Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Just a quick update from Florida.

Hurricane Irma was a unique experience. I don’t think Hubby D or I would like to do it again.  The build up lasted over a week and the storm was nerve-racking.

This was the calm before the storm.
Many times during the day Sunday we could not see the golf course.

The storm winds and rain did not start arriving in our area until Saturday, Sept. 9 with the most severe storm starting Sunday night. However, the grocery store was out of water, bread and other essentials the previous Tuesday morning. The gas stations ran out of gas long before the storm hit.

One of my own preparations was to find our battery powered weather radio I purchased some time ago. It will also charge your electronic devices so I was looking forward to seeing if it really worked.  We gave one to BHB and she said it took a lot of cranking to create enough of a charge.


The roads were packed all week with people leaving the Miami area. I suppose it was a good thing that the build up was so long and so many were able to leave, but the week long stress was more than I would have liked. When I was growing up in Oklahoma we usually had only a few minutes to prepare before a tornado hit.  



Even before the heavier rains hit, our gutters were overwhelmed with rain water.

video

This video was taken early in the storm before the winds increased. Unfortunately if you are reading this in an email, you will have to go to my blog to view my videos.  https://brendahyde.blogspot.com

Sustained winds were 85 mph overnight Sunday when they were at their peak. The strong gusts lasted well into Monday.

The strong winds started on Sunday evening.

There was a time during the night Sunday (early Monday) when it sounded like the windows were being power washed by the strong rains.

video

This video was taken about 1AM, Monday when the rain was pelting our windows.

The lake behind our house came well out of its banks making the green for the 5th hole of the golf course a complete island.  



Our new palms lost several fronds.

We were lucky and the damage to our home from the storm was minimal. We were only out of power and water for about 12 hours although our water is still under a “boil alert." We have a small hole in our roof over the garage that will need to be fixed and we lost one of our majestic tall palms.




Luckily the palm is leaning towards an open grassy area.  I will have to have it cut down before it falls all the way.
But these problems are small.

We spent Monday morning cutting up tree limbs and gathering palm fronds. 


BHB stopped by to check on us. They lost some shingles and fencing. There are also trees down in her yard.

A really big SPECIAL thank you to all our friends for their concerns. The many, many phone calls, emails and texts were greatly appreciated. We had offers to evacuate to Tampa and Charlotte. Tampa would not have been a good thing and we actually offered them our home for their evacuation. And, unfortunately I think Charlotte is experiencing the remnants of Irma right now.

I have to admit it would have been fun to visit friends, but we are very happy we stayed so we could start the clean up process quickly.

All in all, we came out great. However we are going to get estimates on hurricane shutters. It was just too terribly stressful.

Cheers,
Brenda

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The first small loss in the hurricane

We are preparing for Hurricane Irma and just experienced our first casualty.



This little guy was on our pool deck as we were packing up all the furniture. When I walked up to him to take his picture, he jumped into the pool. I tried to catch him but he kept swimming for the bottom.

Poor froggie.

This is just the down side to living in a tropical paradise.  Hurricanes.

Hopefully Hurricane Irma will keep going west until it leaves Florida for the Gulf of Mexico.  But I think that is wishful thinking.  It really does look like we might get a big storm here.



This is a historical look at the month of September from 1851 to 2016.
Guess we can't avoid hurricanes.

Daughter BHB and her family are staying here in Viera and I think Hubby D and I might as well.  Things have been getting better over the last 24 hours and the storm seems to be weakening and moving to the west.

We had invitations from friends around the area in Florida and outside Florida to evacuate and come stay with them.  We were tempted to accept one invitation to Charlotte, North Carolina and take our golf clubs.  However, it will probably rain hard up there as well.  But . . .  it would have been fun.

BHB's husband, RB just returned from 2 weeks in Texas.  His team took a whole bunch of boats and rescued several hundred people.  We are very proud of him.  He has worked many disasters and has already been put on standby to go to the Keys for this hurricane.



There are a few more "irreplaceable" items still to go in water proof boxes. Most of the rest is stacked in a safe area or stowed away.  

The last precious items to be boxed up.  Really don't want to loose anything, but these can't be replaced so I will put them in a water tight container.

One good characteristic of a typical hurricane is you generally have plenty of notice and you can prepare your house for the worst to happen. Harvey was the exception because of the heavy rains.
All the patio furniture is in the foyer.

The sand bags were all taken so I used top soil to brace our front door.  
We placed our Persian rugs we brought back from the Middle East in our spare bathroom.  It is an interior room without windows. I remember from my youth in Oklahoma that an interior room is supposed to be the best room in the house during a tornado. Since we might be on the East side of the storm, there is a good chance there will be tornados.


For now, we are waiting on the next update.  Keep your fingers crossed that the loss of froggie is the worst we will experience. LOL

Cheers,
Brenda


P.S. Just one "upbeat" comment.... Wednesday I watched little LW's soccer practice with his class of two-year-olds.  PRECIOUS!!!! (He was definitely the best kicker.)





Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Hurricanes and Floods

The craziness here in Florida as Hurricane Irma approaches reminds me of snow in Virginia.  All the East Coast weatherman had to do was mention there was a slight chance of flurries and the grocery store would be completely cleaned out.

This morning I snagged some of the last cases of water at our local grocery store AT 6:45AM.



When I arrived at the store there were already around 50 or 60 people in line. When the store finally opened, I let a couple of elderly people go in front of me which could have been a problem.  However when I finally arrived at the water, the clerk was able to load 4 cases into my basket.  Then the water was all gone (until the next shipment arrives)!

Just 2 days ago we were at the beach with LW.
At least with a hurricane, you have lots of warning that one is approaching.

It has been a busy week for disasters.  The lady (IB) who owns the company that cleans my house told me she was going to Texas to do some insurance work and she was going to pull a trailer of donated items.

IB and I are loading goodies from my golf cart into her van.

I immediately organized my Ladies Golf Group to gather up some donations for the families in Texas.  It reminded me so much of when I had FAMILIES Magazine and we organized a Teddy bear drive (Hugs from DC) for the tornado victims in Moore, Oklahoma.

The ladies pulled together a good load of REALLY wonderful items that overfilled my golf cart and made a nice addition to IB's trailer.  It felt really good.  Maybe it is time for me to look around for a "cause" here in Florida.



Maybe I will just wait a week and Mother Nature will create one for me.  I HOPE NOT!

Hopefully I will be blogging about how we missed most of the storm.  Time will tell.

But Hubby D and I have plenty of water, canned food, candles and a couple of bottles of some great wine that we would not want destroyed in the storm.

Cheers,
Brenda


Friday, August 25, 2017

Adventures with College Kids

As fate would have it, I have two grandchildren that are both rising seniors in college this year.  MVL is studying Architectural Engineering at the University of Oklahoma and BSJ is studying Digital Forensics and Computer Cryptography at the University of North Florida.

University of North Florida

University of Oklahoma


This summer both MVL and BSJ spent some time with us in Florida.  It was great to have them together. The also have always been close and great friends as they share many, many common interests.  And, I will just say it – they are both brainy nerds.  This is a compliment.

MVL was able to stay with us for almost two full weeks and BSJ was only here for 4 days.

MVL and I played 6 rounds of golf.  WAHOO!
This is one of my favorite photos of all time. BSJ and I were diving in the Bahamas. 

One day we sat down over lunch and talked about college graduation. Before I can tell you about our conversation, I need to give you some history.  When daughter BHB graduated from high school, my niece who lives in California also graduated from high school on the very same weekend.  My mom and dad flew the red eye from San Francisco to Washington DC so they could attend both graduations. WHEW!

Here the kids were searching for their graduation ceremony dates (and probably playing games as well) at our breakfast table.

When I started planning on my “graduation conversation” with MVL and BSJ I kept hoping that there would not be a conflict and we would not need to do any painful flights to be able to make both graduations.  BECAUSE we WOULD be at both graduations!

Thankfully BSJ’s graduation ceremony will be in Jacksonville, Florida on April 27 and MVL’s graduation ceremony will be in Norman, Oklahoma on May 12.

Both are going on to graduate school for their master’s degree.  BSJ will be working first before he starts his master’s but MVL will move right into the engineering program at OU.  She is already taking some classes that apply to her master’s degree.

This summer we had fun playing golf, visiting the beach, shopping for back to school, going to Orlando, eating at great restaurants and just hanging out catching on up the Game of Thrones TV series. We even worked in some dominos.  We can’t get together without playing at least one strategy game.

When we were going through the game boxes, we found these score cards from the past.  I am sure both kids were in elementary school.  Wow, what memories.
They are both back at school hitting the books, but I have some great memories of two super young people and how much fun they had with their grandmother.

Cheers,
Brenda

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The BIG TRUCK lunch box

Gotta give my daughter credit.

BHB purchased LW a GREAT new lunch box for his first day of school.  It is a "Big Truck" lunch box.  He was so proud heading off to his new school. (I am so very proud of what a great mom BHB is.)

It looks like she did a fantastic job for a great transition.  He cried - of course he is a two and half years old.  But he looks happy here.

I did not sleep well last night.  As I tossed and turned all night I couldn't figure out what was bothering me. Now I realize I was just worried.  But apparently there was no need.  BHB had it under control.

Today is starting off pretty good!

Cheers, Brenda
What a cute young man.-- new school uniform and a Big Truck lunch box to go along with it.  

My Last Responsibility

It is nice to be needed.  It is even better when someone needs you and you feel you did a great job of helping them.

Today has some very sad and a few happy feelings for me and how I have been helping my daughter.

Yesterday was the last day my daughter needed me to pick up LW at school for her.  He is starting a new school today (a very good school – this is a good thing) and I will no longer be needed to pick him up in the afternoon.

One side – I am extremely sad to not have this responsibility any longer.

Second side – I am happy he is going to a great school and my daughter will have the security of knowing she does not have to rely on me every single day.

Not that I am a security risk, I just am not always around to do it for her.

Every afternoon about 30 minutes prior to pick up time I would get a text, “Are you getting LW?” I am sure it was comforting to her when I replied that I was on my way.

When we moved to Florida from Bahrain, BHB decided to return to her work in a law firm.  She loves the work and a good firm presented it’s self close to where she lives.  However the Montessori school for LW has very limited hours and I would need to pick him up every day.

At first I was daunted by the responsibility and commitment. Would I remember every day (leave on time, have gas in the car and all that), would I be able to structure what ever I ended up doing around these hours, could I still take Hubby D to the airport and pick him up after his travels, would I be able to travel from time to time with Hubby D? My worries were for nothing.  It was easy and I fell into a routine rather quickly.

But yesterday was the last time I would be required to pick up LW and he starts in the new school today. Time flies when you are having fun.

Yesterday I tried taking a last picture of LW and myself in the room but the lighting did not work out too well.  We also tried to take a picture with LW’s best friend, however that was a disaster as we were standing next to the bookshelf and both boys instantly decided they wanted to read books.  The school has a great book about big trucks and LW really enjoys sharing it with me when I arrive to get him.



LW and I had a routine each day. After I signed him out, he would put on his cute little green turtle back pack and we would hunt for lizards on our way to the car. Generally we saw one or two every afternoon. One day we actually saw a large turtle and watched as it sauntered out of the parking lot into a pond area.


Some days pickup was easy and some days it was a challenge.  BHB complained that I let him explore too much and when she occasionally did pick him up (when I traveled) it took forever to make it to the car.  I actually liked that criticism.

I tried to make our last night together as much fun and special as I could. Once we were in the car I gave LW a special “Papa cookie.”  They are Oreo cookies that Hubby D loves and so does LW.




I was very lucky and it happened to be a night when BHB’s husband (LW’s dad) was traveling so she and LW stayed with me for dinner.  Hubby D was in Chicago so it was just the three of us.

LW and I spent time waiting on BHB to arrive playing in my kitchen courtyard with climbing toys we have for LW.



I cooked pizza for LW (his favorite) and great fish for BHB and myself.  We finished the meal off with homemade ice cream (LW and Hubby D’s favorite).


Take note of the cute cup.  It was Hubby D's cup when he was LW's age. It is so cute because LW looks just like Dennis the Menace as well.

Will I miss our safari into the bushes to hunt for “baby lizards”?

Will I miss the nightly trips to the school and the routine of getting LW to “jump” into his car seat and buckle up?

Will I miss hearing “Oma, BIG truck!” as we run down the highway?

Will I miss that sweet, cute, lovable, amazing smile when I tell LW that Papa (Hubby D) is waiting at home to play (which happened a few times)?

Will I miss handing my little snack bag back to LW in his car seat and hearing his squeal with delight for cookies?

YOU BET!!!!

More than you could ever possibly imagine.

One thing you can count on is that life goes on and things change.  Children grow up and babies become toddlers who become little people.

And, the joys of grand parenting grow with every change.  I have loved my responsibility but it is time to get this house remodel finished and move on to another challenge of my own.

I cannot believe this is only my second post for 2017.  I apologize but I was busy making sure I created that strong bond with LW.  :-)

Granddaughter ML is visiting and we are playing golf together today.  That is another wonderful and heart warming story.

Cheers,
Brenda






Monday, April 24, 2017

Getting Up to Date

I know, please don’t gripe at me.  It's been a really long time since I blogged!

I am sure you understand. We’ve all done it -- We get caught up in our busy life and procrastinate somewhere.  My “somewhere” is my blog.

When we started the renovation of our newest home and downsized our living space into just the master bedroom, my desk space became only as big as my laptop.  The large monitor I had been using for a few years was stuffed away in a storage closet and I only had a tiny, little, itty bitty, scrunched up space to sit and work on my small laptop computer. It was not very inviting.

And, then there is the renovation.  What was I thinking???? Hubby D asked me if I could handle it and I said, "Sure!" Maybe I am rethinking that decision. . .

What started out with a goal of 6 months is now in the 7th month and I am certain we will not be finished in the next month - maybe 2 if I am lucky.

The exterior of the house was painted Florida Coral.  I could not wait to get a new color on the outside!
Livingroom, dining room, office, bedroom all rolled into one room.
D's desk was looking out over the pool deck. Here they are getting ready to install the granite for the outdoor kitchen.

Leaving Bahrain I had many adjustments, but I never dreamed finding good tradesmen in the States would be so hard.  Apparently (unknown to me – dah!) every painter, electrician and plumber is 100% booked from August through December.  That seems to be the season everyone wants to update and renovate here in Florida.

I was out of luck finding good tradesmen for our interior work until AFTER the first of 2017.

So we decided to start with the outside – repairs, new paint and all new landscaping. Overgrown palm trees had to be literally pulled out of the pool decking and multiple dead palm stumps had to be ground up throughout the yard.  At one time the entire yard must have been a palm tree paradise.

Hubby D grilling on our "$20 WallMart Special" grill. Our outdoor kitchen was not complete until March. Notice the palm tree to the left. It is a pony tail palm and was growing through the top of our screens around the pool.
We had 7 large (very large) palm stumps that had to ground up so I could replace the landscaping.

The hundreds of boxes from our household goods that were stored before we left for the Middle East were delivered and I picked out just a few of pieces of furniture so we could survive – a sofa, some kitchen chairs, a glass table from the old basement, our bed and night stands.

Then everything else (enough to fill a 3 car garage) promptly was put back into storage. (Oops – when was the last time I went over and checked on it??? – better go soon!)



Our shipment from Bahrain arrived and took up residency and filling the garage AGAIN. Now we were overflowing with stuff.  I have a feeling a big garage sale is in my future.  UGH!

As we started the outside painting and landscaping, we also had some concrete work done and LW was enthralled.




In the mean time, Thanksgiving came and went.  We had no dining table so we ate out on the pool deck.

In early December we celebrated Hubby D’s birthday by babysitting LW while BHB and her hubby went to a holiday party in Orlando. It was LW’s first overnight and we loved it.  BHB baked an angel food cake for her dad (fantastic!). LW and I made ice cream.





Hubby D (known as Papa to LW) is reading the "Big Truck" book with LW.  It is so cute because LW LOVES Big Trucks!

Here is a video of LW reading the BIG TRUCK book. If you are reading this in an email, you will need to go to my blog page online to view the video.  http://brendahyde.blogspot.com 



We did make a couple of short trips. We traveled to Amish Country and visited with good friends LW and YW celebrating their son's graduation from high school (in Bahrain).



We also traveled to NYC for a SAME function and visited the new One World Trade Center. Later we traveled to New Orleans for a CMAA conference and had some great meals in the French Quarter. No exotic trips, just RENOVATIONS!


Inside the new train station at the One World Trade Center.

Burbon Street. Same as it always was. . . however I think they have better restaurants than before!
Granddaughter ML came for winter break. Grandson BSJ and father-in-law DM came for the holidays. All we could offer them was a small bed and chair in an empty guest room.  We did not even have holiday decorations. They did not seem to mind. We promised next year would be better.

On Christmas Day and we hosted BHB and her family on folding tables in our dining room.  That was a hoot!
Father-in-Law, DM caught a fish in the lake right off our back door.
We took ML to the "Surfn Santa" festival. There were A LOT of strange Santas and they WERE surfing. We are considering this as an annual event for us.
I was able to bake cookies with ML and BSJ.

I also baked cookies with LW and BHB.

January 3 Hubby D was off on another business trip so ML and DM helped me move our the small bit of furniture BACK out of the house and into the garage so construction could start on the interior on January 9.



From then until just a few days ago we camped out in the master bedroom of the house – we had our bed, two cozy chairs (our living room), a small folding table (our pop-up dining room) and two LOADED folding tables with desk chairs (our office) in a 400 square foot bedroom. There was a make shift kitchen (coffee pot, hot plate, microwave) in our bathroom.

I lived for over 2 years in Bahrain without a garbage disposal, and here again I did not have one.  However, the biggest challenge was washing dishes in the small bathroom sink.

January 25 LW celebrated his second birthday, but the week prior I became extremely ill and I did not get to attend.  Hubby D was there and told me all about it.  However I was very ill and spent almost 3 weeks off my feet. It was a huge setback for me.

Celebrating birthday number 2 at the zoo with the sting rays.
When we were nearing completion of the construction stage in the main part of the house I started the interior design stage. To prepare to decorate, we rolled out some of our rugs (carpets) from our time in the Middle East. It was almost a rug flop. And, it was certainly fun for us and for LW. He started tumbling all over the rugs.


LW loves to help no matter what you are doing.

We have divided the renovation into 4 stages

1- Exterior (done!)
2- Main spaces – foyer, spiral stair case, living room, dining room, guest bedroom and bath, kitchen, family room, laundry room and office AND the outdoor kitchen, pool and pool deck (almost done!)
3- Master bedroom and bath (started 2 weeks ago)
4- Two upstairs guest bedrooms with baths (will start when Master is complete)

Over a recent weekend, we moved our possessions out of the master bedroom and into a much, much smaller bedroom to start demolition of the master bedroom.

So I guess you can say we downsized one more time. LOL

Construction has been consuming my time.  I played a little golf before stage 2 started but after the tradesmen started coming every day at 8AM, my schedule has been to stick around.  Every morning I get up early, check my text messages to make sure no one has canceled (happens) and move the cars out of the driveway so the trucks, trailers and vans can arrive. They all fight over prime placement close to the house.

I know we will enjoy the home when it is complete, but I am tired of workmen coming and going every day, all day. I just cringe every time I see plumbers crack (which is often). I am ready to be past that!

Baby crack is better than plumbers crack!

And, now we have a dumpster in the driveway as well.  That is yucky in my opinion.  I can’t wait for it to go away!

          Just a few of the problems along the way:
New doors too short for the space
Countertop cut too long
Electrical outlets that had to be moved
Electrical outlets (many) put in the wrong place
Drain installed but not unplugged when icemaker installed (It flooded at 3AM one morning.)
Pedestal sink not same color as toilet (same manufacturer, wrong color)
Paint the wrong color
Instructions not passed along to workers from their boss (fired that company after it happened 3 times)
Wrought iron not painted correctly
Whole house audio system not working correctly
Grout not right
Mounted 75 inch TV crooked
Delays, delays, delays
Dishwasher not level because of tile floor
Scratches on stove hood from HVAC workers
Scratches on outdoor grill from installers
Pool forms not working right
Not enough tile ordered (not my fault!)

In the scope of life, not big problems.  As my friend DW would say, definitely first World problems.

I have been blessed and have a great life. Our home will be beautiful after it is all complete.

Here are a few of my favorite picture memories for the past few months while I have been having fun with LW (along with managing the construction). I hope granddaughter ML and grandsons BSJ and MB will forgive me for all the photos of LW but I am trying to savor all the "Grandma with a baby" moments I can. He is the last and I want to experience it all. (Big thanks to Hubby D for letting us live in Florida and close to BHB. xoxo)

Sharing a splash in the water running down the driveway.
Helping Oma (me) unpack.
LW at Papa's "desk."
Riding on Uncle BB's old hot wheel when we unpacked it - he loved this bike so we kept it for him to play with. Uncle BB will turn 39 this April 30. WOW! The makes me feel old. 
Helping clean up after hauling some plants for the yard.
He loves to play around with my glasses.  I had to find just one pair for him so he would not tear them all up bending them.
LW found one of his mom's old hats while helping me unpack and had fun wearing it.
On Good Friday Hubby D took the afternoon off and we went to the beach with LW.


Someday I will have plenty of time to blog my heart out.  The only question is will I have anything of interest to say?

Cheers,
Brenda


This is the view over the lake looking back towards our new home (in the far distance) at sunrise. I captured this image early one morning after returning from taking Hubby D to the airport in Orlando. Enjoy!