Saturday, September 30, 2017

Hurricane Irma

We almost didn't leave for hurricane Irma.  Our ward was split about half and half.  Half of the people we knew were leaving and half were staying.  Most of those staying had hurricane shutters and we did not.  My family kept sending me frantic text like, "Get out NOW!" I even got some screenshots that showed a conversation with a stranger about us and our decision to stay.  It was saying that I was in a mandatory evacuation zone and if I stayed I'd be all on my own.  First of all, this wasn't true.  There was no mandatory evacuation where I live.  Now, at some point they evacuated the base housing and the areas East of my house.  The evacuation zone was close to my house but I was not in that zone.  It wasn't helpful to have people freaking out on me, especially people that didn't even know me.  It was quite stressful to decide if we were going to stay or go.  I didn't want to leave and I also didn't want to get stuck in our house for days on end with no power.  We decided to just wait and see how we felt as it got closer.  Mike went into work and almost all of his co-workers were leaving and as I thought about it, I felt we should leave.  It was stressful to get ready.  We were going to leave in the middle of the night but everyone Mike talked to was doing the same thing so we figured no matter when we left we would be caught in the traffic.  

The trip to my sister's house is supposed to take 6 1/2 hours.  It took us 12 to get there.  It was a long day.  We arrived at 2 AM, exhausted but mostly in good spirits.  It was nice and cool at my sister's house and we had a really good visit with her.  I took my camera and got some pictures of our stay so I'll post some of those later.  Being at my sister's house was nice.  The kids were happy and we had a great time.  There were a few hic-ups like the time the baby fell off the counter and we had to rush her to the hospital.  Then, later that night, we discovered my locket in the washer.  That was an emotional day (after a CT scan we found that the baby was actually okay thankfully).  

I had been in contact with my friends in Florida and they said that when the hurricane hit it was a stressful, scary night but not too bad and not too much damage.  They checked on our house and we discovered that the fence had fallen down in some places and the orange tree had some damage but for the most part, that was it.  But the power was out.  Most of the members of my ward had power restored within a few hours and I kept seeing more and more reports of the power coming back on so I assumed it would come on quickly.  I wanted to wait at my sister's house for at least one more day to see if the power was back on but Mike wanted to get back.  He is an optimist, always, and thought that the power would be back on and he just wanted to get back to life.  We left on Tuesday morning and it took us 13 hours to get home.  The gas stations had long lines of people and some of the pumps were empty but we were pretty lucky to get off at gas stations that had gas and not terrible lines.  We also saw a man on the side of the road outside his house hanging out free water bottles to the cars stuck in bumper to bumper traffic.  I thought it was so nice of him to think of all of us and wanting to help in any way he could.  We had water but I appreciated his offer none the less.  

At one point Piper had to go to the bathroom but the exits for a 40 mile stretch were all closed.  I told her she would have to pee on the side of the road or I could get one of Felicity's diapers.  She chose the diaper.  I held it up to her bum in the car and she peed.  Kind of sad but there weren't many options available.  

We got home and the power was out, like we figured it would be.  It was out until Saturday evening.  It was in the high 90's all week and hotter in the house.  Our bishop offered his generator and we hooked up box fans and the fridge.  Thankfully, we didn't lose a lot of food because I had packed the freezer so full that it still had ice on the food inside.  We ate up most of the fridge food before we left but I did have to throw out some of that food.  We had plenty of water and food storage so we wouldn't have starved but when we went to the grocery store full aisles of food were gone.  Almost no produce and most of the freezer food was gone.  I had made sure we had all our flashlights and headlamps available before we left and we had plenty of toilet paper and other essentials.  

At night time we used the fans and there was a breeze that helped cool things down a little.  We all slept in our underwear on top of our covers and took cool showers before bed so we would be cool when we went to bed.  

There was a snake in our pool that we had to fish out and quite a bit of debris and worms but I let the kids swim anyway because it was so hot and they needed to cool down.  The base got power back on pretty quickly so we headed to their library to cool down.  They have an x-box the kids could play and blocks for Piper and the baby.  We also ate ice cream for lunch and went out to eat for dinner so we didn't have to light the gas stove and cook in an already disgustingly hot house.  The kids played card games and stripped down to their under wear and laid on the tile to cool off.  

On Wed evening Mike, Will, and Isaac went around the ward with the youth and their leaders to help people in the ward fix fences, pick up debris, etc.  While they were gone I put the baby to bed and then Eli, Piper and I sat outside where it was cooler and looked at shapes in the clouds and played outside.  When it got unbearably hot we went into the van to charge our cell phones and get a much needed break from the heat.  Eli is afraid of the dark and I know this was a real personal challenge for him at night but he was so brave and never complained.  I was so proud of his courage.  He always stayed close to someone else at night but that was the only indication that he was afraid.  

The kids were all so awesome during this entire time.  There was less bickering and they had an overall positive attitude.  I think they enjoyed the excuse to go out to eat and have ice cream because that definitely isn't a normal occurrence in our home.  

At night it was just too hot to have them sleep upstairs so we carried their mattresses down stairs and they slept next to the box fan in the window.  We gave them melatonin so that they could fall asleep quickly and for the most part they slept okay.  One night the generator stopped and we woke up dripping in sweat (more so than we already were!) and Isaac found Mike and told him that the generator was not working.  I woke up to find Mike dressed and grabbing his keys and asked where he was going.  He said he hadn't realized the generator needed both gas and oil and it was out of oil so at 3:30 in the morning he headed to the store to buy oil so we could survive the rest of the night.  

There were a few times when things got hard for the boys.  I had to take them to the dermatologist to get some warts burned off and I think the heat and the discomfort from the warts got to them and poor Isaac was in tears that night.  He had kind of reached his limit.  He asked for a blessing of comfort and seemed fine after that.  Eli also fell apart the night that we told him he couldn't get in the pool because it was now too gross to keep swimming in.  He has used up his courage and patience and asked to be alone for awhile so he could cry and collect himself.  He sat outside alone for some time and then walked to his desk and got out a pencil and paper and began drawing and before long he had calmed down and was cheerful again.  We talked about how the Holy Ghost can inspire us to know what to do to bring us comfort and peace and the inspiration to draw was, for him, the way to feel peaceful.  

The baby didn't really nap that week because she was just too hot so she was tired and cranky and that made things a bit hard for me as well.  People were sad and surprised to discover that we still didn't have power and before long they were offering to have us over for dinner or over for play dates or even over to sleep.  We appreciated every single offer but I didn't take them up on the offers for play dates mostly because I was feeling discouraged and using up all of my energy to keep things feeling happy and light at our house and I was afraid that if I went to visit with a friend my resolve would come to halt and I'd end up complaining and not able to get back to my positive attitude or that I'd feel like I had to pretend that it wasn't as bad as it was so I just avoided anyone I knew.  For a few days I even avoided answering the phone so I wouldn't have to talk.  

At one point, Mike and the kids left and I took a cold shower and fell apart.  The stress of everything from the move, selling the house, the unpacking, starting another school year, enduring Felicity's reflux issues (which were only just starting to end), having to leave for the hurricane, losing the locket, and living in a house that was as hot as hell just finally all came out.  Everything I'd been holding in for months just came out.  I felt frustrated to be in a new place in an already low point only to be in a situation that required relying on so many people for help.  I hate being the one needing to be carried.  I was (am) just so tired.   

That night I woke up and had a strong impression that I was supposed to use this experience to teach the kids how to endure.  I wasn't quite sure how to do that when I felt like I was barely holding on but in the morning I gathered the kids and we sat on my bed and talked about the week.  We talked about all the instances we had noticed God's hand in making things bearable.  We talked about all the things were were grateful for.  We discussed the things we felt we were learning from this situation and I explained that in their future there would be much worse experiences they would have to endure and they could use this experience (that was not fun but not life threatening) to remember how to endure later.  We talked more about the Holy Ghost and how Isaac was able to find comfort through a blessing and Eli was able to receive inspiration about how to be happier.  We talked about the ways we had tried to make our situation better (shadow puppets, serving, ice cream, swimming, playing games, etc). I felt like that conversation was a turning point for me.  

On Saturday we had to go help clean the church and we all welcomed being in the air conditioned building.  Isaac was vacuuming and had a vacuum that was hard to maneuver.  He said a silent prayer that he would be able to make this vacuum work and immediately the building coordinator came and switched vacuums with him.  He said, "It was an answered prayer!"  He later confided in me that he felt really happy that the Lord was answering his prayers.  When we were driving home we got an email saying that the power wouldn't be back on until Monday night.  We were the last 7 % of people without power and were were all bummed.  We decided that we would take our friends up on their offer to let us sleep in their cool homes and made plans for the boys to sleep at a friend's house and the girls and Mike and I would sleep at another friend's house in their little guest home.  We enjoyed dinner at another friend's house and felt thankful for all the offers of help.  We drove home to get our things and deliver the boys to find that the street lights were on, the neighbors were celebrating in their driveways, and our lights were on!  The boys were bummed that their sleep over got canceled but we let them have "late-night over" and we all slept well in our beds that night.  Probably the most rewarding moment for me was when Isaac pulled me aside and said, "The only reason I'm sad the power is back on is because I don't think I've ever felt closer to Heavenly Father as I have this week.  I know that now this is over I will have a harder time feeling close to him."  He wrote about this experience in his journal and he has since told me that this experience has been a testimony builder for him.  

That seems like it was all worth it then.  

I can't say that I'm totally over this.  I still feel unsettled.  I still feel so tired and long for a break.  I keep thinking and praying for those in Puerto Rico and South Florida and Texas, the people in Mexico who suffered damage from the earthquakes, and those suffering from all the fires.  I keep thinking about how I feel not quite normal yet and nothing really even happened to us.  I keep thinking about how they are feeling and how they have to rebuild their lives and I feel so sad for them.  

Playing cards

cooling down in the van

Piles like this are all over in the streets

I couldn't strip down like the kids so I wore my moo-moo instead.  Very flattering

Monday, September 11, 2017

Hurricane Irma and my locket

Right before we left the hospital, and Laila behind, I asked the detective if I could cut a piece of Laila's hair.  Even though it wasn't really allowed, she had pity on me.  I cut off a small piece and bought a locket to put her hair in.  I wore it often until Piper was born and now with Felicity, I don't wear it either because babies have such grabby hands and I don't want one of the babies to break it.  It sits on my counter in the bathroom and I have to admit that when I see it sitting there, I miss it around my neck.

This week we decided not to stay in Florida for Hurricane Irma.  I had to decide what to take with us and what to leave behind.  We don't have a lot that I really care about in our house.  I mean, of course, I'd be sad to come home to our home and things destroyed but for the most part, I don't have a deep connection to the things inside out house.  There are a few items I would be really sad to lose however.  Our journals, a treasured painting, and Laila's things.  I protected them the best way I knew how and hoped for the best.  Right before we left I saw the locket and put it in my pocket.  I knew that I did not want to leave the locket behind.

The locket stayed in my pocket until Saturday morning when I threw in a load of laundry.  Later that night Mike came and tapped me on the shoulder and told me he needed to talk to me in the other room.  After following him he pulled my locket out of his pocket, broken and empty.  In the rush to leave I didn't take it out of my pocket and then once we finally got to my sister's house, I just completely forgot.

I was devastated.

I feel like my brain failed me.

I didn't even need Hurricane Irma to destroy my treasured things.  I did it on my own.

Her hair is the only physical piece of her I had left.  I have other things that were hers like her blankets and clothes but her hair is a part of her.  Mike reminded me that we still have a small amount of her hair left at home in an envelope (and it looks like the house was undamaged so the envelope should still be there).  That hair was given to me by the man that did the autopsy.  He cut a little bit more for me and put it in the envelope.  It has some embalming fluid dried on it but it's all I have.

So Hurricane Irma will always be remembered in my book as the event that caused me to lose my mind, and my locket.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Foggy, Magical mornings

Tennessee must have known how much I was going to miss the foggy, magical mornings because we were blessed with quite a few right before we moved.  I was grateful to catch them before the fog moved out for the day.  


Isaac has been wanting a skateboard for awhile.  He saved up his money and bought the skateboard and pads and helmet (we will probably reimburse him for the pads and helmet).  He has been working hard on practicing tricks.  I took him to a skate park and that was a bit much for him too soon so he's back to practicing at home on sidewalks and driveways until he's more comfortable.  

Scenes from our Summer (June)

Tea party

There is a road behind the subdivision we lived in that is so quiet and windy.  In the summer the full trees create a magical green lane that leads to an old cemetery.  Just after the cemetery is a smaller road that leads off to the side.  It dead ends and is overgrown with moss and wild flowers and vines.  You can miss the magic if you aren't looking because the main road curves around and leads to a big open field on the right and the subdivision on the left.  I've been wanting to take photos on this quiet road every time I drive by.  Our move was quickly approaching and I knew I wouldn't have many opportunities left.  One morning Piper was outside having a tea party with the baby on the porch and I had a moment of inspiration.  I loaded her up in the car and drove to the overgrown road and set up her tea party and let her do her thing with her stuffed lamb with no direction from me.  I just snapped away while she played.  There was the time when she suddenly had to go pee and I looked around wondering what the heck I was going to do and then remembered that we just picked up toilet paper from the grocery store and it was still in the back of the van.  I held her dress while she crouched and went potty.  Toilet paper is biodegradable right?!  So, I guess the experience wasn't as magical as the pictures lead you to believe but it was a funny memory regardless.

Sunday, July 23, 2017


I have pictures to upload but they are on my camera and my laptop won't upload pictures from my camera.  So this post will just be boring words.  We have finally moved.  We were sad to move but it got to the point where it was just hanging over our heads and we were just waiting.  It needed to happen finally so we could all get to getting our lives settled again.  We aren't settled yet but at least we are on our way towards that.  The boys headed to Scout Camp after the open house.  Mike went up for two days while I stayed home with the little kids to get the house ready for the packers.  It was a stressful two days because the baby doesn't like to be away from me.  She likes to be held or right next to me all the time and Mike and the two boys were gone so I had to rely on Eli and Piper for help.  Mike came home on Wed and it just felt like everything fell apart that day.  All the stress finally came to a head and came out in an ugly stress barf.  There was a decision we had to make and I told Mike I wasn't able to discuss it and we needed to wait to have the discussion later but he insisted we discuss it and make a decision and so I kind of fell apart.  Tears, yelling, more tears.  It wasn't pretty and I wish it hadn't happened.  Mike didn't yell.  He didn't cry.  Just me.  Anyway, we had the discussion and then it ended up being a moot point, which didn't help.  There were other not cool things happening at the same time that made for the perfect emotional storm for me.  Too much at one time.  Bleh.  

The packers came on Thursday and packed our house up in two days.  The two older boys came home to see their rooms packed and boxes everywhere.  We lived around the boxes until Monday when the movers came and loaded the truck.  We spent the night at our friend's house and then returned to the empty house on Tuesday morning to clean.  It was a fast and furious morning of cleaning.  At 1 we closed the doors to our house and drove back to our friend's house to shower and drop off the kids and then we drove across town to sign the papers and hand over keys to the house at closing.  It was so fast that there wasn't time to feel sad.  I briefly felt sad at one point when I was cleaning but didn't have time to dwell on it.  I guess I'm just sentimental but I kind of wish I had gotten the chance to walk around one last time before we gave over the keys.  

We headed back to our friend's house for dinner.  We had more wonderful friends come and see us to say goodbye and then we put the kids to bed and went to a late move with our friends.  The next morning, we got started late because we washed a load of laundry and repacked the van and car.  At noon, we finally left Knoxville.  We ended up reaching Atlanta at 5 PM, the worst time to try and drive through Atlanta.  I don't know how people manage living there honestly.  The traffic is so bad.  The GPS kept taking us on crazy routes making the drive even worse and at one point I couldn't see Mike's car anywhere.  I finally found him about an hour later.  Finally, at 10 PM we reached Warner Robins where we stayed in a TLF on base.  That night the two younger boys were pretty emotional.  Eli said his ear hurt and was worried it would get so infected it might have to be cut off and "what if I don't make any friends?"  He cried and cried.  Isaac was in Mike's car during the whole Atlanta traffic ordeal and Mike kept yelling and threatening to throw his phone out the window and poor Isaac was feeling the effects of all the stress so after we stopped for dinner he sat in the van with me and cried.  He missed his friends and wanted to go home.  I told him to hop out of the van and run two laps of the parking lot and he would feel better.  He ran them and he did actually feel better but he told me later that he wanted to cry multiple times in the car but held it back.  

The next day was better.  We made good time and arrived at our vacation rental at 8 PM. Isaac briefly got upset again and said he wanted to go home and were all the yards going to be so ugly?  Mike went to work the next morning and I took the kids to get some food at the grocery store in the pouring rain.  When Mike came back I told him that we needed to head over to the beach after the storm passed because the kids needed something happy to happen.  The rain stopped and we went and played in the ocean for an hour.  The kids were so happy!  The next morning we woke up, ate quickly and then headed back for an early morning swim.  It was perfect and again, the kids were so happy.  I really feel like going to the beach helped the kids have a happier outlook on life and their current circumstances.  

We went to church today and the ward is not as big as we expected and the primary is small.  It's small enough that they have combined Isaac and Will's class and Eli is also in a combined class.  There is only one other boy in Eli's class again and that makes me sad because he has been worried about making friends and I had been praying for boys to be in the ward.  We will just have to figure out how to find other friends in the neighborhood and such.  The ward was very friendly though.  Everyone was so welcoming and we have already had three invites to do things.  I'm hopeful that this can be a smooth transition.  

The kids all show subtle signs of the stress from the move.  They are a little more sensitive and get irritated at one another quicker.  Piper cries more easily.  The baby isn't sleeping again.  We finally got her sleeping without much effort at night time and now we are kind of back to square one.  She is tired and cranky and confused.  

We are in this vacation rental for ten more days and then we will have our stuff delivered and get in the rental house.  Hopefully we can rest up and make the next few days happy and fun and do some exploring and take more beach trips before life has to be stressful again.  

Moving is so tough.  

Monday, July 10, 2017

Saying goodby

We have one more week here.  I have competing feelings of sadness and gratitude. A few days ago I happened to say, "Ya'll" and it just rolled off the tongue so naturally.  I couldn't help but smile.  I finally talk like a southerner and I have to leave!  Just kidding, I still don't sound like a southerner.  

When Mike was applying for schools we had pretty much decided that Texas A&M was where we were going.  When Mike got accepted to MIT of course we thought we were probably crazy for turning that opportunity down and we thought Texas was the next best choice for our family but Tennessee kept popping up in our minds.  I felt so much peace about moving to Tennessee.  We had looked for houses on the other side of town where everyone told us to live and none of those houses felt good to me.  I looked at a few on this side of town and each time I felt so much peace but we thought Mike was going to have to work at Oakridge and he did not want to drive an hour to work.  We put an offer on a house on the other side of town and when the house had termites we pulled out of that offer.  Then this house popped up and without even seeing the house we put an offer on it and hoped for the best.  Mike decided that if he had to drive an hour half of the week he would just deal with it.  (He ended up only having to go to Oakridge ocassionally).  When we moved into the house we discovered that it was in the exact area that I had felt good about when I had come to look at houses.  In fact, it was in the subdivision across the street from my favorite house on our house search.  At the time I thought, "I guess this is where Heavenly Father wants our family."  Three years later, I don't have any guesses, I know!  I feel like we were in the ward He wanted us to be in and we have made such incredible friends here.  

I feel so sad to say goodbye but I feel like Heavenly Father has placed the best of the best in our path everywhere we have lived.  I feel so grateful for the experiences he is giving us.  While I do not like to move and I'd be perfectly happy staying right where I am, I recognize that if I stayed in my comfortable little life, I'd never meet these people!  I've worried that maybe we won't make friendships in Florida like we have here.  Maybe they won't like us.  Maybe they will think we are weird.  Or, maybe they will think they already have friends and they don't need more.  Last night at the open house they had for us one of my friends came up to me.  He shook my hand and said, "Adrianne, if you stay as the person you are, you will have no problems making friends."  I had never told him my worry about not making friends in Florida so he couldn't have known how I was feeling and his comment made me feel so thankful.  I hope he was prompted to tell me that because it meant the world to me.  I hope we leave Florida with as many good memories and friends as we've made here.

Best friends!  Mike and Conan served together in the bishopric.  If Mike could hang out with anyone, it would be Conan

The Copeland's.  They have another cutie red-head not in the picture.  We love this family and have learned so much from their example and friendship.

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Mandy and Dani are niece and Aunt.  I love these two beautiful ladies.  

Camryn, Cally, Paul.  I can't wait to see what happens with Camrynn in the future.  I hope my little girls grow up to be like the Young Women in this ward.  I loved Cally from the minute I met her.  Will told me yesterday that when he met her he thought, "Mom is going to want to be her friend."  He was right!  

Dani Cruze.  Dani is quite possibly the coolest girl in the world.  I love her.

Isaac with his class of boys (one boy missing).  Brother Hughes is Isaac's teacher and Isaac loves him.  These boys have become Isaac's best friends

The Finstad's.  Emily F. and Cally C were the first people I met when we moved here.  They showed up at the house and welcomed us.  Bishop Finstad served with Mike and Conan and then Mike was his counselor when Nathan got called as the bishop.  

Two of these sweet girls were in my class last year before they headed to Young Women's.  Such sweet girls!

The Strickland's!  I admire AnneMarie so much.  She is a homeschooling mom as well and she is incredible.  I've loved being her friend.

Eli had a party in our backyard with friends.  Forts, water relay, laser guns!

These two cuties...


Crystal Copeland.  I will miss this amazing friend

an ice cream treat with friends!

swimming with friends 

Hayley and Piper--the ward's twin red-heads and best friends