Mazy's backseat of the van. If you look closely, his Green Bay Packers notebook is partially burned in the lower center of the photo. All the baby quilts we were using to keep the kids warm this winter are behind the seat....
My trusty minivan. She'd just turned over 150,000 miles and I know she had many more in her.
The front seat of the minivan -- a place where I have spent hundreds of hours in the past 9 years. If those seats could talk, they'd tell you about all the curse words and inappropriate gestures that started here. ;)
Shawn's entire collection of carved pumpkins was in the garage. You can see one in the center.
This corner held a big box full of Geotrax trains -- plastic electric trains that Mazy collected for many years.
Today I'm feeling the full force of having your garage burn down with your vehicles and half your household contents in it.
I'm thinking about 200+ books that Shawn and I painstakingly chose over our 15 years together, read and reread, and showed to the children with pride. I'm thinking of every toy, treasure and book that Mazy and Bo had collected over the years that were carefully packed up and waiting for our move into a new house. I'm thinking of the appliquéd baby quilt that I made for Mazy before he was born that was in the back of the van, along with two beautiful quilts my mother-in-law made for the boys. I'm thinking about the singed picture frame that Mazy hauled in yesterday with a wet photo of me and Grandma Betty taken a few months before she died. I'm thinking of the old rocking chair that used to be Grandpa Pud's that my aunt and I decided we were finally going to refinish. I'm thinking of the welded hall tree that Grandpa Keith made me for a wedding present. (The paint melted, but it's still standing!) I could go on and on, just like everyone who has lost stuff to fires, floods, tornadoes, etc.
But in the end, it really is just a lot of stuff. And stuff can be replaced. And though it may require a pile of paperwork that makes me dizzy just to think of it, we will replace the most important things and chalk the rest up to a life experience.
So on this sunny but cold second day of February, let me see if I can come up with 10 positive things that have come from Garagapocalypse 2014:
10. We are loved. Without a doubt, this weekend has reminded me of the hundreds of people who know and love our family and are willing to lend a helping hand at a moment's notice. The response is almost overwhelming and I love it. Every Facebook message, every text, every phone call is another person thinking of us and offering support.
9. We can get out of a house quickly! I have done fire safety programs for several clients in the past, and always wondered how our family would do. Well, when put to the test, we were kind of, sort of, OK at it. ;) In reality, it didn't occur to me to evacuate our house until the police officer said, "What are you doing in there? Get out!" And I was like, "Oh, OK." In reality, I grabbed three pair of shoes and they were all for Bo.... Mazy spent the entire evacuation in his socks.... In reality, I did remember to grab heavy blankets to keep the kids warm. So the positive here: we got out of the house in remarkably fast time, like just over a minute.
8. Positive reinforcement for late-night housework. I was in the kitchen loading the dishwasher at 10:45 p.m. when I heard the first explosion that rattled the windows and made the lights flicker. I was able to call 911 within seconds of that fire igniting. Of course, by the time the fire department arrived everything was burning. But still, it was much better to be awake and alert and know what was going on, than sleeping in our beds oblivious to it.
7. We've saved the health of our backs. As mentioned, one of the biggest casualties of the fire was our home library. BUT, I know chiropractors everywhere are cheering because we won't be hauling those impossibly heavy boxes into moving trucks and then into a new house. Hooray for spinal health!
6. I saved $15 in quarters. Most of you probably haven't ridden in my minivan lately, but for those of you who have, you know the horror of what was on the floor -- three months of pulverized breakfast foods, after-school snacks, weekend fast-food meals, etc. Seriously it was disgusting and the spring cleanup effort would have been huge. It would have cost me a fortune in quarters at the carwash vacuums.
5. Avoided an impending fight over a train table. One of the items in the garage was a brand-new train table that Bo got for Christmas, pre-Violet. We'd originally planned to put it in their bedroom so they could play with their train tracks and Lego sets. But Violet came along and that area now has her crib. Mazy has been checking that table out a lot lately and hinting how nice it would be in his future room for his Lego sets. Bo, of course, wanted it in his future room. So, now that the train table, all the Legos and all the trains are burnt to a crisp, we don't have to worry about it!
4. Shawn's secrets are safe. A boyhood trunk filled with high school photos, diplomas and journals also went up in flames. I have teased Shawn about reading his journals for years, and was always forbidden due to the highly embarrassing teenage angst represented in them. Now his adolescent secrets are safe forever.
3. Clean slate for the new house. Let's face it, among all the treasures I mentioned above, there were also lots and lots of things that we had collected, inherited, scavenged or received that were taking over our lives. Now we don't have to sell them on eBay or haul them to Goodwill or try to organize a garage sale. Now we just have to hire someone to put them in the dumpster.
2. Excellent parenting opportunity to emphasize what's important. Our little household has had a LOT of really positive conversations about this fire, namely, "stuff can be replaced; all that matters is that you listened to us and followed directions, and because of that, our family was always safe and that's what's important." I have no doubt the boys will never forget the night of the big garage fire, but thankfully, the memories will never involve injuries or true loss.
1. Opportunity to improve our neighborhood. We have no idea how the fire started. Nothing conclusive. No evidence of any kind to point toward electrical wiring or combustive gas cans or arson... But we do know a lot of neighbors have come forward and talked about "suspicious vehicles" in the alley behind our garage and stories about recent vandalism and other suspicious fires. We are still part of this neighborhood and if someone is messing with it, we're going to be among the first to put them on notice. It may all be a coincidence, but there have been enough stories told to us that I want to do something about it. Neighborhood watches and increased outdoor security can do wonders to deter ne'er do wells. If all this paperwork in my future is because of some jackass teenagers, I'm going to be pissed and I'm going to do something about it.
So there, I guess I could find 10 positive things from Garagapocalypse 2014. And I am sure I will only add to our positive list as time marches forth. Today we'll head to a Super Bowl party in our new rental car with XM Radio! Whoohoo! There's positive outcome #11 -- better music in our vehicles!