As I await the arrival of Hurricane Isaac...........ummm, wait. It's no longer coming this way. Okay, so as I was awaiting his arrival the last few days, it got me thinking about Hurricane Ike. 4 years ago, about a week or so shy of the date, Chandler, Charlee and I were preparing for Hurricane Ike in our Houston home. While our friends down the road were boarding up their windows, we just made sure we had some food and water stocked up. Ike was a huge storm, one of the widest ones I've ever remembered seeing on radar, and it ended up being the 2nd costliest hurricane in the US, following Katrina. We watched on television when the outer bands of the storm came into Galveston. That place flooded about a day before the rough parts of the storm even came in. Houses were just washing away. There would be one house left standing out of 30. It was CRAZY watching that. If I remember correctly, Ike was a Cat 2 when it came over our house, and the bad part started in the middle of the night. We started out in our dining room and Charlee snoozed away in her pack n play (she was only 8 months old). The lights went out pretty early on. Our dining room, kitchen and living room were all one big room, and the tall living room windows were shaking, heck, the whole house was shaking, so we got scared and moved into the master closet. The biggest and best closet I've ever had in my life......Oh how I miss it....... Anyway, we rolled Charlee in there, brought the dogs with us, and tried to sleep on a pallet we made. Luckily, Chandler had a power box thing he could run from his cigarette lighter in his truck, so we were able to hook up our fan for air and to drown out the sound of the wind and heavy rain. This was also when I realized the awesomeness of the iPhone. I'd only had it for a couple of weeks, but was able to check weather updates, which was very helpful. I think we had a radio, too. Can't really remember. Chan and I didn't sleep much, but Charlee never woke up! She can sleep through a hurricane. :) When the eye went over us, we went outside and it was one of the most awesome things to experience. It was so calm and lasted SO long because the eye was huge. We waited for hours for the next side of the storm to come. It finally did, and it wasn't quite as bad as the North part of the storm was. Being the daredevils we are (ha!), or maybe idiots, I don't know, we hopped in the truck as soon as the winds died down a little and headed out to survey the damage. We were extremely lucky to only have had a loss of electricity at our house. Business signs were twisted, cars were flooded, trees all over, holes in roofs. All within a mile of us. We were also lucky that our power was only out for 5 or so days because other sections of our neighborhood had no power for a lot longer than that. A cold front came through right after the storm, so it wasn't even that hot, thankfully.
What I'll always remember about the storm is that God completely used it to slow our lives down, stop them rather. For a week, we couldn't watch tv, use the computer, cook in the microwave or oven, and we didn't have to go to work. We grilled, played games, spent time with friends, met neighbors we never knew, and had block parties. :) We met a sweet older couple who lived directly behind us for the first time (we had both lived there for 2 years). They let us hook up our refrigerator to their generator, which was awesome because I didn't have to lose all of the liquid gold I had pumped and stored in the freezer. :) While the storm was pretty scary, the aftermath (because we didn't have to worry about damage and weren't uncomfortable for too long) was a great memory. And when that electricity came back on, it was not taken for granted anymore (at least for a few days). It is a total reminder that God sometimes allows storms in our lives, all kinds of storms, because he wants us to slow down, stop, reassess our perspective, reorganize our priorities, sometimes when we don't even realize we need it. I'll be honest, I was actually looking forward to a repeat with this storm, but only because I knew the forcast was for a much weaker storm. I vowed after Ike to never ride out a storm larger than a Cat 2. We were in North Mississippi for Katrina, but it had weakened a good bit by the time it made it up there. You folks who rode out and survived Katrina, Rita, Camille close to the coast......whew! I don't know how you did it. Ike was the most I'd ever care to experience! Hoping for some good rain here from Isaac, and praying for the folks right in the middle of it. That thing sure is moving rather slow.
Okay, on to a few of my favorite things lately. You're welcome in advance. I've been waiting to post about these because I wanted to send one as a gift and was afraid my friend would order her own before I could get it to her for her birthday. :) My favorite days of the month are the days that my Birchbox and my Bluum come in the mail. I read about Birchbox on a coupon blog back before Christmas. It is a monthly subscription that comes in once a month in a cute, pink box and is filled with 5 or 6 high-end beauty samples. It is SO fun! I never spend the money on high-end stuff, so it's awesome to be able to sample some of it and you can even get discounts to purchase the full-size products. The subscription is $10/month, and I think it's totally worth it. You can gift subscriptions to friends, and they even have a Birchbox for men. I love it! If you get friends to sign up, you get points, when you purchase items from the site you get points, and when you gift the box you get points. Your points add up to free dollars to spend on the site. I'm including the "invite friends" link if you want to check it out, but you won't hurt my feelings if you'd rather just go to birchbox.com and sign up on your own without giving me credit. :)
Bluum is the same concept, except it is for moms and babies. So, if you have a baby or are expecting a baby, it is a great sample box as well. I can't seem to log in to my account right now ~ I think I accidently reset my password ~ so I can't include an "invite friends" link. You can just go to bluum.com though to sign up. The samples from Bluum are usually a mix of baby products and products for mom. I've only been subscribed to Bluum for 2 or 3 months, but have loved all of the boxes I've received. If you pay for 3 months at one time, this box is $11/month (so you pay $33). I had to sign up to be put on the waiting list for Bluum, but I was emailed and added to the list within 24 hours. Birchbox now says something about being put on their list, but I didn't have to wait at all when I signed up. I've recently gifted a Birchbox and didn't have to wait either, so not sure about that. Bluum website says that it is not affiliated with Birchbox, so they are separate companies.
In the last month or so, I've read about other subscription services that sound pretty awesome as well. One is Kiwi Crate. This is a box that comes every month filled with 2 or 3 different projects, arts & crafts, activities for kids. I don't currently have a subscription because it's a little expensive and I'm waiting for Barrett to get a little older so that he and Charlee can both enjoy it. It is designed for 3-7 year olds, and the boxes include all the parts that you would need to complete the craft or project, even if it's a small tube of glue, etc. This cool box is $19.95/month, but you have to add on each additional sibling for $7.95. This would be an AWESOME gift, Christmas maybe? Grandparents? (Hint Hint) :) Check out the website to see some of the past kiwi crates to get an idea of what comes. Very neat concept.
And then there's the mack daddy, Babbabox. It is like the Kiwi Crate, except it has a monthly theme and includes activities, crafts, books, etc. surrounding the theme. One of the sample boxes on the website is a Gratitude theme ~ very cool. Check it out. This is another that I would love to subscribe to, but it is $29.99/month and I can't find any option to add a second child. My kids might share everything in it, but probably only begrudgingly. :)
Maybe I can come up with some type of box subscription to sell. Such a wonderful idea, these boxes! I LOVE them! Let me know if you join one. I'd love to hear what you think, especially if you get one of the two I don't have.