Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tragedy One, Two and Three.....

Let's begin with tragedy #1:
We had arrived home from church on Sunday afternoon to see a giant yellow smoke cloud coming from behind our mountain. We didn't feel too threatened by it so we went to my grandpa's 83rd birthday. On our way home, around 9:00 pm, we realize that the fire had made it across the ridge of the mountain and was headed straight to our house. We found we were not allowed in to Herriman city so Darren took the back roads through Bluffdale, dodging police officers so that we could get home in time to grab our dog and a few priceless items. We arrived to find the entire neighborhood had been evacuated and we were the only ones still home. We grabbed what we could in less than 20 minutes and drove to the safety of Ranie's house.

At this point we didn't know what was going to happen to our house and realized we hadn't grabbed everything that we had wanted to. Darren took the boys to my parents to sleep while I stayed until 4:30 in the morning at the bottom of the hill to watch my house burn down. I took several pictures and just knew from where I was standing that the size of the fire meant homes were being destroyed. Thankfully by the next morning we could tell that they had saved all but three. Unfortunately the fire was not contained so we were still evacuated until late Tuesday night. When we arrived home, we found our house to be in good condition aside from the smell and a little dust. We had the house surfaced cleaned and the filters changed but we are finding that we need a little more deep cleaning than we thought. The air quality hasn't been the best and we all have breathing/coughing, throat issues that we are trying to work out. Aside from that - we are extremely grateful to the firefighters that saved our homes. They were amazing and there were so many of them. The fire came right into my neighbors back yards but never touched the homes. It is truly a miracle.

Below are a few pictures of how close we came to losing everything. If you don't know where our house is, we are the second street below the black mountain so only 3 houses away from the flames - about a football field length away. We are certainly thankful for our home and all of our treasures but most of all that we made it out okay and together and realize that we can make it together as a family through anything.

Next, tragedy #2:
Saturday night around 5pm, we had planned for my family to come over for the last BBQ of the summer. I had been outside talking to neighbors about the smoke damage to our homes as family started arriving. All the kids in the neighborhood were running around our feet as usual. After while we all stated that we needed to get to our families and our next door neighbor, Amy and Brady, were going to her parents for dinner. They loaded up their kids, locked up and left for dinner.

I went inside to help with the preparations and realized that I hadn't seen Pierson for awhile. We all casually looked around the house thinking he was hiding which led to us looking outside in the yards. After an hour of looking through homes, yards, the park, the streets - we decided to call the police. They arrived, took pictures, our statement and then asked to search our house as well. Meanwhile - we had about 30 people out searching as well as others in the ward making calls. Still no Pierson. We knew what he was wearing and that he was barefoot and knew that he has never left the neighborhood or walked off. This led us to believe that he had been taken - which is absolutely my worse nightmare. I wanted to make sure he wasn't next door before the police issued an Amber Alert but we couldn't get a hold of the neighbors by cell to make sure he wasn't there and the police would not break in without a warrant. After 2 hours of trying to find Pierson - I finally got a hold of Brady. I asked if he minded if we entered his garage to look around and when he wasn't there, we asked if could enter the house. As soon as I opened the door I could hear his cries. I dropped the phone and ran upstairs to find him sitting in the corner crying uncontrollably. I finally burst into tears knowing that my son was safe and in my arms. The search was off - we had our baby. It took us a half hour to get him to stop crying, as well as myself, but he eventually was able to tell us what had happened.

In his broken language he told us that he followed Maddie inside to get a treat. She went outside but he didn't follow. They left and when he went to go outside through the back door, Zeus, the 15 year old Rot Weiler dog barked at him and scared him. He ran upstairs to hide by shutting the door behind him. He cried the whole time especially when he heard me yelling his name from their back yard.

It is such a blessing to know that he is safe and there isn't a better place for him to have been during those 2 hours than next door to me. I am so grateful that I was able to find him and grateful for all the people that were so willing to search for him. We are very blessed. I can't imagine my life without this precious little boy.

And lastly - tragedy #3:
Sunday evening my Dad had told me that my Grandpa wasn't doing very well and that I should try to go see him in the next couple of days. I asked if it would be okay if I stopped by on the way home from work since they had my kids for the day. I had wanted to go a week earlier but had been caught in the fire and being evacuated and never made it over there. So yesterday, Monday, I made plans to visit him after work at 6pm. I had sent several emails to Darren stating that I feared I wouldn't have enough time to see him and that it would be too late - the latest email being 12:18 pm. By 1:30, I received the call that he had passed. I cannot even tell you the pain I felt at that moment. I was 5 hours too late. I will never forget or forgive myself for not listening to myself and knowing that I should have stopped by on Sunday evening regardless how he felt. I immediately rushed to his side to say my goodbyes, cried for hours and didn't leave until they came to get him. I have never cried in pain like this before and hope to never have to again. It was so unexpected and sudden and I wanted to tell him how much I loved him. He is the most amazing grandpa, always willing to listen and be supportive. He is caring and genuine and never thinks or talks about himself - just always concerned about others. I will miss him everyday of the rest of my life. I love you Grandpa!

Hopefully with everything we have been through - many things not even mentioned - we can take a deep breath and have peace for awhile. What doesn't kill me will make me stronger! Let's hope!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

August and September!

I realize it has been so long since the last post and I am probably overwhelmed with what to write about but I thought I would give you an update of the last two months. Beware - it might be lengthy.

We celebrated our 15th anniversary, we went camping with family, we played with cousins, we have a firework show, Darren raced in his first Half Ironman in preparation for the real Ironman, played indoor soccer but shouldn't have, and me and a few of my cousins/brothers participated in the Red Rock Relay. Wow - we were busy. OH - and we can't forget being forced to evacuate our home as the fire came within 100 yards from burning down our house.

Here is our summer in pictures:

Darren and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately we didn't get to vacation somewhere exotic to make it all worth while but hopefully we will do something next year. We decided this year not to exchange gifts but the both of us got each other something anyway. Darren had spent all June and most of July in Arizona so he sent me his gift before he got home. He sent me a picture of himself at the age of 18 stating "he didn't want me to forget what I married". You can guess what that meant. In turn - I had asked an amazing illustrator friend to draw a portrait of me for him so that he never "forgot who he married". Pretty funny huh? That we would both give each other pictures of ourselves - or is that not funny but vain? Anyway - it was too funny opening each others "pictures". He also surprised me with an industrial sized snow cone machine which I absolutely love. While he was in Arizona, Pierson and I went to the local slushy hut once a day for weeks until Pierson begged me NOT to take him anymore. Which is okay now that I have my own and can make one whenever I want. See the pics:

We were lucky enough to have some of our DeGracie family up with us to celebrate the 24th of July. Becky and Jaden were up here for soccer camp so we bought a bunch of fireworks, had Colin, Ranie and McKay over and had the best little firework show ever. It was especially exciting for Jaden since she comes from Arizona and is not allowed to light fireworks - not even sparklers. You can see the excitement as she tries to write her name. This is also the first year we let Pierson hold his own sparklers so they had a lot of fun.

We are more than excited to finally have cousins on the Carlson side and have tried to spend as much time as we can with them. Kaylee has spent an evening camping with us as well as coming over once a week to get to know my boys. I absolutely love taking pictures of her and can't wait until we can play Barbie's, dress-up and do our hair/nails/make up. April and Josh will probably end up hating my influence but I have such a need to be a mommy to a little girl! Can you blame me? Who is more girly than me? The boys are so bugged with me when I make my way to the little girls section and start looking through the clothing racks. If I was only made of money.... Here are a few adorable pictures of sweet Kaylee.

McKay is my special little buddy that I would consider mine but Ranie won't let me have him. He is such a cute little boy with such a fun personality, He loves to yell with excitement, loves attention, loves to look at himself in mirrors, LOVES my boys which I am so grateful for and doesn't mind my unstoppable kisses. We just love that he is a part of our life and that he has brought so much joy to Ranie and Colin. We love every minute we have with him. Here are some cute shots of McKay. He is notorious for NOT smiling for the camera yet he is always so full of smiles. Isn't he just so kissable?

Camping - what can we say? We love it. We obviously didn't do enough of it this year with the boys being in Arizona longer than usual and the many races on weekends we had but we loved the time we did get. There is nothing better than sitting in a chair under a blanket of pine trees up in the mountains with family. I would do it every weekend if I could. The best part of camping is the campin' jammies. We each have footy pajamas that keep us so warm. We got to spend some time with Joni and Garrett roasting ginormous marshmallows and spent a weekend with Ranie, Colin and McKay in the most awesome camp spot. We hiked, played games, a ton of games, napped, searched for walking sticks, stayed up late, ate great food (food is always better when your camping, especially breakfast). Here are a few shots of us camping. We also invited J.T., Canon's friend since birth, to stay the night with us. They had such a great time.

Darren's Half Ironman: Darren competed in the Utah Half Ironman and finished with a time of 5 hours and 53 minutes which included a 1.2 mile swim in open water, a 56 mile bike and a 13 mile run (half marathon). It was amazing!!! He has been training for something bigger and did such a great job on the Half. We were so excited to be there for each transition but made for a really long day. We were there at 5:30 am waiting the for race to start and didn't leave until 1:30 pm. We are so proud of our daddy and how much training and work he has put into these races.

And finally - the Red Rock Relay. You probably know all about this already but I have to mention how awesome it was to be together with family in this competition. It is very Taylor of us. We competed in a 186 mile relay race that lasted 28 hours, each of us with 3 legs of the race at various lengths. I had so much fun being with my cousins, chatting, taking pictures, moaning about the pain, trying to sleep, failing to eat, and finally running in together at the end. What an accomplishment. I am so proud of my family and excited to see everyone again! I can tell you that I have not jogged one bit since the race! Here are some shots of our amazing team!