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I don’t remember seeing Byrne’s face on the side of our house…

People told us that with boys, most of the things in our house would be broken before they even hit puberty.  If the cracked fixtures, loose handrails, and splintered bar stools are any indication, then I think these people were right.  And while our 100-year-old Victorian had survived 7 rambunctious boys, many of whom had gone on to become police officers, our kids were giving this place a workout.

What these people failed to mention is that our darling boys would not only break, but try to burn down the house, which is what happened this past Monday. Our darling girl, while not directly involved, has been classified an accomplice since she provided the means for their cancelled conflagration.

We caught our first whiff of smoke just as we were tucking the kids into bed, since, of course, all dramatic things must happen at the very moment you think that you will have a quiet night to yourself.

Lori hobbled down to the basement to check the furnace.

(She twisted her knee at an ice skating party and now walks with a limp more pronounced that my own – we’re the Limpin’ Lesbians.  Coming soon to a open mic near you!)

Meanwhile, I checked the attic. The kids took our distraction as license to whoop it up as they raced up and down the hallway.

“Anything?”  I yelled to Lori.

“Dead mouse.  Not it.  That would have been more of a rotting smell.  You?”

“Nothing from the attic, but the smell is really strong in the front of the house.”

“Let’s switch.  Your nose is better than mine.”

I sniffed every corner of our basement utility closet and discovered:

  1. a second dead mouse (note to self: time to set more traps or call an exterminator.  Cheap lesbian gut check…yup, more traps).
  2. a strong burning plastic smell.

Fortunately, I had my trusty iPhone and thanks to the wonders of Google, deduced that it was a dying blower fan. After I turned off the furnace and called the 24-hr, arm-and-a-leg emergency heating company, I felt a little better knowing that we would resolve the issue tonight.

That is, until the burning smell got even worse and smoke started to fill the 1st floor.

Upstairs Lori had opened every single window in the house…in February.  In 20-degree weather.

I calculated the bare minimum that we would need to take to Lori’s mom’s house if we needed to evacuate…which we still hadn’t done yet. Then I tried – and failed – to detach myself for all of our wordly possessions should our house be engulfed in flames.

Dagnabbit! Why can’t we figure this out?!  The stove isn’t on, there’s nothing in the microwave, the outlets aren’t hot, the lights aren’t – what the what what?! 

A steady trail of smoke was coming from one of the scones.  Lori gingerly balanced on stool to peek into the fixture.

And there it was.

Olivia’s striped hacky sack from Arizona.

One of the boys – oooh, they were so quick to blame each other – had lobbed it into the sconce where it was slowly but steadily burning, right next to the intake vent.

Hey, at least we knew the ducts were working.

Never one to miss an I-told-you-so moment, I said, “and this is why we don’t throw things in the house.” I could feel Lori rolling her eyes as she doused the beanbag in the sink.

“And more important,” she added.  “We’re very glad that everyone is safe.”

“Uh, that too,” I echoed, somewhat sheepishly.

We spent the next few minutes going over the evacuation procedure – which we had totally neglected – and made a plan to practice it over the weekend.

“I’m glad our house didn’t burn down,” Nick mumbled as he finally drifted off to sleep.

“How come, sweetie?”

“It has so many family pictures.”

He was right, between the ones on the walls and the ones in our minds, we had created a lot of memories in the house. And if 7 kids couldn’t destroy this place, then neither would our 3.

At least, that’s what I mumbled to myself, as I drifted off to sleep.

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