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Friday, November 30, 2012

We Have Footings and Form Boards!

I never imagined, 4 days ago, our new house would have footings and form boards in this short period of time!  I know there will be slow times in the building process, but this week hasn't been one.

On Monday, the concrete crew moved in and laid out the house. Putting down string lines, pounding stakes and leveling the ground.

Before I left for work, that morning, they were digging footings and moving dirt.

I arrive home, on Wednesday evening, to find the crew pouring our footings in the dark!
I was so excited, but couldn't really see anything in the dark.  Drewman has the best seat in the house, as he gets out of school and is able to go home, to watch some of the progress.  While Flower Boy and I don't get home until the crews have gone, for the day.

Thursday morning, our view looked different.

My car is just asking to pull into it's new garage.

But LOOK at Thursday evenings view!!!

Are you as excited as I am?  Flower Boy says I'm giddy!  I think he may be right!  I love the view from my front porch.  (The one on the house and the one on the mobile home.)  I walk out the door each morning looking at our dream home.  It makes me smile! 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Finding a Builder

The Daze After The Fire was just what it was.  Remember me telling you about my uncles working on new house plans?  One of my uncles started laying out the plans and put them down on his drafting board.  He called us in for a meeting, asking us questions, and the next thing we know, he calls with a complete set of plans, EXACTLY like we wanted!  It was a feeling of joy, excitement, encouragement and hope seeing our new house on paper.

I took the plans, the next day, and obtained copies.  Flower Boy started making calls from a list of builders we had compiled over the last few weeks.  Within two days, we were meeting with builders!  Things just got real!  Builders have questions, uncles hadn't asked.  Some told us the cost of options we had chosen.  Yikes!  Some also had input or changes for us to consider.  Yay!

We started with a list of 8 builders.  Two never returned calls.  It was easy to drop them from the list.  Meeting with 6 builders was hard enough.  The word RANCHEY took on new meaning.  Some understood it, some didn't.  It took almost three weeks to meet with them all. We were then in a holding pattern until they got numbers together.  I hate waiting and Flower Boy is not a patient person.  It was a long next few weeks.

The first bid came in.  I remember thinking...  I didn't like this guy but I can deal with his numbers.  The next two builders gave us sticker shock!  I told Flower Boy "Go get us a double wide and one of those cheap $500 carports, because we will NEVER be able to build a house!"  I had a feeling of hopelessness.  No one had prayed over this house building, finding a builder and having the right price, anymore than I had.

Flower Boy got a call from one of the first builders we met.  He calls me, "We have a meeting with another builder..."  I'm thinking "Great???"  I heard this little voice inside me say, "Don't be negative!  You have YOUR builder out there.  He will come to you.  Just give it time."  Some may say that's weird, but I believe we all have those little voices inside us.  I heard mine for the first time when my Daddy was in the hospital, right before he died.  I listen when It speaks to me now!  I even quiet myself to listen!

Back to the builder meeting...  Flower Boy and I had looked a home built by "this builder" right after the house fire.  We spent about an hour going through the house and talking to the owners.  We were impressed and loved his work.  Our first meeting with "this builder" went well, but we weren't sure he listened to everything we were saying.  Flower Boy questioned if "this builder" was paying attention.  On our second meeting, "this builder" had every single detail we had discussed on his bid.  He mentioned things Flower Boy and I had forgotten.  He didn't take a single note during our first meeting.  He NAILED it!  After "this builder" left, I heard that little voice say, "He's your guy!"  I told Flower Boy, "I think we just found our builder."  Flower Boy agreed, but wanted to make sure we had all bids before we made a decision.  Flower Boy is like that.  He wants to make sure everything is right, that Drewman and I are taken care of, protected and happy.

We met with two more builders.  One guy wanted to build us one of his spec homes and we would pay the cost to customize it.  NO WAY!  The other was out of the price range, but wanted the opportunity to rebid with more solid numbers, as he had only called the sub-contractors to get rough estimates.  WHO DOES THAT?!

Flower Boy called "this builder" and set up an appointment to look at more of his homes.  During this time, I sent our plans off to an architect for final dimensions and layouts, a detail the builders said they would need.  Within the next week, we had looked at "this builder's" homes, chosen a brick color, trim color, shutters or no shutters.  I even picked my stove and Flower Boy picked his shower tile!  All from looking at "this builder's" homes.  I'm telling you, he NAILED it!

A week passed before we had final plans from the architect.  The second she emailed them to me, I called Flower Boy, "Call "the builder"!  Let's sign a contract!"  Flower Boy made the call.  No response from "the builder".  The next day, nothing...  The next, HE CALLED!  Turns out, he listens to his little voice too and knew he was "The Builder".  He was wrapping up things on his end in order to start our house.  We sat the meeting to be held in my office.  I thought we would need the computer, the calculator, the copy machine, the fax and anything else I could think of.  I was so excited!

As we were leaving my office that night, I said to "the builder", "My birthday is April 4th."  He looks at me and says, "We will see what we can do."  Flower Boy and he talked about the length of time needed to get the contractors together.  We were coming into the Thanksgiving holiday.  They decided it would be mid week the next week before we could have a site meeting.  We shook hands and went on for the night.  Flower Boy and I went to dinner.  Before we got set down to eat, "the builder" called, "Can we have a site meeting Monday?  The concrete guys can start laying out the house then."  I should have taken a picture of Flower Boy's face!  I had know idea what was being said, but I knew it was GOOD NEWS!

Monday morning "the builder" and the concrete guys arrive at the site.  Guess what?  The target date for completion of our new home is April 4, 2013!  

Building Site

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Continued Blessings

In the days and weeks after the fire we had continued blessings everywhere we looked.

We had two fall born calves. We call them Money Babies. Most of our calves are spring born, so when we get a fall born, they are free money and unexpected.

Our friends had us a Starting Over Shower. So many gifts from our community, friends and family. It was like Christmas for little kids. Drewman opened the gifts. I read the cards, talked and cried. Flower Boy keep the ledger of names and gifts given. By the end of the day, there was a small SUV and a pickup loaded down with items.

Some days we would come home to find gifts left in the vehicles or on the 5th wheel steps.

I received a call shortly after the fire from a stranger in the oilfield community. This call was very odd to me. The gentleman said he was working on getting us a mobile home. I remember thinking ... Okay... He explained how the oilfield takes care of their own and we were a part of the family. Although I was raised in the oilfield - My Daddy was a welder and my Granddads were both pumpers. I have never worked in the oilfield and certainly didn't feel like oilfield family, but who was I to argue with this man. Life continued and I forgot about the gentleman and the call.

Weeks past and I received another call, from the same gentleman. He says "Remember the mobile home I called you about a few weeks back?" My response "Yes" I paused. He says "It will be at your place next week." I cried the entire way home!

The day of our shower, a friend announced the news about the mobile home and all he had done to work the channels for us to have it until our house is built.

It was a Tuesday, I drove in the drive. Drewman came running to my car, arms open wide, "Mom, we don't have to go to the laundry mat anymore!" I smiled, attempted to hold my composure, walked in the mobile home and cried, "We have dressers!" Flower Boy was doing what he does best. He was making sure Drewman and I were safe and the mobile home was set up properly. The oilfield company delivered and set the mobile home up after 5pm that night. It is fully furnished, including beds, dressers, washer, dryer, pots, pans, dishes, coffee pot, toaster and crockpot. They even provided towels!

Sometimes you have to forget what's gone, appreciate what still remains and look forward to what's coming next.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Daze After The Fire

The days after the fire were a roller coaster.  There were so many lows and just as many highs.

The night of the fire, one of the first people to meet me, after my breakdown to find Drewman, was the insurance agent.  She advised me, they would take care of us.  My thoughts were "Right!  Easy for you to say!  You aren't looking at a burnt house and everything you own gone!"  Low and behold, the next morning I received a phone call from the insurance adjuster, among others.  He came out and discussed the policy with us.  The Big Kids were there when he arrived.  They took notes!  Everything has been just as he said it would be.  Praise the Lord!

We had folks driving in the drive, dropping off items at friends and families, asking how they could help, offering up whatever they had to give.  It was a feeling of being blessed beyond belief.

On Tuesday, my aunt took Drewman shopping, so he could return to school the next day.  Drewman's room was unrecognizable after the fire.  The fire started, on the outside wall of his room, at the air conditioner unit.  He got out of the house with nothing on but a pair of gym shorts, a ratty old t-shirt and a pair of tennis shoes.  Not quite the attire he would need to return to school.  He started his shopping spree at a western store in a city near our home town.  The Momma PYG, of Drewman's church youth group, informed me the night of the fire, the church had placed money so he could get new boots.  The "boots" in our family are a symbol of great stature and the passage into adulthood.  Drew had gotten his "boots" shortly after my Daddy passed away, around his 16th birthday.
The original "boots"
Drewman returned to school on Wednesday, while Flower Boy, myself, friends and family attempted to make sense of the world in front of us.  My uncles met with folks to clean up the mess, walked us through what we should or shouldn't do, guided and directed us as we were in a complete daze.  They even started working on new house plans.  My aunts and friends did laundry of a few items that were salvageable, prepared food and collected items being dropped off for us. 

We had no idea, at the time, the amount of donations that were being given.  Each evening we would return to my aunts home to sleep, there would be an envelope on the table with my name on it.  I would open it and cry.  My aunt would hug me and tell me about the items dropped off that day.  We could see her dining room filling with cloths, shoes, bags, and tubs full of things. That was just at her house!  We were again blessed. 

Towards the end of the week things were starting to become less of a fog.  We have good friends that brought a 5th wheel travel trailer for us to stay in.  We felt the need to be "at home".  It was Friday evening, Flower Boy and I were in Walmart picking up supplies to set up the 5th wheel.  We go to the checkout line and complete strangers purchase our cart full of supplies!  They had heard us talking about the fire.  We leave the store in tears and wonder if the tears will ever stop.  Blessing just keep coming.

Saturday was another family day filled with sifting through things and attempting to take some sort of inventory, for the dreaded personal property list that has to be prepared for the insurance.  My sister and girl friend were sifting and writing with me, while Flower Boy, my oldest, brother-in-law and friend were removing the burnt carport from the shed.  It was a day filled with such sadness and disbelief.

Sunday brought one of our biggest blessings of all.  Drewman and I arrived at church in new jeans and boots, only to find Drewman would go to the front of the congregation and give an update on our status.  As we left church that morning, the congregation had given us the church offering for the day.  We did not have words, just tears.

Later that day, Flower Boy was making a final sift though the rubble.  He found our Christmas Stockings and a box of toys, from when my boys were babies.  It was a gift from God, as these items were not touched by the fire.
Final Demo
Monday, Drewman and I had found some sort of normal.  I returned to work.  Drewman was in school.  Life had been changed in the past week, but we pulled up our boots and strapped on our spurs, determined to move forward.  It was on this day that another life changing event happened.  The demo started!  My uncles and Flower Boy were overseeing the demo.  By the evening when Drewman and I arrived home the entire house was gone.  The next day the house slab was removed.  The next day... nothing but dirt!

Demo did stop one thing.  It stopped my option to say "Do you think we could find...?"  Our entire house and contents were loaded into 6 huge lugger boxes and hauled to the landfill. We had nothing left.

The days and weeks to follow could only get better from here!

Monday, November 26, 2012


Just as one thinks life can't get any better, we are out on a date and get a phone call telling us our house is on fire!  The date was September 3, 2012.  The time was 4:25.  Flower Boy and I had just sat down to eat when Drewman called.  Calmly, Drewman speaks "You need to come home now.  Our house is on fire."  Flower Boy responds "Have you dialed 911?"  I hear nothing more.  My mind is spinning and all I can think of is my 16 year old home alone, dealing with this horrible event!

Flower Boy gets up from the table, grabs my hand and escorts me to the car.  He goes into cop mode and drives us home in cop speed.  We were almost 100 miles from home!

I remember making 4 phone calls and having lots of heart palpatations.  My first call was to a neighbor and close friend.  My words were something like "I need you to go to my house.  Someone needs to be with Drew.  Our house is on fire."  My next call was to my aunt.  Crying, "Can you go to my house?"  Aunt - "Can I go to your house???"  Me - "I don't have a house!  My house is on fire!  Drew is there alone!"

My 3rd call was to my oldest son.  He always has all the answers.  He reminded me the house is just "STUFF" and everything was going to be "OK"  (There is a saying I started when my Daddy died.  It is "There is always a little pain behind every "It's OK".)  The oldest also provided me with the insurance claims department and instructions as to how to make the call.
Before I know it, we are coming up to the Payne County line.  Flower Boy had called a head and got clearance from the Payne County Sheriff that we were coming through and not stopping.  They had better clear us a path. 

We arrive at our drive.  I see cars, people and fire trucks everywhere!  I'm not sure the car stopped before I was out and searching for my boy.  Drewman met me with open arms, explaining just as his older brother had done, "Mom, I'm OK!  The house is just stuff.  The important thing is, I'm here and not hurt."  I felt like the worst mother in the world to have left him home while I went on a date.  I was consumed with a feeling of shame and selfishness.  Drewman would have normally gone with us, but that day was the opening day of dove season.  He had plans to hunt with his buddies.  His gun was laying on his bed, ready to leave at 5pm.

Follow us as we rebuild our lives, our home and our world.  Things just get better from here!  CONSTRUCTION STARTS TODAY!