Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cole Camp Snow

Helping Mema Make Bread


Favorite Spot at Papa & Mema's


Where did I leave this sad tale?  Ah yes, ice/snow = no power, one cold night at home followed by night in a warm hotel room.  After we had thawed at our hotel in Conway Wednesday night, we decided we better figure what we were going to do next.  Fortunately the drive to Conway assured us that the highway conditions were good and according to the maps, once we got North of Clinton on 65, the roads were clear.  With that bit of knowledge and the fact that the forecast called for sunshine in Missouri, we decided that we would head to Cole Camp.  Our plan for Thursday after we checked out of the hotel was to head home and pack up all the meat we had in our deep freeze to take over to our friends Anne and Sean's since they had room in their freezers.  They also offered to let us stay at their place Thursday night but with a threat for more icy weather Friday morning, we decided just to head up to Cole Camp that day.  We dropped off meat, stopped back at the house to pack up some clothes and cleared out a few things from the refrigerator.  I think I packed about one outfit for everybody and then loaded all our dirty laundry into a basket; felt like a college student again.

The kids were excited to head up to Papa and Mema's but were definitely disappointed to leave the snow behind.  When we left town, we were still under the impression that getting power up to the house was the job of the power company so we thought they would be responsible for getting the meter back up on the house.  We learned differently on Saturday morning when our neighbor called to let us know that he had received an email from the Mayor's office saying that home owners with meters down would need an electrician to get the meter back up before power could be restored.  Brad made a call to a company we have used before and they got us on the list but we were looking at Thursday or Friday before they would get to us.  Brad then decided to call our friend Carl who knows somebody for every job and he put us in touch with an electrician.  This gentleman made it out to our house on Sunday to check out the situation and was back out Monday (New Year's Eve) to install the meter.  Fortunately Entergy didn't start work on our grid until Monday as well so the timing was perfect and we didn't have to set up a special appointment.  Power was finally restored to our grid around 11 pm on New Year's Eve although we didn't actually have power until the following day since the electrician had to come back out and flip the main on the new meter. 

Meanwhile, remember that the forecast for Cole Camp when we originally headed that way was clear.  Within a day or two of being there, that started to change and we woke up New Year's Eve to another winter wonderland.  Emma and Josh were so excited.  They got to get out and sled, build a snow man and have snowball fights.  The best thing was we had some place to warm up afterwards.  We were planning on leaving the following day since we did eventually have to go back to work.  However, before we left we did have a good time ringing in the New Year in Cole Camp.  We played some dominoes, had way too many good munchies and actually made it to midnight!  The roads were pretty clear the next day and since Northern Arkansas only got rain, we were able to get home easily.  We walked into a nice, warm house for the first time in one week and I got to work emptying the refrigerator while the kids finally got to enjoy many of their new Christmas  toys.  Christmas 2012 was definitely one to remember and we're so thankful that we didn't have more damage to the house and that we had a great place to go and stay for most of the week.  I know the kids really enjoyed their time in Cole Camp as well! 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Not Bothered by the Cold

The Aftermath

After a long, less than restful night with poor Josh waking up saying he was cold several times, we woke up to this scene.


Pretty, right?  Unfortunately the winter wonderland caused quite a bit of damage as well.  We had multiple tree limbs down in the back yard (the city is estimating it may take until July to pick up all the yard waste from the storm).  Also down in the yard was our power line after the meter had been partially ripped off the house.


By this point, they were reporting over 160,000 without power in Pulaski County and Entergy was no longer giving estimates for when power would be restored other than to say it could be up to 7-10 days.  Obviously we had other issues since our power line was in the yard.  Emma and Josh wanted nothing more than to get outside and play in the snow.  Around mid-morning, we finally gave them that opportunity.  Josh was not a fan since it was so cold and lasted maybe five minutes.  Poor guy was so cold that he had to huddle next Brad under several blankets to warm back up.  Emma had a big time even though the snow was not good for packing and didn't want to go in, however, we couldn't let her stay out too long since there was really no way to warm up.

The question at this point shifted to what do we do know since the power was going to be out for several days at least.  After the kids warmed back up, Brad got out and shoveled the driveway.  Since cars had been going up and down our street all morning, the road was passable if we could get up our driveway.  Once he finished that, we decided to get in the Rav and go try to find gas if for no other reason than to be some place warm for a little while and figure things out.  The first gas station we found with power was up at Markham and Shackleford and it was busy between people filling up vehicles and getting gas for generators.  We lucked out with the line we chose so we didn't have to wait too long.  With gas in the tank, we decided to see if we could find some food, which wasn't easy since many places with power remained closed due to the road conditions.  We tried the Waffle House right next to the gas station but they locked the door right as we were walking up.  We drove a little more and saw that Sonic was open and we could get there without too much trouble.  When we placed our order, they told us it would be 20-25 minutes since they were slammed but it wasn't like we were in a hurry to get back to our cold house.  The delay in our fast food worked out for Josh who crashed hard in the nice, toasty vehicle.

After lunch, we decided maybe we should try to find a hotel.  Unfortunately, everybody else in Little Rock had the same thought so after going in to one to check on availability and calling at least 4-5 others on the way back to the house, it was clear that we were not going to get a room in Little Rock.  We then thought about heading South but after checking the road conditions, we thought about heading to Conway.  Thankfully the first hotel I called had rooms available so we gathered up what we needed for the night and headed North.  It was so nice to be in a warm room and after a hot meal and some swimming, we all slept soundly.  Up next, we flee to Missouri for refuge from the storm. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Christmas Continued

Around 1:30 or so, the rain we had been getting started to switch over to more of an icy mix.  At this point, I know I was and think Brad was hoping for the switch to snow.  About an hour after it started getting a little icy, our power went out.  At this point, there really wasn't much ice on the branches or power lines so we assumed that maybe there had been an accident.  I called in the outage to the power company and was given an estimate of 6:30 for our power to come back on.  The afternoon wore on and the kids painted and enjoyed their new toys.  It was becoming obvious to Brad and I that Christmas dinner was not going to happen.

We finally decided to see if we could get out and find some place with power and a warm meal.  We headed out towards I430 and the power was out in pockets until we got to the other side.  At this point, there were still houses in our neighborhood with power.  Sleet was still falling but the roads were good and it wasn't sticking too much.  We made our way to West Little Rock and finally found an open restaurant; Fu Lin.  Yes, we had a Christmas Story moment, "Fa ra ra ra ra ra ra ra."  My regret was that the kids aren't old enough to appreciate what happened.  During dinner, we noticed that the switch over to snow had finally arrived and it was sticking.  We briefly discussed just stopping at a hotel for the night but were still under the impression that the power wouldn't be out long and I was somewhat concerned about not being able to get home the next day if we got too much snow.

We got home and got ready to camp out downstairs for the night since obviously 6:30 had come and gone long ago with no power.  We spread out some sleeping bags and pulled out a ton of blankets.  Emma and Josh had lots of fun putting on a show by candlelight before bed time and were so excited to "camp."  After we extinguished the candles and called it a night, we could hear the branches snapping and falling from the trees throughout the night but still, we had no idea what Little Rock would be facing the next morning.  To be continued... 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Christmas Day

Thanks in large part to a later night on Christmas Eve, our day didn't start until shortly after seven.  Emma was itching to get out and see what Santa brought her but we said she needed to wait for Josh.  Fortunately for her, Josh was right behind and they took off to see if Santa had arrived.  They were so excited to see that Santa had left them both scooters.  He also left them some safety gear (gloves, elbow pads and knee pads).  In addition, they both received some books and a few little items in their stockings.  I did overhear Emma tell Josh after checking the Christmas tree, "I guess Santa didn't leave us anything else in here."  They donned their safety gear and rode their scooters around the house while we got breakfast ready. 


Emma had requested sausage, cheese and egg biscuits and told us that they were much better than the one she had at Starbucks a few weeks earlier.  After we finished breakfast and got ready for the day, it was time to open all the presents that had accumulated under the tree and there were a lot!


While we were opening gifts, the rain started moving in as predicted.  It had also been predicted that it might change over to snow, which Emma had been wishing for but little did we know what was coming.  After we finished up gifts, I got to work on Brad's annual apple pie (if he had his way, it would be much more than an annual pie) while the kids enjoyed their new toys.  Then it was time for a light lunch and a nap for Josh at least.  Thankfully we had a great morning since around the time Josh got up from his nap, the power went out and stayed out!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Christmas Eve

We left Cole Camp early Christmas Eve morning so we could be home in plenty of time for the kids to unwind before heading to Christmas Eve service.  The service this year was amazing for a couple of reasons.  First, we had the principal violinist from the Arkansas symphony and one of the cellists playing at the service.  Second, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, the kids filmed different lines from Luke 2:8-14 against a green screen and then it was edited together.  The video came out so cute.  Emma had two lines, "a Savior" and "praising God and saying" while we convinced Josh to film one line "a baby."  However, he couldn't just say it normally; his line came out in this gruff little voice and sounded more like "a baybay."  It was pretty funny! 

Since the service did not start until seven, both kids were pretty exhausted and nearly falling asleep in the pew.  Afterwards, we came straight home so we could quickly get ready for Santa and get the kids tucked in to bed.  We sprinkled some reindeer food on the yard so Santa would know where to find us.  We then got cookies and milk for Santa and some carrots for the reindeer, which were left with a note by the fireplace.  Finally, we did a reading of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and then got everybody to bed.  Unfortunately we didn't get any photos Christmas Eve since we had two tired kids that were not in the right space for photo ops.

Cole Camp Christmas

We headed up to Cole Camp for an early Christmas this year.  Emma and Josh had been obsessed with the idea of snow so imagine their delight when we arrived in Cole Camp and there was a little snow left from a couple of days earlier.  I was thrilled because it was a little snow and still nice and warm (little did I know what was coming out way).  They immediately wanted to head out and play in the snow and had the best time; Josh was the recipient of many a snow ball courtesy of his big sister.


Emma wanted to have her photo taken in front of the Christmas tree after church on Sunday morning.

Uncle Dale was the target of many tackles by Josh but Uncle Dale had the upper hand!


Garret, the silly elf, made his triumphant return with some new accessories.

After showing a great deal of patience throughout the day, the kids finally got to tear into their presents and scored big time!


After the children were nestled all snug in their beds, the adults got to open our gifts, which involved some silly moments and blackmail photo ops as is generally the case when Garret is around.

Cole Camp was a great start to Christmas!