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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.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Night after the storm

Thank God we're safe and sound.  It's just after 3am and I can't sleep.  Every time I close my eyes my mind races.  I start to replay the last minute of what happened in the house.  And I am in awe of how good God must be to have kept us safe and any semi-important things unharmed.  I say semi-important because nothing in my house seems very important after what happened.  I'm hoping maybe writing a little will allow my brain to rest so I can get some sleep and not be a total zombie tomorrow.

About 2:30 Jon texted that it was dark and real windy at his school, then said he saw a tree knocked over in the courtyard outside his window.  I remember thinking "gosh, I hope that storm doesn't come south."  Then it got darker and I asked James to help close the windows.  He worked on one in the kitchen while I did the playroom, closed the front door, closed the bedroom window and then went to the backdoor.  As I closed the back door I heard a very loud cracking noise.  I figured it was a tree limb breaking and didn't think much of it.  I did note I had to force the door closed as the wind was quite strong.  I then went to close the final window as the wind was pushing the rain into the house and continued to hear the cracking.  I still didn't think much of it as I pulled the couch away from the wall to get to the crank.  The crank fell to the floor so I grabbed the one next to it and started to close the window.  I saw what I thought was a branch fall just passed the window I was closing and turned around as I heard a loud thud.  I couldn't believe my eyes as I saw the ceiling caved in.  Panic started to set in as I saw the tree blocking the front door.  I ushered James into the playroom as I decided what to do.  I tried calling Jon, but he didn't answer.  So instead I dialed 911, luckily having my cell phone in hand this whole time.  The woman sent a fire truck and told me I had to get out.  It was a total downpour outside and we had no shoes or umbrella.  I remember that our neighbor, Wendy, would be home so we opened the never used third door and made a run for it.  We ran through 4" of water on the sidewalk and across the street.  Wendy saw us coming and couldn't figure out why we were running.  Later she told me she was wondering why I had texted/called instead of coming over.  Then she saw the house from across the street.  It was nice to know we were safe and had help.

I waited under Wendy's eaves for the fire department to arrive and got in touch with Jon.  They didn't do much, except tell me to stay out of the house and estimate the tree to weigh 1200-1300lbs!  They let me go inside to grab a few needed items - keys, teddy bears, shoes, and my purse.  What I really needed was my laptop - everything is on here.  I was told no as it was in the corner where the tree was but the head fireman did go over and get it for.  They dropped my stuff at Wendy's and went to help others where there was something they could do.  Meanwhile Jon had called the insurance company and they had referred him to a tree service.  The tree service and a village representative arrived about the same time.  The tree guy looked over the house and let me know a crew would be arriving as soon as possible, but traffic was bad and they were finishing up a limb removal.  He left to get a tarp for the hole.

The village guy walked around the outside with me and asked if there was a way inside.  It was while these 2 gentleman were there that I realized the tree had pulled up 2 slabs of concrete as came up.  Our back door rendered unusable and our front door blocked by the tree, our third door the only usable entryway.  We went back into the house to assess the damage and he deemed we could re-enter once the tree was removed to retrieve needed items but were not allowed in the living room.  He remarked that he felt part of the house would be okay due to the steel beam running between our living room and kitchen.  Then he got an orange sticker out of his car to put on this house, deeming it uninhabitable until someone comes in to shore it up and check the structural integrity.  He wrote his name and direct number on the sticker and asked us to call should we need anything.  A wonderful gesture, he told me that all permit fees would be waved and that we can move forward as quickly as possible with any repair work, they will help that happen on their end.  It's great to see that they are willing to help us along as possible.

At that point it became a waiting game.  I waited for the bus to drop off Carolyn, who was stuck at school a bit longer as buses were delayed.  I sent her to Wendy's to play while I waited for Jon and the tree crew to arrive.  Jon came home and was on the phone with the insurance company a bunch. The tree crew arrived and did a very nice, quick job of removing such a large tree.  It took 2 trucks for all the wood chips and multiple crews were working.  Once the tree was removed we went and loaded up a laundry basket with clothes for the night.  Jon had discussed the situation with multiple people at the insurance company and they secured a hotel room for the night.  It just so happens to be the same hotel where we had our wedding reception over 8 years ago!  I prefer the former reason for being here of course.  The room is great and is a suite so the kids have their own room.  Great since it's 4am and I can't sleep and don't want to wake them.  We'll be here for at least 2 more nights, and then they'll try to move us hopefully closer to home and a place with a kitchenette if we still can't go home.

A company was to come to board up the hole last night.  We left to find dinner around 7:30 so I hope they came.  Of course I have visions of the roof completely collapsing in that part of the house as there was more rain last night.  While they removed the tree more drywall fell from the ceiling and we could see the entire ceiling is bowed in our living room.  There is a lot of damage and it's going to take a lot of time to fix.  But once the structural integrity is determined, we should be able to return home while the work is done.  We will be meeting with someone at 11 today to start the clean-up process.  There was standing water, so I do wonder if the floor will be ruined.

For now I hope I will be able to sleep without hearing the cracking of the tree and replaying what happened over and over.  Definitely some PTSD from the whole thing, and I hope and pray that James won't have the same problem when he returns to the house.  Both kids seem to be sleeping soundly tonight, although a 10pm bedtime doesn't give them much choice.  In 4hrs we'll be up for the day and headed to Carolyn's first soccer scrimmage.  I want to keep things as normal as possible for the kids.  And then I hope my brain can settle down so I can get back to close to normal, or at least a new normal until the house is put back together.

Thank God we're all safe.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Focusing on the positive

Wow, it's been a long time since I've written in here.  Life just completely took over and I haven't had time to sit down and write.  Likely, I should of be doing a myriad of other things even right now.  I never did print off James' preschool for the week, but I think I at least have what we need for tomorrow!  And I signed up for an online physics course that I haven't even looked at yet.  We've had so many wonderful adventures in the last 8 months, let me see if I can sum them all up quickly.

Last Spring, once the ground finally thawed, Carolyn finished up her year of AYSO.  Her growth as a soccer player was awesome, along with the growth of her teammates.  We chose to pursue another route for soccer this school year so I am no longer her coach.  Carolyn played her first (and last) year of tball.  She really enjoyed it and can't wait to try softball next Spring.  James got to try tball as well, which he loved.  And it turns out that he has a great arm for such a peanut and can even hit a little coach pitch if the bat is small enough.  We celebrated birthdays for everyone in the family, sticking with family parties for at least one more year.  It was nice to see everyone and have low-key celebrations that focused on enjoying time together.

Once school ended we headed up to Blue Harbor for a few days and had a blast in the waterpark and at the beach.  The kids love it there, we'll see if we make it back next summer.  After that was the 4th of July and then Carolyn took her NU CTD classes and absolutely loved them.  Definitely a little weird to have my 6yo telling me about phalanges and telling stories about Nessie.  She did a bunch of projects and both teachers told how they loved the questions she asked.  After her classes ended, we piled into the car for Denver.  The drive was definitely long, but both kids did pretty well.  It was wonderful to see my grandfather and he did his best to stay awake when we were there.  For a 96yo he's doing pretty well and I am SO glad we decided to go.  Lots of great memories to last for a while, and of course I always know that this may have been our last visit with him (although we've been saying that for 5years it seems :-))  We came home and recharged for a few days before heading up to MN to visit my former department chair.  She has cabins in the middle of Superior National Forest and it was an experience.  We had intended to spend 2 days hiking and playing in the water.  Instead we spent 1 day driving to the ER to clear James of a concussion and then 1 day playing in the water.  The kids really enjoyed that one day though and it was nice to visit with Maggie.  She's really enjoying retirement and that's awesome to see.

Summer was basically over once we arrived home, with Jon heading back to work a few days later.  Both kids attended soccer camp and for the most part enjoyed it.  I got to walk each day while they were both at camp and James and I had some special time while Carolyn finished up each day.  Then we enjoyed another week of settling into activities before school started.  Carolyn is starting the team program for gymnastics, which is 2 afternoons each week.  She started first grade last week and was definitely exhausted by Friday afternoon.  But so far she is loving her teacher and kids in her class.  She has some of the more severely challenged students join her class for specials and on the first day helped one of the girls find a seat.  It's a great opportunity for her to work with others and use her gentle, loving spirit to encourage and include others.  We spent most of this weekend at a family wedding, which was beautiful.  We all had a wonderful time at the ceremony and reception and have spent the last 2 days recovering from staying up until about 11.  All ready to face a new week now though!

This week we don't quite get to settle into a regular routine since I have jury duty on Wednesday.  James is looking forward to some special time with Jon though while I'm gone.  And Jon is looking forward to being a part of activities like chess and soccer that he typical misses.  After this week we'll settle in for a bit though.  I can't wait to see the blessings God has in store for our family this school year.  Both kids continue to be very inquisitive and I am looking forward to helping them answer their questions.

My goal for this year is going to be to focus on the positive.  When I go for my walks (try for 3mi 4x/wk) I repeat a verse in my head as much as possible.  I don't know which one it is as it comes out of a song, but I just repeat to myself "Be still, and know that He is God."  Because really, that's all there is to it.  If I focus on getting things right with God and helping my children to focus on behaving through God's grace, we'll all be on the right path.  So while I can't be physically still most of the time, I am trying to focus on keeping my mind from racing by remembering that God is in control and everything is working towards the best outcome.
Ready for the next challenge, because I know that God is in control.