Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ice, Ice, Baby...

Four weeks ago I was beginning day two in our house without power and somewhat shut off from the world. Tom and I joked with the kids that it would be fun to "play Amish." (There is an Amish community close by my parents' home. We soon learned that there wasn't anything funny about that. We awoke on Tuesday, January 27, to find that there was ice EVERYWHERE. I mean INCHES of ice. Tom had made it safely to work, but freezing rain was continuing. We lost power at 9:40 a.m. I thought it would come back on...soon. Our phone was also cutting in and out (for days). I was thankful for my cell phone - which became my lifeline! - and my car charger.
Luckily, we have a gas fireplace in our home and we had gas in the tank. The boys and I kept close to the fireplace. They played board games and I scrapbooked a little. I put some food in a cooler out on the deck "just in case" the power was out too long. Tom brought pizza home for dinner.
It got dark early. We lit candles. We all sat in the living room together. The boys and I played Yahtzee by the fireplace until I could not see anymore. At 7 p.m. the phone rang and I realized we'd all fallen asleep! That night it was SO quiet when we did go up to bed. I could hear trees snapping and crashing all around us. We all stayed warm though even with the fireplace off for the evening. The heat had risen up the stairs to the bedrooms and we added some extra blankets to the beds. Tom left again on Wednesday to head to work. He got there to find out that the company had also lost power. With the freezing rain continuing, more ice was building up on power lines and the weight was snapping them. Also, branches and even full trees were snapping and falling on the lines. The news Tom had heard was that it could be "days" before power was restored. I just kept telling myself that since we lived within a mile of two schools and right off of a main road that our power would come on soon...Although we had batteries for flashlights, we didn't for a radio. Tom stopped to get batteries and I finally had "contact" with the outside world! However, the local radio tower was out and they were broadcasting by some special way. We were thankful of our location when we heard: "If you can hear this, you must be within 10 miles..."
The news wasn't good. They were predicting up to a week for power to be restored. Our electric company (there are two in our county) had 174,000 homes without power.
Looking out, there were mixed emotions. On one hand, the ice looked beautiful on some trees and in the grass.
It was amazing. On the other hand, you'd see a beautiful tree or a great "privacy border" of trees destroyed. And we were without power. We were losing the food in our freezer. There were many worse off than us without a heat source.
There were lines in town for people desperate for generators (we didn't have one) and lines for kerosene. It was awful to hear that police had to monitor the gas stations because there had been disruptions. Generators were being stolen from homes.
We realized that our gas tank was getting low. Usually we only have to fill it up once a year and it barely gets below 50%. We were at 30%. I started using the fireplace less and less and during the day we just layered and sat under blankets. We called the gas company and they said they'd be out in a couple of days, but the weekend was coming and I was getting nervous.
I had time to organize all my scrapbooks - might as well use my time wisely! There wasn't much else to do. The boys and I really enjoyed going through them and remembering "good times". WARM times!That night we decided to use some steaks that were defrosting in our deep freeze. Tom was going to grill out. I made up potatoes to bake on the grill and we were excited about our warm dinner. Then the propane tank on the grill ran out before all the steaks were done! That's another thing that we never worry about when cool weather comes. You check that thing in the spring! Needless to say, Scout ate well that night! The boys enjoyed the steak that was done and I think Tom and I both agreed that was the best baked potatoes we'd ever eaten!
Blake had a great idea when dark came. He put on his headlamp that he'd used on a Cub Scouts caving trip. He was our "light" while we played Upwords after dark!I think Tom may have gone stir-crazy home with us for even just one day. He went to work on Thursday even without power at the plant. It was pitiful watching the boys enter the living room and out of habit pick up the remote to the tv. The ice had stopped accumulating, but we still had too much to do anything outside. Plus, if you went out, you weren't really able to warm up and clean up when you came back in.
We never lost our water, but it was cold. It seemed to get colder, too. The boys would come out of the bathroom and if I commented they hadn't washed their hands, they'd whine that it was too cold. Kevin complained that it hurt him. I got the same complaints from them when I'd tell them to "clean up" (sponge bathe).

Power was coming back on in town and I called our favorite Mexican restaurant to see if they were open. They were!!! That is one place you can guarantee you will always receive a HOT meal. I practically begged Tom to take us our for dinner and he happily agreed. However, there was one problem - my dirty hair!

What followed was an experience that I'm sure my boys will never forget. I decided early that I needed to wash my hair in order to give it time to dry. I went to my bathroom to get started and then it hit me that I'd probably stay warmer doing this in the kitchen since it's right off the living room with the fireplace. Plus, there's a sprayer.

When the water hit my scalp and the "needles" starting piercing my brain, I started screaming. However, I was already wet and there was no stopping me now. The boys came running to check on me. I am happy to say that I survived the hair wash during the blackout of '09. And I happily sat in the restaurant that night with clean hair. Although I had shivered by the fireplace for what seemed like hours.

We had invited my mom to join us for dinner and offered to pick her up. My younger sister was driving home from Louisville since her apartment was without power and classes at UofL had been cancelled. My sister would meet us for dinner and take Mom home. The drive to Tom's both both beautiful and tragic. It would look like a winter wonderland in one sense, but then you'd see on the damage and destruction around it.

As we pulled into the drive at Mom and Dad's (Dad was on call at the fire department), I captured some of the "beautiful" shots from the storm.

The boys commented that the round bales looked like frosted shredded wheat - they did!
That night on our way home, Mom called to tell us that her power was back on and invited us over for the "night." We ended up staying there for 4 nights. I was the last one in my family to get power restored when it finally came back on late Monday. I can't complain though, a good friend in the next county was without power for 18 days and as of today is still without her phone service.
In closing, I want to add one last photo. I took this one in the boys' school parking lot. This is the school that I thought would allow us to get our power on early. Of all the schools in the county, this school and the middle school in front of it were the last two to get power back. Just my luck, huh?
I think the ice hanging off the sign sort of explains why the kids weren't allowed to enter school for SEVEN school days.
It was quite the experience. One I hope to not experience again.

I know I am blessed...

We often get lost in the routine of the every day, but tonight I had some alone time with this great kid - my firstborn. Kevin had his last basketball game tonight which conflicted with Blake's Cub Scout meeting. Usually when we split into different directions, Blake goes with Tom and I have Kevin. Since Tom was coaching Kevin's team, I was on Cub Scout duty.

It's rare that Blake and I have time alone without Kevin. It was a quiet drive to town tonight, but after some events over the past few days, I had been reminded how great he is - and I'm not being biased!

Blake came home with his progress report - all As. I've always known he's smart, but now he's working hard and doing what we've known he's capable of producing. Saturday he'll compete with the academic team in Governor's Cup competitions.

I received an email from his religious education teacher telling me that she enjoys having Blake in class. He's a "very smart and polite young man." That made me feel really good. He's 10. I've volunteered at school and have seen how most 10 year olds act. It's good to know that when I drop him off every Wednesday night, that he's acting like he should.

At the end of Cub Scouts tonight, another mother complimented Blake. As a parent, that makes you feel like you are doing something right.

To enjoy our 'alone' time tonight, I thought I'd treat Blake to an ice cream cone at Baskin Robbins. But when we drove by, the store was PACKED. On to Steak & Shake we went for a shake, but their drive through was LONG. I asked if there was anything else he wanted and he said Sushi. Yes...sushi! That was fine with me if he'd split the California Roll with me! I tried to call in advance, but was put on hold until we pulled into the parking lot. Once inside we found out they were short-handed and there would be a 25 minute wait.

So, being the good kid he is, Blake told me we could just go to McDonald's. I bought $1 sundaes for all three of my guys and they ate them together when Blake and I got home.

Earlier this week, I scrapped a couple of 8x10 photos (above and below) that we'd enlarged to use on Blake's posters when he ran for 4-H President earlier in the year. He didn't win, but he ran a good campaign and had a couple of great looking posters.
Last night I scrapped this layout for Blake, too. The photos are from field day at school last May.

Blake still asks me to come to school for programs and hugs me when I arrive and leave. I've heard those days may be numbered (public affection with Mom). However, I hope we can keep a close relationship so that he's never ashamed to hug me in public!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I finished all the challenges!

Last weekend Personal Scrapper had an online crop. I was able to finish all 15 challenges. (Yay me!) My youngest sister, Molly, would kill me if I posted a 2-page layout I did of some of the silly faces she makes, so that one is saved for the album.

Speaking of Molly, I should dedicate "idk" to her. She is the texting queen. When Erica posted the 'texting' challenge, I thought of her. Then I saw this photo of Kevin in my box and thought, "I don't know what..." and a layout was born. He's one funny kid! The scraplift challenge was easy (to choose). I decided to lift PaigeR. She has the most interesting style. I like to tease her for her one photo layouts, but I only do it because I'm jealous. :) The photo for "love ya, Bro" was altered. I think the story makes this page: "love ya, Bro...Kevin says in passing. Blake stops to say, 'Kev, I remember the first time I saw you in teh hospital. I knew I loved you.'" THAT is why I scrapbook!
When this owl paper by Pink Paislee came out last fall, I HAD to HAVE it. Then it sat...and sat...until Erica challenged us to use an animal on our layout. If you count Kevin, I used two here. Like the play on words in my title? know, like HOOO(T) says the owl. ;)
The next page just makes me think "good times", but thanks to Terry we already overuse that phrase enough in our house. So, I worked my title around a "thinking of you" tag. I am alway thinking of my boys. They are pretty special. This was for an altered photo challenge. Like my editing skills?
For the "mix up your kits" challenge, I mixed the January kits with February for this "Introducing...fat cat" page. This is my sister Kaitlin and her Maine Coon cat, Chase. He's the biggest cat I've ever seen! And...he's the biggest "scared-y" cat you'll ever see, too! My mom calls him her "grand-kitty." We were also challenged to tell a story about something we love. Well, I love Kevin's little hands. I used the sheet out of the February kit that I liked the least (too pink and glittery - I have BOYS!) for my base and made a page that I LOVE. In Cub Scouts, Kevin traced his hand onto clay to make an "I love you" sign that became a Christmas ornament. Now I'll always have his precious hand. :)
Oh...and we had to make cards from scraps. I am so not the card maker...
"Tiffany's Journey" is actually page one of two. Page two is waiting for me to finish journaling about my cousin's battle with cancer and how it personally affected me.
In December, my sister Lindsey married Brandon. (Yes, one of us is missing from this shot...Kaitlin, see above with cat!...she was off on her co-op for school.) You know you are accepted into the family when you make my scrapbook! I used new PaperTrunk paper for this page.
There was a sketch challenge that I altered a little. In the sketch, none of the photos were touching, but I for some reason feel compelled to always "smoosh" my pics together. I loved the title on this one: "My life is just ducky". Get it? They are feeding ducks! I just crack myself up sometimes!
"Live your life just for today" completed my die-cut-paper challenge. I used some Prima "Dude" paper for this page and the next. They just happened to arrive on my doorstep thanks for a special friend.
Are you ready for this one? Really ready? "Rock On"...they are skipping I great with words or what???
And so I was on a roll...for this photo of Kevin looking at me upside down..."Without you, my life would be UPSIDE DOWN." (No explanation required, right?)
I'm slowly trying to overcome the above-mentioned "photo smooshing" problem. For this one, I matted the photos...and then smooshed them together. You will probably see more of this! "3rd grade awards" with Blake.
Yes, I have a sister named Adriane. Unfortunately we don't use the phrase "yo, Adriane!" enough, so I used it as a title. This was at Molly's graduation. I have no idea what Kevin is doing - just being Kevin? He adores Adriane.
It was a productive crop. Thanks Personal Scrapper!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It's Mr. Campy time!

I remember late last summer I made a special trip to Archiver's for no other reason that to purchase the Mr. Campy line of papers by Cosmo Cricket. I knew the first time I saw it that it would be perfect for fishing pictures I had just taken. Well, I did use some papers to make mini album gifts for my mother-in-law and brother-in-law for their September birthdays. But everything sat in a bag (a ziploc "kit" bag).
When our power came back on and I was still thinking "warm, summer" thoughts, I decided to break out Mr. Campy. The line did go great with our pictures from fishing at my mother-in-laws on Tom's birthday last August. It was a fun afternoon of fishing with the cousins.
"Go Fish" is for Kevin's album. He became quite the little fishing pro on this outing!
It was a real fun day, so I did a little play on words for "reel fun" - get it?!?
My brother-in-law calls their home the "Wild W" so I thought the title "Where the wild things are" was appropriate for a page that included his kids. (Mine can be pretty wild though!)
Blake's day started out a little rough. He was slow to catch anything in the beginning, but that changed. Amazingly, all five of the kids caught something (several times). Since we were fishing on Tom's birthday, I came up with "fishing party." Sometimes it's hard to get a good title!
Here is the cousins' page for Blake's album.
Here is a page showing Blake's success at the lake in Grandma's backyard. It was a very fine day, indeed.
Finally, I just had to make a page about Tom and his brother. They both showed up in camo shorts. Whenever I see something camo, I joke that "I almost didn't see that..." It drives Tom crazy. To play on that note, I used ghost letters for my title to spell out Camo - because "you almost can't see them!" (Don't tell Tom I posted this page!)
I'm ready for warm weather...

Winter blues

We had some pretty cold weather at the end of January and I decided to keep warm by scrapping some summer vacation layouts. I used mainly the June kit from Personal Scrapper with the Scenic Route "Grafton" line. I had used up my original kit last summer, but when Erica announced extras, I had to purchase another kit for some special vacation pics I had.

"It's Flippin' Time" was a fun title for this page of Kevin learning to do flips in the pool. (I can't do them!)

For "The Beach" I used a sheet of SR Metropolis paper that matched the Grafton line. We were at Ft. De Soto Beach on this, our first, day.Kevin struck up a pose for his name photo at Ft. De Soto. It was fun to showcase it on "1st trip to the beach."I had some group shots of us at the different beaches that I wanted to scrap for both boys' albums. So I made these two pages. The quote before "together" reads: "the sun shines brighter when we are together." Then "Florida vacation" is for the other album.
All Kevin talked about before going to Florida was how he wanted to find crabs on the beach. We found one in Siesta Key. We were picking up shells and I felt something crawling in my hand. He was thrilled! How do you like my "got crabs?" title? :)The photo on "Sunset" was so stunning I decided to keep the rest of this page simple. That is Kevin in the shot, too!
Someone over at Personal Scrapper had posted a layout months ago with the title, "Boys of Summer". I knew I had to use it for these pics. (That or "Baywatch Bros"...)

Looking here...we even got some shots of me and Tom on vacation. ( Blake did manage to get in the background of that second shot!) The title reads "enjoying time with Tom". "Florida fun" sort of wraps up my random pics for Blake.
"This is the life" is for Kevin. He says that a lot!
Oh, I could move to Siesta Key. Check out "ocean view."
On vacation, Kevin mainly kept to the sand, but it was harder to get a shot of Blake since he was "diving" in the ocean so much. I did manage to get a good one of them building together though.
One perk to this vacation was that two of my sisters went along with us. I enjoyed doing this "girl time" page for my personal album.
I should note that our power went out before I finished this series of layouts. I actually made a few of them on days when were without power. I sat by the fire sort of like Abe Lincoln did back in the day. I did it during daylight hours. During these powerless daylight hours, I also went through and cleaned up all of my albums in the living room and even tagged the ones on shelf with the boys' names and the dates that are included in them.
To entertain themselves (yet stay close to the fire) the boys spent several days looking through these albums. "A good time was had by all" and that is why I scrapbook. :)