My Hurricane Irene Story

In case someone ever says, “Where were you during Hurricane Irene back in 2011?”

On Wednesday night, I read that some stores were already out of water as people were preparing for the hurricane.  That made me anxious that I hadn’t been preparing early enough and I didn’t sleep well.

On Thursday morning I was able to drop the kids of at a drama camp at our church and head to Walmart to get all the necessary hurricane supplies.  Some food, but not a lot in case we lost our power.  A couple jugs of water…there were only about a dozen left on the shelves.  I decided it wouldn’t hurt to pick up some flashlights.  And then a lot of other things that put my total way over $100!  I was also buying birthday presents for some upcoming parties and other random things that Walmart entices you to buy.  Oh, and a new doorknob for the back door.

I came home and spent all afternoon cleaning the garage.  Because you can’t put all of your outdoor things in the garage unless it’s well organized and clean, right?  Or is it just me?  Am I the only one fanatically cleaning her garage as part of hurricane preparedness?  Then I worried that after all this work, it would get flooded or damaged somehow and it would all have been a waste of time.

Last weekend the doorknob to the back door broke so that’s why I bought the new doorknob.  I figured it would be a good thing to have a doorknob instead of a hole back there when the hurricane came through.  I finally got that installed (such as it is) around 8pm, just as it was getting dark.  I still hadn’t cleaned up the back porch so I worked on that in the dark and practically got eaten alive by the bugs out there.

As of Thursday night I hadn’t decided if I was staying here or leaving.  I had everything I needed to stay and I had a friend’s house in Fayetteville to go to if I decided to leave.  It was such an agonizing decision for me.  I really wanted to be here to defend my house, whatever that might entail.  If it looked like it was going to flood, I wanted to be able to move things to higher ground.  I was a little bit worried about trees falling.  The really big ones are pretty far away but it’s possible they could reach our house.  All of a sudden it seemed like we had way too many windows, too many possibilities that a window could be broken.  I also didn’t want my kids to be scared out of their minds.  I knew that if I stayed calm, they wouldn’t be afraid but I didn’t really want to take any chances with them.

I kept telling myself I would make a decision after the next storm update, hoping that Irene would stay as far east as possible.  After cleaning the garage/outside of the house, I did all the laundry and cleaned the inside of the house.  I heard that if your house is clean, the hurricane doesn’t bother with you.  Right?

Friday morning comes along.  House is clean, inside and out.  If I’m staying I need to clean the tubs and fill them with water and fill a few more jugs with water.  If I’m leaving I need to leave.  I do nothing.  I can’t decide.  I really want to stay in my house but I’m not 100% sure that we’ll be safe here and the last thing I want to do is endanger the kids.  I’m not worried about losing power but I’m worried about trees falling and windows breaking and holes in my house that aren’t supposed to be there.

The morning drags on with my indecision.  I don’t think I’ve talked on the phone as much as I did on Thursday and Friday, hemming and hawing with friends about what to do.  One of my neighbors leaves.  Another tells me horror stories about her uncle who was in a hurricane.  Pat will be on his ship the whole time and he really wants me to leave.  My mother-in-law doesn’t tell me she wants me to leave, but I can tell that she does.

Mid-morning I went to the bank and got cash.  Then I went to Target to see if they had Diesel 10.  Diesel 10 is a train that Jack has been bugging me about for days.  He really needs it.  My life would be a lot easier if he would just stop talking about it and I decide that Diesel 10 is part of our hurricane prep.  It’s not in the store, but at least he’ll stop talking about it now…as long as I go right home and order it on the internet.

Finally around noon, I decide to leave.  But it’s a little to late to head to Fayetteville.  It looks like the storm has already arrived there.  I call around and get a hotel room in Richmond.  I really don’t want to have to drive too far since I’ve left it so late.  My neighbor was staying at a hotel in Glen Allen, a northwest suburb of Richmond, so I switch to a hotel near her.  Pat comes home to help bring the rest of the outdoor items inside before he has to head back to the ship.

I throw a bunch of things in the car.  We drive to Richmond.  We take a different route than most everyone else is taking.  It’s slow in parts but I think it was better than the interstate.  The hotel is adequate.  Not super nice but it will work.

Glen Allen turns out to be really nice.  We can walk to a shoe store and a Marshalls.  There is a brand new town center only a couple miles away.  We meet our neighbor and her daughter out for dinner.

On Saturday morning, the storm starts to whack North Carolina but we still have a little time before we get some rain.  The kids and I pass an enjoyable morning at Hobby Lobby.  This place is awesome.  Everyone who writes a crafty blog has written about some great deal or great something that they’ve gotten at Hobby Lobby and I was so excited to go there.  It’s like Michael’s and Joann’s and Garden Ridge all rolled up in one store.

We each picked out a Christmas ornament.  They had such a great selection and the kids passed so much time while they tried to pick out their favorite one.  So now we have our 2011 Hurricane ornaments.  We wandered through all the aisles.  I bought some fabric and tulle.  The kids tried to get me to buy every toy they saw.  There were a lot of things they “needed.”  It was a great trip to Hobby Lobby.  I just wish I had a list of all the supplies I needed for all the crafts that I’ve come across in the last year that I thought I wanted to make.  It was kind of a letdown to be there and not have any project in mind or any supplies that I knew I wanted.

We grabbed some lunch and headed back to the hotel.  I thought we might go out again for dinner.  Irene thought otherwise.  Turns out that Irene was pretty rough on Richmond too.  I could see some young maple trees blowing in the wind from my hotel room.  I had the tv on most of the day watching the coverage.  At one point 75% of Richmond had lost power.  Luckily, we did not.  The kids did well.  There were no good kids’ channels.  Cartoon Network is awful.  They played with their Legos and some new stickerbooks I thought to bring with me.  They played with their new flashlights and pretended they were lightsabers.  (A lot less crying than with their real lightsabers.)  They jumped on the beds.  It was a long afternoon but not awful.

I fanatically checked facebook all day to see how people were doing.  The local news was also updating often and other people were posting their pictures on the news facebook page.

By Sunday morning, it was sunny and breezy and the storm was gone.  We went to a church in Glen Allen that was only a few minutes away and then headed home.  Thankfully there was no damage to our house and our whole neighborhood looked pretty good.

And that’s my really long story of Hurricane Irene!  In the end it turns out that Richmond wasn’t much quieter than home but we felt safe and secure in our hotel room and we didn’t lose power and we had a nice little adventure out of it.  Jack and Casey really like hotel rooms so it didn’t phase them a bit.  I was secretly glad that I got to experience a little bit of the storm but that nothing catastrophic happened either home or in Richmond.

Maine: Mornings on the Beach

I think we’re back to normal around here since returning home from our trek to Maine.  Everything is unpacked and mostly put away.  I’ve put our pictures on Facebook and Shutterfly.  Now I should write a little bit about it.

The kids had a great time on the beach in front of the cottage this year.  Another year older means they can climb on the rocks better and explore more and find more treasures.  Casey did really well climbing around on the rocks although it’s better to not watch her.  If you watch her, it looks like she is going to fall at any given point.  She doesn’t seem to have any intuition that would guide her toward the flatter rocks or a simpler path.  And she wasn’t interested in me trying to explain that it would be easier if she went for the flatter rocks.  She’s a girl that’s going to blaze her own path.  Luckily her path didn’t inflict any serious boo-boos this year.

Both Jack and Casey were fascinated by every item that wasn’t a rock and some items that were rocks.  They collected and collected and collected.  No one ever returned from a trip to the beach empty-handed.  To me, the best treasure is the sea glass…the sea glass that has been rubbed smooth by the tide and rocks and sand over many years.  Jack and Casey collected every bit of glass they found and were working on being able to tell the difference between the sharp (not ready) glass and the smooth glass.  They found mussel and clam shells, broken pottery, periwinkles, scallops, urchins and crab shells.

One day when the tide was low, there was a little crab hanging out on the beach.  Casey likes her crabs to be already dead so she screamed and panicked about the little guy who was at least 10 feet away from her even as she was backing away.  I decided that taking her out in the lobster boat wasn’t going to work this year.  I thought she might end up swimming trying to get away from the crabs and lobsters in the boat.

The night before we left for Maine, I spread out all the treasures in a couple of boxes and told them to choose their favorites for their summer collection.  They each had a bowl and filled them up with various things that I haven’t even looked over yet.  The rest went back to the beach, probably to be collected again next year!      


It seems as though Jack has been talking non stop since we arrived in Maine.  Jabber, jabber, jabber!  I think it’s more than normal because it doesn’t seem like he chats this much at home.  Maybe it’s because he’s had more of an audience lately.  I should have more funny quotes from him from this trip but he’s talking too much for me to remember it all.

This morning while Casey was sleeping, Jack and I were talking about the new model airplanes that Grampie gave him and Casey.  He said, “I’m going to let Casey play with me with my aircraft carrier when we get home because she has jets now too.  But only if I’m there with her because I don’t want her to do anything foolish if I’m not there.” 

Casey has been playing shy when she first meets someone but give her a few minutes of your attention and she will start to talk your ear off too.  And then she’ll give you a hug.  Then she’ll give you a kiss.  Pretty soon you’ll find yourself with a Casey-monkey wrapped around you and she’ll be the most affectionate person you’ve met.

When we were on the beach last week climbing on the rocks and walking through some seaweed, Casey said, “This is junky.”  I wasn’t quite sure what she was talking about but she went on to say, “The seaweed is junky.  It’s getting my feet all junky.”  Maybe slimy was what she was looking for but it was a lot cuter with junky.

It’s raining in Maine and we’re a little bored.  I have lots of pictures from our fun adventures so far but they’re still on the camera.  I just killed a little bit of time by asking the kids all their favorites. 

Favorites – Casey then Jack

Star Wars: Episode II and III (even though he hasn’t watched III yet, he’s sure it will be a favorite)

TV Show: 
Star Wars: Clone Wars, Max & Ruby, Cat in the Hat

Breakfast Food:

Bananas, Cheese
Pizza, Muffins, Pasta



Chocolate Vanilla Ice Cream
Chocolate Stuff

Ice Cream:


Elephant, Dog

Blue, Green

Princess Flashlight
Star Wars Legos, new car



Nana and Pop Pop’s Restaurant – “the one where we smashed crabs”
Greene Turtle

Trader Joe’s
Trader Joe’s

Jack is now telling me that he is tired of talking about these things.