Sunday, December 14, 2008

A "suite" update

Because of the fire, our insurance is putting us up in a Marriott Residence Inn. The boys love it because they get to ride the elevator and take turns pushing the buttons. Lincoln loves it so much that he forgot to get off one afternoon when we got to our floor. I was holding Porter and starting down the hall when Ethan yelled, “Mom! Lincoln’s trapped in the elevator!” Sure enough, I turned around to find the doors closing on Lincoln. The elevator started to move, and I could hear him screaming but couldn’t tell if he was going up or down. I ran down the stairs with Porter still in my arms to see if the doors would open on the first floor. They didn’t. I could still hear Lincoln screaming at the top of his lungs. I ran back up the stairs to our floor, and when the door opened, a friendly little Hispanic family was coddling Lincoln, trying to get him to stop crying. He jumped into my arms as I said my thanks. Needless to say, Lincoln is usually the first of the elevator these days.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pictures - as promised

It still astounds me how quickly a fully furnished, three-story, solid log home was reduced to nothing more than concrete and 2 feet of ash. Kinda makes one think about one's priorities, hmm?

Align Center

Looking up from the bottom of our driveway

The beautiful chainsaw-carved eagle head prow

Our BBQ - looks like we'll need a new one.

Where our large covered front porch and stairs used to be.

Standing by the shed looking at the house

Monday, December 1, 2008

How Firm a Foundation

On my way to Thanksgiving dinner last week, I was thinking of what I was most grateful for. Needless to say, nothing on the list this year contained any worldly value - it was only those things that we talk about "taking with us" to the next life: Relationships, health, testimony, etc. Elaine and I had been talking about the words to "How Firm a Foundation" last week, and I just kept coming back to the fifth verse:

"When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine."

As you can see from the pictures, the only thing standing from our "fiery trial" is the concrete foundation. The entire house and everything in it burned in the fire, but the foundation stood in the end. Likewise, the fire burned nearly every piece of our material life, everything of material importance to us. Our worldly valuables are gone, but our "foundation" still stands - testimonies of the gospel and the value of our family, immediate and extended. The only difference is that, as a result of the fire, the concrete foundation of our home is weakened with cracks and fissures - not strong enough to support the rebuilding of another structure. Our personal foundation, however, was only strengthened by the fire - becoming stronger and more firm, maintaining "structural integrity" enough to rebuild our lives on.

I am grateful for my foundation in the gospel, my testimony of the importance and eternal nature of families, for my parents and Greg's who are such examples to me, and our families and loved ones all across the nation who put everything aside to show their concern and love. I think I feel better prepared now than ever for what the future will bring; a time when all we have of value is our faith and our families because that is what we have now, and with them we can overcome anything.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Photos still coming

I'm still working on getting fire pictures posted. Since I'm not using my camera or computer, it's a little trickier to figure out, but I promise they're coming.

This post is just to say thank you. Thank you to everyone who has written or called with thoughts and prayers. There are so many willing do drop everything and do whatever they can to thank you. It's hard to describe the gratitude I feel for the people I know and love and those who are coming out of the woodwork to help. We love you all and appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

We will keep you posted ... no pun intended.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Our very own ring of fire

Well, it seems our scare a few weekends ago wasn't the worst of what to come. Greg was camping with his scouts and I was playing with my in-laws in Pleasant Grove when the news came - our house was burning. There's so much to say, to describe, but not enough words or time to express it. The miracle this time is that all five of us are safe and unscathed. Investigation is still ongoing, but basically the house exploded. Our neighbors (1/2 mile up the hill) heard a boom or a "whoosh" and by the time they got to the window to look, the roof was nearly falling in already - in only a matter of seconds.

We didn't sleep Friday night and kind of floated through Saturday, but now that the shock has worn off and the reality has set in, we're really okay. It helps that we were fire insured, and our insurance company and coverage seem to be very promising. A few times a day some other sentimental thing the insurance money can't replace pops into my head and I have a moment of sorrow, but the truth is almost everything can be replaced. I realized very quickly that I can't sit and think about all the things I've lost and what I'll miss because I'll drive myself crazy very quickly. Yes, there are things I will miss. Yes, we're devastated. BUT we're surrounded by and in touch with our amazing families and supported by fantastic friends. In fact, I admitted tonight that it almost feels like it's easier to deal with than it should, and I know that is absolutely because of the support of people around us. My sister Lindsey sent me a wall hanging for my birthday in September. Before the fire, it hung above my bedroom door and read: Family is everything. Isn't that the truth?

Some more good news is that when Greg's new job starts in Wyoming, I don't have to pack up my house! This will be my tenth move since Greg and I have been married, so needless to say, I'm sicker than sick of packing and unpacking boxes. Also, no more will I stress about how and when we will be able to sell our home. And Greg turned to me yesterday morning and said, "Well, I guess you're going to have to buy a new wardrobe ... you're just going to hate that, huh?"
I waited until Saturday evening to tell Ethan, thinking he might take it pretty hard because he loves his "new house." Wrong. This is how that conversation went when we sat down together:

Me: Ethan, there was a really big fire last night at our house and it's gone now.
Ethan: So are we going to stay here [grandma and grandpa's] forever?
Me: For awhile anyway.
Ethan: Until we move to another new house?
Me: Yep, but all our things are gone. We're going to have to buy new clothes and new toys and new books ...
Ethan: Okay. But mom ... I have to go get the monsters and alien now (grin). Love ya.

There really is nothing like a 4-year-old's perspective to help get your own in the right place. Now, I've always been the "do-er" mom and not the "play-er" mom. I love my kids, and they definitely get enough attention, but I'm very task oriented, trying to get things done and organized and put away. Well, now that all is said and done, everything I've "done" is undone, and the only thing left to "do" is my family. So ... let's play.

It seems that everything is gone, and yet I have everything I need.

(Pictures to come)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happy birthday, Link cont'd...

Dueling monkeys...

Peek-a-boo . . . I just turned 2!

Happy birthday, Link!

I can't think of a better way to spend a 2-year-old's birthday than with a Happy Meal picnic in the park, feeding the very aggressive ducks at Salem Pond, and spending some time on the playground before heading home and falling into bed. Happy birthday, Lincoln!

Ethan got "nipped" by one of the ducks. Apparently, he didn't let go of the bread crumbs fast enough. And Lincoln...well, he was pretty sure he wanted to take one of the ducks home with us. No thanks!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bedtime Buddies...

Thanks to Michelle, I finally got great pictures of my boys with their "bedtime buddies." No matter where we are or what's going on, as long as Puppy, Monkey, and Horsey are around, everyone will sleep.



Boys will be boys

Michelle and I were just looking for an excuse to pull out her camera last Saturday. It took a while to warm up, but the boys (after putting Brody in the middle to separate Ethan and Lincoln) finally resigned themselves to having a good time. The secret to the craziness and smiles was me in the background jumping around like an idiot, peek-a-booing an Elmo doll at the boys until I was hoarse. Anything for a great photo.
We finally talked the boys into hugging each other and got some quick photos...but things deteriorated quickly, as their balance was thrown by the new pose...
I really wish we'd gotten the next frame, but we were too busy rushing to save the screaming boys who were stacked on top of each other in the gravel behind the cinder block wall. Just think of the fond memories we're instilling in these young minds.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Angels watching over . . . our weekend miracle

My boys and I spent last weekend up in Pleasant Grove with Greg's family. We made it home around 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, the kids ready to fall into bed. Greg took Ethan, who had fallen asleep in the car, inside first. While I was working on getting Porter of his car seat, Greg brought Ethan back outside, put him back in the car, told me to leave Porter there because the house smelled like propane. Oh great.

We left the three kids in the car and I went inside with him. When we walked through the front door, the smell of natural gas was enough to nearly knock someone out. We didn't turn on any lights for fear of sparking the gas. I fumbled over to the stove to make sure all the knobs were turned to "off." They were. I gave Greg a flashlight to go into the basement. He told me that propane settles, so if I heard him fall (pass out), call for help and get the kids out of there. He crept downstairs and told me almost immediately to follow.

As I descended the stairs to the playroom in the basement, not only did the propane smell get stronger (kind of like you were breathing through a gas mask with propane in the tank), but something smelled charred. Greg had already shut off the gas main to the house, and on first inspection he immediately detected a small hole in the gas line. That accounted for the propane smell...but how had it gotten there?

On further investigation, we found that the door to Greg's office and our second storage room were open. These doors are NEVER open and have child locks on the doorknobs to discourage curious children who wander from the playroom. We looked into the storage room and found Greg's industrial work light (5 feet tall with two huge lamps which has not been used since we lived in Ogden) plugged in, toppled over, glass broken, and holes burned through a box and the carpet where it lay. That explained the charred smell. The biggest miracle of all, however, was that the box that the lamp burned two huge holes through held a collection of cleaning solutions, motor oil, aerosol cans, etc. from our many moves around the country - kind of our "throw it in at the last minute and we'll sort it at our next home" box. That box should have blown and taken our home with it.

Our neighbor and friend, the plumber who installed the furnace, water heater, etc., came right over to explore some more with Greg and sent me and the kids to his home where we waited and fought sleep until we had more news. Greg called and said the hole in the gas line was either a small drill hole or a puncture hole from a nail. He had called the Sheriff who was on his way. Nearly four hours later, the Sheriff was finished taking fingerprints and photos, and Greg came to take us all home so the boys could finally sleep. We dropped them in bed at about 10:45.

CONCLUSION: Someone was in our house on Saturday afternoon. We are not sure who or why someone would do something so malicious, but Porter's baby saucer and all the boys' toys and pictures scattered around the front room certainly did not deter them. Nothing was rifled through. Our big screen TV wasn't touched. Nothing was taken or disturbed. The only evidence of someone in our house was the deliberate puncture hole in the gas line and the attemped fire in the storage room. The only explanation as to why my house is still standing is the protection of a higher power. Science nor logic can explain away the box of aerosol cans and cleaning solutions not exploding and taking the house down with it, only faith and an increased testimony of the careful watch of our Heavenly Father.

The house has since been cleared of the smell of propane, althought the basement still smells charred. Our plumber friend cannot figure out the damage to the water heater (which was also deliberate - a backup plan, maybe?), so we are without hot water as well. I'm thankful for wonderful neighbors and family who are willing to let us infringe on their space to bathe and escape, and I'm grateful to Heavenly Father for sparing our home, our memories, our material life from the malicious intent of a person we cannot identify.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My future cowboys

Introducing "Sis," Greg's horse. We aquired her early last summer from Greg's friend Russ. Greg keeps saying he bought the horse for me, but we all know that's not true since spending more than two minutes with her would ensure my quick and timely demise.

Greg dreams of owning a lot of land and spending his time off "cowboying." Doesn't that sound grand? Just in case you can't detect it, there's more than a drop of sarcasm in my written word. Even if I got allergy shots (which is another of Greg's and my dreams), I'm not sure I'll ever enjoy ranch animals as much as he does. HOWEVER, the thought of Greg teaching our boys to work hard - managing the land and wrangling horses and cows - does kind of appeal to me. If my calculations are correct, that would at least guarantee time for me to go on a shopping trip that lasted more than 45 minutes, right? Greg asks if my motives are selfish, and I respond with an exuberant, "Yep!"

Monday, November 3, 2008

Happy birthday Batman!

To commemorate Ethan's 4th birthday, I quizzed him and made a list of his favorites. They are as follows (see if you can detect a theme):

Books: Goodnight Gorilla / Never Tease a Weasel (thanks Granny!)
Treat: Smiley face fruit snacks
Food: Delicious quesadillas (pronounced at our house: Ques-of-dias)
Drink: Apple juice
Activity: Watching movies with daddy
Color: Black like Batman! Movie: Scooby-Doo featuring Batman!
Toy: My new batman mask!
Superhero: Poison Ivy
Place to go: Granny's house

Happy birthday to the boy who fills us with joy! We love you, Bat-Ethan!


So Greg talked me into taking the boys outside last week to "try out" the paintball guns. Greg let me start since my only previous experience aiming a paintball gun was way less than successful (as Elaine's fence will attest). I ended up shooting him in the kneecap and running him into a tree. There was something kind of satisfying about watching him run and making him yelp. What can I say?

Greg spent some time shooting with Ethan and Lincoln at the burn barrels. They were both happy as clams to pull the trigger, and Ethan got the hang of it very quickly. In fact, when it was my turn to run from the flying paintballs, it was Ethan who nailed me in the hip and - yes - made me cry. What a weenie. Greg was very nice about it...assuring me that it was because the velocity of the guns was turned up and the paintballs were slightly frozen. Thanks for not gloating, Greg. Now, only four days later, I'm still sporting my frozen paintball bruises in pretty shades of purple and green.

All the little monsters...

Well, we got the kids all dressed up - cute as can be - and drove into Fairview for the Trunk-or-Treat. We pulled into the parking lot of the old rock church at about 4:56 to find it totally deserted. Apparently, it was scheduled to be from 4 to 5, but since there was a carnival at the elementary school following, everyone was in a hurry to clear out - gone by 4:30. I was feeling kind of lame, but Greg pointed out to me that I shouldn't feel bad because it didn't appear the boys could have cared less. They were just happy to have some candy, which we had plenty of, and which I have happily been making myself sick on every since. I'm pretty sure Greg will come home soon to find me passed out in the midst of thousands of candy wrappers. If only I had some self control.

The cutest little Porter Monkey.

Lincoln the Neon Green Crayon.

It's Ethan - nope. It's Spiderman!

All the little monsters, ready for a night on the town.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Feeling at home

I was counting the other day and figured that I have lived in nine different places since Greg and I were married seven years ago. It's amazing how often I've moved but always felt at home. Greg wasn't always with me - in fact, we spent more time apart during the first four years of our marriage than together, but just knowing how hard he was working to provide a good life for me and now for my boys has always been enough to fill me with that peace that comes with "home." Whatever adventure awaits our little family next, I know we'll find home there, too. I love you, Greg.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Meet my boys

Ethan is my Energizer Bunny. He really does just keep going and going and going. He is the biggest brother and takes his role as such very seriously - picking on Lincoln and protecting Porter. He astounds us daily with how quickly he learns and how much he retains. His favorite trick is getting out of bed after bedtime, sneaking up the stairs and behind the couch, and waiting until Greg and I, on the couch oblivious the entire time, get an inkling of his presence. What a stinker.

Lincoln is my blossoming - no, blossomed - chatterbox. He tells anyone who will listen exactly what he wants, what he's done, or what he sees. He can hold his own against Ethan - finally - and loves his baby brother. He rallies daily for his turn to hold Porter or to have whatever toy Ethan has.

Porter is exactly the baby I needed - mellow, happy, delightful. He is currently the best sleeper in the house and spends most of his awake time screeching happily to himself or watching tentatively, wide-eyed, as his older brothers tear through the rooms around him.

Sometimes I just stare and wonder what I did to deserve these beautiful boys...