So, somewhere there is an IPod that has an awful lot of pictures that need to be uploaded. Until then, I decided to go ahead and delve into recording our trip to Houston while we are here so that I don't forget anything.
The back story is that Ross was accepted as a trainer for a challenge course for some new hires down in Houston which would take him away from us for about 5 weeks. Well, we aren't so good at being apart, so after two weeks, the kids and I drove down to be with him for the last few weeks of his trip. We are now living in a hotel room with a kitchenette, and are enjoying all the things that the Houston area has to offer.
To get here we had to drive. A long way. Like, 24 hours long. I left with the kids from my mother's house at 4:00 am on a Monday and drove about 14 hours that day and stopped in Amarillo for the night.
I was dreading this trip with four kids all on my own. I thought it would be terrible. The truth is, it went pretty well. My kids are pretty wonderful. They were patient and kind, and I had prepared pretty well for the drive with some things that worked well to make it a good experience. I will have a whole post about those tips in a bit because they really did make the trip a fun thing and I think they could help others as well.
I wish Ross had been there as there were a lot of places that would have been to stop by had I had another set of hands to help me. On the way back we want to stop at the Albequerque temple, some Anazazi ruins, the Monticello temple, Four Corners, and some arches that were along the road in Moab. At least these things were fun to look at and think about as I drove on my own.
On the first day of driving things were going well until the last few hours. I was starting to get really drowsy and could feel myself nodding, which got me pretty concerned. I said a prayer to be more alert, and Heavenly Father answered me pretty immediately.
When I finished my prayer I took a picture of a pretty rainbow ahead of me, and then there was a HUGE thunderclap. The Heavens opened and I ended up driving through one of the most intense rainstorms I have ever seen in my entire life. I even saw a fire start on the side of the road from where lightning hit. I am sure it was put out by the buckets of rain coming down, but it was still pretty crazy. Suffice it to say I was awake and alert with white knuckles and all. Tender mercies, I suppose...
About ten minutes from our destination for the day, we finally got out of the storm. The Lord really does hear our prayers.
We got to the hotel for the night and the kids went to bed really well which I was worried about since they had slept in the car a lot. I chatted with Ross while I cleaned out the car, and then I crashed as well.
The next morning we got up at 5:30 and headed down for breakfast and then drove out. As I was loading the kids into the car I had to laugh because there was a mockingbird in the parking lot that was making car alarm noises. It was hilarious and quite accurate which makes me feel fortunate that our van was left safe and sound since apparently the bird had a lot of practice to know how to mimic it so well.
We had a few interesting experiences during the drive this day. At one point, I hit a chicken that was crossing the road, and as horrible as it sounds, I laughed. For a long time. This was hilarious to me.
I said some prayers of comfort and peace as we passed through West Texas and saw all the flags at half mast.
For lunch we stopped at a Chick Fil A so that the kids could play in the play place. At the register the man was very sweet and complimentary to me about my kids and the way I was handling. He said they were very well behaved and that I was brave to take them somewhere like this all on my own and said they looked so nice. I laughed and said they had been in a car for 8 hours that day and 14 the day before, so they were pretty worn out at that point. He said he felt sorry for me and I told him that they were actually a lot of fun and made it a good experience. He smiled and said, "God bless you, Mama!" Later, when another worker brought out our food, he said, "I am assuming this is for you. Usually they write the names on the tickets, but this one just says, 'Super Mom' and you look like the only one out here who fits that description." It was a really sweet moment and made me smile.
A few hours later we pulled into the hotel in Houston and got all cleaned up before Ross got back from work. It was so good to see him and to hold him. We missed him so much.
The kids went to the Pizza Hut in the parking lot with Daddy for dinner while I took a much needed shower and got some alone time while putting the room together for our next 3 weeks. Everyone slept well that night, even with the snores from Ross. I missed him so much. It meant a lot to finally have him with me again. It is well worth the drive to be here with my other half. He makes my life so wonderful and we are all lucky to have him and each other. I love my little family so much (even if not many people here think this family is all that 'little'.)