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Home Sweet Home!!

May 26th, 2010

Well I am quite happy to announce that my Mums and Daddio moved back into their house today!

I popped down to Newport News after work just so I could see it for myself!  Can you believe its been almost a full year since the freak house fire? (for the full story click here)

I know it has been a long stressful year for them both, that is why I am so happy that things are FINALLY getting back to normal for them!

Welcome Home Edwards Family, Welcome Home!!

{Interior photos to follow shortly..that is once all 200 boxes are unpacked.  No pressure Mums!}

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Being Thankful, Family, Rebuilding

Looking Good!

March 22nd, 2010

I forgot to mention that I stopped by my Parent’s New-Old house the weekend before last while I was in Newport News checking in on my Daddio.  The house is looking really good and the contractor is telling them he will turn the keys over sometime in early May!  All that is left to do is install the kitchen cabinets and granite, repair and re-sand the hardwood floors, install carpet, install all the plumbing fixtures, and hang wall paper!  WHOO-HOO!  I know my parents are beside themselves with anticipation of being back in their own house with their own things again!

Here are some before and almost after photos for you guys.

The Foyer

My BedroomThe Upstairs Hall

The Back Stairs

The Kitchen

And The Exterior

Looking good, eh?!

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House Update..

January 6th, 2010

Wanted to give you guys the update on my parent’s house.

{for any new readers, my parent’s experienced a terrible house fire back in June.  No one was hurt, thankfully, but the entire house was destroyed.  You can check out the progress of the house here.}

Things are coming along slowly but surely.  They are currently working on replacing the roof section by section… hence all the tarps.

Here’s a close up of the windows in one of the front bedrooms.

Look closely through them and you can see blue sky on the other side!  They must have been working on that section the day my mums took the photos.

And the Garage has also being rebuilt.

I think the best part is that my Mums still hung a xmas wreath on the front door.  That makes me smile.  You can burn their house down, but you can’t take away their spirit!

My parents are doing well and are trucking right along with making final decisions on things like the new interior finishes, the kitchen cabinets, and the sound-system.  I asked my dad if he was going to get one of those big remotes that controlled everything in the house, from the lights, to the speakers, to the toilet flushing. {Just like that remote Ozzy Osbourne used on his horrible reality show Meet the Osbournes. He never could figure out which button did what.  And Yes, I am admitting that I use to watch that show.} But the house still has quite a ways to go.  New electircal, HVAC, plumbing, windows, you get my drift.  I think at this point they are just hoping to get back in the house before the start of summer!

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Being Thankful, Family

Studs…

September 2nd, 2009

My mom just sent me some updates on the house at Reynolds Drive.

Apparently all the demo is done and the house is down to the bare studs.

foyerHere is the Foyer.

living roomThis is the Living Room and Dining Room.

family roomAnd the Family Room.

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I believe the next step will be to spray all the studs with some sort of foam that will treat the wood.  Once the foam hardens it creates a fire retardant surface.  It will also help trap any residual smoke/soot odors and make the wood good as new!

My mom will be headed up to Richmond in a few weeks so we can start the fun part…shopping for the new furniture, carpet, paint and wallpaper!  Wonder if I can sneak in some new furniture for my house too!

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DEMO has begun!

July 28th, 2009

So I talked to my parents this weekend and demo work officially began on the house at Reynolds Drive last week.  The Fire Inspectors came to a decision that the fire WAS NOT due to faulty equipment, i.e. the furnace or the hot-water heater, as earlier suspected.  So the official cause of the fire is listed as SOURCE UNKNOWN.  Comforting eh?

On a lighter note, my mom stopped by the house this weekend and was able to snap some photos of the work done outside. She said it was too dark in the house to get any good interior shots, but that they have ripped out all the carpet and drywall on the 2nd floor.  Sounds like a good start!

I’m going to post some before and after shots so you can see the progress..

BEFORE

before 1

AFTER

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You can see that the doorways/walls have finally been boarded up and all the extra debris removed, including the exterior brick wall.

BEFORE

before 2

AFTER

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The large pile of debris that the fireman pulled from the garage to fight the fire is now gone.  It’s sad to think of all the things that were buried in that pile, but at least the constant reminder of what was lost is now gone.

BEFORE

before 3

AFTER

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Here the front exterior brick wall of the garage has been removed along with several boxwood bushes.

My mom always kept her yard in such great shape, that I know it is just killing her that all her plants are slowly withering away.  I wonder if she had a mild heart attack when she was pulled in to the drive-way to see this.

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That Port-a-Potty is SMACK-DAB in the middle of her favorite flower bed!!!  But she admitted that she is keeping a good sense of humor about it all… am I am proud of her for that!

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Their Home Away from Home

July 22nd, 2009

So my parents finally received a new cable cord for their camera and were able to download some photos of their Home Away from Home.

Here’s the Tour as narrated by Carter..

house b

Our new home until ours is rebuilt – hopefully only 6 months.  The rebuilding could take longer, but we are optimistic.  The new house is very comfortable and has lots of space which we will use to store our furniture and belongings as they are returned to us.

flowers front porch

The pots of geraniums that provided a little color at the old house are now sitting on the porch of Jonquil Road.  They make it seem a little more like home.

foyer

Foyer is decorated with a borrowed table and borrowed lamp.  They look great and give us a place to put our keys and stuff. It is a beautiful foyer with lots of space.

living room

Large Living Room with lone chair.  I think that I will store the boxes in here as I want to use the Dining Room for my table and chairs.  Who knows, I may want to have a dinner party soon.

blue room

Family Room- The BLUE Room. When I rented the sofa and love seat, I could only choose the style, but not the color.  We had to accept whatever was available. I was just a little concerned about what color they would be.  We lucked out to get them in blue to match the blue carpet.

honey and bird

We also have a blue recliner that matches the rest of the blue items. (Apparently my dad has started color coordinating to the furniture and carpet too!)

breakfast nook

The Breakfast Nook and more Borrowed Furniture.  The fabric on the chairs looks like it was meant to match the wallpaper.

kitchen

Here’s the Kitchen.  Its got lots of cabinet space and looks out into a large backyard.  And here are some flowers from my old yard.  I love zinnias and lemon basil together.   The zinnias are in pots which I have moved here.  I am debating moving the lemon basil also. (Wonder who Totty gets her love of flowers from?)

essentials

But who needs cabinet space with this is all the kitchen gear that you have??

boxes

Finally, some of my old kitchen ware arrived in 14 boxes which are currently residing in the dining room.  But this is just the beginning of the boxes. I was told that they used over 200 to pack our things.  Where will I put all of them?

craft paper

They do pack things well.  Each item is wrapped in a large piece of craft paper.
I had to go through each box to identify the contents.  Many of them I just reorganized and labeled better and then resealed.  Who needs to use 2 sets of china?

radko

These are just a few of my treasured Christoper Radko ornaments which the wonderful firemen rescued. I have been collecting them for years and each one has a special story.  I lost all of my other Christmas decorations, so I was thrilled to save these.

nursery

Travers, IV, came for a visit this past week-end. (hence his modeling of the blue recliner with Honey)  He stayed in a very basic nursery – a Pac-N-Play and a rocker.  I changed and dressed him on the floor.  It worked out fine and he had lots of space to run around and play.

frame

This is the last treasure found in the pile of debris. Travers found it as the inspectors were sifting through the rubble.  It is part of a group of pics of Trav and Totty that were hanging on her wall. The frame will need to be replaced, but the pics are fine. Wish I could have found the rest of them or the picture albums were in the closet of Totty’s room.  The wall with the closet was destroyed.  Each day I think of something else that we lost, but we will just create new memories.

**Before this post went to press, bootsandtotty.com learned that the contractors had started demolition in the old house.  Our on site reporters promise to send photos as soon as they are able.**

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Being Thankful, Family, Rebuilding

Rebuilding.. a month in.

July 15th, 2009

So it was a month ago today that my parents got the call that there was an explosion and fire at their house.  Can you believe it?? A full month has gone by!  In someways it seems like it has just been days and other ways it seems like it has been forever.  I haven’t been back to the house lately, so I don’t have any new photos to share.  But from what my parents say, not much has changed.  The grass is a little less green (due to lack of water), but my mom has been working hard in the flower beds to keep it looking as nice as it possibly can.

Here’s another note from her that I wanted to pass along:

Greetings from 30 Jonquil Lane.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a month since the fire.  It has been a very busy month, but a good one and we are settling into our new home.  As soon as we get a new adapter for the camera, I will download some pics of it.  The rental furniture is working out ok and friends have filled in with a few pieces and lots of lamps. For most of the month our kitchen-ware consisted of 4 plates, 4 bowls, 2 mugs, 2 glasses, a coffee maker, 2 frying pans and 2 pots with a few basic utensils. Guess what?- it worked just fine.  We would just wash them and they would be ready for the next time.  Definitely saving using the dishwasher. This week, we received some of our dishes, glasses, mugs and cookware back from Service Master (14 boxes to be exact), so it is looking more like my old kitchen. But I didn’t unpack everything.  We have discovered that you can live with less, much less.

There has been no work on the house.  A team of inspectors are coming tomorrow and look over the site again and hopefully determine the cause. Then they will release it to the construction company.  They will remove all the debris and start to disassemble the interior.  They will take it down to the studs and brick and rebuild it from the outside in.  We will be getting a brand new house.  I am confident that my “in-house interior designer” will guide me through the design aspect of rebuilding and the finished product will be quite nice. It will be at least 6 months or longer before it is livable again.

Everyone has been so thoughtful and kind to us. Contrary to public feeling, there are good caring people in this world and we have met many along the way – the wonderful firemen who saved my Christopher Radko Christmas ornaments; the mail lady who delivers our mail to our new address without a forwarding request (long story, but she saved the day}; Travers’ patient who cuts the grass at Reynolds Drive for free, the friends who have brought numerous meals;  friends who brought bags of groceries (I lost everything in the pantry, frig and freezer); the flowers from the flower lady and so much more  The list is endless, but you get the idea.

Will keep everyone updated on progress of rebuilding.  Carter

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Home Sweet “Rental” Home

June 24th, 2009

That’s the sign I need to get my parents to hang over the front door of their new house.

‘Cause it’s now official!! Well it was as of 6:47 this morning as my parents checked out of their Efficiency Motel and into their new house for the next 6 months.

I spoke with my parents this evening and my mom mentioned that they had already had company at the new place.  One neighbor brought by some yummy appetizers (thanks P&M!!) and another had brought over some kebabs for dinner.  My mom said they just had to laugh when they went to fire-up the grill to cook the kebabs and they had no way to light it. (I haven’t seen the grill but I am assuming it didn’t have an electronic starter and my parents didn’t have any matches or a lighter.) It is all those little items that get overlooked – tape, scissors, paperclips, a pen..

I did kinda think about this the other day as I was in Michael’s and saw some cute stationery.  It made me think that my mom probably could use some, as hers was most likely boxed up or in the trash.  I ended up making her a bag full of goodies including some wrapping paper, tissue paper, ribbon, scissors, tape, and, of course, the stationery.  She, as I, LOVE wrapping a great gift and her entire collection of wrapping paper and accessories were stored in the room above the garage.  I know she is bummed about losing it all- so i thought it was a good time to start rebuilding her collection!  I hope it made her day a little brighter.

But back to the rental house.  My mom wanted me to pass along this update to everyone…

“Good News, we are moved into our new home for the next 6 months.  It is a very comfortable home with lots of space and it seems even bigger with our limited furniture. It belongs to a friend’s mother who had just moved into a retirement community and her house was empty and available.  It is only 5 minutes from our home so it will be convenient for the many trips we will make as the work progresses.
It will be wonderful to sleep in our own bed tonight.  Since our original bed was condemned, we purchased the same one and look forward to a good night’s sleep.  The flat screen TV was also a total loss, so Travers spent most of the day finding a replacement. It is only a LITTLE bit bigger than the original.
Our old house is now empty.  All of our belongings have been taken away for cleaning and storage.  The clothing restoration company had a quick turn around on our summer clothes, so we do have things to wear.  Each day we think of something that we wish that we had taken out of the house, BUT. . . there were so many decisions to make so quickly.
Thanks to all for the many thoughts and prayers.  We are truly blessed to have so many wonderful friends who have helped us in so many ways. Once I find the camera and the cord for the computer, I will send pics of our new home and our RENTAL furniture.  Fondly, Carter”

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A View from the Inside..

June 18th, 2009

So I stopped by my parent’s today after work to help my mom with a few things.  I brought along the camera so you guys could see the damage that was done to the inside of the house.  Pictures say a thousand words.. so my narrative might be sparse.

This is what I was greeted with at the front door.  How Welcoming…

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The house was very eerie and still.  My mom had tried to explain to me the damage the smoke had done, but I really didn’t get it until I saw it for myself.

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Can you see how scorched the ceiling is right below the railing?  And look at all the soot on the floor.   Here is a closer look at the hall and the coat closets.  This is the area that took the brunt of the fire as the hall lead to the garage.

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Can you tell that there is still a rug on the floor?  Look really hard and you can see the outline…

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Here’s the view into my dad’s office.

DSC_0045The fire fighters had to open the wall up to get a better angle at the fire, as this room shared a wall with the garage.

Amazingly the oil portrait of my grandfather that hung on that wall was left with only one spot of soot.

Here is the Kitchen.  Not very appetizing is it?

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Here’s the back stairs in the family room.  Again it shared a wall with the garage.  There used to be a antique vase that was left to my dad, in the corner of the landing.  I found it mixed in with the insulation, shattered into hundreds of pieces from the impact of the explosion.

DSC_0049

Now back to the front entry.

DSC_0052See all those little dots evenly spaced on the ceiling?  Those are the drywall screws exposed.  This happened in several spots around the house.

DSC_0053Look at the carpet!! It pains me…  Guess I can stop feeling guilty now for spilling that red blush all over the carpet in my bedroom 17 years ago.

Now let’s go upstairs..

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Here’s what use to be the hallway to my brother’s room.  And here is my room.

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Can you see the imprints left of the walls where photos use to be??

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Look at this Mirror- YUCK!  And that is just from the smoke.. not water.

My parent’s bathroom is just as gross.  This was the last stop on the smoke’s trip through the house.  Once it got here it had no where else to go.  Notice how it settled along the top of the baseboards, especially around the toilet.

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These photos below are prime examples of just how hot it got in the house during the fire.

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Now back to the outside…

I was positive that this pile of rubble had to be hiding some sentimental items that were still salvageable.  A little digging and we found these..

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These photos were no loss. (what-up 8th grade perm and braces?!?)

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But my Sesame Street Vinyl was..

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We also found a handmade baby blanket that my mom made for me and my brother and some dresses that my mom wore when she was a little girl.  I am hoping to be around when the bulldozer comes to move some of the heavier items from the pile.  There has got to more things hiding that the fire spared!!

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Each day that passes I feel that my parents are adjusting more and more to the challenge ahead of them and that a sense of normalcy amidst the chaos is not far off.  A good friend has offered them a place to stay for the next 6 months or so, as word from the contractor is that they shouldn’t expect to be back in the house any earlier than January.  My mom has been busy selecting rental furniture and they should be moving in this weekend.

Thank you to all for your well wishes during this stressful time.  My entire family is grateful to the out-pouring of support from friends, family, and neighbors.  I will definitely continue to post updates as the rebuilding process continues.

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Being Thankful…

June 16th, 2009

Why does it take a major life changing event to remind you how precious life is?  The things that you think are big deals become very small and your overall perspective changes.

I say this because while I was grocery shopping yesterday, I got a phone call from my mom.  She seemed a bit off and then proceeded to tell me that there had been an Explosion, yes explosion, at their house.  Of course my first reaction was to say, “you are kidding right??”  Like who would really kid about that?  Apparently about 10:15 yesterday morning either the gas hot water heater or the gas furnace exploded, causing a large fire.  6 Fire trucks and 45 fire-fighters arrived at the house to find the entire right side (garage and bedroom above) engulfed in flames.

Luckily the house did have smoke detectors which were hooked to the house alarm and immediately alerted the fire department.  I can only imagine the shock my parents felt when they received the calls at work from the neighbors that their house had “exploded” and was on fire!  One neighbor said she was standing at her kitchen window across the street and saw the garage door get thrown about 20 feet from the house.  It stopped only because a tree was in its way.

garage door(sorry for the hazy/grainy photos but we only had Mr. vB’s iphone to use to take photos of the damage)

Other neighbors thought the explosion was a sonic boom because it was so loud.  The Fire Marshall’s will be back out at the house today to investigate further to the exact cause.  All we can keep thinking is thank goodness no-one was in the house.  We played the “what-if” game over and over last nights, saying what-if this had happened on Sunday when they were home, what-if it had happened in the middle of the night, what-if...  I just keep coming back to the fact that both my mom and dad are safe and alive. A ton of things were destroyed by the fire, but no one was hurt.  That keeps the perspective in check I think.  Things can be replaced.  My amazing parents cannot.

Here are some photos of the house throughout the day yesterday.  (I was trying to find a before photo, but I think they might be on Mr.vB’s computer.  If I get one I will add it to the post)

house with wallThis photo was taken mid day from a local newspaper reporter.  At this point the second floor had already collapsed onto the first floor and they were having trouble getting to the fire.

back of houseThis photo, also taken by the newspaper reporter, shows the opening where the garage door use to be.  The wood that you see is actually the second floor that crashed down.  Since the opening was now blocked, the Fire Captain decided they would need to bring down the front exterior brick wall to be able to fully extinguish the fire.

Here’s what the house looked like by the time Mr.vB, my brother and I could get down there last night, which was about 6:30pm.

house missingIf you scroll up to this same shot of the house and compare photos, you will notice that the garage wall is totally missing now.

full view houseAnd here is what is left of what use to be the garage and the bedroom above the garage.  Notice the large opening in the top left side of the house?  That was my bedroom and the opening is actually where the closet use to be.  The floor was so damaged that it crumbled as well.  I apparently had left a ton of old letters and photo albums in that closet.

pile of stuff photo albumHere I am actually digging one of the albums out of the pile of rubble.  It made me think that if I was that distraught over losing a bunch of old photo albums that I hadn’t seen in years, I couldn’t imagine the overwhelming feelings my parents must have been having.  Obviously everything that was in the garage- tools, the riding lawnmower, hunting equipment, gardening equipment, the generator- were all lost, as well as everything that my mom had stored in what use to be my brother’s bedroom over the garage- smocked dresses, family heirlooms, antiques, a gorgeous four poster bed.  Even my poor brother lost some things.  He had stored his entire collection of Widespread Panic and Grateful Dead Cd’s at my parents because he was in the process of declutteting his own house to sell.  He was worried that if he stored all 1,500 CD’s in the storage unit that they were renting, they would get messed up somehow. He never imagined that they would be ruined at my parent’s house.

sideview of houseToday my parents begin the process of figuring it all out.  They currently are staying at an Efficiency Hotel and are being helped out by friends and family.  I just spoke with my mom and she said they have gotten back into the house, but there is smoke damage everywhere.  A company called ServePro has been hired to come in and literally take EVERYTHING out to clean and restore.  She says the are trying to figure out what things they need immediately and what can wait.  Then at some point they will begin the actual rebuilding process.  Sounds like all the carpet and wallpaper will have to be removed and everything will have to be repainted, as well as the garage and bedroom being rebuilt.  But for now, they just need to take it day by day, hour by hour.  It’s a lot to digest and think about.

So the moral of this very somber post is the following:

1. NEVER take loved ones (family and friends) for granted.  Life is too short and unexpected things CAN happen.

2. Check your smoke detectors every couple of months to make sure the batteries are good.  Even if a fire does start, someone can be alerted before everything is lost.

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