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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

That time we got stuck on I-12 for 27 hours

Last Saturday what should have been a normal easy drive from Baton Rouge, where we had spent the night, to Florida for our beach vacation, turned into a very different adventure.
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It had been raining the days before and we knew driving into Baton Rouge that some roads were already closed due to being underwater but we didn't see anything to suggest that the major highways were underwater nor did we ever really think that it was something that was likely to happen.

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Yea... we were wrong! We didn't get too far down the road before we started seeing flooding along the sides of the road. Houses that were flooded as we drove out of Baton Rouge, parking lots were covered in water. We weren't too far out of town before Waze (which we were using for navigation) showed a slow down ahead on the interstate and we tried to take the detour suggested only to find out it was already blocked due to high water.
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Back to sit in traffic on the interstate, thinking it will be slow, and miserable but we'll get through it.... yea not so much...

Oh and the bad thing about being in standstill traffic on the interstate... No potties. Finally nearly 3 hours later, we took the shoulder of the interstate to be able to exit.
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Only to find out that all the businesses were CLOSED! We were able to fill up the cars with gas but the convenience stores were closed y'all....  still no potties! McDonalds was open but only the drive through.... so again, no potties! We tried to get some lunch from McDs but they stopped serving by the time it was our turn in the drive through! (Good thing we were packed for the beach and had snacks... it may not have been the healthiest food nor a complete meal but we weren't going to starve in the near future!)

The other side of the interstate without the gas stations had a lovely tourist center... but it was closed and locked.... so again no potties. Now I can deal with most things but I do prefer the creature comforts I'm used to and to not have to use the woods...

There was this beautiful Church building that was open behind the tourist center.... but guess what y'all.... NO potties! Thankfully the Deacon of the Church opened up the fellowship hall after we were back from filling up the cars and the attempt at a 'real' lunch from McDs and we had a potty! It's the little things in life y'all! (Oh and if you're a Pokemon-Go fan both the steeple and the stone out front were Poke-stops while we had good cell service to play!)
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We were able to let the kids get out of the car and stretch their legs. We knew we had some time to kill so we pulled out a puzzle from the box packed for the beach and started to put one together.  The boys also heard from another person that one of the gas stations had opened and were letting a few people in at a time so the boys made a snack and drink run to get a few more snacks since it was lunch time and we were getting hungry.
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The little two colored and put on a puppet show. The road trip boxes I put together for each kid were seriously coming in very usual for entertaining the littles.
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At this point there were lots of hungry people and it wasn't looking good that we were going to be moving anywhere anytime soon since we were especially on a flood-created island with roads closed due to high water in every direction. Someone started some gumbo and we took out some pork tenderloin and jambablya mix we had packed for the beach to add to the things to cook. Others started bringing in other food including fish, chicken wings, fajita meat, sausage. They soon had quite the potluck cooking up in the kitchen.

Unfortunately at this point the water had risen and was getting under the building we were in and the Sheriff started clearing everyone out just as the food was starting to be served. We couldn't really go anywhere  but we did have to leave the building.
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This is when we first arrived. By the time we had to clear out this whole picnic table area was covered with water and the dumpster had floated away. The next morning they were launching boats down that road that the golf cart is driving on in the background.

Despite the rising water, at least the sun had come out and given us beautiful blue skies (dry water dry!) We moved our car out of the Church parking lot and parked along the side of the frontage road near the on/off ramp to I-12.  By this point mid-afternoon we had been stuck for quite a while and it seemed to be mostly a wait-and-see plan at the point. The police didn't seem to have a plan at this point on how long we'd be stuck or what the plan would be for getting all the stranded people out of this 'island'.

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The kids however were troopers through the whole thing so far, besides a little pickiness over the hodgepodge dinner. Abby's day was made because there was a trailer with two horses who were also stranded who she was able to meet and pet when they took them out to let them munch on the grass. She was content to be stuck as long as she was able to pet all the animals who were also stranded.
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It was becoming more and more clear that we were going to be car-camping. Having an SUV made this slightly more bearable because with a little (okay a lot!) of shuffling of stuff around we were able to make a 'bed' in the back of the vehicle for the little two to lay down. My brother also had his hammock packed so he found a place to hang it up and lay down. It was a restless night for the grownups but we were able to get a little rest.
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When we woke up, my first view was of blue skies... but also a few rain drops! Eek!
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The littles remained comfy in the back, playing Nintendo, puppets shows and building with their dollar spot blocks I found and packed in their road trip car boxes.
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Micah built a long-neck dinosaur!
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I was so thankful that the Church opened up it's doors again in the morning, a few at a time, to use the facilities and also provided some cold drinks.

At some point in the morning they had brought in some waters and MREs under the overpass for all those people who were stuck on 12 and couldn't even get off the exit.

Mid-morning they started helicoptering in some more water and snacks. It was quite the assortment of snacks - vienna sausages, various flavors of chips, pop tarts, granola bars, saltines and waters. The littles thought this was fun to watch the helicopters fly in and land so close to us.

But we were grateful for the additional snacks regardless of the variety because we had no idea how much longer we'd be stuck. We were hearing all sorts of various things. One said they would check the water level across I-12 at 11am and go from there, another said probably no one was moving out of the area until 6 pm, another said not until Monday.

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Around noon, the boys took off down the road to see if they could see a way out since the map was showing there might be a road that wasn't blocked. Their first route wasn't a viable option but when they returned and talked to the officers and the others who were in the same situation as us and all plotting a way out, they found out that we might be able to get around the closed part of 12 if we headed North. Roads that had been flooded when we had gotten off 12 the day before were now back open.  It was eye opening to see the damage from the water as we drove past.

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Even though the situation was no where near ideal and we lost a day of vacation to spend car camping, we were the lucky ones in a sense as we watched others being the process of cleaning out their flooded houses.

The areas of Louisiana that flooded had never flooded like that before, I saw one place that showed the amount of rain that they received in a few days span was more than Los Angeles had received from Jan 2012- Aug 2016.  Since I graduated from LSU in Baton Rouge, I have so many friends who have either personally been affected, having to leave their house, or who's families have had houses flood and have to be rescued. It's also so refreshing to see how theses communities are coming together to help each other. School uniforms donated to replace those lost in floods, a list of phone numbers for those individuals with boats that were out rescuing people, photographers offering family sessions for those that lost all their family pictures or help restoring water damaged pictures, places serving up hot lunches for those working on cleaning out flood damaged houses, in addition to work crews to help clean houses, and supply donations for those in shelters who lost everything or can't currently return to their houses.


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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

summer days


Summer these days consist of lots of pool time. This particular day we ate our lunch in the park before heading to the splash pad and pool. 

Abby found a neat arched tree branch near our picnic table and thought it would be a fun spot for a picture. Instead of an ordinary picture under the branch though it seemed like a good spot to match the arch of the tree branch. You can take the girl out of gymnastics but you can't take the gymnastics out of the girl! 

We played on the splash pad while our lunch settled and then hit the pool. We had it nearly to ourselves for a little bit while they switched out summer camp groups.  Lexie told me after we got home "this was a fun day." 


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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's

It had been a few years since I had taken picture Valentines' of the kids for their classes. They may not be their favorites (because their favorites are the Target variety with puppies or Jurassic Park on them to be honest. I can want to be all cutesy and pinteresty as I want but in the end the $3 boxes from Target win in their minds) but I love them as does family (when I don't get to busy to send them… or even blog them before the holiday is WAY past over…) 



Umm yes Micah was covered in temporary tattoos he had gotten for Christmas. Such is the life of little boys - as long as they don't become permanent ones!

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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Look who's FOUR!

My little baby is now a bubbly, talkative, sweet, loving FOUR year old. Her birthday flipped a switch in her because while she was always chatty and silly at home, she was often shy around others like the teachers at preschool and Bible Class. She's opened up and let everyone else see that side of her personality more and more since her birthday! I'm happy that she is more comfortable around others to let them see that side of her. She brings such joy to our family. 








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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Lexie and Friendly


Every child in Lexie's preschool class was able to have a turn bringing home the class pet - Friendly the Frog. Her teacher tried to time it so it was around their Birthday so Lexie was able to have Friendly over her birthday weekend. 

She had a blast with Friendly to say the least. She took him to jump on the trampoline with her because Frogs love to jump! 


 They also spent some time riding bikes and on her scooter in the front yard. We had such a mild winter that it was perfect weather to play outside even though it was January.


 Gigi and Pops came into town to take the birthday girl for lunch and with Lexie's love of tortillas we decided on Pappacitos. Friendly being a native Texas frog loved chips and salsa right along with everyone else.

 A birthday dinner isn't complete without singing happy birthday, a big bowl of dessert and a giant cupcake (complete with CANDY on top!)


Friendly came home with a book he loves to read too. So we spent some time in Lexie's tent reading books during quiet time during the week as well. 


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