Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I've wondered for a few weeks now if it's appropriate to post about this subject, as it is a tragic one, but one that no one got hurt and is definitely on my kids' (and family's) mind.

A few weeks ago, we were hanging around the house on a Sunday morning, planning to go see Hop later that day. I was in the kitchen when Disgruntled Husband screams from the living room. "Get over here NOW!"

Someone had written on his Facebook page that they were "sooo sorry" and wondered if there was anything that we needed. This was a friend of his from high school, so his first thought was that someone had died. We tried calling his parents, and could not reach them. Out of desperation, DH found the phone number of the person that posted and called her.

"[DH], oh God. You don't know yet," his friend said. "Your parents' house is on fire. You can see it on the news."

At first relieved that no one was dead (as he first thought), he tried again to reach his parents on their cell phone. No luck. We went through every member of the family on the Christmas card list (and some that weren't) until we got ahold of DH's grandpa's girlfriend, who told us DH's mother was with Grandpa at the ER getting checked out. She gave us his cell number. I happened to be the lucky person to call it.

I talked to my mother-in-law and told her I knew. From Facebook.

"Aw shit," she said.

An actual picture from the fire. This was DH's grandmother's car, exactly where it was in the garage. It used to be a white Chrysler. Then again, there used to be a garage around it.

Everyone was okay. She and my father-in-law got out safely with their dogs. Ironically, they found out about the fire because my FIL is on the fire department and MIL woke up when she heard their own address on the scanner. She got up, went into the bathroom, and saw the fire out the window. (It started in the garage, which the bathroom has a clear view of.) My FIL threw on some clothes, drove his truck to the fire department, got the fire engine, and went back to his house. How F-ing surreal would that be, to be the first on the scene to fight your own fire?

That night, when the fire was out and DH finally spoke to his dad, one sentence he said really made me laugh. At the end of their conversation, I heard DH say, "Hey Dad, not that it would ever happen again, but if it does, can I not find out about on Facebook?"

Since that day (and no, we never did make it to Hop), we've been to Iowa. We saw the damage first-hand. We met up with my brother-in-law, who we hadn't seen in over 5 years, who was home from Iraq just to help his parents. Many things were destroyed in the fire, but I'm surprised at just how much had survived.

And then there are my kids. The Triple Threat are super tight with Grandma and Grandpa, so when the fire happened, I wondered what I should tell them. I decided to be open and honest with them, even showing them the news footage online. The boys were sad for Grandma and Grandpa and had lots of questions. MiniMe just wanted to see the video over and over again. Which I didn't let happen; once was enough. But the fact that she asked to watch it like she asks to watch the "Family" episode of Yo Gabba Gabba (thanks, On Demand), disturbs me.

As my brother-in-law said, now that we know everyone is safe and okay, the tasteless jokes can start. (Only, I'm a daughter-in-law and I know shouldn't make any.) BIL did ask how his Nintendo games and G.I. Joes fared. (Games okay, GI Joes bit the dust.) I did say to MIL that a very faint bright side of the situation is that they are all going through the items and purging the stuff I'd have to do in about 30 years. She laughed, but I know I probably shouldn't have said it.

I just watched the kids play "house fire" with MM's Barbie house. It was disturbing and fascinating all at the same time. Maybe it's therapy for them. (I remember going to a child psychologist when I was a kid for sleepwalking, and all we did was play house with a Playmobile set.) Still, I am concerned that they might play this way at school. The last thing I need is a call home because one of them said, "Oh no! The fire has spread to the second floor and Oma's car has blown up!"

(It's kind of like now when I go anywhere with MM, her lead-in to start a conversation is "Grandma and Grandpa's house burned down." Not what you expect when the Walmart cashier asks her if she wants a sucker.)

DH is dealing with things the best he can. When we went to Iowa, lots of his unburned crap came home with us. And he doesn't appreciate me hoping other things of his went down in a blaze of glory. (Like his troll doll collection. Or pencil collection. Or ugly clothes-from-high-school collection.)

(Unfortunately, many items from the last collection are here at my house. If I had only known.)


  1. Omg! What a way to find that out! Thankfully nobody was hurt.

  2. I'm glad everyone is ok! I wouldn't worry to much about the kids acting stuff out at this point. It's a pretty big event in their little lives and they are trying to process it.

  3. 1 - I'm glad that everyone is ok. 2 - I didn't realize that you were a dutch girl? or married to a dutch boy? but Iowa and Oma are adding up to me now (spoken as a good wooden shoe wearing tulip planting girl herself). 3 - I wouldn't worry (like Heidi said) about the kids. A new event that big is bound to have some play time!

  4. Oh, wow! I also must make a numbered list.
    1. Yes, it does seem like therapy for the kids to play housefire ...let them! They're digesting what happened (says Lisa who has zero degrees in child psychology). 2. your father in law is the worlds most badass grandpa for driving the fire engine to put out his own darn fire! 3. I can't believe that of all things, the troll dolls survived. 4. I love that your husband had a troll doll collection. 5. So glad they are ok!