Thursday, January 30, 2014

Our Adventure With the Snow, Part 2 + Pictures

Even after writing yesterday's post, my stomach was still in knots. I was worried about how Robbie was going to make it home, I was worried about my stranded car, all of the people still trying to get home and all of the wrecks all over the city. My amazing across the street neighbor was using his big ole truck (and his very good icy road conditions driving skills) to help out different people in the neighborhood. He took me to check on our car (while his sweet wife watched Jake). It was sitting there all by its lonesome self. Because of the pileup over the hill, no one could get over the hill to slide into my car. For once it paid to be a scared driver! My neighbor jumped me off (since my battery was dead from my hazards being on so long the day before) and moved my car up on the grass off the road. He told me since it was a SUV with 4 wheel drive, I could probably put it in the lowest gear & drive it home. I said thanks for the vote of confidence, but no thanks! The roads were still icy in the morning, I would have to go up & over 2 more hills before our house, so there was no way I was even going to attempt it. He was so sweet and understanding. So we headed back to the neighborhood and I started to feel a little relieved.

Until I got a text from Robbie that he had heard/found some clear lanes and he was going to try to make it south.

I flipped out.

Last time I had talked to him, he was walking to a co-worker's house. I was completely terrified for him. I was scared he would hit an icy patch. I was scared someone would hit him. I was scared that there would be road jams like the day before and he would have to sleep or abandon his car. I was a nervous wreck times 1,000. I am a huge worry wart, especially when it comes to driving conditions. I thought I was going to throw up. My poor best friend Stephanie just happened to call not long after that to check on us. Poor thing had to listen first to my 4 hour long recap of everything that happened the day before and then my 4 hour long rant about why in the world was my husband trying to get home when so many others had failed. While I was still on the phone with her, I get a call from Robbie. He has made it to Westwood Church (Jake's school). Thank the Lord!!! He parked at the church because he knew everything leading up to our neighborhood was blocked. He walked part of the way (snapping the pictures below), caught a ride part of the way and then met me at my stranded car (my sweet neighbor AGAIN took me so I could meet Robbie at the car). Then Robbie & I drove my car home.

I have never in my life been so happy to have my little family of 3 all together under the same roof.

Robbie has assured me that he would have never attempted to head home, unless he was absolutely sure. He had talked to other people that had driven those roads, he was careful, he picked which roads to take wisely and he had great timing (he waited long enough that the sun had helped with the roads, but not too long that he got caught in the rush of other people that got the idea). I am just glad he is home and safe.

Here are the pictures that Robbie snapped as he was walking up the huge hill that leads to our neighborhood. (This is the same hill that I walked up & over to get to Jake and then Jake & I walked up that evening to get to a SUV to take us to our house.) It is a steep and long hill, which explains the mess at the bottom of it!
Believe it or not, but this is actually AFTER they started removing cars & trucks. There were even more earlier.

The other mom & I and our 2 kids were walking up the hill on the grassy sides of the street.
We kept having to run from one to the other, based off of which direction a car was sliding.

These are all trucks that tried making it up the hill, stalled out and then slide back down the hill.
Each time a new one tried, it just added to the line of wrecked ones.
Again, 30 people failed before you. But you thought you were the one to make it.

A very tightly parallel parking job

Even the poor mail truck wasn't spared
This is one of the streets leading up to the road our neighborhood is on. It was full of cars that had wrecked, slid off and just had to be abandoned. This is the road that Jake's school is on. It's about half a mile on down.

Crazy, huh? Wreckers have been working all day to clear out all of the wrecked vehicles and then stranded vehicles can get through. Hopefully everything will be cleared out by tonight and things can get back to normal. The last 48 hours have been crazy, and I've learned a lot. Like....
  • If you are sliding, turn your steering wheel in the direction of the slide and don't hit your brakes.
  • I hopefully will not ever have to use that advice, because if there is just even a 1% chance of snow or even just a dusting, we are not leaving our house. And I am not kidding. After my snow nightmare 10 years ago, I swore that I would never ride in a car for longer than 6 hours. And I have held true to that statement and will for the rest of my life.
  • I do not do well in unexpected events (I kind of already knew that one). I panic. I think the worse. I freak out. 
  • Even in the worst of times, that are so many wonderful people there to offer help. We might not be able to drive very good in snow & ice, but we are awesome at helping each other out.
  • Even when things seem to go wrong, I've got to remember that God is in control. I can look back now at so many things that happened over the last 48 hours, that completely freaked me out and I thought were terrible. Looking back now, I'm so glad each of those events happened.
Like when I was on my way to get Jake, the good Samaritan that stopped me from going over that last hill. He told me that cars were wrecking going down it & trying to come up it and it was causing a pile up on the other side at the bottom (as shown above in the pictures). At the time, I panic, and thought that was the worse thing someone could tell me. How was I going to get to Jake?? But because of that man, I parked on a nice flat spot and my car was spared from getting hit or me getting into a wreck. When I told him I had to get to my son at Westwood and I would just walk, he gave me a blanket from his car. I don't know who this man was, but I will be forever grateful.

Once I got to Jake's school & the snow got worse, I realized that we would not be able to make it back to the car and back home. Again, I panic and think this is the worse. But I'm so glad it worked out that way, because we ended up getting a ride back with someone who was a lot better driving in those conditions then me. 

I panicked when I realized my car battery was dead. But I know that was the Lord keeping me from trying to drive home. I was riding with an experienced driver and he was sliding. I am so thankful was battery was dead so I couldn't even attempt to drive the car to our house.

I was upset that I had to just leave the car, but it worked out, because since Robbie was having to walk home from Westwood, he was able to drive it home. 

Even through the bad things I thought were happening, the Lord was watching out for us. He was protecting us, even though I thought at the time, he was just making it more difficult.   

And the biggest lesson I have learned through all of this?

I hate snow more than I ever thought I could.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I hate snow. Prayers please. And I hate snow.

Oh my word. The last 24 hours & counting....

Let me first start out by saying that I do not like snow. Since to a nightmare trip in a car to Vermont around 10 years ago I have had a hatred of snow. When I see it, I want to throw up. I don't like to play in it. I don't think it's pretty. I hate snow.

Yesterday, we were not supposed to get snow. South Alabama was supposed to get snow & Birmingham was supposed to get at most a dusting. No problem. Robbie goes to work as normal & I drop Jake off at school at 9. Around 10, I look out the window & it's not snowing, so I don't have any worries. At 10:30, Jake's school calls to say they are closing at 11. No problem. I finish up a work email & start to head that way. Leaving & coming into our neighborhood you have to go up & down one mid-size hill and 2 really large steep hills. Never concerned me because there was no way in heck I would EVER try leaving our neighborhood if it was snowing. It was snowing, but not bad & I was able to get out of our neighborhood fine. But when I got to the 3rd & final hill, they were stopping people from going up the hill because all the cars coming down it were sliding & causing a pile up. So they were telling everyone to turn around & go back home.

Oh no.

That is when my panic sets in. Jake's school is about 2 miles from where I am (I think, I'm sure Robbie will tell me later that it was only a quarter mile). I could have turned around and made it back to the house, but then I would be 10 miles further from Jake. So I park my car on the side of the road and start walking to Jake's school. I have to walk up a huge hill, down it & then turn down the road that Jake's school is on. There is nothing like a mama's determination to get to her child. I couldn't call out so I couldn't even let Jake's school know I was trying to get there. I finally made it. My plan was to get Jake, get back to the car and try to head home. But then the snow started coming down really hard. There were other kids, parents & staff stranded, so we just waited it out.

I have to give a huge shout out to the school's director Mrs. Teresa. She was amazing. So calm, so in control. If I'm ever in an emergency, she is who I would want around me! It wasn't getting any better, so it looked like we would just spend the night there. Other people who had wrecked or cars were stranded started coming to the church for shelter. Then, one of kids mom's made it to the church. They live in our neighborhood and couldn't get out earlier. But her husband had made it to the top of last huge hill, so she was getting her daughter, walking the mile uphill to the car and back to the neighborhood. So I asked if we could hitch a ride. They said of course, as long as we didn't mind walking to their car. So off we went.

5 hours earlier, I had made the walk down that hill & to the school. There were a few scattered cars. At 4:00, there were cars EVERYWHERE. Some stuck, some slid off the road, some wrecked and some just sitting, not knowing what to do. We get to the end of the road the school is on, and have to turn to go up the huge hill. Holy moly. What a mess. There were wrecked cars everywhere from trying to come down the hill and trying to get up the hill. They just littered the road and the sides. There were at least 20 wrecked cars. The other mom & I, and our 2 five-year-olds start the hike up the huge hill. Crazy thing is, idiots kept trying to make it up the hill. Um, did you not see the 20 people in front of you that failed? As we are walking, we see one truck try to make it up, stall out and slide down the hill hitting cars left & right. A few minutes later, another one does the same exact thing. A few minutes later, ANOTHER ONE! The 3rd one though, as it is sliding, it is all over the place and headed towards us. We were trying to get out of the way, but couldn't tell which way the truck was sliding.

I have never in my life been so scared.

The other mom & I pick the kids up & basically toss them on an embankment with the help of a gentleman and then jump on top of them trying to get out of the way of the out of control truck. It was horrible. Thankfully, the truck ended up crashing into other cars which stopped it from getting to us. Needless to say, my nerves were shot.

Jake was so brave and so good. I was so proud of him. Both him & his friend from school got scared when all of the cars started crashing and especially when we were trying to get them out of the way of the out of control truck. But he held it together. He did so good walking in the snow up that huge hill. He kept saying "we're going to make it mommy". I was so proud of him.

We make it up the hill to their family's car. Technically, I probably could have driven my car home, but I was terrified about going up & down those hills after what we had just seen. My battery was dead though (because I had turned on my hazards, because I thought I wouldn't be gone long, ha!) so we just left it on the side of the road. So this sweet family just dropped Jake & I off at our house. The Acadia has probably been hit 4,678 times by now, but I'm just thankful that Jake & I are not stranded in it. I have never been so glad to be in my own house. Jake keeps talking about how loud the trucks wrecking were and that it scared him. Poor thing. I've tried to take his mind off of it.

Robbie ended up spending the night at work. I am so glad he did. He would have been stranded on the interstate had he tried to get home. Once I knew we were safe, Robbie was safe, and my mother-in-law was home safe I could breath a sigh of relief. I called home to make sure my dad had made it home from Montgomery, only to find out that my mom was stuck in traffic on the way to Atlanta to help my sister. Yikes! Back on the knees praying. Thankfully she made it. Once I knew everyone was safe, I could truly breath a sigh of relief, for at least a little while.

The roads are going to be bad today and again tonight, so Robbie isn't even going to attempt to try to make it home. Even if he could, you can't get into our neighborhood. So he will probably walk to a co-workers house that just lives a few miles from his office. He didn't think he could sleep on his office floor another night!

It has been a crazy last 24 hours.

I hate snow.

Please keep the people impacted by this storm in your prayers. It came much quicker and harder than anyone thought. Everyone was caught completely off guard. There are people stranded. People separated from their families. People hurt. My heart breaks for them. But everywhere you look, you see people helping others. Opening their homes to others. Helping out friends. I am so thankful for all the calls & texts from friends checking on us. I praise God for all those helping each other and especially for him keeping me safe as I tried to get to Jake, for letting me reach him and protecting us as we made it home. And we will not be leaving our house for the next year.

And I hate snow.

Monday, January 20, 2014

What we've been up to....

So I had grand intentions of updating the blog every Monday each week. And then life happened. Of the first 17 days of the year, Robbie was gone 12 of them. And then blogger decided that our personal computer's Internet was no longer compatible, so it wouldn't allow me to upload any pictures. So I'm just a little late getting this party started, but we'll catch up and get on track.

We had a very exciting New Year's which consisted of wearing loungewear, sitting on the sofa & watching TV. We watched the ball drop at midnight eastern time (which was 11:00 our time). We decided that was close enough to New Year's and called it a night. We spent New Year's Day just hanging out and then Robbie left that evening for Atlanta, so he could catch his flight out in the morning for California.

Almost all of our tailgate group was heading out to CA and almost all of them were staying in the same hotel. When they initially started planning the trip (the day after the SEC championship game), I was so over Auburn, you could not have paid me to go out to CA. I just had absolutely no interest what so ever in spending the money to go out to CA to cringe every time I saw a tiger tail hanging out of someones pants or hearing the weagle weagle song. And no, it wasn't because I was a bitter Alabama fan. I had just spent every Auburn home game in Auburn, along with an away game and the SEC championship game. I was just over it. Plus, I wanted Robbie to go & have a great experience and not be having to worry about taking me shopping or entertaining me. I wanted this to be a great trip for him where he could be as crazy and passionate as he wanted to be. Plus, going to CA isn't cheap. And if I'm going to spend that kind of money, it's going to be for something I'm super excited about. And Auburn in the national championship game just wasn't one of them. Of course, once Robbie gets out there, and I see all the pictures of them having a great time, eating fabulous dinners, having so much fun, I instantly wished I could be there. We have such a fun group of friends and I knew they were having a blast. But in the end, it all worked out that I didn't go, Robbie had a great time and everyone made it home safely. 

But blah blah blah, on to the pictures... 
Dinner at Blue Plate Oysterette in Santa Monica

In Manhattan Beach before Chad's birthday dinner

Brunch at Geoffrey's in Malibu

Crazy long story, but we ended up with 2 extra tickets to the game to sell. So Robbie ended up selling them to his cousins Eric and Chris. Robbie's sister bought tickets from a friend of ours and of course the Bush's were able to just purchase theirs through the school. So 6 members of the Bush family were there to represent!

The Bush Family
Chris, Chuck, Judy, Robbie, Andrea & Eric

So what were Jake & I up to the night of the game? I did put Jake on an Auburn shirt. He watched bits and pieces of the game with me. 

During the first half of the game, Jake was in & out of the living room and half watching the game. During halftime he watched a show in the bedroom and by the time the second half started, he was wrapped in a comforter laying on the floor starting to fall asleep. Since Auburn wasn't looking as hot in the second half, I actually got Jake to come lay on the floor in the living room, so see if that brought Auburn a little more luck.
It didn't

 Then, that night, a lovely bug hit us. It hit Jake first and he blew up our restroom. It was so disgusting, it made me sick. I get everything under control, get us in bed (yes, Jake sleeps with me when Robbie is away and it's more for my comfort than his) and then around 2 AM Jake wakes us up to vomiting. Again, disgusting. Horrible smell, a mess to clean up, which of course make me then sick again. I don't think I ever got the bug, it just made me sick every time Jake got sick. But we survived.

Robbie came home Thursday and we spent a very low key weekend, basically doing nothing. And then Robbie left again for CA on Tuesday, but this time on a business trip. 

So it was the Jake & Mommy show again for entertainment.

The balloon. For Jake's birthday, I hung up a bunch of balloons. After his little family party, I took them down. I popped all but 2, and left them in case he wanted to play with them. He has played with them every single day. So evidently, Santa should have just brought balloons and left the toys at home. I can't complain, because he probably gets it from me. I can remember growing up and my brother & I were very cool and would spend HOURS playing balloon. We'd toss them back & forth, make up games, get in fights about them. It was a good time and fond memories for me, so I haven't minded playing balloon games with Jake. And even if he has no one to play balloon with, he'll just play with it by himself. Again, why did Santa bring him any toys? 

Robbie got home Friday from his business trip. On Saturday, Jake went to Tanner's Star Wars Angry Birds birthday party. I knew when he wanted to hang the invitation up in his room that this was going to be a party that he was going to love. And Tanner is one of his favorite friends from school, so we were really excited about Tanner's birthday party.
Tanner's mom made light sabers out of cut up pool noodles
The boys had SO.MUCH.FUN

Playing a pop the angry bird balloon game

Knocking down the Star Wars Angry Birds

Sweet little friends from school

Enjoying the snacks & cupcakes afterwards
Sorry for the horrible quality & fuzziness of these pictures above & below. They all were taken on my iPhone. It is a mess for me to upload pictures from my iPhone to my work computer, so I just have to email the pictures to my Outlook and then save them. Because I had to send so many, I had to reduce the size, which meant when I increased the size on the blog, it made an already fuzzy picture fuzzier. But you get the jest of our weekend.

Since the Bush's had not seen Jake since Christmas, they watched Jake Saturday night so Robbie & I could go to a movie. Of course Jake had a wonderful time and Robbie & I enjoyed some time alone. Also this weekend, we signed Jake up for baseball. He & Robbie went to pick out a baseball, glove & bat. Jake does great with the little tykes baseball & bat, but it is definitely an adjustment using normal size equipment. He looks so cute out there playing though and seems to be having fun, so we'll see!

So there we are. All caught up.

Until I let it fall behind for another 3 weeks.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Good-bye 2013 Football Season / Hello 2014 New Year!

Well, Troy didn't even get selected to play in a bowl game this year. Alabama played Oklahoma and basically went home after the first drive, so that was a frustrating game to watch. On the bright side, I did get my whole house cleaned and closets organized. And then Auburn concluded the season playing FSU in the national championship game. Robbie was at the game so it was just Jake & I watching it at home. (I've got pictures, but for some reason, blogger won't upload them, so they'll just have to come at a later date.) I was actually pulling for Auburn (which is why they probably didn't win). I wanted them to win for Robbie, his parents & all our friends at the game. I was hoping they would keep the title in the SEC and in the state of Alabama. Those were basically the only reasons I was pulling for Auburn, but they didn't win, and that's okay with me too. This has been a fun football season, but a long one. I love going to football games, gameday and tailgating with our friends. But I'm also very happy to have our weekends back.

So on to 2014....

I'm always making goals. I make them all year long, they are always the same and I start over every other week, because I cannot consistently keep them up (Every week, I think NEXT WEEK is the week I'm really going to start. I do that 52 times a year.) But this year, I am truly going to try. I'm holding myself accountable and at the end of the year, will judge to see what I accomplished (and what will just go on 2015's list). So here they are:

1. Be more consistent reading my Bible/doing my devotional. I do it in the mornings before work gets crazy, but honestly, sometimes my heart & mind is not completely focused on it. I read the Bible while mentally thinking of all the things I need to do that day or just not truly focusing. I don't want to just go through the motions, just so I can check it off my to-do list.  My goal is to absorb what I'm reading and then apply it throughout my day.

2. Join a church. Robbie & I have always been members of a church, ever since we were little. We were raised always going to church and have done so ever since. We were members of a great church in Chattanooga. When we moved to Birmingham, we moved 3 times in the first year we were here, so we knew we wanted to wait until we bought a house to find a church in Birmingham to join. We have probably visited every church within 30 miles of us over the last 2 years, and we've just not found the one. We were both raised in very traditional churches, so that's what we are used to and what we are comfortable with. We've been members of such great churches, we are a little picky. Probably too picky, as each church I find reasons why it is not the one. My goal is to stop making excuses and stop finding reasons why that church doesn't meet my needs and start focusing on where can we serve Christ the best.

3. Eat healthier and exercise more. Truth be told, we eat pretty healthy at home. No sodas, no fried dinners, no junk food. But when we travel? Horrible. Considering we are on the road so much, we are always eating out or eating fast food and that is where we loose the healthy eating and gain the pounds. And exercise? I hate it. I have to literally MAKE myself workout. But I know it must be done because I hate even more not having clothes that fit and feeling embarrassed when I look at pictures of myself. My goal is to workout at least 30-45 minutes a day at least 4 times a week. And eat healthier, even when traveling.    

4. Get this house decorated. I want to feel like it is at least 90% complete. I know people say that your house is never complete because you will always be changing things. Not me. It takes me forever to make a decision and once I make it, I stick with it and never want to change it. I can look back at pictures I tore out of magazines 10 years ago, and I still love them and use them for inspiration. Part of the problem with our current house, is it is just not really my style. Everything is dark. The cabinets are dark, the molding is dark. I feel like everything I've had, just doesn't fit. Plus, it's a larger house than the last 3 places I've lived, so I don't have enough stuff to fill it. My goal is to get at least 2-3 things completed for each room. And here they are (so I don't forget)-
Living Room: 
1. Replace or revamp our coffee table
2. Finally get a rug that fits the size of that room
3. Hang stuff on the walls
Breakfast Nook:
1. Hang curtain panels
2. Paint the table
3. Hang something on that huge blank wall
1. New rug
2. New lamp
Dining Room:
1. Finish china cabinet and finally take all my china & silver out of storage
2. Get a table runner
3. Hang final pieces on the walls
Master Bedroom (this will take the most work):
1.  New headboard, change to king size mattress, which means new bedding
2. Paint the other furniture in the room so everything coordinates & is not 10 different shades of brown
3. Hang curtains
Master Bathroom:
1. FINALLY hang roman shades so we can take down those horrid ill-fitting temporary paper blinds
Jake's Room:
1. Find a twin size bed and new bedding
2. Update the pictures in his picture frames
Guest Room:
1. For goodness sakes, PLEASE let this be the year that we FINALLY get to turn that room into a nursery.
Downstairs Bathroom:
1. Switch out shower curtain with upstairs bathroom
2. Get new towels
3. Hang something on the walls
Half Bath:
1. Find a heron print that I like (& can afford) to hang in bathroom
2. Hang a shelf 
Laundry Room:
1. Hang our drying rack and install hooks to hang backpack & bags
2. Install counter over washer/dryer for folding
3. Get over the door ironing board (and actually use it)
Bonus Room:
1. Finish out the "guest bedroom" portion of that room
2. Paint my desk
3. Organize all my craft stuff better

5. Make it through the year without putting a muzzle on the dog across the street. The people that built a house across the street from us is a very sweet older couple. They are so nice and friendly and I really do like them (and their clean, tidy uncluttered yard) very much. But while they are at work during the day, they leave their dog in their backyard. And he barks. ALL.DAY.LONG. I know most people are at work during the day, so it shouldn't matter, but I am home, trying to work and it does drive me crazy. All of our houses back up to wooded lots, so I'm sure something in the woods is getting his attention. My goal is to either figure out what is making him bark & kill it or figure out how to just block it out.

6. Become a more confident driver. Who am I kidding? That will never happen.