Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Long Winter

After the scary episode with nearly losing Jeremy on that dairy farm, we decided it was time to find a new place to rent.  Our income was still quite low, and with Daryl going back to school to learn to be a machinist it would be a long time before our finances saw any improvement.  The options for rentals/apartments were slim, and what we could afford meant we were looking at very small places or very run down homes.  We found an apartment that was one of three that had been made from an old farm building.  I can't remember if it was a potato shed or a chicken shed...either way the ceilings were low (just under 7 feet) and the insulation was minimal at best.  But it was roomy and worked with our budget.

Our new apartment was also located out in farm territory.  We were surrounded by corn fields.  At least we weren't dealing with dairy farm fumes anymore, so that was a blessing!

Not long after we moved into that apartment, and just before Christmas, Daryl was hired by the company that he still works for.  He continued going to school part time and working part time for several months.

It was about this time that we announced that we were expecting (unexpectedly) our third child.  We had found out that I was expecting just after Daryl and I had decided that it was time for Daryl to step out of the business that we had been running and to go to school to become a machinist (something he had always been interested in doing).  We had planned to start using "family planning" once my cycles had resumed, but they never did.  So we were facing Daryl going to school for two years, my commitment to working full time in the business while he was going to school, and my pregnancy.  We had no idea how it would all work out, but we forged ahead with the plans anyway.

The next few months are still a blur.  I was working full time, Daryl was going to school.  I was now pregnant and installing draperies - climbing ladders even!  I actually lost weight during the first few months of my pregnancy.  During the last few months we hired a young girl to do some of my work so I could take time off once the baby was born.  I was able to step down from working (literally ;) a week before my due date.  I enjoyed some much needed rest then!

Daryl's new job became full time just before the next big event happened in our lives - that of welcoming of our first daughter, Jessica, into our family.  The boys were thrilled with her and we had so much fun with all the pink clothes!  Daryl's job was full time, but the wage was still low so our finances were as tight as ever.  I ended up returning to work within a couple week's of Jessica's birth as the new girl had found another job and had quit.  I was so disappointed, but knew that I had to do what needed to be done.  I brought Jessica with me to work, even into our client's homes!  The boys were cared for by friends and we worked to make it work for our family.

Our new location was notorious for it's "North Easters".  Our new apartment was right in the path of what is called the Fraser Valley Outflow.  I remember hearing my dad tell stories about some of those storms that he endured in his childhood, and now I was living just a few miles from where he grew up.

The first full winter we spent in that apartment saw one of the biggest "Nor-Easters" in a long time.  Jessica was still a baby, learning to crawl and get into trouble, and the boys were 2 and 4 years old. Daryl had gone to work as usual.  I had stayed home from work due to the weather.  The storm hit with a vengeance.  Winds so strong that the windows and walls rattled and trees were knocked down all over the place.  The power went out, the well shut down, and the snow piled up.  Daryl tried to make it home, but there were snow drifts in excess of 10 feet high in places.  After getting stuck several times and being pulled out of snow drifts, he gave up and spent the night at his parent's home.  I tucked the children in with extra blankets and made sure that all the candles were out before I went to bed.

The next morning we woke up to two things I had never before seen - snow drifts up to 12 feet high, covered with a sheet of ice over an inch thick and a 2 year old Incredible Hulk.  Jason has found a green permanent marker after I had tucked him in bed and had colored every inch of his exposed skin before falling asleep - Yikes!

There had been freezing rain falling all night.  Our door was covered with snow, about 5 feet deep.  Thankfully our exterior door opened inward, so I wasn't stuck inside - not that I wanted to go out in that weather mind, you!

Jeremy begged and begged to be able to go "play in the snow".  So, against my better judgement, I bundled him up and helped him out the door.  I watched from the window as he slipped and slid on top of the snow.  He worked his was over to the window and slid down the drift that was just outside.  That was fun, but now he couldn't get back up the drift to get back to the door.  Try as he might, he was stuck.

So I bundled myself up and headed outside with a claw hammer to help me move along the icy snow.  Our car was nearly completely buried, but I was able to use the mirrors to help me move along the ice.  I was crawling the entire way as you just could not stand up on this ice.  I'd use the hammer to break into the ice and create a hand hold and pull myself a few feet at a time.  I finally made it to Jeremy and was able to drag him out of the recess by the window.  We made it back to the door, marveling at the ice that had encased everything - even the power and phone lines were over an inch thick in ice.  Later I got our camera and went out once more just to get some photos of this incredible aftermath from that storm.

The next day our apartment became too cold, so I bundled everyone up and headed over to the neighbor who's apartment had wood heat.  From there we contacted emergency services as we were running out of wood, had no water and were running low on food too. We were getting concerned that we would soon face a very dire situation.  Our children were just having fun playing together, but being cut off from the world for 3 days was getting just plain frightening for us moms.

Hours later, just as the search and rescue vehicle pulled up to our door, the power came on and Daryl arrived.  So we moved back into our apartment and got everything warmed up once again.  What an adventure!  I was so thankful that God had protected us during that time and that we had neighbors with whom we could stay until our apartment was livable again.

We endured a few other storms during the 2 1/2 years that we lived in that apartment, but none as bad as that first big storm.  God taught us so much while we lived there.  Our time in that apartment was like one long winter.  A winter time of waiting and learning to be content even when circumstances were very hard.  We learned that His timing is always perfect, even when things that we yearned for were taking so much longer to happen than we would have desired.

It took over 2 years to sell our business, and during that time we came to realize just how important it is for a mommy to be home full time.  During those long years, we learned to value things that many take for granted - time together as a family, mom being home every day to meet the needs of her husband and children, and having the money to provide what is needed - food, clothing and shelter.  Family and Home became everything to us and we looked forward to a day when I could be a full time wife, mother and homemaker...and that day was coming, but that's for the next story!

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