In the wee hours of the morning on March 3rd, I loaded the kids into the car and headed towards Edna, TX which is about 100 miles south of Houston. They were the best travelers and slept for the first leg of the trip. When they woke up sometime around 7:30am, they were a bit confused, so we stopped for breakfast and our first of many potty breaks. Poor Ella, can you tell this was clearly not the side of the bed she wanted to wake up on?
One of our most exciting stops along our route was in New Orleans. Following immediately on the heels of Mardi Gras, there were still beads everywhere. As soon as we got into the garden district, Ella asked me if there were monkeys in the trees hanging up beads. Every tree, fence, light post and street sign was covered in bead necklaces!
In NOLA, I was lucky enough to know 7 "sisters" in town for the Rock & Roll marathon that weekend. The kids and I totally crashed their pad, but I was so happy to get to see these awesome ladies! It was the best little rest stop of our entire trip! I'm so proud of all of them, and it has truly been a blessing to know them for so many years.
Before we got back on the road, we had to stop to collect some beads. Ella was amazed with all the fence posts still covered in beaded necklaces.
They each picked out a handful of their favorite beads (and left plenty behind).
Oh boy were they excited when we finally made it to Texas! What should have been a 14-hour drive turned into something closer to 17-hours. It was painful. Ella and Sterling truly were little troopers and did far better on the long car trip than I could have ever hoped for. Lots of sleeping and imaginative play between the two of them, still, it was one long and tiring drive to make! We spent most of our first full day there recovering from the trip. They did manage to rouse enough energy by late afternoon to ride around Michael's work site on a 4-wheeler. Sterling was in heaven!
The kids and I spent a day exploring the local city of Victoria, TX.
They loved taking a group picture with me in a store window. Kind of fun, since I'm always the one taking the pictures, and never actually in the pictures!
One of the first things we did in Texas was make the quick trip down to Victoria, to see the Texas zoo.
The zoo itself was underwhelming, but still neat to have a zoo so close by!
Getting up close and personal with a sheep in the zoo's petting area.
Michael has been living in a camper trailer while working in Texas. The kids thought this was the coolest thing ever. What kid doesn't love camping?
They actually got plenty of rest during our visit...they looked forward to sleeping in daddy's trailer!
That would be Michael's work on the left, and his sleeping trailer on the right. It's a real commute to work in the mornings, ya know?
My iPad received much use during this trip! It was one of their few forms of electronic entertainment, and I was able to download several really great apps to encourage early reading and math skills.
I loved having a week with my children with no interruptions. No school hours to be kept, just learning as the moment presented itself. We got to "play" school in daddy's office everyday, practicing writing and word recognition. Love it!
While in Texas, we had the opportunity to meet with one of my friends there, and her 2 little girls. Her oldest daughter, Sophia, is only a month younger than Ella and Sterling, so it was great for them to have a playmate during our visit! Ella couldn't get over the fact that she now knows THREE Sophia's!
Emily, Sterling, Sophia and Ella.
We had to make the drive from Edna to San Antonio. It was over 2-hours, but I refused to go to Texas without seeing the Alamo and an oil well. Killing 2 birds with one stone, I got to see a smallish oil well (Michael says it's probably only 5,000 ft. deep versus 10,000+ ft.), and the Alamo all in one trip!
Kinda neat to this girl.
Ella and Sterling sitting in a window of the Alamo.
Yes, that's it. Lacks a little something, doesn't it? I truly couldn't believe it. It's in the middle of downtown San Antonio, and really...unassuming? I don't know, I guess I just expected it to be out in the barren Texas countryside, and more of a fortress.
Michael and the kids at the Alamo.
Me and the kids in front of the Alamo.
These children simply can't comprehend the historical ground they have walked upon in their short little lives.
Ella couldn't care less about the historic significants of the Alamo, she just wanted to take a picture of every flower she found there.
Sitting on a cannon in the Alamo.
While we were in San Antonio, we also had to check out it's famous River Walk.
The river walk was pretty. It reminded me of Savannah, GA's River Street. Oh Savannah, how we hold a special place in our hearts for her beauty.
The biggest difference? San Antonio's river, is really more of a creek. I doubt it was 3 ft. deep! And here I thought everything was bigger in Texas?
Venice, it is not, but it's still pretty.
Hanging out in San Antonio with daddy.
Kid paradise? Maybe, but not for this kid. He's missing his sweet tooth. We still picked up a few gummy letters, and they're still in the bottom of my purse. Just not a sweets eater this one.
Sterling was dying to ride on one of the double decker buses that tour around the city, so around the city we went on an hour long tour.
It was a nice way to see the city, the weather was perfect, and we got to hear a little more about San Antonio's rich history.
Our tour bus.
Since according to the map, we weren't very far from the beach, I decided to take the kids one day while Michael was working. What a let down! It was a yucky beach with refineries right on the water. Meh, glad I saw it so I now know what I'm not missing.
While Ella was chasing seagulls on the beach...
Sterling was snoozing in the car. He had the right idea, he didn't miss much of anything.
Hanging out and being a contortionist at daddy's sleeping quarters.
Our last full day in Texas was the whole purpose of our trip...the kid's fifth birthday! The whole reason we made this long trip was so our family could be together on the day our two little miracles turned five.
We spent the day celebrating them in every way, including a family party at Chuck E. Cheese.
The birthday boy and girl in their Chuck E. crowns. Ella was so worried over these crowns. Having recently been to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese's in Alabama, she kept saying, "I sure hope Chuck E. Cheese in Texas has the birthday crowns." And they did. Big sigh of relief.
Race car drivers.
Enjoying the different games this location offered.
This Chuck E. Cheese didn't have the little car Ella is so fond of, but they did have another photo booth where she insisted we make lots of "family pictures".
5-years-old. Where has the time gone? I'm so proud of both of them.
Our "family picture".
We basically had the entire restaurant and arcade to ourselves. I highly recommend having a party at lunchtime!
Chuck E. brought out the birthday cake to Sterling's delight.
Okay, this is not the cake I had envisioned for them, but oh well, they still enjoyed it. It's not very gender neutral, is it?
Opening their gifts from mommy and daddy.
Their big surprise gift this year was a LeapFrog leappad. I found the last one in the entire southeast! Seriously, I checked the inventory of every Target along our route, and finally found a single leappad in Beaumont, TX. Oh yes, I did. And guess what? They love it. So there, it was worth it.
As wonderful of a time as we had in Texas visiting with Michael, the day after the kid's birthday, we had to return to Alabama. So again we loaded the car at o'dark thirty headed back east. For some reason, the return trip was much harder and longer than the trip headed west. I think I was just "over it" and didn't have the same stamina for the drive this time. Oh boy, they were getting goofy by the last leg of our trip. This would be what the children were doing at the last rest stop before we called it a loss, and stopped for the night in Jackson, MS.
The final miles of our drive from Jackson, MS to Florence put us on the Natchez Trace. Okay, I kind of hate the Trace now after such a long drive, but it was a bit awe inspiring to see the damage that still remains along a large, nearly 20-mile portion of the road from last April's tornadoes that tore through Mississippi and Alabama. It was sad to see the miles and miles of dead trees just toppled. It reminded me of the scene from Cormac McCarthy's The Road when the dead trees begin to finally fall in the snow covered forests. Very eerie.
So, it was a long drive, and a fun birthday trip. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of pictures, I apologize, but it was an exciting trip for us, and I didn't want to leave anything out!