It’s amazing what a difference a year can make

I have had this post open for hours. Multiple times over the past few days. Every time I try to put to words how I feel about 11/17/13, I get teary-eyed and can’t quite get the words out. But I’m sticking through it and writing this post. More for me, than for you guys, so thanks for reading along.

The frame around my mom's front door stayed standing.

The frame around my mom’s front door stayed standing.

November 17 started like any other Sunday in the Beantown Baker household. Hubby and I were up to our eyeballs in Thanksgiving preparations, but we slept in and then made breakfast together. I had a massage scheduled for 2pm. I went to my massage for an hour of blissfully relaxing ignorance.

When I got home, I didn’t catch on right away that something was wrong. Hubby met me at the door, which was rare, and once I got close enough to him, I could tell something was wrong. He spoke very deliberately and calmly telling me there had been a tornado in Washington and my mom’s house was flattened. Then he said “Andrew was at her house and he’s in the hospital”. My heart sank as a million horrible things raced through my mind about my baby brother.

This was the second day after going through rubble. Believe it or not, we had made a lot of progress.

This was the second day after going through rubble. Believe it or not, we had made a lot of progress.

I instantly called my sister to get the scoop and she was a mess too. Come to find out, I really had enjoyed pure ignorance during my hour long massage. During that time, various members of my family had gone through agonizing minutes of terror in various forms.

My dad, who lives 45 minutes away from my mom’s house, had driven frantically to her house since Andrew wasn’t answering his phone. My mom had been out of town and missed the whole ordeal. When my dad, stepmom and step siblings got close to mom’s neighborhood, many of the roads were closed. They parked about a mile away and ran through a field. The field had clothes, furniture, and other debris scattered throughout and it was muddy. It was a tough run. There was more confusion once they got to my mom’s house because Andrew was no where to be found, even though his car was parked in mom’s garage.

While this was going on, my other siblings were in contact trying to figure out how to help. They posted on Facebook in hopes that one of Andrew’s friends knew where he was.

The bathroom where Andrew took cover. Nothing was left of it...

The bathroom where Andrew took cover. Nothing was left of it…

And of course there’s Andrew’s side of this story. He had been sleeping on my mom’s couch in the living room after a night out. He doesn’t remember all the details and it all happened so fast. For whatever reason, when Andrew woke up to the sounds of a tornado, looking outside to see a tree flying straight towards him snapped him in to motion. He ran to the bathroom to take cover. Everything around him was blown away. The bathroom vanity and sink literally rolled right over him, leaving deep cuts in his back on their way. I’m not at all a religious person but it’s a pure miracle he survived that tornado.

The diagrams posted later on the news showed that the center of the tornado went right through my mom’s kitchen, about fifteen feet from the bathroom where Andrew took cover. All of this happened while I was getting my massage. Once I got caught up on what had happened from my family, my instinct was to jump in the car and get there as soon as possible.

But, of course, the tornados were moving our way and it wouldn’t have been safe to leave. Waiting the 5 hours for our tornado warnings and watches to go away so we could leave was agonizing. Then we had a 5 hour drive to get there.

Looking across the street from the front door.

Looking across the street from the front door.

The next week was a blur to me, as I’m sure it was to my mom and Andrew and everyone else touched by any sort of disaster like this. We went through as much of the rubble as we could at my mom’s. Some of the things from her basement were salvageable, but due to a broken pipe, a lot of it got ruined anyways.

Today is the anniversary of the tornado that ripped through my mom’s neighborhood. We were very lucky that Andrew survived with only some cuts and bruises. A year later, my mom has moved in to a new house with her new husband. Andrew has some pretty gnarly scars. I haven’t been back to Washington since last year but many of the houses have been rebuilt.

My dad helped to organize the Tree Recovery Washington Facebook page and a tree planting day a couple weeks ago. Hundreds of trees were donated by nurseries and volunteers planted them for anyone who lost trees due to the tornado (insurance doesn’t cover landscaping costs). The town of Washington is moving on. I think people are dealing with it in their own ways. While my sister Lindsey wasn’t there when the tornado hit, she did lose her home too. She got a tattoo of the key to the house to help cope with her pain. My entire family is completely changed because of this tornado and the aftermath. Some relationships are stronger than ever.

Lindsey's new tattoo

Lindsey’s new tattoo

As for me, I decided to write and post this as a sort of therapy. This is one of those things you never think will happen to your family until it does. And somehow, someway, you get through it. Thanks for listening and thanks again to everyone who donated to my mom last year right after the tornado.

Here’s a video that shows some footage of the tornado, recovering, and Washington today.

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19 Responses to “30 things to do before I’m 30”

  1. #
    Kris — June 17, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Happy Birthday!!!!

    I had one of those lists when i was 28 too, then i got pregnant. that was the only thing i got to cross off πŸ™‚ Good luck with your list and enjoy your last year of your 20’s!! What a great way to gear up for 30!! And let me just say that 30 is great, i am having a blast!!!

    I saw marshmallows on your list. I have a great recipe and they are seriously easy to make and so delicious that you will never want to eat store marshmallows again!

  2. #
    Katie — June 17, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Happy Birthday! I’m starting to create a similar list… good luck accomplishing all of it!

  3. #
    LauraC — June 17, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Happy birthday!
    I made a list before I turned 30 also. It is addictive so I keep an ongoing list. Then this year I did Mondo Beyondo and list got crazier!

    On the chicken tikka front, Cook’s Illustrated did a recent chicken tikka and it is unbelievable! As close to the restaurant as you can get.

    And for cooking classes, my husband and I took a knife skills class together in Chicago and it was THE BEST class I have ever taken. I can easily chop like the pros and it has saved us literally hundreds of hours in the kitchen.

    Here’s my list for this year:

  4. #
    Jessica — June 17, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Happy Birthday!

    I’ll be 29 in August, so I think I’m going to steal your idea and make a list of my own (probably with a lot of the same things you mentioned!)

  5. #
    ashley — June 17, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    Happy Birthday! Hope you have a fabulous day!

  6. #
    roxan — June 17, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while but I think this is my first time commenting. I just wanted to say that I think it’s awesome that you have a list of goals to hit before you hit 30! I’m turning 30 myself in about a month and a half and I’m wondering where all the time went. Maybe I’ll set a couple goals to fulfill within the next several weeks. Happy birthday.

  7. #
    Elina — June 17, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!
    These are really great goals. I haven’t been to the beach since moving to Boston 3 years ago either. Ridiculous. Must change this this summer πŸ™‚

  8. #
    Cupcake Activist — June 17, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    I’m turning 29 this year also (ahhhh!) and I love this idea. Good luck on your goals. And definitely keep us updated with your progress.

  9. #
    We Are Not Martha — June 17, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    I really need to make a list like this too! That’s a lot to accomplish in a year, but I think you can do it!

    Happy birthday!! πŸ™‚


  10. #
    Jen — June 17, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    Thanks for all the birthday wishes everyone. And thanks for the recipe links! If anyone has any others to share to help me get through my list, I’m all ears!

  11. #
    MemΓ³ria — June 17, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    What a fantastic list!! I need to make one for 35 things to do before I’m 35 hmmm.

    Good luck with getting through this list. It looks so fantastic.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. #
    Amy — June 18, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Happy Birthday!
    This is a great idea – 30s are great – however I only have a couple years left of them.
    Love your blog…

  13. #
    EEMorris — June 18, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Hello and Happy Birthday to a fellow midwest transplant!! I’m from Greenville, OH (it’s 40 miles north and west of Dayton) and now live in Central Massachusetts! Your list is quite similar to mine…especially about keeping in touch and meeting friends babies back home!! It gets tough living so far away. Good luck with the list, and keep baking, I love your recipes!!

  14. #
    Cupcake Kelly — June 18, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    I’ve started to make baked donuts. I wish there were more recipes than just plain out there.

    I just did a trial at a Bikram Yoga studio. It’s miserable doing it but I lost 1kg after only 4 classes!

    I’m organizing a bloggers event but sadly it’s in London πŸ™ It’s hard work. I’m trying to get a guest speaker but no one is interested as this is the first one.

  15. #
    mrsnic — June 18, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    Love the list! I just made baked doughnuts… they were beautiful… unfortunately they tasted nothing like doughnuts. Maybe there’s a better recipe out there for you! I’ll look forward to checking back to see if you have any success with those.

  16. #
    Evan B — June 18, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    Happy Belated Birthday! I check out your blog often and love it! I love the list you got going- I think I need to start one up πŸ™‚
    We made bagels the other morning and they are surprisingly easy! If you wanna check them out :

  17. #
    bcallegra — June 19, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    Happy belated birthday! I had problems accessing your blog for some reason on Thursday, but wanted to pass along well wishes and echo everyone’s thoughts on what a great idea your list is. Alas, similar to Roxan, I’m turning 30 in August but maybe I can set a few reasonable goals to achieve in that short time. πŸ™‚

  18. #
    Drama queens mum (Kimberly) — June 27, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Great list. I think I’m going to do 1 for my b-day tomorrow. Of things I want to do this year.

  19. #
    Elizabeth — July 18, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    First – happy belated birthday! Second – I love the list…what a great idea. I love the name of it too. I may borrow it for my 30 “while I’m in my” 30’s! To be honest though, 30 was a tough birthday, but I’ve never loved life more than I do now!

    Hope to see you over at Sunny Bug sometime πŸ™‚

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