Saturday, June 21, 2008

A fun afternoon.

The boys and I took some time this afternoon to have some fun. Despite having mountains of laundry to do, the boys and I went to the pool. We have a family pool pass to the Marion pool, mostly used for the boys and their daycare (they go 3 times a week). With the week that we had, I figured it'd be a fun break to take them today.

We got all sunscreened up here at home, and loaded into the truck and headed to the pool. This afternoon was beautiful - sunny and clear - perfect to splash around. In the past, I've been really nervous about the boys swimming. Today relieved any fears I've had.

The boys passed the deep end test at the pool their first week of daycare. I was a bit relieved that the lifeguards said they can swim well. Today, when we went, I got to see for my own eyes how well they do. They've gotten really good at swimming!

They spent the afternoon doing funny jumps off of the diving board - spending most of their time there. They ran into some friends from school, and got silly with them. They came over to me, just to make sure I saw the dives they were doing. I spent all of my time dry, and relaxed on a towel, watching my boys have a blast.

It was a good afternoon, and quite relaxing. I feel much more at peace seeing how well they handle the water. I probably should have never doubted to begin with - but I joke with them that since I'm their mom, it's my job to worry. to tackle that mountain of laundry......

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Flood 2008 - Part 6

Okay.... this morning started off well. And ended.... not as well, but still not too bad.

I got to the EOC at about 10am after getting almost 8 hours of sleep.

Overnight, I became a manager and primary point of contact for a team of (4) web developers. We discussed possibilites and needs for the website and tried to setup a system of progress that would eventually leave us with possitive results. Unfortunately, things didn't go smoothly.... mostly, they didn't go at all.

The new developers were attempting to use and setup their workstations to work with the current tools that I used to create the site. Unfortunately, they are all (more than less) corporate coders and use a system of tools that does not allow quick updates and immediate results. The day ended with not much production from the group and a game plan on how to make things work better tomorrow.

That wasn't really the bad part of the day.

To explain things quickly: Too many cooks in the pot. Or sometimes: too many road construction workers trying to bake the same souffle'.

Many things that we were given today were vamped, revamped, and re-revamped and then trashed because someone decided that it wasn't needed any longers.

To start the end of my day (at about 7:45)... they (some idiot) announced to the public (via a press conference) that the data flood-affected areas were going to be available online at 8:00 p.m. The problem was that no-one had even contacted me about the data.... which happened to be chicken-scratched notes that somewhat resembled a journal entry of a 9 year old.

To get quickly to the end of the day... it ended with me working directly with the chief-of-police (yes, the big-man himself) to sort through the data and cross reference it with spreadsheets that we would use for the website. You can see the quick-and-ugly result here:

The data will eventually (hopefully today -- which is really tomorrow) be put into a database that will allow users to sort and search for the address they want.

Anyhow... that process took until 3:30 a.m. So now, here I am leaving for the day. I have a meeting with some big-wigs in the morning at 8:30... so I hope I can get 3-4 hours of sleep tonight.

Pray for me... it looks like doors are being opened that we have been waiting for for a long time.

Good night.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Flood 2008 Part 5 - Heather's Point of View....

It's been an interesting 6 days, to say the least. So many emotions have surged through our family. I'm kind of at a loss right now on how I'm supposed to feel. Tuesday night, when Michael and his co-workers first started to talk about getting ready for the flood, I honestly didn't think it was going to be that big of a deal. I think most people didn't think it'd be that big of a deal.

Then Wednesday, he was at work late into the evening, trying to get as much out of the building as they could with the few vehicles that they had. Then Thursday hit. Flooding like this town has never seen before. 75% of our family's income was under water. Does Michael still have a job? What will happen to us? What about my brother and his family who live in that neighborhood? So many questions.

Thursday was an odd day. We had interrupted power on Wednesday evening, and with the hopes that it was all better when waking up to the ceiling fan running, we were disappointed. I got a phone call around 7:30 or so from my boss, saying they were without power at our office, and it didn't make much sense for me to come down. The boys had their first field trip planned with Kid's Inc, so they really wanted to go to daycare. Since we pay weekly, and not hourly, it made sense to take them in to daycare. We'd be paying the same amount whether they stayed home or not - and they were looking forward to their field trip. I figured it'd be easier too, when my boss called me to tell me that power had been restored.

I got ready to take the boys to the school, and our power went out again. Hoping that it'd be short-lived, I dropped the boys off. They told me when I dropped them off that if the power isn't restored within an hour, they'd start calling parents. I got home, got a few things taken care of, and Michael and I decided to try and find something for breakfast together, and get started on figuring out what was going to become of Pro Video. Since the chance of having to pick up the boys from daycare still existed, we decided to drive separately - just in case he needs to be at the new office, and I need to get the boys.

On the way to finding a restaurant with power, I got a phone call from the daycare. The power had not come back, come pick them up. Okay - so breakfast plans have been changed. I called Michael, told him I was turning around, and we'll meet up eventually. He and Jake went on to pick up a few things at a co worker's house, and Chris and I went to my office to let my boss' know that even if the power does come on, I can't work since they closed down daycare for the day.

I walked into a very dark office, with my bosses sitting in the dental chairs in our showroom. Their 3 Chihuahuas that have come to know me quite well, didn't recognize me in the dark, and started to bark as ferocious as a 3 pound dog can bark. Once I got into the light more, and they saw it was me, they calmed down. My bosses were gracious, saying they understood about me not being able to come in, and had a great time chatting with Chris. (Chris really likes my bosses, and rightly so). We left there to meet up with Michael and Jake for breakfast at our favorite coffee shop, Mr. Beans.

We got there, and since the power was out for an extended amount of time, they didn't have any hot food. So off to McDonald's we went. After getting there, and getting ready to order, I noticed a sign saying that their credit card machines weren't working because of the flooding. I looked in my wallet in hopes of finding cash (which I never carry) and was thankful to find $8. It didn't buy us much, and we were all pretty grumpy.

Michael was already dealing with feeling down about the whole flood anyway, and not being able to order what he wanted for breakfast really didn't help that much. We all sat there, eating our "not enough" food, and when we finished, Michael went to see what he can do for work, and the boys and I went home.

We had power most of the day, but the boys were ornery. They were picking on each other, and bickering more than usual. I think they sensed that we were all under stress, and they were dealing with that as well. Michael ended up going to lunch with his good friend, Tim, and came home in much better spirits (thanks Tim!). I think it was good for him to be with a friend.

The rest of the afternoon was somewhat lazy. We were glued to the tv, watching continuous news coverage of the flooding that was making history. After a while, it started to get to us, so we decided to watch a couple of movies. We watched "Enchanted" with the boys, and it was a great diversion - very light hearted, and just what we needed. After the boys went to bed, we started to watch "Jumper", but about halfway through the movie, our power went out again. By then it was about 10:30, so Michael and I went to bed.

Friday started a bit better as a family. We woke up with power that stayed on (yay!) and the boys were able to stay at Kids Inc all day - and even go swimming at the pool. My office still didn't have power, so I was off work Friday. I ended up going with Michael to help him set up some computers at the new, temporary location for Pro Video. Moving stuff around, and seeing how much was actually saved was a real spirit boost, and it was wonderful to see the light start to come back in Michael's eyes. We spent all day there, and even part of the evening (after I went to get the boys from daycare and brought them to the office). It was a smoother, more productive day that Thursday. We came home, and watched a little of the news, and things started to feel a bit more normal. Michael got a phone call from one of his friends working with the city, asking him to build a website for the city to be a one-stop information center for all those involved in the flood. As you can see from his previous posts, he agreed, and it's been quite eventful since then.

Michael was gone all day Saturday, working at the EOC (Emergency Operation Center) with all the city officials and decision makers for the recovery of the city. We had little communication all day and into the evening, limited to a short phone call here, and a brief IM there. At 2AM Sunday morning, he IM'd me and told me to go to bed. I don't like going to bed without him, and I argued a bit, but he told me again that I needed to go to bed, since he was going to be longer, and he wanted me to have my energy for the boys on Sunday. I reluctantly went to bed, and left the kitchen light on for him so he'd be able to see when he got home.

I slept fitfully - waking up several times to find a half-empty bed. Since our power was off and on so much, my alarm clock wasn't set, so I had no idea of how much time had passed since going to bed. I kept telling myself that he'd be home soon, and go back to sleep. I woke up finally, at 7:30 or so on Sunday, and once again saw that my bed did not include my husband. I went out to the kitchen to start some coffee and noticed that the light I had left on for him was still on.

I got some coffee started, and came down stairs to my laptop and logged on, hoping to IM Michael and see how he was doing. He said that he realized that he wasn't going to be able to break away and come home long after it was too late to let me know. He had posted a blog, early that morning, and between that and my IM's with him, I was up to speed.

Around 10:30, he asked me to come and rub his shoulders. Missing him terribly, I quickly agreed. The boys and I loaded up into the truck, and drove across town to where the EOC was located. This was the first time I (and the boys) had seen the flood waters with my own eyes. At this point, the water had gone down significantly, but the sight was more than I could have prepared myself for. It was simply amazing. We were not allowed into the EOC, as it was a secured area, and were met with a reason why it was secured. There was a citizen there, quite upset at the fact that he couldn't get into his house, and had to be escorted out of the lobby by 5 police officers.

Michael walked out into the parking lot with us, and we got out a lawn chair, and I gave him a shoulder rub. When my hands got tired, Chris took over for me, and when he got tired, Jake took over. We had a nice, short visit, and then he was off, back into the EOC working away again. As Michael was getting ready to go back into the building, Chris got really quiet. Michael asked him what was wrong, and he said, "I'm just not used to not having you around all the time". He understood what his dad was doing, and is quite proud of him (and Jake is too), but he was feeling the sacrifice as well. It blessed me, in an odd sort of way, that he felt the loss. It meant to me that Michael is such an amazing dad, and is so involved in his boys, that they really feel it when he's not there - they notice a difference.

The rest of Sunday was pretty laid back, we enjoyed lunch with Tim (thanks again Tim!), and an afternoon at home. I, thankfully, got a phone call from my brother, who's house is destroyed from the flood. He sounded in good spirits, considering, and still has his sense of humor. He and his wife are already making plans to move on, and have started to look for another house, expecting theirs (which they just bought in October) to be condemned. They have flood insurance, so they're better off that most in that area. It was good to hear his voice, and it was wonderful to hear how he's handling the situation - he's a good man. Please pray for them, as they have a lot of work ahead of them. He was sharing with me some of what his kids are going through with this, it's hard on kids too.

Michael got home late Sunday night, and it felt wonderful to have my husband back in bed with me. Michael has been at the EOC all day today, and as of now, has not been able to break away to come home (it's now 11:50 pm). He's working on a vital part of the website, a part that will inform citizens when they will be allowed back into their houses. So many people right now are very frustrated with not being able to see their houses, but so many of them are just not safe (a couple people have fallen through floors, basements have caved in, not to mention all the hazardous things in the flood waters, and what was left behind in the muck).

I find myself tonight, very torn - my heart is going in so many directions. I'm so incredibly proud of Michael, and all the work, time, and dedication he's put into helping the people of this community. I'm hopeful, that all his hard work will be noticed by all (a bit of a pride thing for me). I'm praying that God will work the job situation out for us - I'm back at work, but Pro Video isn't 100%, and honestly probably won't be for some time. I'm praying for my brother and his family, sad for what they've lost, but excited to see how God will show Himself victorious in their situation.

The biggest thing I'm dealing with at this moment, though, is loneliness. It's selfish, I know, but I miss my husband. I feel like I've been separated from my best friend, and there are so many things I want to talk about with him, but I don't have the chance. I don't think we'll see much of each other tomorrow, as he'll be busy at the EOC and Pro Video, and I have an early dentist appointment, and work all day. Michael and I have spent time away from each other before, but it seemed easier then. Time apart was planned, and expected. This has knocked my emotions out of check. I find myself sobbing, and feeling guilty about it. I know I have it easy, compared to so many in our area. I understand that God has a reason for everything, and He's called Michael into an amazing area of ministry to this area. Even though I understand this season, it's not easy right now. I think part of the difficulty is the stress of the whole situation. Seeing the city at it's knees can take a lot out of a person.

I am truly proud of Michael through this whole thing. He has really risen to the occasion, and shown what he's really made of. He's a man of great talent and God given abilities that are essential at this very moment. It's great to see him walking in this, and to see the satisfaction he's getting from his labors. He deserves it. Who knows what God will do next? I'm praying for great things!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Flood 2008 - Part 4

Well... I'm finally home for the first time since Saturday at 10:30am. I'm sending a few e-mails of things I forgot to take care of this evening at the "office". I'll be heading to bed and then hopefully get up early enough to get back to the Emergency Operations Center by 9am (or so)... I'm now the manager of an entire web team for the new website ( and need to communicate with them in the morning and get ready for what needs to be completed tomorrow. I hope to get to the new Pro Video office by 12:30 pm or so to take care of some business needs for the office relocation... then head back down to the EOC for more meetings and web site needs.

Here's a picture of me from about 12:30 pm today. I was getting pretty tired since I had only slept 2 hours last night and that sleep was on a nylon cot with no pillow or blanket. Thankfully, my lovely wife brought me a change of clothes which made my afternoon much more comfortable than it could have been. She also gave me a nice shoulder rub which helped my tension headache to settle down (and also prevented me of taking advantage of the Cedar Rapids mayor's proposal of a shoulder rub).

Here's me now... going to bed.

Good night.

Flood 2008 - Part 3

As of yesterday at 11:00 a.m., I've become move involved in the emergency response for the Cedar Rapids (and eastern Iowa) areas. I'm currently working on a website (due to go live at 3pm today) that will help coordinate multiple organizations here in the eastern Iowa area to allow them to communicate to the public. Such things as Frequently Asked Questions about the flooding and recovery efforts. The website is I've been coding since about 12pm yesterday and hope to have everything set by 3pm when they make the announcement in this afternoon's press release.

Here I am in the EOC (Emergency Operations Center).

I'm now operating on about 1.5 hours of sleep (of the last 24 hours). I'm not a coffee drinker, but it's becoming more tempting each minute.
Back to work.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Flood 2008 - Part 2

June 11th Photos:

June 12th Photos:

June 13th Photos:

Thursday, June 12, 2008

2008 Flood

View them all one-by-one at

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Flood 2008 - Part 1

We evacuated our office today. It was a loooong day.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Baseball, baseball, and more baseball...

Michael has been really good about blogging, and I've been quite the slacker. I keep trying to think of things to blog about, but really, right now we're in a season of running. Jake's baseball schedule is quite full, which leads to most of our time spent at either games, or Michael and Jake at practice.

We were at a game this past Thursday (as usual) and Jake did great! We lost the game, but I was so proud of Jake and all that he did to help out his team. He played 3rd base for the second time this season, and really stepped up his game. He caught a hit ball to get an out, almost tagged out a runner stealing 3rd, and hit really well all night. The thing that most impressed me about the night happened after the game.

A kid from Jake's school was there, watching his big brother play at an adjacent diamond. Dalton is a nice enough kid, but isn't the most popular. He was on Jake's team last year, and talked a big talk, but rarely played like he said everyone else should. Because of his "do as I say" attitude, he doesn't have a whole lot of friends at school. Jake, however, has made several comments about how people just need to get to know him, and he's a really funny guy. I can tell that Jake sees his heart, more than he sees this kid's need to fit in. Apparently, when Dalton came over to watch Jake's team play ball, most of the kids told him to "get lost".

After the game was done, we were all walking to our car. Dalton was walking with Jake, and chit-chatting along the way. I overheard their conversation, and I about started to cry right then and there.

"How come you didn't tell me to get lost like all the other kids did?" Dalton asked Jake.

"Because you're my friend" Jake replied, in a very serious tone.

"But Jared's my friend, and even he told me to get lost." Dalton told him, sounding very hurt.

"I would never do that to you, you're my friend" Jake reassured him, and then went on to say something silly to make his friend laugh.

Hearing that Jake was kind, and hearing him tell his friend that he respects him was so wonderful. I couldn't help but feel proud of him at that moment. It topped all the accomplishments he made during the game - and was a much more valuable skill.

It's so awesome to see my boys grow into amazing men.