Light the Fire, in my weary soul ....
C'mon Baby Light my fire ....
Light the fire again ....
Flames. On the side of my face. Burning, breathing, breathless flames.
Sorry. I can't help it. It's kept me laughing thinking of all the songs and quotes with "fire" in them.
Anyway. Thursday night, there was a bit of a problem at my house. See, I was trying to be healthy and fun all at the same time. I decided that instead of taking the kids out for McDonald's, I would make homemade fries (which I do often) and chicken fingers (which I've tried numerous times and it has never worked). This night was no different. The fries turned out scrumptious. The chicken ... not so much. In fact, it was completely inedible. So ... I was forced to turn to McDonald's anyway. I moved the chicken off the burner, and turned the stove off. I took the last of the fries out of the other pan and turned to the kids to tell them I had to run to get some chicken. Notice what was missing from that sentence? Yup. I forgot to turn the burner off from under the fries.
We have started to let Provi take charge for short bursts of time when I have to run to the store or something and know that I would be gone less than 20-30 minutes. She's done it a handful of times, so I didn't think twice about this being one of those times. I would be gone MAYBE 20 minutes. So I did just that. I headed off to the store. Nothing like coming home to your street full of fire trucks, police cars, all the neighbors and yes ... your children ... standing outside YOUR home. My heart left my chest at the moment when I realized it was indeed my home. I ran to my kids (who were fine). Provi says, "Mom, the kitchen was on fire." WHAT ?!?!?!?! A dear neighbor turns to me and tells me that a burner was on and had set fire. I knew immediately what I had done. Guilt. The firemen came over and asked if I was the mom.
"You have one very brave, responsible, level headed girl here, Mam", says the Firefighter.
"Thank you. I know." I say.
Here's the story. I left the burner on. Minutes after leaving, Provi smelled smoke, came out of her room and saw the smoke on the stove. She picked up the phone and called Aaron. While on the phone, the fire alarm began to sound. Provi quickly gathered the rest of my kids and shoed them out the door. At that time, she ran to the neighbor to tell her. She came to the rescue. According to my neighbor, by the time she got into my house, there was a five foot flame over the stove. She, of course, did not know I was frying with oil. She sprayed water on it. (Trivia question for the day ... How do you put out a grease fire? If you answered water .. you are very wrong. If you have a fire extinguisher (which only ONE of my neighbors did) that would work. If you don't ... milk is the answer.)
Anyway.... the one neighbor with the fire extinguisher came over and the fire was put out. However, the fire department had already been contacted. They came. I came home ... and well, I already told that part of the story. Aaron was on his way home, as well, at this point and arrived shortly after I did. The firemen stayed for a while longer to make sure all was okay.
I am so amazed at the gift God has given me in all my children .... but in this situation, I'm especially in awe of my oldest child - Providence. She was amazing! 9 years old. Some (many) would say she is too young to be left for any amount of time. However, she certainly proved she was ready. She kept a level head and did what needed to be done. In fact, I'm convinced she did better than I would have.
How can I, as a mom, not struggle with guilt in all this? Perhaps I can't. I left the stupid burner on. I left my children period. Ugh. So hard. I know others are battling it for me though. Because you see, as guilt is one of the stronger emotions I would associate with my parenting (you should see the counseling fund we have built up for our kids. Forget retirement, it's counseling.), this time around, I've been trying to focus on how Provi really was ready. We have an amazing 4th grader! A few of our goals as parents are to raise level headed, mature, responsible children. When one's fourth grader saves the lives of her 3 younger siblings and herself AND gets the neighbor involved to save the house ... that's one amazing kid.
Words can't express how proud I am of her. It is this that I'm trying to dwell on as I battle the guilt ("this" being how she was more ready than we even realized). Will others say we are wrong to leave our children in her care? Sure. But who is to say what age it's okay? I know 12 year olds who don't possess half the responsibility Provi does. Yet, just the same ... for this mothers heart - I would say to anyone who tried to tell me I'm a bad mom or I should feel horrible ... don't worry. Nothing you can say will be any worse than what I'm saying to myself. So hard. As with many times in my life as a mom ... this story is up there on the list of knowing that God loves my kids more than I do. He's got them in His care every moment of every day. This I cling to. He trusted me with these kiddo's for some reason I will never understand. And I trust Him in return. He protected my children AGAIN when I couldn't (or didn't .... phrase it how you will).
K. Enough of all that.
Our insurance is being amazing. Allstate - You're in good hands. We really are feeling that. Everything is being taken care of ! Housing, clean up, restoration, etc .... The smoke residue is really the worst part of all of this. Ash and smoke residue made it's way through the entire house ... even the basement ! Crazy ! One silver lining is that I'm going to get an amazing profesionally clean house. Top to bottom ! Walls, couches, carpets, drapes, toys, dishes, clothes, beds .... everything will be cleaned by someone not me !
So many people keep telling me how sorry they are about the fire, the house, etc .... Not me. Sure it's annoying to have to go through this, and of course I would love for it to never have happened. However, my house and belongings mean nothing to me. My children mean the world. They are safe. The rest is icing on the cake.
Here are some pictures. Sorry I've rambled. This is a lot to process. You should know I deleted about half of what I originally wrote. Yikes.
The sign above the stove once said "Simplify". It now says "ify". That could be pronounced "If I". I think I might keep the sign there as a reminder ... "IF I ever try to deep fry again, it's a bad idea."
I have a fairly small kitchen. So to me, this seems like a bigger deal than it does to the Firemen and Police Officers and Insurance Agents. To me, this is half my kitchen.
The smoke damage was the worst right above the stove and up into the skylight. I told the insurance adjuster that that pot used to be white. Hehe. I was kidding.
I felt so embarrassed about the cobwebs that the fire showed. I saw all these black clusters throughout the rooms. The insurance adjuster laughed as she told me it wasn't my cleaning. Those weren't cobwebs. They were smoke webs. It really was clusters of smoke and ash that had gathered at high points along the ceiling. Phew !!!!
This was the guilty fry pan.
This was the chicken pan. It's burner had been turned off.
That's all for now. Oh, wait. No it isn't. I want to give a huge thank you to all our friends who have been so kind to help us during this time. Mercers ... for opening their home to a family of 6 the night of the fire. Our neighbors. A couple of them for saving my home. And next door neighbors for opening your home to us all weekend long (and to my laundry this whole next week). All of our family and friends for praying for us and offeing such kind and encouraging words. And also, to our many friends who took laundry. We were able to "work down" our deductible with the insurance company by doing our own laundry rather than having their service do it. That left us with about 35 loads of laundry. So many people showed up to take a load (or loads). Thank you. Thank you. Thank you !!!!
I'll post pics of my new kitchen when it's done. I'll try to be less wordy.