Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Earthquakes, Baby Ponies, and Hurricanes, Oh My...Starring Flat Stanley!

What a week!!

I thought that in the light of the extraordinary events which occurred this week at Blessing Farm that I should do some sort of Weekly Wrap Up. Unfortunately, lack of power and internet caused me to miss the offical link up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers, but here is my own crazy journal of what we did this week for your reading enjoyment anyway (feel free to gasp in amazement as you read...we did!).

Monday was strangely normal. The calm before the storm. We worked on our Alphabet Lapbook with Firefly, did some schoolwork on the computer (Mathletics, Reading Eggs, Big IQ Kids, Time4Learning), and when we were done Tex and I cleaned the garage while the kids played. Poor Boo wound up managing to get covered from head to toe in those tiny seed ticks. I must have plucked a good fifty or more off of him, which left him with itchy sores all week. I remember thinking that it was a slightly hectic day. Little did I know what Tuesday would bring...

Tuesday started out normal, with the little kids doing their nature study sitting at the dining room table and Tex unloading the dishwasher when...our chandelier started swaying back and forth. Of coure, Stanley had to jump right on it since it looked like a fun ride (thankfully he is light enough that it did not fall down, but I told the kids that they had better not try it!) while the rest of us gaped at the floors which were sort of rolling underneath us, and the walls that were shaking. It was sort of like you'd imagine it might be if you were sitting on an unbalanced washing machine. Weird.

Once it stopped, I asked Tex if he had any idea what just happened and he immediately guessed it was an earthquake. Of course, I, being the logical adult said, "We don't get earthquakes here." And of course, I was wrong. Wow! Thankfully, nobody seems to have been hurt and the damage in various locations around the state has been minimal. The authorities said it was a 5.8 on the Richter Scale, which I know to folks who live in other places is pretty small, but to us, who have never been through an earthquake, it was pretty exciting! I can now cross that one off of my list of things to do...Needless to say, that was the end of offical school for the day. You try to focus kids on math facts pages after experiencing their first earthquake. Not happening.

We did go to the library for Chess Club that evening, and the Three Amigos played DK History Explorer and read several books. I also read a few cute ones outloud to Firefly and Boo, then we checked out all of their Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems. Those are great, in case you haven't read them (perfect for early readers and enough of a hoot that I don't mind hearing them over and over again.)

Wednesday started off fairly normally, too. Bubba came over to visit between clients (he is a farrier), and wanted to go to the barn to check on Merry. I told him that Tex had just fed the horses a bit ago and that she had been fine (no baby yet), but we went to check her out was here! Right there in the stall what had not been here just minutes before (about thirty of them) was now laying quietly on the straw next to her absolutely adorable, miraculous, and precious baby filly.

She is a Quarter Horse-Shetland Pony cross (don't was unplanned) and is all dark brown, no white markings at all. She's as tiny as can be and so sweet. We must have arrived just shortly after the big event. She had been cleaned up a bit by her mama, but was still wet. Tex ran for towels, so we could help dry her while we waited for Merry to deliver the placenta. Within the hour, the baby was standing and nursing just fine. We could hardly tear ourselves away to give them time to rest, but we finally did. As you can imagine, not much schoolwork got done that day either.

We have no name for her yet, so if you'd like to make suggestions...The sire is Mr. Dusty Gold Bars and the dam is Miss Merrybelle. Just leave a comment!

By Thursday we knew that Irene was heading our way and that she'd likely arrive here with lots of wind and water, so I went to WalMart and stocked up on hurricane essentials like water, batteries, bread, milk, Dr. Pepper, and chocolate. It was crazy hectic there, and the trip took me over three hours.

We were hoping at this point that we would not have to leave, but by that evening, the sheriff's office had called and strongly recommended that we evacuate. We are in a flood zone (the kind where if there is any sort of bad storm you know your property will flood to some extent...we did not know this when we bought the house as the purchase happened during the driest summer/autumn in recent history). We spent the evening picking up the outside toys and stowing away the lawn furniture. By the time we were finished ], it was raining buckets and we were soaked, but apparenty that was an unrelated storm...just a hint of what was to come.

Friday was a lesson in disaster preparedness. Hubby took the day off from work to get us all ready to leave, and we spent the day figuring out what we'd do if the house and property completely flooded, and trying to minimize the damage if it did. The house did flood during Isabel (which was touted as a "once a century event") and so we were doubly cautious about our plans isnce they were saying Irene could be worse than Isabel.

We loaded the horses, the new foal and her mom, and all our hay and feed on the trailer and moved them to the home of very helpful and generous new friends and neighbors whose property is higher and was not likely to flood. After living in their barn, which is like the Ritz-Carleton for horses, with automatic fly spray misters overhead, stall mats, an artificial brick (cushioned) center walkway, turn out paddocks for every stall, and air conditioning, they are not going to want to come back home.

My sister-in-law offered to take Firefly and Boo to her house to play, and our neighbors hosted Ladybug and Cowboy for a few hours in the evening so I could pack without interruption. What a relief! Thank you, all of you. I found myself worrying about the kids and wondering what trouble they were getting into (since they were so quiet), then realizing that they weren't even here!!

I spent my time shoving what clothes and special items I could into suitcases or the cars, moved books off of the bottom shelves, and prayed a lot. Hubby boarded up the windows with the help of our neighbor's kind and skilled brother-in-law, and Bubba came by and took Ladybug and Cowboy to my folks' house, where we'd decided to weather the storm (with a generator and plenty of flashlights!) and I followed around midnight in the Suburban, with Hubby pulling the horse trailer filled with the generator, the pets, and boxes containing all of our photo albums.


It started to rain while I was driving home the second time (poor Tex spent so much time running around for eveyone, doing this and that, that he forgot to load his own suitcase and chess set, so I had to go back and wound up moving more books and quilts to higher ground) around 2 am, though it wasn't bad at first. By the time we woke up in the morning, though, the winds were starting to rise, and the rain eventually let loose in torrents. You can see Firefly and Stanley in the picture, standing on the front porch during the worst of the rain. Flat Stanley was a little nervous about the water, but he was too interested in the storm to not go outside at all.

Saturday morning, Tex and I settled everyone in, played a game with the kids, they read books, and then they spent a few hours builing towns and zoos with Nanny and Poppy's blocks. Hubby kept calling us with updates about our house (he decided to go back there and hold down the fort...or hold on the roof, if necessary), and called us at one point to tell us that our favorite climbing tree (the one right by the house) had split in two and thankfully fallen away from the house.

Fortunately, I had the foresight to make spaghetti and salad at lunchtime for our biggest meal, and the power flickered and went off just as Tex and I were sitting down to eat and relax with HGTV (my choice...we don't have cable at our house and I wanted to see if the new Pioneer Woman Cooks show was on...I love her recipes!). Sigh. We read books instead. I just got Tex started on the Left Behind series, so I don't think the lack of TV was a problem.

We had fortunately just filled the tub with water for the toilets and the sink with water for the dishes, too. Unfortunately, I have told the kids so many times that water in a tub is dangerous for Boo and to let it out if they ever see any left in it, that Cowboy helpfully let all the water out of the tub shortly after that. Another sigh. We managed to collect rainwater in clean trashcans instead, though.

We spent the night in the front parts of the house, away from the trees of the woods in the back yard. It was kind of like a camping adventure, only a hundred times as noisy and without the bugs. The back end of the storm was the scariest, as the winds tore around the house furiously.

We really enjoyed listening to a local station who had switched their usual programming to storm coverage, and we are very grateful for this as it was our only way to know what was going on once the cable went out. It was kind of like the old days, with limited lighting, just the radio, and each other's company. I taught Tex to play solitaire and we had a nice talk, full of plenty of laughing, in spite of the storm and my pounding head (bad weather+exhaustion and stress=migraine for me).

I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of an thunderous crash and ran upstairs in a panic, afraid that a tree had fallen on the house and hurt someone. Fortunately, my investigation revealed peacefully sleeping children, so I shone my flashlight on the woods and cautiously peered out the window with Bubba to see if we could determine the source of the noise. We didn't see anything new on the ground, though...actually it was something missing that he first noticed. An enormous red oak, which has been leaning since Isabel, had finally given up the ghost and come tumbling down. Bubba and I had to run out to make sure that it had not fallen on a widow neighbor's house, but thankfully, it hadn't quite reached to the road, let alone her yard (they sure do look even taller when they are standing!). Running back to the house afterwards was a bit scary, and I cowered behind the huge a/c unit once when the wind started howling like crazy through the trees, so I wouldn't get hit by falling branches.

Flat Stanley went out with us Sunday morning to see what damage the storm had wrought, and he, along with the other kids, had to climb on the oh so cool tree. (see picture above) "It could be our fort," said Cowboy. "No, I am sorry, it can't be. Poppy will be cutting it down soon." "But why? I want to keep it here. It is cool!!" he replied. We found a few black pines that were uprooted and will sadly have to be destroyed (see a picture of the boys "trying" to hold it up), but a wonderful neighbor of Poppy's came over and offered to help with all of the tree removals in exchange for the wood. Works for me!

Nanny and Poppy arrived back from their extended trip to visit with and help family members in Iowa and Missouri. The kids were fantastically excited to see them, and tickled that they came bearing gifts! A bag of dinos (from a yard sale) and a pirate puzzle for Cowboy, Ginny dolls for the girls (from a flea market...but in great condition, and very sweet), and a computer game for Tex (Bejewelled 3). It was like they got a present for being so good during the tumultuous week, and they were very grateful. As for me, I was just glad to see my folks back safe and sound, to know that the Lord protected both our homes from falling trees, and that our house DID NOT flood after all. Yay!

Power was finally restored to many places (including Blessing Farm) by Wednesday (but not at Nanny and Poppy's hoo), so we went home (leaving our generator behind) and discovered this fun new review item (a Scruble Cube) waiting for us on the enclosed porch. Nifty! Tex arrived home that evening, after helping his Poppy work on clearing that tree for most of the day, and got a nice surprise. It was a neat way to end our little adventure. I will post a review later and let you know how Tex liked it.

We never did get much school work done, but I think we all learned a lot... The value of preparedness, the blessing of a giving and recieving a helping hand, and looking out for one another. Those lessons are much more important than anything out of a textbook.

Thank you so much to all who opened their homes (and barns) and offered their help to us during this crazy, amazing week.

Well, that's our weekly wrap up. Whew. I am glad that one is done!! I hope everyone else weathered the stom well.

Now to start praying that Katia will stay out to sea..




Stacie said...

Wow, Heather! You guys were busy, huh? I'm glad all is well.

I'm on the east coast, too and we were'nt to happy about Irene, or the earthquake for that matter. My little boy had a tough time understanding everything. Our power was out for a few days, but we weathered the storm safely, too.

I remeber Isabel. . .my oldest was just 6 months old and a tree fell right outside her window, in an open space. I was so thankful that she wasn't harmed. Our power was out for about 10 days or so.

I agree with you; praying that Katia will NOT pay us a visit. Take care.

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