October 22, 2007

Raining Fire

As many of you know, Southern California has been hit hard with wild fires. I am currently at home because the neighborhood right next to mine has been issued a voluntary evacuation notice. Right now, the fire approaches from the east but there is a lot between us and the fire – including a small lake.

Ashes are raining down from the sky and we are running our air conditioner to keep the inside of the house from being too smoky. Right now, we have all our bags packed and sitting next to the door. We’ve already loaded the important papers and computer backups into our cars and should we receive word, could leave in under 10 minutes.

Swee’Pea and TheMonk sense something is up. They refused to go down for a nap this afternoon – even though they are clearly tired. Perhaps it’s the urgency of Mommy and Daddy as we discuss what to take and what to leave behind. We remembered the hand prints we took of the twins at 3 weeks. We remembered our wedding photos. I remembered my father’s cuff links, now tucked into my overnight bag. It’s kinda strange deciding what parts of your life deserve saving and what can be left behind. In the end, there aren’t a lot of things that are all that important.

Our friends Kristie and Chris, who live in an area unaffected by the fire have offered us refuge should we need it. Right now, however, we wait. Swee’Pea and TheMonk are watching Dora while we follow the news on-line. Our county has a “reverse-911″ phone system that will call us should we need to evacuate so we’ll get prompt information.

Thank you to those of you who have emailed and left comments stressing your concern. We are fine and in good spirits. But say a prayer for the 500+ families (and counting) who are currently homeless. No one deserves to lose their home like this.

UPDATE #1: 8:00 p.m. I just watered down the exterior of our house. I can see the hills a few miles away are glowing orange in the night. Hills to the north are glowing as if a sun rise is eminent. The neighborhood is buzzing as people pack their cars and prepare to leave. A neighborhood a couple of miles north has been issued a mandatory evacuation making things a bit more tenuous here. As I see it, however, the fire will have to get through a couple of neighborhoods before it gets to mine but as I watch the news I see that that exact thing has been happening all over the county. Swee’Pea and TheMonk are asleep right now, we have packed both cars with everything we need and we are ready to get out when asked.

Now… we wait.

UPDATE #2: 8:00 a.m. Tuesday.
The fires burned over the mountains to the north and east of us last night. Every community to the north and to the south have been issued evacuation notices (some mandatory, some voluntary). We have yet to be issued one but are on standby. We have been saved by the lake to the east of us today. The fire to the south, however, has a straight line to our community through some open space and parks. It’s very likely we will be evacuating at sometime today. Swee’Pea and TheMonk are doing fine. Swee’Pea is her usual grumpy morning self and TheMonk just got excited seeing fire trucks on TV. We have switched to watching Dora right now to pass the time. Thank you all so much for your good wishes and prayers. We really appreciate it.

UPDATE #3: 11:00 a.m. Tuesday. Swee’Pea and TheMonk are down for a “nap”. This is a bit unusual for them in that they are now napping in the same room as we have put the pack’n'plays into our car. They usually nap in separate rooms because they distract each other and don’t sleep. This is turning out to be one of those days. I’ve heard Swee’Pea tell TheMonk, “That’s not very nice, Monk.” about three or four times. They are both shouting “NO!” at each other so not a lot of sleep is going on. Sleep would be nice since we don’t know when we’ll need to get out of here. I am feeling a bit optimistic right now as the high winds that were driving this fire for so long seem to have died down quite a bit. Finally helicopters are allowed in to drop water and that is helping quite a bit. We’re still in good spirits! Oh, and a shout out to a certain 5th grade class in Wisconsin. Doesn’t California sound wonderful? :)

UPDATE #4 4:00 p.m. Good news. Firefighters have done a great job in our area. Some of the back fires they lit, combined with the shifting of winds, has helped keep the fire under control – just as it approached our surrounding neighborhood. We just got word via the television that those neighboring communities near us that had been evacuated are now being allowed to return. It seems the worst is over for us. Of course, we will continue to monitor the situation but it appears the worst is over for us. Unfortunately, the worst is yet to come for over 1,000 families who have lost their home. Keep everyone in your prayers – and thank you for all of the support and encouragement you have provided over the past couple of days.


  1. i have been thinking about you today as i watched the seemingly endless reports. i am praying for your safe delivery through this time. keep us posted on how you are doing, we’ll keep you in mind.

    Comment by mamie — October 22, 2007 @ 4:31 pm

  2. Good thinking, always take the jewelry, it’s easy to tote and can be hocked. Remember, everything can be replaced, it’s a pain but it can.

    Comment by Grandmother — October 22, 2007 @ 4:50 pm

  3. Kids just know when we are nervous or scared about something. I hope they do okay if you all have to leave your house unexpectedly. I’ll be praying for you and I’ve been praying for all those in the path of these fires, especially those whose houses were in the path already. I can’t imagine having to go through that.

    Comment by Julie — October 22, 2007 @ 7:38 pm

  4. I have been thinking of you and the family and praying all day that you were safe. I’m glad that you managed to post this so I know that you are. Please stay safe and I really hope that the fires can be brought under control soon so we can all breathe a sigh of relief.

    Comment by Deanna — October 22, 2007 @ 8:22 pm

  5. Sending you lots of positive thoughts and prayers. I’m glad Swee’Pea and TheMonk were able to finally get some sleep. May God bless and keep you all safe.

    Comment by Mam├íChanga — October 22, 2007 @ 8:44 pm

  6. mr matthew, my thoughts and prayers are with you, andrea and the little ones. stay safe and keep us posted.


    Comment by ro — October 22, 2007 @ 9:35 pm

  7. I came across your blog while surfing the web. Hope you do not have to vacate your home.

    Comment by Purva — October 22, 2007 @ 10:54 pm

  8. Thinking about you …

    Comment by Becky — October 23, 2007 @ 5:02 am

  9. My thoughts are prayers are with all of you…

    Comment by Kemp — October 23, 2007 @ 5:18 am

  10. What a scary and heartbreaking situation. Sounds like you are as prepared as possible, I’m sorry you have to be going through this. We’ll be thinking of your family and also of all other families and the firefighters who are struggling to control this situation. Be safe.

    Comment by Laurie — October 23, 2007 @ 5:27 am

  11. Andrea and Matthew

    Know that your minnesota family is thinking about you and praying for you. You sound very organized and ready to go.
    You are in our hearts.

    Paul and Jean

    Comment by Paul and Jean Adam — October 23, 2007 @ 6:13 am

  12. my thoughts and prayers are with you, your family and neighbors. How scary that must be. I’m glad you have had time to prepare.

    Comment by mp — October 23, 2007 @ 6:34 am

  13. I am so grateful that you have some time to prepare. Please know that your blogosphere family waits in the wings to help you however we can. You guys could always come to Memphis! Think of it…Elvis awaits. Seriously, know that you can say the word and we will do what we can.

    Comment by Memphislis — October 23, 2007 @ 6:49 am

  14. Please stay safe, and, keep us updated when you can. Thoughts and prayers to you and your family.

    Comment by Busy Mom — October 23, 2007 @ 7:36 am

  15. Oh man… our thoughts are with you. Now I even feel bad about beating your fantasy team.

    Comment by Eric — October 23, 2007 @ 7:37 am

  16. Seriously, man, be safe.

    Comment by Eric — October 23, 2007 @ 7:52 am

  17. Bless you and my prayres are with you. Know you have a home in “very wet” Wisconsin if you need it.

    Comment by Aunt Bean — October 23, 2007 @ 7:52 am

  18. Matt & Andrea, Oh my gosh, I’m so worried! And I feel so helpless! My thoughts and prayers are with you. I will be checking your site periodically today with hopes you find somewhere to post updates. Godspeed…I love you.

    Comment by Aunt Raina — October 23, 2007 @ 8:15 am

  19. Prayers for your family and safety.

    Comment by Stacy — October 23, 2007 @ 8:30 am

  20. Matthew…if there’s any way I can help you or anyone else down there, let me know. Hope you all remain safe!

    Comment by MetroDad — October 23, 2007 @ 9:04 am

  21. Thanks for the updates…stay safe!

    Comment by byjane — October 23, 2007 @ 9:49 am

  22. Keep us updated as I am using you as part of a social studies lesson for my 5th graders. I love sharing first hand accounts and yours are always so beautifully written.

    Comment by Aunt Bean — October 23, 2007 @ 10:36 am

  23. You put that smiley face emoticon up there just to piss me off, didn’t you? That’s okay. I still love you, man.

    Comment by MetroDad — October 23, 2007 @ 11:25 am

  24. Continuing to think of you and your family/friends. Keep us posted as you can.

    Comment by Val — October 23, 2007 @ 11:44 am

  25. I am so glad to hear you all are okay. My folks, who live in Mira Mesa, voluntarily evacuated to my sister’s house (in Carlsbad. The smoke was just horrible and my Dad isn’t in the best of health. They drove up last night, so they could sleep without any worries and are hanging out at my sister’s house today.

    Comment by Grace — October 23, 2007 @ 11:47 am

  26. Scary stuff, my friend…I hope you all remain safe and prove fire-resistant.

    Comment by croutonboy — October 23, 2007 @ 11:56 am

  27. Stay safe. Your preparedness is to be admired! Good luck!

    Comment by Morrisquads — October 23, 2007 @ 1:02 pm

  28. Thanks for the update, you know Santa Cruz is only a 5 or 6 hour drive. Stay safe my sweets.

    Comment by Grandmother — October 23, 2007 @ 1:14 pm

  29. So glad to hear you are all okay. I’ve been thinking about your family and pray everything will be fine for y’all. I can’t imagine the uncertainty you have right now.

    Comment by Amy — October 23, 2007 @ 3:41 pm

  30. Thanks for posting the updates. I haven’t been blog reading for a few days, but I’ve been hoping you were safe. I read today that the Old Globe and the LaJolla Playhouse closed and I thought about you.

    Comment by Darren — October 23, 2007 @ 8:02 pm

  31. Thanks for the updates! I appreciate them.

    On the radio here in Chicago, they were talking about the fires and what would you take out if you had to evacuate. They asked for people to call in if they knew people in the areas who are having to deal with it. I got on and told them about you and your website.

    Comment by Julie — October 24, 2007 @ 6:08 am

  32. Thanks for mentioning my kids. Your blog has helped them see the “human” side of the evacuations and really helped them feel for others. I am glad things are turning around for you.

    Comment by Aunt Bean — October 24, 2007 @ 6:52 am

  33. Have been checking your posts every couple of hours since your last post at 4:00 yesterday. I can’t tell you how important these posts have been. Thank you. Please keep us informed, even if you are safe. You have such a way with words that no newscasters could ever equal. Please tell us how others are doing, how this is affecting everyone. Talk from your heart as you are so good at doing! Tell us how we can help. There are many here on the “outside” that really care. I’m sure that the heat will be felt long after the fires are out.

    Comment by Aunt Raina — October 24, 2007 @ 8:10 am

  34. Holy Crap I feel horrible! I skipped a day of blog reading and had no idea you were so close to the fires! I’m so glad you are all doing well, and I would have of COURSE offered our humble, if not slightly leaky, apartment in Wheaton if you needed to bolt. Glad that won’t need to be an option. My prayers are with all of you in California dealing with this.

    Comment by samantha jo campen — October 24, 2007 @ 11:38 am

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