Thursday, October 2, 2008

If I could tell you one thing

... that I learned about hurricane preparation it would be to make sure you always have a stocked pantry!

When Ike hit, nobody realized that grocery stores and discount stores would be closed for a week. That even if they were open, the shelves would be bare and the refrigerated and freezer sections would be empty because the food had gone bad. Nobody ever talked about those things.

Over the past 6 months, I have built up my pantry. I have learned to buy a lot of an item when it was on sale and especially if I had some great coupons. I never dreamed how much I would appreciate my stocked pantry. Sure, it made it easy to make dinner on a whim. And that week I couldn't make it to the grocery? Yeah, it paid off then, too.

But what I never expected was having to live out of my pantry. To feed my family. My neighbors. My friends. After the hurricane, we would gather at the neighbors' house and prepare dinner for 6-8 families - out of food we had in our freezers and pantries. How amazing it was to be able to contribute to such a worthy cause. One other neighbor had an equally-stocked pantry which made all the difference between our neighborhood eating dinner or going hungry.

I could have lived without my generator. Flashlights. Batteries. Even gasoline. But not without food and water. They tell you to have three days' worth of food on hand. Three days is not nearly enough.

If you take anything from any of my posts about the hurricane, please take this. Make sure your pantry is stocked. You never know when you might really, truly need it.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Would you like some cheese with that whine?

Cliche, I know. I just have to say that I am so tired of watching my local television station and seeing clip after clip of "victims" of Hurricane Ike. All of them whining about what the government is not doing for them and what is not being done fast enough. Those who the day after the storm hit are complaining about not having food or gas. Hello? We don't live in a vacuum. These people have been told over and over that they need at least 3 days' worth of food in order to prepare for the hurricane. That their gas tanks need to be full. That a monster storm is about to hit and knock our communities on their tails. I just don't understand a group of people who can't take responsibility for their situation and expect the government to come in and take care of their every need and did I mention they want it NOW?!

I am not a victim of Hurricane Ike. I am living in Ike's aftermath. I am living in those pictures they show on national television that seem so surreal. But I am not a victim. I am a survivor.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

Disaster Relief

Certainly you've seen the Red Cross trucks on television. You know - the ones that come in after a huge disaster and help feed people and provide assistance. It wasn't until I was standing next to one that the enormity of our situation hit me. Like a ton of bricks. WE were the people they show on television. With the sad, dirty faces. I hadn't worn makeup in days, but fortunately we still had running water and could shower...

I received an email from the mayor of a neighboring community asking if my Girl Scouts could be of assistance in assisting the Red Cross Disaster Relief trucks in handing out hot meals to people in the community. What an object lesson for my 2nd-4th graders. An even bigger lesson for my teenage son.

We spent 3 hours handing out Ravioli, green beans, fruit cocktail and water bottles to those who drove by our location. But it was reading the words printed on the sides of the trucks - "American Red Cross Disaster Relief" that struck me as surreal. We were indeed in the middle of a disaster.

Me and my girls!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pictures I couldn't take

Maybe if I were a professional photographer I could overcome the pain to capture the moment. Maybe if I were a photojournalist I could get past the desperation to make a name for myself. But I am not. For as many pictures as I did take, there were just as many more that I could not. I could not bring myself to photograph the line at the grocery store. Where people waited in a long line to be searched before entering. To try to find some food and supplies at the only grocery store open in an area with a population of about 200,000 people. At a store where we waited in line 4 hours to buy gas for my generator - a luxury I will never take for granted. Where my son had to stand in line to get into the store to take my youngest daughter to the bathroom while my middle child and I waited in the gas line. The desperation in the eyes of those who need to feed their kids. Needing ice to keep what little supplies they had left cold. I couldn't take those pictures - but I will always have them. Etched in my mind. Forever.

And then, there were more pictures I couldn't take, but for a different reason. As I surveyed the damage in my community, I realized that no picture could truly capture the enormity of the destruction. The wide-spread devastation. No photo could do any of it justice.

So I just sat and watched. And contemplated how truly blessed I am.

Things I won't soon forget

I was 12 when my hometown to a direct hit from Hurricane Alicia. It was September 1983. There are many things I still remember about that storm and it's aftermath. The tornado that ripped the doors from our garage. Venturing out during the eye of the storm and putting stuff back into the garage before nailing the doors back on and waiting for the other half of the storm to wreak it's havoc. Our neighbors being without electricity for 2 weeks. Running an extension cord across the street to run the fish ponds in their backyard. My brother sleeping soundly through the whole hurricane.

What will I remember this time?

- My children sleeping peacefully all night as the stormed roared outside.

- Losing electricity at 2am and watching the radar via my cell phone the rest of the night.

- WeatherBug reporting "mostly cloudy" and 8mph winds as the eye wall was ripping through.... yeah, the weather sensor at that location went totally MIA!

- Not having my husband home to hold my hand through it all.

- Waiting in line 4 hours for gasoline.

- Lines of people desperate to get food and ice.

- The unending hum of all the generators.

- FEMA Points of Distribution (PODs) with water, ice and MREs.

- Towels that feel like loofahs from line drying outside.

- Driving to Katy with my neighbor to get groceries, ice and gasoline.

- Annoying news reporters being total jackasses when asking questions of the FEMA, Centerpoint Energy and government representatives. We just got hit with a freaking monster hurricane! I will never watch Miya Shea or ABC13 News in Houston again.

- Potluck dinners every night with all the neighbors - like one big block party.

- Funny signs telling Ike to go away or the power to come back on.

- Saving ice in my freezer for the neighbors with no working fridge.

- Serving hot meals with the American Red Cross Disaster Recovery vans.

- Dancing like a crazy woman in the streets when the power came back on after 12 long days!

I am sure there are more and I will probably issue an update to this post at some point in the future :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Please bear with me...

For those who know me, this is no surprise. I live on the upper Texas Gulf Coast, which took a direct hit from Hurricane Ike on September 13, 2008. As I have been dealing with the aftermath of this huge storm, I have had many things running through my head - things I want to remember, to share, to not lose... so I decided my poor forgotten blog was the best way to do that. Those who want to read about my experiences can come see and I can always come back and remember.

Please bear with me. If you do not know what a hurricane is or the damage it can do, you might learn a little. Hurricane Ike hit the Texas Coast as a Category 2 storm although the damage it created more resembled a Category 4 storm. The hurricane force winds spread for 200+ miles from the center of the storm. For those who do not know about hurricanes, this is huge. Normally the hurricane bands are wrapped tightly around the center "eye" of the storm and only extend 50-75 miles out. This one characteristic is the cause of most of the devastation Ike left behind. It caused large storm surges and spanned much larger areas than expected. I have a lot to share. For you, and for myself.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.... so much has happened...

Monday, July 7, 2008

L is for Loser...

Yeah, go ahead and call me a loser. I left my career 10 and a half months ago to embark on bigger and better things.... and apparently I also left my blog behind. For those of you who have me on a feed, you are going to think something has gone horribly wrong when you see an update from my blog. I can assure that nobody has hacked my account. It is I.

Recently, I have thought about my blog and how I left it behind when I left the "old me" behind... how I should update my blog. Funny. When I had an office job, I had far more time for blogging. I am sure my old boss wouldn't appreciate that tidbit, though. Now I am just a mom. A busy mom. But I will try. Or, as I would say to my oldest, "There is no try. There is only do or do not."

Gee, thanks, Yoda.


As for journeys and flowers.... this year has turned out nothing like I thought.

It's been a rough year, yet I wouldn't change it for the world. I am happier now than at any point I can remember.

Smelling the flowers, I am. Taking the journey one step at a time...

Welcome back, friends.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Chinese Boycott Update 1

This pic is the outcome of my shopping the past few days - including some new items I picked up off ebay...

Can you pic the "made in China" items? Honestly, this is harder than I anticipated - not only for the quantity of items made there, but also for the remembering to check before I buy. Yeah, guilty... Anyway...

1. Converse athletic shoes. Purchased at Kohls. Made in China. Discovered this tidbit before I actually bought them and considered "re-shopping",finally resigning myself to the idea that all the shoes were probably made in China... and Josh REALLY wanted them - what's a mom to do? Bought the shoes. Will try harder next time to check that before the children become too attached.

2. Sun hat for Reagan. Also made in China. I am blessed to have a daughter who refused to wear the hat. Will be returning the item to Target tomorrow...

3. Pink gift bag. Sigh. Made in China. This will also be returned to Target tomorrow. It was bought to hold a birthday gift this afternoon. I ended up using a different bag...

That's it. The remaining items were made in the USA, Guatelmala, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, Indonesia and Pakistan. Interestingly enough, almost all the socks were made in the US...

Semi-success? 80% if the items I purchased were NOT made in China... and two-thirds of the Chinese-made items are being returned to the store. I feel pretty good about that...

While I have other issues with the sweat shops and such in the 3rd world countries, that is not my focus at this time - maybe later, but right now I am just trying to survive and find enough "non-China" items such that my family doesn't have to go naked and hungry...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

China @#$%

The latest toy recall has caused me to seriously consider boycotting all products made in China. Toothpaste, dog food, tires and toys....where does it end?

I realize this will not be easy. I am not totally convinced it can be done - at least not on my budget. But we'll see. Check back often. I will update my China-boycott saga...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

K is for Kindling

Kindling - the act of setting something on fire
firing, ignition, inflammation, lighting
burning, combustion - the act of burning something;

I received a phone call last weekend from my oldest. "Grandma's car is on fire!"
My heart skipped a beat - probably more than one...

"Is everyone OK" I asked.
"Yeah - but my BACKPACK!..."

Things can be replaced. People cannot. My mother-in-law's SUV is totalled, but most everything in it - including the people - made it out OK... I picked up the stranded motorists - it just so happens they weren't far from our house when it happened... and delivered them safely to Grandma's house...

The backpack? A weekend of soaking in OxyClean removed the smoke and the smell.

Sigh. Just a little kindling....

Friday, August 10, 2007

J is for Joshua

J is also for jealous... because he was jealous that Gillian got an alphabet post. Here's my nearly-teenager, my first-born, my only boy...

Josh will be starting Junior High in just a few short weeks. How the time has flown since he entered my life almost 13 years ago...

Thursday, August 9, 2007

I is for Ice Cream

Ice Cream. Quite possibly my favorite food. I am very particular about my ice cream, however. Blue Bell ice cream is made in a little town Northwest of Houston. Brenham, Texas is home to this little ice cream company that is gradually spreading from its Texas-only roots into other states. In fact, just a few months ago a friend called me from her local grocery store to tell me she had found Blue Bell Ice Cream!

Homemade Vanilla... droool.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

H is for History

Today marks the 33rd anniversary of Richard Nixon's announcement that he was resigning the office of the President of the United States. This bit of trivia played across my radio as I was driving in to work today - to deliver to my boss my resignation. Oh, the irony.

My boss was sad - not upset, but totally and completely surprised. They were not expecting this. It is not a good time as our department is very busy and short-handed. He accepted my resignation and we reviewed the projects I was working on as to get a handle on which ones I would be able to complete before I leave for good in 2 weeks.

On a side note, I tweaked my blog so I now have 3 columns.... oh, the possibilities!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

G is for Grace

Grace is my daughter's middle name. I have always loved that name. When I found out I was having a little girl, I was beyond excited. I let my dear husband pick her first name, but I was insistent that her middle name be Grace. Most of the time I call her Grace, or Gracie. She prefers it that way...

I am also overwhelmed by the goodness of God's grace. He never ceases to amaze me. When I am least deserving and most needing, His grace is there. It is by His grace that I am saved, and for that I am eternally grateful.

F is for Flowers

I like flowers. Cut flowers. Wild flowers. Flowers in a vase. Flowers in a pot. I like flowers. I am also frugal (meaning really, really cheap, but frugal is an 'f' word) so I don't really like getting big bouquets of florist-flowers. The $5 bouquet at the grocery will do just fine. I like to cut the stems and place them in a pretty vase on my kitchen bar. They make me happy and brighten my kitchen for a week... until it is time to return to the grocery for more food... and for flowers.

I also like to take a drive through the Texas Hill Country in the spring when the wildflowers are all abloom. The sight of a hill of bluebonnets makes me swoon. All too soon they are gone, replaced by prairie grass in the stifling Texas heat. But they will be back again. Next spring. And I will get to enjoy their beauty once again.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

All caught up!

I have been trying to make one blog post a week - and I try to get some substance in there, but this 'ABC Challenge' or whatever it is called takes a lot of mental resources! We were out of town a few days and I already had to play 'catch-up'. With the job situation this week, I am not sure I will get around to a 'regular' post, but I will try to keep you all entertained with my 'alphabet' posts!

Ahhh. Relaxed and rejuvenated from vacation...
and a picture of my monkeys to share...

E is for Excited!

Excitement. "Extremely nervous" would work, too - that starts with "E". Yikes. Three days until I give notice at my old job... I am excited for what the future holds, but I am not one who is fond of change. Corey, are you out there? Certainly you can relate!

Yes, I am indeed excited. I know that God has big plans for me. I just need to remember to let go and let Him...

D is for Dog

D is for "dog" and every animal my dearest baby thinks is a dog. We just got back from a family vacation which included a trip to the San Antonio Zoo. Reagan pointed and gleefully exclaimed at every large animal exhibit "DOG!"

I hope I always remember how cute she is right now.

Friday, August 3, 2007

C is for Car Ride

Trekking across Texas with 3 kids in my small car makes for a BIG LONG CAR RIDE! Even with the DVD player and video games for the kids, the 200 miles doesn't pass quickly enough.

I must admit the ride there was rougher than the ride home... and the trip was totally worth it. We had lots of fun and the kids got to partake in LOTS of swimming... but I spent far too much time in my car the last few days. :)

Thursday, August 2, 2007

B is for Bare Legs

I am soooo tired of shaving my legs. I am also fortunate in that the older I get the less hair seems to grow there. What is there, however, is still prickly. Sigh.

We are headed out on vacation and I need to shave... ick. Red bumps invade my legs from the the torturous razor. Gillian sliced her finger open on it last summer when I inadvertently left my razor in the bathtub...WAKEUP CALL!

I decided to give a hair remover a try. I remember trying Nair back in college - it was very smelly and not very successful. I saw this today at Target and decided to try it.

OK, I am officially DONE with my razor. This works far better and is less messy. (And far less painful than that waxing experiment!) My legs are smooth and soft and without bumps...

A is for Anxiety

1. a. A state of uneasiness and apprehension, as about future uncertainties.
b. A cause of anxiety: For some people, air travel is a real anxiety.
2. Psychiatry A state of apprehension, uncertainty, and fear resulting from the anticipation of a realistic or fantasized threatening event or situation, often impairing physical and psychological functioning.
3. Eager, often agitated desire: my anxiety to make a good impression.

Next Wednesday, during my weekly project meeting with my supervisor, I will hand him my letter of resignation. This makes me anxious. I have worked for this company for over 13 years. All 3 of my children were born while I was an employee at this company.

I am anxious for my co-workers. We are already short staffed and the amount of work to be placed back into their hands is overwhelming. It is overwhelming to me, but when added to their already full plates, it will really be overwhelming. It makes me anxious.

Looking for a new job makes me anxious. I am leaving my old job without an offer for a new job. That makes me anxious.

I am also anxious at the thought of starting a new career - I am very excited, also, but today is "A" day so I will stick with anxious... gives me a good idea for "E" day though!

Glad tomorrow is another day - I am tired of being anxious....

Enormous Undertaking

I try to post once a week. I am honest about that. It usually happens. My friend Mary Ann is doing a "26 letters" challenge this month. Each day a post with a different alphabet letter...
She got the idea from Bella Dia

So... I am going to give this a try. We'll see.

It's an enormous undertaking at this point in my life - of all months... the one where I go out on blind faith and quit my job. Change careers. Wow. Scary. Enormous.

Maybe this will be just I need to keep myself grounded. We shall see.

By the way - I am posting 2 today, since I am a day late (ain't that the way it always is?)

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Some insight into me...

Click to view my Personality Profile page

Looks like I am a polar opposite of my friend Shannon. Not suprising, really as we have much different views on life...and everything else. Cool that I can still call her a friend...

Sunday, July 29, 2007

What I never knew about the blogging world....

OK, so I haven't been blogging long, but I have been reading them for a while... I have just recently noticed a plethora of give aways... I am still trying to sort them all out. My favorite online shop the Lemonade Stand just had one. And just this morning I was linked to one at 5 Minutes for Mom. Can you believe they (and Best Buy) are giving away an LCD television? I was just getting used to the handmade craft giveaways and now this?

What a world....

Friday, July 27, 2007

Not this fancy?

September will mark our 14th anniversary. I realize it isn't September yet, but I just have to share this story...

Very soon the family will pile into my little red car and head across this great state for a mini-vacation in San Antonio. Ours will be a hotel-based vacation. We will enjoy the cable television and maybe order a pizza... go swimming, etc. None of the "touristy" things. We visit San Antonio a lot. We've 'been there and done that". This is just an opportunity to get away and spend some time together.... We will meetup with one of my good friends, Megan, and her delightful daughter. Maybe go to the zoo. If it isn't raining. Nothing spectacular....

I was making hotel reservations a few weeks ago. Keep in mind that I am cheap. Real cheap. So I go looking for a place for us to stay - in the $60-80 range. Not super-cheap, since I also like to stay safe.... but not the Radisson, either. I casually mention to my better half the types of deals I have found and he is silent. What gives? He thinks we should stay someplace nicer, more expensive. Hmmm. Really? Is this the same man that I married?

Let me give you some insight into my bewilderment....
San Antonio also happens to be the same place we went for our honeymoon those many years ago - yes, my husband is not fond of airplanes, so our destination had to be within driving distance.... but I digress...14 years ago we stayed at the RiverWalk Marriott hotel in downtown San Antonio. I want to say it cost $110 per night - including a wonderful breakfast and I distinctly remember this conversation:

Him: I hope you don't expect that every time we rent a hotel room it will be this fancy (read, expensive)
Me: No, dear. I have always stated in Best Westerns and Super 8's... this is a special occasion....
Him: OK. Just wanted to get that out.
Me: Yes, dear.

Where are we staying, you ask? The Marriott, but on the north side of town. $125 and change per night - plus tax which is now at a whopping 17ish percent. Continental breakfast, I believe. This isn't even exactly what he wanted. It was on the LOW end of the scale. If you could see me, you would notice I am rolling my eyes. Nice outdoor pool. Hmmm. That could be a problem. It has been raining here for almost 2 months with very little break... So, I also reserved a room at the Hilton, which has an indoor pool. Just in case. Yeah, that one is running right at $130 per night.... But the kids would NOT appreciate going on vacation and not having a pool to swim in. Depending on how the weather looks in the days before we leave, I will make my decision and cancel one of the reservations.

Not this fancy, indeed