Monday, September 29, 2008

Mommy, will you pull my tooth?

You asked for it, you got it. It was ready to come out. And before he could change his mind, I reached in an pulled it out. It startled him at first, and bled just a little bit. But then, the house could hardly contain his head because he was so proud!


Current Favorites

I thought I would dedicate a blog post to Henry's current favorites. As expected, his favorites can fluctuate greatly as time goes by, but here are his current faves:

Breakfast, which he gets to pick himself:
  • Cereal, likes every kind he has ever tried
  • Oatmeal with blueberries
Favorite beverages:
  • Milk, always the number one choice
  • Lemonade
  • Root Beer (only allowed as a special treat)
  • Water
Favorite lunchbox items:
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich
  • Bell pepper slices (red and orange this week)
  • Clementine oranges
Favorite television programs:
  • Curious George
  • Super Why!
  • Arthur
  • Go Diego, Go
  • Syd the Science Guy
Favorite outdoor activities:
  • Basketball
  • Hockey, Baseball, Football, Soccer, Golf (and any other sport you can think of)
  • Climbing
  • Sandbox
Favorite games:
  • Sorry
  • Uno
  • Chutes and Ladders
  • War (card game)
Favorite books:
  • Curious George
  • Berenstein Bears
  • Joke books
Favorite restaurants:
  • Gringo's
  • Sweet Tomatoes
Favorite treats:
  • Root beer floats
  • Starburst candy
  • Bubble gum
Favorite phrases:
  • Guess what?
  • Mommy?
Favorite things to draw:
  • Happy faces of his family
  • Houses damaged by Hurricane Ike
  • Abstract art

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Did I forget anything?

So I have a business trip this week. I was packing this morning while Henry was watching his usual TV before school. I was multi-tasking by packing and getting ready for the day at the same time. It kind of helped that after I used something, I put it in the suitcase...a great thing for my toiletries as I always seem to forget something.

Anyway, after I am done, I jokingly asked Henry if he thought I had forgotten anything. He thought for a moment and then ran from the room. He came back with one of his favorite stuffed animals (Maui, the beluga whale). He tells me I can borrow it to take with me on my trip. He also drew me a picture with the instructions to put it on the wall of my hotel room, but to not forget to take it down when I left.

How sweet is that???

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Behold the Bed!!

One of Henry's new favorite expressions (thanks to Jimmy Neutron) is Behold The Fill-in-the-Blank. So it seems appropriate to title this blog post as Behold the Bed.

So below are the pics from the new room.

A few notes:
  • The theme of the room is "Around the World". This seems totally appropriate for Henry. Every time he hears about a new place, his response is "I want to go there". On his list of places he wants to go: The great wall of China, Australia, San Francisco, New York, the pyramids. You get the idea.
  • We have some really cool artwork that isn't hung up on the walls yet. I have some great photos that my friend Dena took of landmarks around the world. She cartooned them and framed them. We wanted to get a feel for the room before we placed the artwork on the walls.
  • The desk chair has been backordered. It should be in next week. That will provide Henry with a great "work area" to color or do projects.
With no further ado, Behold the Bed!!


This armoire is one Leslie has had for quite some time. Inside, one side has shelves. We put stacking bins in the other side for storage of some of his toys. The cart next to it contains his "dress-up" stuff.


And here is Henry playing with some stickers on a temporary stool at this desk.


I had the built-ins put in shortly after I decided to adopt. I kind of designed the layout myself, and the builder tweaked the plans just a little bit. In the picture, you can see the desk. It is adjustable. When Henry first came home, I used it as a changing table, so I had it adjusted higher. Now that he is using it as a desk, it is adjusted lower. It can adjust higher again as he grows.

Next to the desk is a built in dresser. On the other side of that, is a window seat. I've always envisioned that any child of mine would love to read as much as I do. I have this vision in my head of Henry curled up in his window seat on a rainy day reading his favorite book. It hasn't happened yet, but it could.

There is also a trophy shelf that wraps around 3 1/2 walls (it was going to go all of the way around, but when they put in the supports next to the door to support the part that would go over the door, I had to put a stop to felt like you were walking into a cave and I was afraid I'd bump my head). Anyway, he has all kinds of neat memorabilia up there, including souvenirs from his time in Russia, trinkets I've brought him from Mexico, trimmings from his first haircut, hand prints from each year since he's been home, an autographed ball from the Houston Comets, his piano recital trophy and summer reading trophies, and several other things that escape me right now. I look forward to continuing to clutter that trophy shelf with additional meaningful things in the years to come.


Yep, that's right. Tonight, Henry moves into his Big Boy Bed.

We spent most of Sunday in his room. We sorted through every nook and cranny and touched almost every single one of his possessions to prepare his room for his new furniture.

What did Henry do? Stayed as far away as possible. I've never seen anyone so disinterested while someone else rifles through their things. He watched a bit of football in my room, played with his new racetrack, went outside and played basketball, played with a toy that was hidden away in the bottom of his closet, but never once offered to help, expressed interest in what we were doing, or offered an opinion for or against all of the rearranging that was taking place.

I did solicit assistance from him as we sorted through his stuffed animals. Since he is asthmatic, these are not really the best thing to have sitting around in his room. But somehow, he still has managed to acquire quite the collection. I asked him to help decide which to keep and which to get rid of. Of course, many of them have sentimental value attached to them. The two that he decided he could live without were two that I felt adamantly about keeping (of course). In the end, we struck a balance (and a few more found their way into the trash after he left the room again).

I'm waiting for the phone to ring with the announcement that his new furniture is on its way. By tonight, my teeny, tiny, baby boy will be sleeping in a big boy bed.

Pictures to follow....

Monday, September 22, 2008

Henry-isms...the funny things he says

Below is a compilation of some of the hilarious things Henry has said to me over time.

Trying to sound grown up and responsible, when discussing whether I should meet him for lunch one day: Well, it's my school, so it's my decision. I will think about it and let you know.

While sitting on the potty: Mommy, isn't it hard to live without a penis?

One of his favorite new jokes: What do you call 50 rats in the dark? Scary!

Combing his hair and trying to deal with a few that were sticking up in the back: It's okay mama, they are just my antennas.

After having a meltdown about brushing his teeth: It's hard to be 5. I think it's going to be even harder to be 15. (You and me both, buddy!)

When he was younger, a crocodile was a crocodiddle. A shortcut was a cut-short.

Going in field service is "ringing dingbells".

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The week in review

Yes, I know, I've been very bad about blogging this week. I finally feel like is getting back to normal after IKE. However, I have to remind myself that there are still almost 1 million people in the Houston area that still don't have power. And there are people just down the road from me that have lost everything.

Even though we had power, we decided that we learned or were reminded how to return to nature a bit. So on both Wednesday and Thursday, we built a fire in the chiminea in the back yard and enjoyed our evening out there. Henry enjoyed playing in the backyard as it got dark. Leslie and I enjoyed sipping wine. After it got dark, Henry got a flashlight and started hunting for frogs. On Thursday, we even decided to have a picnic in the backyard for dinner. Poor Leslie is dealing with a 2 hour commute home each evening because all of the traffic lights are still out.

I've enjoyed Nada's company for a few days this week. Since we had power and internet, she came and worked from here for a few days. Working from home can be so lonely, so it was nice having a 'co-worker' for a couple of days.

We went to the grocery store to restock the fridge over the weekend. The newest shortage to hit Houston: baking soda. After checking two grocery stores, not a single box of baking soda could be found. Wow, and we thought we were the only ones that had the bright idea of replacing it while we were throwing everything else away.

Henry is entering a new phase at the meetings. After writing and drawing for a few minutes, he pulled his bible out of his book bag. He insisted that he wanted to follow along every time a scripture was announced. So after I turn to the scripture in my bible, I now have to help him find it in his bible. I love seeing this interest from him, but am looking forward to him improving his reading skills so he can start looking them up himself. His limited reading skills is helping him with his comments though. On Sunday, he chose to read a subheading. After telling him 1 time what it said, he just "read" it over and over again to himself. When the time came, I told him to raise his hand. When the microphone came, he took it and very clearly "read" the subheading into the microphone with no hesitation and no need of a reminder from me about what his answer was. He insists on commenting at least one time for each meeting. He has very strict guidelines, though. I can't be too hard, too easy, or too long.

Sunday, we were sorting through his costume bin and I ran across one of his pirate costumes. I had him try it on to see if it still fit. It did, and then of course, he refused to take it off. Even when we ran out for dessert, he insisted on wearing it (and was just too cute!). When we got home, he begged to wear it to bed, and pushover that I am....why not?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Old McDonald Had a Farm...

After I picked Henry up from school today, he told me he had a special Old McDonald song he wanted to sing me. And this is how it went:

Old McDonald had a farm
And on his farm he had a Henry and a Mama
With a kiss, kiss here
And a kiss, kiss there
Here a kiss, there a kiss
Everywhere a kiss, kiss
Old McDonald had a farm

I laughed and laughed, because if I didn't, I would have cried. I was so touched.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Our deepest gratitude....

Wow, it's still a weird feeling to flip a light switch and see a light actually turn on. But I'm sure we'll adjust quite quickly and it will no longer be a novelty.

I wanted to take a moment and send out some kudos.

First and foremost, a huge thank you to Leslie's parents who let us come and stay. We descended upon them with a bunch of stuff and a dog. They let us come in and totally make ourselves at home. It was wonderful to have a place to sleep, watch TV, and just be.

Also, big thanks go out to Courtney, John and Jack. They also opened their house to us when we needed a few hours of respite. They kept Henry (and entertained him) on a day where we had a lot of clean up work to do. He truly enjoyed himself and was so disappointed when he learned that his school had reopened and he wouldn't get to do it again.

Special thanks to his school, that disregarded it's own policy of following the local school district's policy on school closings. If they had followed it, they wouldn't have opened until next Monday. But because they could, they felt it was important to go ahead and reopen so that the children could get back to their routines and the parents could take care of necessary things or go back to work.

We really appreciate the kindness of our neighbors. It's times like this that bring people together. It was a real treat to return home after an outing to find that the debris from our front yard had already been gathered into a pile in front of our house. It was a real celebration when the power finally went on and the text messages and phone calls started flying between the neighbors to share the news with those that weren't home at the moment.

The congregation has been wonderful in checking in and offering assistance. It's reassuring to know that there is someone out there looking out for you, and a whole congregation of folks at the ready to help if needed.

Thanks to all of the folks that work in public service and have helped things get back to "normal". We know that the guys from the electrical company were working 16 hour shifts and I'm sure the police and other workers are stretched to the max. We appreciate their efforts to restore the power, phones, etc., and for keeping us safe in these troubled times.

And, oh my, thank you to all of our friends and family across the nation. We've heard from everyone via comments here on the blog, voicemails, emails, text messages. It is so great to know that we have such a wonderful network of friends and family that we can count on. We appreciate the moral support and the encouragement you've given us throughout this ordeal.

And finally, we thank Jehovah God that we are all safe. While this has been a bit emotional and very inconvenient, we are so grateful that we are alive, that overall our house is unscathed, and that in the end, we will not have suffered any "loss" from this.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

And CenterPoint Energy said "Let there be light"

Yes, that's right. At 8:23 p.m., just as I flipped on my flashlight, the power was restored. At some level, we are still holding our breath waiting to see if it is going to go out again. But for right now, we have lights.

We're back home now...

but we still don't have power. The good news is that a "cool" front has moved through the Houston area and the highs are only in the mid-80's. At night, it is cooling down into the 60's. And the humidity has dropped immensely. So we are ready to tackle sleeping without AC again.

The bad news is that is challenging to get gas. We each spent 30 minutes in line filling our tanks today. Policemen are controlling the flow of traffic at the service stations that have gasoline. Most stations are still closed (either due to the lack of electricity or the lack of gasoline, I'm not sure which).

We decided it would be better to stay closer to home than to have to make the additional 30 minute commute each day.

We happened to drive past Henry's school today and found it open. They didn't really have a way of contacting the parents other than changing the message on their answering machine (which I never thought to call). So he stayed for part of the day today and will go back full time tomorrow. I feel like it will be most helpful for him to get back into some semblance of his normal routine.

Leslie will also return to work tomorrow. She's already checked the bus schedules and has a plan. I'll by trying to work at the Panera Bread down the road. They've assured me that they have power, wifi, and outlets available. My conference calls may be a little rough, but I have plenty of work to keep me busy.

The congregation has been very diligent about checking in with everyone. They had a "town hall" meeting in the parking lot on Sunday, just to make sure everyone was okay and to assess if anyone needed assistance. We weren't able to attend, but we had checked in with one of the elders so they knew where we stood. The meeting for Thursday was canceled to let everyone get themselves taken care of. We'll reconvene for a congregation bookstudy at the KH on Saturday morning, and then resume our normal meeting schedule on Sunday (provided that there is power at the KH by then).

Henry is riding his bike right now while I sit on the porch typing this. I hope he burns tons of energy so that he is able to relax and have a good night's sleep.

We keep hearing encouraging reports about power being restored. The Houston Chronicle is reporting that 1/3 of Houston's power has been restored. I'm sure it is just a matter of time before we hear the whir of the ceiling fans...

Monday, September 15, 2008

And still no electricity

We spent the majority of the day at the house today. There was still no electricity. We were excited when we got home and found the phone line working again, especially since I had a conference call for work that I needed to participate in at mid-day. However, by the time the conference call rolled around, it was not working again. My cell phone, not working either. Argh! Leslie let me use her cell for a 90-minute conference call...what a sweetie!

The refrigerator and freezer were in serious need of attention. We cleaned out, err, threw out all the contents. Not sure if the insurance will cover any of this, but I am not looking forward to our first real trip to the grocery store to restock all those staples and condiments.

The ice maker was leaking, so there was a lake in the freezer. That meant we needed to pull the refrigerator out and turn off the water to the ice maker at the wall. Well, you can't pull the refrigerator out like that and not clean behind/underneath it. Yuck!

Next, it was time to take all of the yard stuff out of the garage and put it back in the yard. Oh wait, but first, the yard needed a bit more attention. Our wonderful neighbors had raked/blown most of the debris from the front yard into a nice little pile. It had to be bagged. Also, there were still larger sticks and branches in back that needed to be gathered. While doing this, we identified further damage to the fence.

And then all the stuff had to be lugged back into place. While doing this, it seemed appropriate to question each and every thing we keep in the we really need/want this? Many ended up in the growing trash pile by the road.

Finally, our "safe room" needed to be restored to it's intended purpose...laundry room and pantry. All of the things that had been emptied needed to be put back in place. That proved pretty challenging because there is very little natural light that we can get into that room (hence, our reason for using it as our safe room). At least it had been thoroughly cleaned in its conversion to the safe room.

And after all of this work, the house still looks like a disaster zone. Oh well, it will all get taken care of eventually.

Henry got to spend the day with Aunt Courtney and Jack. He seems to have had a wonderful time. They went to see the new 3-D movie. Henry doesn't really handle the 3-D aspect of the movie well, so Aunt Courtney reported that he "enjoyed" the movie while sitting in her lap and refusing to wear the special glasses. Aunt Courtney also reported that each and every thing they did was a huge contest...who was first, whose was biggest, and on and on. Sounds like Aunt Courtney had a lot of "fun" refereeing.

I spoke with my dad. He seemed most anxious to share with me news about the Cubs and Astros baseball game. We were supposed to go to the game that was scheduled for Sunday here in Houston. They rescheduled it to take place in Milwaukee instead. My BIL Lester and nephew Trevor got to go to the game. It was a no hitter and the Cubs won 5-0. My response: Great, they kicked us while we were down!

Tomorrow, we need to go to my parents' apartment and repeat the refrigerator/freezer drill. And we also realized there are a few more things left in our freezer in the garage. That should be good and ripe by tomorrow.

If the power doesn't return tomorrow, I am really going to have to figure out how I can return to work. Henry's school has now posted that it will be closed through Wednesday. Leslie's family has been so generous in offering us a place to stay and looking after our dog, and watching Henry while we take care of these necessary things. I just wish I could see an end in sight and know a timeline of when life will get back to normal.

Mama, can I snuggle?

Henry has truly been a real trooper through all of this upheaval. But I think yesterday, it started to sink in that something big is just not right.

When he awoke, he came running in my room, just like he does EVERY morning. The first things he asks: "Can I watch some TV?". I explain to him that we still have now power so nothing works. Okay, he crawls into bed with me and rolls over to go back to sleep. After a few minutes, he realizes he's awake for the day, so he quietly gets up to go potty and gets some toys and sits and plays next tot he bed. When I finally come to the same realization (that I am awake for the day), he runs back to my bed. He asks "NOW, can I watch some TV?"

Unfortunately, I snapped at him. "It still doesn't work, honey. NOTHING works." A few minutes later, as I apologize for being sharp with him, he falls into my arms and starts to cry.

Later in the car, he is a whiny mess. Everything little thing leads to tears. He picked a tiny little scab on his knee and then cried for 10 min about how much it hurt. He claimed his "invisible mouse" scratched his hand, and cried for another bit about that.

When we arrived at our accommodations for last night, he played basketball outside for quite some time. I think this help him burn off some of that nervous energy. After that, he found some toys inside the house and played and played.

When I put him to bed, I let him watch a DVD, an almost totally unheard of privilege (and it took me quite some time to figure out how to hook it all up since I brought the DVD player with me from home). So this meant that when I came to bed later, he was still awake. As I crawled into bed, he asked "Mama, can I snuggle?" He instantly shifted so that he was laying right next to me. I put my hand on his back and he fell almost instantly asleep.

I just asked him about how he felt about today. His reply: "I feel happy, I'm a happy guy." And to prove it, he made Vladdy (his stuffed monkey) do a happy little dance. And he wanted to type the word apple. And so, he did. May the rest of the day go so "happily".

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Still no power

Quote from the Houston Chronicle: CenterPoint Energy said 262,000 customers had electricity as of 1 p.m. Sunday. Of the 2.26 million CenterPoint Energy customers, 1.84 million customers, or 81 percent, are still without power, according to the company.

Yep, we are in the 81 percent that still doesn't have power. The water pressure has come back up, but now more than ever, I think the water must be boiled before it can be used.

We've decided to say with Leslie's parents tonight, just because it is too hot and humid to think about staying in the house again.

The food in the fridge and freezer is starting to stink, so we'll have to take care of that tomorrow by the light of day.

Driving around, it is amazing to see the devastation in all the areas where we go every day. There are trees down, there are brick signs and billboards all over the place. Electric poles are just snapped in half. Stop lights are hanging in the path of cars or laying on the side of the road. Walls are missing, roofs are stripped down to the wood.

Some of the businesses are starting to reopen, some on a limited basis. One grocery store was running on generator power. They were working on a cash only basis, and were limiting the number of folks that were allowed in the store at a time. Some of the fast food restaurants have opened their drive thru's only. The lines are so long they are hanging out into the roadways. Same thing for gas stations.

and then there is no Water

So after leaving Leslie's parents' house, we went to my parents' apartment. We got very excited as the electricity came back on while we were there. This was quickly squashed when it went out again about 5 minutes later. We decided to head home and face the night at our own home and just hope that maybe the power would be back on when we arrived.

We got excited because we saw an IHOP that was open. We stopped in only to be told that they weren't allowing anyone else in, and those that were already in were expecting to wait up to 2 hours to be seated.

So we headed home and found that we still had no electricity. We opened the house again. I pulled Henry's basketball hoop out of the garage and he went out to the backyard to play for a bit, while there was still daylight. Since we have a gas stove, I was able to cook dinner...I made mac-n-cheese and hot dogs, which worked out well since we are under orders to boil the water before we use it. (We have plenty of water to drink and other put up to use to cook with, if needed...more on this further down.)

After dinner, we played a game of War. It went on and on. Eventually, Leslie was eliminated, and Henry and I played on, and on, and on. Finally, I declared Henry the winner.

We moved to the living room. At this point, it was dark. We listened to the radio for a while for updates. Then we moved upstairs and put Henry to bed. Leslie and I listened to the radio for a while longer, and then she headed off to bed. Eventually, I turned the radio off, too.

Lo and behold, at some point it started to rain. No, it started to pour. Now we had to close the windows to keep the rain out. By morning, the house was hot, but more, it was humid and stuffy. We decided to head to Leslie's sister's (Courtney) house. They have power and we just needed to feel normal for a while. Henry was looking forward to playing with Jack.

As we prepared to leave the house, we determined we now had no water. Now I understood why we had a bathtub full of water. I had to scoop water from the tub into the toilet tank to get it to flush (sorry if that is TMI).

So now we are hanging at Courtney's and trying to come up with a strategy for the day. The phone line that was working is no longer working. My cell is still sporadic. It's still raining on and off. The roads throughout the Houston area are flooding.

And the saga continues....

Saturday, September 13, 2008

One picket and our electricity

That's our casualties, so far.

After posting last night at 4:30, the worst of the storm blew in. The garage doors were creaking, the wind was more than howling. The vent in our safe room started to drip due to the mere force of the wind and rain. There was banging. And it was hot and stuffy. It was scary.

The great news is that Henry totally slept through ALL of it. He slept until about 8. And then we all gradually got up and started taking stock of the situation.

Before the power went out last night, we brewed a pot of coffee. We have a thermal carafe on our coffee pot, so while we didn't have steaming hot coffee, we had a nice cup of lukewarm coffee...which was better than nothing.

The yard and street is totally covered in limbs, leaves and other debris. We may be missing a few shingles off the roof. It seems that the dish (that we don't use) might have blown loose.

The biggest inconvenience is that we still don't have power. You don't realize how much we depend on electricity. The refrigerator started leaking, so we emptied the freezers and fridge into coolers. Fortunately, Leslie's parents have power and an extra feezer in the garage. So we've brought all of our meat out here for storage (and that's how I have access to post).

We went out for a drive earlier this morning. The curfew had been extended to 2 p.m., so we stayed in our own neighborhood. Many lost their trees and had extensive roof damage. Many fences were blown down. Driving out to Leslie's parents' house this afternoon, we were amazed at all the billboards and huge trees that have been blown over.

We are enjoying watching a bit of the news to see what else is going on around town. We're not quite sure how things are going shape up for the work week. Right now, my cell and sprint card for my laptop are both refusing to work. I can get/receive text messages, but can't make or receive phone calls. I found a phone that works without electricity, so my office landline is plugged in and functioning.

I'll continue to post as I have access...

It's the middle of the night...

Okay, not really. It's 4:30. Our power went off around midnight. We've been trying to sleep, but it's come in fits and starts. Fortunately, Henry has slept through it. It's raining and the wind it howling steadily.

We've gotten a few text's from friends and family. Leslie's sister is at the hospital where her husband works. She says that she doesn't hear the weather at all and wanted to know what we knew.

Nada texted that their house is shaking from the wind and part of their fence has already blown down.

Leslie and I peeked out the windows in the front and the back. We're glad to see that so far, the tree in the front and the crepe myrtle in the back are still standing. We don't see any damage to the fence or my car.

Things seem to be holding up fine, it's just gotten very stuffy in the house with the electricity being off this long.

We're going to head back to bed to see if we can catch a few more zzzz's before this thing is over. We've both got sinus headaches...hmmm, I wonder why.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hunker Down

Hunker: to hide, hide out, or take shelter (usually fol. by down)

And that is exactly what we are doing.

The wind is blowing pretty consistently outside. It sounds a lot scarier than it really is.

Henry is in "bed", on a pallet in our safe room, playing a lit bit on his Leapster before drifting off to sleep. He is a little concerned, but overall, I don't sense that he is stressed. My sincere hope is that he will sleep through the worst of this.

Earlier this evening, we were outside watching the wind. He expressed concern for his buddy Jack. So we came inside and called him. It was funny to hear two 5-year-olds discussing their plans for riding out a hurricane.

As we sat outside, we saw shingles blowing off the roof of a house on the next street. Our power has blipped a couple of times, but just for a split second. Galveston has totally lost power and is starting to feel the hurricane force winds.

The updates are still regarding Ike as a category 2, but the winds are at the upper limit. 1 more mph and it moves to a category 3. They instigated a curfew for our town calling for folks to be home from 8 p.m. Friday until 10 a.m. Saturday...uh, not a problem for us.

The safe room is stocked and ready to go. We've got our flashlights, a tv (for as long as we have power), water, and tons of other stuff.

Since Henry is in bed, we've got the news on now. It is almost irritating to watch, but it's like a train wreck. I hate hearing the stories of the stupid people who didn't leave when they were supposed to. 40% of the people in Galveston...under mandatory evacuation orders, chose to stay. If we had been under evacuation orders...voluntary or mandatory, we'd be so out of here. I so don't understand people thinking they know better than officials.

Me No Like Ike

No real updates to post. But I wanted to share a picture of Henry.


We decided we needed some fresh air. So after we finished our showers, we actually went for a drive. It was interesting to drive around and see how many people boarded up, how many taped their windows, what was still opened and what had closed up already for the duration. Most everything was closed. We found one grocery store open, as wells as Wendy's, McDonald's, the liquor store, and Old Hickory BBQ. We opted to pick up dinner from Old Hickory since we hadn't even given a thought to dinner. And I think a little of hurricane mentality slipped in..we weren't ready to dip into our stash yet. We might need it later.

He's watching Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. He's never seen it before and I had it sitting around from Netflix.

I can hear the wind howling outside. The trees are swaying, and the tropical storm force winds aren't even here yet. An so the fun begins...

Same Old...

The 1 p.m. coordinates for IKE arrived, and really nothing has changed. Maybe we will see only a category 2 instead of a 3? Who knows.

As far as our preparations go, all of the loose items in the yard have been secured in the garage, with the exception of the garden cart, the wood pile, the chiminea and the old timie washing machine that Leslie plans to convert to a fountain. The only casualties were the three tiered pot that I accidentally dumped from the wheelbarrow (oops), and a wasp sting that I sustained while moving a garden thingie that had an unknown wasp's nest inside it. Oh, and I also got a few ant bites while trying to dismantle Henry's play house. I think I'll live, but I'm dying for a shower.

We emptied the laundry room/pantry of all of the non-essential items that were on the floor. Our pantry includes a small half room that is the space under the landing of our stairway that is on the other side of the pantry. That is where we store all of our extra kitchen appliances and such. All of this hadn't been moved since hurricane Rita in 2005. So, who knew preparing for a hurricane would involve vacuuming and mopping. Anyway, our safe room is cleared out. We still need to move in the essential items (like the TV).

Our bookstudy overseer (from our congregation) has called and checked on us and offered words of encouragement. He and his family are also hunkering down in the city next to ours.

There isn't a whole lot more to do other than wait. And that's the hardest part.

We are all in the process of showering which the thought that it may be a while before we have that luxury again (worst case scenario thinking). Afterwards, we may go for a walk before the winds kick up too heavily or before it starts raining. It's already overcast.

Before retiring for the night, we'll fill both bathtubs with water, gather all important documents for safe keeping, and move any precious items to the interior of the house.

And as far as Henry, he's hanging in there like a trooper. I keep watching for signs of stress, but overall, he seems to be taking everything in stride with the normal curiosity of a typical 5-year-old. Dolly (our dog) seems more stressed than Henry. We have been careful to only watch the news for necessary updates. Not leaving it on all of the time has really helped all of us to maintain our calm. Plus, it really ticks me off to see people who were mandated to evacuate, chose not to, and now expect people to come and rescue them. On a funny note, Henry asked this morning if we needed to "jackuvate".

Stay tuned for updates...I'm sure the laptop will join us the safe room.

Another IKE update

So here we are on Friday morning. We awaken to find that the predictions are the same...IKE is headed straight towards Galveston Island. This is a bit better then this time yesterday that had it tracking to Freeport. While we will still take a hit, if it comes in at Galveston, we will be on the west side. Historically, the west side of the eye is much better than the east side.

Plans for today: Secure the house to the best of our ability. Anything loose in the yard will be brought into the garage. One car will have to sit out. We need to make sure we have access to the main water shutoff valve and the electrical circuit box, both located in the garage.

We'll prepare our "safe room", which is actually our laundry room/pantry. Fortunately, the floor of it is large enough to accommodate a queen size air mattress with enough room left over to make a pallet for Henry. We'll set up a TV and have our stash of flashlights, water, and other foodstuffs nearby.

We'll have to inventory the home and make sure anything of major importance is secured from wind/water damage. At this point, we've decided to evaluate each thing based on how we would feel if it were destroyed. The things that would break our hearts will be secured. The rest is just "stuff".

At this point, the predictions are for a category 3 storm to hit the Galveston coast at about 2 a.m. What that means for us is wind of about 30 mph around lunch time, moving up to 60-70 mph winds by dinner time.

It's going to be a long and stressful day, but I am confident that everything will be okay in the end.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Okay, Papa has been deposited at the airport. Traffic was a bit heavier than normal. Contra-flow lanes won't be opened until later today or tomorrow. His flight is showing an on-time departure.

The updated models continue to show IKE trekking straight at us.

School and work (at least for Leslie) has been canceled for tomorrow.

The 1 p.m. update has it coming in on Friday night as a Category 3 hurricane. There is a cool website here that shows the anticipated wind speed by zip code. Right now, they are estimating 96 mph winds in ours. YIKES!!!

We are still planning on sheltering in place. But we have such wonderful friends and family. We've received phone calls from our friends in Austin and Dallas, offering us a place to stay if we should decide to leave. Others have called just to let us know that their thoughts are with us as we go through this (many going through it themselves, as well).

Looking out the window right now, you'd have no idea what is out there waiting for us in just over 24 hours...

Here we go again....IKE

Yes, we are under a hurricane watch again. Right now, all the models have it coming straight at us. We are trying not to be a slave of the news media on this. We know the drill, so we watch the models here and just prepare appropriately. The hype can really freak you we're avoiding it as much as possible.

The biggest worry is getting Papa to the airport this morning. Harris County is discussing opening contra-flow lanes to assist with all of the areas that are under evacuation orders. The airport is along that evacuation route. So it may take extra time to get to the airport, and then I may be challenged in finding my way back from the airport.

So far, Henry's school has not called for any closing, neither has Harris County (the general Houston area). However, many of the school districts around have called for closings starting today. We're trying to keep our routines as normal as possible for right now. We went to the store last night and are covered as far as essentials. We have a plan of moving into our laundry room (middle of the house with no windows) if/when the storm hits. We have tons of water, food, batteries. We have a crank radio and the propane tanks are full.

We'll keep you posted on how this progresses. We have the attitude of plan for the worst and hope for the best. I am really hoping this is a scenario where all of our planning will be for naught.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Beach pictures

Things have been a bit hectic, so I haven't had a chance to blog for the last few days. But I did get our beach pictures put together into a scrapblog. Enjoy....

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I sneaked on you

We are home from the beach. Arriving home is always bittersweet. We LOVE our time at the beach, and we LOVE coming home. So we're sad that our fun is over, but glad to get back to our lives.

Last night was capped off by four rounds of Uno. I seem to be the only "loser" of the weekend. Leslie won three rounds, Nada won one. Add Henry's Sorry win and Nada's Sorry win, and I got nothin'. But great sportsmanship abounded, so Henry went to bed watching Nick at Nite or Noggin or some kid's programming channel. We finished watching Emma, that we had started two nights earlier and called it a night, ourselves.

When I woke this morning, Henry proudly announced to me that he had a loose tooth. Now, this has been his heart's desire for quite some time...ever since watching the episode of Arthur where Arthur has a loose tooth. He asked me when he would get a loose tooth and I told him after he was five. Well, the day he turned five, he started looking for his loose tooth. And today, he found it. It is one in the center bottom, on the left (looking at him). He had to talk to both Nana and Papa tonight to share the news with them. Papa's hoping it holds out until he arrives next week.

This morning, as anticipated, we enjoyed crepes with nutella and fresh strawberries. They were tasty. Even Henry ate one for the first time, although he insisted on "no chocolate".

Then we started on the hustle and bustle of cleaning and packing. Between loads of linen laundry, we headed down to the beach for a photo shoot. Henry was most cooperative even in the face of biting flies that we were all swatting at.

Back at the house, we finished up the laundry, lugged everything down to the car and headed for home. It was a quiet trip home and Henry occupied his time playing his new "first day of school" gift of the Wall-e game for his Leapster. There were parts of it where he just giggled and giggled, so now I want to play it to see what's so funny.

After unloading the car, Henry and I headed up to the carwash to de-sand the car. He was a great little helper guy, pretty much vacuuming the back of the van all on his own.

We decided to cap off our holiday weekend by having dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Gringo's. On the way there, Henry requested sitting next to Aunt Leslie. As dinner was being served, he kept kissing her cheek. He was trying to surprise her with his kisses and kept telling her "I sneaked on you". Neither of them was too happy when I told Henry he would need to stop kissing Aunt Leslie so everyone could eat their dinner. So he used our temporary distraction to pluck the cilantro off of Aunt Leslie's enchiladas and stuff it into his mouth. He then demanded that I give him mine, which I thought was only fair.

We ended our evening watching a few minutes of the Astros/Cubs game. Henry was rooting for his cubbies, but during the inning that we watched, the Astros tied the game at 3. I had to promise the boy that we could check the score in the morning in order to get him off to bed.

Monday, September 1, 2008

A different kind of beach day

So, we weathered the storm of Gustav...which was non-existent for us. Our thoughts are with those that did take a hit from Gustav, but we are so grateful that it didn't interrupt our weekend.

Wrapping up yesterday, we were going to eat at a place called Hammerheads. It "looked" like a cool place...high up with glass all around, and near the beach. However, after parking and walking in, it was really a bar and was quite smoky. So we headed off to find something different. We drove past another place, but it also called itself a bar and grille, so we passed. We ended up at the Red Snapper Inn.

Oh my, dinner was yummy. Henry insisted I order a fish and shrimp combo to share with him. So I tweaked one of the combos on the menu to get what he wanted but to get what I wanted, too. I ordered a side of "la grecque" sauce. True to form, Henry ate his portion willingly, even asking me to put lemon on his fish.

We returned home and Henry decided that we should play another round of Sorry. Well, he was not able to repeat his win from the evening before. Nada won while Henry had his last man in the safety zone. Due to unsportsmanlike behavior, Henry lost his TV privileges for that evening and soon headed off to bed. When I came back after getting Henry to bed, Nada and Leslie were engrossed in a 2006 rendition of "The Ten Commandments" starring Naveen Andrews and Dougray Scott, and other people that they made me keep looking up on imdb.

We turned it off at 10 to watch the evening news. Assured again that we would be okay for the night, I headed off to bed.

Today was not our typical day at the beach. Maybe because of Gustav, the tide was as high as we've ever seen it. Where we normally set up our "camp", there was three feet of water. We had to set up on the far side of the beach...across from where the traffic goes by.

Henry did get to visit the ice cream truck once today. He spent a great deal of time digging and playing in the sand. The surf was so funny that I wasn't really comfortable letting him play in the water on his own...compounded by how far away we were from the water. We went out for a while, but the undertow was so strong that I had these horrible visions of him being dragged out and not being able to do anything about it.

He went for a long walk with Aunt Leslie, and when they returned, we took our beach chairs out to the surf and sat where the waves crashed around our feet. At one point, I was eating a snickers and a wave caught me off guard and splashed my candy bar. Henry did get down on the ground and roll around in the surf at this time. We all got sandy and yucky and decided to call it a day (as far as the beach was concerned). We packed up and headed back to our yellow house for a late lunch.

After lunch, Henry had an upset tummy (after eating blue ice cream, red tomatoes and orange cheetos) and tossed his cookies. He laid down afterwards and fell instantly asleep, and slept for 3 hours. He felt better when he awoke and was claiming he was starving before dinner was served.

I was on dinner duty tonight. I made the same meal that I always make, just had to shift from cooking outside on the grill to cooking inside due to the mass amounts of mosquitoes. On the menu tonight: bratwurst with carmelized onions, corn on the cob, and sweet potatoes. I won the "messy kitchen" award, but thankfully, since I cooked, I didn't have to clean up. :-)

Tonight, we are playing Uno. Henry promises to work on his sportsmanship, and even his dinner prayer included a special request to "help Henry have good sportsmanship'.

Tomorrow, we'll enjoy a leisurely morning complemented by Leslie's strawberry and nutella crepes. Then we'll start the cleanup efforts of our favorite, yellow beach house. Then its home again, home again to unload all of this sandy stuff and get ourselves ready for work on Wednesday.