Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Hurricane Matthew

Just a quick recap of our last week as we experienced our first hurricane. Last Tuesday night, we began preparing the house. It took several hours and a trip to the store (where it was absolute bedlam) to board up three windows, so we decided that instead of trying to board up the other 22 windows in our house without the proper supplies or a ladder to reach our second story we would adjust our stretegy from damage prevention to damage mitigation. We figured replacing the windows was on our eventual 'to do' list anyway. We spent Wednesday morning pulling everything we owned away from windows to limit water damage to our furniture and such in case windows did break. 

We cleared out the fridge so that we could disconnect the power. We shut off the water. We packed some changes of clothes and some things to keep the kids entertained. We set up a pen in the garage for the chickens and managed to catch two of them to stick in there. Then, we left.

We headed out in the late afternoon while the weather was still nice, though the clouds were moving quickly. Beachside islands and low-lying areas were already given mandatory evacuations, so traffic was heavy. It took us 3 1/2 hours to get to Lakeland, about twice the normal time. We checked into our hotel, which was very full. Everybody seemed to be from Brevard County. The girls were stoked to eat fast food for dinner. We spent Thursday hanging around Lakeland, playing at Chic-fil-a and walking around the mall playing pokemon go. It rained on and off that evening. Forecasts has worsened and were predicting a near-to-direct hit from the eye of the hurricane right where we live. Micah and I were awake most of the night on and off, watching the weather channel. The eyewall  was rotating just miles from our home. Towards morning, our neighbor texted us to let us know a tree had fallen. Then, later, another neighbor texted us a photo of our house to let us know it was okay. No big structural damage visible. We breathed a sigh of relief, took a nap, and then took the kids out to play miniature golf and explore an indoor gymnasium place. We celebrated by eating dinner at Longhorn. We tried to get a good nights' sleep to recover from several very sleepless nights and to prepare for the work ahead. Saturday morning we drove back, with sunny skies and minimal traffic. Many utility trucks heading towards the coast, though.

All of our chickens were fine, even Speck, who we found huddling in the coop, reluctant to come out. Ironically, Speck has continued laying eggs through this whole ordeal and the days since while Blondie and Red are both taking a break. Sheesh! 

We still had electricity and water, though there was a precautionary water boil for a short time.

A 60 foot tree in our front yard (which I have conclusively ID'ed as an American Sycamore) miraculously fell right between our house and our neighbors' without causing any major damage to either. It did put a ping in our fence and destroyed the gate on his fence. We felt very responsible for the damage, but he has insisted on us not paying for its repair. It also fell on our neighbor's power line and yanked it off the pole. He fortunately still had power, though, which was fortunate as they took several days to repair it. 

"Back up! Live wire on the ground here!"

 The roots looked perfectly healthy, no major rot or anything. The ground just got saturated enough from rain and the top of the tree caught so much wind that it got pulled right up.

The backyard was littered with small and medium debris everywhere. 

We have one other rather large Sycamore right off the back of our house that lost a branch, but we are lucky it didn't meet the same fate as the one out front. Now we may consider removing this one before next fall.

We haven't found much damage inside, though we haven't checked in ever nook and cranny. We do have a couple of spots like this where the trim has separated from the wall a bit. Our house has a wood frame, so it bends slightly with high winds. Nothing big to be concerned about.

We are still trying to get back to normal. Our fridge is still a bit empty and we have a lot of laundry to do. I'm really sore from cleaning up Saturday and Sunday, but grateful that we got help cleaning up our tree and had a chance to help a few others along our street.

Altogether, we didn't far too badly. Definietly want to look into storm shutters and tree removal before next storm season, but grateful that the storm didn't hit us harder. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

To Infinity and Beyond!

Someone (lookin' at you, Angela!!!) scribbled all over my calendar in pen on the very first of the month. Great. Thirty more days til I can flip to a clean page. If I miss anything in the coming weeks, I am 100% blaming this.

Saturday we had a lovely day at the Kennedy Space Center. The kids were a little wild and quickly got tired of all of the educational presentations that we adults were enjoying, but there were still some kid-friendly things that kept them happy.

The space station! Crawling through a clear tube suspended over a second story. Yikes! Angela wasn't scared at all, while Micah was worried about the weight limit of the tube...

We had so much fun having Grandpa visit last week. Natalie cried when she learned Saturday night that he would be leaving in the morning. So sad.
Now things are back to normal, with this being about as much fun as we have...

We are in the last week of the girls' swim lessons. They may have to add on another extra make-up class next week, though. We have had a lot of cancellations because of lightning. So far, out of 8 scheduled classes, 4 have been cancelled and one stopped 10 minutes early because of storms. Girls have loved it and learned a ton. 

Natalie working on kicking off from the wall, swimming out and then flipping over onto her back to breathe. She's the pink underwater blur in front of the big guy (her teacher, "Mr. Awesome")

Angela has been working on more basic but important maneuvers, such as not freaking out and squirming while an adult holds you up in the water and playing fetch with little floating rubber animal toys.

Hurricane Matthew is the talk of the town right now. We're under a hurricane watch, expected to become a warning by tomorrow morning. We're stocked on food, water and batteries. We'll bring loose items from the yard inside, fill up on gas for the cars and fill tubs with extra water as get closer to Thursday night. We don't have hurricane shutters or a generator, the only things we sort of regret at this point. The forecast has the eye of the storm staying off the coast to the east, so hopefully things won't be that bad, but of course, projections could change quickly. I don't expect anything catastrophic, though the slim possibility is always there. There is potential for a broken window or other minor damage, but we can survive annoying inconveniences. The most probably scenario will be sitting around bored in a hot house if we lose electricity. So all we can really do now is crank down the a/c and watch plenty of television while we still can! And repent, of course. Just in case :)

I may have a pretty neat opportunity coming up in a few months. There is a second ward that meets in our chapel and they asked me to come and lead a zumba class for their monthly activity in September. A few of the ladies enjoyed it enough to start joining us on Monday mornings when I lead a class at the church while all of our kids run around and play in the back of the gym. One of the girls is married to a guy who got his BFA at BYU. They are opening up a Painting with a Twist franchise and invited me to be a teacher. Painting with a Twist is a fun studio where you can go with a group of friends or a date and all make the same painting with a teacher walking you through the basic steps. It would be awesome! Right up my alley and perfect because they will be busiest and need people most on weekends when Micah could be home to watch the kids. It would be up in Cocoa, a little far away, but each class is 2-3 hours plus an hour of prep and cleanup, so I wouldn't be driving just to be there for 45 minutes then drive back home. They aren't opening until November, but I'm pretty jazzed. Also, last week a zumba instructor at LA Fitness asked if I might be interested in taking one of her classes- on Friday evening. Unfortunately, if I'm going to be doing this, it would really limit our family time to also teach zumba every Friday, so I may have to decline. Hopefully something else will come up! Teaching zumba has been so much fun so far. I was asked to participate in a fundraiser a few weeks ago and it was a blast leading a few songs in a gymnasium full of people! 

Friday, September 30, 2016


 Grandpa's been visiting the last few days, so we've been showing him around. He joined us at the Zoo, where Natalie taught him a bit about veterinary medicine.

And Grandpa got to step in and be in Angela's swim class with her. It ended 10 minutes early because of lightning and Angela cried wildly, in a display of great, tragic sorrow.

She really seems to like the water!

And here's Natalie with her swim teacher. I am very impressed with how far she has come with just a few months of lessons! In July, she would cry if she got water on her face. Now, she is swimming underwater for several body lengths and practicing how to flip onto her back to take a breath to continue swimming.

 We went bowling together this morning and Natalie especially seemed to have a lot of fun.

My Dad's score wad 157, I think. Very close game between him and Micah! As for me, well, I tried hard but just couldn't catch up to either of the kids. Maybe next time I'll use bumpers...

One major highlight- we took my Dad to Epcot! We shcmoozed with a few stuffed animal guys, enjoyed some fun rides and ate some overpriced food :)

Micah took Angela to see Mickey for the first time while I was on a ride with Natalie and I was bummed that I missed it- when she saw him, she went up and hugged him and wouldn't let go!

This was also our first time getting Natalie to work up the courage to meet a character. When we tried to meet Anna and Elsa, she buried her head in my shoulder and wouldn't even look at them. So, this represents great progress!
We went to Hollywood Studios to see the new Star Wars fireworks display. Fun, fun, fun! 

We spent about 11 hours total disneying and My Dad's fitbit logged over 20,000 steps. Phwew! We were lucky to have a bit of cloud coverage so that it wasn't too, too hot, but we got pretty sweaty anyhow. Just so many things to see and experience!

Tonight there should be some kayaking fun if the weather cooperates and we're planning to check out Kennedy Space Center tomorrow. It's cool playing tourists in our own backyard here when family come to visit.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Brief Update

Marty sharing some Steelers pride with these girls

These crazy, cute girls keep me running. 

Angela is excited to be doing a parent&tot swimming class this month, unfortunately all but one class have been cancelled due to storms. It seems a thunderstorm crops up every day around 5pm. She loves making messes and running away from me.

Natalie continues to love preschool and love her teacher and love the mysterious classmate named Kaitlyn who wears pink shoes.

Our last Friday off, we went to the temple. We're joining a babysitting swap where a few families meet at the stake center in Orlando once a month and one couple stays with the kids while the others enjoy the temple. It's amazing. We haven't both gone to the temple together in over a year.
Afterwards, we went to disney world for a bit.

If a certain sister of mine wanted to bring her kids down to go to disney world this spring, I would recommend a day at animal kingdom. Less crowded and stressful than magic kingdom, many fun rides, shows, animals and ambiance to enjoy.

Walking around Disney world last Friday, a few things jumped out at us. First, kids everywhere with screens stuck in their faces. Phones, Ipads, whatever. Second, so many hugely overweight people, many of them shuttled around on motorized chairs. We have arrived. We are now just like the people in the movie "Wall-E".

We had a very productive Saturday, catching up on some projects and much-needed cleaning. Finally did part 1 of painting after replacing this door frame a few months ago. Part 2, the trim, will hopefully come soon.

I made my first castile soap from 100% olive oil. It was easier than I had imagined. Now, to cure for a few months!

I failed to mention in my previous post, a couple of weeks ago a man in our ward died in a freak helicopter accident. He was a great man who will be missed. His death was a pretty big shock. He worked for a DOD contractor training pilots. His wife Carolyn is the relief society president. She is holding onto her faith, but will be processing this for a long time. She said a few days after his death that it just felt like he was gone on a trip and would be back. They had moved here last year for his job and all of their other family are out west, so I believe that she will be moving out there within a few months. They flew his remains to be buried in UT and she is still out there, tying up all the loose ends.

Unfortunately, Carolyn's absence has exposed the underlying dysfunction of our presidency. We have pretty much been a mess since the beginning. Carolyn did most of the work and just individually delegated specific responsibilities to the first counselor and I. The first counselor and I could not work worse together if we came from different countries and barely spoke the same language. I don't know why, but we just can not seem to communicate effectively, which makes coordination very difficult. We've really tried to make sure everything gets done and many sisters have been jumping in to help along the way, but it's just been tough. I've had a very full plate, with many church activities in the last 3 weeks. I just keep hoping that we will get released soon and I can drift out of the spotlight. The constant emails, texts and phone calls, to-do lists and impending meetings and events are just a lot to handle- I feel like I'm thinking about Relief Society all the time!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Fun Never Ends!

Things have been busy but not too crazy in the Jenkins household. First, as soon as we returned from our trip to NC, Micah busted his lip open at wrestling club and had to get 6 stitches. 

Our chickens have been doing great. Blondie the easter-egger had stopped laying because of the heat, but last week he had a brief dip in temperatures  and so she's back to laying. Here, Dr. Natalie inspects the chickens' health with her doctor kit instruments.

The week of low temperatures was the short-lived consequence of Hurricane Hermine, which caused us a lot of anxiety as it was projected to hit very close to us while it was still out in the Bahamas, but then it went way farther south into the Caribbean before circling back to hit the panhandle. So, while our neighbors up in the Big Bend area were watching their houses swept away by floodwater, we were romping around Disneyworld enjoying the cool air and the short lines. 

We got to check out the new Frozen ride at Epcot and it was way fun (though the experience was somewhat diminished by the guy in front of us taking flash pictures throughout the entire duration of the ride).

Finishing up a sweaty, muggy day with some Fantasmic magic!

Natalie is enjoying preschool. It's still tough to get used to her routine of getting up and out the door, but we keep working at it. She comes home with lots of energy, so we're probably going to let her do another month of swim lessons (which she really seems to like) and then maybe soccer or gymnastics or some other such activity. 

Mainly, Natalie is just working on keeping balance as she adjusts to the new schedules and demands that come as we grow.

tree pose

She comes home and shares fun songs that she's learning, such as 'the opposites song' and 'rock and roll body parts', a song that-as far as I can tell- consists of thrashing around wildly while howling the names of different parts of your body. She's finally getting to know the names of other kids in her class. She loves some girl named Kaitlyn but all she can tell me about this girl is that she has pink shoes. One phrase she has bought hime is, "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit," Yeah, I think I like her teacher a lot.

Me and the girls made pretzels the other weekend and Micah loved them so much, I made another batch the very next day. They were fun and yummy.

Here we have Angela standing on a jar of olives to reach some forbidden object high on the counter and Angela trying to scale the hutch to smash all of the fine dinnerware. She sure is something. I don't know what, but certainly something.

Natalie got to bring an item for show and tell last week. She asked me to give her six ponytails for the occasion.

We are counting down the days til halloween. After some ebay scouring, we got Natalie the darth vader costume she has been desiring for months. Now we just need a lightsaber. I think Angela is gonna be Minnie Mouse. I'm trying to convince Micah to go with me as the husband and wife from the painting American Gothic.

Angela has been busy herself. She still misses Natalie and cries most days when we drop her off for preschool. One day last week she declared, "I want to keep Natalie forever!" So, I try to keep her busy with fun stuff. She started doing joy school once a week. I hosted last week and, though it certainly wasn't unmanageable, watching 7 2-year-olds really took it out of me for the rest of the day. 

Angela has stopped sleeping. She rarely takes naps and won't go to sleep until 9:30 or 10 at night, then tries to come in and sleep with us several times a night. She just keeps getting up and saying, "All done. Wake up." over, and over and over. I think the full implications of her being able to climb out of her crib have finally taken hold in her crazy little brain. She has always loved being in control. Anyway, for now we've got a very tired, cranky toddler on our hands and we're enduring a lot of this:

I dug out the old paints to make a few little things to put up around the house. I had fun making a little watercolor for my sister recently and decided I should really do more art. I enjoy it so much. It's just hard to find time when the children aren't hanging on me. Hopefully these turn out well!