We had a house fire. I’ve eluded to it some on social media and in a post here or there. Or if you read our Christmas card you know it’s been a big part of our lives the past few months. In early September we were awoken by our two eldest (Cashel age 4 and Camper age 2.5) running down the stairwell above our room screaming. It was 1 am and we had both just started to doze off to sleep. We truly thought that Camp was just having a nightmare and then we heard, “Papa, there’s a fire!” escape Cashel’s lips. We both jumped out of Ben and ran to the upstairs. I will start with saying that we did very little right in terms of all the fire safety tips I grew up knowing and being taught having a father who was a firefighter my entire life. We are so grateful that Cashel remembered what we had taught him this past summer about escaping during a fire and got his brother (who was terrified of the alarm sounds) to climb down from his top bunk and out of their bedroom before the electrical fire, that was happening in the top of their bedroom closet; fell to the floor and caught the carpet, right in front of their door, on fire as well. His response to the fire alarms saved our lives. Our alarms in the lower level hand not even begun to sound and if the fire and alarms had started in Corban’s room we might be telling a very different story.
After Ben put the fire out with large amounts of water, and yes we should have called the fire department to inspect sub floors and so much more, we climbed into bed holding our boys close. Our hearts were racing and this Momma’s mind going a million miles a minute. I am a sound sleeper, I can sleep through almost anything, so it is also rare for me to lose sleep. I don’t think I slept a wink. We could not have and any idea what was in store for our family for the next quarter of a year. Phone calls in the morning led to a lot of scared and relieved people and began the process of trying to put our life and home back together.
The flame damage itself was not extensive, thanks in large part to Cashel’s quick thinking and Ben’s fast response. However, the heat pump – that we had just installed less then a month prior – kicked on during the night and spread smoke through the entire home. When the insurance adjuster came to take a look at the house he immediately suggested we use a professional cleaning company and have them come and inspect for soot and smoke damage. It was extensive. The rest of September and into October was spent with 3-5 professional cleaners working long days in our home. This meant we, and the dog, were fully displaced and all of us were in one room sleeping.
At that point the inspector came back out and began the rebuilding process with our contractor. Mid October led to some felt progress as floors were stripped out, furniture moved and secluded to individual rooms and our contractor started days on site. Then as he completed the upstairs later that month a new contractor began in the lower level with actual remodel and construction work, that were added to the list since the rebuild included a need for all new flooring. We are so grateful we were able to do this portion as well and grateful for God’s provision that enabled us to do this financially and due in large part to the community of people around us who helped practically and emotionally.
As November hit there here huge changes in our home and with each large visible change our hopes increased, but the to do list did too. These projects are not for the faint of heart and adding three little boys, one in preschool and one going through all the mobility stages, plus the other at the the most challenging and curiosity filled developmental stage it took everything in us and everyone around us to survive, deal with stress and even in the end thrive through it.
Long days in the car, meals on the go, and mobile naps.
Without our clothing and bedding for almost a month.
Sharing our beds and room – all five of us, the dog, and a frog.
Corban first scooted, crawled, pulled himself up, and began the brave adventure of mobility in this phase, all on the floors of other people’s homes since our’s was not safe.
Ipa, our pup, became mobile as well and went with us wherever we went.
So much eating out, like so so so much. A homemade dinner was a true treat and Poulsbo’s Pho TnN got us through.
Coffee, warm seats, open doors, and meals provided on a whim.
Beds and cribs open to our boys for naps and my parents opened up to us for countless nights of sleep.
Cousins, aunties, uncles, Nona, Dandad – oh my they way you filled in and supported us and our boys. The words are just not there.
You’ll see in the photos we also tried hard to keep things as normal as possible. Traditions continued and new ones created. First day of school photos, taking our first snacks to school, trips to the Harvest Fest, pumpkin patch, library, getting our Christmas tree in the forest and our elf on the shelf. We truly tried.
Continuing with our church and my mom’s group leadership role, special parties and showers – life went on and we found a way to participate due in large part to gracious and understanding people.
So many outings to parks, picnics and mobile meals. The local children’s museum, zoo, and play areas were what helped us survive.
We added a membership to the YMCA to our lives and this provided Momma some moments to read and seek reprieve in the chapel. The boys took classes and swimming lessons. We’ll forever be grateful to Cashel’s teachers at his school and Camper’s swim instructor Mr. Jim for the things they taught our boys and the stability they provided in such an uncertain and crazy time.
Friends and family showered us with grace. They opened their hearts and homes and they are the reason we came out on the other side of this not too much worse for wear.
I will tell you, we have remodeled before, but it is not joke with three small children and a gutted home. My husband worked tirelessly. My dad was there day after day doing large and small tasks, my Mother and sisters watched our kids more then I care to admit. Friends sacrificed their own time and time with their husbands to help. What I can say is thank you. What I can’t explain is how priceless this was for our family.
I will never forget one day, early in this process, at a local park when some very assuming individual shouted something out the window at the young mom of three who seemingly was ignoring her three small boys for her cell phone. Mind you we were picnicking with delicious Thai food on a blanket in the beautiful sunshine, all the boys were clothed, happy and occupied. When she did my heart broke. She assumed so much. Little did she know I was trying to attend to insurance adjusters, cleaning company supervisors, the post office who was not delivering our mail, and our contractor all while trying to care for my three beautiful boys.
I will also never forget the dentist who gave them extra tokens for the toy machines at their cleanings, or their pediatrician who as gracious when I literally had to cancel half way to his office because the insurance adjuster was at our home hours before he was supposed to be. The friend who poured a cup of coffee, let my children and dog run amuck, and just listened. The countless people who weighed in on big and small home renovation decisions, or the teachers who checked in with us daily to make sure our boys had what they needed. The folks in our Buy Nothing group who blessed us, when they didn’t even know our needs, with necessities and extras. I’ll never forget that my boy Cashel was a hero, Camper the explorer learned to play independently and swim during this time, Corban became mobile and did I mention his “room” was anywhere the pack and play could fit with a fitted sheet over the top. My boys are resilient and flexible and watching them made me and grew them in ways we could never forsee.
My husband is truly astounding and while working his tail off for a company he believes in, he also sacrificed sleep and so much else for the well being of our family. He and I have been bound together yet again by a shared experience and by a trial and challenge we had no idea we would face.
The experience leaves me feeling more grateful for our lives, our home, and our community. It also leaves me feeling ready to say goodbye to 2016 and hello to 2017.
The temporary floor bed later became a more permanent thing with an air mattress and borrowed blankets. The boys moved back into their room in mid October but still choose to sleep in the same bed. I think they just feel safer and more at home that way.
Oh this crazy trip to IKEA!
We had scheduled to have the exterior of our house painted before the fire took place so while the inside was a disaster the outside was transformed. So cool to see but also made our yard not an option for a while too.
We did receive some clothing back (emergency stash) after 2 weeks but lived off of just a few outfits per person and little to none of our own bedding.
These kids were so resilient and I was so grateful for days at the YMCA or at parks in the sun, snatching moments of peace.
Corban’s monthly photos tell a story as this is the last one on the blue carpets that were original to our home. Later you’ll see sub floors and finally his 11 month photos take on our new Oak!
Early October took me to the Belong Tour with my dear Maggie. God new long in advance that I would need to hear from him this weekend and I’d also need the time with a kindred spirit to rest and refresh my soul. He spoke to me clearly and while I was away he also spoke to Ben. I am and always grateful for this peace filled weekend amidst the storm.
One of the things God spoke clearly to my heart while away was about our global perspective and how he wants to use our home and family. He gave me a dream and some practical ways to begin steps toward them. These lovely treasures were found in a new vintage shop in town just after I returned home and are the perfect reminders and first steps toward what God is calling us to.
Flooring is delivered!
Corbs learned to pull himself up on the safe floors of other people’s homes.
And while his brothers took swimming and tumbling at the YMCA he learned to climb the stairs!
We still found special ways to celebrate this special man’s birthday and I’ll forever be grateful for the man he is and the man he chooses to become every day.
Our Halloween costumes, fire fighters, a dalmatian, and the fire itself, were inspired by this year’s experience and designed to give a bit of extra bravery to the boys in seeing themselves as capable and strong.
Special one on one dates made possible by Aunt and folks helped each boy feel loved and attended to and filled our souls.
The day the boys room was complete was HUGE and they slept for the first time on their new bunk beds, both insisting they needed to sleep together on the bottom bunk. During this transitional stage we stayed upstairs close to them in our guest room. And now that we are back in our own respective rooms fully I am so grateful for this phase.
Oh all the meals we had in other people’s homes. Again our gratitude is abounding.
If you read our Christmas card you know how we feel about Cashel’s school and his teachers who have taught him and loved him deeply. Who have provided stability, concern, and attention we could have never dreamed of.
Oh the genuine chaos!
The countless milestones and moments spent with family – memories of a lifetime.
Corban’s first night back in his own crib! And at a new setting for our mobile boy.
Ahoy Kitsap (the newly remodeled Play Kitsap is a safe haven and a perfect place to wear off energy). Kidimu the local Kids Discovery Museum on Bainbridge and local parks have served as our playgrounds and kept this Momma sane.
Thanksgiving at my sisters was a delightful break from the crazy and a reminder of all we were grateful for!
We returned to begin our Christmas festivities and traditions with our local tree lighting. It truly helped to keep some normalcy when we could.
Scout the Elf was delivered by our local Santa, per our family tradition, and immediately started helping the boys feel festive and have something to look forward to each morning.
Scout our elf actually delivered Christmas decorations and traditions this year, one at a time. This took the pressure of him being “naughty” or “mischievous” everyday and allowed us to decorate and keep traditions slowly introducing them one at a time through the month of December. We loved this and so did the kids!
This was the first morning I sat in our living room, furniture in place and boy was it food for my soul.
Christmas Fireworks in Port Gamble with cousins!
Our remodel was almost fully wrapped up, due in large part to insane hard work and dedication done by Ben, right in time for Corban’s first birthday celebration. For which I will forever be grateful. Seeing our home filled to the brim with people, coming alive did something for our souls. Seeing our dreams come to fruition, wow! A few things are still left to do and some have changed since then but for the most part life is finally returning to normal and for that we are grateful.
These crazy photos are unedited, with little captioning and simply tell the story of the past few months. So much more happened in the in-between moments and what we learned will continue to unfold. Our home will continue to build community, and our thank you’s can never be fully stated.