Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Irma....And The Aftermath

Hello Ladies!

I had the best intentions to start blogging regularly again, then Hurricane Irma decided to make her way literally right into our backyard...so life has been a bit crazy around here to say the least!

I have been through a lot in my 43 years, but I can say without a doubt, I have never been more scared of anything in my life...going through a hurricane, and preparing for it, is extremely stressful and just plain scary.

Before I go further I need to thank every single one of you that reached out to me during the hurricane....this little community is simply amazing.  I had women sending me messages, women I have never met in person, offering to open up their homes to me and my family if we needed to evacuate.  Offering to send supplies if we needed them.  The messages brought tears to my eyes, just seeing all the good was such a comfort during such a scary time.

We started getting worried about the hurricane on Labor Day...we were sitting here with my mom watching the news and it looked like we were in the path, so it got real pretty quick.  Tuesday morning my mom and I set out to get some supplies....we were out for 6 hours, and couldn't find a bottle of water or a loaf of bread...it was insane seeing how many people were out scrambling and unable to get the basic necessities. And gas...the lines were LONG and gas stations were running out of gas quick.

My mom was leaving Wednesday morning to head back to NC and we thought about going with her, but after watching the news it appeared the hurricane was really going to hit the east coast harder so we decided to stay.  Those of you who followed the storm say it changed paths many times.  On Thursday we thought about packing up and heading North, however we saw how jammed the roads were, millions and millions of people trying to leave Florida.  With the gas issue we were having our fear was running out of gas and being stranded on the road.  So we decided to ride the storm out here.

On Wednesday night Mark and the boys put up the hurricane shutters, we cleaned up the yard and brought everything in that wasn't in the ground.  I spent my days going from store to store, buying what I could.
All of our doors and windows were boarded up and it felt like we were living in a cave.

We made sure to stock up on lots of drinks!

And all the junk food!

We packed our fridges and freezers tight, knowing we would lose power and wanting to keep cold what we could for as long as possible.

The kids had been out of school since Wednesday of that week, and Mark was done working Thursday, so we were thankful to have all hands on deck prepping the house and getting ready for this major hurricane heading our way.  On Friday Mark and I went out to grab whatever was left in the stores as most businesses were closing early, and we were unsure as to when things would start to reopen.  We were able to find gas, so we filled up our cars, and grabbed all the snacks, cereal and gatorade we could.  

We woke up Saturday, and you could tell something was going on...the wind was picking up, and there was just an eerie feeling in the air.  We had been watching our local news non-stop, and we listened to all the tips, and pretty much did them all to ensure our home would be as safe as possible.  We were concerned about our pool cage and heard that if you remove some screens, it will allow the wind to flow through and should save your cage, so Saturday morning the boys and Mark took out some of the screens.

We boarded up all the attic access points, and by the end of the day, we had felt like we had done all we could to keep our home safe, which would in turn keep us safe.  

The storm seemed to change paths many times, and on Saturday afternoon, it seemed clear we would be in the direct path, and we were definitely scared, it was getting real now.  Up until that point our are was not under a mandatory evacuation, however by mid afternoon/early evening we were...and that had us freaking out a bit.  We knew our home could sustain the winds, but the storm surge...that was a whole different ball game!  At this point, it was almost too late to evacuate, shelters were filling up fast, people were waiting hours in line to get in...it was a nightmare.  Mark and I talked about it, and we decided to ride it out at home and pray we all stayed safe.  

Needless to say we didn't sleep very well Saturday night, and when we got up Sunday morning and walked out side we could tell Irma was coming our way.  It was windy and raining, and I walked down to the kids rooms and just stared at them all sleeping....praying we would be safe.  

On our lanai, we have hurricane screens...they are able to withstand winds of up to 150 mph...we had lowered the screens and were able to sit outside and literally watch this hurricane come right through.    Was it scary...it sure freaking was, but we think we would have been more scared inside, not being able to look outside, knowing what was going on.  As the morning went on, the conditions kept getting worse.  The kids were all up at this point, and though everyone was getting nervous, we kept our spirits up, and stayed positive.  We spent the morning finishing up all the laundry, and cooking while we still had power.  

All 7 of us headed out back, got cozy on the lanai and waited for Irma.  We ate all the junk food, drank all the sodas, and played ridiculous amounts of games.  Around 2:00 Sunday our power went out...and Mark and I kind of looked at each other like oh man this is getting real...quickly.  

Even though it was a scary time...we truly tried to make the best of it for the kids.

One of the scariest parts was not having power and not being able to watch tv to see what was going on with the storm...thank goodness for my mom and one of Mark's childhood friends...they never stopped texting us the entire day/night to let us know where the storm was and when it was coming our way.  We are so thankful to them for spending their day in front of the TV keeping us posted every step of the way.  

Around 8:00 it was the worst, the wind was insane, the rain was whipping in sideways, it was unlike anything I have ever seen in my life.  Like you see this on TV, but never think it can happen to you.  When we went inside, it was so scary...the house was DARK, and debris was hitting the house, the wind was howling through the house, it sounded like someone was standing outside just shooting gun at our house.  Being able to be outside, behind those hurricane screens was a godsend...I would have lost my mind being trapped in a dark house not being able to see what was going on.

The eye of the storm was over us about 9:30 and we decide to walk out front and see what the damage was and see how the water level was.  Since our home was boarded up we had no clue at all what was going on out front.  We walked out front and saw tons of limbs and branches, trees down, debris everywhere.

This big white container was in our front yard..it was heavy as heck and we have no clue what it was or where it came from.  

We were surprised to see as much water as we did, but thankfully it was only halfway up our driveway and not super close to our house.  We didn't stay out front long, the winds and rain started to pick back up and we decided we needed to get back to safety. 

By midnight, the worst of the storm seemed to have passed...we were all mentally exhausted and just ready for bed.  Unfortunately, it was HOT none of us slept well Sunday night.  We woke up Monday morning GRATEFUL...we were alive, we were safe and our home was intact with minimal damage...unfortunately many were not as lucky as we were.

We spent the day Monday cleaning up the yard, praying our power would be restored.  I have learned that weathering the storm is the easy part...it is the aftermath that is truly the hardest part.  The devastation, the wondering when life can get back to normal.  

On Monday around 5:30pm our power came back on, and what a blessing that was.  Only about 8 houses in our neighborhood got it back and we happened to be one of them.  I was just feeling so grateful and thankful.  I immediately turned on the tv and was brought quickly to tears when I was seeing all the devastation around us, right here in our town.  So many neighborhoods were under water, flooded streets, homes destroyed, no power.  As I am typing this post, it is Monday afternoon, and so many here are still without power....it is over 100 here with the humidity, and I cannot imagine how these families are dealing with this extreme heat.  

Our kiddos were supposed to start back to school Monday the 18th, however many schools have damage, are being used as shelters and some still don't have power, so we are told they are hoping to have the kids back to school next Monday, the 25th.  That is 2 1/2 weeks out of school at that point.  It is unreal to me.

Mark and I ventured out Tuesday after the storm for a bit, and seeing the devastation was heartbreaking.  Nothing was open, no stores, no gas stations, no restaurants, nothing.  Many people, Mark included, can't return to work because of no power, damage to structures and flooding...so no work means no paycheck. It is a truly scary time.  We weathered the storm and are OK...but life is far from OK.  People are waiting 3+ hours to just get gas, people are running out of food, and so many still don't have power.  

Our local Target and Publix opened back up Friday, after a week of being closed and the shelves were bare....

Perishable food was not to be found.  We did find a grocery store over the weekend that did have some food stocked, so we were thankful to be able to have a decent meal.

It is the little things, like a hot meal in the crock pot that mean so much these days.  

We have so many friends, who still today do not have power, their roads are STILL flooded they can't get out, their homes had 4 feet of water inside and they lost so much.  

One of our friends sent us this picture last week, this is a cemetery by his house....this is the reality here...the devastation is real and so many people are truly suffering right now.

As I am typing this post, it has been 8 days since Irma made her way right into our backyard, and I am so very thankful that we are safe, we have electricity and our home has MINIMAL damage.  But 8 days later, life is anything but normal.  My kids are not able to go to school, my husband has lost substantial time at work, it is such a scary and unsettling time.  

I urge all of you that are able to donate, to find a reputable charity and donate.  There are so many here that have lost everything, that need to completely rebuild their lives.  And pray...please continue to pray for Florida and everyone who has been affected by this monster hurricane.

Again, thank you so much to each and everyone of you who has reached out to me over the last two weeks, I cannot put into words what it has meant to me and my family.  

Going through something like this can definitely give you a whole new outlook on things...I know it probably sounds so cliche, but so many things that I thought were important, I realize now just are not.  

Thanks for stopping by today and reading this extremely LONG post!  


Friday, September 1, 2017

Friday Favorites

Hello Ladies!

I am so glad it is September 1....and yet I can't believe it is September already!

It is still HOT where we live, but in mind September 1 is fall...so all things fall will be happening here today....and yes I will be at Starbucks first thing today to get my first PSL of the season....#basic


Today I am linking up with Andrea , Erika , and Narci and sharing my Friday Favorites...you should too!


My mom will be here today for a visit and we are all so excited to see her!  The hardest part about being so far away is missing my family like crazy!

I just got these candles this week from Anthro....and if you love pumpkin scented candles, you probably are going to want to grab this candle!  I burn one in the kitchen and one in our living room an our house smells like fall!  I was able to snag them for 20% off and free shipping....because I don't know about you...but Anthro shipping is crazy high in my opinion!

Pumpkin candle and pumpkin spice coffee!

Olivia is all about slime...so easy and fun to make!

It has been a while, but seeing my boy back in a uniform is a favorite!  Our first game was cancelled last weekend due to rain, so we were all pretty excited to watch him play Tuesday night.  Unfortunately they lost their game, but seeing AJ out there playing hard, doing his best, and most importantly having fun....it was perfect!  We all want to win, but it is true what they, it's not whether you win or lose, it is how you play the game!  Of course I want AJ to win, but more importunely I want him to learn win or lose, to always be a good sport, and I am so thankful he is!

Give her a box and her iPad and that is all she needs to be happy!

Our weather is NOTHING like Texas is getting but we had our fair share of rain last weekend...and we made the best of being housebound!  Sometimes a rainy, housebound weekend is just what you need.  It was so nice to see our kids put down their electronics and get outside and have some good, old-fashioned fun playing in the rain!

We are looking forward to a long weekend and enjoying time with my mom!  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!  See you guys back here next week!


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Thursday Thoughts

Hello Ladies

Today I am just going to share some of my thoughts with y'all and what has been on my mind and in my heart these days.

There has been so much ugly going on in the world lately, and if you have read here for a while, you know that I just will never understand a world with so much hate in it.  I have always been a believer in speaking your mind, but I fully believe there is a way to do that without being disrespectful and hurtful to others.  My mom always told me growing up, and I tell my kids the same thing, if you don't have anything nice to say, keep your damn mouth shut!  I understand with all the events going on in this world people have strong opinions, and while there is NOTHING wrong with being passionate about something, in my mind, there is something very wrong with people who just chose to be disrespectful and mean to others who have different views. 

 As I sat and watched, as I am sure many of you did, the events in Charlottesville unfold, I just found myself feeling so sick and scared.  It is crazy to me to see people walking around filled with so much hate towards others.  This isn't the kind of world I want to raise my children in...there is just no need, no room for hate.

None of us are better than anyone else...and those who think they are need a reality check.  I know nothing is simple, but I truly believe it all starts with us...its up to us to be good people, be respectful of others, while still standing up for what we believe in.  It is our job to raise our children to treat everyone the same, no matter their race, religion, economic status, at the end of the day we really are all the same.  

Women need to support other women, rather than tearing each other down.  We are all different, we all parent different, we all do life and marriage different, and we need to respect that just because others do things differently than us, it doesn't mean it is the wrong way.  What works for one, doesn't always work for another, and that is OK!  Over the last few years between blogging and social media, I have gotten ridiculous, sometimes hurtful messages from other women giving their two cents...and I am all for advice and constructive criticism, but some people truly do cross the line...and that must stop.  

Texas...I have been glued to my TV all week watching all the coverage of the hurricane...and it is absolutely heartbreaking to see the devastation.  I cannot even begin to try and know what it must feel like for all those affected, but we are praying hard for all of the people affected by this.  It is truly such a devastating situation, but it is incredibly heartwarming to see all the people coming together to just help...strangers helping strangers. It is so refreshing to see that even with so much division in our country right now, there is still so much unity an so much good in our country.  There are so many ways to help all those in need right now, and I urge you all to give what you can...even $1...every little bit helps!   

So those are my thoughts for today!  I just hope we can all start being a little kinder, giving a little more grace to others.  None of us know what the other is going through or may be battling, and none of us are in a position to sit back and judge others and be mean.  We all stress to our children to not bully others...we as adults must lead by example!

Thanks so much for stopping by today!  Be sure to check back tomorrow for some Friday Favorites!


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Hey Guys!

Hello Ladies!

I can't believe it has been over 2 months since my last blog post!  I have definitely missed this little space, but I must admit I really enjoyed the last couple months not blogging and just enjoying life and doing the things I needed to do.  I didn't plan to just not blog all summer long, but we have had so much going on in our lives, and my priority is always my family, and it was nice to be connected with them, not the internet!

We had a low key summer, but it was a good one....lots of sleeping in and swimming. We all love schedule and routine, but I am not going to lie, it is so nice to just have a break from it all for a few months and just do what we want, when we want!

We had some unexpected changes happen over the last six months, which I will talk about another day, but we did not take a vacation this summer, and though it was a little disappointing, we truly made the best of our time at home.  As much as I like to go, go, go....it was nice to be a bit more low key and appreciate the little things!

My kids have been back in school for about 3 weeks now, and so far they are all loving it.  Jack is a sophomore , AJ is in 8th grade (I still cannot believe he will be in high school next year) and Olivia started 4th grade!  Jack gets the bus crazy early...like 5:30 am early...so I am still getting used to waking up in the middle of the night to start my day!

Jack - 10th grade

AJ - 8th grade

Olivia - 4th grade

I always get a bit emotional at back to school time each year, but I really do love the newness of a new year.  Time goes by so quickly, and somedays I just get sad that I have blinked my eyes and my babies just aren't babies anymore, but watching my babies grow up to be good kids, young adults, adults, is truly the most rewarding and wonderful thing there is!

Well that is all for today!  I am definitely going to try and be more consistent with blogging!  Thank you to those of you who sent me emails and messages just checking in on me...I appreciate and am so thankful for all the friendships I have made through this little space!  

Hope y'all have a GREAT day!


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Trader Joe's Favorites

Hello Ladies!

Hope you all had a great weekend, and your week is off to a fantastic start!

Today I am sharing with you guys some of our favorites from....

Trader Joe's is one of my favorite places to shop!  When we lived in N.C., it was about a 5 minute drive from my house...and I sure miss that!  We are a good hour away from one now, but I go once or twice a month, because it is just worth it!  Below are some of our favorites from Trader Joe's...be sure to leave in the comments your favorites and what we need to try!


Our favorite wine to drink is Moscato...I grabbed this one to try the last time I was there and we LOVED it!  We just picked up a few more bottles this weekend....and it is only $7.99!  For all you Moscato drinkers out there....give this a try!


We love chips and salsa...it is one of Jack's favorite things to eat!  These tortilla chips are good, and I really like this salsa...a little heat, but enough sweetness to balance it out!


My kids have been loving this snack for YEARS...it is a BIG bag and for only $1.99 you just can't go wrong!


This is another one of Jack's favorites!  These are delicious!  


I just tried these for the first time this past weekend, and I really like them!  As soon as I opened the bag it smelled just like apple pie!  These are "airy" and have just the right amount of apple and cinnamon flavor!  I had a hard time closing the bag and not eating the whole thing in one sitting!


AJ could eat these all day, everyday!  I prefer these over regular pretzels!  So good.


I saw Andrea post about this little snack on IG a few weeks ago and decided to grab a couple bags!  I am not a huge fan of dark chocolate, but this was pretty good!  I found it to be pretty rich, but having just a small piece after dinner definitely satisfies my sweet tooth at night!


I tried these also for the first time, and I love them!  These will definitely be on my "regular" list!


You guys...this Bruschetta was AMAZING...and served on these little toasts...HEAVENLY!!!!  


Mark was not a fan of these crackers...but they are my FAVE!  I picked up some Brie and it was delicious !


Another favorite of mine and Jack's!  We are big fans of everything bagels, so these crackers fit the bill perfectly for us!


If you guys read here or follow me on IG, then you know we go through A LOT of chocolate chip cookies over here!  I probably make them 2-3 times a week and my family (mainly my boys) gobble them up faster than I can make them!  These chips are great, awesome price, and I keep BAGS of them in my pantry at all times!  


Me and the boys love cornbread...and this is the best I have tried!!


Banana bread is a favorite of everyone's here!  This mix doesn't disappoint!


These are hands down my favorite cookie to eat!  I love having one with my cup of coffee each day!  So good!


Trader Joe's has the BEST pizza dough...the BEST!  We love making homemade pizza and their dough and pizza sauce is our FAVORITE!   the dough is only $1.99 a bag and it freezes GREAT!


This is DELICIOUS!!!!  I toast up some bread, and this makes the most delicious sandwich I have ever had!  It has pecans and cranberries in it and it is DIVINE!


Because everyone loves a good Balsamic glaze, and this one for the price is AMAZING!


This soup is good!  I'm a fan of soup year round..even in the dead heat of summer!  This is super easy...just place the frozen soup in a crock, and cook it in the oven!  


If you have not tried this Mac & Cheese, you need to...it is the best I have ever had!  Do yourself a favor and just got some!


We love this with TJ fried rice!


You guys...this stuff is AMAZING.  My family prefers this over Chinese take out any day!  This has been a staple for us for YEARS...it is so good!  We also love the Teriyaki Chicken!  Serve it with some TJ fried rice and you have a great meal...and it is just $4.99 a bag.  We are a family of 7 and I usually make two bags and it is plenty for us!


We love this!  Super quick and easy to make and the rice comes out perfect every single time!


Mark LOVES coconut shrimp.  I think this was like $4.99 a box and it is pretty good.  He just cooks it up in the deep fryer and its a yummy little snack!


My boys love has browns and these are great to keep in our freezer and just heat them up for the kiddos for breakfast!

Mark and I love mushrooms.  This little bag is great to heat up and serve as a side with steak!  So good.


If it has mushrooms 9 times out of 10 we are going to love it...and we love this ravioli.


Jack and Mark really like these...Jack peters the beef an Mark prefers the chicken.  They are inexpensive, and great to have on hand for an after school snack or for lunches in the summer!  This has become a freezer staple for us!


Olivia is a a big fan of a cheese stick....she loves this.  I just throw them in the deep fryer and she will eat these for lunch or a snack!  


DELICIOUS!  I love this for lunch...and I use some of the balsamic glaze drizzled on top and it is amazing!


This everything bagel seasoning is freaking awesome!  I have been using it pretty much every day...I will use it on toast with butter, or sometimes cream cheese, and just sprinkle this on it and it just like an everything bagel...it is so good!  And the pink salt...another one of our staples!

I had heard good things about this shave cream, so I decided to grab some when we were there over the weekend...this will be on my "regular" list!  It smells great and leaves my skin so soft!  I definitely recommend this!

So there are SOME of our favorites from Trader Joe's...if you guys shop there and love something...be sure and let me know!

Thanks for stopping by today...see you guys back here soon!