Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Monday began Houston's return to normalcy ... somewhat. We headed back to school. Our commute has always been gross (Houston has a ton of TRAFFIC!), but it has been beyond ridiculous ... it took us 2 hours to get home last night! This morning the HOV lanes were open and we felt like we were flying ... Townsends are thankful for HOV lanes! Instead of giving "school closings" on the radio, they have resorted to "school openings" because so few schools are actually open and they will be staggering them over the next few days (rather than holding out the entire district until every school in the district is ready). Torrey came home from school tonight and said that 24 kids in her class still don't have power ... there are about 80 kids in her class. I teach Kindergarten, so the math to get to the percentage of kids without power is beyond me ... but, suffice it to say it is high! I have 2 kiddos in my class without power ... one word ... troupers. They have lived this week without complaining. Our streets are lined with trees and branches ... who knows when they will be picked up. We are tired ... no, we are weary. And, yet we hope ... when 2 of the friends in my class got power the entire class did the "power dance" (we made it up right then and there ... oh to be 5 again!), the dome on top of Second Baptist is slowly being repaired, traffic is easing up, residents are being allowed back to Galveston for the first time since Ike hit 12 days ago, and, our local T.V. stations are no longer showing 24 hours of Ike coverage! Our lives are getting back to normal too ... Dean is in Baton Rouge for the next few days, Torrey has a cross country meet on Saturday, the Schwann man arrived to bring frozen food, and we are going to watch the Astros play on Saturday night. Slowly. Slowly. Slowly. We are getting there.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Best Hotel in Pinehurst, TX

We thought we were getting our power back on Saturday night ... the lights came on and then immediately turned out (oh how we cheered in the second they were on!) When it became clear that power would not come back anytime soon, we headed to Linda and Paul's ... who had power and were most gracious to share. We are so thankful to them and for the fun times that ensued !Not quite sure who loves the water more ... Torrey or Zack. She was heard to say more than once "I guess I'll go put on my bathing suit since Zack wants to go swimming!"
And, while this was going on in the pool, this was going on down the hill ...
Linda (and Gussi) removed every weed in the lower part of the yard (I did the top part ... it was relaxing!) Gussi is the sweetest dog, but, she does not really care for Zack or his craziness. Everytime Zack would go near her food dish she would growl at him ... I'm thinking the next time we come she may take out a restraining order to protect the dish (We are no longer there, so I can now admit that she growled for good reason ... I saw Zack snitch a piece of her food!)
And Paul cleaned up the branches ... and was on ant patrol. Who knew that after a hurricane fire ants could be so vicious?! I'm sure about now he was wishing he were 12 and could have been in the pool with Torrey and Zack!
Thanks Linda and Paul for letting us stay with you ... for five nights! You went above and beyond the call of duty! Have we said lately that we are so glad you moved to Houston?!

Scenes from the Hood

This is just a little of what was in our neighborhood after Hurricane Ike came for a visit. These pictures were taken on Sunday morning as we left the neighborhood to go to Linda and Paul's (and power!). I took them in the car because it was raining. No descriptions with the pictures because words are not necessary!

Inside the House

And, from inside our house in the morning hours, this is what we saw. No pictures were taken during the height of the storm for two reasons ... first, it was pitch black and you wouldn't have seen anything and secondly, it was the last thing we were thinking of!Looking out the side door towards our neighbors house. We are thankful the whole tree didn't fall because it would have hit their house.
Looking out our front door around 8:00 in the morning. The wind was still going and it was still raining, but it was definitely nearing the end.
The ceiling fan ... which started to drip water on Dean's head at 5:30 in the morning! There is usually a shade on the bottom of it, but that was filled with water. Amazingly enough, the thing still works!
And, the reason for the leak ... this vent cover blew off in the middle of the storm. That something so small could cause so much trouble!

Believe Me ... This Was Our Greatest Miracle!

He slept! He didn't bark (too much)! He didn't run the house like a nut! Sounds like a silly thing to be thankful for, but after our experience with him during the last storm that was miles from us, this was much to be thankful for! (ps ... this is his "I'm not a dog, I'm a rug" pose!)

And, we keep forgetting to mention one other miracle for Houston ... the weather! It has been in the low 60's at night and 70's during the day. What? This time of year it should still be in the low 90's upper 80's with a humidity that will make you think "not quite Hell, but same zip code". We have been thankful, thankful, thankful for the cold front and know that it came from God!

Saturday, September 20, 2008


All I wanted was ONE good picture of the three of us. Two people (who shall remain nameless) would not cooperate. Don't worry, I took care of them. Laurie got a poke for her behavior. That was enough to scare Jen ... but, the ONE good picture was not to be.

Tonight I sit in Houston and Laurie is in Derry, NH and Jennifer is in Tampa and I am missing my sisters. They were my lifeline during the hurricane ... Jen was working, so it was her I texted in the middle of the night ... in the middle of the storm. Um, Laurie could you join the 20th century and get texting on your phone?! Growing up we were each others worst enemy and best friend ... we have since dropped the worst enemy (I guess that is what happens when you are no longer sharing a mirror in the mornings!) They are the first people I want to call when something great happens ... and when the world feels like it has fallen off its axis.

Next weekend Jen is going to NH for a fun "fall weekend". I am jealous. No, I am JEALOUS! I would say I hope they are miserable, but, Ben is going and the fun is all for him, so I hope they have a fabulous time and say every ten minutes how much they miss ME!

I love you girls ... and, I bet you are wishing you hadn't been fooling around during the picture! I told you you would be sorry! (insert evil laugh here)

Friday, September 19, 2008

In the Land of Irony

Our power was out ... had been for 4-5 days ... no sign of WHEN it would be restored and Dean received something on his blackberry email. Our electric bill. Huh?


12+ hours of hurricane force winds and rain. 4 leaks. 6 days without power. $200+ worth of food that had to be thrown away. $3.49 ... price we paid for gas ... had to throw in something to make you a teeny bit jealous of us! And, we only had to wait in line for 25 minutes to get it!

This has been one of the most exhausting weeks of our lives! We are home now and the lights are ON! The fridge is restocked ... I about did a hallelujah dance in the middle of Target when I found half and half! Hey! A girl has to have her coffee!

We made it through the storm with minimal damage. We are so thankful to everyone who prayed for us ... we know that because of those prayers our trees stood, the dog was calm and the damage to our house was minimal. Our neighborhood lost hundreds of trees ... big trees snapped in half, uprooted, and/or tossed around like toothpicks. The power of this storm was sobering and mind boggling. We have heard that winds were clocked at 90 mph west of us ... they would have been higher where we are. One only has to drive around town and see roofs with blue tarps or to see any picture of what is left of Galveston to be thankful. It was hard to complain about "no power" when homes were washed completely away.

In the midst of the scariest part of the storm we were thankful for many things ... our trees were still standing, the dog was calm and Torrey SLEPT SOUNDLY! I tried to sleep, but it was difficult. Our power was out and all you could hear was the wind and rain ... I found myself saying over and over again "We are in Your hands, We are in Your hands." I did try to calm the storm by saying "Peace be still" ... didn't work for me like it did for Jesus! I also sang the chorus of Steven Curtis Chapman's song "Yours" ... I had to release it all to God knowing that it was all His anyways. So thankful when morning came and the winds subsided ... even more thankful when we drove the neighborhood and couldn't get down streets because of the trees. Knowing it could have been so much worse made us all the more thankful!

We did lose our power for 6 days. Sunday morning we piled in the car and headed to Linda and Paul's. Words cannot begin to express how thankful we are to them for opening their house to us and for making us feel so welcome. And for sharing their power! When we left this morning to come home, it was a bit sad!

We do have a bit of damage to our house. Nothing that can't be fixed and nothing is damaged that was important to us. Water came in through a roof vent and was discovered as it made its way down the ceiling fan in the family room (freaky at 5 am!) There were a few other leaks too ... all fixable. We have been out of school since last Friday ... Torrey and I head back on Monday (WAHOO!) We are celebrating any bit of normalcy right now!

Thank you for standing with us and praying for us ... is it wrong to say that we are a bit jealous you got to stand so far away?! Please continue to pray for Houston ... the clean up is and will be massive. So many are still without power and without the resources to replace what was lost. We know that in time life will be returned to normal ... is it wrong to hope that the community we feel will continue long after the last fallen tree is picked up?

Friday, September 12, 2008


We are at least an hour away from "real" hurricane force winds (to which I ask, then what has been going on outside the window for about an hour now?!) and our lights have started to flicker. Dang Gina! We were hoping that when the power went out it would be in the middle of the night! We have lost a few small branches from our trees in the back, but no other damages so far. Our phone has been ringing off the hook to make sure we are OK because of the news of the "certain death" thing. We are OK and not in the cone of "certain death". Please pray for the people who decided to stay on Galveston Island. They are predicting there are about 90,000 people who did not evacuate and the storm surge will wipe out most of the island. Pray that the storm wall holds and that it becomes tall enough. I will post again when I am able.

Friday Update

Still waiting ... and praying! The latest update said "If you stay in Galveston you are facing CERTAIN DEATH!" I'm wondering if there is a nicer way to say that ... and, it has caused our family and friends to freak out! We are still calm ... and ready and glad we are not in Galveston! The dog has been good, but, the wind is starting to pick up and we have yet to get any rain. They are saying that we will have hurricane force winds from 7-8 tonight until 7-8 tomorrow night ... 24 hours. Let that wash over you. We remembered that at least 2 of the hurricanes in Florida lasted that long, but we cannot remember if the wind lasted that long or just the rain. It will be a long night/day. Dean just commented that it was too bad it was coming at night because he wanted to watch it ... one of these days he will be the guy in the middle of the storm holding on to the sign post to be able to stand!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

10 pm Update

We have sort of stayed away from the news tonight ... perhaps the ostrich has the right idea keeping its head in the sand?! Anyways, the 10 pm update is in and it looks like Ike will come in at Galveston ... which puts the Townsends on the WEST side of the storm ... which puts the Townsends on the GOOD side of the storm! (Although, after typing that, it sounds like an oxymoron if ever there was one! Like there is a good side to a hurricane!) It also doesn't appear to be increasing in wind speed, so we are still holding at a category 2 ... still bad, but not a 3! Maybe the power lines will hold after all! We will be up early-ish to get last minute stuff finished ... laundry done, outside stuff in, cookies baked, movies watched ... will update again in the morning!

We are Brave (or extremely stupid!)

We have known for over a week that Ike was out there. But, it wasn't until yesterday that we found out that he intends to visit Houston. Oh boy! The question was to stay or go ... and, if we go, go where? Most of Houston is staying ... with visions of a disasterous evacuation before Hurricane Rita in 2005 dancing in their heads. We have said more than once we may all be in dire straights in 3 days! We have gas (most gas stations in Houston are now empty) and water (also unavailable now in Houston) and bread ... and cookies! We are pretty resigned to the fact that we will lose power. For our family and friends, we actually live just south of Houston in Fort Bend County which is next to Brazoria County which is where the hurricane should hit. We are not worried ... we know what to expect and we know that it won't last forever. Our prayer is that the trees outside our house stand throughout the storm, that the dog is calm (he went on a tear through the house earlier tonight ... it will only get worse as the storm approaches!), we selfishly ask for our power to stay on (we admit we are addicted to air conditioning) and for not only our safety but for the safety of those we love. Ike is expected to hit a midnight on Friday and Houston is in the path of the "dirty" side of the storm ... which means a lot of wind and water. We will post more as possible and will have our cell phones charged. I will be sure to take pictures ... and possibly a video of the dog to show you just how delightful he is in the middle of a storm! (Gram is going to stay in NH until Tuesday ... we are sad she will be gone longer, but grateful that she will be safe!)

Oh, and tomorrow we are bringing in the furniture which brings back memories of the "Spider Massacre of 2008". Steve asked me why we didn't just put the chairs in the garage ... huh?! I hadn't even thought of that! I could have put those chairs in the garage ... think of the spiders that would have been saved! So, tomorrow it all goes in the garage ... spiders and all!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Back to the Land of the Living

I did go to school today. At first I thought perhaps I shouldn't have when the first 4 people I saw told me I did not look good. Huh?! Oh, and today was picture day. I will post the picture when I get it for you to be the judge ... I chose to not look in the mirror. Have I said lately that I adore my class. Oh, I love them. (For the record, I love last year's too ... they are so sweet when they see me in the hall, lunchroom, carline ... ahhh!) So, today I introduced the nickel to them ... they knew what it was and how much it is worth (have I told you that some of them are seriously smarter than me?!) I then asked them if they knew who was the president on the nickel ... they did. George Clooney. I had to turn my back on my class today because I couldn't stop the laugh. George Clooney. Um, no, that would be Thomas Jefferson. Will I ever look at a nickel again without thinking that maybe it is George Clooney? Doubt it. I also had a friend take off his shoes and kneel on them so he looked like Dorf ... I kept my smile inside because he had to change his color. Never a dull moment.

And, finally, the actual text message from my favorite college student, Kristin ...

Grasshopper: so ... down here. there are a million grasshoppers and I just saw one and I thought of you :) How are you doing? (Please note that I added capitals and punctuation for my older readers)

Me: (answering 3 days later) I have been home sick since wed ... going back to school today. how are you?

Grasshopper: Why are you homesick? (evidently she didn't notice my space!)

Me: sick at home crazy girl!

Honestly, you can't make this stuff up! Emma just called to say she is behind a day and can she come and clean on Wednesday ... um, yes because I don't feel like cleaning tonight! Enjoy the rest of your Monday ... it has been a good one here!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I May Be Speaking Too Soon, But ...

I think I am better. Here is where you knock on wood just to be sure. I have been sick this entire week ... I even took 2 sick days. I NEVER take sick days ... it is just too much work! I have lived in bed since Wednesday night. I have not left my house ... OK, there was the time Friday afternoon when I had to walk across the backyard to get the garbage from the dog's mouth ... does that count? Right now I am feeling pretty good ... my cough is not as obnoxious, my nose isn't dripping like a faucet, my voice is making a comeback and I have no fever. I am one of those people who is a "flu-magnet" ... leave it to me to get it BEFORE the flu season and BEFORE I could get a shot! Good grief. I am going back to school tomorrow ... will be weird because I feel like I have been gone forever!

And, more this weekend news .... Torrey ran in her first cross country meet. She ran 1.5 miles in 16.28 minutes. She was adorable in her uniform (no pictures ... I wasn't there ... watch for a post on the 20th!) Dean was THRILLED to have to get up at 5am on a SATURDAY for the meet! Today was the first service in our worship center since the renovation ... again, I wasn't there (boo. hiss.) Dean and Torrey said it was amazing ... God worshipped there this morning! I am so looking forward to next week!

Speaking of this week ... we have a hurricane potentially heading our way. I am not too worried because "he" doesn't have a Hispanic name. Gustav. Eduourdo. Ike. One of these things is not like the other (that line works best when sung!) But, Friday could be interesting. Gram comes home on Friday. Glenn and Robin come to visit on Saturday. Maybe.

OK ... enjoy your week. Torrey has play practices every day this week which means late days at school which means I will get stuff done after school which means I am going to TRY to not bring home a ton of stuff to do which means I will have time to update the blog with pictures. Cross your fingers. Enjoy your week!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Can We Get a Re-Do ... Please?!!

So, this past weekend was Labor Day. Which meant a day off from school. In case you haven't heard me lament in the past (or complain ... you choose), the school where I teach doesn't have very many days off during the school year. So, it goes without saying that I treasure those days off. Sad to say, but I do have them memorized. So, the long weekend arrives and what happens? Sickness descends upon the Townsend house. I ran a fever for most of the weekend. Dean has been miserable. I have now lost my voice completely. Oh, and tomorrow morning is the Kindergarten parent coffee where I have to stand in front of the parents and talk for an hour. Not sure my voice has it in me. Should be interesting. Perhaps it is because I have been dreading tomorrow since I saw it on the calendar (you got it ... had that day memorized too!) I am not worried because I am sure I will be able to speak because God is Who He is.

Oh, and then there was Gustav looming off the coast. How we are thankful for the saving of New Orleans. Houston will always have a special place in her heart for the people of NOLA ... for almost a year they became one of us. Sweet Beth Moore said it best when she said in her blog, "Lord, you be their levee." And He was ... and He hopes to be so much more for those sweet people. Baton Rouge is special to us as well because Dean has several employees who live there (Louisiana is part of his territory) ... we are praying that what was uprooted in a few short hours will be put right soon. And, send them electricity! I will admit that I was on my way to the grocery store on Saturday morning when I learned that Houston would be OK. I did what any normal person would do ... bought 2 gallons of milk because I was SURE we wouldn't lose our power.

And, on the Kindergarten front, God has not disappointed in my class this year. They are hilarious! A. was trying to tell a friend something and when he wouldn't listen to him after repeated attempts, he said it to him in spanish. Just made me giggle. Still makes me giggle.

And, on the home front. Torrey got a part in the middle school play. She is a Conrad Girl. The play is Nov. 20-22 ... let us know if you want tickets! She is now running cross country ... we know Ryan is proud! Dean is muddling through the merger. He offered jobs to people from the other company today and he thought they would do back flips and be so happy ... think again. It has been an interesting process. There is a lot to be said for a grateful heart.

And, finally, we rejoice in the news that Gram comes home next week AND that my parents are coming for Christmas! Can you say rolls, rolls and more rolls?!!!

Our lives our busy. Crazy even. And, I am still hoping to find anyone with Superman powers to turn back the revolving earth to give us back our weekend ... this time we would like to be healthy, please!

Enjoy your week!