Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Big News

Kelli and Matt are having a baby BOY!
The two of them are absolutely thrilled.

I will get back later this week to update you about the wedding. It was beautiful and I believe everyone had a good time. I will try to get pictures uploaded tomorrow or Thursday. Right now, I am just tired!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Top 10 Reasons Hurricane Season Is Like Christmas

I received this email from my cousin and it was too cute not to pass on. Don't worry, the wedding is this Saturday, so I will not be talking about Ike for the rest of this week at least!

#10: Decorating the house (with plywood)

#9: Dragging out boxes that haven't been used since last season

#8: Last minute shopping in crowded stores

#7: Regular TV shows pre-empted for 'Specials'

#6: Family coming to stay with you

#5: Family and friends from out of state calling you

#4: Buying food you don't normally buy...and in large quantities

#3: Days off from work

#2: Candles

And the #1 reason hurricane season is like Christmas:
At some point you may have a tree in your house!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

It's A Different World

Needless to say, things around here are a little different. There are the things that you would expect...like trees down in some one's yard and nearly 24 hour news coverage.

What has caught me off guard has been sights like:

billboards bent over at odd angles

lines at the gas stations that are ten or twelve cars deep

lines out of the grocery store doors

empty shelves after empty shelves when you finally get in the door of the grocery store

no restaurants open for blocks on end

two traffic lights on, three traffic lights off, one traffic light on, two traffic lights off...on the same street

pallets of ice just inside the door of stores

We are trying to get back to normal at work...but it sure is hard. So few of our vendors are able to operate because of power outages or telephone disruptions. We have heard very little from our contract customers...but many calls from our service customers who find they have alarm problems as soon as their power is restored.

We have to plan ahead to have gasoline to get back and forth to the office. We have to call around to find a place open to get lunch during the workday. We have to try to determine whether or not the guys can get to and from their jobsites...and then their lunch and fuel is another concern!

Even the sight of school buses have become a rarity, other than out where we are. Most schools in the greater Houston area will be out until at least Friday.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pictures From Ike

I thought that I would share a few pictures from Ike with you.

These first two photos were taken approximately 8 hours before landfall while we were at Meagan's. At first we had these very thick clouds that were rapidly moving overhead.
Within the hour, the skies turned this awesome color of blue and the clouds looked pink. They were still moving rapidly...but it was an awesome sight.
We returned to our little corner of Texas Saturday around noon...on pins and needles wondering what we might see when turned onto our drive. As I said before, we were fortunate to have little damage. Here is the tree that fell in our side yard. (It is right beside the horseshoe pits) As you can see, it barely missed my park bench (to the immediate right).
This is the tree top that has broken in half between the two trailers. Jim is still trying to figure out how to get it down without damaging either the porch on the little trailer or his new deck.
There have been many disappointments and inconveniences due to Ike's arrival in Texas. But our puppy, Hoss, made the best of the high waters by finding a nice deep ditch to play in!
As I have often said, we were fortunate -- blessed really. Others have suffered far worse than us. We have friends who are still without power...and may be so for a week or longer. Many suffered much more property damage than us...and some have lost homes.

If you would like to see a first hand account of the damage to the little beach community we visited this summer, click over to my friend's Robin's blog. (Her link is in my sidebar.) She was able to go down and see her beach house on Tuesday and posted several slide shows on her blog. She also has pictures of the massive oak trees down in the yard of her country home.

Football Season Has Returned

Believe it or not, Will played in his first football game of the season yesterday. I was not expecting the game to be held as scheduled due to Ike and the fact that the boys just went back to school yesterday. But, sure enough, the Cubbies came to town to meet the Bulldogs.

This is a picture of our Number 19 lined up (third from the left) and ready to block for his receiver. He had one catch early in yesterday's game...unfortunately, it was before we made it to ball field, so that is all I know about it!

Here he is making a block in the fourth quarter (closest maroon jersey). When all was said and done the scoreboard read: Bulldogs 7, Cubbies 6.

Way to go 'Dawgs!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ike Update 6

First of all, we want to let you all know that we all doing fine. Meagan and Derrick had power returned on Saturday morning around 11 am. Kelli and Brooke are staying with them since their apartment still has no power. I think Matt is staying there when he is off duty as well.

We returned home on Saturday around noon to assess the damage. We have a tree down in the side yard that fell very nicely between my bistro set and the bench. The tree between the two trailers had the top break out of it...though it is still attached to the tree.

The 17 acres had even less damage. There is a tree top down in the gas line easement and a few pine cones spread around. The pond is FULL...but the property drained very well. Even the travel trailer was spared any damage.

We had no power Saturday and had another tree fall on the power lines down the street on Sunday. We got power back late Sunday afternoon. San Bernard Electric Co-operative is GREAT! We called late Saturday expecting to get a recorded message of when we might expect power back...instead, I spoke with an actual person who was very apologetic that they were not going to be able to get to us that day! Unheard of these days. They called us on Sunday to see if the power was restored...and were here within an hour when we told them about the new tree down. The linemen are wonderful. We have only good things to say about them all. There are still a few areas out here without power...but everyone should be back on by Tuesday at the latest.

We have friends who are still without power and they are on a well. They have been coming over each evening for dinner and a shower since we have public water, even without power. We also have a friend and her son from Brazoria County who are staying until power is restored there.

Fuel is in short supply. Where stations have power, they also have lines of vehicles waiting on fuel. We have heard stories of waiting in line at one station only to be told they were running out...but always they have offered another station that they have heard just opened or just received a new fuel supply.

Jim and I ran to Hempstead for a few groceries yesterday. Needless to say, there were big signs announcing 'NO milk, NO bread & NO ice!' (I guess Doug was right about the milk and toast!) Brianne ran up to the area convenience store in search of milk this morning (we are out) only to have the gentleman just ahead of her grab the last gallon. We have about half a loaf of bread left.

Next time...more bread, more milk, more extension cords (for the generator)and more vegetables! I was prepared with chili and soups and such...but not for vegetables to go with a meal!

Well, I am going to sign off for now. I am still trying to get my house in order. We had extension cords everywhere until last night!

Thanks for checking in on us. And thanks for your prayers.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ike Update 5

It is just after 7 am. The winds have been raging since 3 am with the gusts getting worse over the past two hours. The hurricane is still a category 2 as it moves over land, showing no sign of letting up right now. I have no idea if it reached category 3 during the night as we have been without power since before 3.

We are, thankfully, 'snug as bugs in a rug' and have been able to get a decent night's sleep. I didn't think we could, but I guess all of the preparations had worn us out.

It looks like we are expecting this wind to continue for a few more hours and of course tornadoes and such are possible until noon. From the quick report I just read on khou.com it appears that Ike's eye is just to the east of us but we are still in the eye.

Kelli spoke with Matt a few minutes ago. They started the night on duty at a gas station but had to move to a hotel when the roof started blowing off. The hotel where he was riding on the storm began flooding and they are now trying to move to higher ground.

So far, cell phones still work and I was able to get online using Derrick's network card. Not sure how long this will last. It is a little bit warm in here but we are okay.

Until next time!

Love you,

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ike Update 4

It is nearing 9:30 pm and the winds are picking up. We just experienced a quick gust that probably neared 50 miles an hour.

No rain yet, but there is lightening flashing in the distance.

We are under a tornado watch until 10 am tomorrow. So far, Waller county is not under the watch. But, we still feel that we made the best decision to leave.

The pictures coming out of Galveston are scary...and the eye is still 4 or 5 hours away.

Know that we are all doing okay. In many ways it seems like any other evening...babies crying and ready for bed, meals shared and lots of 'remember when'.

Have I told you how glad I am to be with my family right now?

We have cancelled Meagan's bridal shower which was scheduled for Sunday. (no, duh?) And we are hoping that the wedding still comes off as planned in two weeks. We may have to rent generators for the wedding venue!

If you are keeping an eye on the news and are seeing the satellite views of Southeast Texas...we are the county due left of Harris County (Houston) that is shaped like an upside down 'L'. We are in the extreme northeast corner of that county. That should help you better understand what news affects us and what doesn't. All of that surf stuff...not us!

Well, as always, thanks for stopping by and checking on us. We will update as we can!

Ike Update 3

It is just after 7:30 pm here. We have been sitting outside and watching the clouds move rapidly overhead.

The boys are tossing the football around the cul de sac and the rest of us are sitting in the driveway with the radio on. I sneaked in to give you an update real quick.

Ike is about 50 miles off the coast right now and hasn't changed course. We are expecting a long night ahead of us.

I heard that people are beginning to lose power already, so I have no idea how long we will be able to keep in contact.

Just wanted you all to know that as we wait to watch the sunset, the winds are blowing at about 15 miles an hour with gusts up to about 35. We had a big dinner of pot roast and think we are ready to face whatever comes our way tonight.

Until next time, we love you!

Ike Update 2

Just to let you know, we have moved from our house to Meagan & Derrick's house.

We really wanted the family to be all together and not spread out all over the Greater Houston area.

The winds have picked up a little more, but still nothing serious in our area. No rain yet, either, though the clouds keep getting thicker.

I am posting this update from Derrick's computer because our wireless was out at home and he has a wireless card. I am not sure how long we can keep this up. I just wanted ya'll to know where we were now, in case...

I have to admit, now that I have all five kids and two grand babies in one house...I am much more at peace.

Love to you all!

Ike Update 1

Ike is now about 114 miles outside of Galveston. The waters are beginning to rise and flood the streets. Several people have already had to be rescued and others now find themselves stranded, with no choice but to 'ride it out'.

Thankfully, he remains a category 2 hurricane and did not make it to the category 4 that they were predicting yesterday.

The darling little coastal community where we spent time this summer is now under water. (Jim looks at me each time it comes on the screen as if to say, "And you wanted a beach house!")

Around our place, the leaves on the trees have just began to stir a little and the skies are beginning to darken with a few rain clouds.

We have moved vehicles, removed the patio furniture and bird feeders, etc. The last load of laundry is in the dryer. (I figured we had better wash everything since we may not be able to do any laundry for several days and maybe a week.)

Last night I baked cookies after one of the news anchors suggested that we all prepare some comfort food to help us ride out this storm.

Kelli and Brooke have joined Meagan and Derrick at their home. Derrick has boarded up the windows and they are settled in for the next 24 hours. Matt has been called in to service and will most likely be housed at the station until things have settled down again. We are still trying to finish preparations around here and will let you know what we do from here.

Love to you all!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering & Preparing

September 11, 2001...the day will forever be embedded in the mind of my generation like Kennedy's assassination for my mother's generation and Pearl Harbor for my grandparent's.

I remember that I was driving in to work that morning and for some strange reason, as I pulled up to the toll road entrance, I switched from listening to a CD to the radio. The first words I heard were Susan O'Donnell at KSBJ saying that there had been an accident at the World Trade Center and an airplane had hit one of the towers. Within seconds, her voice full of bewilderment, she told us that the second plane had hit...this was no accident.

My commute was about an hour long. I listened intently to the news that was pouring through my radio speakers. In shock, I don't know how I missed running someone over that morning. All I could think was, 'this is the beginning of war.' My oldest son was still well under an age to be drafted...but I knew that there was a possibility that it might still be raging when he turned 18.

Like most Americans, I spent the remainder of that day (and several days after) on information overload...watching the television screen, trying to piece together the information we were receiving.

Fast forward seven years and September 11 has found me glued to the television screen yet again. Not a terrorist attack this time, but an act of God with the name of Ike barreling his way across the Gulf of Mexico and heading our way.

I have never lived through a 'real' hurricane. I have no idea what to expect. I only know that my friend's cute little beach house and the family beach house that we visited for the 4th of July will be weathering tough storms tomorrow night.

Our older daughters are not planning to evacuate...so neither are we. We are trying to decide whether to shelter in place here at home or go to the office. We live in a double wide trailer, so there is always the possibility of greater damage because of that fact. If we were in a house, it wouldn't cross our minds to leave.

We watched news broadcasts last night until late. Will and I have to be up before 6 in the mornings, and we turned on the television immediately. Even during our couple of hours at the office, we had the local news streaming on our computers as we prepared backups and the like.

Ike may not have the national impact of September 11th...but I find it interesting that exactly seven years later, here I sit, glued to the screen, trying to piece together the information so that we can make the best decisions regarding our family.

Please keep us and our area in your prayers.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hurricane Fatigue

Those are the new buzz words around here. I first heard them while we were watching Gustav over the Gulf of Mexico and wondering which way he would go. We have prepared for three hurricanes that never so much as blew a good rain on us. We waited out a couple of others that either fizzled out or turned well out of our path before we were called to preparations. We are now staring down Ike. He is big, he is nasty and he seems to be headed our way...at least close enough that we will feel some of his fury.

When I fell into bed last night, Ike seemed to be heading to South Texas around the Brownsville area...like his sister Dolly earlier this summer. By the time I turned on my computer this morning, his projected path had moved north...somewhere between South Padre Island and Corpus Christi. Yet, we were being warned to be prepared -- just in case. After all, the shelves clear out pretty quickly around here.

Each time we have been warned to prepare, I run to the grocery store on the way home from work for water and food for a couple of days. This morning I decided it was time to research and write out a list of hurricane supplies that were recommended to have on hand. I sent Bri to do some food shopping, mostly non-perishables and water. I took the list of sundry items like flashlights and a cook stove. Jim picked up the extra fuel and a generator.

At lunch time, Ike's path seemed to be heading a little more north...between Corpus Christi and Matagorda Bay. By quitting time, a little farther north between Port Aransas and Freeport. Now we are hearing it could come as far north as Galveston. My friend who loans us her beach house in Brazoria county may receive a direct blow. It is pretty sure that her place will be hit with 10-15 foot surf. They have called for a mandatory evacuation of her area and a voluntary evacuation of the rest of Brazoria county.

It is true that Ike could turn and head right up to Louisiana...missing us completely. He could lose power...but that doesn't look likely right now. We could head 'home' to Arkansas...but Gustav proved that we run just as much risk of flooding and tornadoes there as we do here. We have decided, hurricane fatigue or not, to try and ride it out.

For the first time since moving here (20 years ago!) we are stocked up on hurricane supplies. I have converted the closet in our laundry room to store the items we purchased today. I told Jim this morning, even if we miss Ike...at least I will not have to run back to the store for the next one. If we are lucky enough to miss Ike, and any of his brothers or sisters who may come our way between now and November, then we will move the supplies to the pantry and restock next summer.

Can't overlook the pets!

The cases of water are hiding under all of those Capri Sun boxes.

Soups, chili, canned fruit, granola bars...and plenty of Pop Tarts.

Plenty of paper to get us through 'a day or two'!

Propane, oil lamps (almost never found those), flashlights and a CORDED phone, in case of emergency!

I guess hurricane fatigue can be a good thing. It forced me to say, "Enough" to fighting the crowds in search of water and to be proactive in preparing our family for the possibility of a storm.

We know that there may be lots of surprises for which we are not prepared. We have never experienced a hurricane...and only a few tropical storms. Yet, we are hoping for the best.

How about you? Whether you have to prepare for hurricanes or ice storms...we all experience some sort of natural disaster threats...how do you prepare your family? Any lessons learned over the years?

Ours: Hurricane Rita. Even if you leave two days before mandatory evacuation, your 8 hour trip will most likely turn into a 16 hour trip, the storms may find you all the way in Arkansas...and there may not be many gas stations open for you to make it back home several days later.

Meagan & The Girls

We celebrated Meagan's bachelorette party Saturday night at Chuy's.
Terri and Dena had already left when we snapped this picture.
Stacy and I were behind the cameras.
It was fun to socialize with the young crowd for a little while...but I had to leave them early.
I just couldn't hang!
In just 17 more days she will be a Mrs.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Latest Photos Of The Grandbabies

Davin finds Zoe trapped in the kitchen chair.
Be sweet, D-Man.

He is just overcome with joy and the need to touch her.
The next picture would have shown her jumping over the arm of the chair to get away!
At least she didn't scratch him.

Brooke-y Bear and Auntie pose for the camera.

And now she is throwing kisses to her devoted fans!

I took these pictures at Brian's birthday dinner on Sunday night. I hope you enjoyed them.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Guess Who's 18?!?!?!

In honor of Brian's 18th birthday, here are 18 things about him:

1. He is our first born son.

2. He is named after his dad.

3. He is the only one of our five children who was born 'on time'.

4. He is our family's first native Texan.

5. Jim and I knew we were in for long arguments with him when, at two years of age, he began his sentences with, "Well, actually..."!

6. When he was in late elementary school, he told his dad that he wanted to drive an El Camino.

7. His two oldest sisters call him 'Titter' when they want to get him going...a nickname they picked up from the son of one of our close friends.

8. In middle school, he decided to go by his given name at school. To this day, we can tell how someone got to know him by the name they use for him.

9. He broke his arm on the second day of football practice in the 7th grade...and he hasn't even tried to play football since.

10. He has an amazing sense of humor. He can make you roll on the floor when he gets fired up.

11. He drives a 1980-something Chevy Blazer.

12. His passion is high school basketball and he is on his school's varsity team.

13. He loves basketball so much that he also plays on a Filipino league. (He is not Filipino.)

14. He joined the Maroon Men this season, helping to promote school spirit at Varsity football games.

15. He is a senior and will be graduating on June 6, 2009.

16. He hopes to attend either UT @ San Antonio or Texas State.

17. He hopes to be able to play basketball while he is there.

18. He thinks he is the 'favorite' child...but then again, they all do!

In the picture, he is sitting in his dad's new recliner (only because it was his birthday) watching football. His sister, Kelli, made his birthday cake. Didn't she do a good job? Thanks, Kelli!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

In The Wake Of Gustav

If you saw the comment left by my cousin regarding Monday's post, you know that even though we had mild effects from Gustav...my family in Arkansas and Northeast Louisiana are getting slammed.

Rita informed me that her family was without power and water yesterday...and tornadoes are expected throughout today. She has her electricity back on...but is not sure how long this will last. Her daughter is still without power and doesn't know how long before it might be restored.

I then received a telephone call from my sister, Rosa. They are without power and have been told it could be up to two weeks before it is restored. The highway in front of her house has been closed due to flooding and her swimming pool is overflowing because she is not able to use the pool pump. Add to that downed trees on power lines, more rain expected over the next three days and the threat of tornadoes tonight...and you have a potentially serious situation.

I called my dad to see how they are doing. They are also without power, with trees down and water everywhere. He braved the storm to check on the fish camp and said that the water is already up to the corner and will probably be under the camp by tomorrow morning.

I can't reach my mother. She lives in town, so I am pretty sure that she is okay.

Today, we sit along the Gulf Coast's hurricane zone with the sun shining and a gentle breeze, thanks to Gustav. My family, who live over 300 miles away from any coastline, is suffering strong winds and flooding from the same storm.

It really makes me stop to think: Just a few days ago, we were asking to spared a blow from Gustav. Having avoided it completely, we now pray that our family would be spared loss in his wake.

These words from the Living Proof blog hit close to home today, in more ways than one.

"We find ourselves in a terrible quandary, asking God to cause the storms to bypass our areas but sick at heart to imagine them hitting another. None of us want to lose our homes but none of us want to see others lose theirs either."

El Roi, we praise You who sees all and ask that You would watch between us today. Keep each family member safe in Your embrace whether the sun is shining or the rains are falling overhead. To You be the glory, whatever the weather may be that visits our lives today.

Monday, September 1, 2008

All Quiet On The Western Front

For our family members worried about Gustav's effect on our little corner of the world, the news is...not much at this time. We have enjoyed a moderate day, as far as the heat goes, and the breeze has been nice. There seems to be a building chance of rain, but if Gustav continues moving north as predicted, it should not be heavy. It looks like you guys will feel more of Gustav's fury than us.

We spent a quiet day with friends, enjoying fellowship and hamburgers. It is always nice to spend time with friends with whom you can laugh and be yourself. Meagan, Derrick and Davin joined us as we visited on the patio. Dirty D finally gave it up and fell asleep in his daddy's arms, so they headed home. I left soon after, needing to get prepared for the week to come. The kids just walked through the door.

Jim left Sunday morning for a dove hunt. Dove season opened today. He will hunt again tomorrow morning and then head home. He should be back around supper time. He says the birds aren't flying as well as usual...but they have harvested 'a few'. Looks like we will have grilled bacon wrapped dove breast next weekend.

Meagan, Brianne, Davin and I spent Saturday picking up last minute wedding items. You would know that it took four Hobby Lobby's to get all of the silverware. We still have not collected all of the napkin rings...finding them at only the first Hobby Lobby. We have only four of the twelve shepherd's hooks needed. It will take a few more Wal-Mart's to finish that task...if we are lucky.

We had Kelli, Matt, Brooke and the Lozano's over on Sunday for spaghetti and Pictionary.

Tomorrow is back to school and work.

I hope you all enjoyed a quiet Labor Day weekend, as well.