ruined.
 We stored a lot of clothes in the attic, in rubbermaid tubs and in plastic bags.  We had just emptied and reorganized the attic this past January.  Most of the clothes were kids clothes.  I had all of Jack's outgrown baby clothes for grandchildren, along with a lot of Emma's toddler clothes on up for Myra.  Then I had clothes for all the boys, Paul had camo up there, luggage, suitcases and all our holiday decorations.  This box was full of clothes, and obviously, ruined.
 This box held my Fall decorations.  They all had to be thrown away.  Whatever wasn't ruined by fire, seemed to be ruined by the large amount of water they filled the attic with to put the fire out.
 As I went through each and every box, there was one box in particular I was looking for.  Some of these boxes still had a considerable amount of water in them and the contents were ruined.  I was looking for Christmas ornaments.  There were some very special ornaments I had made last year that I wanted to find.  I had looked through every box until there was just one box left.  The lid had melted a little bit onto the box, so I couldn't get it open.  Joseph came and ripped that box top off, and there was the box I was looking for!  And because the lid had melted on, the contents inside were preserved.  No fire, no smoke, no water.  It was miraculous. 
 And here is one of the ornaments that I wanted so badly.  It has the hospital hats from the older four kids.  I can't tell you how relieved I was to find it.  I shared my joy with the workers at the house, but I don't think they understood. :)

This was another special ornament, with both sets of my grandparents.  I know I could have made another, but I'm not sure I would have been able to get their handwriting.  To see my name, written by my Grandma, is priceless.  Or to see "Grandma" written in her own handwriting is so special.

I felt like God smiled on me.  Of all the boxes in the attic to survive perfectly, it was this one.  This box has many many other ornaments we've used through the years, all perfectly preserved.  It was a miracle.

Friday, November 10, 2017


It has been a rough few weeks around here.  I'm not exactly sure why.  It is almost like a roller coaster- for a while, everything's good, everything's ok, everyone is happy and just like that, everything changes.  The mood is dark, the road ahead seems endless and the tasks ahead seem overwhelming.  I think we all feel and express this in different ways. 

I've been close to tears and even full of tears at times these past few days.  Sometimes the loss seems huge, even though we have alot of the things we wanted from the house.  Even in the demolition of the house, it seems sad.  It's sad to see most of your earthly possessions being thrown in a dumpster.  It's disheartening to throw away your decorations and your children's artwork.  It is sad to see the house down to the studs, even though it's going to look better than it did.  I can't explain it and I am a bit surprised at how I am still feeling 8 weeks out.

It's still hard living in this house.  It's a nice house and we are grateful for it, but it's not our place.  We don't really know where things go, which means we have a hard time keeping it picked up, and finding things, like shoes.  The back room is filled with things we have salvaged from the house.  But all those things need to be gone through and dealt with and then a place needs to be found to put them until we move back in.

It's been hard finding a new routine.  Schoolwork is still not back to where it was before the fire and neither is housework.  There have been so many new adjustments at once.

So that is how our life has been.  Up and down.  I'm ready to be back to "normal" and back in our own place and back in a routine.  The contractor assures us the house will be done before Christmas, which is several weeks earlier than we thought.  That's great, but the amount of decisions that need to be made about the remodeling of the house in that amount of time is staggering and a bit overwhelming to me.

Beauty from ashes.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

8 Weeks Post Fire

It has been a busy week at the house.  The end of last week we finished going through our stuff, and deciding what we were keeping and what needed to be thrown away.  That was exhausting.  We had salvaged alot in the previous weeks, but several things, such as the weather and heavy ceiling tiles, kept us from finishing the job.  We also had to address the basement, which was a wreck.  But Paul recruited lots of help and they got the job done in one day.  That only left the attic, which wasn't touched until yesterday.  There was not much left in the attic that was salvageable, but I managed to find some treasures.  We lost all our Christmas books we have collected through the years, our Christmas trees, all clothes I was saving for children to grow into, Fall decorations, hiking backpacks, sleeping bags, luggage, etc.  It was sad to see all the fire had ruined.

I had not been able to find Jack's quilt and another blanket I made for Paul Jr. in Kindergarten.  I had looked and looked everywhere I thought it might be but couldn't locate it.  I asked the demo team to keep an eye on it, but no one had seen it.  Some of the team cleaned up the kids room so I would be able to look, but when I got there I still couldn't find it.  I was afraid it was thrown away, so Joseph helped me dump out some of the bags from that room, and we found the white blanket.  It was wet and smelly and moldy.  On a whim, I looked into the washing machine and found Jack's quilt!  I was elated to find it!  It also was smelly and moldy, but I felt better knowing I could at least try and get them clean.

 This is the back porch.  Right inside the window is the kitchen where the fire started and was the biggest. 
 We bought this violin about 18 years ago for Zack.  It had been sitting in my closet, waiting for another child to take an interest in it.  It was sad to see it go.
 The clock in our room was still going and keeping time.
 I made this blanket for Paul jr. when he entered kindergarten in 1995.  He used it for naptime, and all my children have used it since then.  It was in rough shape when I found it.  It looks better now, but I'm still working on it.
 Jack's quilt had been in the washer since before the fire started.  We started a load of dirty clothes, and then a few minutes later the power went off.  These wet clothes had been sealed in the washer for over 7 weeks and were quite smelly and moldy.  But, Jack's quilt is now perfect!  All the mold is gone and it smells clean.  I was thrilled.
 Some of the pile that came out of the basement.
 A little boy's shoe that was in the attic.  It obviously was burned and then fell down through the ceiling the night of the fire.
 One of the many full dumpsters.

 After many hours of work removing everything from the interior of the house.
 Looking down the hall.  Girls room on the left, and boys room right behind.

 The crew helping in the basement.
 The two brothers discussing something important.
 This was in my bathroom.  I was amazed at the thick soot everywhere.
 The soot was very evident when the bathroom rug was removed.
 All the circles are where my bottles of essential oils were in the medicine cabinet.
 The dismantling of my bedroom.
 A random box from the basement with Paul's ski boots on the top.  He's not used them, in, oh, about 30 years.
 My wonderful washer and dryer.  They worked so well and did such a good, quick job on the laundry that I hated to see them go.  They were fairly new. 
The beautiful log bed Paul bought a few years ago. 

Monday, November 6, 2017


7 weeks to the day after the fire, clean up began.  It was incredible to me that for 7 weeks the house sat virtually untouched, and then in 3 days, it was basically empty of everything, including sheetrock, ceilings and floors.  Crazy.  I snapped some pictures of the last time I went in the house before clean up  began. 

 The mold grew so quickly on the couch.  One day after the fire, the couch was covered in green mold.
 Looking into the kitchen over the breakfast bar.  Fridge is far left, all rusted out.
 Laundry/School room/Sewing room.  By this time, everything had been dumped out, either by us or the people who did the inventory.
 Back door.  I lost alot of homeschool curriculum and books because of the water and the smoke.
 My desk.  My Ott lamp melted and everything else was covered in soot.
 Ellie and Emma's room.  The ceilings fell when the fire in the attic broke out and they had to pour so much water in the attic to put it out.
 Sam, Ben and Jack's room. 
 My room.  So much wet insulation everywhere.

 Looking over the bed into the other corner of my room.  That's my wedding dress under that pile of clothes.  But I was able to find the little white dress that was mine when I was a baby and that all of my girls and granddaughters have worn when dedicated.
 My room again, but this time you can see there is no ceiling.
 Our bathroom.  So dirty and smoky.

 More of the boys room.  Under that pile is Jack's little bed.
 More of the boys room.  You can see the mold growing on the bed.
 Kitchen window, sink and dishwasher.
 This is where the first fire originated.  There was a stove in here, which caught on fire and burned everything around it.

 My two instant pots and Vitamix.  On the top shelf was where I stored boxes of pictures.  We were able to salvage some of those pictures.
 Dining room table and hutch.  The dining room was also hit hard.
 Some of the china my mom gave to me.  I was able to save a few plates.