Sunday we got home after going to see Santa and there was a flood in our house. Actually, it was more like a river on the first floor as it flowed from our tub and toilet straight into our hallway and down a floor vent into our furnace. The water also found its way through our old wood floors into the ceiling of the basement. When I think back it was almost like a dream. Chris went in first, his arms full of groceries and I was helping the kids load their arms with bags to help carry food in. By the time I got to the door he was yelling something about water so urgently that I sent the kids straight across the street to our friends as I followed him in. He had his arms full of towels but I could tell the water was moving really fast so I yelled at him to shut the water off behind the toilet. As he was splashing into the bathroom to do that I remember watching the stream and marveling at how much water it was that was just disappearing.

And then I realized, DUH, the basement.

I jumped the water and ran to the basement where I was hit with the biggest indoor rainstorm you’ve ever seen. Water was everywhere it felt like (luckily it really only hit half our basement) and several inches deep. I splashed in (in my long skirt and new red Toms I had worn to church) to see if it was wet in the storage area and when I saw the wedding scrapbook my sister made me eight years ago literally dripping with water I burst into tears and didn’t stop crying for hours. It was awful. Water was just everywhere. I ran to ask Kelly to feed the kids dinner and then called my mom just sobbing. I’m usually really good under pressure but I just couldn’t hold it together. The ceiling was falling in, water was all over, I could tell things were ruined and it was so so incredibly overwhelming.

Thank goodness my dad owns Kuhn Construction because about an hour after we got home we had Woodard, a plumber, an electrician and an HVAC guy there helping us. For six hours we cleaned and purged and photographed things we had to throw away and tried to stay out of the way of those who actually knew what to do. Friends and family came to help and support us. By 10:30pm Chris and I were sitting on the couch exhausted. Everyone was gone, including the kids who my parents had taken home for bed, and we were just sort of in shock. At this point the plumber hadn’t figured out what went wrong and we knew both he and Woodard would be back super early the next morning. So we’re sitting there for just a moment before we shut lights off and packed our bags to sleep at my parents (the water was shut off) and Chris said, “It could be way worse.”

“I know,” I said. “It could have flooded the whole house or there could have been a fire or we could be starving in another country right now. I KNOW. It could be worse. It could always be worse!”

And he said, “No, I mean here. Right here. Between us. We could not love each other as much as we do and be getting divorced. Our kids could be sick. I mean just here, it could be worse. But I love you and that’s really all that matters. The rest is just money.”

It was awesome. He’s pretty freaking awesome.

Usually I’m the strong one and he freaks out a bit in super stressful situations but that night I was just a basket case and he kept trying to make me laugh. He didn’t take the time to change his church clothes except to put shorts on and boots. It was hysterical and he let me take a photo! That’s true love right there!

The ceiling had all of these wet spots until parts just started falling down. The funniest part was when Woodard first got there and a chunk of ceiling fell right in a bucket… we couldn’t have timed it better!

We figure we were gone about 4-5 hours so the water had lots of time to soak into things. Our basement was not nice or super finished by any means. One half was my laundry room and a play area for the kids and the other half was the Fresh Art wrapping station and storage (the photo is the unfinished side and the back of the wall). There was a simple drywall wall dividing the two spaces which was total crap but when we moved in a year ago the basement was LAST on a long list of renovations we had to do to make this house liveable for us. Well now the wall is down and I can get creative! Oh the plans I have!

Once the plumber determined that the sewer had backed up (the water was mostly clear and it didn’t smell really bad so we were all sloshing around for two hours before it was decided that the water in our house was category 3… the worst and dirtiest of water!) all the wet things we had set aside to clean had to be throw away. They don’t want you to clean things that category three water has touched. So the phone photos started (these are all iPhone photos) so we could catalog all we had to toss. These Wizard of Oz puppets from Kim broke my heart to throw away!

I will sing Woodard’s praises until the day I die. They were amazing to work with (and still are since we have several massive machines in here still!).

During busy season I ALWAYS get super behind in laundry. I bet I had 10 loads down there that all got soaking wet. It also got all the kid’s winter coats wet and every bag I own. Woodard suggested I find a laundry service or take it all to a laundry mat… that putting it in my own washer wasn’t a good idea. So I called around and found one that picked it ALL up (this is about a third of it), washed it and it’s being dropped off tomorrow folded and ready to put away! THIS is the place we used and they’ve been great to work with too!

It was amazing to watch how fast they cleaned and sanitized BEFORE they took down the drywall (and then they did it all again).

The playroom was mostly untouched. The rug and couch have to be replaced but most of the kid’s toys were ok.

Post drywall removal.

They probably would have done this anyway but I mentioned that Parker has severe asthma and I just loved that Woodard put in this doorway from our kitchen to the basement while they worked. It’s still up actually.

We have VERY old wood floors… most likely original to the house so about 70+ years old. So they are in desperate need of refinishing (or replacing) but I kind of loved the worn look. Plus we have three young kids who would just destroy beautiful floors! It just hasn’t even been a thought to touch the floors. Until now. The wood is still wet but you can already see where it’s starting to curl and separate. If we refinish them I’m thinking maybe dark?

This is a shot through my kitchen window at just ONE of the loads of garbage they pulled out! Those old kitchen cabinets were on the unfinished side for storage. One held our tools and one our china. They weren’t nice but they worked. Now they’re gone and I need to dream up a better storage system!

The china got moved to the dining room table but since it’s our only place to eat it’s now all under my bed! We get into bed carefully now! HA!

Woodard has massive dehumidifiers here both upstairs and in the basement as well as machines to clean the air. One big concern right now is that since the contaminated water went straight into our furnace via the ducts that we need a new furnace and new ductwork in the basement. So in the meantime the air is being purified so all that junk isn’t going into our air. Our homeowners insurance has been amazing and we have a good amount to cover the damage but the things we need to do are so costly we will hit that amount pretty quickly. I’m dreaming up DIY projects to lessen the cost but basically we are out a significant amount of money right before Christmas. There just isn’t a way around the fact that it just sort of sucks.

Oh and my new pair of Toms are gone. How one person can have such random things happen to her Toms in just a few months I have no idea! One pair was infested with ticks and the other was covered in sewer water! Guess what’s going back on my Christmas list?

SO. It’s been a long week and it’s Wednesday! My dad has been AMAZING. Yesterday was his birthday and he was here at least three times to meet with people. The big day of sub contractor walk-thrus is Friday. Today and tomorrow I have sessions. Saturday I’m hosting a Christmas crafting party for Bailey’s class and Sunday is the Christmas play. It’s just that time of year when you don’t have time or energy to deal with your house torn up and you don’t have the resources to spend this much money. Re-buying ruined Christmas gifts hasn’t been fun either.

BUT even in the midst of total chaos and sleepless nights it’s been good. Chris is my hero. I love that man so much. The kids have been amazing with only a few tears over lost toys and minor frustration of not being able to touch the ones that survived (everything is under plastic and needs to be wiped down at least once the big machines leave). Our parents have been incredibly helpful, encouraging and supportive. And our friends. Tonight at choir practice for the kids all of our friends at church just started dropping gift cards in my lap! We have over $500 to Target, Schnucks and Lowes! Over five hundred dollars! To say we’re overwhelmed with gratitude doesn’t even do it justice. I know this is a really stupid comparison but I was thinking last night about how Noah must have felt when he saw that rainbow. I’m guessing he was overwhelmed with gratitude too. And while all of the things I just mentioned are true (our family and friends really are amazing), I really believe that God is working in our lives through all that I listed above. He is in all of this.

We are blessed. Blessed more than we can ever deserve. And all the thank you’s in the world won’t cover it all. I feel like I say this a lot but as I sit here thinking about what everyone has done and is doing to help us, all I can think about is that I just have to pay it forward. I can’t give back equally to everyone that is giving to us right now. But I can do all that I can to pay it forward. To give to others… whether friends, family or strangers. I can live my life like it’s the constant blessing that it is. I can’t live my life perfectly but I can live a life of gratitude.

If all of my DIY dreams come true I can’t wait to show you what that grimy basement looks like in a few months! And if anyone wants to trade a session for, oh, say a furnace or drywall or anything, you just let me know! HA!

AND because we are a bit cash poor at the moment watch the blog this week for classes coming up, a day of boudoir minis, TWO days of kid valentine minis and a few other specials! ALL make great last minute Christmas gifts and I just got my new gift cards in so I’m ready to wrap them up cute for you!