Saturday, September 27, 2008

Two weeks after Ike---bye bye Texas!

After what has probably been the longest and weirdest two weeks of our life, Joshua and I decided on Thursday that we were going to leave TX and take his company up on their generous offer to move us to Oklahoma. We tried all week to find somewhere around here to live that kept our kids close enough to attend their school, but found NOTHING...and as the estimates of time until we could move back home continued to get pushed back (now closer to 3 mos if everything went well) we decided we couldn't live in limbo any more. Friday morning Joshua flew to OK and found us a wonderful home to rent. It's smaller than what we had here, but it's brand spanking new (read---it is going to be the first clean home I've moved into in FOUR moves yipeeeeeeeeeeee!), in a very nice new neighborhood with a park and walking/biking trails, in a wonderful school district, close to shopping and close to work when Joshua will need to go into the office. The movers will be here on Thursday and we be getting settled into our new home next Monday!! As much as we did NOT want to leave our home and life we'd started here, we are SO relieved to have a plan and to know that we'll have a home to come home to in just over a week!

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Pile

So here are two rather telltale pictures of our current situation. The top is the pile of "what used to make up the insides of my house" and the bottom is a glimpse of what you can see while standing in my kitchen, which is thru the kitchen wall, across the living room, thru the stairway, thru the master closet and into the master bath (which is a diagonal from the one side of the bottom story into the far side of the top story). The mound of drywall and insulation and carpeting is staggering. It's about 10 ft tall and 30 ft long.
The good news in all of this...we will have an almost entirely brand new house. New roof, new walls, new ceilings, new paint, new flooring, new countertops, no more scary 80s wallpaper...and we get to choose all of the colors!
The bad news is...time...LOTS of time until we can go home. Probably at least two months. There are so many steps to the process and nothing is going quickly down here right now.
We have applied for FEMA aid with our housing situation and were approved for hotel assistance but there aren't any hotels for 60-100 miles available (all have 200 people on their waiting list) and it expires Oct 14th.
Other options like an apartment or a friend-of-a-friend who has an empty home haven't panned out as every available housing situation has been quickly scooped up by the other displaced Ike people. We are really struggling to stay here in town so we can keep the kids in their school which will resume next Monday after a 12 instruction day vacation courtesy of Ike.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Saturday Update---one week after Ike

We came home yesterday to take stock of the situation and attempt to come up with a plan. We found things much drier than when we left it last Sunday (thanks to the efforts of our neighbor and our landlord), but still pretty darn wet. We cleaned up a bit and tried to get a grasp on whether we could stay indefinitely or need to leave. Our landlord came by and gave us the update that he had roofers coming to get the new roof on early to mid next week and he had a sheetrock guy coming by Tuesday-ish to take a look at the water damage and see what the repairs would entail. Staying in the house was looking a bit iffy but we really didn't have anywhere to go that would keep us close enough by to keep the kids in school, and not interrupting that for them is a big priority. So we slept in our slightly stinky house last night not really knowing what would happen with Tuesday seeming like forever away, but needing it to roll around before we really had any answers. But our landlord called this morning and said he was on his way with an emergency water restoration guy to come and assess our damage. And while we were ecstatic that someone was available so soon to come by (our landlord has been amazing with moving things along) the news is not good. Where we thought that maybe half a dozen walls needed to come out, and a couple of ceilings...turns out about 90% of the walls of the house need to come out and almost ALL of the ceilings. It's going to be a major demo and a major reconstruction (but I just might get new counter tops as it looks like the hideous blue ones are outta here!). And since it's so wet and such a big project, we have to leave...for at least a month, maybe pushed to 8 weeks if it's tough getting the "put the walls back up" guys out here. So today we had to pseudo-pack our belongings so the little stuff was out of the way of the workers and get ready to be gone for a while. They start ripping out our sheet rock tomorrow am at 9 o'clock. Our neighbors across the street (the ones who had the kids over to swim the day of the hurricane) have soooo very graciously offered to let the five of us invade their home for a while and we've humbly taken them up on their offer. So that's about the long and the short of our update for now. I'm sure things will change around alot and we are trying to steady ourselves to be very flexible for the next couple of months.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Late yesterday my landlord called and said he had gotten his hands on a generator to run one a/c (first step in getting some of the water/moisture out of my house) and he'd taken it over and plugged in the a/c and my freezer (maybe I won't lose all of my meat!). He also said that he was trying to secure a roofer to come and tarp the roof and a drywaller to come and look at the walls and ceilings.

Then I got a text message late last night from a neighbor that the electricity was restored to my culdesac!!

And then my landlord called this morning and told me he went back to our house late last night and got both the a/c's up and running. He also had secured a roofer to come over and tarp our roof and a drywall guy to come over and take a look at what needs to be done...TODAY! Bless my landlord, he's been breaking his neck to help us out and I have NO IDEA how he's been able to get these guys so quickly as you know there are MILLIONS of people just like me who need this work done and somehow he's got them at my house already! He also got his hands on 4 tarps in a city that has NONE left (he had someone bring them in from San Antonio). This is by no means meaning that we can go home and safely live tonight, but I really feel uplifted that SOMETHING is happening in a GOOD direction! And since the a/c's are on, we just might not lose all of our stuff!

My landlord also told us that he'd finally gotten to his home late last night. He lives down on the water and we were all so worried that he had NOTHING left, but amazingly his home is still standing. He has three feet of water in his bottom story but luckily his bottom floor is just a garage and a storage room. His biggest issue is that he has the pieces of someone else's obliterated house pushed up twenty feet deep against his house...12x12 pylons and whole pieces of roof and wall. So it will be a BIG job digginig his house out, but at least it's still standing! AND since I don't need that generator, now he can use it cuz it will be LONG while before he has power.

Today is a better day...

Monday, September 15, 2008

After Ike...Saturday and Sunday

We spent all morning trying desperately to clean up all of the water that was in our house. We quickly ran out of dry towels and had a dozen buckets catching the still seeping leaks. Finally we felt like we had a handle on the standing water and we were able to go out and take a drive around the area to see what had happened.

This is our corner gas station just blocks from my house...

This is the neighborhood that Josh wants to live in, just kitty corner from ours. Notice the flooded thanks!

This tree uprooted and is resting on the front of this house just around the corner from us.

Most disappointedly, Ike disrupted one very special little girl's eleventh birthday. I'd quickly made her a cake Friday night in anticipation of losing power, so Saturday, instead of the ice skating party and sleepover with friends that we had planned, we had a garage party with the neighbors who had stayed to weather the storm. Gotta make the best of things, right?!

And what do you do when you have no power after a hurricane and it's way too hot to be inside your house? Well you fly a kite in the lingering hurricane winds...
(Trevor is down in the bottom left of the pic and his kite is up in the top right.)

Saturday night we tried to get to bed, but it was miserable. It was sooo hot and even MORE humid inside of the house. It was about 90 degrees with 95% humidity inside ughhh. The big monkeys seemed to get to sleep but Josh, Carter and I got NONE. Carter cried from being so hot and miserable, it was so sad. We actually contemplated getting up in the middle of the night and leaving but we were under a curfew until 6am Sunday and tickets were being issued at $2000 per offense. Then we considered sleeping in the car with the a/c on, but gas was such a precious commodity we couldn't risk wasting it and not being able to get out when we needed to.

Rain started again about 4am Sunday and we began that horrid battle of the incoming water again. Buckets and towel damms and more shuffling of our belongings to try to save them from the water. The ceiling was starting to come down in Emilee's room and the living room as the drywall couldn't hold it any more. Josh and I finally had it and we decided to pack what we could in the van and leave. We couldn't do any more to save the house or our belongings and we were exhausted and the house was no longer livable. When day broke and we had light, we started packing...clothes, food, baby things that Carter needs, a couple of toys, the dog's stuff. We got the kids in the car to relax in the a/c and watch some George and Josh and I took one last look around the house.

(Pic of Emilee's ceiling beginning to come down)

And that's when we decided we had just enough room in the van left that we could take our wedding pictures and recent kid pictures... taking our pictures off the walls... THAT is the straw that broke the camel's back for us... that we might not be back to save ANY of the rest of our stuff...

So exhausted and terribly stinky we headed to our friend's house and here we are. We really don't know what will happen yet. Our neighbor says there is still not power. He had to move the car out of the garage today cuz that ceiling is coming down from water damage too. Our landlord is trying to get roofers and contractors to come start repairs, and even trying to get a generator to run the a/c to start to dehumidify the house. Our biggest enemy in this is the water/mold issue.

I want to say thank you, we've had many offers to help...but there's not much we need, at least not yet. So thank you for thinking of us and offering your support. This is just the most surreal thing. Yesterday I said to Josh, "So on Wednesday we were just going about our business like normal and now look where we are..."

Oh and one more story to share. We had chinese takeout last night and Emilee's fortune cookie read something like this "Strong winds will change your life..."

Wow, huh?!

Ike hits!

So Ike rolled in Friday evening a bit later than we expected. This pic is of Josh and Carter outside experiencing the early hurricane winds (notice Carter's hair standing on end).

This picture is a bit later as the winds were kicking up and that eerie "bad things are coming" red sky. Notice our normally tall and straight tree leaning...
The storm got pretty serious about 10pm, very loud winds and stuff started banging outside. The kids did well and fell asleep. Carter ended up about midnight tho from the racket and got in bed with us.
The big ones stayed snuggled in pretty well, getting up to ask what time it was or if they could potty, but neither of them seemed upset by the storm and got back to sleep.

I thought the first half of the storm was pretty bad. We had a bit of leaking in Emilee's room but weren't surprised as we've had leaks up there before. Then we got "the eye" and it was a very eerie calm after hours of horridly loud racket of wind and crashing, you could hear a pin drop. Somewhere in there we lost power, bye bye a/c. The second half of the storm was horrid. It was much louder and stronger and it switched directions to come in from the front of the house. That's when we lost the larger portion of our roofing which was to become our disaster. So in the second half of the storm, we had leaks start...from everywhere. They started in the attic, then water began to pour thru the upper story ceilings...into Emilee's room, into our bathroom, and into the loft, and when those upper floors were saturated it began to pour into the lower floors. The loft leak poured down into the living room area and the front door and window and roof started to just pour water like a faucet. Then the water started to seep thru the dining room wall (coming from the attic area) and flow into the dining room and make a river than ran into the kitchen. And all of the a/c vents started to pour water like faucets. We had every bucket, bowl and trash can catching water and every towel trying to damm it. It was just nuts. We spent the whole night moving our furniture and belongings, trying to keep them on high ground.

The sun came up and we got to get the first glimpses of the damage.

You can see the roof damaged down to plywood which is our big issue...water flows in between the sheets into the attic. And where it's not down to plywood, there are intermittent shingles missing.
Here are the limbs and shingles that came down littering the backyard.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

We are ok

Just a quick note to tell everyone that our family is safe. The hurricane was crazy, but we stayed safe. Bad news is our home suffered extensive damage and is now uninhabitable. We packed the van this morning with what we could and have taken up the very generous offer of Gabby and Charlie to come and stay with them while we regroup. I have a LONG story to tell and it will probably take several blogs...tons of pictures to share too. I'm off to bed, we are EXHAUSTED. Thanks for all the prayers, thoughts and messages during this.

Friday, September 12, 2008

We went out for a bit this morning. There's a certain birthday girl who needed a cake despite the darn hurricane, so even tho it took us driving about 15 miles north to find ANY store that was open, we did and I snapped a picture of a little strip mall that had about half the stores boarded up. It was interesting to drive around and see all of the preparations...some businesses had parked their trucks up against their front windows, many had boarded up, and a few brave souls have vowed to stay open indefinitely and service their public.

So what do you do while you are waiting for a hurricane?? Well, you go over to the neighbors for a swim of course! It sorta seems funny...all this hype and the weather outside is relatively nice. So the kids took a dip (with their friend Sierra).

As of 4oclock here, the winds are picking up, the clouds are coming thru quickly and it's sprinkled a time or two. The eye will be here about midnight or 1am and the "bad weather" is expected to last until about noon tomorrow. We have all of our supplies ready for a power outage (our biggest expected issue), I've done the laundry and basic chores. So we are just waiting...

As power and internet connection allow, I'll post about our adventure, but we are expecting to be down at some eventual point for a while.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ready for IKE!!

Wooohooo! Welcome to Texas and Hurricane Season!! After two hurricanes that turned into nothing I have sorta felt blas'e about this whole hurricane thing. But Ike is coming and aparently he's NOT going to pass by without so much as a cloud like Dolly and Gustav did. He should be a category three when he hits, with winds of about 100 mph and flooding up to 20 feet.

So we've spent the last couple of days contemplating evacuating or not. Should we......shouldn't we........?? How do ya know? Josh was out of town for the week as usual and I didn't really feel like packing up all the kids and the dog and heading out of town for "nothing" so I've been leaning toward the STAY side of the column. Then late yesterday Josh's bosses kicked him out and said "GO HOME NOW" so Josh flew in late last night. Josh started getting emails from his corporate office this morning about evacuating all of their employees and equipment from the Houston area and it made us think a bit...maybe we should go? I called a neighbor for professional hurricane survivor advice and they are staying and boarding up their downstairs to protect from flying debris. We'd heard the nightmares of 24 hrs on the interstate when people evacuated for Katrina and Rita and that didn't sound like much fun. Ughhh which way to go??!!

So about 11 am we decided we were staying and headed to Home Depot (mom said to have fun as the TV news coverage looked horrendous with lines that spanned hours) to pick up what we could of plywood and screws and get ready to batten down the hatches. On our way to Home Depot we run a side road along the interstate and we saw the traffic of people evacuating from south of us. As soon as we caught a glimpse of that parking lot, Josh said "F*** that, we are staying!!" I was on the phone with my mom and just started cracking up at the sheer horror in Josh's voice. LMBO if you know Josh at all, you know he has a severe case of traffic angst and that sight alone made weathering a hurricane seem like a walk in the park, so right then and there our decision to stay was confirmed. It was pretty crazy at Home Depot, you got in one line to pay for your plywood and then you got in your car in line to get it loaded. All total it took about an hour and a half to get our 7 sheets of plywood and screws.

Texan redneck sidenote...So we are driving home with our plywood secured safely inside of our van and we see a small Jeep in front of us with plywood on the roof (many, many TINY cars were succumbing to the torture of having several sheets of plywood strapped to their roof as their owners tried desperately to get wood home to protect their windows despite not owning large pickup trucks). So this Jeep turns a corner in front of us and we notice that two arms are holding the plywood on the roof. That's right, the people were HOLDING the plywood on the roof of the car. It straightened back out and there were the other two arms on the other side of the car valiantly holding on. Josh and I just stared with mouths open and wished we had a camera.

So home we went. It was funny too as once we were out in our back yard, the air was filled with the sounds of circular saws all over the neighborhood cutting plywood...that at least made us feel like we were on the right track (cuz where is that hurricane handbook?? seems we didn't get that when we drove over the border). We wanted to at least cover the three large windows at the back end of our living room as that's where we'll weather the brunt of the storm. We got those up, finished the back side of the downstairs and had enough to do the back side second story too. Those windows all face east which is the direction that the winds will come from so protecting them (and us inside of them) was first priority. Then we finished up the day with rearranging the garage so we could get both cars in...a feat that we didn't think possible but it WAS accomplished! As any good natural disaster will do, it brought all of us outside, so we spent alot of the afternoon chatting with neighbors, exchanging hurricane stories and offering help. The kids called out "Happy Hurricane Day" to anyone that would wave! So our neighborhood looks in garages and wood on windows and bottled water in the cupboards.

Stay tuned for updates on our adventure. We are expecting to lose cell and internet service for a (hopefully short) period of time so I'm not sure how often I'll be able to update, but check back and see. If we have power, we are stuck inside, so I'll have not much else to do but hang out online and share what's going on.

Here are our BEFORE pictures...

The back side all boarded up
The view from inside our cave (and some boxes brought in so the cars can fit in the garage)
See, they fit!!

This picture was for fun. We were teasing our landlord that we got "ready for the hurricane" by bracing up the trees so that they wouldn't blow over. Notice the little teeny boards we used. He thought that was pretty good!!

Monday, September 8, 2008

CVS for 8/31 - 9/6 and 9/7 - 913

I didn't get to blog my CVS last week so this week it's a two fer one!

The top pic is the first week.
Colgate was $2.99
Lipgloss was $5.99
Used a $1 coupon for the colgate and got $2.00 ECB back
Got $5.99 ECB back from the lipgloss
Both items ended up FREE!!

Second pic is this week. The best part of this week is that I desperately needed shampoo and conditioner and I'd been holding out for a great CVS deal and I got one!!
Aussie shampoo $2.49
Aussie conditioner $2.49
Nail polish $3.99
Hershey bar 50c
Reeses 50c
Used $2/2 Aussie coupon and got $1 ECB each bottle = 49c/bottle!!
Used $2 nail polish coupon and got $3 ECB = $1 profit!!
The candy bars were fillers so I could use my $2/$10 CVS coupon
Used a $2 ECB, paid $2.13 in pocket change and walked out with $5 new ECB!!
CVS paid me 87c to bring all that home tonight!!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


So we got out of town this past weekend and went to spend the weekend with Charlie and Gabby and had a really nice time as always! We hung out, swam, shoppped and ate at cool restaurants. After dinner at a really yummy BBQ place, we went out back for a walk along the water and were surprised to find turtles...and I mean TONS of turtles swimming in the little inlet. I've never personally seen a wild turtle in nature so I was in awe! There were so many of them and they were sooo cool to watch. Their little heads would poke out of the water and they'd turn and swim this way and that. There were big ones and little tiny ones. It was the neatest thing! And a guy down by the water had purchased some turtle food and shared with Emilee and Trevor and they LOVED that! (I hope you can tell in the pictures that the greyish blobs are the turtles as the glare was a bit weird and didn't focus that great.)