Monday, August 29, 2011

Weathering The Storm

This picture is of a pier in Ocean City, MD after Hurricane Irene came through this past weekend bringing heavy rains and 60mph winds. I don't have a picture of my own to share with you because Ocean City was evacuated 2 days before Irene was predicted to hit. Ocean City is a little over an hour from where I live on the MD/DE line. Many of the weather predictions were calling for the worst part of the hurricane to hit right where I live.

Thankfully, Wednesday was my regular grocery shopping day and I was able to get a few extra things to have on hand in case the hurricane was going to be as devastating as the weather forecasters were saying it would be. I got extra bread, peanut butter, crackers, some bottled water, batteries and ice. If the storm was to knock out our power we'd still be able to see in the dark, have food to eat, water to drink and ice to keep refrigerated foods cold in a large cooler if needed.

The day Irene was anticipated to hit Maryland I was ready. The rain started at my house around 9am and it was just a drizzle. Charlie spent the morning working in the garage and I was in the house getting last minute prep done like making sure all the laundry was done, dishes were washed and some food was cooked that could be served cold/room temp (if needed). I vacuumed, got candles ready and put new batteries in the big flash light.

Around noon Charlie came inside. The rain wasn't any heavier at that point, but, he helped me finish some prep. Charlie went to the store to get some charcoal for our grill in the off chance we'd be w/o power for a day or two (he also got another loaf of bread and a box of doughnuts). On his way home Charlie stopped by our neighbors house to see if he needed anything. Our neighbor had a few 5 gallon water coolers (like the kind sports teams use for water/Gatorade) and let us borrow one to fill with water. Charlie filled the water cooler and then the tub.

We were ready for the worst hoping for the best and even thinking all the prep would have been overkill. The rain continued to fall. We sat around the house watching TV, periodically checking the news to see where Irene was and the impact it was having on the coast where we live. We were actually beginning to get bored with it all since nothing significant was happening. The day faded as evening approached. The kids got their showers, I made dinner and got the kiddies ready for bed. Everyone was tucked in by 9pm and Charlie and I found stuff to watch on TV. The rain was getting heavier and the wind was picking up slightly. So far, nothing worse then any other storm we've had before.

I remember thinking I'd be pretty disappointed if this hurricane turned out to be nothing more then just a long day of rain. By 1am Charlie and I were tired of watching the news and went to bed. We awoke around 5:30am to our son, John, yelling that he couldn't turn on his bedroom light and didn't like the dark. Our power was out. I grabbed the flashlight next to my side of the bed and guided John to get his spongebob couch, blanket and pillow and get set up to sleep on the floor on my side of the bed in my room. That was good enough for him. He got settled in and I called Choptank to report the power outage so we'd be in their system.

Around 9am our power came back on for a few minutes and we got excited. It was short lived and went out again a few minutes later. Fortunately it was morning and the daylight was enough to go on about our day. Church was cancelled as a precautionary measure. There was a heavy breeze lingering so we opened all the windows, the front door and sliding glass door in Charlie's and my room so the house wouldn't get hot and stuffy. Thanks to Charlie's thinking the day before we had doughnuts for breakfast.

The kids were busy playing with building blocks, playing tag, hide-n-seek and general goofing around. Charlie and I got in on some tickling fun with the kids. I called various family members to check in on how they fared through the storm and text a couple friends to see how they were doing. Lunchtime rolled around and I was going to make sandwiches for everyone. Charlie said he was in the mood for a sub from a store in the next town. I found the number and Charlie called to see if they were open. The store was open and taking orders. Charlie called in a sub for himself, a sub for me and nuggets and fries for the kids and went to go pick up the food. We enjoyed our lunch and a little while later Charlie went outside with John and Jessi to pick up broken branches that were knocked loose from trees around our property.

Charlie noticed that our neighbor was home from the place he stayed the night before and we all went over to visit with him and his girlfriend. She made us iced coffee and gave the kids some snacks. Tabytha was excited because Nick let her feed the goats, sheep and llamas all by herself. A portion of Nicks house is underground and had flooded but there was nothing to be done about it until the power was restored so the sump pump could work to flush out the water from the basement.

Then we heard it. Water gushing into the yard. That meant one thing. The electricity was back on and the sump pump was working. Charlie went to our house to get his wet/dry vac from the garage to help get the water out of Nick's basement faster and called our buddy, Harold, and asked him to bring his wet/dry vac over, too. About an hour later most of the water was gone except for some mopping to finish the cleanup. Nick decided to let it wait and we decided to go out to dinner at a chinese buffet we all like up in Dover.

Charlie, the kids and I went home to get cleaned up and headed out with Nick, Ria, Leo and Harold to get dinner. After dinner we all said our good nights and headed home. Got the kids to bed, then Charlie and I watched some tv and went to bed.

Looking back I may have been "overly prepared", but, at least I know we were ready for whatever came. Praise the Lord our house stayed in tact and we suffered no flooding of our own. The only inconvenience was most of a day without power and even that wasn't that bad.

Give Her A Medal

Today was Ms. June's last day working with John on his speech development. She came into our home once a week to work with John for the past two years and has done an exceptional job. When she began John was a few months into being 2 yrs old and said only a few words, such as 'ball', 'baby', 'mama' and 'dada'. His first evaluation showed his speech level to be that of an 18 month old.

Ms. June made John's speech sessions fun for him and he didn't even realize he was working and learning. That's how good she was. For John it was all a game. Ms. June came each week to "play" and she was there only for John and he loved it.

Because of the difficulty in communication between John and the rest of the world he sometimes had aggressive outbursts or would be very angry and/or refuse to participate. Ms. June never let his tantrums get in the way and would lovingly and patiently guide him back to focus on their "game". The woman had the patience of a Saint and there were days I was nearly brought to tears because of John's bad behavior and she would reassure me and comfort me telling me things would be fine. She became a part of our family.

She stuck with John through good days and bad and never made him feel like he wasn't going to get it. She was always positive and encouraging and stern when she needed to be when he acted out.

Now that John will be going to Pre-K he will continue to get his speech therapy through the elementary school and Ms. June will move on to another little one who needs help. We have truly been blessed to have her in our home each week to work with John. He came from saying a few baby words to speaking in complete sentences and finally being able to be understood by those around him. There are a few things that on occasion may not be quite understood, but, overall, there's really no more communication gap between John and the world around him.

Thank you so much Ms. June!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Flashback

Just before 2pm this afternoon something strange happened. I had just finished switching laundry over and putting dirty lunch dishes in the sink. I sat down on the couch. John and Jessi were running up and down the hallway playing tag and laughing together.

All of the sudden the house began to sway and then shake from side to side. I froze in bewilderment with so many thoughts racing through my head. The first moment the house started swaying I though a very strong wind had come though (we live in the middle of nowhere with an open field across the street so there's nothing to 'protect' us from any strong gusts that sometimes come through). But, the house didn't stop shaking and no strong gust of wind would last that long. I looked out the front window and there was no sign of it being caused by the wind. The leaves were barely moving. There were no large tractor trailers rolling by going too fast past my house. So why then was my house shaking?

The shaking went on for about 15 seconds and after I realized it wasn't a strong gust of wind or a large tractor trailer going by and then I got the same sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as I did 15 years ago when my dad and I were on a mission trip with our church in Ometepec Mexico. My mind took me back to that day when during our sleep a 4.7 earthquake came through. I actually slept right through it. In the morning after I awoke I heard everyones story about what they experienced and how they felt when the earthquake had woken them up and saw there was a large crack from the top to the bottom of a wall adjoining the hallway and dinning area of the house we were all staying at.

We went on with our regular work day and at the end of the work day as we were all making our way back to 'Casa Wood' an aftershock came through. I remember vividly standing in the road facing Casa Wood and seeing my dad a little way off to the right of me. Then I heard what sounded like a train coming right toward us (there was no train anywhere near where we were). I felt the ground shake starting from the right side of my body through me and down the left side of my body. I froze. As the shaking left my body I looked to my left and saw an old woman with a load of laundry wrapped in a blanket on her head walking up the road. She simply stopped, let the tremor pass and kept walking. I looked back to my right, saw my dad and ran to him. He wrapped his arms around me and held me. I felt safe again. And the day went back to normal.

Now back to the present, a few minutes after the house (and my stomach) settled I checked Facebook and saw many of my friends statuses had been updated to say they just felt and earthquake. I changed the channel to find a news program and CNN was reporting that a 5.8 earthquake had just passed through the Washington DC area. I was amazed that the ripples from an earthquake made it's way through the Chesapeake Bay all the way to my house on the MD/DE line!

Praise the Lord there was no damage to my house. Not even a toppled over picture frame. John and Jessi didn't even notice what was going on because they were too busy playing. Tabytha was in Texas with her mommom and Aunt Shannon. I called Charlie to see where he was and if he had felt the quake that just came through, but, he was driving at the time and didn't notice anything. I called my mom to find out if she and my sister's were ok. They were fine. Charlie's and my friend, Harold called me to find out if the kids and I were alright and as soon as I hung up with him letting him know everything was fine my MIL called to check on us. We were fine and everyone I talked to was fine. No one I know suffered any harm or damage.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Celebrating A Milestone

You've seen these lovely ladies before in past blogs. These are 4 of my nearest and dearest friends. I've known these girls since my early teens and we've been through so many things together over the past 15+ years.

We've graduated high school. Some went off to college, one joined the military and we've all gotten jobs, met our spouses and started families. We've always been there for each other. Through good times and bad. For better and for worse. Through fights and reconciliation. Together we're like an old married couple, lol. I can't imagine a better group of friends to go through life with.

After the cookout earlier with another friend, Charlie and I met up with my friends at a restaurant to celebrate one friend's 30th birthday. We had a table outside and enjoyed great food, strong drinks and a ton of laughs. There was even cake! So, Happy 'Dirty 30' to my dear friend, Holly! I'm so happy to be able to celebrate this milestone in life with you and our dear friends and look forward to so many more through the years to come.

(from left to right is me, Julia standing up, Holly, Drea and Kristin)

Still The Same After All These Years

10 years ago I had a job in the room service department of a hotel. Turned out to be one of the funnest jobs I've ever had. I worked with a lot of great people and made so lasting friendships with a couple of them. One of which was my boss at the time, Sande. We became fast friends and would even hang out together after work and on days off.

Through Sande I met her best friend, Jen, and became good friends with her, too. I spent so many weekends hanging out with Jen and Sande we were kind of like the Three Musketeers. Jen was even kind enough to care for my cat when I moved back home and discovered I was pregnant and couldn't take care of her anymore.

I lost touch with them a little while after we both stopped working at the hotel, but, thanks to Facebook, we found each other again a few years ago and have been keeping in touch that way. I haven't actually seen Sande in person since my oldest was just a few weeks old (back in late '01) and I haven't seen Jen since my son was a few months old and she was pregnant with her son (back in late '07). We've tried to all get together since finding each other on Facebook a few years ago, but, life often has it's own plans and things never seem to work out right when we would make plans.

Fast forward to present day, 2011. Sande was having a cookout at her mom's house and for once, our schedules weren't conflicted and I marked my calendar, asked my MIL to watch the kiddies and eagerly anticipated 'the big day' (so to speak, lol).

The day had finally arrived. I woke up, got the kids up and ready to go to their Gram's house and made my way to the cookout. When Charlie and I pulled into the driveway, Sande and a couple of her friends were standing out front. She had a puzzled look on her face wondering who was pulling in the driveway (since she didn't know what my car looked like). Once she realized it was me her face lit up and I got out of the car to give her a hug. I missed my dear friend and was so happy to see her again after so many years.

Being there and hanging out with her and Jen again felt like no time had passed between the last time we were all together. We picked up where we left off and had a wonderful time. Even Charlie had a great time and we were a little sad to have to leave earlier then we wanted to because we had another party to go to that evening.