Friday, September 9, 2011

Bastrop Fire 2011

As of last Sunday, Texas was currently in the middle of the worst drought in 100 years. 80+ days of 100 degree or above temperatures. -And my parents live in the middle of a pine forest, rendered a veritable tinderbox by the drought. Concern for fire was high, and Sunday the inevitable happened. Several miles south of my parents home, a fire ignited- sparking a firestorm that would ultimately become 24 miles long, and 20 miles wide. A fire so large, you could see it from space. (picture below) Mom and Dad heard a knock on the door- a fireman asking them to leave immediately. Not soon. Not eventually. Right now. Mom grabbed her dog Woody, and her laptop. They left without clothes, medicine, or any essentials. Certainly no photo albums, nor keepsakes.. They gathered in the parking lot of a store, in a safe area of town, along with other members of their ward. As the night dragged on, families split off to go stay with relatives, or find lodging somewhere safe. Not until next day dawned, did anyone comprehend the size and scope of how large this fire had become. My parents drove about 20 miles north to stay with my sister Catherine, and have been there ever since. News reporting was spotty, to say the least, and the information that was reaching people was vague and upsetting. "Fire is 0% contained" is something that makes your stomach sink. As the days dragged on, my parents and the rest of us came to grips with the fact that the house was no longer there. Eyewitness reports from anywhere close to their area said that "there's nothing left." Below is a photo taken from a hard-hit area near my parents subdivision: People are so anxious to return, and I'm not sure there's anything that could prepare you for a sight like the one above. The beautiful pine trees that the residents cherish in this area are utterly destroyed.

As people waited desperately for information, a Facebook phenomenon happened. Several pages dedicated to sharing information were formed out of necessity. A person here and a person there knew someone in a position of authority that would be willing to check on a certain house. This trickle of information started on Facebook, and a few good firefighters and authorities took their own time to canvas neighborhoods to report on the few structures still standing. Thousands of people joined these pages, and my brother and sister and I became (almost obsessively) involved in getting this information cross-posted and shared with residents. We became acquainted with so many neighbors and friends, and formed a tight-knit community dedicated to taking care of and supporting each other. I personally pored over list after list trying to help residents determine if their home was still standing. I'm sad and sick that I was the one to share devastating news with so many people- not just on my parents street, but in the several neighborhoods surrounding them. To date, over 1600 homes have burned. The worst loss in Texas history. More incredible to me is that this fire was only national news for the first two days. The suffering and needs of these families are great, and it's now a struggle to find anything but local Austin news coverage of it.

Finally, Tuesday night a miracle happened. The bishop was able to gain access with law enforcement and check on my parents house. You've never heard such sweet words as "it's still there!" The real miracle is trying to comprehend how a fire 20 miles wide parted like the Red Sea, and spared a single house. The neighboring houses are all gone. Before I show you a picture of the house, let me show you their street- you may see trees in the photos, but the homes and structures underneath are all burned out:

How is it possible that this house survived?

It wasn't without damage, but it's still standing. And that's an answer to many many anguished prayers. The workshop is gone, as are the sailboat and camper. Basically, anything that was on the property that wasn't the house itself is gone. There will be a lot of work to do on the house itself, but structurally it's still sound.

Residents still are not allowed access, and the power to this poor little house isn't scheduled to be back on for another 3 weeks. I see a new refrigerator in Mom's future! I'm glad I won't be the one cleaning that out....

Ultimately, this has been a week of many emotions. I've been devastated, worried, and sick to my stomach. Since helping others with the information effort, I've felt compassion and pity. In trying to wrap my brain around the sheer miracle and blessing of it all, I've been overcome with gratitude and humility. Not to mention, sheer relief and elation! Also, a renewed resolve to put my own affairs in order, so that my own little family will be better prepared in an emergency situation.

As a side note, it's tempting to think that maybe my parents were spared because of great faith, or the power of prayer. And while this could possibly be true in their case, most of the families in their ward were not so lucky. Sadly, a very large percentage lost their homes. Adversity and trials come to us all, and I'll be grateful if I never have to see such a trial as losing everything.

Thank you to everyone who hung in there with our family, and prayed so fervently for a good outcome. What tremendous and wondrous blessings our family has experienced this week! (I'm exhausted!)


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Six months old!

Want to know who is Six months old today??? -----> THIS GUY <-----
Some fun facts:
1. I suck on my washcloth in the tub, and scream when mom takes it away
2. I'm Daddy's little buddy, and the apple of Mom's eye. They love me!
3. I like to snuggle in the morning before everyone starts getting ready.
4. If it's smaller than my fist, I'm going to put it in my mouth.
5. Drool. Constantly. See photo above. Bibs are my new accessory.
6. Awkwardly in between 6 month and 9 month sizes.
7. Peek a Boo is this hysterical game that only works for Dad. Mom, not so funny.
8. I'm a happy boy, and not much gets me crabby. I'm a delightful child!

My family is coming out for my blessing and sealing next week. I just cant wait to see everyone!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Happy First Father's Day!

Doesn't this look like the face of a good dad? I think so! I posted this picture to remind you what Daron looks like. So much of my photo documentation these days seems to go like this: Thanks Daron for being such a good Daddy! For loving this boy as much as I do, and for making sure we have everything we need to be healthy and happy. So what if your idea of babysitting includes a little XBOX time? I like to think of you as a multi-tasker!

Bottom line- We love you and are looking forward to many more Father's Day's with you!


Elisa and Jack

Thursday, June 2, 2011

More Jack? You got it...

Jack has his own blog now:

Due to huge demand for a daily dose of the little bugger, we are going to try to keep it updated a couple times a week. Keep checking this blog for the usual Barnes Family musings and adventures.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

3 Months!

Let me make a little confession: Being a mom is every bit as awesome as I thought it would be. It's hard work, and I'm tired a lot of the time, but this "new normal" that we've settled into is pretty darn satisfying. These days, Jack sleeps more, smiles more, and coos constantly. How could anyone resist that?

At 3 months:
1. Still hates the swing. Heaven knows I'm still trying, because I have a hard time spending $167 on a torture mechanism.
2. We're firmly into the 3-6 month clothing range. I cried like a little girl going though his drawer and weeding out all the outgrown outfits and onsies. What's worse is that I now realize I'll have to go through this every couple of months.
3. Jack gets bored easily. He seems to need/love constant stimulation, usually in the form of being held, and walked around face forward. He won't sit and chill out, he needs to be moving. Especially outside.
4. Bathtime has suddenly done a 180 degree turn. He still loves the bath, but instead of relaxing and falling asleep, he will kick and thrash like he's trying to swim. He's smiling the whole time, so I'm guessing it's very enjoyable for him.
5. At his last checkup, he weighed exactly 12 lbs, and is measuring at the 60th percentile for growth. I feel like he's huge, but he's pretty average as babies go.

As far as the blogging goes, we've just been trying to keep our head above water. It all started about a month ago, when Jack started coughing. At first, it seemed like just a little tickle, and then quickly deteriorated into racking fits that kept him up all night long. Of course, to lay there and listen to him was maddening, knowing that you couldn't do much for him. He soon became stuffy, and was introduced to saline and the brain sucker (sounds like a good name for a band). If he wasn't pitiful before, the brain sucker made him crrrazy. He screamed bloody murder, but at least he could breathe a little better afterward. Between monitoring his fever, and keeping him hydrated and comfortable, I don't think I slept for a week. Hence, my weakened immunity. Hence, the horrible cold I then contracted. Hence, the horrible cold Daron contracted. At one point, we were so sick we had to take Jack (who was now much better) down to the sitter for the day just so we could konk out on some Nyquil, and sleep the glorious drug induced sleep that only modern medication could provide. There were quite a few days of missed work, and as bad as Jack had it, I think we fared even worse. Daron improved somewhat, only to get worse again, and have a massive ear infection. He's still not quite right, but you all knew that about him.

Somewhere in all this, I celebrated my first Mother's Day! I don't mind telling you that there was some smug satifaction in finally qualifying for that Mother's Day rose at church. Sure I've received the pity-rose in years past, but I'm a card carrying Mom now!! Gimme that rose!! Jack was nice enough to give me a card, and also buy me a cute little baby booties charm for my charm bracelet. Just to be clear, that was baby BOOTIE, not booty. A little baby rump would make a weird charm.

Again, apologies for the lack of posting. We seem to be well now, and I've been doing some thinking about the blog. I think I'm going to construct a seperate blog for Jack pictures, which I will try to post to daily. Not as much writing, but it will contain the pictures that the family craves so badly. I'll keep the Barnes blog going to post our happenings and adventures. That way everyone wins! You get your daily pictures, and I don't keep putting off the blog because I haven't had time to write anything.

I'll post the new blog address as soon as I have something up for your viewing pleasure.