Welcome to Florida: Hurricane Matthew

Posted by Amanda on October 9th, 2016

We had quite the adventure this past weekend with Hurricane Matthew.

A few weeks ago a hurricane, or I guess tropical storm, came through near Orlando. Darryl and I talked about it and wondered, and worried. No one here batted an eyelash. So when Hurricane Matthew came into view and everyone was talking about it, I knew this was the real deal! Every few hours a new predicted path showed up, and most of them showed it coming right off the coast of Melbourne Beach, FL, and maybe touching down there. Melbourne is where we do shopping, and is the closest town/city. To Melbourne Beach it is just over 25 miles. There was a lot of talk about Brevard county – we live just a couple miles outside of Brevard county.

On Wednesday, our school district (and many others) decided to close schools for Thursday and Friday. I had thought for sure they would go to school Thursday, since the hurricane wasn’t supposed to come here until early Friday. But it was a good thing, since Thursday had a fair share of rain and wind and ominous-looking skies. A group text was going around the ranch moms on Tuesday and Wednesday about who might go to stay somewhere else during the hurricane, what supplies we had or needed, what stores still had water. It was interesting to have the stores be packed with people and certain aisles totally empty. Darryl got some emails at work about preparing at the ranch. I really appreciated all the tips and ideas from other people, as I had no idea how to prepare for a hurricane.

We already had food, so I wasn’t worried about that. And we had a generator, so I wasn’t worried about that. We planned on for sure losing power. We have lost power at least 4 times in the 2 months we have lived here in storms, or for (what seems like) no reason at all. Part of living in the country, I assume. But this time we had to expect that it might be for longer than just a few hours. It has rained a lot the past couple weeks (and this rain is nothing like rain I’ve experienced in Seattle or EDH). It is so much water coming down so quickly!

On Thursday we spent the day preparing. We went around the outside of the house and put anything that could blow around into the garage, so it wouldn’t blow and crash through our window or something. This included our bench, shed, empty flower pots, etc. Darryl got everything ready and connected for our generator, and also helped someone else do the same. I put away any papers out loose on a desk or shelf or anything in case wind got into our house and blew things around. We filled up several containers with water, including the bathtubs. The ranch supplied wood for boarding up windows facing the directions the wind would come from. In fact, a crew of neighbors came around helping put the wood up.


We squeezed the van in the garage, and Darryl parked his car up by the porch, which would be protected by the garage from the winds coming from the north. We saw all the neighbors doing it so we followed suit!


Then all we could do was wait and watch! I admit I was as much curious as nervous or scared. I just wondered what it would be like. I actually felt quite peaceful, I suppose just knowing we were as prepared as we could be. We started a puzzle, had dinner, sent the kids to bed with a flashlight and told them if they got scared in the night to come see us. Then Darryl and I watched the news and hurricane updates and wondered if we would sleep at all. We did sleep, waking up a few times and checking hurricane updates. We could hear rain and wind, but it never seemed too bad, although our bedroom is on the south-west corner and the wind was supposed to come from the north and east. At one point, about 5am, my phone alert went off and the message said severe wind, get into a middle room of your home. We had previously discussed that, but it just didn’t seem bad enough to need to, and the kids were all asleep.

As it turned out, the hurricane had downgraded to category 3 instead of 4, and also had turned a little more out to sea instead of into Melbourne. What a blessing! In many ways it was quite underwhelming considering the preparation we did. No complaints about that, though! The most interesting thing, is shown on this map. We are the #3.


As the hurricane circled, our area was continually in a band of much calmer wind and rain. This happened more than once when Darryl looked it up, and we could only conclude that we were blessed and we are grateful to live on such a special ranch.

Friday was a stormy day, and we kept waiting for something dramatic to happen, but it didn’t. There was plenty of wind (we estimated 30-50 mph?), some rain, and we stayed inside most of the day.


In the evening we went out for a walk and some fresh air. There was just a nice breeze by then. Several other people were out, and we even enjoyed a soccer game on the field across the street.

Florida Favorites

Posted by Amanda on September 27th, 2016

I recently asked everyone what is their favorite thing about living in Florida so far.

Nathaniel – I think his favorite thing is the bus – watching the bus pick up kids in the morning, and waiting for it to come in the afternoon.


Michael – He likes the swimming hole.


Daniel – He likes that we live so close to things like the beach (45 min), the church building (across the street), and Disneyworld (probably 45 min, but we haven’t been).


Amelia – She likes how much space there is between houses, and the animals that come right up to our yard. A neighbor’s 2 horses are often seen just behind our backyard, and the kids have been able to pet them and feed them some carrots.


Kathryn – Her favorite things are the swimming hole, the school, and the horses.



Our incredibly nice neighbor a few houses down brought his horse one evening and let everyone who wanted go for a ride in our front yard.

Darryl – His favorite thing is that we are so close to so many animals, including cows, horses, deer, many kinds of birds, etc.




Amanda – My favorite thing is all the green that I see, just looking out the windows.



Florida – Baptism by Fire (ants)

Posted by Amanda on September 6th, 2016

One thing we are now much more aware of is fire ants. There are all sorts of bugs and yucky things around here. Darryl is documenting them all with his camera. One that we have all had experience with already is fire ants. Now ants are just gross. I hate ants. Have never liked an ant. We had a lot of ants in EDH, even came home from a family reunion one year and found our house invaded by ants. But fire ants are a different story. They bite/sting and it hurts.

In walking around in sandals (I just hate socks, don’t you, especially in the summer), we have all felt a little sting and looked down to see an ant and brush it off. It turns into something like a pimple. Red bump with pus inside. Small. Not too big a deal if you just have one. But not comfortable. Last Friday Darryl found this video for us to watch:

Just like the video says, you may not realize it is a fire ant hill, because it just looks like sand or dirt.


Lot of sand around here, folks. So yesterday we were putting together our shed in the backyard. I was getting a wall for Darryl, not looking where I was stepping because I was working on the shed, and I stepped into a fire ant hill. I was wearing close-toed shoes, but no socks. I felt a sting and look down to see about 30 fire ants on my foot and leg. Aaahh!!! I was screaming and jumping and Darryl was brave enough to try to brush them off of me. Ew!!! And ouch!! I got at least 10 bites.
I hesitate to put a picture of my foot on here, its not very glamorous, but this is for educational purposes.


Inside the girls told me their friend’s mom had sprayed windex on fire ant bites, so I did that. And I do think it made a difference. Many of the bites have not filled with pus, and the pain went away. So glad I have a Costco sized re-fill container of windex!

Daniel and Darryl have also had incidents of getting multiple bites.
This is after we put the fire ant killer on it. Tons were killed, but there are still tons, so we will just have to watch our step.


New School

Posted by Amanda on August 24th, 2016

A big part of our move is adjusting to a new school. Since we moved just a few days before school started we spent a lot of time and worry just getting registered and ready for the first day. I planned on moving during the school year, to avoid this hassle, but this is how the timing worked. This is long, brace yourself. But I really wanted to get all of this down.

Oh, where to start. Its just sooo different from our previous school and neighborhood.

Location: We live out in the boonies, folks. I thought EDH was the boonies when we moved there almost 5 years ago. But that is not even close to the kind of place we live now. We live off the highway on a street with 14 houses in a row. Ours is the last one. There are more houses a few miles down the road. Miles! The elementary school kids go to school in a little town called Harmony (love the name). The school is 19 miles away. 19 miles! Our old school was 1 mile away, and I wanted to be closer. I thought, if we ever move, I want to live within walking distance of the school. Ha! It takes me a full 25 minutes to drive to the school. Luckily there is a bus, and the stop is in front of the house next to us. And its free! They get picked up about 7:50 in the morning, and school starts at 8:45.


Now that was for elementary kids, up to 5th grade. For middle school, it is even farther. And when I say farther (further?) I mean quite a bit! It is past Harmony, into St. Cloud, but actually in an area or town called Narcoossee. So Kathryn gets picked up about 7:30, and her school also starts at 8:45. Luckily she loves the bus more than anyone! Her bus is only kids on the ranch, so about 15 kids, and they have a great old time together. She has made friends, read books, and hopefully sometimes can do homework.

Uniforms: The school district has uniforms! This is just totally different. We have never done it before. When Amelia heard, she asked, “Will I have to wear a tie?” Luckily, no. It is navy blue, white, or school colored polo shirts on top, and khaki, black, or navy blue on bottom. Now that we are doing uniforms I love it! They have a few school clothes, and I mean just a few. And then they have play clothes. The elementary kids’ school colors are orange and royal blue, so they can also wear polos of those colors. Also, Friday is school spirit day so they can wear a school t-shirt. Jeans count as blue for the bottom. Kathryn’s school colors are pink and green (I’m pretty sure they picked pink for the girls). So she loves wearing a pink polo. I think the kids look so nice going to school Everyone in a collar. It really does away with some of the kids dressing too sloppy or immodestly.


Class Size: The classes are really small!!! At least compared to our last school. No more than 20 in a class. Most have 18 or 19.

Timing: The school is almost a full hour longer than our school in CA. I think that is quite interesting. So far it seems that they will have less homework, though, so that seems to be a trade off. Good thing, since it ends at 3:45 and then they still have the bus ride home! Elementary kids get home about 4:20, and middle school about 4:50. 4:50!!! Wow that’s late. No worrying about dance class, music lessons, sports. No time.

Recess: This is something that surprised me. With that long school day, they only have 1 recess. What?! It is 30 minutes, but only once. At the old school they had 3! I am one of those that believes kids need to get out and move and play!! So I have been frustrated with that. They do have PE almost everyday. But I was still shocked that they only have one recess. Don’t quite understand it, but the kids are dealing with it better than me!



I found out less than a week before school started that it was full day kindergarten. Our other kids had half day, and that’s what I’d been planning for Michael. I was excited for him to go to school, but come home for lunch and have some special time with me. And time to play with Nathaniel, who has been his special buddy while the kids were at school. I just did home preschool with Michael, so I was really worried about sending him away for a full day everyday. He was also nervous. But he has done great! I heard he fell asleep on the bus ride home the first couple of days. Don’t blame him! He is definitely tired, but he is doing great. I am extra glad I home preschooled him last year so I got some extra time with him that I won’t get this year since he is at school the full day.



He started 2nd grade and is doing fine. Getting adjusted to a new school, has made at least 1 friend, and his teacher says he is doing great.



She started 4th grade and misses all the fun PE they had at the old school. She is doing fine. After the first day I asked who made a friend, and she said, “I made 3!” She is the first one to take off her collared shirt after school and put on a t-shirt.



My little Kathryn started middle school?! Oh, I was so worried about her. Because of lots of things, we only got her registered the day before school started and she couldn’t get her schedule until the first day. So we wouldn’t have a chance to walk around and see where the rooms are, etc. I wasn’t able to drive her to school because it starts the exact same time as the elementary school, but is at least 20 minutes away. And I was definitely driving my kindergartener to school on the first day! So I had to send Kathryn on the bus her first day to a new school and she had to get her schedule and figure everything out. Oh, I was so nervous and felt so bad! After school I waited outside for the bus to drop her off. When she got off her first words were: “It was awesome!” Phew! She had a great day, figured everything out, this middle school thing is making her seem so grown up! She has 2 electives and she got into orchestra and chorus, which she is so excited about. And so am I!

My worrying: I feel so removed from the school, not seeing them at school walking out of or into class. And they are gone for so long! Yes, it is really nice to get more things done. I can actually run errands in the afternoon if I want. But once they get home it seems like a mad rush to get everything done and get to bed. I want them to play and relax a little, do a little homework, eat dinner, get ready for bed, read, and get to sleep. And we only have about 3 hours for all of that. So I am trying to figure out how to manage that without feeling so rushed. They do have an early Wednesday, so they get home one hour earlier. Boy does that make a difference! I used to hate early Wednesday. Now I love it!

Nathaniel: He loves to sit on our porch bench and wait for the bus to come in the afternoons. Its so cute, he asks about it all day. So we go out there about 4:00. There are always some trucks going past, which he loves to see. But then he signs “waiting for bus”. So cute!

I was sure I had taken a picture of him sitting on the bench waiting for the bus, but I couldn’t find it. So here he is helping me unpack while the kids were at school.