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Friday, December 26, 2014

Missing Mom

We had a wonderful few days of Christmas celebrations.  I finished up baking on Christmas Eve.  My dad and Patty joined us for birthday cake, mass, and dinner.  We put out cookies and milk for Santa, wrapped presents and set everything out.  The kids loved everything they received, with a yo-yo making the top 3 for James.  It's so funny what they end up liking the most.  Everyone is enjoying the used Wii, the sports games are a big hit.  Christmas day was great with Jon's parents and some friends over.  We enjoyed mostly just relaxing and chatting.  It was a different Christmas day, but it was really nice.

Today was mostly a day of recovery, the kids played with their new things and I tried to figure out what to do with some of my retirement accounts.  But this afternoon we started some of the cleaning out that needs to be done.  During this I pulled everything out of the overflowing magazine rack that holds the kids' drawing stuff.  I asked them to go through everything (they aren't done yet).  Carolyn did a great job looking through things and deciding what she wants to keep.

While Carolyn was going through the large pile, she came across the speech a good friend made at mom's funeral.  Just reading the first few words I knew it was from Marianne.  Tears filled my eyes without even reading it.  I set it to the side and finished working on the pile in front of me.  Then I sat down to read it through and reminisce on the wonderful relationship they had.  I was reminded of my wonderful mother and saddened that she can't be here to watch my children grow up.  I was reminded of some of the great friendships my mom developed and part of me longs to develop some of those types of relationships.  Now that the kids are growing it should get easier.  Mostly today, I miss my mom.  Much of the holiday season is filled with memories of her as I bake the same things she baked (with tweaks to make them gluten free) and the house is filled even more with reminders of her.  I know she's watching us from heaven and I know she is so proud of her grandchildren.  But it's still hard that I can't call her on the phone, that I can't give her a hug, that James and Carolyn will never feel her warm embrace.

And then there's reality of my own unknown future.  As we near a new year, I see some challenges with my own health that lie ahead.  The headaches that plagued me this fall have gone away, which is excellent.  But the dizziness is still strong and I can't figure out how to get rid of it.  I have to work this year to not only lose the weight I was working on in August, but the extra weight from 3 months of restaurant food.  Hopefully that can relieve the joint aches and the dizziness.  I'll go low sugar again starting next Thursday.  And hopefully I'll see the changes I need.  Thinking about my mom always reminds me of how young she was and I was when she passed away.  Of course, if I make it to 57 James would be 30 since I just have the 2 kids and we started young.  But I would still miss a lot.  Maybe if I can lose a good amount of this weight I'll even head into the doctor this summer to start a relationship back up.  For now I need to take things into my own hands and do what I know needs to be done to start feeling better.  The first step is to start getting better sleep.  So off to bed I will be in a short bit.

I love you, Mom.  Thanks for watching over us.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Taking Less for Granted

One of the things that I have definitely learned from this fall is to cherish everything around me a bit more.  I am focusing on being more present with my family.  I am choosing what activities are most important and enjoying just being so much more.  After the stress of trying to control a 4 and 6 year old in a hotel for nearly 3 months, I find myself much calmer.  We have a lot less chaos around here and everyone seems to be a bit calmer.  I hope we can hold onto these feelings as we plunge back into life.

I have found myself a great deal more patient with the children.  Partially because I realize how hard it was for them to be out of the house and their neighborhood for so long.  And partially because I think this whole ordeal has made me more patient.  I am now focusing more on God and how to show His love to those around us.  Christmas is even going to look a bit different this year as we open our home to friends that don't have other family nearby.  I am really looking forward to a relaxed celebration where we can all visit and celebrate God's love.

So as much as I hated living in a hotel for 3 months and the time we seemed to have lost while there, we have gained so much from this experience.  I've always known that God works in mysterious ways and this is the most mysterious of all.  But I know God is in control and all is good.  I'm looking forward to 16 days to relax with my family starting Friday about 4pm.

Anyone that is looking for somewhere to be on Christmas, please let me know.  We're happy to have anyone join us as long as we know before we buy the food.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Home Sweet Home

Everything inside is complete!  When we came home from James' soccer today all of our furniture was back in place, the carpet cleaned, and the floors mopped.  I will have to really clean the kitchen floors, but we have our house back!  I never thought I would be so happy to be sitting on my 20 year old couch.  But it is wonderful to have our house to ourselves again.

I have noticed some things over the past 10 days that we've been home that we were taking for granted.  Cooking dinner in our kitchen, while the kids could play.  In the hotel they had to sit and wait for the food to be cooked, then sit to eat.  Appetites are back up now that they just have to sit to eat.  I am appreciative of knowing what is in my food (and what isn't).  It is wonderful for everything to have its place again, so that fewer things get lost.  James was riding his indoor tricycle around our big loop tonight and loving it.  The kids have their freedom back, we no longer have to keep them quiet or get them to stop running around.  We can relax in bed in the morning, especially on weekends.  We can spend entire days in our pjs, but be comfortable and have space to move around.  James having his own bed for naps has been wonderful.  I am more productive with work and he is getting the rest he really needs.  Both kids seem to be taking off physically and academically again.  Carolyn was even promoted to the next level on the gymnastics preteam tonight!  At times I complain about cooking for my family, but I just need to remember that it can be taken away in the blink of an eye.

I have been thinking about writing this post for a few days now but things have been incredibly busy.  As I write it I know there was a lot more I wanted to say, but I'm exhausted from all of this.  It will be wonderful to sleep in my own bed tonight without staring at the living room furniture shoved into our bedroom.  And once I've settled again I will try this again.

Friday, November 28, 2014

No Painters

We had a nice, relaxing day for the most part today.  We had a leisurely breakfast and then came back upstairs to relax in the room.  Carolyn did some reading and the kids did some building with the magnatiles.  I did some work and then Jon took the kids down to the pool so I could finish.  Once I finished my reviews I started packing up the room.  When they returned I had finished packing up for the day and was writing my thank you letter to the hotel.  We will send a thank you to the corporate office as well, as they have been so great here.

While I was packing up I decided to text and neighbor and see if anyone was at the house.  Our fears were realized when she said no one was there.  Holding on to my optimism, I told Jon that perhaps they were there but had just been dropped off to work so there was no truck in the driveway.  A little after 1 we left the hotel to drop some more things at the house.  As we pulled up it was obvious no one was there.  We went inside and could tell that no one had been in the house since we left the day before.  We dropped off our things and the postwoman gave Jon a package before we left.  She even asked him when we'd be back, so nice of her.  Jon called the contractor while we were at the house, whom was surprised to hear the painters were not working.  He promised to call back quickly once he found out what was going on.

We got back into the car and headed to the store and out to dinner.  After about 10 minutes we receive a phone call back, the painters were finishing up another job.  I kept my cool and reiterated the frustration I shared on Wednesday with the lack of work being completed.  I informed Phil that we will be moving home tomorrow and people will have to work around us.  He apologized again and said he would be by the house later to remove the tarps in anticipation of us moving home.  So we went on with our day.

We stopped by the house to drop off a box of diapers and a new crockpot and were only half surprised to see that we had been lied to again.  No one had been in the house and all the tarps were still in place as of 4:30pm today.  Somehow I doubt he showed up after then to take them down.  Why tell me you are going to do something if you aren't going to?  The tarps he promised to put on the skylights on Monday... still not there.  I just don't understand what the problem is with doing things when you say you will.  If I worked for my company like these people I would find myself out of a job.  This honestly is unbelievable at this point.

We have been out of our home for 13 weeks.  And tomorrow when we go home, there will still be a long list of things still be completed:
1.       Paint interior 
2.       Install skylights and finish roof 
3.       Install gutters
4.       Install LR floors, replace trim
5.       Replace cracked laundry room tiles
6.       Complete sidewalk (Spring) – frame and fill with gravel to make area usable until then
7.       Seal and paint siding due to cracks 
8.       Lightly clean furniture and move back into living room
9.       Repair coffee table
10.   Clean carpet in playroom
11.   Install pole for antenna (we would like to take the loss payment here and get the replacement ourselves)

12.   Replace area rug(s) in living room 

I know God is in control and our house will eventually get back to normal.  But we are both pretty well beyond our threshhold of frustration with people not following through on promises made.  On Sept 22 I was told the work would be mostly done by Oct 22 and I have a contract to prove it.  I wonder if we have any recourse since this estimate was so incredibly far off and nothing had even started by that date.  We might just have to look into that if things don't pick up quickly at this point.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Temporary Occupancy Permit

Today was a long, yet somewhat productive day.  Both of the kids were up at 7 and spent some time making thank you notes for various hotel staff.  I had them make handprint turkeys that say "I am thankful for you" and they colored and added their names.  We handed some out today and will give out more tomorrow.  After breakfast we headed to the library to get some books to read this weekend and do a craft.  Then we went towards the house.  To our dismay, no one was there to work today.  So this week only 1 day has had any work done.  We spent much of the day at the neighbor's so the kids could relax and play.  Carolyn read an entire Cam Jansen book, she definitely has missed being able to get absorbed in a book.  I spent some of the morning at the house cleaning things up.

Before I get to today's findings, let me rewind to the information we received yesterday afternoon.  Our contractor finally got in touch with the commissioner and was told we need smoke detectors in every bedroom and they need to communicate with each other.  This was the first time that this requirement was mentioned.  The village also said they had no paperwork regarding our home being designated as not fit for occupancy.  So we could have been living there this whole time and no one would have cared!  Not that I really wanted to live there during the construction.  But that is unbelievable to hear.

Just after 1 our contractor arrived with the smoke detectors.  The village commissioner showed up at almost exactly 1:30 and didn't take more than a few steps inside.  I was still working on cleaning the playroom and kitchen so heard the whole conversation.  He definitely remembered being at the house on the day of the storm and quickly wrote out the temporary occupancy permit.  That means we're allowed to be back in our house.

I discussed with the contractor that we are very frustrated with the very slow progress of the last couple weeks.  He said he's trying but coordinating the different groups is hard, yada yada.  There's no reason that work is only being done 1, maybe 2 days a week.  We will definitely be letting the referral service know of our frustration once our house is put back together.  The must frustrating part of today's conversation came when we were discussing the occupancy permit.  He said that they could have erected temporary walls so that we could live in the rest of the house while they were doing the work.  He tells me this now, nearly 3 months after I've been living in a hotel?!  I would have slept on the futons if it meant having my own kitchen and disrupting the kids' lives less.  Not many days would have been disrupted by noise since they haven't done that much work.  It's a good thing we were separated by some distance when he said that, because I really wanted to punch him.  He says he understands how hard this is, but there's no way he does if he didn't think to offer that as a solution back in September!

In any case, we're headed home Saturday.  Obviously nothing will be done tomorrow, but the painters will come Friday.  That means the tarps can come down once they are done, so we can get through the house easily.  I thought I'd be more excited about going home, but there's a bunch left to do.  The skylights aren't in, there is no flooring, no gutters, and no sidewalk.  Our table hasn't been fixed and the carpets haven't been cleaned.  Overall the house is really dirty.  So Saturday we'll go home to clean and get things situated while doing laundry.  And then Sunday we'll get to enjoy at least being in our house.  Everything but the sidewalk is supposed to be done by Tuesday.  But it's hard to believe any timeline from this guy now, since everything gets pushed back.  I hope that everything will be okay by next weekend and we can get closer to back to normal.  At least on Saturday we can start to deal with the psychological issues of being in the house again.  Hopefully there won't be any storms for a while.

Thank you God for watching over us through all of this.  Please continue to guide the workers' hands as the finish the final repairs.  Bless all of the hotel staff for they have been wonderful to our family.  And bless everyone else around us for all of the support they offered.  We're going home... and I can't wait to use my kitchen again!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

More Delays

Yesterday was quite a disappointing day.  I dropped Carolyn off at school, we stopped at the store, and then headed to our neighbor's house for the day.  She has wonderfully given us the key while they are out of town for a few days, so we're hanging out across the street from our house during the day.  We arrived and got the key from another neighbor and couldn't help but notice that there were no cars/vans/trucks at our house.  We went into the neighbor's house and I got James settled a bit before going across the street to get some things to make dinner.  Upon entering I noted that there was water on the floor boards, again.  The skylights haven't been installed and only boards were put over them, which doesn't work real well in a soaking rain.  I made a mental note to call the contractor and began gathering supplies for dinner.  Once I returned to the neighbor's house I called our contractor, to inform him no one was there to work and there is a leak.  He said he wasn't sure why no one was there and promised to come out and tarp the roof.

By 11am no one was at the house, so I emailed the contractor to try and find out more and remind him that our current hotel reservation is up Sunday so we need to know if that will need to be extended.  His response was that there was an emergency but the crew would be at our house the next day (Tuesday) and they would be done Saturday.  Jon then responded asking about an occupancy permit, to which the contractor said he would call the village.  Had I not called and then both of us emailed, I am wondering when we would have found out about the delays and whether an occupancy permit would have been a thought in this guy's head.  We were promised that he would get back to us by the end of the day.

We had a great dinner last night, although Carolyn may be getting sick again.  It was wonderful to cook myself and sit at a kitchen table as just our family for the first time in 12 weeks.  When we left the neighbor's around 5:45, no tarps had been put on the skylights.  When I went to bed at 9:30 last night, we had no word about the occupancy permit.  So before bed I sent a follow-up email letting the contractor know that I need to call the housing service company back today (Tuesday) if we're going to need another extension.

We received a response at around midnight last night that he is awaiting a response from the village.  I just received a text from a neighbor that the dumpster is being taken away (it was overflowing anyway), I wonder if it will be replaced?  I would imagine there will still be things to dispose of as they cut the drywall and flooring.  The email from the contractor promised the drywall crew would arrive at 7am today to begin work.  It's 7:30 now, I wonder if they're there?  And I also wonder what the point of arriving so early today is... they still have to wait for the mud to dry.  They're the professionals though, right?  Maybe they have some tricks to help it dry faster and maybe they do plan to start on things in the kitchen.  Alas, it appears there is no one there.

Time to wake up the kids, hopefully the last school morning in this hotel!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thanksgiving Promise

We are definitely getting to the end of our rope here.  The house sat again for most of the week, the insulation was installed Thursday and supposedly the inspection done yesterday.  But we've heard no update on that.

We have been told the contractors are being given 3 days to finish the inside of the house.  Is that really how it works, you tell them how long they have to do everything?  There's just so much left to do that this seems crazy and very unlikely.  But I long to be home.  Anyone have any experience in construction?  Here's what is left to be done, any way this could actually happen in 3 days?

  • Sklylights installed
  • Ceiling + 1 wall section drywalled - tape, mud, etc
  • Paint - entire living room, entire kitchen (covering over cracks, so whatever needs to be done for that)
  • Install floors in living room, replace 2 tiles in laundry room, possibly replace kitchen floors
  • Clean and move furniture back into house
Some could wait until we're home like
  • Pour cement sidewalk (without it we lose back door access)
  • Install gutters
  • Seal and paint siding
  • Clean playroom carpet
I'm trying to be optimistic, but this just seems like so much in such little time.  I am frustrated that this has taken so long and it seems that the construction company is to blame for a large chunk of it.  No idea why the insulation was pushed from Friday to Tuesday to Thursday.  We lost an entire week due to something that takes just a couple hours to complete.

Prayers that we are able to be home next week are appreciated.  I miss my kitchen and my bed so much.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Even more delays

The roof is on, hooray!  At least, I saw them putting on yesterday and today.  So I assume at this point that it's been completed.  Our head contractor was at the house this afternoon for an inspection of the rafters and structure, and possibly the electrical.  I emailed him to check in and let him know we want to go home as soon as the drywalling is done.  We've decided we would rather be in a house with no floors and needing to be painted than continue to live in a hotel while they finished.  And the response I received back was rather deflating.  He let me know that the insulator was pushed back to Tuesday in case today's inspection didn't go well.  Um, so are we assuming that we won't pass the inspection?  And if so, why are we assuming that?  This makes me worried on so many levels.  But overall it makes me sad.  I was very close to tears today when I received this email.  I had my heart set on being home next weekend.  We would have a couple days to get settled in before the long Thanksgiving weekend.  And now I'm honestly not sure that we'll be home by Thanksgiving.  It just seems there's delay after delay.  I am honestly amazed at how slow this all going.  We have now been out of our house for 10 full weeks (well, as of 3pm tomorrow).  In that time I think 5-6 days have had some actual work being done on the house!

I just want to go home!  It's cold and it's started snowing, I want to park my car in a garage.  I want to sit in front of my fireplace.  I want to relax with my family.  I want to bake in my own kitchen.  I want to have my own space.  Yes, a lot of I wants.  I want to just be selfish for a bit.  In fact, I may need to be soon.  I am starting to see signs of the adrenal fatigue returning.  I have headaches nearly every day, at times so bad I can't complete my work.  Each afternoon I am exhausted and nauseous, eating only helps minimally.  I seem to need sugar to keep going.  And yet there's really nothing I can do until we get home.  Once we're there I can eat the foods I know I need, I can get more sleep since I'll have less time in the car.  I can heal my body, but the longer we're here the worse the damage and the longer the recovery.

God, we really need You right now.  Help me get through these next weeks until we're home.  I'm afraid any more bad news on the schedule for completion will completely break me.  It's in Your hands, help us.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Things Not to Say

For the most part everyone has been great through all of this.  But something at MOPs on Friday got Jon and I thinking about all of the responses we've received.  It's very clear that nobody really knows how to respond.  The best is when James tells someone (generally a stranger) that we're living in a hotel because a tree fell on our house.  The adult naturally looks at me like "What an imagination he has, that can't be true?"  And I step in for a moment and let them know that unfortunately what he's saying is exactly right.  There are a few responses, some we heard multiple times that are not only unhelpful but even somewhat frustrating.  Now, we're not keeping track of who says what and my goal here is not to make people feel bad.  But honestly, there are some things that are really frustrating to hear right now.  If you don't know what to say, sometimes the best thing is just to be honest and let the person know you can't relate.  I'm finding this applies to so many things in life.

1)  I remember when we did our house remodel, that was hard.  (Gee, was that by choice?  Did you have time beforehand to prepare?  Did you get to choose the time of year to start the project?  Did you get to work out the details of where you would live instead of being at the mercy of the insurance company?  Did you pay to replace something and then have it destroyed less than 2 months later?  Self-inflicted remodel projects have many pieces that we're without.)

2)  At least you have a pool.  (I get it, trying to find the positive.  When you stay in a hotel, the pool is generally great.  But when you still have to live the rest of life, you don't get a chance to use the pool.  We're lucky if we can find an hour or so on Sat/Sun to enjoy the pool.  And since 1 of our kids isn't tall enough to stand in more than the very corner, it's really not relaxing.)

Best things we've heard?
1)  Wow, that must be really hard.
2)  I don't know what to say, I've never been through anything like that.
3)  So glad to hear you're all okay, that must have been scary.

God is in control here, He's going to get us to where we need to be.  I'm amazed by the insights into various things that I've gained through this experience.  We are very ready to be home and continue to pray that in 2 weeks I can be in my own bed and my own house.  Hoping the snow can hold off until then!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Major Progress!

On the way to school this morning I received great news via text message from my neighbor - a construction crew was at my house and had started!  This was a wonderful way to start the day and James quickly became excited about going to see what they were up to.  We dropped Carolyn off at school and headed to the library for story time.  We chose books before story time and afterwards headed back to the house.  What we found when we got there was our house without a covering over the living room.

 Yes, those are trees you can see right through our house.  So weird to see this in the room that used to hold so much of our life.  But these guys certainly did work quickly.  After a little while, James became cold so we went to the garage to hang out.  I decided to do our usual fall clean up and move the summer toys into the sheds.  This should make the garage more usable going forward.  James found a rake and played with the leaves for a bit.  When we went back to the front of the house to wait for the guy in charge to meet us and go over floor samples and paint colors, this is what we found:

 Everything was completely torn off and the crew was having lunch.  Weird to think that a tree could do this much damage.  But nice to see everything that was cracked taken down.  The rest of the house was really bright at this stage.  The guy in charge arrived and we went into the kitchen to look over some things.  We chose the flooring, selecting an engineered wood to minimize the lip between our bedroom as well as the rest of the house.  We'll be finalizing the color to match our bedroom in the next couple days.  I showed him the paint cans so we can match colors for the living room and he told me they'll be painting the kitchen ceiling due to cracking and thus the walls as well.  We also looked at the coffee table so that it can be repaired.  That is the only thing really damaged personal property wise and I want to see it fixed.  Looks like some new hinges and sanding/staining will have it back to new.

After the meeting, James and I headed back to the hotel for lunch and nap/work time.  I loved having James snuggled up next to me for a nap.  Took me back to when he was a baby and would only sleep on/with me.  We then picked Carolyn up and took her to gymnastics before returning to the house.  It's amazing how fast these guys work, because this is what we found when we returned:

To the casual observer that knows nothing about this type of construction, they are done.  We have wonderful new framing, including two large spots for skylights.  Everything looks great!  Apparently they aren't quite done and will be returning tomorrow to finish up.  The roofers are scheduled to come on Saturday and we're told the village can come inspect the framing from the inside if needed so there will be no delay there.  I was a little sad to hear the goal is to get us home by Thanksgiving, as I had hoped we would be home next weekend.  But hopeful things continue to progress well and we can be home as soon as possible.  It's awesome to see so much work done.  I am getting even more excited about getting back into our house!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Materials delivered

Yesterday was quite a long day!  Carolyn did not have school, but James still had gymnastics and soccer.  So our morning was spent with him at his activities.  Luckily I was able to get some work done while he was at soccer.  Afterwards we had a nice lunch out, but I spent 20 minutes of it on the phone with a woman from AT&T.  I've wasted hours trying to get them to correct our account and finally feel slightly like they realize how frustrating this has been.  Had an ad from W.O.W. on our door though with an offer for $20/m internet that I'll be looking into as our contract runs out next month.

Our meeting with the contractor to pick out finishes was pushed back until today.  But it was wonderful to walk to the front of the house and see a pile of wood and other things waiting to be installed.  I counted 27 large beams, looks like this roof is going to be quite strong.  The weather doesn't look great for tomorrow but I really hope they can get started.

We really need to go home.  We are all starting to get extremely tired and yesterday was a small taste of what being home again could be like.  We spent the afternoon at the park and the kids loved it.  But we still had to trudge back to the hotel after gymnastics and the kids will have to be up extra early for chess.  Carolyn is starting to struggle with gymnastics skills.  Both kids miss their freedom so much.  Their imaginations and ability to play with just little things has really taken off though.  It makes me consider boxing up a large portion of the playroom when we do return home.  Now would be a great time to get rid of some of the junk since they likely won't remember what was there.  I wonder if I'll have any time to go to the house by myself to perhaps move some things into the garage.

We just want to go home.  Pray that the weather cooperates so they can get this process started.  If they get the roof done, enough might be done that we could be home next weekend.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Weather Delays, Illness

We had a wonderful time yesterday celebrating Halloween.  James and I spent most of the day doing laundry.  Or rather, he played with Jon's dad while I worked and did laundry.  Around 2 we headed to Carolyn's school for her parade and party.  The wind was very strong and it was snowing and off all day.  I could feel a tightness in my chest from the time we left until we entered the hotel around 7pm.  Mentally I knew everything would be okay.  But watching the trees bend and the traffic lights sway had my hands shaking for most of the day.  Carolyn had fun at her party, and then we packed up her things and headed to the store.  We grabbed some veggies and dip for our neighborhood gathering and the kids rode on the mechanical horse at Meijer.  Then we headed home, where the kids spent a couple minutes in their rooms and we turned on the furnace to keep the house at 50.  Some brief research online shows that will keep us from needing to worry about anything freezing.  Then we headed across the street for some playtime, dinner, then trick or treating.  I was amazed when we returned from trick or treating (by the kids' requests) and it was only 6:20.  We had a little more play time then returned to the hotel for bedtime snacks and bed.  Both kids were out by 8.

We had planned to go to a chess tournament for Carolyn this morning but she woke up with a bad headache.  We went down to breakfast and she was still saying she wanted to go.  But we were able to convince her that she'll have another chance in a couple months.  Turns out that was good as she has spent the day in bed, with several trips to the bathroom and her fever is up to 101.7.  We had done well to avoid any illness while living in a hotel for 8 weeks.  Hopefully this will be short-lived, she'll be better tomorrow, and no one else will catch the germs.  It's hard though to get her the rest she needs and not feel like we're all trapped.

I received an email from our contractor today as well.  The materials have been manufactured and will be delivered Tuesday.  Due to rain forecasts, the crew is scheduled for Thursday to complete the carpentry work.  This of course pushes everything at least another 2 days back.  So it looks like we'll be here another 2 weeks.

Off to take care of Carolyn.  God, please comfort her and move this through her body quickly.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

We have a permit!

I probably shouldn't be this excited, but my mind was racing last night after we received an email from the superintendent in charge of our project.  They received the permit on Monday and ordered the lumber that day!  The lumber and other roofing supplies are scheduling for delivery this coming Monday.  The size of the crew has been increased to hopefully complete demo and reconstruction Tuesday, with replacement of the layers of roof on Wednesday.  Of course, then they pause for inspection, but it definitely looks like the village is pushing things through.  Next up they'll do the insulation, pausing again for another inspection.  After that he'll put in for temporary occupancy.  We're still not sure whether we want to live in a construction zone.  It will probably depend some on what is happening with the sidewalk/outdoor electrical.  But he mentioned that will all be taken care of before temporary occupancy is granted.

My mind was so excited to hear this yesterday, as it feels like it was the last big hold up.  I was thinking about cooking again, letting the kids play with their toys, and everyone sleeping in their own beds.  Then I realized I may only have to lug laundry one more time (bless you anyone that has to go to a laundromat).  We have been truly blessed through this whole experience.  Time to start being sure we know the names of everyone in the hotel that has helped make us feel at "home".  In 10 days we might have the option of going home!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Wonderful Fall Days!

Not much new to report on the house.  The structural engineer didn't get the proposal in until Monday afternoon, so the permit wasn't requested until Tuesday morning.  This could potentially push us 3 days back due to when weekends fall.  We will receive a new update with new timeline tomorrow, hopefully with news that the permit has been received.  Looks like we'll be here until mid-November.  At this point I am hoping we can be home by Thanksgiving so I can cook the meal I usually do that weekend.  I would also like to do a thank you party for all of those that have been so supportive for us during this difficult time and that weekend would be perfect.  It's definitely out of our hands though.  Let's hope we're home before the first snowfall!

Last weekend we had an awesome time at Richardson's Pumpkin Farm in Spring Grove.  My dad was very generous and sent us a groupon so we just had to find the time to get up there.  With no Sunday school last week, we had the perfect opportunity for a relaxing morning followed by a wonderful afternoon of fun.  It actually felt like we were on vacation for the weekend.  Saturday was spent at a marionette show, the fire department open house, and in the pool.  The pumpkin farm was awesome, with everything we wanted to do included in the admission price.  We all loved the slides and enjoyed a wagon ride out into the pumpkin patch.  The wagon ride was a first for the kids and they loved it!  There were a bunch of other small activities for the kids as well and we enjoyed being able to take a deep breath and watch the kids be kids.  After the farm we used the last of our gift card to Cheesecake factory for dinner, courtesy of my sister.  We even spent a little extra and shared some cheesecake, the Godiva chocolate choice being naturally gluten free :-)  It was wonderful to relax as a family and not have to worry about any extra that we were spending as our expenses are definitely up these past 7 weeks!

Yesterday we had another wonderful fall day.  We started off at the library for a short parade and puppet show.  Then we headed to Accelerated center where the kids got to enjoy some sports stuff and their inflatables.  Both were quite tired after that.  But a last stop was the Glen for their trick or treating, where both kids filled their buckets while in costume.  The highlight for the parents were the free kids meal coupons - possibly choose one of them for lunch next Saturday.  Jon's parents then treated us to lunch/dinner before we came back for a relaxing evening.  We enjoyed the evening reception and Carolyn fit in a few chess games even.

All things considered, we're doing well.  Looks like another 3 weeks or so before we'll be home.  But everything is in God's hands and all will be done in His timing.  It is amazing the support we have received from those around us.  Thank you if you are reading this and have helped through time, money, or prayers.  I'm looking forward to the time I'll need to spend writing thank you notes when we get home.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Delays and more delays

So we finally received a response today with a tentative timeline.  It's been a long week waiting for this information, as no progress has been made in 9 days.  We've been waiting on plans from the structural engineer so they can avoid rebuilding half the roof.  But it looks like they have come up with an alternate type of lumber that is stronger and will do the job.  I am not "happy" with the new timeline, but at least it has everything finished well before Thanksgiving!  No, I'm not joking that it's somewhat close.

Submit for permit Monday
Start work ~7 days after permit is received = Roof work starts approximately 11-3
Once roof is complete we should be able to return home ~11-5
Then complete interior work, done ~11-15

That puts us less than 2 weeks shy of Thanksgiving before we have our entire house back to ourselves.  It's truly amazing to me how long all of this is taking.  If the village responds quickly, we maybe be able to take a few days off as 5 days is built in for receiving the permit.  There's been no discussion about the electrical - indoor or out - so not sure how all of that factors in.  And no discussion about replacing the sidewalk, so not sure when that will be done.  However, in my mind these are next in line musts before we can return home.  No electricity in my kitchen and an extension chord through my laundry room causes problems.  Plus there's no door to enter/exit through until the new sidewalk is installed.

So today we have some answers, but also many questions.  Looks like we'll be just shy of Diamond status of Hhonors!  Time to try and dream about sleeping in my own bed in about 3 weeks.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Initial Demolition Complete

We went by the house yesterday since Carolyn had a soccer and took the bus home.  It appears that the initial demolition has been completed.  They have taken out the entire floor

I was relieved to see that they took the floor out leading into our bedroom.  With the way tarps had been put up initially and where furniture had been moved to, it appeared that they were stopping short of taking everything out.  Our bedroom door is now taped shut as well.  It is hard to tell if the floor boards were damaged by water that sat for several days.  But there are some dark spots, so we'll see what they say.
They also tore out one section of wall.  Upon a close look at the wood framing in that wall, it looks to me as though at least one of the studs (is that what it's called?) will need to be replaced due to cracks nearly the entire height.

I'm unsure why they only removed that section of the wall, since about a foot to the right there is a crack in the drywall that runs from floor to ceiling.  But I'm sure they have their reasons at this time.  It is funny to see the entire floor pulled up except the one square underneath what is supporting the ceiling.  It is surreal to see a room that really has been the center of our family's life for the past 2 years gutted.  But I know that they will rebuild it and it'll be even stronger.  They did also finish taking out the concrete and put in a new board which will be needed to pour the new sidewalk.  I'm not sure what these wires belong to... something for the electrician to look I suppose.  One of them has a split in the protective coating.

Today is going to be a big day.  At 11am I will meet with the structural engineer, which should address our concerns for the overall safety of the house.  I've been informed he will do that and determine whether the current plan for the ceiling/roof is appropriate.  I'm an definitely anxious going into this meeting and had dreams last night that foundation issues were found and they decided the entire house needs to be rebuilt.  So I guess anything short of that today won't sound so bad!

I did stop by the bank on Tuesday to deposit the first check from the insurance company.  Of course, nothing can be done simply and I have to go in and get the check signed by the bank before signing since it is made out to us and the bank (mortgage holder).  They remembered us from when we took out the heloc to do the roof.  After years of never being in a bank, it's weird but cool to be recognized.  Looks like we'll be in there more to deposit other insurance checks.  Received the check for the tree company yesterday.

And beyond all of this house stuff, of course life continues forward.  I have a job interview at 1:30 this afternoon.  It's for my same company and would continue to be from home.  So we'll see how it goes.  I'm glad it's after I meet with the structural engineer, in case we do find out that repairs will take significantly longer than we were originally told.

Dear God, give me the wisdom to say the right things during today's interview.  Give the structural engineer the wisdom to see any damages to our home to ensure all necessary repairs are scheduled for completion.  Help all of us to manage this situation as best as possible.  I know that this will be used for our good, but I'm just not sure how at this point.  Help us to see the good in a tough situation.

Ready to tackle this long day!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Demolition begins!

While doing laundry at Jon's parents yesterday, my neighbor sent me the best text I've received in a while.  She let me know that there was a dumpster and vehicle from ATI in the driveway at our house.  This means that demolition has officially begun!

While this means that there's a lot of demolition to do, this is such a welcome sight after waiting 4 weeks for something to start.  Our furniture is safely stored in the garage and other parts of our house.  James and I stopped by so he could see some of the work being done.  And this morning, we went back to take some pictures of what things look like now.  I have to admit that seeing the broken rafters kind of shook my world.  We are SO blessed to have not been injured in any way.  And very fortunate that we had work done on the roof this summer.  There was a ton of new wood added this summer to reinforce what had been there.  I am convinced that without the added supports the tree would have crashed right through and landed on James and me.
This is the main hole that in let in the majority of the water.  You can see the completely broken 2x6 and the bent conduit.  You can also see the broken 2x6 next to it that was sistered this summer, holding the tree up much better due to the new wood.
Here we see another rafter that is split a bunch at the right.  The lighter wood around it held much better and this is what was added this summer

This is the second area with a large hole on the roof.  We can see how the brand new wood from this summer is splintered.  I am so glad is was added though, as the other rafter would likely have just completely buckled on its own and this is practically directly above where James and I were in the room.

They've sealed off the rest of the house and started on the floor as well.  It's definitely weird to see the ceiling so exposed.  Seeing the ceiling held up by the 2x4s is a little unnerving as well.
But we can see that this is definitely needed as in this picture we find another 2x6 with damage that also appears to be shored up the company.  This should provide safety until the structural engineer gets to the house.
Concrete has also been removed.  Not sure why these chunks were left, but at least the huge slabs are now gone.  Our back door certainly looks very different at this point!
After soccer this morning we took the kids for a special treat hot chocolate.  We've gotten a taste of winter today with temperatures in the 30s and rain.  They continue to be in good spirits through all of this.  James has said that he feels safer seeing all of the wood providing support in the ceiling.  I am looking forward to seeing this process continue and everything rebuilt.  We are all looking to be home, but with the ceiling removed it is evident that there is a lot of work up there.

Dear God, thank you for watching over us.  I can see your work in this catastrophe and I am looking forward to see how use this for our good.  Thank you for blessing us with the means to withstand this and still remain close as a family.  Continue to help us get the rest we need and prepare us for what is to come.

Time to rest with everyone on this cold, rainy afternoon.  Thanks everyone for the support!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Conflicting Dates

Yesterday we had a bit of panic.  I had not heard from the construction company since an email on Sept 22.  I reached out on the morning of Sept 26 but received no response.  Jon called our insurance adjuster yesterday before he left work and played phone tag with her, eventually receiving a message.  The message relayed to us that according to the construction manager, we would not be home until late November.  He had said that there was an issue with permits or something so the work would be delayed.  We were nearly crushed by this information, as it would mean 2 more months on top of the nearly month we've already been here.  We're already wearing thin and I'm not sure how we'd make it until Thanksgiving.

Before dinner Jon started leaving a round of messages, trying to get in touch with the village guy or construction company.  After dinner he left another round for the insurance adjuster and construction company.  We did hear from the construction company, and received a conflicting report.  He apologized, stating that the superintendent had a death in the family.  Then said we should receive a call today from the superintendent so he can come out to look at the house.  Honestly, I'm getting sick of people coming out to look at the house at this point.  I just want them to start doing something.  Tear up the floor, start taking down the ceiling.  Heck, start moving the furniture out of the room.  Surely that wouldn't require a permit or a discussion with the insurance company!  Demo should start later this week or Monday.  From there the project should take 3 weeks, assuming no surprises.  Seeing the destruction, I am anticipating some surprises.  So it likely will be November before we're home.

Of course, it doesn't help that the trees were blowing as we walked into the hotel last night.  James looked at me and said he was scared.  I scooped him up and we talked about the height of our room compared to the height of the trees.  But I don't think it worked - it took him 2 hours to get to bed.

I'm just tired at this point.  I miss my bed and the space of our house.  I miss cooking for my family.  I miss meals at our kitchen table.  The kids miss their freedom.

God, give us the patience to make it through this.  Give Jon and I the wisdom to give our kids what they need from us.  Be a comfort to them.  Give the construction company the wisdom to make our safe again as quickly as possible.  We trust in You and know that everything will be okay in your time.

Friday, September 26, 2014

No progress

After a big start to the week, the rest has been pretty disappointing.  I haven't heard back from the contractor (emailed this morning) since Monday.  I had been naively hoping they would have been able to start the demolition by the end of this week.  I guess this is why he put Oct 22 on the contract even though he thinks the reconstruction will only take 2.5 weeks.  At this point, though, it looks like we'll be pushing even that date unless they get started soon.  It's amazing to me how incredibly slow this process has taken.  If there weren't all of these delays, we could have been home by now.

James continues to struggle a bit with everything.  He is having a hard time missing a lot of the time we used to just snuggle and read.  And I'm not sure what he dreams about and/or thinks about as he tries to go to bed at night.  He's been doing better with nap time the last couple days, snuggling with me probably helps that.  But no matter how tired he is (last night it was 8 before the layed down) it takes 1-1.5 hours for him to go to bed.  Given that I had a nightmare about another tree falling on the house last night, I wouldn't be surprised if that is happening to him as well.  There's nothing we can do for him either other than offer lots of extra hugs.  It seems that he has a meltdown each down around lunch time, although putting him into his bed when he starts the hitting/kicking seems to be working really well.  Yesterday I only had to do that once and then he came for snuggles instead.  I almost wonder if the jostling of being put onto the bed helps him reset himself.  But I'm optimistic that his recovery time in the middle of the day is getting quicker.

Carolyn is getting tired.  She had a meltdown yesterday about finding her hair scrunchie and rubber band for gymnastics.  Just stood and screamed for a good 15 minutes, when it was sitting on her bedside table.  Turns out she covered it up with something she put away while looking for the hair stuff.  She's never been great at finding things, but I can tell she's starting to get a bit run down.

I wish I could scoop both kids up and plop them in their own beds, tell them to sleep as long as they want and come into my room for snuggles and books in the morning.  Alas, it looks like it will be later than sooner for that one.  So for now, we'll go to the park by the house after school today, out for dinner, and then to the GBS football game tonight.  Tomorrow Carolyn will have soccer and then we'll relax and Jon's parents while doing laundry.  I think we need some time to just relax and this weekend will be just that.  Sunday is nothing, so we might even get to spend some time in the pool.  I really miss my kitchen right now, what I would give for a couple hours to bake some banana bread and chocolate chip cookies.

Thank you God for the continued support of those around us.  We had great opportunities for meals with others this week, including another neighbor.  I am looking forward to a chance to say thanks by having a celebration dinner once we are back in our house.  I know that this will all come together, help me to have the patience necessary as the work begins.  Help me and Jon to continue to have the patience necessary to help the kids through this time.  Give us the wisdom necessary to respond to our children in the way needed at each turn.  Please bless our time today at MOPs!  All is well and God is in control.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Met the Contractor

I (finally) met the contractor yesterday.  He spent a lot of time at the house and took copious notes on what needs to be torn down and fixed.  He inspected the house even closer and asked if various cracks were there before.  A lot of them I couldn't say definitely.  But after talking to Jon, I'm starting to think we're going to have some issues with damage to the steel beam.  There are cracks in the wall that neither of us remember being there along where the steel beam is.  He did let us know that they will want to tear out the walls from the inside to inspect the framing.  It does sound like this may even include some walls in the kitchen due to the cracked siding on the front of the house. We discussed the flooring and we're going to try and match what's in the bedroom, but keep the threshold as we're not looking to spend extra money to extend it into there.  Looking at the carpet in the playroom he also said they would clean it, since there's dirt all over it due to the firemen and various people that have come through the seldom used door to inspect the house.

I asked about a timeline and on the contract and it says everything should be completed by Oct 22.  Obviously, though, this date depends on so many different people that we can't be sure.  Next steps from here are to have the different trades of the company stop by the house to investigate their pieces.  Then the demolition begins.  Once the demolition is complete, the roof will be fixed.  Then they can move inside and fix the rest.  I still hand on to some hope that we could move back in before the inside is completely finished.  However, if they have to tear out walls in the kitchen, that may make things quite difficult.  He said that we likely won't be home until it's all done.

So for now we pray for God to help the construction company to move quickly to complete the repairs needed.  We pray that the engineer that inspects the house finds everything needed to fully fix any damages to ensure our house is completely safe.  We pray that the kids (especially James) can settle into a new normal for the next 3-4 weeks.  We say thanks again for keeping all of us safe and giving us wonderful friends and family to help us through this time.

Ready for our busy Tuesday!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Hardest Day so far

Yesterday was a hard day in terms of being a parent.  We dropped Carolyn off at school and James chose to return to the hotel and go swimming.  We had a great time goofing around in the pool and then enjoying the hot tub.  We came upstairs, showered, and got dressed again.  Then we lay down to read some books.  I read 5 books and then needed a break, at which point James lost it.  This was probably the first time he's had a chance to just fully relax and he was feeling some very strong emotions.

Four year olds have trouble handling their emotions, especially mine.  I believe he was feeling sad and scared and didn't know how to tell me.  After 15-20 minutes of going back and forth with him pushing me away and then trying to snuggled, he crawled into my lap.  I told him I was sorry that he's not at home and agreed that this sucks.  I let him know that work should start on the house next week so we can go home.  And then I told him it's okay to cry when you are sad, and that's just what he did.  This made me cry, because there was absolutely nothing I could do to help him.  Feeling helpless as a parent is really hard.  I know everything is going to be fine, but I do wish I could just make the house better so we could go home.

We finished our lunch and layed down so I could work and James could try to nap.  At least I was able to get some work done.  Then we headed to the house to go to the park.  James got to ride his bike and found some friends to play with.  We got Carolyn from the bus stop and then headed back.  It was really nice to relax at the park and let the kids just play.  Great way to end the week.

The house is still depressing to look at, but it's comforting to know that we're meeting with the construction company Monday.  All is well and God is in control.  Thanks again to everyone for their wonderful support.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Initial Estimate

Life has really been busy this week!  On Tuesday we received the initial estimate from the field adjuster... $25k worth of removal and replacement costs.  Of course, that's what I assume the R&R on the estimate means.  This is before the structural engineer checks anything out.  It appears that the floor and ceiling will be ripped out and replaced as expected.  The west wall of the living room, where the tree leaned into as it fell, will also be torn out and replaced.  I assume this is so that they can expect the wall for any damages.  There is some stuff on there about the siding, but I can't quite tell what they intend to do there.  Looks like a lot of work, especially as the roof reframing is listed at 32 hours alone!  And that I'm pretty sure is number 1 on the list of what needs to be done before we can move back home.  That will need to be done before the electric can be restored I assume and it's what needs to be done to ensure the structural integrity of that room.  I'm not sure what other things need to be done before we're home.

Tuesday afternoon I received a call from the contractor that will be overseeing the repairs, since we're using the people the insurance company suggests.  She said she would call back Wednesday morning to schedule someone to meet with me at the house so they can assess the damages and figure out as a contractor what needs to be done.  Alas, I received no phone call yesterday.  So it's looking like it'll be next week before they'll even get out to the house, which makes me think we won't be home by 9/30.  My real hope is still Halloween, and with all of these delays it seems that may be close to reality.

We had a wonderful dinner last night with a neighbor.  They have spent some time redoing their backyard and it is gorgeous!  The husband did all of the work and built a brick oven, in which he cooked pizza for us.  Jon is jealous that he missed this at conference night.  The kids had a wonderful time playing together and of course didn't want to leave.  I think that's the hardest thing... there's just not much time to play anymore.  When we add in all the extra time spent in the car, we remove all the short bits of time where the kids could play with friends during the week.  We're planning to go to the park near the house after school on Friday though.

All is well and God is in control.  Seeing the potential for severe storms on Saturday has me a little nervous.  But I know that's just how it will be for a while.  My mind knows it will all be fine, but my body gets nervous.

Ready for another full day - take Carolyn to school, get an oil change, do laundry, work, take Carolyn to gymnastics, then the ice cream social.  I'm sure we'll all fall asleep quickly tonight.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

More delays

I am very glad I didn't plan my day around meeting a structural engineer yesterday.  Instead I took Carolyn to school, grabbed a few things from the house, then took James to the library.  I did venture into the damaged area and discovered 3 library books - 2 of them water logged.  I'm hoping there aren't any more underneath the ceiling drywall that is on the floor.  Definitely something we'll be giving the receipt to insurance for!  After the library we played at the newly renovated park in downtown Glenview, it is awesome.  We stopped by Jon's parents to grab their crockpot and then came back to the hotel.

Around noon Jon called the field adjuster, who told him that due to the extensive damage he has to do some extra work and talk to extra people before anyone else comes out.  But we can expect to hear today or tomorrow.  He did submit part of the report - where he gave the worst of the damage at 10 ceiling beams needing replacement.  This was enough to convince the office adjuster to extend our hotel stay for 2 weeks.  There are not any places with kitchens in a convenient location, so we will stay at the Embassy Suites until Sept 30 unless there is some huge change.  We get a wonderful breakfast each morning, access to a snack machine, and light snacks in the evening.  As long as the kids can sort out sleeping again (last night was rough), we'll be good.

I found out yesterday why Jon was so uneasy last week when the office adjuster called me.  She sounded almost skeptical of the initial report, stating a concern that no pictures were yet included.  It almost sounded like she didn't believe he'd been in the house yet was making his estimate with very severe damage.  I let her know that yes, he was inside and took many pictures.  I was very tempted to offer to send her mine.  And I wanted to scream at her - we're not lying, our whole roof/ceiling is caved in and needs to be fixed.  I know her job is probably to keep costs low, but we are not trying to pull a fast one here.  We just want our house back so our kids can get back to normal life.

As Joel Osteen said in his sermon this weekend, "All is well."  Although these are frustrating delays and the kids didn't sleep well, everything really is okay.  We are safe and have access to some wonderful things.  And it will all work out for the best in the end.  Thank you again to all the wonderful people that are helping us with dinner - we ate with my Dad and Patty Saturday night and with Jon's parents Sunday night.  The kids are looking forward to eating with a neighbor tomorrow night.  Feeling the love of everyone around us makes all of this easier.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Field Adjuster

So yesterday we finally met with the field adjuster.  He actually apologized for taking so long to get us, then explained that his schedule had been filled with minor insurance claims issues.  So people, stop calling your insurance after a storm because 1 shingle lifted on your property!  There may be others out there with real damage that need help.

Walking up to the house he said, this doesn't look so bad, the village condemned it?  He asked, does it look worse from the inside?  What he saw was the tarped roof.  I promptly pulled out my phone to show the event that took place and he was shocked.  Shocking a "catastrophe team" adjuster is kind of amazing.  We went around to the side to look at where the tree came up and he wasn't surprised by the concrete slabs.  And then we went inside.  When the adjuster's response as you walk towards the damaged area is "oh geez," you know things aren't good.  He looked at the living room and I told him about the steel beam likely making it safe in 2/3 of the house.  After looking over the damage he told me that 2 things likely saved my life.

1)  The tree was very close to the house, so it did not have as much time to build speed as it fell.
2)  The steel beam/older constructed home made it so the house could support the falling tree.

He asked us if the steel beam was bent.  I hadn't even considered that.  But when I consider that we found cracks in the siding by our front windows (past the steel beam), I realized it's a possibility.  The siding is likely cedar wood, so not a real easy feat.  I had been thinking that just the 1 ceiling beam we could see was damaged.  He declared that obviously the one (2x6) was split, but then that likely 6 ceiling beams will need to be replaced.  And he admitted more might be found once drywall is pulled from the ceiling.  I had been thinking the rafters were 2x4 and found it amazing the rafter was split.  Of course, I know nothing about house construction.  He measured and it's a 2x6!  This is split across the 6" part.  I can only imagine the amount of force needed to break that.  He took tons of measurements, including of the concrete slabs in the back.  Then he turned to us and said he was not going to write an estimate on site.  He said he typically does, but there is just too much damage.

The adjuster declared that this is the worst damage he's seen in the Chicago area and the only thing worse he's seen as an adjuster was houses half-flattened by tornadoes.  He asked if we had any contractors and we said no, we're fine using whoever they suggest.  We don't have any hidden agendas here, we just want a livable home to take our kids back to.  So he said that's great and should help things move more quickly since they can discuss things themselves.  We should not be alarmed if the contractor's estimate comes back higher than his, since who knows what will be found once they start pulling things out/down.

His final statement as he went to leave left us both feeling much better.  He let us know that things will be put back the way they were, with us only out our deductible.  After the last 8 days, this was the most reassuring thing he could say.  So from here, we wait to hear from the structural engineer on Monday.  And after that we should have a better idea of timeline and what the scope of the repairs will truly be.

Our stay at this hotel has been extended until Tuesday morning.  The thinking seems to be that once the engineer comes through we'll have an idea of the length of time displaced.  At that point we can get into an extended stay place which will be cheaper for insurance and better for us as a family.  My dad pointed out last night that there are perks to the one paying if the stay is 4 weeks or longer, so that may be why they were hesitant to move us there until they understood how bad things are.

Thank you God for keeping us safe and only having property damaged.  We know that this story could have been much different with just a couple changes.  Please continue to guide us and help us as we navigate this journey.  Thank you for wonderful friends and family that are incredibly supportive.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

My Biggest Fear

Today we meet with the insurance adjuster.  About 5 hours from now we should have a slightly better idea of what happens from here.  If he shows up without any contractor or structural engineer, we may only know that the insurance is ready to roll up their sleeves with us and get us to where we need to be.  Yesterday when I visited the house I noticed a bunch of divots in the grass from when the tree fell.  When it fell it hadn't rained much, so the grass was not very soft.  Yet there are several places in the yard where one can tell the impact was great enough to compact the ground further.  They're not huge, but enough to give me pause.  I wonder just how great of force was applied to the front wall of our house as the trunk landed from its pivoted fall.  That's what the structural engineer will need to help us determine.

In all of this, I know that the house will get fixed and we will eventually get home.  I know that the kids will be okay once we get home and the stress leaves.  What I've started to be concerned about is my body.  It hasn't held up the best in the lat few years and I am concerned as to how long I can handle the exhaustion and wacky schedule before I hit burn out.  Yes, it's only been a week.  But before I didn't daily feel this exhausted and it took me an entire month of going to bed around 8, sleeping until 7, and often taking a nap before I felt human.  The food we're eating isn't what we're used to, James and I both woke with stomach aches this morning.  I woke up before 6 and tried to go back to sleep while feeling quite sick.  This past week I have woken up early and stayed up late being sure to keep on track with work.  Not only because I feel responsible for my team but because, right now, we truly do need the money.  We don't know what expenses are coming, and we do know we still have the loan for the roof to pay off.  This also happens to be the busiest month of the year as we get things started up again.  I can feel my body losing the great place it was in.  I'm now exhausted from when I wake up until I collapse into bed.  I struggle to keep my eyes open after lunch, staring at the computer to complete my work.  I have trouble thinking and often lost track of my thoughts mid-sentence.  The dizziness has returned a bit, although not quite to previous levels.  I know I'll make it through this, really I don't have much choice.  But I'm scared of how far off my body is going to fall and how long it will take to recover.  Adrenal fatigue is real and scary, and I don't want to face it again.  I was just getting to a great place with everything too.

Dear God, I need you to keep my body strong right now.  I need help to show my children patience as the days grow long.  I need help to continue to show my kids compassion for how this is effecting them.  I need help to keep going, because this becoming very hard.  I thank you for the blessing of no one being hurt in the accident.  And I thank you for this wonderful hotel to stay in as we sort things out.  I thank you for great neighbors and family and the support they are lending.  Help my spirit to be calm and remind my mind that all is well.

Here we go, on to find out what's going to be involved in this road to the recovery of our house.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Small improvement

Today we begin phase 2 of this adventure, as we move to a new hotel.  Yesterday had a tense couple hours when I discovered that we were being asked to move to another room in this hotel that was a single room with 2 double beds.  That can work for a night on vacation, but not to live in indefinitely.  Once I found out I called Jon to ask him to call the housing place back and tell them this wouldn't work.  They discussed it with insurance and got to work.  The biggest battle is that everything is booked.  It is really crazy to me, with the number of options around.  But I looked online and everything really and truly is booked.  The insurance company has also only approved accommodations until Saturday.

That is the part the makes me the most frustrated.  We know we haven't done anything wrong here.  With 30 minutes of the tree falling through the roof, Jon was on the phone with the insurance.  He had put the claim in before the fire department left the house.  We had them suggest a tree company and let them tell us where to stay.  We haven't been asked for proof of anything yet.  We certainly have TONS of pictures to share and we're not looking to hide anything.  With 2 small kids, we honestly just want to get back home.  But the village put a sticker on our house that says it is not approved for occupancy.  Yesterday Jon left a message for the adjuster with the name and number for the guy from the village.  I'm hoping that if she calls him she'll realize that there is indeed extensive damage and at a minimum we will not be allowed home until a structural engineer inspects the house.  We can't guarantee the clean-up guys from Servpro that when they start tearing down the ceiling it won't cave in on them.  It's clear that at least 1 ceiling rafter is completely snapped and I can see damage to the one next to it.  The entire ceiling is slanted, but we don't know if that's damage to the rafters or simply the drywall being out of place.  That's not our job to determine either, since we know nothing about building a house.  The adjuster will arrive Saturday between 12 and 1, so hopefully after that things will be easier to handle.

Things ended up settled in a positive way yesterday through much patience, although up against a timeline from this hotel.  We ended up being allowed to remain in this room for last night.  Today we are moving to an Embassy Suites.  This move will allow us to keep 2 separate rooms so I can still work after the kids are in bed.  It also puts Jon much closer to work, getting him a bit more rest each day.  I believe it might shave some time off driving Carolyn to school as well, it's hard to know until we see the traffic.  They also have a wonderful breakfast, so while there is no kitchen, we know at least 1 meal a day will be substantial without stress.

So we move forward into the next phase of the adventure.  God definitely came through for us yesterday and we were blessed with not having to move yesterday.  We were able to pack up most of the cars last night, which was nice.  We appreciate the continued prayers from all!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Yesterday I spent the day waiting to hear from the insurance company.  Around 1, Jon decided to call them.  He was told we were being assigned a field adjuster and should hear something in 2-3 days.  That was pretty disappointing.  We received a call about 7:30 last night from the field adjuster and he asked to meet us at the house on Saturday between 12 and 1!  It will be over a week before anything gets even looked at.  Which means no work can really be started until Monday.  Although we might get lucky and Servpro can start some demo on Saturday, but that's unlikely since first they need to get someone in there to be sure the ceiling isn't going to collapse as it is torn apart.

Carolyn had a great day yesterday.  She was annoyed that her class had already gone into the classroom when I dropped her off at school, but otherwise was fine.  Today will be a longer day with gymnastics, but I pray she'll get through it.

James is having a tougher time without napping.  We spent the morning with Jon's dad, playing in their house and visiting the park.  He spent a lot of time re-enacting what happened with blocks or other toys.  Kind of interesting to see him coping in such a textbook way.  Development books always seem to be written exactly about him.  We went to the house to grab the crockpot and his soccer stuff and he came inside.  He asked questions about why he can see certain things in the ceiling, but seemed okay for the most part.  It was clear at dinner that he was exhausted.  So after his gymnastics and soccer today we're going to come back to the hotel so he can attempt a nap.  I'm going to let him lay on the bed next to me as he is definitely very clingy, but hopefully he can sleep a little while I work.

So for now we focus on trying to get into a place to stay long term that has a kitchen and is hopefully closer to everything.  Jon spoke with the housing person yesterday and let her know where Carolyn's school is and that above all, that's where we want to be close to.  We discovered there is a place very nearby, so close that if we get moved there I might see if the bus would pick her up.  I'm praying for an opening there starting tomorrow as it would make things easier on the kids and that's what we're counting on for now.

God will get us through this.  We're not sure where there is going to put us financially once it's all settled, but God is in control.  This is definitely one of those times where you don't realize how great everything is until you lose a lot.

Thanks for the continued prayers from those reading!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Moving Forward

The past weekend was definitely anything but normal.  Saturday we were all exhausted.  Carolyn made it through soccer.  Then we returned to the house to meet a clean-up crew and board-up crew.  After some discussion, the clean-up crew decided to return today and not enter the house and it can be determined that nothing will fall on them.  We were able to learn some of what needs to be done to get back to normal.  The ceiling will need to be torn down.  The floor will need to be pulled up.  Everything in the room will need to at minimum be cleaned.  The carpets are most likely trash, but are just area rugs anyway.  The roof will need to be replaced over about 1/4 of the house, possibly more.  There is 1 large hole and about 6 other small holes in the roof.  We can see that one of the boards behind the fascia was pushed out of place.  We can also see that 2 rafters are snapped where the branch came through.  The entire ceiling is sagging, so it is possible that while other rafters didn't snap, they have experience too much stress and need to be replaced.  Of course, the may have even snapped some but we can't see them at this time.  There may be damage to the floor supports, we'll find that out as the demo begins.  We are unsure completely of any wall damage.  Any drywall that got wet will be torn down, we're unsure if that includes the wall where I was closing the window.  We don't know about any of the furniture in the room.  That will all be moved into the garage and if it's salvageable will be thoroughly cleaned.  The final thing that will need to be addressed is the electric.  We can see that some of the conduit in the ceiling snapped.  We're pretty confident that this is why there is no power in the living room or kitchen, which saved a fire from occurring.  Each time I have returned to the house, the ceiling has dropped a little further.  So it will be nice to meet with someone today to get the demo officially started.

We remain in the same hotel and asked last night if we can bring a crockpot.  So I will get that today with some meat to cook for tomorrow.  The fridge here is tiny and there is no freezer part.  So that makes things a little more challenging.  But we're pushing through and it will all be okay.  Yesterday we had lunch at the church picnic and dinner at Jon's parents' house.  Today we'll likely pick up dinner using the generous gift card my sister emailed.  If we're still out of the house come this weekend, we'll likely head to my dad's for part of Saturday.  It is wonderful to have such a supportive extended family in times like these.  Our neighbors have been wonderful as well.  Once we are back in our house I will be writing a bunch of thank you notes to everyone that has helped.  God has truly blessed us with the people he has placed in our lives.

Today we truly begin the healing process and start to put the pieces of our home back together.  God is in control and He will get us to where we need to be.