Evacuation, Heavy Rain, Broken Glass, No Sleep, Work Through the Weekend - Irene, I Hate You!

Hurricanes, those damn acts of Mother Nature. Really? Do we need them? Do they play some role in the weather chain like I'm told mosquitoes do in the food chain? You know, because both seem very unnecessary to me. Regardless of what I think though, Hurricane Irene came and went through Eastern Carolina this past weekend and caused one big headache for me and my family. Oh, and did I mention NO SLEEP!!!

My hubby and daughter evacuated two hours inland on Friday morning, before the storm. I, however, work in the TV news business if you did not know, so my journalistic butt got to stay right here to wait for the storm. I went into work (early) Friday afternoon and the outer bands of Irene moved in not long after that. Thank goodness my family evacuated to a safe and QUIET location. I made the decision not to sleep at work Friday night and came home around one a.m. OK, so technically Saturday morning, but whatever it was, I barely slept. As the winds and rain increased outside, and I tried to sleep in this still unfamiliar house, every noise, every crash, every creak scared the crap out of me and left me thinking I was about to die. After all, there are really, really big trees all around our rental house. At some point, I threw my comforter and pillow on the floor beside my bed and slept halfway under my bed, thinking if a tree came crashing through the roof the bed would somehow protect me. Oh, did I say sleep... no, I cowered there halfway under my bed, wrapped up in my sheets and comforter. When the power flickered for the last time around 5 a.m., I took that as my cue to get up.

That crash I heard in the night, it was the windows in the sun room being blown in by the wind and raining glass upon the floor.

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(this was taken after Irene was gone. it was certainly not this sunny Saturday morning)

I spent the next hour moving still unpacked boxes into the house from the sun room as the rain flew in through the now naked screens. Looking out of those screens, I could already see the flooded canal snaking its way toward my back door.

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And even Hurricane Irene's weakest winds had started a hailstorm of branches falling around my home.

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Heading into work around 7 a.m. Saturday morning, I passed by the beginnings of Irene's fury. The brunt of the storm had not yet hit, we were still just in the outer bands. But this is what I passed:

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The marina by my house already claiming an adjacent parking lot

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Traffic lights out

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A fallen tree in the road

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The road just after my turn into work disappearing into a newly formed river

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A power line in the road which I had no choice but to drive over to get into work

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A fallen tree and flooding in front of the TV station

Arriving into work, there's was the steady chaos of phones ringing, scripts flying, producers quietly yelling, lights shining, computer keys clicking, hairspray spraying, make-up glossing and the anchor desk perched solid, quiet and waiting. ::breathe in, breathe out:: I am home, and there is nothing like it. I spent the next 10 hours at that anchor desk, riding out the most Irene could throw at us with thousands of North Carolinians - whether they were listening to my voice via TV or battery-powered radio. At times like this, I have the greatest job ever. It's not often I get to feel like "I did something good."

Then the replacements make it in, and I'm back off through the storm to get home. I went into work with three days of clothes packed and an air mattress, but I needed to see if Irene had flooded or smashed my home. I would not be staying the night at work.

The drive home was not too bad, after all, Irene's worst was gone. It is Saturday night and there is not a soul on the road as I made the trek, it's only me and the fallen trees, downed power lines and flooding. Thankfully, my home was no worse off than when I had left it 12 hours before. There were more fallen trees and limbs, but all had missed my house. There were also a few more broken windows in the sun room, but I'm a renter, so I'm not as concerned about that. Thanks to 30+ hours without power, I also lost all the food in the fridge/freezer. But all in all, not too bad.

And the best part about coming home Saturday night? Without Irene banging on my front door... and roof and windows and walls and whatever else was there to bang on... I finally got some sleep!! Good thing, since I had to be back into work by 6 a.m. the next morning. That meant a 4:30 wake up call. Ugh.

But if that was the most of my worries, I'll count myself lucky. Some people had worries like this:

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And my pictures don't even begin to show the devastation some people endured, and are still enduring, in Eastern Carolina. These pictures are just what I saw on my drive to and from work. And then there's all the poor souls in the Northeast. I know we are blessed to come out on the safe end of this storm.

So what will we take away from our first hurricane experience in our new home?

1.) always evacuate the hubby, kiddie and doggies
2.) buy a bigger cooler and a lot of ice BEFORE the storm
3.) don't leave the safety of work to go home and sleep if I'll only end up cowering under my bed
4.) have better food and beer stocked in the house as hurricane rations
5.) be thankful every day for being one of those lucky ones who will only remember Hurricane Irene as a storm that passed through, and not a life-changing and devastating event for my family


The Calm (and fun) Before the Storm

As the end of this week nears, so does something else - and it's not something as welcomed and happy as a Friday and subsequent weekend. A hurricane is churning out in the Atlantic Ocean and is getting closer and closer to me and my family (and a few million other people) with each word I type.

Well, there's goes our beach plans for Saturday! Instead, at the normal time we'd be heading to the Crystal Coast, I will be about six hours into a 12 hour shift at work since we start wall-to-wall coverage Friday evening; my husband and daughter, Georgia, will be two hours away in Raleigh (far enough inland to be protected from the hurricane's worst); and the beach that normal makes us laugh and smile will be rain-soaked and wind-racked as Hurricane Irene pounds the NC Coast. Yeah!

So, I figure now is a good time to finally get up my post on our beach visit this past weekend.

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My hubby and I dug a Georgia-sized hole in the sand, and our little pink polka-dot didn't even let us finish digging before she plopped her little self right down into that wet sandy depression.

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Ha, ha - but getting out wasn't as easy...
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But sandy holes and sandy hands weren't enough to stop Georgia from taking a break in the umbrella's shade with one of her new favorite fruits - plums!

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The saltiness of beach lips on the sweetness of the purple fruit - ah, perfection. Growing up minutes from the beach, I spent many-a-day covered in sand. I remember well the summer-ripened plums my mother would toss on top of the ice in our cooler, making them cool and refreshing when I finally bit through the fruit's tangy skin. It makes me wonder what Georgia will remember of our beach trips 30-something years from now. My memories are just as sweet as those plums.

Before we stopped at the beach, we also visited some bricks and mortar a little older than my plum memories. Fort Macon was built in the 1800-somethings and used in the Civil War and even World War II.

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While my husband and I enjoyed the beauty and history of this amazingly-intact fort, Georgia preferred running circles 'tween the walls.

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A mix of new memories and old made for another fabulous day on the NC Coast.

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Surrounded by the Choo-Choo

Is a gift that is given but yet not known it is given sweeter than other gifts? I think so.

We have this train set for Georgia. It's been packed up in a box for almost a year now. I didn't think she was old enough yet, and maybe she's still not quite there, but my mom would have thought she was close enough. My mom always knew we were ready before we ourselves seemed to, and since this gift came from my mother in a round-about way, Georgia is getting it now.

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The train set was bought by my mother to keep at her house for the grandkids when they came to visit. But when my mother was taken from us, and I knew that playroom would sit empty, I took a few things for Georgia to have from the happy room she would never know. So here we are with a train set.

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Georgia loves trains right now. She loves to say "choo-choo" through her shy smile. And as soon as I set up the tracks and that train was whistling around the turns, where do you think she sat down to eat her lunch? Right in the middle of her new toy!

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I love this little girl, and I love that every time I see her playing with this train and hear her "choo-choo," a little bit of my mother will be right there along with us.

Did I mention my mother's birthday was this past week? Yeah, Georgia got the train on that day. Happy birthday mom, I'm sent your wish up to heaven. I love you.


A Trip to the Big City!!

It's funny, one month ago we lived in a place commonly referred to as "the big city" by many. Basically, if you lived in Nebraska or western Iowa and did not live in Omaha, then Omaha was the "big city." It has shopping, it has restaurants, it has crime, it has traffic, it has suburbs - all the conveniences (and inconveniences) we have come to associate with larger cities. If you lived on a farm or in a small Nebraska town, Omaha was the place you headed every now and then because you needed some new school clothes or you wanted a fancy anniversary dinner or your favorite singer was in concert - but you never stayed long, after all, it was the big city. By God, they had shootings there!

Fast forward one month to now... now I'm the one heading to the "big city." The big city in our life now - Raleigh, NC. It's about two hours from us, and it's the home of my husband's best friend - his former Air Force buddy and the best man in our wedding. The friend, Shane, is the kind of friend who didn't hesitate to drive four hours round-trip when we first moved to New Bern just to help us unload our moving truck. Is it ironic that he also drove hours to help us pack our moving truck when we moved to Omaha 5+ years ago? So when Shane, who typically works weekends, got a random Sunday off - we didn't hesitate to drive four hours round-trip to see him and enjoy a cookout at his house in Raleigh.

Georgia has only met Shane (now) twice, and has taken to him every time. She cutely says "Shane" which sounds more like "sane," wearing a proud smile every time she remembers his name. And on Sunday, that smile was plastered full-time on Georgia's face when Shane took us to the awesome playground by his house!
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We hit the swings...
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Even Shane got some time in...
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Then there was the sand box...
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And this thing you can jump on...
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We left with sweaty brows, a few new mosquito bites and big smiles.

Shane also invited over a couple who has a daughter one month older than Georgia. It was so nice to see her play with someone her own age again. I still feel guilty for ripping her away from her little friend next door to us in Omaha. So for an afternoon, we all remembered what it was like to have friends close at hand. It was nice. I won't say I started to feel at home yet in this new state, but it's as close as I've been since we made the 1,400 mile leap here. It was just around the corner... I swear!


I Am Torn

OK, when am I not torn these days? So much change, so much upheavel in our lives, so many adjustments that we're making - confusion just seems to follow. But now comes one more conundrum.

My husband had a job interview this week. Yeah! Of course, we don't know yet if he got the job, but the interview alone has led to so many feelings for me to contemplate. I know my hubby is feeling pulled in different directions as well.

Before I was laid off, we'd always been a two-job family, and Lord knows with what we're about to lose when we sell our house (literally more than I made at my first three TV jobs), we can use the second income again. But for six months now, Georgia has not been in daycare because there has been a parent out of work and at home. And now there's a chance that could change. It's hard. We know the reality - we both need to work - but the last six months have spoiled us and given us a peek into life without daycare. Honestly, I think it's a peek we didn't need. We were never thrilled about putting Georgia into daycare at three months old, when my maternity leave ran out, but we never knew it any other way so we did it. It was hard, but it was easy. Yeah, I know that doesn't make sense. But the easiness came from ignorance - the ignorance of not having lived the stay-at-home parent life.

But here it is. It could possibly be the last time Georgia has a parent with her all day. Could. Who knows whether my husband will land the job? Who knows if it will even pay enough for him to accept it? Who knows how we'll handle Georgia going back to daycare? Questions, quesions, questions - life is pouring questions these days. I stop to wonder if we could make the single income-family thing work, that is until reality comes and wallops me upside the head.

I know what the future holds, but for now I'll just keep questioning it. I'll hide from reality, for now, behind my questions and contemplations.


Mommy/Daughter Day in the Gardens

If you read my last post, maybe you realized before I did that Georgia and I were in some serious need of mommy/daughter time - no daddy allowed. So when my husband needed to get some work done Sunday, I decided Georgia and I would head out alone. There would be no daddy to block her blows or tantrums!

Despite that fact that it's August and we're now on the Carolina Coast, I thought we'd take advantage of the once-a-month, free day at the Tryon Palace gardens. The palace is a historic site, the first state capitol of NC. So with a car thermometer reading 100 degrees and plenty of sunblock and water in the diaper bag, Georgia and I headed out on our own.

We stop for some deep fried sustenance on the way:
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And then we stop for a sailboat to pass by:
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(I can't tell you how happy I am to live once again in a place where drawbridges are a necessity!)

We parked on the street just a few hundred feet from the palace entrance, and as soon as I opened the car door, the sounds of a band filled the air. It wasn't just any normal-sounding band - it had the sound of colonial times - the raspy drums, the high pitched flute, the patriotic tunes. Georgia was delighted.

This was our first trip to Tryon Palace:
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Georgia loved the twisty-turny paths through the flowers, but she wasn't so fond of those white sculptures in the background.
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And every water fountain or pond sent her into a squealing fit, running straight for it as soon as she spotted it.
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At almost 22 months, Georgia has her first encounter with a cannon. Is this significant? I have no earthly idea, but she thought it was cool.
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The cannonballs, however, were another matter. They frustrated the hell out of her that she could not pick them up. All I kept hearing was "ball, ball, mommy, ball." Then the grunts of a frustrated toddler trying to pick up a heavy metal ball welded to 10 other heavy metal balls.
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Oh, and try taking a toddler to a public garden where they're not allowed to pick the flowers. I promise you, the only thing they'll want to do is... yep, pick those flowers.
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But hey, who's going to miss a blossom or two?

Amid the flowers and trees and paths and water fountains and buckets of sweat on this day, Georgia and I discovered some things.

We discovered it's really hot in New Bern in August. We discovered all the doors on the palace grounds are, indeed, locked.
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We discovered cannonballs are heavy (especially when welded to others). We discovered hidden corners.
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We also discovered that we still can get along with each other. There was not one tantrum, not one swing at mommy's head, nor one evil look in my direction.
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We discovered a beautiful day.


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