Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Irene in Pictures

We have power! WOOHOO!!!!

I have never been so happy to turn on a light...turn on a faucet...FLUSH.

Last night we had power for 5 glorious minutes. The older girls were in bed but not asleep and came running downstairs to celebrate. They blew all the candles out and then suddenly, the power went out again. It was like that scene from "Christmas Vacation," where the next door neighbors kept being alternately blinded by the light and then being plunged into darkness. Remember them?
{"Why is the carpet all wet, Todd?"
"I don't know, Margot."}

In the dark, the girls started yelling, "I can't see! Where are you?" They were bumping into each other and stumbling around. It was sooo funny!

And the power never came back on.
So we went to bed.

Jeff had a 6AM flight today so he had to get up at 3Am. Despite building himself a lovely outdoor shower yesterday, he wasn't about to go outside to use it at 3AM. The poor guy had to get on the plane wearing a ball cap. Thankfully when he arrived at his hotel, they let him check in early and get a nice hot shower. He sent me a text with a photo of the hotel hair dryer and said, "Don't hate me."

I left for Walmart to see if I could score a hair dryer that would plug into our car charger. Alas, they did not have one.
Dejected, I headed home.

Upon arriving home, to my great shock and delight, I walked in and saw a LIGHT on!!! :)) We were all a bit afraid that our power wouldn't last so I told everyone to go use the bathroom and FLUSH before the power went out again.

Thankfully, we still have power and it seems that our little ordeal is over.

And just when I was getting used to being like Caroline Ingalls... recap the tropical storm in photos....

The rain...

the wind...

Wind and rain for hours... We lost one large oak tree and held our breath and prayed for the others. Thankfully, we didn't lose any more.

After the rain had passed and the majority of the winds had died down, Taylor decided to play with our patio umbrella.
Glad we brought that in out of the wind and rain to keep it from getting ruined.

{Don't think we would have let him do this to a nice umbrella. This one is in its last season because it already went sailing over the deck and crashed 10 feet to the ground below in a previous wind storm.}

Irene - 1 Taylor - 0

Let's try skateboarding and see if the wind will take me uphill.

Or over a curb.

Let's try this again.

Oh works! What a nut!

Some of the damage in our area as we drove around.

The oak trees with deep root systems were snapped off. The maple trees were generally pulled over with roots showing. I didn't get any photos of those, though.

There were miles of this type of mess on the roads from leaves, trees that had been cut and removed, etc. Our car is covered with it and it's all hardened and gross.
I guess that is what we get for being early gawkers.

Tree down on a side road.

This road has been closed since Sunday. It's still closed--and it's our main connection to the nearest Walmart. Crews have been working there for the past two days.

Since we knew the kids would be opening the fridge by accident, Jeff barred the door. In the end it didn't matter...pretty much everything had to be thrown away anyway.

We tried to use coolers and ice for some of our stuff but all of the stores ran out of ice so it was hard to come by. Some gas stations were also running out of gas since so many stations had no power.
Here is our glamorous outdoor spa that Jeff built.
Don't be jealous.
It worked.
It was a bit cold, though.
After he got it set up, we used it as a one-size-fits-all potty and shower.
Someone should patent it.

Jake models the interior.
The bucket with kitty litter was today's potty because I just couldn't face the kitty litter {indoors} for one more day. It was seriously making me gag. Thankfully, the bucket was only necessary for a few hours this morning.
Nice, huh?

I can see why this type of set-up is generally frowned upon under normal circumstances.
Can I just say.....


It's pretty humbling to think that many in this world live in worse conditions than this on a daily basis. I feel a bit guilty about being so happy to go back to my cushy life.
Or maybe grateful would be a better choice.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Irene Update

I have a few minutes of Internet on an Internet card--before my computer battery gives out so I'm going to update the blog. :)

We are doing fine. We are still without power and reports don't sound encouraging for getting it back soon. The Police Department issued a statement saying, 'Power will not be restored in the short term. Plan accordingly."

Jeff says the Power Co. website says we will be getting it soon. I'm hoping Jeff's is more correct.

We emptied out the fridge and freezer today. Jeff grilled everything we thought was safe to eat but we lost a lot of food. Bummer!

Thankfully the weather has been beautiful since the storm passed by so we are doing okay without having air conditioning.

I would LOVE to get our toilets working, a shower, and the use of my hair dryer, but other than that, we can cope.
The hair dryer situation is grave. Don't laugh. You know you are cringing at the thought of not having yours. Admit it!
I had to take Molly to an eye appointment today (another Walmart--why do THEY always have power? They are not on generators. Hmmmm......) The lady there made a comment about her hair and having no power and I joined in with loud lamenting about how awful my hair looked. Hair dryers...we need them!

Every store that has power is completely out of ice, so we can't keep much in our coolers. I did score three bags at a little out of the way place tonight--Woohoo! That will keep our milk cold for cereal in the morning. Some of the gas stations were out of gas, but we have been able to find some in other locations.

The toilet situation is becoming comical--mostly because if we don't laugh we will barf. Each time we make a run for supplies at the nearest Walmart, I take several kids and we use the restrooms there. Ha! Who knew I would end up looking forward to using public restrooms at Walmart? :)

You just haven't lived until you help your kids poop in the backyard and dispose of it the same as we dispose of our doggie's poopy. Can I just say....GROSS?!?!?!?


There. That felt good.

And even sister is law told us what her friend in Hurricane Country does when out of power. Drain toilet. Line with plastic garbage bag. Dump in kitty litter. Use at will.

Gross, huh?

Sadly....we were forced to do that. Don't hate me. I was desperate.

I wonder how we will convince the little boys that it is NOT okay to pee outside after this is over?

Yeah....just some random thoughts that flit through my mind.

In case you didn't fully understand our situation, here is the explanation. We have water (I incorrectly stated that we are on a well--brain cramp--we have city water). However, our neighborhood is on a community septic system. That means a pump carries 'stuff' to an offsite location. And the pump isn't working because there is no power. So that means that although we have water, we cannot put it down any of our drains. So no showers, no flushing toilets, etc. And if we disobey orders, we will end up with nasty stuff backing up into our house. Not good. Most people around here are not in our situation and can flush and take showers. Cold showers aren't really all that appealing however.

Jeff rigged up an outdoor shower today with the garden hose that just cracked me up. I doubt it will be so funny tomorrow when I am forced to use it. Ack. I am thankful to be married to an engineer, though.

Sadly, he has to go out of town on business tomorrow and the teen and I will have to hold down the fort. But do not fear...we have this whole going-without-power thing down.
Sort of.

I tried to load a photo but this connection is too slow and pictures are just going to have to wait until we get power.

Monday, August 29, 2011

No Flushing Permitted!!

Hi everyone! Karin asked me to kindly thank you for all your advice regarding their toilet situation. She and Jeff do know that they can put water into the tank in order to flush...but the bigger problem is, that all the flushed "stuff" goes into a community septic they are asked NOT to flush AT ALL so that things don't get backed up, community-wide.

Hope that makes sense! They are having success with other methods...though disgusting, it's success, no less.

Please keep praying! They have a lot of food that will go back soon if their power isn't restored quickly.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

No Power {no toilets}! PLEASE PRAY!

Hello, friends! This is Lori, Karin's friend. She asked me to post to her blog to tell you that they are without electricity because of the storm. Which, not only means no power...but NO WATER because they are on a well that requires a pump that requires electricity! Get it?

And you can only imagine how umm, unpleasant it will be for eleven people (ELEVEN PEOPLE!!) to go without such modern NECESSITIES!

Please pray for them, would you?!

I'll keep ya posted!

The Storm

Current photos... They don't really do justice since you can't see the movement, but it gives you an idea.
We are fine...still have power, so are sitting in our jammies watching the news reports.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Batten Down the Hatches

The storm is coming and we are ready.

We think.

First, we went into the basement to retrieve a phone with a cord. The cords were in a ball.

The kids looked at the phone and said, "What is that?"

Candles. Batteries. Matches.

All the containers we could find to fill up with water. We will fill the tubs when we go to bed tonight. Hopefully no one will fall in when they use the bathroom during the night!

Lots of peanut butter. {gag} But it's better than starving.

A state of emergency will go into effect at 12:01AM, so church has been cancelled. I'm hoping we don't lose power, but it's quite possible that we will. If so, water and bathroom facilities will be the biggest issue for everyone in our area. We are on a well and won't have water if the power is out. Our neighborhood is on a community septic thingy and have been told not to flush more than twice even if we know how to pour water into the toilet to get it to flush. Ack! Eleven people+no potty= NOT GOOD.

But at least we will be dry, have peanut butter and are not in danger of losing our house.

If we don't lose power, I will post an update. If you don't hear from me, you can assume we have no power. I tried to figure out how to post from my phone but gave up in disgust. haha!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Lesson in Forgiveness

Last week I blogged about the cool car show we went to see. We were having a wonderful time until....

Someone ruined it.

Let me back track. When we arrived, I gave the kids strict instructions to NOT TOUCH any of the cars. At the first car we viewed, SaraGrace reminded them again, "DO NOT TOUCH any of the cars! Just look!"

Moving through the line of cars, SaraGrace aka: 'She-who-will-not-be-ignored' continued to shout occasional reminders to NOT TOUCH.

The kids were doing great. There were a few times when they leaned in to see the interiors that they touched by accident, but most of the time, they waited to be lifted up.

So, after a half hour of good behavior, I was lagging behind a bit to get some photographs of the cars. The kids were still doing fine with Jeff and the older girls, and 'She-who-will-not-be-ignored.'

Suddenly, an older man came up to me and said angrily, "You have a lot of kids but you're not watching them. Well, I've been watching them and they are going around pounding on the windows of cars. They pounded on my car." Then he turned on his heel and stalked off.

I was so shocked that I just stammered an apology. I couldn't imagine that my kids were doing that in the short time I had lagged behind. I quickly went to Jeff to tell him and he was also shocked. The big girls defended the little kids by saying that they had not even been touching any cars, much less banging on the windows.
{These are the same girls who will rat out their younger siblings at every opportunity, so I believed them when they said the little kids were behaving.}

Hot-under-the-collar-man continued to send hostile glances in my direction while I tried to ascertain what had happened.

{Just so you know, if my children HAD been guilty, I would have marched them over to the angry man and had them apologize. I'm not one of those mom's who labors under the delusion that my kids can do no wrong.}

It became apparent that the kids were being falsely accused. And my Injustice-O-Meter started to get into the dangerously high red zone.

I was so seriously ticked off. The nerve of that guy! What possessed him to make that up?

And I could not calm down. We were winding down our evening anyway, and as we started to head to our car, my Injustice-O-Meter was in danger of exploding.

Once in the car, I started to pray...and to try to talk myself out of being so mad. It was just some guy. What did I care what he thought?

It didn't work.

I was steaming.
{A little hint about me. Nothing pushes my buttons more than some injustice. And if it happens to be directed at my family...well....}

I knew it was stupid. But I couldn't stop being mad.

And then God said in His usual quiet way...' need to forgive him.'

'But I'm not done being mad at him, God.'

'Suit yourself, but if you forgive him you won't be mad anymore.'


I reluctantly said, 'OK. I forgive him." Not that the guy deserved it. Not that it changed anything about what he had done. But the decision I made was to free myself from the anger I felt.

All I did was make a decision. The angry feelings were still there when I said I forgave him.

We arrived home and got the kids to bed when I suddenly realized that I was no longer angry.
At all.
I had originally wanted to write a blog post excoriating the guy but I couldn't even work myself up.
I tried.
Nope. Nothin'.
I was freed.

God is so amazing when we obey Him!! He didn't want me to forgive just so I could be self-righteous or take the high road. He just wanted to free me from the destructive anger that I was feeling. And I didn't have to do anything except say, "I forgive that guy." God did all the rest and I was FREE.

I love God. He's so cool.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Savoring Summer

We are down to our last few weeks before school starts after Labor Day and are savoring every minute. The weather has been gorgeous this week--no humidity! Seems like it's always humid here, so it's a treat to have the low humidity.

Jake decided he was going to learn to ride a two-wheeler this week. No clue why. His first day out with me holding the back of the bike was an unmitigated disaster.
Ok...that might be overstating it a bit. But I wanted to use the word unmitigated.

Let's just say, I didn't have much hope of him riding alone in the near future.

But the boy surprised me. Who knew?
And when Zoey saw that her little brother could do something she hadn't mastered....well....that was just not cool.

So Miss Spunky-pants decided to learn too. And don't bother helping her or holding the bike, thank you very much.

She struggled a bit because her prosthetic comes up over her knee which makes it pretty hard to bend enough to operate the pedals. She figured it out, though.

So....that left Kate...the oldest of the three. She demured. And then she decided to try it too. She is under strict orders from the doctor to wear protective gear because of the blood thinner she takes, so Zoey reminded her and helped her with her helmet.

Kate....well....can I used the phrase unmitigated disaster again? Probably not. My English comp teacher would be appalled at the overuse.

Anyway...Kate is trying but she hasn't figured out the balance yet. It might have something to do with her always wanting to find the camera and smile at Mommy. She couldn't seem to concentrate on the job at hand.

It's just as well because we have one bike for them to ride.
Don't judge.
Summer is almost over and we didn't know they were going to take a sudden interest in two-wheeling.
They are learning to take turns.
I'm learning to be patient with the constant, 'He's had it for a loooong time.' and 'No! She had it for a looooong time and took da bike away from me.'

Savor....savor...savor... Right?!

One very determined little girl!

Careening out of control...

"I'm an excellent driver."

Still putting his clothes on backwards. I find it endearing.

Zoey gets Kate ready to ride.

Big sister, Chloe, does her best to teach Kate to balance.

Meanwhile, Jordan and SaraGrace enjoy playing on the porch...bringing back memories of summer afternoons spent on the porch when I was a child.

Jillian gave the dog a bath--much to Ginger's chagrin. To cheer her up, Jake went and got her a spoonful of peanut butter.

"Jake! Did you take a bite before you brought this outside? Answer carefully because we see your teeth marks!"
"I seriously do not get this family's strange obsession with bathing."

"I lower my tail in protest and refuse your pathetic attempts to comfort me with peanut butter."

"Oh. Well, now that you cover it in leftover crumbs from your popcorn chicken, I relent in my decision to punish you."

Our kids have developed a new way to roller skate. They each wear one skate and push off with the other foot. They can go extremely fast, stay in control and twice as many kids can skate at the same time. Whatever works.... :)

Kate and Jordan came up with an exciting ride for their favorite 'friends.'

Put them each in a skate and....

push them down the hill! Wheeee!

Friday, August 19, 2011


We headed to a local car show the other night to check out all the cool cars. The kids totally love looking at cars that come from 'when mommy and daddy were young.'

At least they now realize that there WERE cars when we were young.
We've been asked.

It's fun to wander around and see what everyone likes. Jordan likes green cars. Mommy likes red ones. SaraGrace likes all of them, especially the colorful ones. Jake and Zoey don't like the noise of the engines being revved. Kate just likes to hold hands with someone. Chloe looks for cars that Ryan would like. Jillian and Molly just enjoy walking around and looking. Jeff likes ones from his childhood.
Picnik collage1

Picnik collage2

Picnik collage3

Jake and Zoey covers their ears as engines are revved nearby.

Ryan, this one is for you.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cleaning the Basement

Summer is winding down.
Do I hear sobbing?
Yes, it's me.

Our kids don't start school for a few more weeks so we are trying to make the most of our last days of freedom.

On rainy days, we sometimes head to the basement.
To clean.

There are boxes down there that have been moved to a new home several times without so much as a glance inside. It seemed easier to keep moving them rather than deal with them.

Jeff knew it should be done.
I knew it should be done.
Neither of us wanted to tackle the job.


I finally made the plunge. And I began to purge.
And purge.
And purge.
And there is still a ridiculous amount of junk down there.

Sticking things in boxes and hauling them down to the basement where they are out-of-sight-out-of-mind is a bad. bad idea.

They get moldy.
Which is stinky and gives you headaches.
They get dusty.
And sometimes they have gross dead bugs in them.

Last week I came across the most vile thing yet.
I had a Chinese box that I had put a lot of my treasured trinkets from China in.
{Yes, I know I ended that sentence with a preposition but I don't care.}

Back to the box.
Before I even opened it, something nasty caught my eye.
Could it be.....mouse poop?

And there was some other stuff...kinda fluffy looking.
Could it be....{gasp}?
A nest?
I gingerly pulled the box lid open and sure enough....lots of nasty looking nest stuff. Thankfully no mouse carcass.

Well, I was ticked off when I saw the damage.
They chewed my very valuable set of post cards from Beijing! How rude! I carried those home all the way from China, thank you very much.
There was an embroidered fan that looked like it had gotten peed on.
A lot.

I had to stifle a giggle, though, when I saw what they had feasted on the most.
I had saved a snack that we were given on one of our in-China flights. I have no idea what it was but it was a clear bag of green balls. They were hard as a rock and looked like peach pits--only smaller. I thought they were hilarious.
Apparently, the mice thought they were very tasty.
'Cause those babies were all gone.

So I have a question. There is a souvenir that I want to keep. It's a small cloisonne mirror and comb set. Does anyone know if I can clean it safely and keep it? Or is there too much risk of mice-carrying-plague nastiness?
Let me know, will ya?

The teen even got into the cleaning frenzy.
His room is down there.
I won't say how bad it was but cleaning it involved a rake.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

To the Beach!

One thing I love about living in New England is the beach. It's so beautiful. And the nearby houses with cedar shake shingles, picket fences and American flags don't hurt either.

Thought it would be fun to edit the photos in a vintage processing.

The waves were much bigger than usual so the kids spent the first hour running away from them. The water was FREEZING. My feet went numb after a few minutes of standing in it.

I just can't get enough of Katie's tutu swimsuit.

"No, Jake, you cannot put your drink back in the cooler with the others."

Little buddies

Jillian had big plans to build a sand castle but it never came together due to the mutiny of several of the sand engineers.

Yep. Still in love with the tutu. I'm sorry. I just can't help myself. The sandy cheeks were pretty cute, too.

Chloe is getting too big!

Part way through the day, we saw some other kids 'surfing' so decided to give it a try. The kids have been watching "Soul Surfer" lately so they wanted to be like Bethany Hamilton.
{If you haven't seen the movie, you should. It's really good.}

Zoey and Molly were the first to try it but before the day ended, everyone except Jillian and Jake had 'surfed.' Even me.

Yep. I wanted to see if it was as fun as it looked.

It was.
For the whole foot or so that the wave moved me before my legs dragged on the sandy bottom.

Oh well.
Who knew Molly would turn out to be one of the brave ones? She was so timid when she was little.

Chloe rides into the shallow water

Jake and Kate get their small boogie boards to surf like the other kids.

"Wook at me, Mom! I so brave!"

"Um..Dakey? We aren't goin' anywhere. We just staying here."
{Notice Zoey in the background on a 'real' board because she isn't afraid of some frigid water and waves.}

After we were done at the beach we went to a local eatery for some fish and chips. YUM! It wasn't far from Cupcake Charlie's--a cupcake place that has been on the cooking channel (which Jillian loves to watch).
Heading inside...

Oooh, so many choices! The kids had to split them because they were so ridiculously expensive.

It was such a cute little place.

Licking the frosting off.


A bed and breakfast near the beach. So pretty.