Amaya Rain

Wife. Mother. Crazy woman.

Walk away the hyperactivity…

So, I’ve been taking the twins out for a couple of afternoon walks every day, especially since the weather here is so beautiful right now (70’s during the day, high 50’s at night). I figure the weather won’t last long – it’ll be 90 and humid before you can think about it too much – so why not double up on walks, right?

Actually, the troublemakers have been insanely hyper (for them, not as a diagnosis) since we’ve been in the house. That’s to be expected. Partner that with the fact that hubby has been working late (coming home near their bedtime) for the last several days, and we really, really needed to do something to calm the cabin fever.

But see, here’s the problem. Since I had the twins (and before that, actually, probably the last few years) I’ve been a couch potato. I can walk around for quite some time, and for several miles when called to do it, but I’m just not in the shape for it anymore. I’m a slug. So all of a sudden, we’ve been going for walks around the block (1/4 mile) or a few blocks, and more – today, one of the walks was right at a mile. And of course, I’m lugging a wagon filled with big ol’ babies around behind me.

So although it’s allowing the babies to work off some energy (I have no idea how, since all they do is sit there and giggle), Mommy here is wiped out. I really need to find my tennis shoes. Then again, they’re basically just knockoff Keds, so I don’t know how much better they’ll be than the beat-up sandals I’m wearing now.

I probably should go and get some proper walking shoes. But then what’ll happen is I’ll spend all this money on them, and then when it gets hot, I just won’t walk anymore. I hope that’s not the case. For all my complaining, it’s been nice. The fresh air, the sunshine, meeting the neighbors and beyond, watching the flowers starting to bloom (we watched a tree bud up between our first and second walks today!), and the fact that I’m sleeping better at night all combine to say that I really should be doing this more often. And I probably will.

Maybe after hubby gets back on a normal work schedule, we’ll switch to having a morning walk and an afternoon walk. Hopefully too, the guy will come finish the yard and trimming the trees and such, so I can babyproof the backyard as much as possible, and then the babies will actually be able to run off some energy out there. I also really, really want to get to planting some bell peppers, cukes, and a few other things this year since we actually have a yard and a long growing season. I’m – obviously – already behind all of the neighbors.

I suppose my own hyperactivity is mental. And my overactive brain is telling me that I need to keep up with the neighbors. Although, if how I keep up with the twins is any indication…

March 10, 2007 Posted by | Musings, Outdoors | Leave a comment

And we’re in!

We’ve been sleeping at the new house since Saturday. At that point, we also gave up on finishing packing things in the old place, and we also haven’t brought anything over from storage. I find it amusing that, although we aren’t bringing anything new into the house yet, the things that are here are multiplying. I swear we have probably three times as many clothes as I brought over here. CD’s seem to appear out of nowhere. Empty boxes… there can be one on the edge of the wall, and in the morning, 10 will be all over the floors of the house.

I don’t understand, but I’m not questioning. We’re here. That’s what counts. Well… until we find the energy to really get everything finished.

I just thought I’d drop a little update. I may put up some pictures in the upcoming weeks, but I’m not promising anything.

March 7, 2007 Posted by | Moving | Leave a comment

I see carpet…

Slowly, surely. We’re actually moving into the new house. We still haven’t slept there, and I plan on that changing this weekend. In case you haven’t figured it out, we’re not using a moving van, just my car and hubby’s company truck (although this weekend, my parents’ truck may get into the act as well). This means that only a few boxes or pieces of furniture get moved at a time.

I was hoping that moving slowly would keep me organized, with few boxes, etc. For the most part it has. The kitchen isn’t organized the way I’d like for it to be forever, but it’s functional. There are designated places for a lot of things – like using the coat closet for alcohol, cookbooks, craft supplies, and until we get the office set up (The Siblings have to clean it out and divide the stuff) it’ll house sewing supplies as well. The playroom is mostly set up – I just need to find appropriate linens for the twin bed we’re keeping in there, and get some baskets/buckets that fit the shelves of the changing table that we’re using to store their toys. The babies’ bedroom is halfway done – I need to bring all their clothes over, some more linens, oh, yeah, and bring the mattress from my mom’s house for one of the cribs. Our bedroom… is packed. Okay, not totally packed, but man, using that room for the unpacking staging ground may not have been my best idea.

So, that’s my moving update. Oh… DirecTV finally got it right – the serviceman was great, even if the company itself claimed that the work order had already been completed last Friday when I called to see where he was. BellSouth… well, I have to call them tomorrow, because DSL still isn’t working. Then again, it could be user error in the setup. I never can figure out what order to do and redo things to make the stupid DSL modem work right.

Oh, and I cleaned lots of stuff with Murphy’s Oil Soap. I love that stuff. Oh, and did a load of laundry too. I had a busy day.

Tomorrow: I need to go over (hopefully bring at least a couple of boxes from upstairs at mom’s with me), do laundry (2 loads of darks, 1 load of towels), empty at least 3 more boxes of things (I’ll have to search for the obvious ones to unload), straighten out our bedroom’s box pile so that we can fit the chest of drawers, the hope chest, and a bookcase in there, bring over most of our most-worn clothes, finish bringing over toiletries and such, and when Daddy gets off of work, bring over the sofa and the loveseat. And we need to move the portable dishwasher and the microwave. Oh! And I need to get my mother to take down the stuff on the wall where we’re putting the hutch.

Saturday: Hopefully, we can get the hope chest, the bookcase, the recliner, the hutch, and then move out some more The Siblings things. I’ll consider that a successful day.

Sunday: Get Hubby and my dad to install the new air conditioner to get that ridiculously huge box out of my bedroom. Unpack. Enjoy the first day after our first night in the house… hopefully.

Wow. I really know how to entertain you folks, don’t I?

March 2, 2007 Posted by | Moving, Perfectionism | Leave a comment

Bad Bedfellows.

The town where I grew up – let’s call it The Town – has always had a bit of a bad reputation. It is a place that is dependent upon oil for nearly its entire economy. So of course, there are tons of transients living in this area so that they can make good money either working offshore or working on oilfield support of one kind or another. A good chunk of these are single men, aged 25-50, probably over 1/3 are Mexican. Then you have the old families – black, white, American Indian – who have lived here for generations. Then there is a large Vietnamese population that showed up in the 1970’s because apparently the environment here is similar to their home, and back then, there were good work opportunities.

Back in the 1970’s, the nearby city – The City – looked down upon this area. The people were rural people, or the transients, and it was the classic “city v. country” type mentality. The County pretty much neglected The Town when it came to, oh, just about anything. We had no real zoning, so you had generational houses right next door to shipyards or heliports. Trailer parks – badly managed ones, at that – sprouted up everywhere. The Vietnamese, bless their hearts, stayed in a three-block square of houses, with several generations living in each home (although I know that was tradition, I really think that part of it had to do with not wanting to be stuck with the other bad housing trends).

In the 80’s, there was The Oil Crash. There was no work. Lots of the transients left, but the locals grew poorer, and their children moved into the unkempt trailer parks. Then oil and shipbuilding picked up… and here we are.

So, finally, The County hired someone to check out the possibility of zoning restrictions in The Town. Of course, the only reason this was done was because many people owned undeveloped property near a new interstate extension that they wanted to  manage according to their own wants (the rest of The County depends on oil/shipbuilding revenue and tourism, pretty much exclusively). Of course, the zoning restrictions were pretty much a hodge-podge of what already existed, other than zoning that prime undeveloped Interstate extension land as commercial. Anywhere in The Town, you can have a business open up right next to a house which is right next to a trailer which is right next to an RV park.

Make things even better, and companies from out of the area are contracting workers to companies In Town, and buying these falling apart trailers, putting 8 guys in one – mostly Mexican, but not all – and calling it a “boarding house.”

Now you have the background.

There is a County Planning and Zoning Commission. Problem is, the County’s council members have decided that P&Z should have no power of their own. At all. Should someone disagree with P&Z’s decision, they can go to the Council and get it overturned (and they usually do). Then, if they don’t anyone’s decision, they can just go ahead and do whatever they want to do, because The Council didn’t bother to give P&Z, or even themselves, any penalties for going against a ruling. No fines, no having to tear it down or move it, no jail time, nothing. They can do nothing.

Recently, a woman tore down a blighted house on her property, and started moving small FEMA-sized RV trailers onto it. The surrounding neighbors protested, P&Z ruled against her, and she was to only leave one RV on the property (personal use) and use the remainder of the property to either build a new house or put a mobile home there. She got mad. Then she put three more RV’s on the property. Now, we’re talking a lot that’s maybe 100×100. And no one can do anything.

So now, that brings us to The Jerk. I’ve known The Jerk and his family my entire life. His brother was almost my godfather. My father was friends with the whole family, and my grandfather and The Jerk’s father owned land together, drank together, and engaged in friendly rivalry their entire lives. Well… The Jerk had some land and decided that it was time that The Town had a nice, quiet subdivision. It consisted really only of one long road, near the local Catholic Church. He sold the land, and people built houses ranging from about $120k to $250k – now, honestly, these are houses that anywhere else would go for $250-$400k, easily. People bought up land, started building, feeling like all their work had been for something. The neighborhood was restricted, therefore no trailers could ever be moved in to decrease property value. I know it sounds like a simple thing, but believe me, this had never been done before in The Town.

So, a couple of years later, what does The Jerk do? He decides that selling the property isn’t generating enough income. So. On his property that backs up this subdivision, he builds an RV park to provide “housing” for the transient workers. Granted, so far, a lot of the folks that he has there seem to be decent guys, they aren’t living with several men to a trailer, and there hasn’t been any increase in crime in that area. This is all good. But the existing RV’s are far enough from the houses (think the distance of a block or so) that there isn’t an issue.

Now, he wants to expand. The expansion basically puts RV’s in practically the backyard of these nice houses in a restricted subdivision. What? And the worst part is that he still owns the last several lots on the road… so should he decide to expand out there, he can. He tried telling these people that having a transient RV park next to their houses wouldn’t lower their property values. He also insists that he’ll never have a problem with crime, even though he doesn’t do background checks, there is no fence around the property, and there is no security (oh, should I add that right now, there is one sheriff patrolling the entire Town at any particular time, day or night? Yeah.).

The neighbors are livid. The P&Z voted him down, and when he took it to The Council, they deferred a decision. Thing is, everyone against it went to the meeting – and they’ll have to continue going to all the meetings because The Council can bring the issue back up anytime they want.

So the Jerk is trying to reach a compromise. What kind of compromise? He says he’ll think about building a fence, maybe doing background checks. But inevitably it doesn’t matter, he says, because “business leaders” are on his “side” and he has “supporters” just like P&Z has. Wait, P&Z doesn’t have supporters. P&Z is trying to support what is best for the community.

When I said to him, “Why don’t you invest in trying to build real housing, or try to bring some other business to the area?” Oh no. Can’t do that. Because “we don’t have as much money as people think we have, just land” and “lot height requirements have gone up too much to make that economical” and my favorite, “Well, we’re going to do things like that once The New Road opens up,” (a new road being built through his other property, that The County will LEASE from him) “but that’s the New [Town], we’re talking about the old [Town].” So, the entire town will still be going to hell in a handbasket, because you and local businessmen and local politicians don’t feel like bothering with it. So, it’s easier to just make the rest of The Town even worse than before, rather that helping to build it up so that it’s a safe place for younger families to come to and help build the economy. So, the only new business that will come will be on your other land near the interstate, something that won’t help out Town Citizens, but will be added to the coffers of The County and ultimately the The City, right?

He didn’t answer me.

I’m mad. It’s been a couple of days, and I’m still very, very mad. I keep saying that if I had money (I’m talking lottery-type money), I’d leave this place in a heartbeat. And I probably would… but mainly because I want a lot of acreage, and this area doesn’t have that. But I’d like to think that I’d begin to buy up the blighted property in the area, rebuild or remodel the improvements on the property, and sell it for a reasonable price so that new families – not just companies who cram men into houses – could afford it and be comfortable. Then I’d try to work to build a local economy, trying to fill in the gaps that we have around here. For instance, there aren’t any local farmer’s markets, organic food sources, nice shopping boutiques, hell, there isn’t even a Starbucks (not that I mind that, because I don’t like Starbuck’s business practices, but still, who doesn’t have a Starbucks!)

I need to go. The twins they are a’calling me. I just needed to vent. I look around and see so much potential for The Town, and to know that even people who have lived here their whole lives, watched this town die for a decade because of the lack of diversity, and watched The City and The County take every penny we’ve made and spend it on themselves instead of us, how someone who has seen that could just not only let it keep happening, but be a source of it.

I’m mad. And I just can’t do anything about it.

February 28, 2007 Posted by | Common Sense, Musings, Politics | Leave a comment

Bellsouth and DirecTV suck.

Oh man. I’m still wired from today. Since we’re keeping the phone number at the new house AT the new house (my grandparents had it since the 50’s, when it was a “subdivision/town 123” type number), but trying to get all of our features moved over there. We have one of those Bellsouth bundles, so our local, long distance, DSL, and cell phone are all on one bill, and DirecTV bills us with a discount as well for the bundle. Should be easy enough, right?

I spent about an hour on the phone with Bellsouth while they set everything up. Then, because the bill was being switched into our names instead of my deceased grandfather’s name, they needed approval from my husband. I tried to three-way call, but got disconnected. The woman said if I got disconnected, to just call back, that all that needed to happen was to get his verbal approval.

So, I called hubby to come home, and we call them back. Between being on hold, the guy trying to figure out what was happening, and approval, we were on the phone another 25 minutes. All is well, right?

My mom is at the new place, waiting on the DirecTV guy to move our service today (as the owner, she wanted to make sure they placed everything according to her wishes). She gets a call there – Bellsouth wants to verify approval of new local and long distance service at “new number” for [enter grandpa’s name here]. Mom says, “oh no. I mean, yeah, we approve the change, all of that is correct, but it’s supposed to be under THEIR name, not my father’s.”

You guessed it. They cancelled the order completely. I called them back, and we had to do it ALL OVER AGAIN… this time it only took 45 minutes, as I made them transfer me directly to a supervisor. So, I’m frustrated.

Then, DirecTV guy never shows up. Turns out that an hour before the end of the appointment time, he tried to call to confirm. I’m sorry, but when I make an appointment, and someone takes the time to be there or take off of work to be there, then someone better damn well show up. Yeah, well… even though we verified my cell phone number as a contact number TWICE during the call for the move, they didn’t bother putting it on the work order. So since he didn’t get an answer, he left town.

Then the woman told me that they’ll reschedule me – for nearly 2 weeks from now, when someone will be in my area again.

Oh no. I tried being nice. Then I got firm. Then I yelled. Then I cursed. And miraculously, and appointment this Friday opened up.

Then I called DirecTV themselves (the other b.s. was dealing with the technicians office) and spoke with someone, and proceeded to ream him out, and got the date moved to Wednesday.

I’d have been nice if anyone would have been honest with me. First they say he called to get directions (house is clearly marked, on a well-known road, not in a rural setting), then they said he called to confirm the appointment. Then they tried getting him on the phone at 4pm (end of appointment time, that’s when I called them), and NO ONE – for the FIFTY MINUTES I was on the phone with various departments – could get him on the line. Then miraculously, an 1.5 hours later, he’s 1.5 hours away, just getting the message, and can’t come back.

And DirecTV has already taken $50 from me as a “non-refundable deposit” for the installation, and because we’re moving, they are requiring another 1 year commitment, which we already agreed to, and for which there is a cancellation fee if we tell them to stick the whole thing up their a$$. And learning all of this, I spent approximately 2 hours on the phone with them today.

Don’t even get me started on the local politics I had to deal with today. I’ll post about that tomorrow, because that made me livid as well.

You know, some days, people really are out to get you. It’s not paranoia if it’s really happening. I’ll update Thursday and let you know if everything has gone smoothly – as Wednesday both DirecTV gets installed and Bellsouth gets transferred. No one has common sense, or common courtesy, anymore, do they? Is my time not as valuable as anyone else’s?

February 27, 2007 Posted by | Bad Day, Common Sense, Moving | 3 Comments

Growing Pains.

Moving is always stressful. Who would have thought that moving to a bigger house would be as stressful as downsizing?

Here’s the situation – technically, some of our stuff is in a mobile home that we lived in for several months, some of our stuff is at my parents, and the biggest chunk of stuff is in a storage unit.

So. We’re going from our stuff being scattered and essentially being nomads to having this really great house (technically it’s 5 bedroom, living room, family room; but we’re rearranging things to it’s 3 bedroom, 1 playroom, 1 office, 1 storage room, 1 family room). The only issue with the house is the one bathroom.

So there should be room for everything, right?

I’m not so sure. In addition to all of our stuff, we’re also keeping some family pieces in the house while The Siblings (the owners of the house, my mother and her brother and sister) decide where they’ll put the lovely heirlooms. And then there’s the furniture that a cousin brought over, because she got a vintage bedroom set – and of course, no one in my family can ever get rid of anything, it must be handed down and around.

Am I frustrated? A bit. I wanted this move to go so smoothly. And it’s not going horrifically, it’s just not like I wanted it to be.

BUT.

The closets are painted, the bathroom is painted, the walls are clean, the carpets are clean, and we’re moving things in. I’m hoping that, even though we’ll be nowhere near really moved in, that DH, the twins and I can start sleeping there Wednesday at the latest. DD9 is staying with grandma until we get settled in, as her room used to be the formal living room, therefore has the biggest exterior door and straightest line to the rest of the house for furniture moving.

We will beat this moving thing. We will fit everything. We will declutter as we go. We will move in, and enjoy it. Whether we like it or not!

There.

Have a good week, everyone. Not sure how much I’ll be able to be online until we get the DSL set up in the new place.

February 25, 2007 Posted by | Moving | Leave a comment

Happy Happy Happy…

How I know I stay up too late

by Amaya Rain

The ceiling fan in here has made this same wonk-wonk-wonk noise for, oh jeez, the 25 years it’s been up in here (I’m at my mother’s house).

All of a sudden, after all this time, I realize that sounds like someone with one of those trach vibrator things (I have no idea what they are called – you know what I mean) saying…

happy happy happy happy happy happy

I will never be able to sit in this room for long periods again.

February 21, 2007 Posted by | Insomnia, Musings | Leave a comment

Beige Hair? Oh, I mean, Honeymilk.

So, it’s nearly time to move. The carpet cleaners are going to be at the new house tomorrow. My mother and I spent the day painting closets – she primed, I painted. Now, I want to do a colorwash in the living room with a color called “Lazy Sun”. I’ll probably end up having to put a burnt sienna over it as well to get the color right, but that’s another post for another day.

The idea was to practice my method in the closets. The ones in what will be the babies’ bedroom, oldest daughter’s bedroom, and the kitchen (think coat closet) hadn’t been painted probably since the house was built (50’s), or possibly when they added on to the back of the house (’69-ish). I got a nice beige color from Lowe’s, called “Honeymilk”, that looked like a nice rich white. Yeah, well. It’s not much different than the nearly-contractor-beige that was last painted through the house about 6 years ago.

Am I complaining about my color choice? Yeah. No. Not really. I just expected… oh, I don’t know… something to seem different when they were painted. But no. They look great, much better than the nicotine white with rust spots that they were before. But now they just look like, well, closets. Yeah, I know.

I decided not to practice. I’m going to just jump into the fray and colorwash until my heart’s content in the living room later. After continually bumping into the walls in the closets, and getting tons of paint on my butt and in my hair, I just had enough.

Tonight, Hubby and I went to The Big Huge Blue Big Box Store That I Hate But Can’t Stay Away From Because It’s The Only Superstore Within A Fourty Minute Drive to pick up paint for the bathroom. Mom, who is going to be there with the carpet guys while I stay home with the twins, decided she wants to paint it for us. Bless her. Oh God Bless Her. So we picked out a nice dark blue that doesn’t make the tile backsplash or floor look too brownish, and the woodwork and tub surround will be painted, yeah, you guessed it… Honeymilk.

Maybe Mom will come home with Honeymilk hair tomorrow. Bah. Actually, come to think of it, I think that’s the color of her grays…

Speaking of, the placement of wisps of hair around my face that aren’t black wasn’t making me happy. I’ve sworn for years now that I wouldn’t dye my hair again. I used to dye it in my early 20’s (eggplant was really my favorite color), but I was embracing my gray. Yeah, well, that’s easy to say when the gray is a few miniscule streaks coming from the top of my head down the sides and the back. Around my face? I don’t think I can be the crazy lady with the waist-length salt-and-pepper hair anymore (not that I am now, it was a future aspiration).

I guess I’ll have to think about it. I mean, if I’m gonna start dying my hair to hide the gray, shouldn’t I just start now, and do all the fun colors while I’m still young enough to pull them off?

Anyway, I’m going to go scrub the Honeymilk off of my knees and the bottoms of my feet, and hope that it comes out of my hair.

After all – tomorrow is my only day to rest (as much as one can with year-old very active twins) before the fun that is moving begins.

February 21, 2007 Posted by | Moving, Perfectionism | Leave a comment

Get ready.

So, as a cruel joke of the universe, someone on Organized Home decided to post today about hurricane preparedness ala the pantry. Cruel, cruel women. Here I am stressing about grocery shopping, and now they have me thinking about preparedness as well. I mean, it’s okay, because the shopping I intend to do also involves a good bit of emergency preparedness, but still. Cruel Joke.

So, as someone who grew up in the midst of hurricane country, I have had a game plan for several years. Some of it is what I learned growing up, some what I learned not to do growing up, some is experience after coming through Hurricane Andrew (check your history books), and some is just sheer paranoia about being prepared for a family of 5, when we used to be a family of two.

Store what you eat, and eat what you store.

There is no more important rule than this. I detest tuna. Everyone hates tuna except my husband, who isn’t allowed to eat it when I’m around. So why would I keep some in my pantry? Because some list says I should have some, along with beef jerky, tinned chicken, sardines… someone shoot me. Because I’d much prefer hanging out in the neighbors’ yards eating up their dandelions than eating that junk.

But how will you get your protein? At times, my husband likes to eat beef soups, so we keep those on hand. My oldest, and her friends, have this weird obsession with Hormel chili on hot dogs, so we keep extras of chili. We tend to keep Velveeta on hand because we like to have it on hand when we get in the mood to make a chili cheese dip. The list goes on. I do admit, protein sources are lower in quanity in our home, but they are there. And if I keep 4 or 5 cans of coup, 12 cans of Hormel, a couple pounds of Velveeta, and a huge thing of peanut butter from Sam’s Club on hand, we’re not doing too bad. If we ate beans, we’d be definitely set, but none of us do. Notice that all of these need either no cooking, or just a couple of minutes of heat. Oh yeah, as far as that peanut butter, we buy it in the huge things, then just refill a jar as we go. When one tub is finished, we buy another, so there’s always at least one full one and some part of another one on hand at all times.

Most of our veggies are bought fresh or frozen. We really aren’t fans of canned veggies, so, again, we have an issue. However, I buy Niblettes corn by the case at Sam’s, and never, ever run low. We usually have a large can or two of yams, and various veggies that get bought for some reason or another. I generally buy veggies enough for at least a week (usually two) for the family, plus we always have potatoes and onions by the bushel (okay, maybe not that many, but a lot). So without any rationing or changing our buying habits, we have at the very least a week’s worth of fresh vegetables on hand, plus whatever extra is in the pantry, which is probably a good couple of weeks’ worth.

And let’s not forget, tomatoes are veggies and fruit. To that end, I probably have a month’s worth of tomatoes and tomato products on hand at all times.

Speaking of fruits, they are plentiful in this house. All the kids love them. We usually buy enough bananas for a week (just about everyone eats one a day). Then we have various other fresh fruit that keeps for a while – apples, oranges, whatever is in season, really – always around. Add to that numerous forms of canned fruit (we buy fruit canned in natural juices only) and applesauce, and we could survive just on fruit for at least 2 weeks.

Carbs are never in short supply in this house, happily for me, sadly for my waist. At any time, the least we will have in the house is a box of Ritz, a box of saltines, a couple of boxes of graham crackers, 5 pounds of pasta (a minimum of a box/bag of each shape we use regularly), 10 pounds of rice (Southern family, it’s a must), a bag of flour, a bag of corn meal, a canister of old fashioned oats, a box or two of quick/instant oats, a couple of boxes of grits, a box or two of cream of wheat… I think you get the picture.

Now we get to miscellaneous items. Cereal bars, jams, jellies, sugars, relishes/pickles, jarred peppers, convenience foods such as rice or pasta mixes, pudding mixes, jello, dry milk, junk food… the list goes on and on. These rotate in importance so I don’t really count them as part of any emergency meal plan. I do, however, count butter, even though it is refrigerated (more on fridge food later).

A shelf of a pantry is generally devoted to “meals”. For instance, I have a bag of pasta, a couple of cans of Hunt’s Traditional Spaghetti Sauce and a can of tomato paste together on a shelf. That way, if I’m in a hurry, I don’t have to think, it’s all right there, I can grab it and go. If I forget to add an onion, it’s no big deal, because it’s edible on its own. I’ll also keep rice, cream of mushroom soup and lipton onion soup mix together, because I make meatloaf gravy with that, so it’s all together when I want meatloaf. That translates into “I don’t have to think about it” portable meals if we have to evacuate somewhere. Although, with hurricanes, there is a bit more prep time… I’m thinking if there’s a need to evacuate for tonadoes or an environmental issue here (we live near a major waterway, interstate, and railway. Have to think of this stuff).

Baby things! With the twins, I hit hurricane season full tilt. I was unable to breastfeed past 3 months, so when storm time approached, I was terrifed that I wouldn’t be able to feed them if something happened. So we always had at least a month’s worth of formula on hand, in addition to a month’s worth of diapers, disposable bottle liners, etc.

I’ve always kept bottled water on hand. When I belong to a delivery service, I keep several more bottles than I need so that I always have at least a weeks’ worth of drinking water on hand. For a hurricane, cleaning water and such usually comes from filling the bathtub or other containers last minute. There is also always a bottle of bleach nearby that is rotated out every couple of years.

But what about the fridge and freezer? Here’s some hints from me:

  • When you know a storm is possibly coming, check out your freezer. I’ve been known to take out small, easily defrosted items like chicken cutlets, thin-cut chops, etc., and go ahead and cook them in the days leading up to the storm. They’ll be the first to defrost and go bad if we lose electricity, so why not eat them first!
  • Rearrange the freezer so that space is maximized, everything is packed together as well as possible. Now is not the time to worry about if you can find your leftover chili a few weeks from now.
  • Fill to 2/3 empty milk jugs or soda bottles with water, and put in the freezer if you have big empty spaces. Otherwise, 2/3 fill sturdy zipper bags with water and stuff them in the in-between spaces. Also, find all those old blue jugs that you put in lunchboxes and such. They defrost at a slower rate than water, and will help keep the temperature down.
  • Turn it on the coldest setting possible. Have someone press your door as tightly as it will seal, and duct tape the thing shut. Do not open it for at least 12 hours, preferably 24, before you think the possiblity of losing power will arrive (which can be up to a day or two before the storm, depending on the feeder bands).
  • Check your refrigerator. Take out your butter (real butter). It won’t go bad on the counter. I promise. Also remove any and all drinks and put them into ice chests. Plan on not opening the fridge until electricity is back on, or until you know that everything in it will be going bad (then you want to clean it out ASAP so it won’t start rotting).
  • You may want to use frozen water jugs in the fridge as well. If you turn it on its coldest settings, move as much as you can to the coldest parts of the fridge, and add these huge blocks of ice, you’re likely to save everything in there.
  • MAYO! For pantry purposes, although I’m usually all about bulk buying, buy small bottles during the summer if you live in a storm-prone area. You have to refrigerate it once it’s open, but until then and for several hours, you’re okay… so you can open one jar, give everyone on your block mayo for their sandwich for lunch and dinner, and still have some left over.

Okay. That was huge. I’m going to bed now, and dream paranoid dreams about price tags coming to get me in the grocery (not that anyone uses price tags anymore in a grocery store)…

February 13, 2007 Posted by | Common Sense, emergency preparation, hurricane preparedness | Leave a comment

Grocery Woes.

This is going to sound ridiculous, but I’m scared to go grocery shopping.

I used to be a great shopper. As a single mom, I could squeeze a dollar out of a dime and we very seldom lacked for anything because I just had some mad shopping skills.

The problem is, after I got married, my husband took over some of the grocery duties. I still went for “big shopping”, but he was the one who got milk and such. And then when I got pregnant with the twins, well, I never seemed to leave the house. Then we moved. Then we had the twins. Now I’m always home with the twins.

Staying near – and then with – my parents, well, there’s numerous problems here, but let’s focus on the obvious: my mother shops. And since my husband works, has a company car and seems to drive past every grocery store 20 times a day, well, he does shopping when needed. I stay home with babies.

In the next few weeks, God willing, we’ll be moving into the new place. And I really, really need to do a full pantry grocery shopping trip. But I’m trying to save money, there are no “big brand” stores within 30 minutes of here except for a SuperWallieWorld (which I try to avoid when I can). That means no Kroger, Meijers, Aldi’s, Sav-on, Winn-Dixie… none of the chains are here. Top that with – get ready for this – they only end up doing sale papers every couple of weeks. Wanna know the sales? Go into the store and get one.

Now, there is a Sam’s about 30 minutes away, and we have a membership. But I remember from experience that a lot of Sam’s stuff isn’t really cheaper, just more convenient.

So, my dilemma. I need to comparison shop, because I’m going to be spending an inordinate amount of money on groceries really soon. But… the only way to do that is to go shopping – but everyone else does the shopping. And when it comes down to it, my mom isn’t going to want a bag of King Arthur flour; I do. And there’s nowhere to put it. And what if I buy it at Store X and it’s $1 cheaper at Store Y?

I know this sounds stupid. Just shop, you say. But I get little catches in my throat when I think about going shopping without a game plan, without a price book (even just an idea in my head). I mean, I don’t even know the aisle layouts here anymore.

Such a pithy post, I know. There are tons of things more important going on in the world than my apprehension/anxiety at grocery shopping and my (probably sick, false) pride in what an amazing job at it I used to do.

But I feel like whining.

I wanna be super shopper again, and I want to start with the biggest shop of the year, possibly of the next couple of years (counting not only quantity of items but the sheer variety in what we need that will no longer be supplied at my mom’s house).

I’m so glad I’m on medication.

February 12, 2007 Posted by | Moving, Musings | Leave a comment