I grew up in a very conservative town in a “purple state,” and when people asked me about my political leanings, I said, “a bit left of Democrat.” I was quite happily a liberal hippie chick, and I worked at a school where one of the teachers actually wore a “moveon.org” t-shirt to work.
While we were collecting waste vegetable oil for our “greasel” Mercedes, washing cloth diapers, and observing “buy nothing day” instead of black Friday, we would fantasize about moving to California. In 2008, we decided we would move there in 5 years.
5 years later, on August 1, 2013, we did, indeed move across the country. We packed all of our possessions in our Volvo station wagon and arrived in the place I now love to call “home.” But we must have taken a wrong turn, because that place is…..wait….where?
I loved Texas the day we arrived, and I’ve only grown to love it more over the past 9 years. Even in the current political climate, I can’t imagine living anywhere else.
Here are the reasons why I love living in Texas–specifically in the Houston/Galveston area:
1. The Kindest People in the World Live in Texas.
While Texas is a very large state, and Houston is a very large city, overall, people here are unbelievably nice and social. It is a much more polite culture than the midwest U.S., but there is also a kindness that runs a lot deeper. Friends are fiercely loyal and infinitely forgiving. And if somebody is going through a hard time, everybody rallies.
2. People are Extremely Generous.
If you are here long enough, someone WILL pay for your coffee at Starbuck’s. When I was on medical leave and didn’t have a paycheck, we had help with everything imaginable. Iliana’s school donated enough gifts for her to have a mountain under the tree, and a church provided us with a turkey for Thanksgiving. If someone is short on money in the grocery line, someone will cover it. Generosity and paying it forward are simply a way of life here.
3. This Area is Very Diverse
Houston is the most diverse city in the U.S. And while people in Michigan usually only socialized with those of a similar race or ethnicity, in Houston, everyone hangs out with everyone. Our first friends in Texas were a group of Mexican-Americans in a branch of the Moped Army. When we first moved down here, Iliana made some new imaginary friends, and they all had different skin colors. If you live here long enough, you will have friends who are a different race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and political affiliation than you.
4. The Food Here is Very, Very, Very Good!
My first day at my new job down here, they provided us with breakfast tacos. I had not been aware that tacos can be eaten at every meal, and the tacos here are nothing like the creamy, cheesy tacos we had up north. I have also discovered kolaches, pho, a million varieties of sushi, tamales, ceviche, street corn, Indian food, cajun food, and every type of fusion you could imagine! Food here is simple, spicy, and flavorful.
5. Every Kind of Weekend Getaway is 30 Minutes Away.
Where we live, it’s easy to book an air BNB or campsite for a day off. We are 30-45 minutes from the beach or the Strand in Galveston, the Bolivar Peninsula (beach camping), downtown Houston, the Montrose neighborhood, or Brazos Bend state park in the woods. And if we want to stay home, we can sail on the bay or anchor out at Redfish Island.
6. There are a Lot of Options with Schools Here.
I stop short of saying that I like teaching better in Texas, because that is not entirely true. I like that Texas does not have the top-to-bottom list that did more harm than good in Michigan, and I like that test scores are not as large a percentage of teacher evaluations here. Charter schools are also non-profit in Texas, which has reduced corruption. However, Texas does not really have teacher unions–the bad situation I was in back in 2017-18 would not have happened in Michigan. Michigan also has school of choice statewide, which is very nice. So at my former job, teaching in Texas was worse, but my current position as special education department lead for a small charter school is much better than any job I had in Michigan. Autism and dyslexia interventions are also much better in Texas.
7. There are a Lot of Jobs Here.
I stayed in my job in Michigan for 10 years. It wasn’t a perfect fit for me, but it had a paycheck. I would never, never have imagined quitting a job without having something else lined up. Such is the thinking in the rust belt. Here, I left an unpleasant job with nothing lined up, had an income as soon as I was ready, and found my current job very quickly.
8. It is Easy to Find Your Tribe Here.
Houston is the fourth largest city in the US. No matter what you are into, you will be able to find your tribe. We immediately felt at home the first time we walked a marina, and now the vast majority of my friends are people I have met in yoga class. We had a hard time finding friends in Michigan, and the friends we did have, lived about an hour away.
9. There are Advantages to NOT Being in an Echo Chamber.
So what about politics and religion? I’ve learned that, first, it is possible to have close friendships with people, without ever discussing these subjects. I have also had close friendships with people who have different views. This has helped us to better understand each other, and to be skeptical of the “news” we have read or heard.
Yesterday was my Tex-a-Versary–we have now lived in Texas for nine years! I still think moving here was one of the smartest things we have ever done, and I have definitely grown from my time here.
Iliana was born the day after the last day of school, so I decided to breastfeed her over the summer. It was a rough start, but with the help of the lactation consultant provided for free by the non-profit hospital where she was born, I was able to successfully feed her this way. In fact, it was so easy for me that I decided to not buy formula when I went back to work.
As Ili slept in a cradle next to our bed, so I could easily pick her up and feed her at night. When she outgrew the cradle, we had her sleep next to us in bed. Researching the safest ways to co-sleep, led us to Ask Dr. Sears, which happily had a forum. Here I learned about attachment parenting, which seemed very natural to us. Life was easier with Ili in a carrier, she took well to breastfeeding, and following her lead just seemed right.
The Dr. Sears forum led me to Mothering.com. The forum there led me to Michigan Natural Parenting. Here we learned about all things “crunchy” and supported each other through our choices with current research and informed (and respectful) debates. It wasn’t an all-or-nothing community. Some people only did one or two “crunchy” things, and some people did more. I experimented with some ideas and kept a few of them.
Rob made cloth diapers for Iliana, which saved us a lot of money and helped the environment. We made her baby food, and she self-weaned at 22 months. Ili was on 6 medications for GERD, and she was able to stop all of them after we started eating a low-glycemic diet (which is proven to help GERD).
When Iliana ended up in the hospital after having a series of live-virus vaccines, we knew to talk to her doctor about splitting up her next series, so that the live-virus shots were given one at a time (she doesn’t react to vaccines that are not live virus). This worked perfectly. She is fully vaccinated and did not have any reactions to the live-virus shots when they were given one at a time.
Sometimes on the MNP forum, we had discussions about current events and other issues not related to parenting. These, too were very respectful and informed, and I became much more educated and more understanding of other viewpoints, even if I still did not agree with them completely. Our group was very diverse, as far as political and religious views were concerned.
And the “crunchy” habits that people adopted were not divided along political lines. I had a friend who was very left-leaning, who selectively vaccinated. There were people with very conservative views, who also strived to create as little waste as possible. I inherited a huge collection of homemade cloth diapers from a friend with very conservative views! Most people extended breastfed, regardless of their political views.
It makes me sad when I see negative articles about attachment parenting, especially when they focus on what it is not. Yes, we would have been wise to wait a little longer before co-sleeping, but it is possible to attachment parent without co-sleeping at all. Different kids need different parenting styles, but the pendulum has definitely swung away from being child-centered. I think that following Iliana’s lead and making an effort to bond with her, are a lot of the reason she is doing so well now.
And it makes me really sad when natural parenting practices are politicized. Most recently, AAP has endorsed extended breastfeeding, and this has gotten tangled up with the reversal of Roe v. Wade. By saying that they support breastfeeding up to 2 years, they are not saying that everyone has to do it. Every parent has to make their choice, and the choice should not be dictated by political affiliation.
It was a prettier time, when ideas were just ideas, and we were free to explore them all, without worrying about what our “tribe” says we should do. Republicans need not drink only Pepsi, and Democrats need not drink only Coke. Let’s get back to thinking for ourselves again!
Happy Monday, y’all! And happy Memorial Day to those of you in the U.S!
It has been a long time since I have posted an update, so here is what we have been up to this spring!
The Easter Bunny Visits the Boat
We celebrated our first Easter on Cruise Forever. Iliana is getting a bit old for decorating eggs, but she humored us.
Many Easters ago, Rob decided to freak out his mom by drinking egg dye. That was over a decade ago, but the tradition continues!
Of course, the bunny arrived the next morning, and then he brought Iliana her first Coach bag a few days later.
Iliana loves participating in the teen activities at the library. In April, they had an after-hours activity called “Not Prom.” Ili had fun getting all dolled up!
Spring Break Trip (Finally)!
We had booked a bike riding trip in Montrose, Houston at the beginning of spring break. However, the weather was terrible, my dad was in the hospital, and Ili preferred to got to her art class. So we rescheduled for the beginning of May.
We spent more time relaxing than anything, because we were so exhausted from the impending end of the school year. But we were able to relax in a fun treehouse in Montrose!
We were very close to the Buffalo Bayou trail, so we had a lovely bike ride!
Mother’s day was the day after our trip, and I got a kick out of Rob and Ili’s creativity in the packaging of my presents!
Sea Perch Car Wash
Iliana’s school offered a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) elective this year, which Ili excitedly signed up for. It was in this class that she met her social group at school…and together they formed the Sea Perch Underwater Robotics team!
The kids designed the robot, which performs tasks on a PVC platform, underwater. They participated in the national competition, which was virtual, after many visits to one student’s swimming pool. Both teams from Odyssey Academy placed very well, so they are going on to the Internationals, which are in-person in Maryland!
This means that that the four team members from Iliana’s school have been riding the bus to the Galveston campus once a week, to practice and plan with the students from the Galveston team (they are competing as one team in the Internationals). This early-morning (it leaves at 6:30 am) bus ride has been good practice for high school, since all of the team members will be riding it daily next year, when they attend the Galveston campus.
To raise money for the upcoming trip to Maryland (we leave Thursday, June 2!), the students from the Bay Area campus (where Ili attended), held a car wash at Chick Fil-A.
Eighth Grade Breakfast
The week before the last week of school, the eighth graders were celebrated at a breakfast that their parents could attend. Iliana’s English/Social Studies teacher honored each student with an adjective that began with the same first letter as their name. Iliana was “Iliana the Incredible.”
I convinced Iliana to take a picture with me afterward…
And of course she took a picture with her bestie…
And her teachers–most of whom she has had since sixth grade.
And of course with the principal (far left) and her assistant!
Saturday morning, we headed to the bank, bright and early, to sign over the paperwork for Loco Lobo. Cruise Forever is now our home, and likely will be for a long time. We have some wonderful memories on Loco, but it is time for someone else to enjoy it. Happily, it is now owned by a delightful live-aboard couple, who have already begun doing some much-needed renovations!
(And yes, I am keeping the name of this blog the same, as a matter of convenience!)
15 years ago, I had tried so hard to have a baby, that I didn’t care about the implications of having a child born right after the last day of school. With the end-of-the-year craziness, I have often tried to do a joint birthday party with someone whose birthday is close to hers. (It helps that she shares a birthday with Ava, from Michigan!).
This year, however, I really wanted to put together a party with Iliana’s friends from school. She has a very tight-knit friend group, and I thought it would be fun to do a party for teens.
After considering various options, Iliana chose to have a murder mystery party. The kids were each given a character packet and encouraged to dress the part. At the beginning of the party, everyone drew a sticky note, stating whether they were guilty or innocent. They would answer their questions accordingly.
Rob was the detective…
So whodunit? Was it Amber, the bar tender who wasn’t very good at her job?
Or was it Coco, the absent-minded waitress/reality show star?
Was it Vivian the actress or Daliah the photographer?
Christopher answered a suspicious phone call, Jazzy the waitress/singer had been carrying a knife right before it happened, and Florence the acting teacher is extremely quiet…
Or maybe it was London, the heiress?
In the end, it was Vivian! Well played, everyone!
Good-bye, Middle School!
The last week brought with it end-of-the-year festivities. While the shooting in Uvala brought a subdued tone to the last day, we were still able to celebrate everyone’s accomplishments.
Monday was Iliana’s last day wearing her uniform! (They have free dress in high school).
At the Greatness Gathering that day, Iliana won numerous awards (and a medal) for UIL Academics. She was also voted “Most Compassionate” and “Best Listener.”
On Wednesday, we made sure to take some last-day pictures.
And Ili rode away in Rob’s MG!
Celebrating Sea Perch
After school on Wednesday, our local congressman, Randy Weber, wanted to meet with the Sea Perch team, to celebrate their accomplishments.
The “Three Musketeers” were excited!
The kids explained how their robot works…
And Mr. Weber made arrangements for the kids to have a tour of the Capitol during their Maryland trip! (We are spending one day sight-seeing in D.C.)
On our first day of summer vacation, we had one last bit of good news. Our dog, Jasmine, came to us two years ago, when she was wandering around Legend Point marina with no collar or chip. The office was unable to locate an owner, so we adopted her.
We learned that Jasmine was heartworm positive. Since I could not afford the $1500+ treatment at that time, we decided to do the “slow kill” method. Jasmine did a course of antibiotics, then took Heartguard for a year. (It actually ended up being over a year, due to Covid).
We retested last summer, and she was still positive. Luckily, there is now a clinic in Houston that treats for $400. We took her there for her injections, and last Thursday, she finally tested negative! I let out a whoop and Jasmine started barking when they told us the news!
So those have been our spring adventures! Iliana and I are now getting ready to leave for Maryland on Thursday. This summer I am aiming to post a picture post every Monday and a written post every Thursday. This week it will be a little off, due to the Maryland trip, but I will be posting on Mondays and Thursdays.
Two years ago today, was the last Friday of spring break, 2020. I was obsessively checking my email, to see if we would be going back to school on Monday, but it didn’t have the excitement of a snow day.
Spring and Summer 2020
It’s hard to pinpoint when normalcy ended for me. In February, Rob and I had taken a bike riding trip in Montrose, Houston and had a lovely weekend. These were the “last normal” pictures that would be on phone as things changed.
Shortly after our trip, we both got very sick. Coincidentally, people were just starting to talk about “coronavirus,” but I wasn’t worried. I had taught through SARS, MRSA, H1N1, and even ebola scares. Iliana even caught MRSA and, after a minor ordeal, had recovered. I remembered when we all had waited in the auditorium at the school where I taught in Michigan, so we could get our H1N1 vaccines. I never joined in a the panic for any of these–practicing good hygiene and self-care seemed to be adequate.
Everyone at work was sick with the same annoying bug, so I figured it was just that. Rob ended up in the ER at one point, and I wondered if I should be wearing a mask, since they had signs up about coronavirus precautions. I sneezed and coughed, and nobody offered me one to wear or even said anything.
We recovered from whatever, just in time for spring break and a 4-day trip to Elijah’s Retreat, our happy place. This was a completely normal visit as well. Nobody wore masks, and there weren’t even any signs up at the Walmart in town. All three cabins were occupied.
Iliana cried our last day there, so Cheryl, the owner, cheered her up by booking our next visit, which would be in August. Little did I know how much would transpire before then.
When we returned home, nothing was normal. There were posts on Facebook about “social distancing” and how we should stop hugging. People were beginning to wear masks, but CDC was advising against it.
Places were closing, and Michigan went on lockdown. The whole notion of lockdown terrified me, because we only keep one week’s worth of groceries on hand at a time. I ran out to the store and stocked up on a month’s worth of supplies, hoping that would be enough to sustain us! Like many people, I didn’t realize that grocery stores would stay open in a lockdown. I think a lack of communication from our leadership led to a lot of the issues with panic shopping in the early days of the pandemic. We did not, however, contribute to the toilet paper shortage, as we used the marina’s bath house.
Yoga, of course, made me nervous. First, because my community at Moonlight is like an extended family to me, and yoga is a major support for me, especially in times of stress. Second, because I knew that my teacher was a single mother of 3, who relied on her income from teaching in order to survive and care for her family. I wanted her to be okay, and I wanted our community to still be there after the craziness was over.
I assured Cass, in private, that I would bring my own props and be very careful if school stayed open. I knew that students and teachers had a lot of resistance to coronaviruses in general, because a number of colds are caused by coronaviruses, so that I would likely catch the virus but be asymptomatic or have mild symptoms.
At our last class in the studio, when Cass was in the restroom, we all agreed to keep paying our regular amount, even if everything shut down.
And so, that Monday, Texas shut down.
I Facetimed two of my friends during this time, and I think we helped keep each other sane. This is when I began to do “What if Up” with a friend who was very high risk. None of us knew what was going to happen, and not being able to see other people made it more difficult.
I wasn’t sure what was going to happen with school. I was a behavior assistant, and we were told we would be paid our regular salary for the remainder of the year. We were to stand by for further instructions, and a virtual meeting was scheduled for Friday.
In the meantime, I tried to homeschool Ili. Sometimes it was fun. We did science experiments and she enjoyed her art projects in the beginning. I bought badminton set and gave her options for P.E. She often chose yoga or bike riding.
By Wednesday, however, we were both feeling down. She didn’t want to do her reading or social studies. I didn’t want to worry about my future.
During the lockdown, Walmart was open. So I went there Thursday morning, before Iliana woke up. After I made my purchases, she texted me and asked what homework she should be doing. I sent her a picture and asked her, blue or green?
She chose blue.
Ili’s school is very strict on dress code, so dying our hair was a big deal for both of us!
The hair dye did the trick, and I got a lot of smiles from people when I went out.
On one of my grocery trips, I bought Ili her first yoga mat…
Her teachers posted lessons, and she kept busy in every subject, especially cooking and art class!
And I bought lots of matching outfits! I shopped, a lot. It seemed like buying things for us to do, and sending Amazon gifts to friends I could not see, was all that I could do.
And of course we were us! We played the board game, “Pandemic” and otherwise tried to make the best out of doomsday.
Once the teachers were up and running with distance learning, the assistants were given orders. I began tutoring second graders, who were fascinated that I lived on a boat!
Ili kept Jasmine busy!
Easter was forced and disappointing, but it did bring some funny memories!
Meanwhile, marina life was becoming less enjoyable.
In the beginning of the shutdown, we decided that the entire property constituted “home,” so we roamed about freely, talking to neighbors and otherwise socializing. Quarantining is not really possible in a communal setting.
However, by April, the marina limited the hours that the bath house was open. You could only use the shared restrooms and showers between 8 am and 8 pm. And the pump-out for holding tanks remained broken. Our tank was full, so if nature called at night or early morning (which it often does, for me), I was out of luck. I am prone to stomach issues anyway, and soon I began to look pregnant. We bought a porta-potty, but since the porta-potty dump out was also broken, our days of having a toilet were limited. We needed a permanent solution.
Enter the apartment above the store Rob managed. It had me at hello, even if we did need to install flooring first!
While the world was shut down, we moved to the most beautiful place we have ever lived.
My employer sent me a decal that made me tear up…I still use the mug today!
I got to go back to my classroom to clean up for the end of the year. I saw my bulletin board…
And the board for our unfinished Pokemon tournament. We had one game to go, after spring break.
Iliana became a teenager on May 27. We had a Zoom party, and all of her friends were send Dairy Queen gift certificates and packs of Pokemon cards! The kids had a Pokemon game, but the virtual “socialization” tired them out quickly.
Ili’s stuffed animals attended in person.
We did our best!
Rob and I had resisted virtual 5k’s, but the “Social Distancing Run” had a cool medal, so we gave it a go! It appears that I set a PR…(which is likely, because I am early enough in my running that I set a PR in every race)
Happily, we had a bit of normalcy in June, when the Wednesday night sailboat races resumed. Ili and I had our first experience eating out, since the restaurant had outdoor seating!
I tried to do an outing with Ili everyday, even if our options were limited. We went to dog parks, watched Jurassic Park for $5 at the fancy movie theater, and went on lots of picnics on the walking trails near our apartment.
I was starting to wonder if I had had the virus back in February, so I got antibody testing. I was optimistic, thinking that a positive result would mean that I was done with masks and precautions. I tested negative. It really was just a flu bug or whatever.
We enjoyed a weekend at Brazos Bend campground, which had just reopened at half capacity. It was a mask-free outdoor weekend that we enjoyed. There is no cell reception there, but cases were declining when we left. We relaxed, thinking it was the beginning of the end…
Of course when we got back, we saw that cases were surging. It was a surge that would continue for about a year.
I shopped more than I should have at that time, and that is when I began my Marshall’s habit. It was there that I found a mug with the Bible verse that is on a sticky note on the wall of our favorite cabin at Elijah’s Retreat. And the cup was made by Sheffield House, which is significant because Elijah’s is located on Sheffield Rd. I took it as a sign that we would be keeping our August reservation (Elijah’s was still closed at that time).
The Fourth of July was like Easter–we tried. There were no fireworks, and we shot off snakes and sparklers in the parking lot. We spent the 3rd camping at a KOA, where Iliana did enjoy the playground and barrel train. And of course we got matching outfits!
There was a trip to the beach, with a scary misadventure that we don’t like to think about…
And eventually, the return trip to Elijah’s became a reality! It wasn’t the end of the pandemic, but it was the end of the beginning of the pandemic. Fall awaited, with uncertainty.
During that time, I had one friend whose husband got sick and was unable to get off of a ventilator. This was terrifying, but otherwise I knew very few people who even caught the virus.
Fall 2020: Falling into a “New Normal”
In August, our county was in even more of a surge, and we wondered if we would be returning to school in person. It was a scary time, and my mind went through every possible “what if.”
What if I got sick and lost income while I had to quarantine? What if I needed the ICU but was denied treatment because I do not have insurance? What if I spread the virus to my family?
It was decided that Texas schools would be in-person within a short amount of time, and that virtual and hybrid options also had to be available to families. I planned on having Iliana attend using a hybrid model, since that would help keep classes smaller.
Masks were required, students had clear dividers on their desks, and our school had a UV air sanitation system installed. Everyone was nervous on our first day of staff development, and our principal tearfully urged each of us to do all we could to keep our students safe.
Then, the students came in.
Everyone was happy to be back, and the mood was light, even with the masks and dividers. We decided that Iliana would attend in person full time, since she was going to be exposed to the virus from me anyway (and also, Rob was working, since his store was considered to be “essential.”
Ili was happy to be back, but she fell asleep as soon as she got home!
Shortly after we began going to school full-time, there was talk of storms approaching in the Gulf. First there was Marco, and then there was Laura. After a tense weekend, it seemed that Marco was dissipating and Laura would miss us. So, I was surprised when I arrived at school on Monday, and no students were there.
I learned that Marco and Laura had combined and were now heading our way. It was imminent enough that we were to prepare the school building, then head home to prepare or evacuate.
We had stayed during Harvey, and our building had not flooded in Harvey or Ike. So we stocked up our apartment, filled our emergency water tank, and hunkered down.
Ultimately, the waiting game kept us out of school for a week. Mandatory evacuation orders were issued, but we still felt like we could safely stay. Then the day came, when Laura was supposed to hit.
Here are some pictures from that day…
Laura missed us and turned toward Louisiana. They were hit with what was called an “unsurvivable storm surge.” We decided that we would evacuate if a storm like that ever headed our way again.
I had been moved to the special education department that year, and during our time off, our teacher unexpectedly resigned. Two years after I quit teaching, I put in my application and did a quick interview. On September 11, 2020, I began teaching full time once again!
This was not a time of staying at home for us! We took precautions that seemed reasonable and did a lot of outdoor activities.
Other states were going on and off of lockdown throughout this time, but everything in Texas stayed open, with a lot of regulations. We decided what we were comfortable doing, and what would be best to wait to do. Yoga was the only indoor activity I did at this time, since we took a lot of precautions and for me, the benefits clearly outweighed any risks.
To that point, every holiday during the pandemic was disappointing. I was determined that Halloween would be different. We carved some pumpkins to put in front of the store, went to socially distanced trunk-or-treat, and wore masks while we handed out individually-bagged candy by the park on Clear Lake Shores island.
After our Halloween success, we decided to go on a trip before Thanksgiving. We went to Yogi Bear’s Jellystone park, which has long been a favorite destination for Iliana. While it was a pleasant enough trip, it was disappointing for a few reasons. First, Iliana’s favorite activities: the hay ride and the movies, were cancelled due to Covid. And second, Iliana had outgrown many of the other activities that were offered.
Thanksgiving, on the other hand, was a rousing success! We had not seen my parents often since the start of the pandemic. We occasionally had outdoor meals at their house, and one time we met up at a park. We invited them over for Thanksgiving, since having a socially distanced meal was easy to do in our apartment.
And we had a wonderful Christmas! I bought decorations for our apartment, opting for the silver-and-gold motif, since we were expecting to live there for awhile. Santa was very good to us, and we had a lot of fun visiting my family and coming up with fun activities for just the three of us.
We were able to see our friends, the Davises, over Christmas break as well. Things were definitely looking up, going into 2021! I chose “faith” as my word of the year.
Winter and Spring 2021: The End is in Sight?
January 2021 was a mess right away. I knew the election would be contentious, but as the conflicting versions of “truth” and the violence became worse, I worried that there would be divisions between my friends who have different views and me. Of course that was not the case. Everything is black and white nationwide, but individual people have individual view and values. We decided to live our lives and do the best we could, where we were.
So let’s skip to February. February was one of the most eventful months of 2021. We entered the month optimistic, because the vaccine was out and would become available to teachers by the end of the school year. It seemed that the pandemic would soon be over, and we were fully expecting to celebrate the fourth of July without masks.
I continued with my yoga practice and celebrated by “yogaversary” on February 1.
I knew a few people who had the virus. Everyone recovered completely, but most people were coughing a bit when they returned to school. I decided to help myself to a week’s worth of TEA-issued N95 masks (wearing each mask one day a week at work), just to be safe.
I wore my regular mask (made from a bedsheet with a HEPA filter) when Rob and I went thrift-shopping on his ill-fated birthday trip…
I missed a week of yoga after a student in one of the classes I worked with tested positive. Then, right when it was time to go back, we had the freeze. Of course, we had a full apartment. I had a UTI right after our trip, which cleared up with antibiotics. During the freeze, my knee hurt like crazy and I was constantly slathering Lidocaine on it. I blamed the cold and lack of yoga.
Right after the freeze, Rob got a nasty cold. He was struggling to get through days at work, and he even took a couple days off. I laughed at him for being “man sick.”
February 26 was “Go Texan Day.” Iliana and I found some cowboy hats to wear.
My allergies started bothering me that day, and I started smelling strange musty smells. I wondered if I had left something in my room, or if I were starting with a sinus infection. I didn’t feel sick.
That afternoon, Rob texted me and said that he had lost his sense of smell. It would be two weeks before Iliana and I would see the world outside our apartment!
Rob tested positive that evening. I slept in Iliana’s room that night, but I woke up with muscle aches and a slight fever. I tested positive the next day. Ili tested negative, but we assumed she would get it, since we could not really quarantine from each other in our small apartment.
What was my first thought when Rob tested positive? Missing even more yoga, of course! Cass sent me some very encouraging texts and assured me that there would be a place for me once I recovered and returned. She urged me to do her yin videos on Facebook. I did them religiously every morning while I was in quarantine, and they gave me two hours of feeling really good and energetic right afterward. I also think they helped keep the virus from affecting my lungs.
I texted back and forth with my team and tried to work from home, but the virus seemed to be mainly attacking my brain and central nervous system. I found that while I felt energetic after taking some ibuprofen, I was completely unable to focus and got really tired if I spent too much time on mental tasks.
On February 27, the day I tested positive, I received an email, stating that teachers were now eligible for the vaccine. I knew I would have at least three months of immunity, but I didn’t want to miss out on my opportunity to get the vaccine. So I signed up for the Friday after my return-to-work date.
Since Rob’s symptoms started before mine, he was able to return to work before me. He still had a cough and shortness of breath, and it was three months before he was able to run again.
I bought a pulse oximeter, which always read a reassuring 99%. I used it before sneaking out to run, near the end of my quarantine (it was in the evenings, and I had a route where I could avoid people easily).
On March 9, I returned to work, but I needed a lot of help to do my job duties. Physically, I felt fine (although it would be another week before my sense of smell returned), but I still had difficulty focusing and got tired from mental tasks. I wore a face shield, since I knew I had temporary immunity.
That day, I got an email from work, saying that my vaccine appointment had been moved to that day! So on day 10, I got my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
I figured that I wouldn’t notice side effects, since I already felt crappy. Boy, was I wrong! I was absent from work the next day.
Thankfully, spring break was just around the corner, and we went on our bike riding trip in Montrose!
Ili and I also ventured to the zoo during spring break.
Then it was back to school! I was on temperature-checking duty, as usual.
Iliana designed a giant kite and won multiple awards for it!
Easter was much-improved and relatively normal.
Iliana and I returned to Camp Be an Angel that month. It was a modified format, to allow for social distancing, and I had a feeling that Iliana was outgrowing many of the activities. This appears to have been our last time going to camp.
In May, Iliana had an antibody test, which would have been helpful for summer camp. (Campers needed a positive antibody test within the past 3 months, a negative test within the past week, or proof of vaccination–and Iliana couldn’t get the vaccine yet). We assumed that Iliana had had the virus when we did, because she had seemed a bit tired and under the weather, and she snuggled with us a lot.
However, her symptoms were all in our head, because she tested negative for antibodies. Which means that, as far as we know, nobody caught Covid from us.
The day after school got out, we celebrated Iliana’s 14th birthday. We enjoyed racing with the Mario Kart home edition, and then we went to a hotel and played some Oregon Trail (I died of dysentery).
Things were definitely looking up, going into summer!
Summer 2021: Lipstick on the Fourth of July
Summer began with a ceramic-painting outing with the Davises, since Ili and Ava share a birthday. They wore masks, but I tried not to. At that time the vaccine was very effective, and I had heard that people who had the virus and then got vaccinated might have more immunity.
Speaking of vaccines, it was now Iliana’s turn to get her first Pfizer shot! (Rob got the J & J around the same time I got my vaccine). This would make summer camp much easier.
With our new immunity, Iliana and I embarked on a long-awaited mall date!
Then it was time for a mask-less camping trip at Brazos Bend!
Ili had a get-together with her school friend, Elly.
And we made what would likely be our last trip to Elijah’s Retreat. It was fun, but bittersweet, because Ili had outgrown most of the activities.
All of my excursions off the property led to Lyme disease symptoms a week later, but unlike Covid, Lyme disease is easily treated by staying on antibiotics for a LONG time, if you catch the symptoms early. I was symptom-free after my first week on the medicine. Interestingly enough, Jasmine our dog, tested positive for heartworm around the same time, and we both had to take doxycycline for the rest of the summer.
We had the Davises over and watched the fireworks from our sailboat.
With her vaccine card in hand, Iliana headed off to Camp Blessing! (It would be her last year as a camper, but she is going to be a volunteer this summer!)
While she was gone, Rob and I celebrated our 20th anniversary in San Antonio.
Summer was winding down, but it was looking to be a relatively normal school year. I threw out all but a couple of our masks and was ready to get on with life.
Before school started, we decided to bookend the summer with another bike riding trip in Montrose.
What didn’t make it into the pictures were the masks that we wore in every store that we entered. Precautions were back, and more so than during our trip in May. The Delta variant had emerged, and other countries were going on lockdown. Suddenly, the prospect of being locked inside again and school going virtually, was a definite possibility. And vaccines were no longer the get-out-of-jail -free card that they had been.
And the issue of masks at school became a contentious one. Over the summer, our governor had signed an order stating that masks could not be required on state and municipal property. This included schools.
However, with the Delta variant, the local judge had signed an order requiring masks in schools. Their bickering was annoying, because we just wanted to know what we were supposed to do. I did the research and learned that because I had the virus and was then vaccinated, even with Delta, I had a 1 in 10,000 chance of getting the virus. So I was not worried. But I wanted those around me to feel safe, so I opted for a face shield (with a stick-on rhinestone tiara, of course!).
Iliana got herself a black mask and found ways to incorporate it into her look.
September, of course, brought hurricane Nicholas. This was a rather nice storm, as it got us a day off of school and didn’t do much damage.
In spite of all the Delta craziness, Rob and I did manage to enter a 5k for my 43rd birthday!
Up to this point, I knew one person who had lost a loved one to Covid. During Delta, I lost count. I knew people who lost their parents, their spouses, and other loved ones. I had a student whose dad spent 3 months in the ICU before recovering. I had a friend my age who arrived in town, lost, after losing her husband.
Before Delta, most of the teachers who caught Covid had mild symptoms–not as mild as mine were, but mild. Now I was sending flowers to co-workers in the hospital.
Students were catching it left and right. Iliana missed a week of school, because there were not enough students present in her grade for classes to be held. (She still didn’t catch it). At one point, 5% of our student population had it. If it had gotten up to 10%, we would have gone virtual.
But there was still the great outdoors, and Rob bought a wind surfing board.
And there was still Halloween! School parties were on for this year, and Iliana got involved in activities at the library, which included a Halloween lock-in. She put together at least 3 costumes.
We carved pumpkins of course…
And this year, we decided to let Ili go trick-or-treating again!
Ili’s class put on “Frontier Day,” and Ili was the school teacher.
There was another trip to the Shard Yard, albeit with (very blingy) masks.
Thanksgiving was a DIY affair, since my parents were spending it at an RV park. We enjoyed our fancy meal then sprung into the Christmas decorating!
After the fun we had last Christmas, I was more than ready this year! I had most of my shopping done before Black Friday.
Of course, life is what happens when you are making other plans. While my parents were away for Thanksgiving, they decided that they would be moving into an RV park permanently. This was exciting, and they would end up living closer to us. But then we found out that they were not the only ones who would be moving.
Due to circumstances beyond our control, we learned that we would have to move out of our apartment in less than a year. One thing led to another, and I spend most of Christmas break getting things moved onto our new boat. We rung in the New Year on Cruise Forever, which may well be our forever home. 2022 was looking like a good year. Delta was waning, abut the pandemic seemed to be stuck in a holding pattern. However, the pattern was livable.
Winter and Spring 2022: Omicron
Before school resumed after break, we were all warned to wear our masks and be prepared for a lot of absences. I had heard it predicted that omicron could be the beginning of the end of the “pandemic” phase of Covid, leading it to become endemic, like the flu. But that was because omicron was so contagious and had milder symptoms, and basically everybody who hadn’t gotten Covid yet was going to catch it. We were getting ready for the world’s largest chickenpox party.
I was not excited about the prospect of being short-staffed, but I was excited about the idea that things could get more manageable soon. The constant worries about lockdowns and virtual school (as well as concern for the safety of my friends and family) were draining.
It was during this time that I first heard the term “super immunity.” It was confirmed that because I had Covid before getting the vaccine, I was unlikely to get any variant (or any coronavirus at all, including those that cause colds). Still, I got my booster shot for good measure. If I never had to quarantine again, it would be too soon.
So, donning a blingy mask to make everyone feel better, my antibodies and I headed back to school!
Gradually, Cruise Forever started to come together and feel more like home.
On February 1, I celebrated my sixth “yogaversary,” and it was refreshing to see classes absolutely filling up. Our studio was one of the few in the area to survive the pandemic, which is something we will never take for granted.
Iliana became more involved in the library and also started taking an art class. She was never bored!
Once again it was Rob’s birthday! Ili was in charge of the decorating this time.
The weather was colder, so we went on yet another thrift shopping trip.
Iliana has had a great spring break and is having fun hanging out with her besties!
It’s been a low-key spring break, with some fun activities and a lot of time spent getting our home in order. Unlike the past two years, I don’t worry that we won’t return to school after break.
So is this the end of the pandemic? It seems to be, at least for now. Within the past 5 days, there have been 8 positive cases in our county. Of course there could be another variant. If this has taught us anything, it is that things can change quickly.
But it has also taught me that it is better to have hope than fear. That it is okay to enjoy the present and look forward to the future, even when we don’t know what is going to happen. Because we will never know. We never did know–that was just an illusion. But we can’t stop living and stop hoping, just because we don’t know.
Today we can gather with friends. We can hug, we can go out to eat. We can get ready for school to start again on Monday. Tomorrow I will go to yoga, then squish around a small table at Shipley’s to enjoy a coffee and donut with my friends from class.
The past two years have taught me to enjoy those little moments, the small social interactions that intertwine to weave the fabric of our daily lives. The tiny moments that can never be replaced by Facetime calls and Zoom happy hours.
All right, friends, it has been awhile since I posted an update. I have a very tight routine during the school year, with minimal decision-making, because my job requires constant decision-making. And also, I can not stand disruptions at work, so I try to avoid doing any non-school business during the school year.
So you can imagine how jarring it has been, to move right in the middle of the school year!
And add to that, multiple freezes and unusually cold weather, and you have a recipe for crabbiness…
Nevertheless, we are moved into our new home, and we are very warm and toasty here! So I thought I would share some of our adventures since Christmas break.
Getting Settled In
My goal was to get as much moved as I could before break ended, and we made a lot of progress!
My incense and yoga plaques found a home in the main salon…
My tea kettle settled happily on the stovetop.
We have almost never planned our last night in a place, during a move, and this was no exception. We rang in the new year on Cruise Forever, and we have not slept in the apartment since then (we are officially moved out on February 8).
One of the first things I did on the boat, was take a bath. I have not owned a home with a bathtub since 2014! We don’t have enough hot water to fill it even halfway, but it is enough, and lovely. The tub is extremely deep and the same length as the tub in our mobile home.
Rob has occasionally washed the dishes…
Iliana made herself at home…
She loved lounging on our bed!
We bought yet another Walmart Keurig. We name the “Kreg”!
We had some time to walk the docks before it got dark…
2022 promised great things for our family!
We were once minimalists. Then we lived in the apartment for almost 2 years. It was time to pare down again!
We cooked some meals in our new kitchen.
We burned incense.
Ili spend some quality time with her saxophone and guitar.
We had custom stemware and travel mugs printed…
My vintage handbags made it onto the boat!
We enjoyed meals in our horseshoe dinette!
Most people assume that live aboard families homeschool. We do not.
And if you have looked at Iliana’s pictures, you may have noticed her uniform and assumed she goes to a private school. She does not.
When we first moved to Texas, we enrolled Iliana in a traditional public school. With all of our moves and with her special education services, she ended up going to 4 schools in 6 years! She started attending a public middle school, through the district we were zoned to, but because of her special education program, she didn’t get home until 5:00 pm or later. There were a lot of bussing complications over 2 weeks, and the school was 30 minutes away by car, so driving her was not an option for us, with our jobs.
That was the year that I started working at Odyssey Academy, which is a charter school. There are a lot of misconceptions about charter schools, but they are actually just public schools that are not a part of a school district in the traditional sense. Odyssey has 3 campuses, but nobody is zoned to go there. Parents must request to have their child attend, and they must provide their own transportation with a few exceptions (high school students can go to their previous campus and be bussed to Odyssey’s high school, for example). Students wear uniforms, classes are smaller, but it is a public school with no tuition other than paying your taxes.
The best part? While there is a geographic zone that is allowed to attend Odyssey, it is much larger than the zones for the local public schools. Basically, if we move to any marina in this county, Iliana will still be eligible to attend. So she did not have to switch school for this move. As long as we stay in the Houston/Galveston area, she can count on graduating from Odyssey.
The added advantage is that her classes are small, and she has had the same teachers through middle school. Special education is handled on an individual basis, so Iliana has been supported and challenged appropriately. She is in algebra and pre-AP language arts, and has gotten “masters” on the state test in both areas. She sees a therapist weekly at school, and she will continue to work with the same therapist in high school.
I definitely recommend charter schools to anyone living in a transient situation, and to anyone who is looking for something that is a better fit than their zoned public school. (And yes, they treat their teachers well too! I am on my third year working for Odyssey, and it is the best job I have ever had!)
Update: Before publishing this post, Iliana and I went to a meeting at Odyssey’s high school, where we discussed her options. Students can go to Collegiate High School, where they start their freshman year taking high school classes on the campus of a community college. In the upcoming years, they take college classes and graduate withboth a high school diploma and an associate’s degree. Students also have the option of doing dual credit, where they take high school classes on Odyssey’s campus in ninth and tenth grade. In eleventh grade, the teachers from a different community college come to Odyssey’s campus and teach college classes. Then, during their senior year, the students are bussed to that college’s campus. They will either finish with an associate’s degree, enough credits to be close to an associate’s degree, or a vocational certification. And of course, there is the option of taking traditional high school classes.
I decided I would leave the decision up to Iliana, but I was hoping she would choose dual credit. She asked a lot of questions during the presentation, and we took an impromptu tour of the high school afterward (a perk of having a mother who is a staff member!). She listened to her music during the drive home, then announced that she would like to do dual credit! Parenting win for me!
Freezes and Low Water
Our first, very cold, morning on the boat, we noticed that our world was slanting to port. When we went for our morning walk, we saw that someone had pulled the plug on Clear Lake!
We could see our prop and rudder. Our boat was leaning on the dock, and the intake for our a/c unit was in the mud. This meant that we could not run the unit, which meant the only heat we had was our electric fireplace. After Iliana took a shower, the bilge pump would not turn off, because the float was stuck due to to tilting boat. Our toilet could not draw lake water in order to flush, so we had to flush it using the hand shower.
We have since had multiple freezes this winter, and we are very prepared now for a grid crash. (And we have a Mr. Buddy heat for the super cold nights and just in case our a/c intake ends up in the mud again!) However, it has not happened, and this winter was been more annoying but less dramatic than last year.
Happy Birthday, Rob!
This blog post has been a work in progress, with me getting spurts done before the next major event happens. And between writing the first part and now, Rob turned 44.
Ili was eager to decorate!
Every year, I take Rob on a weekend getaway for his birthday. Two years ago, we had our “last normal” weekend and went bike riding in Montrose…
Last year, we went “glamping” in Conroe, and most likely caught Covid while we were there…
This year, since it was going to be cold out, we rented a house on the Southeast side of Houston and went thrift shopping!
Crab Day, Salon Visits, and a New Piano!
When you’ve been married for 20 years, Hallmark holidays get a little boring. So Rob and I have decided that Valentine’s day is now Crab Day. We celebrate by eating all things crab! This year, we had fake crab, crab cakes, and crab dip.
I have been slowly getting into a rhythm at the boat, but it wasn’t until I got my nails, done, that I felt like a lady again!
While we were on the weekend trip, Iliana stayed with her grandparents and got herself a new hairdo!
And yes, we got a piano for the boat! Our beautiful electric piano from the apartment would not fit here, so we bought a Korg keyboard that fits perfectly into the desk in the main salon. (Ili and I both play).
So that is a summary of our latest adventures! Life is settling in, in spite of yet another cold snap. Thank goodness for the marina’s hot tub! (That is where I am heading tonight!).
Oh, wow! Where did July go? It has been a busy, fun month for us, with all that we could ever hope for summer to include. As I am getting ready for the back-to-school professional development next week, I thought I would take a break and update y’all on our adventures!
The Fourth (and Our First Time Hosting Since the Plague!)
When we first got married, we lived on a lake. We spent our time hanging out with two other couples, and on the fourth of July, we always invited them over to watch fireworks on the boat with us.
The problem is that one couple is not in the picture, which is okay, because they have moved to Texas as well and we took a picture of them this year on the fourth!
We found a good anchorage on the bay and grilled up our dinner. Then this interesting-looking barge anchored disconcertingly close to us…
We realized that they would be shooting the fireworks from that barge. We wanted a front row seat, but we didn’t want to be so close that we had to worry about a hole being burned into to top of our boat! We moved back a little bit, and still got to be right underneath the fireworks.
All in all, it was a wonderful evening!
Two days after the fourth, it was time for Iliana and me to take a road trip. Our destination? Camp Blessing Texas!
Ili made a grand entrance, with all the staff cheering for her!
At camp, Ili met Baily, her high school buddy who hung out with her all week, and the two of them went to the cabin to get settled in.
While Ili was away on her adventure, the camp posted daily pictures, so we could follow along!
Days 1 and 2
Days 3 and 4
And then it was time to pick her up! Ili had a great time, and made a lot of friends.
Camp Blessing is located in the same town as Camp for All, so of course we had to stop at Freezy Frenzy on the way home! This time, Iliana drew a picture to put on their wall.
While Iliana was at camp, Rob and I had our own adventure. You see, 20 years ago, on July 7, 2021, this happened:
I decided to begin our celebration with a cake!
Since Rob had the next two days off, we left early in the morning for an adventure in San Antonio. We got permission to park at our Air BNB early, so that we could explore the town on bikes. We started with tacos for lunch…
…And had lots of fun exploring the River Walk!
We then enjoyed our stay in a beautiful apartment in a cute neighborhood on the Riverwalk.
The next day we arrived at home in time for a beautiful sunset!
Iliana Stays Busy!
Once we got home, Iliana realized that she loves spending time at the marina, and she has been exploring the water in her new kayak.
She also has been having fun with black-and-white film photography. Stay tuned for some of her prints, once she finishes her roll of film!
And tonight she joined us on a bike ride to the food park in Clear Lake Shores. We ate at Okies, which, hands-down, has the best Shirley Temples in town! (I’ve introduced Ili to the joy of the Shirley T!)
And yes, Rob rode his penny farthing, but you will have to wait for Ili’s prints to see that!
Back to School
Not long after our return from San Antonio, I had my first meeting regarding our return to school. I am one of the special education department leads starting this year, so I will be helping to lead a training starting on Monday, and from there on it’s back to career-woman-mode for me! I will still update y’all on my adventures and thoughts, but it will probably only be once or twice a month. I will also aim to check in with everyone else’s blogs that frequently as well.
In 2017, I went on medical leave starting the week before spring break. (Here is a picture of my first day of freedom!)
In 2018, I was in a long-term subbing assignment in Deer Park. On the last day of spring break, a factory caught on fire, which led to spring break being extended by a week.
Last year, of course, we went on lockdown after spring break and did not return to school in-person until fall.
So this year, of course, there was an exciting build-up to spring break. Let’s recap, shall we?
Two weeks ago, most of the class I work in, had to quarantine.
And then we had a week off of school, for what everyone here refers to as “Snow-vid.”
After things returned to “normal,” Rob started feeling like he had a cold. I figured he wore himself ragged during the snowstorm and needed some time to rest and recover. He had a low grade fever that went away, and it seemed to be a run of the mill sinus cold. By the end of the week, it was definitely improving. I wore my N95 at work and was very careful about avoiding close contact at yoga, but it seemed like things were going to be fine.
Friday afternoon, Rob sent me a text, saying that he had lost his sense of smell.
So I learned a lot of things. I learned that Covid tests are free, even if you don’t have insurance. I learned that the rapid test was offered nearby. And according to Rob, putting the swab an inch up your nose is more difficult than it seems.
Three hours later, I learned that quarantine for close contact starts the first day of close contact, which for us was the day Rob’s symptoms started. So I will basically be off of work (except for a few things I offered to do remotely) until March 8, and Iliana will be distance learning. She is taking it in stride and already looking at her grades and getting set up!
So no yoga class for yet another week! I don’t have a good track record with doing well in isolation, and of course I freaked out initially. After a texting conversation with my wonderful, wonderful yoga teacher (who reminded me that I can do the videos 24/7 if I want to!), I had a much more positive mindset. I could even see how I had been so exhausted that having some time to rest will be beneficial.
Tonight, we have Rob isolated in the bedroom, and I will be sleeping on Iliana’s floor. But this has seemed ridiculous, because there is a good chance that Iliana and I also have the virus but are asymptomatic. So we are getting tested tomorrow.
The upshot is that if I test positive, I will likely have immunity until I am eligible for a vaccine. So my days of not being able to hug might soon be over! In the meantime, my focus will be on self-care. If my body is busy kicking the arse of a virus that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, I want to do all I can to help my immune system continue its victory streak!
“We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can’t think what anybody sees in them.” – Bilbo, The Hobbit, An Unexpected Party
Update: Winter is now over in Texas. It is 60 degrees outside and sunny, and the guys at Space City Weather are saying that should be in the 70’s next week.
Our electrical grid is stabilized, and the powers that be are most certainly planning ahead so they are more prepared for the next time a winter storm hits Texas.
We all still have to boil our water before we drink it, but since I mostly drink coffee, that isn’t a major lifestyle change here. Everyone is calling on favors from their one relative who can fix everything, so they can get their burst pipes fixed without having to call a plumber. Not a lot of heat tape available in Texas…(I tried to describe it to my friends! It’s like an electric blanket for your pipes!)
The grocery stores are slowly getting restocked. I cooked up all of my emergency food, so now I have meals prepared for the next week (and then some)! We dumped out our water tank, which, once again, was good insurance. We have now filled it three times and have never had to use it.
Our internet and cell reception is still sketchy, but we have a wired internet connection that is working well enough to upload pictures at the moment!
I could barely walk through the entire adventure, due to an incredibly painful knee. It felt like I had a bruise, so I figured I must have bumped into something. Lidocaine, ibuprophen, and dragon balm sometimes took the edge off enough for me to sleep. After a yin class yesterday, I was able to run and climb stairs with only a little tenderness. Power flow today felt amazing, and I’m still only a little tender. It turns out tight hamstrings can cause knee pain, and cold weather (coupled with not being able to go to yoga for 10 days) makes my leg muscles very tight!
So here are some pictures from our adventure!
Monday Morning: White S— (as my dad always called it in Michigan) on the Ground!
My parents lost power over the night, so they brought their cats over and checked into a hotel.
Since the building owner was planning on shutting off the water (which he did Monday night), I did the laundry and filled two water jugs.
When my parents’ hotel lost power, my dad and brother decided to stay, but my mom came over and became the first overnight guest at our apartment!
Tuesday: The Day We Officially Ran a Refugee Camp!
One day in a cold hotel is one thing, but two is a bit much. On Tuesday, my dad, brother, and his girlfriend joined us!
And then, just as we were relaxing in the evening…
Rob got called into work early in the morning, where he was put to task improving our standard of living!
Iliana could not complete her distance learning activities due to the power outage, but if she read from her novel (Tom Sawyer), she would be counted present for school.
I said I was nervous about running out of water, because I did not want to die of dehydration. Except that we had a ton of soda and juice. What I meant was that I was afraid of not having coffee. So as soon as the water came back on, I excitedly began gathering whatever water I could, to fill our 50 gallon tank!
I went to Walmart for more provisions, but there was a bit of a wait…
Iliana put on another school uniform and kept herself entertained with bubbles! And yes, we were back on the grid when I got home!
Time for more reading!
So here we are, back in Texas temperatures! Every year here has had an adventure, and I would have it no other way. Maybe our next adventure will be a little warmer…
The day after I published my last post, the ice storm hit our area (and most of the state). We did fine there–it was definitely not my first or worst ice storm!
Of course, I am sure that most people have heard about Texas’s electrical grid and its collapse by now. We kept power and water at first, and I did distance learning on Monday and Tuesday, meeting virtually with the few students who still had power and internet access. Iliana unhappily completed her assignments online and logged into class meetings.
My parents lost power in the storm. My mom stayed with us Monday night, and my whole family stayed with us on Tuesday. So of course that was the night we lost power! By morning, we had lost water as well.
Between the kerosene lamp we had and an electric heater that we powered off a generator, we were able to keep the apartment at 64 degrees. We had 11 gallons of water, which I figured could get our larger group through 2-3 days. I was not happy with that, but it was something.
I had some sweet tea that Walmart had mistakenly put on my order (none of us drink sweet tea), and I used that to cook up large amounts of rice in my instant pot, running it off the generator. This significantly stretched out food supply, so we could feed anyone who happened to be at our home! I moved our perishables to a dock box in the store parking lot, utilizing the Michigan trick of the “outdoor fridge.”
On Wednesday, distance learning was 100% asynchronous, meaning there were no virtual meetings. If students did not have power, they were to read from their novels or otherwise complete low-tech schoolwork. Iliana is reading TomSawyer for her English class, so she has been enjoying her reading time everyday! On Wednesday, she wore her school uniform anyway.
We were lucky and got power and water back yesterday evening. I promptly filled our 50 gallon water tank, which is always good insurance. This is my third time filling it, and we have never been in a situation where we have needed it, after filling it!
We are very lucky, because I have friends who have not had electricity or water for four days now. But everyone is finding ways to keep warm, and the stores are doing a surprisingly good job of restocking water.
Today is a day of making preparations. There is supposed to be another storm tonight, before it warms up on Saturday. And nobody knows when the grid will be fixed.
In addition to filling the water tank, I have stocked up on propane, deep cycle batteries, rice, and other essentials. I froze a bunch of water containers, so we can keep some food in the Yeti cooler if we lose power. Everything is charging, and I am getting caught up on laundry. I am even ironing Rob’s work shirts, since our dry cleaner is not doing their run this week! (I joked that I could start a homemaking blog!)
Our Internet access is poor, and our cell phone reception is spotty, due to the towers losing power. I can’t upload pictures right now, but I will have plenty to share after this adventure is over!
I will also get caught up on everyone’s blog once I am living in the 21st century again! And one day, I will return to a yoga class. Between this and my Rona near-miss, it has been ten days since I have been to a class! That is definitely a record!
If any of you are affected by the storms, stay warm! I will catch up with you all soon!