Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Wrath of Ike!

I promise this will be my last post on Ike, but I wanted to post the pictures showing his fury. Our brush pile is one of the biggest I've seen in the neighborhood. We lost a lot of good trees, but we still have plenty of beautiful ones to look at.


These two trees were to the left of the garage and the boys swing hung between them. I guess we will have to find a new place for them to swing.


This is looking into the backyard from the back patio. The tree that I'm most upset about losing is the huge one laying over the sandbox. We had positioned the sandbox between two trees to give the boys a nice shady area to play in.


This picture was taken standing in our backyard facing to the right.


Our huge brush pile in front of the house. Driving down the street you can't really even see our house because it is so tall.


And more piles.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Oh Happy Day!!!

WE HAVE POWER!!! Day 14 was our lucky day. This morning I decided that I was going to come home today because the front of our neighborhood has had power for a couple of days. According to the Centerpoint workers in the area our power should have been on by early this morning. Well it wasn't, but we knew it would be soon. My friend Laura was in Little Rock during this whole fiasco and she had decided to leave this morning and was willing to come through Tyler on her way home and pick me up. So we decided to chance it and it paid off! On the way home Travis called and let us know that we all had power! You should have heard the excitement in the car. We were thrilled and could not wait to get home. Our house was a site for sore eyes. And yes it doesn't really look the same with some trees gone, but it is home. Our brush pile is HUGE and is much bigger than anyone else's that I have seen. I'll try and post some pictures tomorrow, but I'm off to sleep in my own bed!

Monday, September 22, 2008

STILL WAITING!

This is Day 10 without power and we are waiting as patiently as we can, but I'm SO READY to be home! I know crews are working day and night just to restore our power and for that I'm very thankful. Travis went home on Wednesday morning to start cleaning up our yard and return to work (as much as he could anyway). He has worked very hard cutting up trees and limbs that fell in the yard and getting everything cleaned up before we come home. He has been hanging out with our friend, Tim, who stayed the entire time during and after the Hurricane. He has a generator so I think Travis has been hanging out over there a lot. They went to the A&M/Miami game on Saturday to get away and have some guy time, but it was probably just as depressing as sitting in the dark with no electricity!

So I'm still in Tyler with the boys and they are having a good time, but I'm just ready to be home and back into our normal routine. We had just started up normal fall activities- mother's day out, bible studies, etc. when we were interrupted with IKE. Plus, I don't have my car since Travis left on Wednesday in it! Therefore I'm pretty limited in getting out of the house which means I'm going a LITTLE stir crazy! I did take my dad to work on Friday so I could borrow his car and take the boys somewhere fun and get out of the house for awhile. On Saturday we all went to the East Texas State Fair and let the kids ride some rides and see the fine people of East Texas! They had a really good time and we discovered Cooper LOVES the merry-go-round! He had a blast!

To be continued...

Monday, September 15, 2008

The wait is on...

for electricity that is! We are still in Tyler waiting for our electricity to be turned back on. According to our friends, we have no phones, electricity, or water and cell phone service is very sketchy. So we are staying put for now. Our house made it through the storm okay, but we have some major trees in our yard that were uprooted. I'm just thankful that none of them hit the house. According to our friends, our backyard is a really big mess. We are very anxious to return to our house to see the damage and begin the cleanup, but things at home are very crazy from what we hear. People can't get gas or groceries because there is no electricity. Some of our friends drove to Huntsville last night (45 minutes north) just to buy gas. Travis might head back sometime this week to try and get things cleaned up before power is restored and things at work get crazy. But the boys and I are staying put until power is restored. I have heard estimates of 2-3 weeks for some areas around The Woodlands because Entergy suffered "catastrophic failure"- whatever that means!

It is a pain to be away from home and not be able to go back, but we are so thankful that our family is together and safe and our home was protected. Any of those trees could have easily fallen on our house. We have heard from several friends that had trees on their house including my grandparents in Kilgore. Praise God nobody was injured.

By the way, my friend IKE ruined another girls weekend I had planned for the end of September. Our women's retreat for church was supposed to be at the Nassau Hilton down in Clear Lake the last weekend of September. That's not so much going to happen now. I'm sure they will just postpone it and possibly change locations, but come on, this girl needs some time away!

I'm sure I won't be blogging much until we get power back. Just wanted to let everyone know that we are okay and how our house weathered the storm.

Friday, September 12, 2008

We Bailed!

Okay, so we bailed at the last minute. Last night Travis and I decided that if the traffic wasn't bad that we would go ahead and come to my parents house in Tyler. The news was freaking me out and my dad kept calling and asking, "What are you guys doing?", "What is the news saying down there?" and I just started getting nervous. We had already decided that once the stormed passed we would probably be heading up here anyway because we will be without power for awhile. So we decided to just go ahead and come. I knew I wouldn't get much sleep because I would be worried about my boys. There are some very big trees near the boys rooms and that makes me nervous with the forecasts stating that the winds would be anywhere from 75-110 mph even where we live. The traffic wasn't bad at all and we made it here in record time. I feel good about being out of the storms direct path and hope we only feel minor effects from the wind at our house.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

IKE...

is totally ruining my weekend! I have had a girls weekend planned with my college roommates for awhile now and IKE is totally ruining our plans. We were supposed to head to my friend Callie's house in Katy on Friday for a weekend full of fun sans kiddos! Obviously our plans had to be canceled because of IKE making that turn towards Houston. UGH! After a long week with Travis away in Ecuador I was really looking forward to some girl time- to enjoy a conversation without kids interrupting or wanting to be held, to get our nails done which is a special treat for me, and to go out to eat and not have to cut up someone's food! And I do have perspective- I know people are in danger and people's houses are in IKE's destructive path. I don't want anyone to experience danger or have their houses destroyed, but I'm still bummed I'm missing out on what would have been a great weekend!

I almost evacuated last night with the boys, but Travis wasn't going to be able to leave with us because of work. So I decided against it. We are definitely staying now because traffic is already getting really bad and I don't want to sit in traffic for 8-10 hours just to get to Tyler which is normally a 3 hour drive. Our friends have a generator so we are going to hang out with them when we lose electricity and have a little party. Tyler will probably think it is the greatest thing that ever happened. We are expecting lots of rain and high winds. The only thing that makes me a little nervous is the big trees we have in our yard and the potential for them to be uprooted. Say a prayer for us and even better, pray that IKE would head east of us so we will be on the clean side of the storm.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Livin in the lap of luxury!

This is the way to do a mission trip. Wake up at 10, cocktails at the pool, all you can eat buffets, and maybe do a little bit of work to justify calling it a mission trip.


Chillin by the pool

5 star dining




Just kidding! This was a resort we stopped and looked at a ways down the river called Casa Suiza which is a Swiss resort in the jungle. Our accomodations weren't quite as luxurious.

We got back from Ecuador yesterday on our weeklong mission trip with some guys from our weekly Bible study. We had talked about doing this for a long time and we decided it was time to bite the bullet and just do it. It was an incredible time and we had a lot of fun.

We landed in the capital city of Quito late Friday night and were met in the airport by Leithe Camden who is our church's missionary to Ecuador. He took us to the hotel and we didn't get to sleep until about 3:30. It was a welcome change to be up in the mountains with 50 degree weather especially coming from 90 degree Houston weather.

The next day we drove 5 hours down to the jungle town of Misahualli. The drive itself was quite an adventure. We weren't 3 minutes into the drive when I spotted a dude walking down the streets of Quito with a shirt on, but no pants. I couldn't see a speedo underneath and I didn't look too close to find out for sure. We had a good laugh about that. The drivers in Ecuador are CRAZY! Passing on blind turns is the norm. There are no guardrails on the turns and it is common to be driving on a road with a 1/4 mile dropoff on one side. It was a little scary. The roads go from gravel to concrete with no rhime or reason. It is definitely not a very organized country.

We got down to the jungle and started to do what we were there to do which was work on a lady named Corolla's house. She was bit by a snake when she was a kid and had to get her leg amputated. She was living in a shack made with bamboo and scrap wood with 7 kids and we were going to finish up the house so that she could have a little more room. We learned that only about 10 percent of the people in Ecuador get married and that most of the kids have little or no contact with their father. The women do most of the work and the guys just sit around and get drunk and have kids that they don't support. It is definitely a broken system.The kids living with Corolla were her nieces and nephews that her brothers left with her. 2 of the kids,Max and Junior 9 and 6 respectively, hung out with us the whole time we were working and loved being around some guys that just had fun with them and tickled them. They conned us out of a lot of Cokes and candy and had a great time in general.

We worked 4 days on the house to finish it up. It was tough work. Lots of hammering and cutting wood. They really need to learn about air compressors and nail guns down there. That's just my opinion. We did take off one day to go on a jungle river cruise. We stopped at an Indian jungle village and went to the school, went to a zoo and saw a bunch of animals that were being cared for, and stopped at another village where there were some ladies that showed us a traditional Quichuan Indian dance and had us dance with them. While we were getting down in the jungle a monkey decided to grab on to my leg and hold on for dear life. He did not want to let go. Someone finally pried him off, but he was not happy. What can I say? It's just my animal magnetism! I think someone has a picture of it and I'll post it when I get it.

The highlight of the trip was every night when we had a little church service in the hotel with the believers in the town. Their church's pastor had disappeared a while back and they were starving for some encouragement and spiritual food. We had some really rich times and I think we all got encouraged from our time together.

I was actually surprised by the amount of Spanish I know when I really have to use it. This trip didn't make me want to move to Ecuador, but it was a neat place to visit and we were all glad to have had the chance to go. Thank you Sarah for letting me go and thanks to the Flemings for helping out with the kids while I was gone. I couldn't have done it without you.


Ecuador!


This is where we stayed in Quito the first and last night.


Just another random sight we saw on the 5 hour drive down to the jungle. Ecuador is definitley 3rd world and we saw some crazy sights. One of these cows ran in to the back of an 18 wheeler about 5 seconds after the picture was taken. It wasn't seriously injured and we laughed about it for about 5 minutes.

It was a beautiful drive with lots of mountains, rivers and waterfalls. There are 3 waterfalls off in the distance in this picture.

This is the bridge that we drove over every day to get to the work site. It was a shady looking suspension bridge held together with rebar, some steel, and the guardrail was chicken wire. You could see the bridge go up and down as a car drove over it. We weren't disappointed when we said goodbye yo it. Lots of prayers were said crossing the bridge.

This was our sweet ride. An 11 passenger rental van that we nicknamed "The Shock" due to the fact that it had none. The building behind us was our hotel in Misahualli. It was $23 per person per night and it included 3 meals. The food was exceptional.

This was Corolla's house in the jungle before we started. Unfortunately, my camera pooped out on me and I didn't get any after pictures. I'll try to get one from the other guys and post it. Suffice it to say that it was quite the upgrade from where she was living and it was probably the nicest house that we saw in the area.

This was the crew just before we started on day 1. The shack behind them is where Corolla and about 7-8 kids lived before they moved in to the new casa.

Zac tiling the shower.

Corolla's old house

Another suspension bridge that we tried fishing under in Misahualli. It made the other one look like the Golden Gate Bridge.

Brian under a sweet pink mosquito net in our room in Misahualli. We were loaded up on mosquito spray all week to try to keep the malaria away. The mosquitos weren't that bad though.
The mean streets of Misahualli

A herd of monkeys crossing the streets in front of our hotel.

A little squirrel monkey hanging out.

We stopped at this school in an Quichuan indian village and talked to them and the teacher for a while. They sang us a song in their native Quichan language.

We stopped at a "zoo" in the jungle which was really a hospital for sick or injured animals. We had a guide take us around and show us all of the animals. This was a Trumpeter bird called Trumpy that followed us around on our tour. He was cool.

This was Tim, Zac, and I at the Swiss hotel on our jungle tour day.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Future Pilot

Yesterday afternoon we went to hang out with some friends to watch football. Their neighborhood was also having a special event for kids to come see a fire truck, ambulance, police cars, and a medical helicopter. We took the boys and met his friend Sam up there. Right as we got there the Fire Truck left, but we did get to see and hear them turn on the sirens as they were leaving. Tyler didn't really care about the ambulance so we took him to see the helicopter. He thought it was pretty cool and enjoyed getting to sit in it. Afterward we went to their house to cheer on the Aggies and grill out. Tyler had so much fun playing with his friend, Sam.


Posing for a picture together.


Tyler sitting in the back of the helicopter.


"Flying" the helicopter. The first thing he said when he grabbed the controller was, "Papa has to fix it". Anytime something is broken he says this and I guess since it didn't make any noise or light up he thought it was broken!


Good friends walking back to the car.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Trip to Gram and Papa's

Tyler's nickname this week was "Hollywood" because he always had his glasses on. He is OBSESSED with these sunglasses lately- he even takes them to bed with him. He liked to imitate Papa and put his glasses on his head when he saw that Papa's were on his head. Here they are about to go mow on the tractor. Tyler could ride tractors all day long!


Cooper driving the police car. He liked to ride in this car when he got a chance.


Napping with friends. Seriously, could he get any more teddy bears in that bed with him? He is also obsessed with putting his PJ's on before naps. He LOVES his pajamas.


I took the boys to the Discovery Science Place one rainy day and we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves. This was Cooper's favorite thing to do- look at the fish! Cooper is about to take off walking. He is walking around 10-12 steps at a time. I have got to buy this kid some shoes!!! He has some sandals, but he hates them so I never make him wear them.


On Wednesday we went to Kilgore to visit Great Gramm and Grandpappy. The boys had a blast even though it was rainy and couldn't run around their huge backyard. They got spoiled with Gramm's famous fried chicken and of course got brownies and ice cream for dessert! We all had a good time.

While we were gone, Tyler figured out how to use the pedals to ride the tricycle. We have tried teaching him on his tricycle here, but he just never could get going. I don't think his legs are quite long enough on his. But the tricycle my parents have was just the right size and Tyler took off and loved riding it by pushing the pedals! Here is a video we brought back to show Daddy.



video

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Update

I know, I know, I have been a horrible blogger lately! But if I'm being honest, I just haven't felt like blogging. Things are CRAZY at the Johnson house right now and we are just trying to keep our heads above water right now. Travis found out in early August that his job would end on September 30. After discussing different options, Travis and I decided we would move to Harlingen at the end of October for various reasons. Travis has some on the side construction jobs he is planning on doing during October to help pay the bills. Obviously if the house sells our plans will change accordingly. Speaking of the house, we decided to go ahead and put a leasing option on it as well to try to get something going. So hopefully by the end of October we will have a contract to sell or lease the house. Please pray for our house situation because this could put a very significant strain on our finances and lives.

We have also decided that we will be living with Travis' parents for awhile in order to get settled and be in a better position to buy a house or build- whatever we decide. They have graciously offered to house us and hopefully we won't drive them totally crazy. We also decided that I would need to find some part time work in order to make ends meet so I updated my resume and sent it to the main accounting firm in Harlingen. I received a call the very next day and they seemed very willing to accomodate me even with just wanting to work part time. This was very reassuring to hear because I didn't know how willing they would be to have someone they don't know come in and work part time. I still haven't interviewed, but will sometime in October when we get moved down there.

We still believe 100% that God has called us to Harlingen. He just hasn't carved an easy path for us to get there. We have been presented with many obstacles and we are just trusting God to get us through and provide for our every need. But it is hard sometimes, but that is what faith is. We believe that our faith is really going to be tested, but it is going to grow like it never has.

Travis is currently in Ecuador on a mission trip with his men's bible study. They are working hard doing construction projects in the area. They teamed up with a family that lives down there and is supported by our church. He has called twice just to let me know he is okay, but I am really looking forward to hearing all about his trip once he returns. He will be coming home on Saturday. In the mean time I brought the boys to Tyler to hang out with my parents and to avoid being at home by myself! The boys are having a great time with their Gram and Papa and we have done lots of fun things. I'm also pretty sure that they have had ice cream every day they have been here. But I have been spoiled too- Mom took me to get a pedicure and we went shopping for the boys. We also are glad the rain bands from the hurricane decided to avoid our area. They were expecting 10-15 inches of rain here, but the hurricane didn't end up reaching us here. Thank God!

Well, that is all for now. I will have to upload some pictures from our trip when I get home on Thursday. I promise I will be better about blogging!