August 31, 2011

Hurricane Irene

This was not my first hurricane. We did live in Charleston, SC for four years. There were at least two times that I really, really thought we were going to get hit. I went and bought obscene amounts of bottled water and candles. Josh made fun of me when I bought three boxes of fire logs for the fireplace (that we only used once) and a giant flashlight. But the worst we ever got was some light rain and wind. It wasn’t even hard rain. I count my lucky stars we got off so lightly. A local that I worked with brought in photos from a past hurricane that flooded her house with mud and caused a great deal of damage.

Last Wednesday we packed up for a trip to West Virginia to see Josh’s family. As we were getting ready to leave, we decided to bring in everything from outside because there was a chance we could see some action from Hurricane Irene. We didn’t take it too seriously. But we moved the outdoor furniture in, parked our other car in the garage, and I moved the afghan stand my grandfather made me onto the futon. It’s the only piece of furniture I cannot replace.

West Virginia is also known as “The land of sparse internet.” We got there on Thursday (after a stop at my parents’ house) and on Friday I went by the local library to use their internet. I had 102 emails, which is a little on the high side. Suddenly I was informed that the hurricane was barreling directly toward Dover AFB. There were emails about how to prepare for a storm, instructions to take your outside items inside, tips from the legal office to photograph your furniture in case of flooding, tips from other spouses about shelters that would be open, and the list went on. I am also a key spouse (I help keep tabs on other spouses whose hubbies aren’t around). I had urgent emails to call people and find out their whereabouts in case of emergency.

Needless to say, I was pretty shocked and rather alarmed. I began to fear that our 15 minutes of hurricane prep might not cut it. My dear, dear, wonderful neighbor agreed to go in and move the Wii, xBox, and wedding album to higher ground. The news kept up a doomsday tenor as the eye was predicted to pass within miles of the Delmarva peninsula. Delaware declared a state of emergency and kicked out all non-residents on vacation. I was further worried. Then to top it off, the base declared mandatory evacuations for the lower lying areas of base housing—this would include our street. Serious panic started setting in. We were already evacuated, but I was mentally ticking off all the things we should have done and the items that we should have moved.

Other wonderful, dear neighbors assured us that the flood map they handed out on base showed that our house wouldn’t be affected unless there was more than a nine-foot storm surge. The news then predicted a surge of 15-20 feet. Gulp! And Irene just loitered up the coast, taking her sweet time. A tornado destroyed a house in Lewes, DE, which is only 40 minutes south of us.

And then…nothing happened. The neighbors called to say that there was no visible damage and no one had flooding. Irene was not as big a deal as everyone feared. We arrived home yesterday to discover that there really was no damage. So far I’ve only seen one piece of loose siding on a neighbor’s house. Dover is so windy that I’ve seen worse damage from standard issue wind storms.

Is there a moral to this story? It might seem that the moral is: hurricanes are no big deal. If this is the message you picked up, you should keep reading. The real moral is: be over-prepared so in case something does happen, you’ll be ok; then hope that nothing happens and you seem foolish for over preparing.

That being said, do you have an emergency kit in your house? Do you have a plan if there is a hurricane or some other event that might cause extended power outage or prompt you to leave the area? Do you know what irreplaceable items you need to take with you? It may seem dumb, but give it some thought. You don’t want to wait to think about it until the rain starts to fall.

If you want to get a head start, check out the NOAA’s pageon hurricane preparedness.

August 8, 2011


I’m starting to feel that parenting a two-year-old is preparation for caring for someone with multiple personality syndrome. There are times when H is the sweetest, cutest, most thoughtful child on the planet. A few minutes later she is screaming and kicking on the floor. Sometimes I can at least follow the logic stream from one to the other, but often I am baffled as to how it all went so terribly wrong.

Despite the bumpy ride, two is a lot of fun. H’s verbal communication improves daily. She is constantly curious about the world and asks me all day what things are and how they work, "This? This? This?" We read books, most of which I’m pretty sure she has memorized. Most importantly, we sing and dance.

On Saturday we visited the Peach Festival at Fifer Orchards. You may not have realized that Delaware grows fantastic peaches. We have juicy, softball-sized peaches for most of the summer. It’s probably one of the top five things I like about Delaware. For the first time, we were able to really take advantage of the attractions. H started off with a pony ride. While we waited Josh and I debated whether she would love it or hate it. As it turned out, she rode like a pro. Looking all around and acting totally calm. 

Next we moved on to the petting zoo. I have to admit, I am not a fan of petting zoos. I love the animals, but I get all weirded out about how germy I get touching them. (I’m one nervous breakdown away from full blown OCD, so don’t be surprised.) Fifer luckily had both hand sanitizer in large quantities and a hand washing station set up, so I persevered. It’s only fair to admit, however, that the only animal I actually touched was the bunny. But I was taking pictures. H was fearless. She patted the donkey, visited with turkeys and chickens, patted the calf, and stroked the soft bunnies. It’s amazing to see her running around like a kid. She’s ready to take on the world.

Hello, Donkey. Let me pet your eyes.

Chickens! Bock, bock, bock.

 I am no longer sure I want to hold this bunny, thank you.

Our free peach ice cream cone (the real reason we went) was followed by listening to some great local country/bluegrass. Live music clearly requires dancing, and H did the dancing for the whole crowd. She just pranced in circles around Josh and I over and over, with a huge grin plastered on her face and her little dimpled thighs flashing in the sun. Every once in a while she’d run over to me and put her head in my lap for a millisecond to receive a kiss before dashing off to dance some more.

During the slightly less glamorous moments, like the meltdowns, I am surprised to find that I am generally less frustrated than just feel bad for H. It is hard to live in a world where everything is really big and you don’t generally get to pick what you do or where you go or even what you eat. It’s even harder when you only kind of speak the language and the nice lady who takes care of you only sometimes understands what you’re trying to say. I’d have tantrums too. On the days when everything seems harder and I do get frustrated, I try to remember these facts. Sometimes it’s hard to keep it in perspective, but no two-year-old is out to get you. It sure seems that way sometimes, but it’s just not true. They just have a unique perspective on the world, and it can cause them to act in ways that are truly inexplicable. But when she asks to go potty five times and then hops off the pot after 20 seconds, sometimes it’s because she’s constipated and her bottom hurts. All you can do as a mom is keep hoisting her up and washing her hands afterwards, because on trip number six, she’ll work it out and everyone will feel much better.

Then it will be dance time again.

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