June 28, 2013

There is a Reason for Everything

If losing two houses in tornadoes has taught me anything, it's that everything happens for a reason. As a Christian, I believe that with my entire being.

The odds of getting hit by a tornado in the same spot are slim to none. I even came across an article that said the odds were 1 & 100 trillion.

I've always joked with James about how we tend to beat all odds. LOL

With these odds, I have to believe there is a reason this has happened. In fact, the minute I walked out of the storm shelter and saw the destruction, the reason for the outcomes of several things over the past year became very clear as to why. Some of them were little things that might seem silly but still….

The first thing that came to mind was our failed FET cycle. I was devastated when our beta came back negative. I was just sure we would have at least one more baby with this cycle. God knew better. I can't imagine if I had been pregnant though all of this and then getting sick and the tornado cough. Being as sick and exhausted as I was, I would have probably ended up in the hospital or would have lost the baby. Everything happens for a reason.

Another thing, which is kind of silly, but when we went to Dallas just a couple weeks before and made a trip to IKEA, we ended up not buying the furniture pieces we went for because we didn't have room in my little mid-size SUV after all the luggage & baby stuff. All of that would have been gone or completely damaged. Everything happens for a reason.

In the weeks before the tornado, we had been talking about doing a big purge and some updating to the house. Although I don't always get it, God has a big sense of humor. We no longer have to purge and we now get to do some updating….more than we had planned actually. Thanks God.

Everything happens for a reason…..even the small things.

Things happening for a reason go beyond our little bubble. I have been told over and over again by out of state relief workers how amazed they are by our community. The Red Cross volunteer that helped me told me he thought his hometown was the best place to live but after being in Moore and talking to the people, he wanted to move here. :) We are a testament to the world of how strong people can be if they just come together and work for the greater good.

The ultimate reason things happen?

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to his purpose.  ~Romans 8:28

God gets all the glory. He makes the best out of bad situations. I am proof of that. We all go through trials but the best part? If we are faithful and believe that God is greater than all the bad things of the world, he will provide for us and we will come out of them better than before.

Happy Friday! I hope everyone has a great weekend!

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June 26, 2013

More Updates

I can't believe it's been a week since I blogged last! I also didn't realize that my last post was the ONE MONTH anniversary of the EF5 tornado that turned our life upside down. And now it's been 5 weeks!

If you want to see more frequent updates of what's going on with us, your best bet may be if you follow me on Instagram or Twitter. I've also been using the hash tag #millsrebuild so you can follow our recovery & rebuild efforts.

  • Our house was not totaled. We are ok with that now because we are actually going to come out of this better off than if it had. A structural engineer has been out and has deemed the foundation and frame safe to use. We will have to replace some of the framing as parts of it took some pretty big hits from large debris. The house has now been gutted and we have a builder who will be basically doing a complete remodel. This is the current state of our house. It actually makes me a little excited to see it like this. It's a lot easier to handle than the moldy, filthy, beat up interior that it was before.

Gutted Kitchen

  • Thanks to all the debris that has polluted the air here, hubs and I have developed Tornado Cough. It's a real thing. It's basically like an asthma/allergy attack due to the debris particles in the air. It's the most annoying thing. I go to bed every night with a sore throat from drainage & coughing. I'm so over it.

  • Apartment living is going ok. Being someone who cooked a lot, I really hate the kitchen. It's been so hard cutting our square footage more than half. A local concierge company has offered their services to help me get organized and maximize the storage here and I'm pretty excited about it. I'll share more about that later.

  • I chopped my hair off. It feels so much better and since I'm on the go a lot more than I was before it's so much easier to fix.

Short Hair

  • I have a new addiction. I finally decided to try Sonic's Sweet Green Tea with Peach and OMG! I may or may not have had about 5 large or Rt 44's in the last 2-3.

Sonic Green Peach Tea

  • I can't believe the girls will be turning 2 in less than TWO WEEKS! I still plan on doing a Minnie's Bow*tique themed party but it will be on a much, much smaller scale than I had originally planned. I have to admit though, I'm having trouble planning because I don't really know how to throw low key parties. LOL

 

  • I continue to be overwhelmed by the generosity of others. My family and I are so blessed to be loved and cared for by so many. Please know that we are extremely thankful for all everyone has done and wouldn't be able to be where we are without you!

I know this update was short but my mind is still spinning. I hope to do more frequent updates.

XOXO,
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June 20, 2013

My Favorite Things This Week

There are two things that have changed my outlook a little bit this week.

On Monday, I went to the doctor because I was still sick with a sinus/respiratory infection. I actually saw his PA but that was perfectly fine with me because 1. I have seen her many times before and 2. She can prescribe drugs. :) After checking the usual…ears, throat, sinuses, etc. She told me she was going to prescribe another (different) round of antibiotics and some steroids to try to knock this thing out.

Ohmygosh the steroids! Hallelujah those things worked! I have had energy and all the sinus/head pain is practically gone!

Steroids are my favorite thing this week.

Getting sick and trying to put the pieces back together after the tornado had proven quite difficult with two toddlers. Once we moved into the apartment (and even before that) James decided I needed some help. Since just about everyone I know was affected by the tornado, finding help was difficult. After some discussion and talking it over with my sister, we decided to hire my niece to help me a couple days a week while I try to get our apartment in working order.

03 31 13_3332

This decision has been the best thing we've done so far. Emma, my niece, is only 8 years old but she is a spiritually & emotionally wise beyond her years, energetic, imaginative, TnT loving little girl. She came on Tuesday and I can't even begin to tell you how much I was able to get done while she entertained the girls.

Emma is back today while I tackle the enormous piles of laundry and continue working on our dreaded content list for insurance.

Emma is my most favorite person this week. :)

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June 19, 2013

Tidbits

I'm not sure I can put a complete comprehensive post together so I thought I would just do a Wednesday Random style post. It is Wednesday after all, right? Seriously, I've lost track of my days. Heck I'm not even sure what month it is anymore.

  • I finally am starting to feel like I can keep my head above water. We are far from normal but parts of our daily routine are just now starting to happen again.

  • A lot of the relief/recovery volunteers have left. It makes me a little sad for some reason. I think it's because when I would drive down the street and see all the stations lined up on the side of the road amongst the devastation, it gave me a sense of hope. There are still several left but they aren't quite as visible now.

  • Speaking of devastation, I can't really go near it. Our apartment is out of the devastation area so if I have to go into Moore or Norman (for shopping or whatnot), I try to drive around it as much as possible. It's not completely unavoidable though because there is damage to homes and businesses off of I-35 which goes right through Moore.

We went to the house last weekend. I've decided I can't go back to it…I just can't handle it. Since most of it is left standing, it almost looks livable, yet it's not. It makes me want to be home. I just want to go home. It also doesn't help that my Great Aunt's house (2 houses to the east of us) and my Grandparents house (next door to the west of us) were tore down and are no longer there as of yesterday.

 

  • Despite the fact that most of our walls are still standing, the house is in very bad shape. Mold has started taking over after all the rain we got that day and in the days since. It started in the garage but is now rampant throughout the house on the ceilings and carpet. My sister said there is moss growing in their master bathroom (their roof was blown away)

Mold

  • The girls seem to be adjusting ok. Tensley never really stopped her climbing into everything antics. Did I mention she tried to climb out of the storm shelter?

Furniture Climbing Tensley 

Poor babies haven't been going to bed until after 10pm though…sometimes it's midnight before we get them in bed. However, most nights, staying up late it's their doing. There's been a lot of sleeping in momma & daddy's bed going on.

Sleeping Tillie

  • The apartment is coming together finally. Seems like just as I would get things put away, more boxes would come in. I'm constantly overwhelmed by the generosity of friends and perfect strangers.

Moving In1

 

  • Insurance has decided not to total our house. This part has been hard for me. After going through this once before…having our first house totaled out due to another EF5 tornado (It was a mobile home that was picked up turned upside down, dumped out and landed across the street with the floor on top of the roof. It looked like it had gone through a car crusher.), it's easier all around if they would just have totaled it. There's just so much more stress and paper work and jumping through hoops when it's not totaled.

With that said, our house was very close to being totaled. At minimum it will have to be gutted to the studs (and as I am typing this I just found out that Samaritan's Purse will be doing the demo sometime in the next week). That means we will start with only a foundation, framing, plumbing and some wiring so our new old house? It will be new and improved. We plan to put a little extra money into it and if the budget allows, some walls will be removed/moved and there will be some add-ons.

Although I'm not getting my hopes up, we have a structural engineer coming out this week to determine if the frame and foundation are safe to use. If he/she deems it's not safe, our house will be totaled and then we would start with a completely new and different house plan.

 

  • I sat down for the first time last night and tried to answer emails. If you have emailed me and I have not responded, PLEASE let me know. Seriously, I want to respond to each and every one of you.

Thank you all for your prayers and support for us during this time. I can honestly say that I don't know if we would be able to get through this with out all of you.

Thank you, Thank you, and God Bless!

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June 4, 2013

Destruction

Thank you guys for all your kind comments on yesterday's post. It was a scary time for us. Thankfully, that part didn't last long.

If you've ever wondered how a tornado sounds, I found a great example last week when I took my car through the car wash. You know the dryer at the end? You know how it's very loud and kind of shakes your car because of the force? Well, that pretty much describes it. Add in constant ear popping and large objects being thrown against your car and you've pretty much simulated a tornado. Oh, and don't forget to crank up the heat in your car too because it's super hot and humid…especially in a storm shelter.

Ok, now on to the damage.

Like I said yesterday, I was surprised to see walls still standing in our house. I told my sister while we were down in the cellar that this tornado was way worse than the May 3, 1999 tornado where we lost our first house. Turns out I was right. Unfortunately. I think if the core of this tornado was a little further north, I would have stepped out to find our house as a pile of wood and our content.

What was the damage to the house?

Tornado Damage Front Porch

What the tornado did do was rip off the front porch of our house (it ran across almost the entire length of our house), bust out all of our north windows (The window in the girls' room was the only south window that was busted out), ripped our entire second story (the man cave/storage area) off the top of the garage, ripped our our shed apart, and crumpled the above ground pool.

We have no idea where any of the porch is nor do we know what happened to the pool cover. We are also missing a metal windmill that was anchored into the ground in the front yard, all of my Christmas decorations, almost all of the girls baby clothes and toys (the ones we found are ruined and not salvageable) and several other items we had stored in the man cave and shed are completely gone.

The inside of the house looks like someone threw in a bunch of glass, some boards, pieces of sheet metal (that we have no idea where they came from), water and mud and ran it threw a blender. There is mud all over the walls and carpet. There was glass and other debris all through the house (including debris stuck in/through the walls). There was enormous amounts of water pouring into the garage from what used to be the man cave. There were things from rooms that had been blown into other rooms. We think debris was blown into the house through the north windows and what actually made it to the girl's room was sucked out of their window. I suspect this because the things missing from the house that we actually did find were in the back yard. There were no contents of the house in the front yard.

Tornado Damage backyard Tornado Damage Master Tornado Damage Stairs
Tornado Damage 1st sight Tornado Damage Living Room

We had a wonderful group of people from Samaritan's Purse (I'll be posting about this group at a later time) other member's of our church, and family who came and helped us clean up inside and outside the house. I am so unbelievably thankful for them because I think we would still be doing clean up if it weren't for them.

Since we've had several storms come through since the tornado, including another horrific storm that claimed more lives this past Friday, mold has started growing on/in the walls of the garage and at last check was quickly spreading throughout the house. The carpet I'm sure is starting to mold as well.

At this point, our insurance company is wanting to try to repair the house. What this means is that at minimum, they will gut it down to the frame and rebuild it. However, we are concerned about the structural integrity of the house so we are working with insurance to get this worked out. Ultimately, we won't know until the house is gutted and right now, we don't have any idea when that will be.

So what's next?

We will hopefully, move into our apartment this week. We've already moved some things over but due to being sicker than I've ever been, things still have yet to be unpacked. Once we get settled there, we begin the process of rebuilding. We expect this to take at least a year or more.

I'm sure I'll say this in every post for a while but I just can't thank you all enough for all the love, prayers, support and donations you have sent our way. You have no idea how much they have helped us…emotionally as well as spiritually.

Please also keep my family in your prayers as my sister's house was also destroyed (still waiting to hear if it's totaled but the roof is basically gone and a few walls are on the verge of falling over). Also, my grandparents who lived next door to me, my great aunt's house that is two doors down from us, and another aunt's house were completely totaled.

June 3, 2013

May 20, 2013

We have survived 2 natural disasters. I wasn't and hasn't been easy either time but after getting through it once, I know that we'll get through it again.

Two weeks ago today we knew there would be some severe weather. We were also aware there would be tornados. As an Okie, this is nothing new. That's why we have a storm shelter. However, we did NOT know that this tornado would spin out of a storm that had only existed for just a few minutes. That's almost unheard of.

My sister had called earlier in the day and said she was going to come hang out in case we did have to go to the storm shelter.

The girls were napping so I got in the shower around 2:15. While in the shower it started thundering. It was a thunder that made me uneasy (a constant eerie sounding rumble) so I rushed through my shower. I got out around 2:20 threw on some clothes and headed to the kitchen turning on the TV on my way.

There was a severe storm headed our way that just had some strong winds and hail with it. Pretty typical for this time of year. I started putting up dishes while also keeping my eye on the TV.

Before I knew it, the meteorologists became very concerned about this storm. Not too long after that my sister showed up and proceeded to take their bags to the shelter. I decided I should probably get some things together for the girls. Then, I believe it was around 2:40, the national weather service issued a tornado warning for our area. My sister ran back into the house grabbed our stuff & took her kids to the storm shelter. The girls were still asleep. When she came back in we both ran to the girls room and each snatched up a baby and ran to the back yard to the storm shelter. I stopped at the end of the hall to grab some shoes for the girls while my sister was yelling at me to forget it and get outside. I was able to grab their shoes and I took off running.

It was hailing pea sized hail and I remember Tillie saying, "Oh! Oh! Oh!". When we got to the shelter neither one of them wanted to go in. Poor girls didn't even have time to process what was going on. We got into the shelter, closed the door and surprisingly, I was able to text James. Here are our texts (it's hard for me to look at these again):

May 20 2013-1May 20 2013-2May 20 2013-3May 20 2013-4May 20 2013-5

I knew when we were down in that storm shelter that this tornado was worse than the first tornado we had been through back in 1999. Until two weeks ago, the 1999 tornado was the worst in Oklahoma history. Honestly, I was surprised to see our houses still standing. Tomorrow I'll post about the damages.

So if you noticed the time stamps on the texts, you'll see that we started heading to the storm shelter around 2:45 ish. The power went out at 3:02 (we know this b/c a clock in my sister's garage had stopped at 3:02pm) and the tornado hit shortly after that. We came out of the storm shelter around 3:30pm.

I'm not sure what time James got through the road blocks but it seemed like forever. We started collecting a few things, then my mom & dad showed up and we all headed out to get some dinner. Most homes & businesses were without power and water so we had to drive a few miles north to find a place to eat. After that we went to Walmart to get a few essential items. Once we got to my parents house, my bff brought us a generator. I think it was around 1am before we got the girls bathed and into bed and around 3am before we got to bed.

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