Happy Birthday to my "Money Guy!" If you'd like to wish him happy birthday, or are looking for someone to help make sure you have money for retirement some far-off day, just shoot him an email at: anthony.patton (at) tx.rr.com
For those of you who are new around here, unless you've gone back and read the 600 or so posts I've done, you have no way of knowing this is the 2nd Anniversary of Meanderings. It's not at all the kind of anniversary you'd celebrate, though.
Two years ago today, my Mom was diagnosed with a tumor at the base of her skull. This blog started out as simply a way to keep everyone up to speed. To answer questions clearly and thoroughly -- something that's very difficult when you're crying and your head is spinning and you have no idea where things are headed.
To begin with, we had hope. But that last hurdle was just one too many. Mom didn't have the fight left in her, and the tumor was too big, too involved.
She passed away July 21, 2007 -- a month and a day after that diagnosis. She was only 61.
If you have stuck around all this time, you know that God worked in that situation every single day -- that the details He put in place couldn't have been achieved otherwise. That our every need was covered, and that by showing us He had all the details taken care of, we were assured that God had the Big Picture in hand.
Since then, Meanderings has become a way to stay in touch with those of you who loved my Momma dearly. A way to continue to fill you in on the antics and achievements of Abbie and Kait. An outlet for mourning. A place to rejoice. A place to share more about breast cancer and the 3-Day than I could share anywhere else. The cheapest brand of therapy on Earth.
Thanks for hanging in there with me. And please bear with me for the next month or so.
Today was the two-year mark. And I survived. With Joy still in my heart.
Maybe all that healing that took place yesterday was a gift from my angel up above.
This time in Texas City -- in an aboveground pool. They say those are the most dangerous -- that when you have a permanent pool you have a heightened level of preparedness and an awareness of the danger that you don't get with a temporary pool.
It breaks my heart.
But I did hear one thing that might make a difference. If you ever find a child in a near-drowning experience, you can do the Heimlich maneuver on them first, before starting CPR. It expels water from the lungs and allows room for your air to to be breathed in. Otherwise, the lungs may be full of water and doing CPR won't make a difference.
I pray that's a piece of information you never have to use.
When you live in a place that's as big as Houston, you don't realize it's a small town that just got bigger over time. But it is.
Yesterday, we saw on the news that a 2-year-old had drowned in Spring, in the family's backyard pool. Looking at the map, I knew the family lived very close to our friends Randy and Danielle. I wondered if they knew them....
Then this morning I found out friends of ours from Cypress do know them. These two families are very, very close. Please pray for Steve & Kim Sommer and their kids. And please pray for the Proske family as they minister to the Sommers.
Sadly, drowning is a major cause of death for children in Texas. And you don't always realize the devastation that near-drownings cause as well. My friend Amy just did an interview in Dallas on keeping your kids safe during the summer. She has some great suggestions.
It's hurricane season, and that strikes a chord down here on the Gulf Coast. There are TONS of resources you can use to find out how to prepare for a hurricane (Fema, Hurricane Tips, Ready.Gov.) All of these are excellent resources. If you're right on the Coast, you should follow them to the letter --particularly the evacuation part if that's recommended for you.
However, up here in Farfield, we've got a different hurricane scenario. Many of the tips on these sites will help you. But here, storm surge isn't a factor. Wind is. We're encouraged to shelter in place, rather than evacuating -- and that creates some of its own issues that aren't really addressed in government preparedness websites.
I've been thinking I need to put together my own survival guide -- based on extensive experience gathered during Hurricane Ike -- my first ever hurricane. Hopefully it will help you be more prepared -- and will provide a checklist for our family to follow as well.
You have a friend in me. During a hurricane you need lots of friends. Friends like Suzi are great to have. Suzi bought bottled water for me when Tropical Storm / Hurricane / Tropical Storm Eduardo interrupted our summer vacation and forced us home. Unprepared. Tropical Storm Eduardo was a good little storm for us -- it got me motivated to get my stockpiles together -- something that came in handy when Hurricane Ike arrived.
Water, Water, Water. I cannot stress this enough. The recommended amount is a gallon per person per day. I don't think that's enough. We were blessed with a cool front after Ike, but I'm thinking we might have gone through more if it hadn't cooled down. The other night on TV we saw this cool bladder thing that you put in your bathtub to store water. WAY COOL. Bottled water is absolutely impossible to come by with a hurricane bearing down on you -- or in the aftermath, for that matter. You don't want to go foraging outside the neighborhood unless you absolutely have to. It's so much better to build your stockpile now, well in advance. You'll be glad you did.
You Can't Turn Water into Wine. Sorry. It worked for Jesus, but it's not going to work for you. I recommend you stockpile more beer, wine, etc. than you'll ever think you can drink in a week. From the hurricane watching parties the night before to the neighborhood dinners that'll keep you social the week after, you're going to drink more in a week than you ever thought possible. More than you drank in college. Okay, maybe not. But a lot. I am not, in any way, suggesting you go on a drunken binge. But you're going to find yourself hosting neighborhood BBQ's and being invited to dinner at your friends' houses.
Turn Down the Redneck a Bit. At this point, I have to stress something. After you've had all that beer, please don't go thinking you can solve the neighborhood's electricity issues with your F150 4x4. At no point should you try to pull pine trees off electric lines with your truck. No matter how many of your buddies convince you it's a good idea.
Snacks, Snacks, Snacks. With not much to do, you'll be amazed at how much your kids will want to snack. We stockpile snacks in the cabinet above the refrigerator. If we don't need them for a hurricane (as in 2007), we use them for school snacks after hurricane season is over (November.) You don't waste that food, by any means. But take it from me, if you think the shelves at Wal-Mart are bare on Sunday evening, try the day before the hurricane.
Plan Your Meals. I absolutely did not do this, and it's one of the number-one things I'll do differently this year. I did what the lists say.... Bought tuna and canned fruit and all that jazz. But I didn't really plan. For his first post-hurricane meal, Biggsy had a can of Chunky Soup -- eaten at room temperature out of the can. Blech. Don't worry -- our diets improved greatly over the next few days. We ate pretty much every meal with the Jeans for the next week. We had grilled fish over here and the most incredible chicken lasagna over there. Hot dogs on both sides of the street. Brownies and pound cake and cookies.... more desserts in a week than our families consume in a month. I think we all gained 10 pounds. But here's where that planning comes in. It's awfully hard to get Asiago cheese when you can't find a grocery store with electricity. A little planning goes a long ways!
Get Some Gas! I'm not talking about the Beans, Beans, Musical Fruit kind. Gas for your grill should be your first priority. If you think planning a cook-out, only to find out you're out of gas is disappointing, you really don't want to face a hurricane without it. Two full gas tanks would be a great start. This is another thing you don't want to leave until the last minute.
If you've got a generator, you need to be thinking another kind of gas, entirely. We learned a hard lesson last year. We didn't have a generator -- that is going to be remedied any day now. But in the meantime, we didn't have to deal with the gas shortage, either. This year will be a whole new ball game. Brace yourself -- gasoline will be more scarce than a woolly mammoth. The lines to get gas are so long that you might as well just get back in line after you fill up -- you're going to use your tank just sitting there. You really can't have too many of those cute little red jugs in your garage -- just please store them safely.
Speaking of Safety.... After Hurricane Ike, the majority of children with Carbon Monoxide issues were using their Daddy's generators to play their Wii, Playstation, etc. YIKES. Generator Safety is HUGE.
Construction Zone. Remember, before and after the hurricane your neighborhood will be a construction zone. Last year, the first fatality of Hurricane Ike was a little boy whose Dad was trimming trees in their front yard, and a limb fell on him. On both sides of a hurricane, children are exposed to hazards that they don't normally face. Electric lines are HUGELY scary --we had a front-row seat to the power those things display when aggravated. What's more, you have people operating chainsaws and generators and all sorts of stuff that really don't know what they're doing. Please be careful.
This isn't Disneyland. Your kids are going to be bored. Very bored. If they're out of school, they really aren't going to know what to do with themselves. In the summers, at least, the high school kids have jobs that keep them busy. But when everything is shut down, they just roam. I've kind of wondered if the teen pregnancy rate jumped after the hurricane. I know that Houston is having a Hurricane Ike Baby Boom this month....
My kids are nowhere near that roaming age, but boy, they were bored. The novelty of it all wore off in about 30 minutes. And you can only do so much driving around the neighborhood to look at fallen fences and trampolines in the street. This year, I'll have a plan. I'll have one new treat for the girls every day for a week. A new game to play, a new toy to play with -- something. If we don't have a hurricane come through, I'll consider that part of my Christmas shopping -- done! Crafts are great, too. Family Fun magazine is chock full of ideas for crafty kids. Paper mache, repurposing plastic bottles, a zillion ways to use a pipe cleaner. What if your family learned to make a pinata, stuffed it with pre-purchased treats and then busted it at one of the post-hurricane neighborhood events. How cool would that be??
Don't Jump on It. Take your trampoline down and put it in the garage. It will only become a weapon during a hurricane. Taking down portable basketball goals is also a good idea. When one of those falls on your truck, it tends to leave a mark.
Frozen Water Bottles Rock! Part of the reason we didn't have an over-abundance of water was because we froze most of it. My thought was that as the bottles thawed out we'd use them for drinking water. It didn't quite work like that. The upside was that we didn't lose any meat to the Hurricane. The downside was that Biggsy wouldn't let me open the freezer door to get one of my water bottles out! The upside was that our electricity was restored very quickly and we were able to donate those frozen water bottles to some people who really needed them. We've had a few bottles that have hung around since the Hurricane, and they've been great for keeping stuff cold in our ice chests. We just keep re-freezing them. And I'm pretty sure they'd make a great weapon if our lives were threatened.
I Heard it Through the Grapevine. Never before has my social network been so important -- the source of news! After the Hurricane, the TV channels started broadcasting over the radio. It was a great source of information. The only downside was that they'd be talking about pictures we couldn't see. Friends were our link to real info -- as evidenced by the Texting bill I received for my phone the next month. Without any phone service, it really was our only way to communicate.
If You Can Build It, They Will Come. The only damage we had was a lost pine tree that we never liked in the first place. But we have friends that had extensive property damage -- even up here in the wind -- not flood -- zone. You really do need to have important numbers and documents handy -- your insurance guy, an already-vetted disaster recovery / reclamation company, and others.
Don't Forget the Little Things. Toilet paper. Batteries. Cell phone charger for the car. Fingernail polish. Flashlights. Bottle opener. Can opener. Frisbees. Just picture yourself going on a week-long camping trip with very few frills.
Be Prepared to Relax. Biggsy doesn't relax well. But I'll tell you, one of the biggest benefits of Hurricane Ike was his being forced to relax. No contact with work was a break he needed!
Abbie has the flu. What's more, we didn't pick up on it AT ALL until she struck out twice last night and started running a fever this morning.
Seriously, when the doctor asks you to list your child's symptoms and they include: struck out twice, head not in the game, didn't care about snacks, wasn't excited that her team won, almost cried when she didn't win the 5th pitch game, hasn't hit the ball out of the infield in a week, and her eyes just look blah.... Oh, and she's running temperature.... You know you're a Softball Mom.
At this point, we've probably exposed pretty much all of Fairfield Softball, as well as a few dinosaurs at the museum.
Abbie made the All-Stars this year for the first time!!! They've decided to name themselves the Fireballs -- pretty appropriate since the team is a combination of the Flames, the Firecrackers and the Explosion.
Most of the team gathered at our house to hang out yesterday afternoon. We watched started to watch the 1976, Rated PG version of the Bad News Bears. YIKES. That soon came to a screeching halt. The language wasn't quite appropriate.
So we switched to HS Musical 3 for the 28,089,098 time. The girls still love it!
We painted fingernails and braided hair and headed to the game.
Abs got an out at 3rd. Go Abbie!
Unfortunately, though, we've known the past couple of days that something was up with her. We didn't know if she was intimidated by the new crop of girls that are SUCH good hitters, or what. But we could tell something was up. She hasn't been swinging hard, hasn't had her head in the game, and has been close to tears a couple of times.
Last night, hits were hard for her to come by. Our girl who has only struck out once or twice all year struck out twice last night. She just wasn't with the program. I was at wit's end. Something has been up. After the game, she went to sleep EARLY without eating dinner. And then, this morning she arrived in my room running temperature and complaining of a "funny taste" in her throat when she swallows.
Well, that kind of explains it! We've got an appointment for her with Dr. Trotter at 2:00, and I'm crossing my fingers that she'll be 100% by 9:00 tomorrow morning!
Here's a picture of her one good hit!!
And the run she scored...
At the bottom of the 5th, the other team turned a triple play on us. YIKES! It's the first one we've seen. Boom, boom, boom! Three girls out and the game was tied at 15. We went an extra inning and ended up winning 16-15. GREAT GAME!
If you're through the Houston area anytime this summer, the Houston Museum of Natural Science (www.hmns.org) is showing Night at the Museum 2 on their IMAX. The tickets are a bit pricey, but it does include admission to the museum. Better yet, you could talk your Mimi into getting you a membership -- ours has been one of the best Christmas gifts the girls have ever had! This trip, we had free parking and discount movie tickets courtesy of our membership. It was great!
We took our good buddy Kat with us and toured the museum before the show.
Because it's summer, they have all sorts of extras set up. This really cool guy gave the girls a lesson in acids & bases and taught them how to blow up a balloon with vinegar and baking soda. Too cool!
Here, a volunteer teaches the girls about horseshoe crabs. The girls taunted the crabs with ice cream.
What a weekend! It's been softball all the time around here for the last week. On Friday, our team holed up at Casa Biggs to "Beat the Heat" and get ready for a tough championship game on Friday. We did all sorts of important team-building exercises -- painted fingernails (Those are little yellow softballs with red stitching on their fingernails. I know. I'm good.), watched H.S. Musical, and ate pizza.
Friday evening, most of the team gathered up at the field to watch the Craze play the Firecrackers. The Craze won, which set us up to play them Saturday morning.
A special game like this deserved special treatment, right? Well... Here's the deal. There were three games at the field on Saturday. Kait's team, the SweeTees Flames were finishing up their undefeated season -- with the promise that they could hit coach pitches for the first time. Abbie's team, the Darling Flames, had to win their first game at 11:00 to wrap up the championship, or they'd have to play again at 12:30. AND our friend Hailey Angst's team, the Angels Flames were the same boat -- but at 4:00.
A little decorating was in order, don't you think??
Kait's team started the morning, and the action, off with a bang! Most of her team wasn't sure if they knew how to hit Coach Pitch or not, but they were ready to try!
Our sweet Kaitlyn did a terrific job -- her Momma was so excited I accidentally stopped the video. Oh well! You get the picture!
On to Abbie's game. This was one of those heart-stopping games. The girls just didn't start off too well -- like they were asleep or something. They finally got going in about the 3rd inning. The Craze, coming off a win the night before, came on strong at first, but was losing steam by the 3rd. There was no way we wanted another game at 12:30.
But boy, we had some incredible plays! Savannah and Elayne both hit Triples! And key ones at that! We came from behind, but at the bottom of the 5th, when our girls stepped up to bat, it was 14-11. Not good.
We needed four runs. Four runs to wrap it up. And we got them. In the process, though, we had two out. But Elayne got a great hit at the end and the girls won 15-14!!! Whoo-hoo!! On to Nestle's!!!
To top it all off, the Angels Flames won their game as well! What a day!!!
We're not quite done with softball, though. We have two team parties to go. AND Abbie made the All-Stars, so she's got two games to play this week! Go Red Team!!
Please pray for Jacquie (Biggsy's Mama). She's having an angio / balloon / stint done today at 1:00 at St. Luke's in The Woodlands. Pray especially for a sense of peace to cover her fully. She's scared.
We covet your prayers.
Update: Thanks for your prayers! The procedure went well yesterday. The blockage in the heart turned out to be false positive on the test. The blockage in the renal artery wasn't enough to require the balloon.
The downside to this: We still don't know what has been causing her problems.
I had to post this. I think it's Kait's natural tendancy to back up the first baseman. Even if it's a friend of hers playing on the other team. Especially if it's a friend of hers playing on the other team!
All these great photos and stories and all that jazz are under copyright. Do not use these photos, anecdotes, stories and other assorted "stuff" without permission of yours truly. I mean it. Don't make me give you the mean mommy look. It gives me wrinkles.
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I'm the wife of a really great guy and stay-at-home mom to two beautiful girls. I'm a princess because I'm a daughter of The King. These days, much of my time is spent shuffling kids from point A to point B, training/fundraising for the Breast Cancer 3-Day (60 miles in 3 Days!), and juggling the Family Circus that is my life. I'm a transplanted farm girl trying to blend what I know with life in the big city. I'm addicted to Mamma Mia -- the best musical I've ever seen. I love to wear jackets. I miss my Mom. A lot. I love Karen Kingsbury's books -- anxiously awaiting the publication of each. My IPod is my most-used accessory. I love to paint -- not art, but rooms! When the going gets tough, I start baking.