Under the Sea & Ice Storm Adventures!

Two weekends ago, we loaded up the party van with Cookie & Lovie for a trip to Dallas.
For Christmas, Cookie & Lovie gave us tickets to several Broadway musicals in Dallas & we decided to make a weekend out of the trip.
It was a beautiful Saturday - 81 degrees!!  First, we headed to Dallas Blooms at the Arboretum. 
It was so warm that the kids "waded" in the children's park.
(This an important fact to note considering what happened the next day.)

Road trip reading

Stopping to smell the hyacinth 

playing with grandparents

My sweet loves

After naps in our hotel & a yummy dinner which we walked to a few blocks away, we crashed early.  
When we woke up the next morning, it was cold and rainy so we drove two blocks away to visit a lovely church.  It was a great church.  
The temperatures continued to drop but we didn't worry - ice wasn't supposed to hit until much later in the evening.
After lunch, we headed to see the Little Mermaid Musical!
Ellie was beside herself excited!  She talked for weeks and weeks about it and was just beside herself.  She planned on wearing her mermaid tail and also packed all of her Ariel jewelry.  She was just beside herself excited.
I'm so glad my kiddos love the theater!
Will pretended like he was too cool to like a "girly" show but he was pretty excited too & loved it.

Apparently Cookie had never seen the movie & was unfamiliar with the story!?!  How is this even possible?

After the show, we walked outside shocked to see that it was sleeting heavily.  
It was decided that we should head home - we were only about 85 miles or so from home... and so we began our adventure.

For the record, Ellie (recently potty trained & with a steel bladder went to the bathroom during church at 9:45am.  She did not go to the bathroom again until 10:30pm.  Not even kidding.)
Me, with not a steel bladder, needed to go after the show but we decided to hit the road and stop for treats and the bathroom after getting out of the parking lot - this did not happen.
I had on ballet style flats and a thin skirt & light jacket.  Ellie had on her "coat" hoodie.  No one else had coats.  R had a fleece. 
We had no water and no snacks.
We had no blankets.
We were stupidly unprepared.
(In my defense - it's TEXAS!  And it was 81 degrees the day before!)
Ellie immediately crashed.

It took us 5 hours to go about 45 miles.  
At one point, I finally texted a few friends, scared & asking for prayers.  Not only were we not moving but it had become dark.
We had finally found an open gas station & R pulled into it to stock up on waters.  I bought lunchables for the kids' dinners.  It never even occurred to me to buy breakfast!  
The ice was falling heavily and the roads rapidly became dangerous.  Semi trucks were sliding & often unable to make it over bridges.  We saw cars and trucks that slid off road.  At one point, we became stuck on a hill that is a bridge.  I heard R ask my dad how far back he thought the gas station was.  It was estimated a few miles back - I think R was considering possibly having to walk back for more waters, etc - again, totally underprepared clothing wise.  No one was making it over the bridge.  We sat there for over an hour.  At one point, a trucker came to our window and as we began to slide, he calmly guided R into the slide to help us avoid hitting the cars stuck behind us.  I was looking over my shoulder in the dark at the guardrail and could see nothing beyond that.  It was quite scary but R did awesome and gained traction again.  The kids did great (thank goodness for distracting iphones & ipads!)  Ellie did get pretty nervous but did okay as long as she could hold my hand.  
Eventually, we made it over the hill. 
By this time, we were trying to find hotel rooms in the nearest city (still 10 miles away) but they were all full and the lobbies were apparently full of travelers.  
By the grace of God, we had friends who had also been in Dallas & had left hours ahead of us but were unable to make it all the way home - they detoured to their farmhouse & invited us.
Finally, we made it to that exit and got off the interstate.  
5 hours - 45 miles.
Shortly after exiting, we learned that the interstate was shut down both directions.  We were so glad to have made it off.
(So unprepared to spend the night out there!)
Though the country roads headed to the farm were worse than the interstate, there were no semi trucks sliding or stalling and really no traffic and very few bridges so it was a little easier to make better time.
At 10:30, we finally made it to the driveway.... which was a steep hill.
We slid down the hill 3 times before finally gaining traction and momentum to make it up the hill and through the gate.  Goodness.
I have never been so thankful for a warm fire, a good bed, dear friends, and a glass of wine!

These two girls were pretty excited to wake up on a snowy day to a slumber party together!

With the roads too bad to leave in the morning, we hung out at the farm all day.
Thankfully, our friends prepared better than me and stopped at a gas station to buy oatmeal and nutrigrain bars on their way to the farm.

We raided the pantry for snacks and lunch.

E tumbled down these stairs - scared me really bad.  Was thankful for both a pediatrician & a PT on hand - I keep waiting for her first broken bone.  With her awful falls, it is inevitable.  She was scared and bruised but fine.

I found nailpolish & gave the girls manicures.

& pedicures

Good friends and a fire.

Around 1pm, R left with our friends who had four wheel drive to head to our town.  They took him home and I put kids down for naps.
When he got home for his truck, there were trees blocking our driveway.  He sawed and moved tree branches and finally made it back for us around 4:30pm.  As we headed back to town, it was very slow going.  We finally got home around 6pm!  26 hours after originally leaving Dallas!

Will and Ellie did manage to get some sledding in once we got back to town.  When we dropped off Lovie, some friends were sledding in the yard - we borrowed hats and coats from them so the kids could sled before dark. (Again - so unprepared!)

Note to self- pack SOCKS!
My feet were so so cold!

(Me wearing borrowed pants & fleece.)

Wow!  What an adventure!  So very thankful for R's great driving in really stressful conditions.  His knuckles were white!  He stayed focused and calm and managed to keep his kids and wife and inlaws safe.
I was very thankful for friends who opened their home to us at 10:30pm when we couldn't make it home and for friends who I know prayed when I sent that text once I began to realize that this was not a good situation.
I am thankful for warm cars and for apple products to keep kids distracted and quiet during stressful driving conditions.
I was thankful for Ellie's steel bladder!
I was thankful for the trucker who helped us when we slid backwards.
(I couldn't help but wonder if he was an angel in disguise?)
I was super thankful for warm socks when I got home!!

We will never forget that time we saw "the Little Mermaid!"


Ellie - 3 1/2

Last week we had a big half birthday in our house!
On Monday morning, I had every intention of celebrating Ellie's half birthday... until I was up most of the night with her as she was sick, Will woke up with a fever, and I had a stomach bug.
So... I just waited an extra day to tell her she was officially 3.5.
On Tuesday morning she was a very excited girl and has since told everyone she comes in contact with that she is a big 3 1/2 year old.
We celebrated with singing half of the birthday song and cupcakes (of which she only ate half the icing.)

Ellie at 3.5:

eats just about anything although her favorite foods are dips
She loves to drink ice water but also enjoys whole milk (or ice water milk - gross!)
She doesn't love beef but does love fish, chicken, and pork
She told me her favorite vegetables are "peppers" (bell), cucumbers, carrots, and olives.
Her favorite fruits are grapes, apples (no peel please!), pears and pomegranates.
She loves to cook and begs daily to help me make dinner.  When she is not helping me cook, she can often be found in her kitchen cooking for her babies.
Playing babies is her favorite activity on planet earth.
She frequently begs to go to the beach - her favorite place on earth.
She loves to read and prefers the same book over and over until I beg for a new book.
She sleeps great all night and still naps a few hours a day.
Ellie talks all day long and sometimes I catch her talking in her sleep.  She sings and talks to her babies - constantly reassuring them when she steps away from them, loving on them, kissing and rocking  - she is a busy mama.

Bathtime with babies

I don't know how she fits in her bed with all those babies

She and her baby have matching duck towels

Poor Batman - when Will's away he loses all dignity

Her favorite color is pink.  (Except this week it is apparently purple.)
She has begun to love playing dress up and prefers to wear her crown all day long.

She does not love having her hair brushed although she does love having her fingers and toes painted (& recently had her first professional manicure as a potty training reward)
Her favorite cartoon is either Tom & Jerry (like her brother) or Dora the Explorer
She says she will be a "mommy" when she grows up.  She also says that before she is a mommy with babies, she will "take care of babies" for her job.  Her PT recently predicted she will become a neonatologist.  I wouldn't be surprised at all - she loves babies and seems to be very curious about doctors and medical processes.
She has been dismissed from OT and only does PT once a month!!!
She can wield a sword in one arm and a baby in the other as she plays with her big brother.
He adores her too and recently colored her some pictures to decorate her kitchen with.

Ellie's best friends:  Will but she says her best friends who are girls are Sophie, Other Ellie, & Elin

Some recent Ellieisms:
"I'm going to marry Will because I love him and he's my best friend."
Will countered with some awesome logic:  "Ellie, you can't marry me because the law says brothers and sisters can't marry."
I told him it was fine and to let it go and reminded him that he used to want to marry me...
to which he replied,
"Mommy!  Sons can marry their moms because we love our moms more than we love our sisters."
You can't argue with that logic.

Also, she recently started saying this nightly,
"Mommy, I love you more!"
I argued, "No, Ellie, I love you more!"
"Mommy!  We each love each other more together."

And one of my favorites,
"You are the best dinner making mommy ever!"

Ellie is becoming a daddy's girl - recently I walked in her room and caught her and her Daddy playing family.  They were poising for a pretend family picture with a pretend photographer apparently stationed across her room.  I cracked up.

Don't they make a cute family?

Ellie received a pink car last fall but finally convinced her Daddy to build it a few weeks ago.  We've determined her love language may be quality time - she spent 2 hours focused and working with her daddy to build the car!

Ellie begs Will to play with her after school every day.  He usually needs some down time but will often play with her after nap time.  She adores him and loves playing with him.  I love listening to them play together.
At 3.5, she is also starting to play more with the neighbors (with me supervising nearby.)  She daily begs the kids on our street to play "family" and can usually talk them into it (at least the girls.)

My sweet girl - so many things I love about her at this age.  She is my little buddy - goes everywhere with me and is so interested in every aspect of being a mommy.  Every morning, after she eats breakfast, she tells me she is coming to watch me get ready.  My heart about melts as she walks into my bathroom and watches me do my hair and makeup and get dressed.  She sits on her little stool with her baby and I adore having a daughter to teach about being a girl.
As girly as she is, she also has been trying to climb trees recently and last week, I caught her playing with a dead dried worm.  Nasty!
She gives lots of hugs and kisses and is Will's number one cheerleader.  In fact, she often sets up her babies in a line to watch him play  - he loves the audience.
I love her nurturing spirit and encouraging heart.
I love watching her think and figure out life.  She is naturally curious and asks great questions.  She is a thinker and is discerning of people - she often holds back when meeting a stranger.
She has the most hilarious facial expressions and entertains us nightly with the "Ellie Show."
I love 3.5 Ellie!

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