When Stephanie Nielson started keeping an online journal about family vacations, changing seasons and the simple joys of motherhood, she was a 23-year-old mother of three. Four years, one child and hundreds of posts later, Stephanie has become a well-known mommy blogger with thousands of followers.
Since the first post in 2005, Stephanie's uplifting, humorous stories have inspired people across the country. Now, fans of her blog, NieNie Dialogues, have one more reason to admire this devoted wife and mother of four.
On August 16, 2008, Stephanie and her husband, Christian, were flying across Arizona when the small plane they were on crashed into the desert. It exploded on impact.
Doug Kinneard, the pilot, suffered fatal injuries and died 24 hours later. Christian and Stephanie made it out alive...but just barely.
Christian says he remembers every terrifying moment of the crash. "The whole sequence of events that transpired that ultimately ended in a crash, that was frightening," he says. "But getting out and accounting for Stephanie and Doug...it was heart-wrenching and just terrible."
When the plane hit the ground, Christian broke his back and ankle, yet he still managed to wrench the door open and help Stephanie escape the burning wreckage. "I kicked a path so that we could both find an area to stop, drop and roll and extinguish the flames on our body," he says. "I had my third-grade teacher in my head."
Christian saved Stephanie's life that day, but for the next three months, no one knew what sort of life she'd be able to lead.