Sunday, August 28, 2011

Going Home (for real this time!)

We're leaving for the airport in about twenty minutes. Oscar and I will be on that plane, then Oliver and Wyatt will follow a couple hours later. I'm really happy to be leaving, although we did manage to make the most of our enforced vacation. Hopefully, we won't have much trouble getting our lodging and food reimbursed. At least we had enough money to cover it.

Most of my fam is up in the Northeast, so I'm crossing my fingers for you all! Irene is all yours today. Good riddance, I say.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Going Home...Not Quite

The good news is that Irene took a turn eastward that ended up sparing Andros the worst of it. Damage reports that I've heard have been positive, and they had lists up this evening for the first flights home tomorrow. We checked, and none of us are on them, which we kind of expected, so we're here for at least another day.

Most likely, we won't be able to go home until at least Sunday, although Oliver may be out of here earlier depending on how they decide his priority status is. He doesn't technically have anything he has to be back for until Wednesday, so I'm crossing my fingers that we will end up being able to return together. We'll see.

I'm feeling a lot better now, so I can handle that if it happens. I had a stomach bug during our trip off-island the last week, and hadn't quite gotten over it when we were ordered to evacuate. When I get stressed out, it all tends to sit in my stomach, so I think that layered on top of that and I pretty much quit eating for three days because I couldn't keep anything down. So glad to be done with that!

I don't know what kind of damage our trailer sustained, but I don't even care right now. I'm just relieved the worst case scenario was avoided, and we don't have to find ourselves a place to live in Florida while Oliver tries to fly back and forth every weekend to see us. That would have been pretty sad.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

C-130 Pic

This is someone else's photo (click on it to see where it came from), but I stumbled across this on the net today. I'll get mine up at some point. I don't know if this was our flight, but it could have been.


Well, we're in Florida now, waiting Irene out in West Palm Beach. The hurricane, which apparently is a Cat 3 now, as expected, is veering East a bit, and Florida is no longer worried about a direct hit, which is good news. They would have moved us if it was coming to us, but I'm relieved we won't have to do that. Once was enough.

As for getting out, that was a big process. Every thing seemed kind of disorganized. We got a call on Monday night that the boys and I were on the first C-130 flight and needed to show up at 0930 at the base theatre to register. No word on what we needed to bring, or anything else.

So, I dutifully showed up, sans luggage because I didn't want to walk it over (Oliver was working, and had the car, and wasn't able to get out to take us beforehand - it's not a long walk at all, takes maybe three minutes, but I'm still sick so I just left it because the flight wasn't supposed to be until 1100). When I got there, they began giving instructions and told us we had to have our evac form, which we would show as we went thought the line, culminating in checking in the luggage I didn't have with me. I knew nothing about the paperwork, nor who to ask about it.

So, I left the boys with a friend who was also supposed to be on the flight with her boys, ran home to get the luggage and call Oliver about the form. He told me he'd come pick me up with the bags, and tried to figure out what this form was. He didn't have any luck, but when we came back to the theatre with our bags, we finally saw someone in uniform (most of the people here are working for the civilian contractor, so they had their own forms and their own procedures for money etc. than we do). He had all the forms, so I picked up ours and sat down to wait while Oliver went back to work.

My friend and I decided to not get in line right away because it got huge almost instantly and we had four young kids between us. After about an hour, though, we noticed that new people kept coming in and getting in line. Clearly, it was not at all about who was supposedly on this first flight, and was turning into a bit of a free-for-all.

To make a long story short, after talking to someone handling the processing, we were able to just wait it out in our seats until the next C-130. The first one filled and left, and then they had a couple flights on our normal plane, which seats 19. They actually offered my friend and I seats on the AUTAC plane, but we wanted to fly on the C-130. We knew our boys would love it, and hey, these kinds of opportunities don't come around every day. For me, too, there was the hope that Oliver would be free to go and get out with us, which is what ended up happening.

It took about five hours, but we did get out on the second C-130, and Oliver went with us. He finished what he had to just in time. Considering how stressed out and ill I was feeling at that point, that was a huge blessing.

We took with us a suitcase, two duffel bags, and four backpacks, just under 150 pounds of baggage. Here's the curious thing about that - I am exceptionally aware right now of just what we need to restart our life if the worst case happened and everything we own was gone. Turns out, it's a whole lot less than you'd think. The digital age has made this so much easier, too - the desktop we had to leave behind, I dumped all the photos, home videos, and music onto my IPOD. What was left went onto a flash drive, and then I backed up Itunes onto a couple DVDs (since our desktop is where I always sync the IPOD). That stuff takes up no space to carry.

Then we have our binder with important docs, like birth certificates, and a couple folders with investment info, taxes, and other miscellaneous paperwork. The boys carried their prized, most loved possessions, including a gallon bag of LEGOs (a small fraction of what they own, but enough to keep them happy). There are other things, too, obviously, like clothing and passports, the camera, and a few books to keep us busy.

There are things we left behind that I will be sad to lose, but overall, they are very few. Everything else is replaceable, and it's insured. The car will actually be the biggest loss because we have to carry Banhamian insurance on it, and it only covers damage you might cause to someone or something. It's an 8 year old car, but we were hoping to hang onto it for while longer and use it as a commuter car for Oliver when we buy a new family car next year. That will be our most painful financial hit.

Maybe it's all the moving I've done in my adult life (our six years in Washington was the longest I'd lived anywhere since I was 18), but I am realizing just how not attached to things I am. Oliver is the same way. Ultimately, that's probably the biggest factor in our deciding to stay in the Navy - we are experience junkies, and we don't care about stuff. Owning a house sometimes seems appealing, but it also seems like a financial albatross and something that will kill our mobility. By staying in the Navy, we get to keep moving, and we get to do some crazy stuff, like board that C-130 and have a flying experience unlike any we've ever had before (I've got some good pics, but seem to have forgotten the cord for the camera, and our laptop weirdly has no card reader, so I'll have to upload them later). The retirement is pretty appealing on many levels, but after the latest attack on that, I am no longer positive it will still be there when we finish his twenty years. So, if we stay, we have to stay for other reasons.

Anyway, this is getting longer and longer. If you managed to keep reading, bravo to you! Clearly, I am just sitting in a hotel room with nothing to do but watch storm radar as Irene slowly advances through the islands. The waiting game is no fun.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The ultimate irony? We're being evacuated to the Florida coast. Where Irene is also supposed to hit. Sigh.

I've never been so reluctant to leave home before. We're getting on a plane tomorrow morning and I don't know when we'll be back. Our lodging and food is supposed to be covered, but no one seems to know how much or if a car will be covered, too. Because we need a car. They are just flying us there and letting us out on our own. I'm not too thrilled about it all.

We've moved things around, put the things we can't take with us into closets and bathrooms without windows. As far as I can tell, the biggest danger is breaking windows, but there's no telling really. We're just praying things will be okay. It's all we have left to do at this point.


So, it's official: After one day, school is closing until further notice. And we're going to be evacuated in the next day or two. So much for returning home yesterday.

Hello Irene

Well, Tropical Storm Emily was more like Fizzled-Out Emily when it reached us a couple weeks ago. Hurricane Irene, currently harrying the island of Hispaniola, looks a little more menacing, however. We've gone to a condition 4 today, so all the visitors have been kicked off. I'm watching my neighbors clean us their patio as I type this, as that's one more thing everyone has to do: secure anything loose outside. We don't have much to do in that area because we just spent five days in the West Palm Beach area and hadn't pulled much back out after stowing it for Emily.

Ironically, I'm once again feeling ill while I await word on whether or not we'll be evacuating this time. I picked up something on our trip, and am still trying to shake it. Wyatt started school this morning, and I was the only one able to drop him off as Oliver had duty. I dragged myself there with the boys, took some pictures of him giggling with his class while they waited for flag, and then dragged myself back home to collapse on the couch. Oscar's been all over this because he's been allowed to pretty much watch whatever he wants today. Hopefully, I'll be more myself tomorrow.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Thunderstorms and the Beach

Thunderstorms are pretty much a way of life here in the summer time. They sweep in, the heavens pour, the lightning crashes, and then it's gone fifteen minutes later. I love them; Washington almost never had thunderstorms, but it wasn't until we moved here that I realized how much I missed them.

We had plans to spend some time at the beach this afternoon. As we were eating lunch, however, the sky began darkening and it rained. We decided to just wait it out, and left about an hour later. The beach was beautiful, the sand all hard-packed from the rain, and the sky filled with thunderclouds. No one else was there. If we lived anywhere else, I would have stayed home, but here, we can just fit in a visit between storms.

Unfortunately, I didn't bring a camera; I expected to be caught in a downpour and didn't want to risk it. I wish I had, though: the sky was beautiful, Wyatt found a live conch in the water, and we built a massive sand volcano that the boys used as a slide right before we left.

We swam a bit, and I'm excited to see Oscar is finally getting brave enough to get out there without me carrying him around. It's a lot more fun for me now.

While we were in the water, the thunderstorm that had been slowly sweeping across the sky made its rather loud appearance. When we saw the lightning streak across the sky, we knew it was time to go. As soon as we got home, the sky opened up. It was perfect timing.

Life on an island can be challenging, but we had one of those moments today when it's at its best.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Because Watching This Makes Me So Sad

Share food, change lives

And as bad as things are in our country, at least our kids aren't dying like this. This is where our donation money is going this month.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Hanging With Emily

Emily, or what's left of the storm, is hanging out over the Bahamas today. The rain started last night, and we woke up to it this morning. Most likely, it will rain all day and into the night. That's okay, though, because we really need the rain! This winter was far too dry, and we're still struggling to recover from it.

They're still watching it to see if it will reform, so good luck to all of you on the East Coast!

I'm actually surprised to see there's internet right now. The tower we rely on has been jury-rigged after the line was cut during construction. It's power source is now the house next door, and the cord has been run above-ground through a large pipe. Not the best set up, and it tends to go out every time it rains. It's nice to have it now, though, since it appears we won't be leaving the house today.

The bad news for us is that the leak above the stove seems to have reopened. We woke up to a puddle of water on the stovetop. I've got a couple pots catching it now, but I guess I won't be cooking anything that way until the rain stops. Fun times in an ancient trailor.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Update, and Where oh Where did Emily Go?

I'm please to announce I'm finally on the mend. I went in yesterday and finally saw the doctor (he wasn't in the day before when I had the first reaction). He took one look at me and said to give me a shot of steroids, a tapering dosage of pills for the next 9 days, and off all antibiotics as my nose looks good and the one they gave me actually wouldn't touch staph anyway.

So, yay! Today I finally woke up feeling like myself (after being up half the night because the steroids really do keep you going - the boys were nice to let me sleep in to 9 this morning). I got back on the treadmill and ran three miles. I hadn't expected to do more than 1 or 1.5 since it's been about ten days since the last time I ran, but I kept up at a snail's pace. Took me 41min, but that's okay. I was running. I think it did me good, too, because the intense prickly feeling in my skin was much better afterwards - all that sweat maybe?

Figured I'd add a word about our dispensary, since I don't think I've ever talked about it. While I spent a lot of time freaking out that this would turn out to be something they'd have to send me to the States to treat due to their lack of facilities, I am very grateful for the ease of obtaining care here.

The dispensary is basically a long, rectangular building. You enter the middle of it and walk into a waiting room with a reception area attached. When you open the door at the rear of the room, you find yourself in a hallway that runs to either side of you. Exam rooms, a room for dental care, an X-ray room, the doctor's office, and a tiny room for pharmaceuticals lay on either side of the hallway. That's it. There is one doctor on staff, two nurses, and, for the Navy and Navy family members, a first class corpsman (who just made chief).

They have hours similar to basic working hours, M-F, and the doctor is on call at all other times. If you have a problem on the weekend, most people just go to the firehouse where there is a 24-hour dispatcher on duty who will page the doctor. Or, I've heard 911 works, although I don't have firsthand experience with that one.

For me, because I've had to go in there nearly every day this week, the best part is the lack of wait. The only thing I've ever had to make an appointment for was Wyatt's school physicals. Everything else is just a walk-in sort of thing. Typically, I can go in there and be back out, medicine in hand, withing 15min. One time I had to have a couple tests done, as well as an X-ray, and it took more like 20min. The times I had to bring the boys, I could leave them playing with toys in the waiting room while I saw who I needed to see because everything is so close. I totally could not do that in the States, nor would even a routine, scheduled appointment take any less than a half hour. What happened to me would have required a couple emergency room visits, which would have been a nightmare.

So, I'm really, exceptionally grateful that if this had to happen, it happened here. See, there are always upsides to every place!

Moving on to Emily, or what's left of here. She stalled out over the Dominican republic, and fell apart. It's been downgraded to not a Tropical storm, and is headed our way this weekend. It might regather at some point, but we'll not see much of that if it does.

So, much ado about nothing, not that I'm complaining. I really wasn't looking forward to dealing with an evacuation while I was so drugged up and everything seemed to be going haywire in my body. It would have been just me and the kids; Oliver is in a different priority for leaving. Kids go first, and the under 5 set first of them. So yeah, that would have been tough. I'm glad it's all worked out this way.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Next State...?

I was randomly surfing through some blogs and ran across a post where the woman described a meeting she'd had with someone new. Apparently, he was from New England, which she described as "the next state over from me" (she's from New York). I scratched my head when I read it. Does she not realize that New England refers to six states, and is a regional term?

Sigh. This reminds me of the person I met in college who didn't know where Boston was. Although, I think that was a little worse.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Head Full of Sand

This has been one of the longest weeks of my life. And just when I thought I was nearing the end, it got worse. You know those powerhouse antibiotics I've been taking? Well, I went back in to see the corpsman when I ran out. He thought it looked good, and sent me home with instructions to keep using ointment until it goes away completely. I though, hooray, and went home - whereupon the phone promptly rings. He's calling because he talked to the doctor, and he wants me on them for five more days.

So, I'm back on them. Until this morning, that is, when I went back to the dispensary because I was having an allergic reaction to them. Now I've got Benedryl in my system, plus a new antibiotic to try.

Sigh. Will this ever end? Worst case is I have to go to the States if it just won't clear up here. There's a limit to what they can treat here. I'm praying it'll clear up. What a pain that would be...

Anyway, as for Tropical Storm Emily, she's still a tropical storm, and while we've gone to condition 3, no one is talking evacuations of residents (although all the visitors had to leave). We'll see what happens, but we might not even have to take to our assigned shelter when it runs over us. I can live with that.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


So, I went to the doctor today to get my last staph infection checkup, and while I was there tried to reschedule my son's physical for school. It was supposed to be yesterday, and I was feeling so poorly (hate these antibiotics!) that I completely spaced it. The nurse told me she didn't want to schedule for this week....because we might be evacuated. I stared at her in surprise, because I hadn't heard anything.

Turns out, Tropical storm Emily formed last night and is on a path to seep right through here. Unless it turns, we'll be out of here soon. Clearly, I must start packing...