Sunday, September 21, 2008

Going Home

Wow, so I guess this post is #200.

I just wanted to send a quick message to let you all know I probably won't be posting for a while. Travis, Ariel, Robert and I are heading back to our house in the morning and word is we won't have power for about 10 days. We are hoping to borrow a generator from a friend, so hopefully we can have hot showers and perhaps food chilled in a refrigerator. If all else fails, we may be crashing Jenna or Chris and Alexa's houses to shower.

I'm hoping to make it into Galveston with Ariel and Robert on Wednesday to survey the damage to their apartment and vehicles. I'm worried the line will be too long for us to get on the island.

Travis is going back to work on Monday. I don't have anything to do for a while, since work is in the indefinite future. I thought I was going to help Chris and Alexa rebuild their house, but Chris is scheduled to fly all week. In the meantime all we can do to help them out is take care of their chocolate lab, Godiva, for a while longer.

Even if power does come back on, our laptop is still destroyed, preventing any visit to the world of the Internet. We are going to take it to the Best Buy we bought it from to see why our warranty doesn't cover the damage, since they are the ones who said it should cover EVERYTHING except for if we spill something on it. I'm crossing my fingers on that one. Our computer is on sale for 50% off right now. $650 to buy a brand new one, or $600 to fix the broken screen. Ha funny.

I CANNOT wait to get home. Don't get me wrong - I am forever grateful to Jacen for loaning us his home during the storm, and to David and Stephanie for taking us in during this inbetween-time. Thing is, I look forward to sleeping in our own bed with our pillows and our sheets. I look forward to not having to share a bedroom with two dogs and three cats. I look forward to not sharing a room with the kitty litter box. I look forward to not freaking out each time one of our cats has a momentary freak out and breaking something - because it will belong to us and not someone else. I look forward to having some semblance to the stable life we lived only 11 days ago. I look forward to HOME.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Happy Birthday David!

We celebrated David's birthday yesterday, even though it is today. Since we plan to leave early tomorrow morning to go back home, we decided it would be better not to party the night before. =)

Stephanie, Ariel and I ran to the next town over and grabbed party supplies and a few gifts. Stephanie wanted to go with the same-number-candles-as-his-age route. I'm thinking we're getting to the point where this is borderline dangerous. I'm surprised the smoke detectors did not go off!! We snuck in a few trick candles, but only one of them worked. It was entertaining at least.

Stephanie made chili for dinner and we watched a couple movies. For dessert we had chocolate cake. During a break in the first movie, we had planned an attack on David. Earlier in the day, everyone filled up grenade balloons with water and then strategically placed them behind the vehicles. Stephanie coaxed David outside while we all waited with grenades in hand and Spiderman masks in place. I'm pretty sure the construction workers at the next house over think we are some crazy crackers.

When David came out, we all got him good. Don't worry, we left him one air-filled balloon for his defense. Ariel was an a-hole and got me with one, but I thought it was Travis and Robert, so I started throwing in their direction. Didn't find out until later that it was Ariel. I was ecstatic to find a balloon in the driveway that never popped so I got her back.

After movies we played some more Mario Kart on the Wii. Love that game. Although I'm not very good after imbibing a few drinks. Good times.

Friday, September 19, 2008

My Alma Mater

An old Sea Aggie friend of mine was able to visit the island in the days after Ike. She got some photos of the interstate into Galveston and our school - Texas A&M University (TAMUG). It's such a bummer to see this stuff. I read that they have already moved all the Galveston students to the College Station location so they can continue their classes. I cannot imagine having to deal with school in the middle of all this chaos. I also heard by word of mouth that the UTMB medical students are being relocated around the country so they can keep up with their schooling.

Boat in the road - a common sight in Galveston at the moment.


The road out to Pelican Island, where TAMUG is located


The bridge out to Pelican Island is demolished. =(


Downed bridge. No cars heading out this way.


Texas A&M University, Galveston

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Out with the Bad, In with the Good

So what have we been doing all week? Well, basically, trying to not think about what's going on back home. We've definitely had our moments where we all sit in front of the computer to view photos on some news website or that a friend sent me via email.

When Ariel and Robert got in on Monday, we decided to take a walk up to the prairie dog park. Yup - PRAIRIE DOG PARK. WITH PRAIRIE DOGS. It was awesome. I think they were all pissed we were there because the closest ones wouldn't stop screaming at us. Then Stephanie pegged one of them with a cracker. It was totally by accident, but it was pretty hilarious. It was a nice walk too. The weather here is amazing. It is warm enough to wear shorts and a t-shirt, but there is a nice cool breeze that prevents you from sweating your ass off. I love it.

Tuesday has probably been the funniest day so far. Stephanie already had plans to visit her step-mom north of Dallas, so she left by noon. Right after she left, we headed to Lubbock. David had some work to do and we needed to go to Best Buy. Travis and I were pissed to find that none of our warranties cover physical damage on the laptop. The screen got crushed in the evacuation process and now the back light doesn't work. Our warranty does cover that, but even if the back light was fixed, the gigantic crack across the LCD screen would hinder our view. And that's NOT covered under the warranty. When Travis bought the computer, they told us that everything was covered under the extra coverage we got, except for spills. Well, we didn't spill anything, so this should be covered. We are going to try the store he bought it at back home before we flip out too much.

After that let down, David dropped us off at Mr. Gatti's to kill time while he ran off to do his work. That place cracks me up. It's basically a pizza, pasta and salad buffet with an arcade room and TV's in a couple different rooms. After we stuffed our faces, we headed into the arcade. Since money is tight, we didn't get any tokens. Instead, Ariel and I walked around and looked for any games that would let us play for free. We entertained ourselves with almost an hour of free play on the Dance Dance Revolution game. It was HILARIOUS. I don't know how people play the harder levels. I'm pretty sure they are impossible. Ariel and I were just trying to step as fast as we could, but we couldn't stop laughing. We wish we were like these guys:


After all the gaming, we collected our tickets and splurged on two sets of vampire teeth, two popping toys and two pieces of candy. Rock on.

We convinced David to break out his Dance Dance Revolution on the Xbox. We switched between that, Mario Kart on the Wii and Guitar Hero. We were total gaming dorks all night.

Wednesday we just vegged out all day, playing video games and eating. I tried to stay up with everyone to watch Pan's Labyrinth. I've seen it already and I think I'm not really up for the negativity right now because it was really bothering me. I went to bed about an hour into the movie.

The week seems to be going by smoothly enough. I'm excited about going home this weekend, but then again I dread what it will be like. Power? No power? What will Ariel and Robert do for jobs? JR was nice enough to go over to our house yesterday and clean out the fridge. That means we'll have a little less time with the stinky air out period. Time keeps on tickin'.

THANK YOU!

After speaking with our parents about the current financial bind we are in, some really great things have surfaced. By financial bind, I mean that Travis hasn't been getting paid for a week and Ariel and Robert are both out of a job until the businesses can rebuild. My dad has offered to electronically wire us some money - which is awesome. My mom was talking to our extended family and her co-workers about our situation and a bunch of them have offered to donate money to the Travis-Nikki-Ariel-Robert Ike Fund. I can't believe it! My Aunt Trish & Uncle Chris and Aunt Pat & Uncle Mat, plus a bunch of people from my mom's work, whom I've never met, have offered up cash to help us through this.

I cannot thank everyone enough!! As soon as things get back to normal, I'll be ordering a few gift baskets online!

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Being Called Home

Travis got a call from work yesterday. He is an electrician, but it was the maintenance crew that asked if he could come in. They need help putting things back in order at the plant so they can start back up as soon as the power is restored. I cannot properly express how much stress was lifted from my shoulders with this call. Money will still be tight, between evacuation costs and having to completely restock a fridge, but at least we have paychecks in sight. Since it was not an immediate call back, we have decided to wait until this weekend to drive back home. We don't have electricity or running water yet, so it would be difficult to live there still. Our friend Jenna has offered up her house whenever we do return since she periodically has electricity.

Rachel told me that it will be a minimum of two weeks before our employer re-evaluates the situation to decide when non-essential employees can come back to work. I know that the power went off in the building I work in, so we should have quite the recovery period.

This all equates to at least one week when we get back of NOTHING FOR NIKKI TO DO. I will have to clean out the fridge, but that's about the bulk of it. Maybe I can find some relief work...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ike Incites Insomnia

I seem to have developed insomnia in the past week. I have been out of work since last Thursday morning and I feel like ever since then, my ability to properly rest has gone down the drain. The first night (Thursday) we spent at Jacen's was fine. I slept GREAT, actually.

Friday night is when it all started. I was exhausted by midnight and ready to go to sleep and was able to as soon as my head it the pillow. The wind from the hurricane woke me up at 3 and of course I was frantic to see what was going on. By the time I went back to bed at 4 (I just wanted to sleep it all away) my mind was not so quick to be with me in slumber. I kept worrying about the possibility of a branch coming through the window and impaling us in our sleep. Or that a tree could just fall on the house and squash us. Needless to say, it took me at least 30 minutes to fall back asleep.

Saturday night was a similar story. I was completely drained from spending the day moving branches and checking out the devastation in our area, so I fell asleep quickly. Travis woke somewhere around 3am because he was sick from the still heat. After he drank some water, he turned the generator back on and we moved the AC unit and fan into the bedroom. That was much more comfortable, but then the little dogs on the bed (three chihuahuas) were all vying for quality space, which appeared to be anything within two inches from me. Of course, my mind was up and running again. What were we going to do? We only had two or three days worth of gas to run the generator. What do we do when we run out of food? Water? As it was, we were already having to plunge the water down the toilet each time it need to be flushed since there was no water pressure. We can't live like this.

Sunday we made the decision to go to David and Stephanie's house, where we know we could stay as long as we need. The promise of electricity, proper water pressure with water that isn't mixed with sewage and functioning grocery stores and gas stations lured us to northeast Texas. I am so glad we decided to go this route, but the stress doesn't stop here. We still have a family of animals that have been uprooted from their homes. We have our three cats and a dog, plus my sister's chihuahua/minpin and our friend's lab. Falling asleep is never my problem, it's staying asleep. For the past two nights, I have battled with a dog or four barking in the middle of the night and staying comfortable in a stuffy room filled with animals (we finally opened the windows last night - it is SO much cooler here than by the Gulf). Each night I wake up because of something the animals are doing and then my mind is off to the races again. I'm approaching an hour of restlessness each night before I'm able to fall back asleep.

I'm turning into a zombie running on coffee, so don't be surprised if this blog is a little jumbled.

Disaster Relief

Travis and David picked up Ariel and Robert from the airport yesterday with no problems. I'm happy to have a piece of my family back together. It's nice to have a little normalcy, despite the chaos. I sat with Ariel last night at the computer and signed her up for FEMA assistance. They announced that anyone who lives on Galveston Island should apply immediately, even if they haven't seen the damage to their home because virtually every residence on the island has been damaged. We also signed her up on the Red Cross Safe and Well list, as I did earlier in the day. I know that all our family knows we are well, but it feels better to get it registered. Today we plan to get her and Travis signed up for Disaster Unemployment Assistance with the Texas Workforce Commission.

David and Stephanie have been super gracious for keeping all of us and our pets at their home. I am so thankful to have friends like this. Ariel and Robert are sleeping on a mattress in Wednesday's room, so they have their own space. I think it was weird for them to see some of the photos and videos of Galveston. We saw a shrimp boat up in the parking lot for the restaurants that Ariel and Robert used to work at. It was leaning against the pay booth where we used to drop of our stamped tickets.

I think we are going to head over to a larger town today to buy some groceries and find a Best Buy. I'm hoping they will be able to take care of our broken laptop before we head back to our house. No word from Cowboy Willy yet that our power has been restored.

Here is just a portion of our current zoo (not pictured: two chihuahua mixes and three cats)...


*Please note that I included links to all these disaster related websites for those of you who will need them. Although I have a feeling that the people who need it the most don't have Internet access at the moment.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ike Update #5

Here are some the photos I have taken of this situation. I haven't had a chance to go through and orient them yet, but at least you can view them. Believe it or not I have about 150 more I have yet to get up. Our laptop broke, so we have to go to Best Buy to have them retrieve the hard drive.


We went to our house yesterday and there is no serious damage. Most of our gutters blew off and a shutter blew off. Nothing we can't handle. The water coming out of the faucet smells like sewage and there was still no power. We decided to properly evacuate to northwest Texas where there is electricity and gas and grocery stores. We plan to stay here until either power comes back on at our house or one of us gets called back to work. Since I work ON Galveston Island, it may be awhile for me. No idea on when Travis will get called back to work. Depends on when the plant gets power again I guess. Our neighbor from across the street, Cowboy Willy, has gone back home and said he will call us when power returns.

For those of you who know me and my friends well, here is an update on them:

We went to Shannon and Chris' house too and it doesn't appear to have any serious damage either. Their backyard is still flooded though. They are both still north of Houston, but plan to drive home today to clean out their fridge (kicking myself for not doing that when we were home).

JR, Sara, Logan and Dana all went to their parent's houses.

Jenna has gone back home and she has power now. She has flooding in her first floor and her entire fence is gone. Her husband Seth is stuck working in Galveston right now.

Kai appears to have power on and off at his house. No damage to his home.

Chris and Alexa are still in Colorado, but will be back as soon as the airports open back up. No word on their house yet, but we know there was serious flooding in their area.

Rachel and Scott evacuated to Dallas before the storm. Scott has been called back to help clean up at our work in Galveston. Rachel is debating flying back to Chicago since it will be a long time before she can get to her home.

Travis went to pick up Ariel and Robert from the airport near here. They were in west Texas this whole time and can't fly back into Houston until the airports open back up. Since they live in Galveston, it will be a while before they can get home so they will be staying with us.

I am permanently exhausted. Must eat. Then maybe I will get back here when I have a clear mind.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ike Update #4

Wow. So. Don't even really know where to start here. I don't think I'll be able to get this all in at one time. At least not without stopping to go charge the computer again. We still don't have power, we're running on the generator at this point. The news has been saying it could be anywhere from one to three weeks before power comes back. Also - everyone I know is alive and well.

Everything seemed fine until about 10 or so last night. It got really windy and started raining so we all moved into the house to watch a movie. I was happy when the power went out because it meant we could stop watching Rambo. Bad movie. I don't recommend it. Not the point... Everything went off at 11:30pm. I stayed up until midnight before I was so tired I couldn't stand it. I went to bed then, but was woken at 3 in the morning by the wind blowing outside. It scared the bageezes out of me so I got up to see where everyone was. I found JR, Sara and Travis hanging out on the covered front porch. I went out to find that several trees in the area had already fallen across the street and a little in Jacen's yard. Here's the best of what I can show you a Category 2 hurricane looks like:




I stayed up for about an hour before I couldn't take it anymore and went back to bed. It was too stressful to stay up and watch. At least while I was sober. When we got up in the morning we went out the front door to assess the damage. Thank goodness we didn't stay out on that porch because look what we found (this is why we put plywood on the windows):




We walked around the neighborhood in the rain to see how the neighborhood made out. There is so much damage I can't even begin to explain to you. It is mostly trees and fences and carports, so nothing TOO serious. The craziest thing is the woman across the street lost 5 trees in her yard alone. The biggest one being a giant pine that landed in the road. Thankfully, we can still get out the other way. We had to move a bunch of small branches out of the road, but it wasn't bad.



My sentiments exactly:






It amazes me how people band together in a time of need. Travis had the chain saw out and was cutting through the branches in the front porch, when a bunch of the neighbors came over and helped us pull the pieces to the street. When we were finished with that, we went across the street to help a couple get a tree out of their driveway:



We do have the TV hooked up to the generator, but I think we all have a little bit of cabin fever. We couldn't help staying outside. Dana, Sara and I decided to take a walk down to Brais Bayou to see how high it was. I looks to be half full right now, which is still significant, but you could see where the leaf debris was and it was about to fill up and over the banks. We were only a few blocks from Dana's apartment by that point so we decided to keep walking to her place. It was a disaster. I'm pretty sure that every single tree in that apartment complex is down. Including the one next to Dana's apartment. The roots from the tree pulled up the fence and the concrete slab of her patio:



Ugh, more later. I'm tired and it is HOT. Plus everyone keeps calling and texting me. Oh and by the way, no electricity makes for cold showers.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ike Update #3

No rain yet - just severe wind gusts. We've seen a few areas we know that have some serious flooding. Our old apartment, Ariel's current apartment, a restaurant we go to all the time, a restaurant our friends go to for breakfast. JR just ran to the store and he witnessed three transformers blowing. We heard them from the house. The power is out on the next street over now. I expect the power will go soon, so this may be my last post until after the storm. AH!

The dogs are hanging out outside for now, before the rain starts. You can see the landlord came by and boarded up all the windows at Jacen's house.


We all decided to do shots each time a newscaster says "hunker down". LOL!



You can sort of get a feel for what's going on here now. It's very exciting. The cicadas are going NUTS.


video

Ike Update #2

The insurance company had an automatic message left on my voicemail this morning. They gave us a number to call if we need to make a claim when we get back. =( I called my auto insurance to make sure our vehicles are covered if they get flooded. They are. Phew. I think JR, Sara, Logan and Dana are coming to the house we are staying at since it's at a higher elevation and we have a generator. We plan to eat dinner a little early in case the power goes out. We need to be conservative about how much we use the generator.

So, here's a list of things I wish we had brought from home:
  • More magazines or books
  • A battery powered radio (Dana may have one for us to borrow)
  • Our checkbook
  • The paperwork for our home
  • Music CD's
  • Photo albums
  • Callaway's kennel

Hindsight...

Ike Update #1

It is still calm here in Houston. We've seen on the Weather Channel online, and heard from friends who are still in Galveston (dummies), that the surge has come in so far that the waves are slapping over onto the Seawall. Seawall is the main street that lines the beach in Galveston and is about 15 feet above sea level. The west end of the island, and the Strand (historical district) is already flooded. Where we are, in southwest Houston, there is barely any wind yet. There is an occasional gust, but that's about it. Jacen assured us that this area is fairly high, so flooding shouldn't be a problem. It looks like a lot of people in the neighborhood are riding the storm out with us.

The landlord of the house we are staying in is supposed to be putting up more plywood today, but I'm hoping he leaves a little window exposed so we can see what's going on out there. Our friend Jacen, and renter of this house, has left for his weekend trip and won't be back until Sunday. He was gracious enough to leave us free reign of his home. We couldn't be more thankful.

The only hurricane damage we've seen so far is a broken full bottle of Jager. It cracked in half in the cooler during the "evacuation". Travis realized it was broken when every beer he pulled out of the cooler last night smelled like black licorice. Yuck. I'm not a big fan of the stuff, so I'm okay with it. JR said that the liquor store near here was more busy than the gas stations. Ha!


I slept VERY well last night. Jacen is letting us use his bed, which is so great. He has one of those memory foam pillows that I am taking full advantage of with my sore neck. I was supposed to have a chiropractor appointment this evening. I probably don't even need to call to cancel that. Ha. The only trouble I had sleeping was this morning when Jacen got up to leave for his flight at 5am. Callaway thought it would be necessary to bark everytime he made a sound. Eventually Travis dragged his ass outside, where he stayed until we got up this morning. Damn dog.

Yesterday before he left, Jacen showed us how to use his espresso machine. We have our very own in-house Starbucks! It was a little tricky, but we figured it out this morning. The only downfall was we couldn't find any sugar! We opened a can of sweetened condensed milk which will have to be enough for now. We are going to the store after I take a shower to buy a replacement can and also some sugar, since we'll be here for a few days. I hope it's still open.


Not sure what we'll do today. I'm hoping to get out of the house a little, maybe go visit JR and Sara, since we will most likely not be able to do that tomorrow. =( We brought a bunch of DVDs, but I don't want to watch them all before the storm hits. Jacen doesn't have cable, so we've been keeping up with the storm via the Internet. We're kicking ourselves for forgetting our radio. I'll keep you posted...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"Evacuated"

Travis gave into my pleading and we "evacuated"!! I put quotations around that because we only made it into Houston, which I believe has a mandatory evacuation in itself. We are staying at the house of a friend of a friend. We've met him before and Travis was seemed slightly more satisfied with the idea of going an hour away as opposed to the 8 hours to David and Stephanie's (even though we'd LOVE to visit them). We made the decision to come up this morning when it looked imminent that we should be directly in the path of the hurricane. I had to go into work this morning, so I got there early. I did what I needed to and then we covered all our equipment up with plastic.

When I got home, we loaded up the vehicles and Chris and Alexa dropped off their dog, Godiva. Alexa and Blair are going to fly with Chris to Aspen, Colorado (he's a pilot) until Sunday. For the most part, the drive here was not that bad. Of course, we didn't really go all that far. Travis and I drove separately so we could bring the generator we borrowed from Chris and Alexa and then all the food we bought to survive this storm. We are expecting the power to go out and we will still have hurricane-force winds here. According to the news, it should be down to a Category 1 by the time it reaches Houston. We found out that Sara and JR (our neighbors) may be evacuating to just a few streets down from where we are!


Here are all the people who were on the road with us.


These signs line the interstate and give pertinent information to whatever is going on in our area. Stuff like, elderly disappeared in a gold 4-door car; suspected child kidnapper spotted in a red pickup truck; OR:


Really? We hadn't noticed.

Getting Nervous...

It still looks like Ike is going to hit just west of Galveston - meaning we are going to get a shit load of wind and rain! They are saying now that my area will experience hurricane-force winds. Yay. If you read Sara's blog post you can read the same exact conversation that I had with Travis last night (minus the kid). I do not want to stay, but I have to at least until they let us out of work. Which as of right now is 4pm for me. And that's only because I came in an hour early to get things started. I'm hoping they'll end up letting us go early. Otherwise I'm going to be sitting on my ass staring at a bunch of equipment in bags all day. *sigh*

This whole evacuation thing seems to be a hard decision for everyone to make right now. None of my friends have made the choice just yet. Travis and I will most likely be staying at home. Our neighbor across the street, Cowboy Willy (yes, that's what he goes by), said that he was here when Hurricane Alicia (Cat 3) hit in 1983 and that barely flooded the ditches in his yard. Flooding is what I am most worried about. I'm not directly on the water, so it's not as big of a deal. I guess then I start thinking about the gigantic tree in our front yard and the fact that our roof could blow off at any moment. Aren't these normal things people worry about?

The one thing I am VERY grateful for is that my sister Ariel will be out of town during this storm (meeting Robert's family in west Texas). She is really bummed she's going to miss it, but I worry that she would do something stupid, like hang out on the beach to watch the storm come in. Now I have one less thing to worry about. Phew!

Totally unrelated... When I left for work yesterday morning I was locking the deadbolt on the back door, like I always do, when the key snapped in half! With the "working" half still in the lock. Super Nikki!! I had a momentary freak out when I realized I could no longer get into my house. Granted, I didn't need in until I got off work at 5pm, but I REALLY don't like the idea of not being able to get into my own home. I decided that when I got off I would pop into Sara's and get the key we leave with her. By the end of the day, Ariel had decided to leave her car at my house in case the storm does hit. It floods by her apartment when it rains too hard, let alone a hurricane. Lucky for me, Ariel has a key to our house on her key ring! I got right in after work by using the front door. I paid the bills and when Travis got home he pulled the other half of the key out of the lock using pliers, then we headed to the grocery store. It was pure chaos there. Foresight?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fickle Ike

We are still awaiting the arrival of hurricane Ike. It's at a Category 2 right now and is expected to be a 4 before landfall. Since landfall is somewhere between Houston and Corpus Christi my work has given everyone Friday off. Travis has tomorrow AND Friday off. We are debating if we are ready to evacuate to David and Stephanie's house. I really do not want to evacuate. I don't know if I have emphasized this enough in past posts, but I am serious here. Rita was a disaster and I have no desire to relive that. But that may be our only option. Don't get me wrong, not having to go to work and partying with friends is always a blast. The expense is what gets us. Travis and I are having a "family meeting" tonight to decide what to do.

Either way we are going to the grocery store to pick up supplies. We probably have enough canned goods and water to last us 2 weeks without power, but it feels wrong to not be panicking with the masses. Our gas tanks are already topped off. Tomorrow we are prepping the lab for the hurricane.

Here's what the monster looks like right now. It is the same size as the fricking Gulf of Mexico. Awesome.


Here we go again!

Post-Worm Trauma

On the way home from work yesterday I decided to stop by the gas station. I like to be prepared for possible hurricane evacuations. I pull out onto the main street behind a police truck. And what do I see? po-LICE written on the back of the truck. I had worms on the brain! Even as I was leaving the gas station (thank you Randall's card for $3.05/gal!) I was quick to notice the bait and tackle stores that line the bay. Ugh! I was finally starting to feel about normal as I pulled into my driveway.

Just in time to check my cabinets for more worms! Sure enough, I found another worm hanging out in the bottom of a bag of chocolate covered peanuts that I bought in bulk from the grocery store. I'm thinking its going to be a little while before I can look at trail mix the same way...

I started this post off today hoping to mention a few things from David and Stephanie's last Sunday in town, but I kept thinking of the worms. Anyhoo, we had another lazy day, lounging around the house. There were pro-football games on TV and Stephanie was craving wings, so the guys grabbed a case of beer and some Wing Stop. Chris was out of town on a flight, so Alexa and Blair came over to hang out too. Stephanie threw some pj's on Wednesday so she could crawl around without getting rug burn, but I think it ended up being more of a hinderance. She was sliding around everywhere. Look at this concentration:


I decided to make a fruit pizza, something that my mom used to make every summer when I was a kid. When we made it for 4th of July, we focused on fruits that were red and blue. Brings back the happy memories of my young childhood. =) The "pizza" was delicious - we at the whole thing in one day! It was so pretty, Alexa recommended taking a photo. Great idea!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Wriggling Feeling

SO. I just wanted to throw this up really quick because it is totally blogworthy. I was just taking a break with Rachel and we were sharing the trail mix that I had brought in for this week. We take turns bringing in a batch and the one we were nibbling on happened to be the remnants of last week's bag. Rachel was telling some very entertaining story when all of a sudden she stops, stands up and says, "don't eat your trail mix" as she's walking over to the trash holding her hand under her mouth like her food is about to fall out. The two Russians we occasionally break with, and I, instinctively looked at the pile of trail mix that was on the table in front of where Rachel was sitting. AND THERE WAS A LITTLE WHITE GRUB WORM INCHING ITS WAY ACROSS THE PAPER TOWEL!!! A WORM!!! IN OUR FOOD!!! THAT I HAD JUST FINISHED EATING!!!

Ugh, I feel nauseous.

We both immediately downed what was left of our drinks. We contemplated drinking disinfectant from our lab, but decided the result would be worse than what we would face otherwise. Unfortunately, I downed my coffee. So now I'm trying to decide if it is the caffeine upsetting my stomach or the sneaking feeling that I have a million little worms squirming around in my belly.

We still can't remember what story Rachel was telling.

Ugh, I still feel nauseous...

Blair and Wednesday

Saturday was a lazy day. We were all a little hungover from staying out so late the night before. Travis originally thought he had to work all day, but they ended up letting everyone off at 3:30pm. The rest of us sat on our butts and watched TV and a movie (Singles). David took a nap at some point. Wednesday took several.

We made plans for that evening to go up to Chris and Alexa's. The boys all went wake boarding on Chris' boat and the ladies hung out while the babies played together. I have to tell you that was the sweetest thing I've ever seen! Blair is two months Wednesday's junior, but they got along very well. Blair is just beginning to sit up so they were able to interact easily. It was funny because Blair would get distracted by a toy, but then notice Wednesday again. She was so interested in him and I think they each really liked the other ones clothes.

Blair looks totally taken aback by this small child invading his space.


Again, put into a trance by the red-eye reducing light on my camera. Wednesday had just finished her baby biscuit, hence the food face.

Wednesday has just learned how to give kisses (which actually consists of open mouth touching your cheek). She was attempting to give Blair a kiss, but she was too far away to reach. When Stephanie scooted her closer I'm pretty sure Blair was saying, "Look Wednesday, you're cute and all, but I just don't think this age difference is going to work out for us."

After playtime, we went to the lake for dinner at a bar and restaurant that serves the best wood stove pizza in the area (according to us anyways). I sat in the back of Alexa's car with the kiddos. It is amazing how quickly babies quiet down with a car ride. I need to remember that...

The guys took the boat directly to the restaurant. They were running a little late, so we helped ourselves to some "pizza chips", or as Papa John's calls it, "cheesy bread". Delicious. Wednesday looked smashing in my sunglasses. Don't you think?


Before our plates came, Kai headed off for the night, which meant there was an open seat in the boat. Stephanie wanted to experience life on the lake, so she went home in the boat with the boys. Alexa and I took the babies back to her house. Wednesday and I played while Blair got a bath. They both really seemed to enjoy a Baby Einstein video that Alexa put in (another item I need to bank in my memory). Stephanie had a relaxing ride back with the guys. That area is so beautiful - the houses are huge on the water! I remember how amazed I was the first time I went out there in Kai's boat.

We were all exhausted still from staying up late the night before, so we went straight home after everyone got back and the boat was in the garage. I think my head hit the pillow at 10:42pm and I didn't wake up until 9 the next morning. It was some much needed rest. I just can't keep going like I used to. And I'm only 26!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Back to the 80's

I was very excited to go home this past Friday and not have to prepare the lab for a hurricane. Hannah went north, so we didn't have to worry about that one at all. We may be back to the same old routine this weekend with Hurricane Ike heading into the Gulf soon. What is up with this season?!

David had to work near where we live today, so he decided to come a few days early with Stephanie and Wednesday to spend another weekend with us. We found out that The Spazmatics, an 80's cover band, were playing at club near us. Shannon babysat Wednesday while six of us jumped into Travis' truck to head off and pick up another passenger on the way. Sara drove separately so she could leave early to go on her paper route.

We got to the club early because a friend told us the last time he went to see The Spazmatics, getting there an hour before the show was not early enough to get in the door. They are a very popular band, which makes seeing them a little more difficult than normal. We found out after we got there that you have to reserve a table the week before if you desire to sit down EVER. There is another section of the club for dancing to DJ music, so I had to take a break in there towards the end of the night. My feet were killing me and there were some women near me who seemed overly eager to start a fight (one of which whose boyfriend tried to pick a fight with Travis before the show even started - we got the bouncer to take care of that one for us). I'm just not into that sort of thing, so I decided to bail out before anyone downed anymore drinks. I really don't understand the fighting-mentality. Aren't we all there to have fun? Although, I suppose if I had a few more drinks in me, I may have been more willing to fight (as I have learned from previous experiences). Yikes.

Anyhoo, here is a photo we took at the beginning of the night. We had about a two hour wait for the first set, so we hung out in the dance part of the club, complete with two stripper poles.

Sara, me, Stephanie and Rachel


Popping the collar - 80's style - David, Travis and Scott


Sara, Chris R. and the Buds


Jenna and Stephanie, fighting the crowd
(Sara is in the background taking a photo of some other chicks)

We stayed until the end of the show before leaving. Thank you DD Travis!!! (Poor guy had to get up at 6 the next morning to go work in the Texas heat.) My hearing is still totally out of whack from the ridiculously loud speakers at the show. I'm getting old.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Inadequacies

I was talking to Jenna yesterday about going to her son's football season that just started and what she thinks of the other parents. She said they are all nice and most of them dedicate their lives to their child and this sport (football or cheerleading). It took a few minutes to work out the exact feelings she had about this topic, but it basically came down to this: "I feel like I'm not doing the "right" thing by not buying team shirts and being at every single practice and game." Jenna does go to almost every practice and I'm pretty sure she goes to every game. This takes up about four nights a week for her. THEN, the other parents basically force her into feeling guilty that she does not want to spend an extra night with them making banners for the games. Jenna said that most of these people are wealthy and the moms don't have to work, so they have plenty of free time to be doing these sorts of things.

I hate that Jenna feels guilty about not wanting to spend every waking moment dedicating her life to her son's football team. That is just not reasonable. And then, to have to talk to these wealthy women on a regular basis that she doesn't really have anything in common with, aside from the fact that their son's are all on the same team. I started to think about how I would feel in this situation and I think I would be uncomfortable around the "wealthy women". That is silly! They are not better than me and I am not better than them. For some reason I always end up feeling inadequate around people who have significantly more money than me. Why do I feel this way? I don't feel jealous. I have absolutely no desire to own Prada and Gucci. It's just not my thing. Even if I had all that money, I still wouldn't be buying beaded, embroidered shirts with my child's name and sport number on the back, in each color of the rainbow. There are more ways than that to support your kid.

I noticed on my way into work this morning that I have this issue with more than just people with money. I work at a teaching hospital, which means I am constantly surrounded by doctors or people becoming doctors (PhD and MD). Maybe this goes back to the fact that they probably have more money than me, or will have more money than me in the future. I do need to mention that I don't feel this way about anyone in the lab I work (despite the fact that I am the ONLY one without a PhD or in the process of getting one). Maybe because researchers tend to actually not have very much money? But then again, this is not something that I consciously consider.

Here's what happened to me this morning: I was walking into work and there was this young woman getting out of her SUV. She looked up and saw me and asked if I thought another car would have enough room to fit in front of her. I decided yes. Then we both took off in the same direction. Once we had crossed the street, she asked if I was a first year or second year, referring to my year in school. I explained that I was not a student and that I "just" work here. She asked me a couple more questions about where stuff is on campus. This is common this time of year because there are students starting their first semester and don't know their way around yet. She was very polite to me and never said anything negative, but for some reason I all of a sudden felt inadequate in the fact that I "just work here".

I honestly have no desire to go back to school right now. Partially because I don't know what I would go to school for exactly, and partially because I don't feel like dealing with the costs and the time it would consume. Why do I feel this way?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Beach Babies

The Saturday after David and Stephanie arrived we had a whole day to play. First we stopped for Vietnamese food and then ran up to the mall to exchange a dress I had bought for Wednesday. It turns out she already had that one (matches the hat she's wearing in the first photo below)! It's okay though because we found another one that is super cute (brown with multi-color polka dots) with matching Bear Bottom tights. Travis bought himself a couple hats and then we headed to Target. We needed to find Wednesday a swimsuit for her first trip to the beach. After running the errands, we stopped at the house to change into beachwear. Chris and Alexa were already planning to take Blair to the beach, so it was perfect timing! Wednesday and Blair had their first beach experience together.

Bikini clad baby


Daddy covered her with sand and she was so enthralled with it. We were waiting for her to put it in her mouth, but that moment, thankfully, never came.


Blair and Wednesday meet. On the beach!


I don't know what it is, but there is just something extra sexy about my husband holding a baby. ; )


Post-beach bath for Wedders


It was a nice, laid back day to catch up with David and Stephanie and the life of Wednesday. I wish we had more time like this. And we may have more soon! They are coming back to town this weekend because David will be making a stop at one of his business locations near here. AND THEN they are suppose to come back on the weekend of the 20th for David's birthday. Weehoo! It's the month of Davwedanie!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Miracle Method

Our friends Chris and Shannon started their own business last year called Miracle Method. It has offices nation-wide, but they are in charge of this area. They offered to do the sink in our half-bath as a belated house-warming gift. Chris came over this morning and finished sometime this afternoon. I told Shannon it was like Christmas for adults - I left home with a dreary, yellow faux-marble sink and came home to a brand new white and cappuccino faux-granite sink. WOW! Here are the results (I love it!):


The close-up:


It is still drying and we are not suppose to touch it for at least 24 hours. Needless to say, that room is shut off from our furry friends. I can't wait to go buy new bathroom decor. That room needs a splash of color.

[Check out the rest of the photos on Flickr.]

Friday in Photos

David, Stephanie and Wednesday got to our house Friday evening. Shannon, Chris, Sara, JR and Logan all came over to visit with them. Nothing too crazy - I just made a frozen lasagna and Shannon brought over a cranberry-walnut salad. Pretty laid back.

Logan's impression of JR. And a good one at that.


A very excited Stephanie. Lol!


Travis, a booger bulb and a beer.


Wednesday and the boys


CrAzY haired Wednesday



Wednesday was absolutely terrified of Travis the first time she saw him on Friday. We think she was just tired and freaking out a little because she went to sleep in a car she knows very well and woke up in a strange house. Poor kiddo! She did a little better once Travis took off his hat. By the end of the weekend they were old buds again. Phew!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Mountain Fresh

No time to do any serious blogging this morning - hopefully tonight though. It was a busy weekend! In the meantime...


I walked out to the garage this morning to throw in another load of laundry, only to find that the washer had shaken the liquid detergent off onto the floor. Which, in turn, resulted in a lake of laundry detergent filling our garage. Bad news is there is a horrible sticky residue that Travis and I have to figure out how to remove (it flowed under the washer and dryer making it difficult to just hose out). Good news is the horrible stench of stale beer that filled the garage yesterday from a few wild games of beer pong has now been replaced by a pleasant mountain fresh scent.

**Update**

Cleaning up that laundry detergent was a miserable, painstaking process. Here's the mess:


Here are the soap suds created only from washing off the few items that were sitting in the soap:

First, Travis scraped up as much of the detergent as possible with a shovel and we wiped up a little more with paper towels:

Second, Travis mopped up the dried spots (basically to just get it wet):


Third and lastly, we spent 30 minutes spraying the soap out the open garage doors with a hose and sweeping as much of the soapy water out as possible. The entire garage floor is now covered in a white film. Well, that took care of the spilled beer... I guess...

Monday, September 1, 2008

Party Photos

Travis' party was a blast! We went through 35 burgers, 16 hot dogs, 165 Jell-O shots and a keg of Bud Light. Thankfully, the mosquitoes were never much of a problem. It was REALLY hot and there was NO wind during the day. Shannon and Chris brought over some fans to set up and help out with that irritation. I really shouldn't be complaining though because we were lucky enough to avoid Hurricane Gustav. This party had by far the largest baby-child population than any I have thrown before. It was pretty wild. I made chocolate-peanut butter brownies, complete with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups on top for the birthday "cake". Travis made out like a bandit in the gift department. Everyone got him t-shirts! Lol! Just what he wanted!

Wednesday wore her new polka dot dress.


Shannon gave Stephanie a break from taking care of Wednesday. (Look at how cute Shannon's new hair cut is!)




Travis' co-worker, Jeremy, came to the party with his wife and daughter. Addison was so cute - she kept wanting me to hold her!


Alexa and Blair made their own breeze in the hammock.



Nadya and Alexey (both from Russia) came to the party too. I used to work with Nadya.

Chris W., enjoying a burger under the tent...

Kai and Melinda ate burgers as they watched a game of Ladder Golf.


Chef Chris ate while he slaved away at the firey pits.


Aaaaannnnddd, Travis did a beer stand. Yup.


Chris poured the beer for a Kai and Seth's game of Beer Pong.

Melinda and Jenna were worthy pong opponents.


Ariel and I!



My co-worker Rachel and her boyfriend Scott toughed out the heat.



Sara stopped by before heading off to work at the end of the night.


Da Boyz: JR, Travis, Logan, David and Callaway

I think the birthday boy may have enjoyed his party. =)