Irma

Irma

Everyone knows Florida equals hurricanes. It’s the same as Buffalo equaling snowstorms or LA being prepared for earthquakes.

I’ve experienced natural disasters. I was in Istanbul during the huge 7.2 earthquake in 1999. Two ice storms in Rochester, NY (1991 and 2003). More snow storms than I care to count. But Irma was different.

We made it 4 1/2 years without having to deal with even a tropical storm (since Matthew veered East and left Kissimmee virtually untouched), but last week that streak ended.

What started out as a “normal” week (or as normal as life can be when you’re in the process of packing up to move a few miles away) became a mad rush to hurricane-proof the house. Josh got some of the last pieces of plywood on Wednesday. It took a total of three days (measuring, planning, cutting, and then installing) all the sheets and 2x4s.

I did as much as I could to plan food in case of power outage. Did all the laundry on Sunday. Then we moved everything special (scrapbooks, etc) upstairs in case of flooding. Central Florida is low-lying swampland, after all.

Sunday afternoon we had times where it was windy or rainy, but if we didn’t know what was coming it would have seemed pretty normal. Slightly windier than we usually experienced but nothing that out of the ordinary.

But by mid-afternoon we started hearing reports of tornado warnings for various areas. (I had no idea that tornadoes are a common part of the hurricane experience before we moved here and started to learn about our weather) After supper, we got a warning for OUR area.

So we all went into our room (the safest room in the house) and turned the radio on in there. A minute or two later, the power went out. (7:00 or so)

Once the tornado warning had expired, we finished getting the kids’ bedding situation ready. They were sleeping around our bed, so we could keep the door closed and not have to have the radio on all night. We all tried to sleep in the pitch-black room. So much for my plan to have fans provide some ambient noise to block out some of the wind: losing power took all of that away!

Because I didn’t have any way to tell the time, I had to just guess what was happening.

None of us slept well, but since everyone did a good job being quiet, no one knew we weren’t the only one awake at any given time.

I woke up at some point (my best guess is midnight-ish) to silence. No wind. No rain. I hoped it meant the storm had actually passed, but it was more likely the eye. I couldn’t get out of bed or I would have stepped on my eldest, so I had to just stay there and listen and wonder what was happening out there.

Later I heard wind again, but thankfully no more rain at that point. The floor stayed dry (which is good, since all three kids were sleeping on it!) and I hadn’t heard any big crashes telling us anything had broken through a window.

(side note: we covered MOST of our windows. Two of the windows were too hard to reach/get to so we left them exposed, and a couple others were protected by the neighbor’s house so we didn’t have to block those off. It meant we did get a tiny bit of natural light in, which we were thankful for)¬†

When we got up in the morning, it was still on the windy side. This surprised me. It actually stayed windy enough to be a tropical storm warning until 6 pm on Monday. I had expected by breakfast that the wind would have been gone. I guess I didn’t take into account the size of the storm!

We ate breakfast by candlelight (thankful that the milk had stayed cold enough for one more breakfast), took quick showers with what remained of the hot-ish water, and then we all headed outside to see the damage.

We saw the majority of our neighbors outside doing the same (and starting to clean up!) so we jumped in too. We made quick work of the fallen branches, except for a couple in the muddy back yard that we couldn’t get to without getting filthy.

The lanai lost 3 panels of screen. The ceiling is wet in spots, but we think we know what caused that and it’s likely not an actual roof leak. And the power was still out. We spent the bulk of Monday putting things back away, taking down the first-floor plywood, and tidying up.

So Tuesday morning, we ate breakfast (dry cereal) and headed over to Josh’s parents’ house, 15 minutes away. They hadn’t lost power, so we got hot showers, enjoyed hot coffee and air conditioning, and could charge our phones again.

We decided to keep sleeping in our own house so we’d know what was happening power-wise (and so we didn’t need to pack suitcases), and when we drove home Tuesday evening we all cheered to see our lights on!!!

We still have to get up to take down the second-story plywood (we had to be sure Jose wasn’t going to head this way first), and the lanai needs to get fixed, but otherwise we feel like life is slowly getting back to normal.

Which means we can get back to the packing fun…

 

Here are a handful of short videos I took on my phone:

What it looked like at 12:30 pm

What it looked like at 2:20 pm

What it looked like at 4:50 pm

What it looked like at 6:07 pm

What it looked like at 7:41 pm

What it looked like at 9:30 Monday morning

another view of what we saw in the morning

The “angel window”

Faith lessons

You know the standard idea that, if you need more patience, God gives you opportunities to wait so you learn it?

I guess this is my season for learning faith.

In the winter/spring, I struggled big-time with hip pain, but that whole time I knew it was the season to get back en pointe (after 25 years away), and no amount of pain was going to hold me back.

I achieved it, getting back into my first pointe class the day before my 40th birthday.

Josh commented on how much faith I showed during that whole time.

I hadn’t thought of it that way: for me, I was just determined to do it. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I really did have faith that I would be better in time to do it. (considering there were days I could barely walk because of the pain from the ballet class the day before)

So I guess it shouldn’t surprise me too much that I have Faith 2.0 later the same year (God taught me about gratefulness a few years ago, and it was a two-part lesson too).

This time, the struggle has two parts*. Two things I’m trusting will happen, two things I have no reason not to hope for and look forward to, but things that just aren’t coming together as smoothly, or as quickly, as I would have expected.

 

I’ve continued to believe that both are happening. There have been moments when my faith wavers, but I’ve pushed past it again.

But I feel like I’m being led, blindfolded, down a path from my old life into the next one. And each step is total blind faith.

Which is scary enough. But a few times, I finally felt like I had an idea of what the next step was going to feel like, and I was 100% wrong. And those are the times that it’s the hardest to hold on and keep believing that we really are heading somewhere and that I shouldn’t have just stayed home.

But yesterday someone mentioned to me that I should “relax and enjoy the journey.”

And inwardly I half laughed, half groaned.

 

No way on earth is there anything enjoyable about this journey. This wasn’t about thankfulness; it’s purely a lesson in faith. I just have to grin and bear it, and not turn my eyes from what’s happening.

But when Josh and I talked about it, he pointed out that it is important that we have a positive outlook.

I guess I needed the lesson in gratitude before I could learn this lesson in faith.

But oh boy did that just add a new level of difficulty to the process.

 

 

This afternoon, though, I was reminded that it really is about finding joy in the journey. God has something amazing in store for us. Sure, at this point it’s hard to imagine it all happening, and I have no idea what it will actually look like. But life will look better than it used to, and shouldn’t that give me joy? Sure, it’s hard right now because I’m walking blindly, completely out of control of what happens. (hear that? control. Not only do I not know what things will look like, I need to recognize that I’m not in control)

This is a hard post for me to write. Typically I wait to write about things until they’re behind me and I can talk about the whole picture. But I felt like it was important to document what’s happening, AS it happens, so I can look back and see how far I came.

…and bring others along in the process!

*I chose not to mention exactly what’s going on, because the details aren’t important. It’s what’s going on inside that matters, and that’s part of the reminder I got this afternoon.

Disneybounding Family-Style

Disneybounding Family-Style

One of the many benefits of living in beautiful Central Florida is its proximity to Disney World. (if I’m honest, it’s part of why we chose Kissimmee and not somewhere along the coast). We love that we live close enough to swing by for a couple hours (though the two years we had to go without passes, thanks to my braces, were pretty hard on all of us).

Over the past couple years, something called Disneybounding has become more and more popular amongst avid fans.

If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s kind of like dress-up for adults. Instead of costumes, we use normal clothes that give you the impression of a specific character. It depends a lot on color schemes and little embellishments.
(one way I like to describe it is: this is how the character might dress if s/he was a 21st-century person).

Common elements are hats…

…and bowties. Unless it’s Dapper Day (which I’ll write about another time), almost anyone wearing a bowtie is likely Disneybounding.

From what we’ve heard from numerous Cast Members, we’re one of the only families where the whole crew dresses in Bounding outfits. We find it a real boost to our recognizability: if one of us is a strongly recognizable character, people can figure out the others.

Some hints if you want to jump in with this:

  • thrift stores are the way to go. Not only are you saving a bunch of money, but you’ll be able to get colors/patterns that aren’t necessarily this season’s styles.
  • I highly recommend Pinterest for getting ideas of outfits. Look up “Donald Duck Disneybound” and be inspired by the combinations people have created. Once you’ve done it for awhile you won’t need that and can just do a Google image search for what the characters looked like in their movie, but to start, Pinterest has been the thing that got us figuring out how to dress.

Peter Pan is one of our favorites.

First attempt (Peter, John, and Smee)

Alice in Wonderland is full of rich characters. (Alice, the White Rabbit, and the Cheshire Cat)

Josh and I were the Caterpillar and the Mad Hatter. We had to go meet Alice, who was thrilled to see all the people she knew! (Cast Members are the biggest fans of Disneybounders, but a million times more when you’re dressed like them)

Other fun combinations include the “big five” (Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, and Donald)

…Beauty and the Beast…
(Gaston, Mrs. Potts, Cogsworth, Lumiere, and Belle)

…Toy Story…
(Woody, Evil Dr. Porkchop, Bo Peep, and Jessie)

…Star Wars…
(Han Solo, Leia, Darth Vader, C3PO, and Luke)

…and Winnie the Pooh
(Pooh, Christopher Robin, a Heffalump, Piglet, and Owl)

Seriously, the sky’s the limit. We have a fantastic time coming up with new combinations featuring clothes we already own (see how many of the same things we wear for different characters?), and it’s SO much fun to get recognized. But more than anything else, we enjoy the family feeling that comes from dressing in a theme. It adds a touch of magic to each visit and makes them unique, which is quite a feat considering how often we visit!

An Adventure

An Adventure

Yesterday morning, I saw a post on Facebook about a used bookstore in Sarasota that was going out of business. So we ditched everything and headed West.

I’ve never been in a building that was so crowded. You moved when the crowd moved. You had no choice.

Unfortunately for the kids, they had already run out of anything they would enjoy, though Hudson grabbed a Western novel and Rebekah found a book on butterflies.

I, however, found the aisle full of books I enjoy: chick lit!

I was thankful for my height, because the hardcovers were on the tops of the high shelves. Some of the stacks were too high for me to get without knocking several over, but I did help out a couple fellow treasure-hunters as well as find several books I wanted.

It was a great treasure hunt!

Rye Bread

Rye Bread

So it all started when we fell in love with rye toast.

It’s out of this world.

But Publix didn’t carry rye flour. Or they used to; I found some on the clearance table and we devoured it.

So when we were out and I had tried twice to get it at Publix, I went to Amazon.

And found that the best price for rye flour was on Amazon…in a container of 6 5-pound bags.

I decided to go for it. We put most of the bags in the chest freezer, and I’ve been making rye bread once a week or so.

I was always surprised Mom was willing to make the mess involved in homemade bread, though we always loved the finished result. Now that I’m doing it on a more regular basis, I’m starting to see how she does it. The smell of fresh-baked bread, rye or whole wheat or white, is something unmatched by anything else. And the amazing taste of the bread just out of the oven makes me not mind the sticky dishes (most of the time).

Those Cats

Those Cats

Back story: When we first moved into this house, we noticed a couple (i.e. 2) cats who seemed to like our yard. We wondered if they were the previous owner’s and they still liked our yard.

(back back story: the previous owner moved next door. She had owned both houses and sold the bigger of the two)

Four years later, there were far more than 2 cats visiting our yard. Giving birth to litters of kittens occasionally. Using our yard as a litterbox.

(Florida grass is very coarse and though I’ve watched them try to cover up their presents, this grass doesn’t allow it. Which means it looked more like a dog lived here)

(Back-back-back story: I hate cats as a rule. There are a couple I’ve been okay with over the years, but on the whole I find them unpleasant. I need an animal that acts like it needs me. I’m 100% a dog person and always have been. So coming home to the smell of a litterbox is something I resent.)

So after four years, we decided it was time to try something new. We bought solar-powered cat repellers. Not only did they not repel the cats, the beasts were so offended that they peed on them. Both of them.

Time to up the ante: we got a trap. We read all about what you need to do to trap a cat and where to take them.

And over the next few months, we captured cats. As of this moment, we’ve taken 12 cats to Animal Control. It’s set for #13.

The cats who saw this as their property have all been relocated. When we drive home we don’t see the usual 3-4 cats on the street, sidewalk, or under cars. But a house across the street has a mama with two babies, all still the same basic colors as the bulk of the cats we’ve dealt with. We’re still not done.

(a side note: Animal Control is 30 minutes away. Thankfully it was very close to the dance studio, but now that classes are over I can’t combine trips)

It’s worth every single trip. It’s a pain, but we’re seeing more anoles in the yard (I haven’t actually done any research into this, but I’m guessing the cats have been eating them). and that means we should have fewer insects. A bluejay visits our tree. We see birds walk across the wall behind our house, instead of cats on the prowl.

The job isn’t done but I feel like we’ve done a good thing for our neighborhood as well as for ourselves.