Sunday, September 28, 2008

Clean-up at the Merritt House

I think I mentioned before that our neighbor had cleaned up the debris from our front yard. We had picked up a bunch of the big limbs, smaller sticks and shingles from another neighbor's house before we left for our hurrication. But, the yard still looked pretty bad when we left. Ron had us looking ship-shape when we drove up last Sunday.

Still, there was plenty of work to do in the back yard. Olivia helped Will by filling up the wagon with the limbs and sticks that she could lift and helped take them to the street. Then, the moment she had been waiting for, she got out the leaf blower!

McIver "had to have the goggles to keep the leaves from getting in his eyes!"
He had a turn with the leaf blower, too.

Hurricane Clean-Up

Huge piles of debris in front of every house on every street.

A church sign near our house.
Power Company trucks - a site for sore eyes. These guys (and girls) have been working so hard to get people's homes back up and running. The ones who came into our neighborhood were from Missouri and have been working dawn-to-dusk since their arrival in Houston.
Hallalujah! McIver's school has power so they will be up and running on Monday!!!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Columbia Hurrication

After a few days in Macon, we went to Columbia to get some 'work' done in anticipation of our move.
The kids spent the day on Thursday at Heathwood Hall. When we dropped McIver off with his teacher, he pretty much jumped right in and helped himself to the toys, especially the kid-sized broom and dust pan (note to self: let McIver use the dust broom and pan at home more often!). As we left McIver with his teacher, Olivia turned to me and gritted her teeth telling me: I'm NOT doing this. I assured her that she'd be fine and have fun as we walked to one of the 1st grade classrooms. And, as predicted, she did fine and had fun.
Will and Tupp spent Thursday afternoon playing golf and then we all had dinner at the Isemans' house. Morgan had soccer practice so I played with the kids at their house for a little while. I loved hanging out with Mary Frances - she is adorable! Sadly, I never did get a picture of her. But, here are the big kids on their scooters.
Will met with the folks at SCOA on Friday morning. No new news there, just talked about his need to get his SC license, that they'll get our internet hooked up when we move, etc. We also had a tour of Hammond while we were there. We were impressed with the school, considering that we had never even stepped foot on the campus before. It's really pretty and has a lot of space for being right in the middle of town. The kids loved the reading tree houses in the kindergarten classrooms.
GranGran took time to drive up to Columbia for a quick visit on Friday. We had lunch together at McAlisters, Olivia's favorite place to go in Columbia. I'm also sad to say that this is the only picture I have of Mamoo from our trip. She was in good spirits while we were there and we loved having the chance to spend some time with her.
We met the McKains at the Greek Festival in downtown Columbia on Friday night. The kids enjoyed a few rides and bounce houses before we decided to find some dinner. The lines were long (and that is a complete understatement!) so we piled in the McKains car and went to Villa Tronco for a pizza dinner. The kids had a great time, to the great displeasure of the other diners.

Chase, Maggie & Olivia had a fun time hanging out.

Goofing off in the front waiting area.

School Update

We got a message last night from Olivia's school that children will be returning to school on Monday. The school still does not have power, but they will use a generator if the power is not restored by then. Lots of kids were able to be there yesterday for the outside activities that were held. They played games and had a snack and the chance to tell their hurricane stories. From what I can tell, Olivia had fun being there and hanging out with her friends again.

She went to her friend Lydia's house last night and spent the night. This was her first sleep over with a friend here in Houston (not counting the many sleep-overs with the Stricklins and our house and theirs!). She got home about an hour ago and said it was great fun.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Good news!!

When we got home from church last night - POWER HAD BEEN RESTORED!!   Will and Olivia got home first and called to tell me the good news.  I heard Olivia in the background saying (in a not-so-soft voice):  Don't tell her we have power, let it be a surprise!  So, the cat was out of the bag, and I'll admit that I got a little teary.  Will was busy unplugging extension cords and getting our house back in order by the time I got home.  

Street lights are still out all over town so it takes longer than normal to get anywhere.  Both of our grocery stores are still powered by generators so they don't have any frozen/refrigerated foods.  Both Olivia and McIver's schools are still without power.  Kolter (O's school) will have a few hours of class tomorrow.  Since there's no power, they will have classes outside for those who are able to get there (and who are able to even know that it is an option).  McIver's school, from what I understand, suffered a bit of water damage and might not be able to open for a little while even after electricity is restored.  

All in all, we can't complain about our circumstances.  There are a lot of silver linings to our Hurricane Ike experience.  Olivia was able to celebrate her birthday with family, we had some extra time with Nanoo, Pop and Cacoo in Macon and Mamoo and Ginny in Columbia.  We also had lots of time to drive around Columbia checking out neighborhoods, visiting schools and friends.  I have some pictures from our time with the Isemans and McKains that I will post once internet access is available at home.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Let the Hurrication Begin

Just a few pictures from our 'evacuation-vacation' in Macon so far this week.

Sunday morning, as soon as we woke up and were somewhat coherent, the kids headed to the pool! The big waterfall is very cool, and apparently feels very good when you let it fall right on top of your head. I wouldn't know - the water was too darn cold for me to get in past my knees.

Nothing like a water gun...
Will was at his happiest when he returned from the golf course and helped Pop with grilling the steaks. We ate by the pool and were totally relaxed.The kids got a little Hurricane Present - a new scooter! Who knew there was such a thing!? Now they can't wait for the next hurricane.
It took Mac just a little while to get the hang of it. He was just so amazed:
"I wanted a scooter for my birthdday, but I got it for a Hurricane Present so that is SO cool!"
Olivia's buddies have scooters so she took off! (And, was a little brave going down Nanoo's hill. She TOTALLY wiped out and has quite the banged up knee, palms and even a scratch on her face to prove it.)
Mac loves the bell on the tricycle because it's loud. I love it because it lets me know he's still in the vicinity.

Olivia's 7th Birthday

Olivia was such a trooper about having to cancel her birthday, but we still were able to celebrate in Macon. Thanks in part to Nanoo and Pop, Olivia had a wonderful 7th birthday! This was the first time that she has celebrated with them since her 1st brithday in Greenville. Cacoo invited some friends over and Grandma Janet was there, too, so the house was full.

Quick picture with Mom before the party started. We started with opening presents and then had pizza for dinner.
So glad that Grandma Janet could join us.
Showing off her new sunglasses and pocketbook - Hannah Montana, of course.
Being silly with Dad.
For various reasons, Olivia was not able to open her 'big' gift for this year - a new iPod nano. We printed a picture of it and she opened that but here she is looking at the Apple website to see how cool her iPod will be when she finally gets it. We picked it up from the FedEx delivery center just last week and, after searching for a wireless internet connection to borrow, we were finally able to upload some songs and videos for her.
Grandma Myrtle was on her way to Olivia's party, but had not gotten our message that the time had changed. We were glad we caught her - we headed to meet Will at the golf course for a little play time. Anyway, both Olivia and McIver opened their birthday gifts from Grandma Myrtle right in the middle of the street. They loved it - and loved seeing Grandma Myrtle, even if only for a few minutes.
Will helping Olivia on the Par 3 course.
McIver taking a break to eat some ice.
Olivia took it very seriously for about a hole and a half.
He looks like he's taking it seriously.

McIver was under the weather

The days are running together a bit, but McIver woke up one day complaining of an upset tummy. He even got sick a few times. So, Nanoo set up a pallet for him on the floor in the sunroom. When I walked in to take this picture, he was watching HGTV, so it was very clear that he wasn't himself.

Later that same afternoon, THIS is what he looked like.
Here they are in the not-so-hot-tub.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

School's Out

Just saw on the HISD website that all schools are closed through this week. Still no power at our house, but we heard from our neighbor that the power company predicted tomorrow (Wed) they might be able to get us back up and running.

So, we're glad that we made the decision to leave when we did. Tonight will be our last night in Macon and then we'll go to Columbia. The kids will spend Thursday at Heathwood Hall and we will all tour Hammond on Friday. Will already has a golf game planned with Tupp for Thursday afternoon.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Aftermath of Hurricane Ike

We went to bed as soon as the power went out - about 9:30. The kids started out on the sofa bed together. Olivia has a pretty big limb outside her bedroom window (the one Will tied up on Thursday) so we didn't want her sleeping in her room. Anyway, Will woke up about 11 when the rain started. Olivia came into our room about 1:45am. The wind was really whipping around by then. She and Will went back to the living room.

My heart began to race earlier in the day just now knowing what to expect. When I heard the roar of the wind, it picked up the pace quite a bit. I've never heard anything like that before - it sounded like constant waves crashing. Creaking limbs and trees, windows and doors rattling. It really was scary.

Olivia came back to join me after some amount of time. We held each other close and said a few prayers out loud - I had been saying the same thing over and over in my head for hours and wanted her to know that I had been talking to God. "Please, God, keep our family and friends safe." At some point, Olivia finally fell back asleep - I could tell b/c of the heavy breathing and the fact that she was flailing her arms and kicking me with abandon!

Mama finally texted me at about 6am to see how we were faring. Rather than text back and forth, I decided to see if the lines were clear enough to just call her. The call went right through and she told me that it looked like the storm was right on top of us. I was sitting in Olivia's room watching that tree bend back and forth so her insight wasn't particularly helpful. It was incredible - I was amazed that it was able to stand back up every time - must have been Will's fantastic Boy Scout tying job that kept the biggest limb from just snapping right off!

I also heard from Gay that they were all awake and in the bathroom together. They ended up with some pretty significant damage.

When I returned to my room, Olivia was coming to and ready to pose for a picture. You might notice that she had forgotten about the loss of power and immediately reached for the remote control. Too bad!

McIver - not so much! He stayed asleep through the opening and closing of the backdoor (our attempt to prove to the cat that she did not want any part of Ike), countless text msg notifications on both our cell phones and even a few phone calls. Olivia ate breakfast and brought her new Surf Shop into the living room and was not being particluarly quiet. McIver slept through it all.
Once both kids were up, fed and dressed, we went out to survey the damage. We fared relatively well. The kids had a great time collecting acorns for the squirrels. The shingles that were in our yard were not from our roof.
Part of the gutter had fallen from the front of the house.
The fence was easily blown over. You might also notice the downed power line. They were saying that it could take several weeks before power is fully restored.
We also went for a walk around the neighborhood. A huge, huge tree had fallen across the road making it completely impassable. The bayou that runs perpendicular to our street usually looks like a small creek but looked like a river. Limbs, shingles and other debris were scattered everywhere. It was like nothing I've ever seen.
So, after much debate and consideration, we decided to pack up and try to get out of town. The radio guys kept getting reports of bad weather to the north where Ike was still passing through, but we were headed east so we hoped for the best.
We left our house at 3:30pm on Saturday. The roads were actually more crowded than we thought they would be. Will was nervous that he had taken the south loop which passes through the most low-lying areas of Houston. We made it out to I-10 with no trouble, but could see that Highway 288 which leads into downtown was completely underwater. Debris from the Port of Houston was all up in the freeway so we knew the water had come up that far. We did have to take a detour to get around a 45 mile (give or take) stretch of I-10 that was underwater.
Let me tell you - the detour was a sight to see. We saw more downed power lines, telephone poles and trees than I've ever seen. At that point, we knew who they were talking about when they predicted 'certain death.' Mobile homes were everywhere and either totally destroyed or flooded. It ended up taking twice as long as normal (3 hours rather than 1 1/2 hours) to get to Beaumont, but once we hit the other side of Beaumont, it was smooth sailing. It was eery to be on the road with no street lights.
After 14 hours, we made it into Macon at 6:30 this morning. Will, McIver and I went back to sleep but Olivia stayed up and played Uno with Nanoo (beat her 5 times in a row, I might add!) and killed time waiting for us to get up.

Before Hurricane Ike

After a relaxing morning with the Stricklins, Olivia spent much of the day on Friday with Shannon & Reagan. They swam in a neighbor's pool, watched a neighbor practice archery and just played a whole lot. Olivia was even able to open a birthday gift early - the Hannah Montana Surf Shop. She loves it!

Storm clouds started really rolling in late Friday afternoon.
McIver got in his last bit of computer time before the power went out.
The winds really started to pick up around 7 or 8:00.
Will and I sat on the front porch listening to the wind and talking with various neighbors who were wandering the neighborhhod.

Friday, September 12, 2008


So we spent yesterday afternoon preparing for Ike's arrival and ended up going down to the Stricklins' house for a little Hurri-cation (as opposed to vacation or stay-cation). We had a great time just hanging out and not fretting a whole lot about the storm (well, we did fret about the fact that next week's trip to Galveston is probably going to be adversely affected - those thoughts were confirmed when we woke up this morning and started watching The Weather Channel).

Don & Will enjoying the cooler weather and oh-so-slight breeze.
Sam & me just hanging out - LOVE him!
Abby & Olivia saying their good-byes this morning.
Now we're home. Olivia is at a friend's house playing. The wind is definitely picking up and the weather forecasters' voices are getting more high-pitched and anxious. Despite what the news folks are saying, we are not 'facing certain death' on our street. We'll keep you posted.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hurricane Preparedness: Merritt Style

McIver bringing in one of the little picnic benches.
Olivia retrieving a chair from the playhouse.
Assembly line of outdoor furniture.
Charlotte couldn't care less.
McIver was oh-so helpful to Will's effort to keep a pretty big limb from falling on the house.
Olivia's exercise in futility - sweeping the front porch. Really, with 100 mph winds, do you think this is going to matter?
The first clouds started rolling in about 5:30 this afternoon.