Better Day

At some point in the middle of the night last night / this morning / whenever it was, I started to think about how much money I’d be willing to pay for a hair clip.

Seriously. A hair clip. It became a pressing and urgent need in my life.

I could not stop thinking about how much I’d love to get my hair off my face, and finally, after several more minutes of hair clip obsession, I decided to go ahead and give up on the sleeping. I’d dozed on and off for a couple of hours, but between wondering about my fellas and plotting imaginary rescue missions and obsessing about the hair clip, there just wasn’t going to be much more rest. So I did what most people do when battling insomnia in this day and age:

I opened my laptop and checked Facebook.

As it turned out, my friend Kerstin (who was Alex’s 1st grade teacher) was apparently having similar thoughts in her classroom about seven miles away. At the time she was supervising a room of semi-sleeping young’uns who had gotten stuck at school, and she mentioned on Facebook that she will forevermore keep a pair of yoga pants in the trunk of her car.

AMEN TO THAT is what I say.

So for the next two or three hours – at least until sunrise – I tried to figure out what I’d put in my new and improved emergency kit (and I’m totally putting it together this weekend, by the way).

Here’s my list:

– an extra container of Mentholatum (I had some in my purse, but there were moments when I wondered if it would be enough to get me through a few days)
– cold medicine, Advil, cough drops
– Kleenex
– gloves
– knit hat
– long-sleeve t-shirt
– thick socks (so glad I happened to wear some to work yesterday)
– thick blanket/Snuggie/sweater coat (I had a big sweater blanket thingie in my trunk yesterday, and it kept me warm last night)
– almonds
– all the regular emergency kit stuff that’s already in my trunk

I realize that some of these items aren’t necessities. But when you realize that you can’t get home, you don’t really mind the idea of a few comfort items.


Once the sun was up, I stopped thinking about the emergency kit and started focusing on HOW DO WE GET OUR CHILD. Alex’s teacher had sent me a message to let me know that he had a great night and woke up happy, and that really made me even more determined to get to his school and get us all home. I was ready to get out on the road and slowly but surely make my way to his campus (he goes to the school where I teach, but the little kids and the big kids are on separate campuses). David – being the person in this marriage who actually thinks things through and exercises some degree of caution when it’s merited – was still at his office and kept telling me that I needed to wait until we had more information about the roads. I could see people driving on the road in front of where I was, but I had no idea what was going on in the hilly spots. So we waited.

Gradually we started to get word that this person had made it to their kids by following this route or that route, and when I tell you that the next five hours were a flurry (pun. sorry. didn’t see that coming.) of texts and emails and Facebook posts, I am not kidding. I kept telling D that I really, really, really needed a plan – I just wanted to know that we were doing everything we possibly could to get our boy – but we kept getting word to stay off the roads unless we had a four-wheel drive or chains on our tires.

Here’s what we do not have: a four-wheel drive or chains on our tires.

But here’s where people are awesome. All morning my phone dinged with messages from people who were going to try to get on the roads or who knew someone who was going to get on the roads. Plus, one of our next door neighbors is Alex’s principal, and she was so great about updating me, asking if I wanted him to call, and sending me their schedule (the principals and teachers organized an impromptu Snow Camp for the kids, and I will never be able to talk about it without bawling like a baby – that may need to be a separate post). Our other next door neighbors, Leah and Jeremy, have a four-wheel drive, and around 8:30 or 9 Jeremy offered to try to make his way to A’s school and get him home.

The ice was so bad that he couldn’t make it out of our neighborhood. But he tried, and that meant everything to D and me.

The rest of the morning was a roller coaster. David decided that he was going to try to get out of his office – despite a super-icy parking lot – and, since he couldn’t get to Alex or me, see if he could get to our house (we were worried about pipes since it was so cold last night). A friend from church texted with road advice from her husband. Several friends from work made suggestions about people who might be headed in the direction of A’s school. Another friend offered to have her neighbor go to A’s school so that he could at least be at her house with her boys. My friend Alison said that the parents of a girl I teach were getting out and happy to try to pick up A for us. For about an hour I felt like they were our best bet, but then they reached a point where the roads weren’t passable and they had to turn around and go home. It seemed like the morning was big hope followed by disappointment followed by big hope followed by disappointment – and around noon I decided that the best thing I could do was take a nap. David was still trying to get home, and I couldn’t think anymore.

Finally, though, the roads started to cooperate. My student’s dad made it to me and took me down the road to our friends the Kynerds’ house (Dr. K hired me when we moved to Birmingham, his wife is my Bible study leader, and besides my family, no one has influenced my life and my walk with the Lord more than they have). David somehow made it home, and that felt like the best forward progress of the whole 24 hours. Our neighbor Leah heard from a friend of hers who was heading to Alex’s school and willing to pick him up, and Jeremy offered to take his 4-WD and meet that friend at the front of our neighborhood so they wouldn’t have to turn off the main road.

About an our later, Leah texted me the happiest news.


And once L and J delivered Alex to David, they decided they could make it to pick me up, too.

I am gonna make them so many homemade chocolate pies.

Sweet Dr. K wouldn’t even let me walk down their driveway unassisted; he held my arm every step of the way. Leah and Jeremy pulled up just as we got to the street, and once we hit the main road, I couldn’t believe how many abandoned cars there were (and apparently what I saw was just a fraction of what was there last night and early this morning).


I told Melanie that it looked like something out of a Left Behind novel (I’ve read the whole series, you know) (certainly I don’t mean to brag) (I promise I was grinning when I typed that). The abandoned cars are just as big an obstacle as the icy roads, so when Jeremy finally parked his truck next to our houses, I was so happy to be home that I could’ve cried.

However, I did not have time to cry because I was ready to see my people.

I was so happy to see my people.

So now we’re all home, something that seemed utterly impossible even twelve hours ago. David and Alex are both asleep. I’m not far behind. I doubt we’ll leave the house tomorrow, and that suits me just fine. We don’t have school the rest of the week, and that suits me just fine. We’re going to be dependent on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches until I go to the grocery store, and that suits me just fine, too. BECAUSE WE’RE HOME.

The last two days have been filled with incredible stories (and some sad ones, too). Earlier today I saw a couple of former students who’d spent most of the night and morning using their ATVs to pull people out of ditches. People dedicated their whole day today to driving stranded folks over hills and mountains that regular cars can’t handle yet. Our local Chick-fil-A passed out food to people stuck in their cars. So many people have opened their homes to their friends, to their kids’ friends, and to strangers. One of my seniors who knew that D was stuck actually drove back to my school today to see if he could take me somewhere. Emma Kate and LoraLynn checked to see if I had enough Mentholatum (which made me laugh). My principal and superintendent made everybody sausage and biscuits this morning in the cafeteria. Churches and businesses opened their doors to keep people fed and warm. The list of kindnesses is just endless. And I’ve been thinking about To Kill A Mockingbird all night.

“Atticus, he was real nice…”
“Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.”

Thanks so much for praying and checking on us today. We’re so grateful. Continue to keep Birmingham and Atlanta in your prayers; the traffic issues created such a mess, but hopefully things will improve when it gets warmer tomorrow.

‘Night, y’all.

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  1. Glad you are all home, sweet girl! I’m an elementary teacher and we were all talking today about the teachers there who kept all the kids overnight. And you know what? We all agreed we would step up and do it, if needed. It’s part of what makes us teachers, I guess.

    Sweet dreams!

  2. One more thing: add kitty litter to that list!!! I used to live in Vermont…trust me on this! Nothing gives you better traction..

  3. So thankful y’all are home, together. And I’m betting those PB&J sandwiches will taste like the finest steak as long as y’all are eating them together.

  4. So happy you’re home!

    I’d add toothbrush/paste to that list and extra phone charger just in case.

  5. Kathleen G says:

    Thank you for giving us a update so quickly. In times of emergency, people helping people in need. Makes me feel good all over. Boomama, you are surrounded by people that love and care for you. The best. Keep warm with your people, Kathleen in Az

  6. oh I’m so relieved to read your update. my big brother lives in bham and he quite the adventure trying to rescue my niece. She is doing her student teaching this semester (learning quickly the important role teachers play. . .). On her way back she got stuck. He went out to get her, starting going up a steep hill, got steeper and then came upon 5 abandoned cars. In reacting to that revelation, ended up spinning out and getting stuck. By the grace of God (and people’s kindness), some folks helped push them out (not without a small dent to the truck…but, really? in these situations what’s a dent when you’ve just rescued your daughter). Fortunately they are all home safe and sound. And as we speak my big sis is moving her whole family to Atlanta (from Dallas)…praise the Lord that move wasn’t planned any earlier. Can’t even imagine a moving truck on ice. Oh my lanta. blessings over you and your boys.

  7. What an amazing story. Reminds me of an ice storm that we had in Knoxville when I was in 6th grade. My Dad and I went to Kroger to get a few things and when we came out everything was a sheet of ice. We tried to make it home but couldn’t. We walked to our preacher’s home and spent the night there with another family from our church. We actually had a great time.
    My daughter is at Birmingham Southern College. She stayed on campus safe and warm. Thankful that you and your family are back together. Enjoy your time!

  8. Oh that boy’s sweet face just makes me weep!!
    We just moved from Bham to California this past summer so I’ve tried to keep up with all my people throughout this all. My sister in law slept on 65 trying to get to my 5 year old niece. Just such a scary experience and everyone has felt so helpless.
    However, I know ya’ll weren’t hopeless. He is so good and faithful.
    Kiss that boy’s face completely off and stay warm.

  9. Try as I might, I can’t read these updates without all the tears. I’m a sucker for kindness – and happy endings :) I am so thankful your sweet family is together and safe tonight, & I’m praying for B-ham & Atlanta as I go to sleep…

  10. I am 6 hours ahead of you, time zone wise. The first thing I did this morning was to come here to see if you were home! hooray and hallelujah!!!

    Enjoy your days at home. I add my prayers for your community.

  11. I’m so glad you’re back with your people and that everyone is safe! I would suggest adding some water to your emergency kit. Never know when you’ll need a clean drink of water. Also, I’d add some clean undies because hello no one wants to wear undies two days in a row.

  12. Was checking your progress all day on twitter!
    So glad you all are home safe and sound.
    Alex’s words made me cry. Nothing like seeing your mama!

  13. There’s no place like home! Glad you’re all safe and snug.

    It would be mean to comment on what the weather is like here in Madrid, so I won’t. But when you picture Spain, and it’s sunny and beautiful– you’re not wrong.

    But this has been educational for me– we’re moving to Montgomery this summer and I thought I’d leave the snow gear in storage. Sounds like I should keep a box out just in case…

  14. As a Kansas girl, Mom always said to have a great blanket, a metal can with a candle/matches (will keep you warm if you have to stay overnight in your car) and WATER. So thankful folks are making their way home. Terrible situation. Glad your adventure is safely over!

  15. So glad you & your people are back home safe & sound! I’m in NC & we’ve been stuck (at home, thankfully) for 3 days with snow & ice everywhere. Rest up & enjoy being at home!

  16. This made me tear up!! So glad ya’ll are reunited! I’ve read my husband all your updates and blogs because I feel like we are friends, and wanted him to be involved in the loop. ha.

  17. Julie Reynolds says:

    So glad you are all safe and home. We hit stranded at UAB on Tuesday after my dd had an outpatient surgery. I’ve never seen such a caring, professional grip of people. Everyone from the cafeteria staff to the doctors were wonderful. Hopefully we will be able to venture out this afternoon and make it home. All that to say, when you see all the negative about our world today, you can look at all these acts of kindness and be truly blessed.

  18. Jennifer S says:

    I’m so happy that you are home with your people! God bless…

  19. Yea! Thank You God for neighbors!

  20. I am so glad you and your people are home!! I prayed for yall yesterday! To Kill a Mockingbird is my all time favorite book I read it once a year. That quote almost always brings me to tears. I am glad that the Hospitality of the South ain’t got no time for a snowpacolpse!

  21. I have two daughters at Samford University, so you can imagine this mother’s heart seeing all the news from B’ham. Knowing they were on that campus and that so many people there were taking care of those stranded was such a blessing. The students generally treated it like the fun that it was, if you were on campus and safe. But my older daughter did tell me that there was sadness and scariness in all of it, as well. Reminded her of the tornado that went through in 2011. Sometimes you need to be dependent on the kindness of strangers. So glad to hear you are all safe in your home.

  22. So, so, so happy for you and your family! I pray you can rest enjoy your warm home for a few days!

  23. Praise God you are all home safe! Thought about you and your family all day yesterday. Praying for those still trying to get home. Hugs.

  24. I’ve never been stuck at work overnight, but there were many long afternoons spent in 1st grade with my hair pinned back with a paper clip or two. So glad y’all are home.

  25. The sweetest text that he just wanted his mama! Precious boy. Glad you’re home with your people!

  26. so glad you all are home! That ay be the idea for your NEXT book :)

  27. So glad to hear you were reunited with your loved ones. Such a weird thing to know that everybody is safe and warm and okay, but that you just can’t get to each other.

    It’s been an emotional week.

    I tossed a change of clothes and a blanket in my trunk this morning before leaving for work. No way I’ll risk being stranded overnight without a change of clothes, etc.

  28. We are in Ottawa, Canada and we have about 6 monthos of snow and ice. Lived through a r week ice storm in 1998. But never have seen a winter like this! Bitter cold. Ice storm over Christmas in Toronto. Tons of snow. I never imagined what I saw going on in the deep South yesterday! I did not realize that you ever had winter weather! My oh my! Thank God you are all safe and sound. Could not believe the pictures of the traffic jam in Atlanta. Stay home and stay safe!

  29. So glad you and your family made it home safe. What an ordeal! Yes….we do need to keep Birmingham and Atlanta in our prayers. I’ve heard so many sad stories, but stories of generosity and kindness as well. Southern hospitality still lives! I’m thankful that my son was safe and sound in his downtown ATL apartment. This mama called him Monday and demanded he go to the store and stock up and stay off the roads this week. He thought I was exaggerating, but he’s thankful now :)

  30. So happy you and your family are ok! Your posts caused some serious conversations with my daughter and I about emergency kits, separation from our family members in a crisis, and the goodness of people. Aren’t we blessed to see that people are so good! Hug your men and rest up girl!

  31. Oh my word, I missed yesterday’s post completely. All my southern friends are in Macon (which closed Tuesday JUST IN CASE) and Atlanta but I hadn’t thought Alabama was in the same predicament. I hope it was the adventure of a lifetime and *I* want to send cookies to thank those wonderful teachers for making it a fun adventure. Bravo, bravo, bravo.
    Here up north we whine when they cancel school before the first flakes fall. I think we’ll just stop that right now.

  32. I’m so happy to hear y’all are all home! And all those sweet stories are so precious. Now I feel even worse for being disappointed that all the snow went south of us. Now I’m just thankful all my babies and I are safe in our cozy little house, even without snow.

  33. You have no idea how worried I’ve been about you all! I told my husband about it yesterday and I think he was a little worried about my mental state. “And you know these people how?”

    But I do know you and I prayed diligently for you and yours and all of your big city. Thanks so much for updating us today so I can rest in answered prayer.

    Enjoy your hair clip today!

  34. KimberlyOKC says:

    Golly, y’all have been through it!!! I know just how you feel regarding the kindnesses you see in hard times. I live in Moore, Oklahoma where three tragic tornadoes ripped through and it’s a beautiful thing to see good, good hearts and we got a lot of them here…and it looks like you got lots of them there too. Glad you are safe. God is good, isn’t He?!!!

  35. mary in idaho says:

    Thankful to know your family is home safe and sound. Love what “comes out of people” during a time of disaster or great need. That’s Jesus with “skin on”!

  36. So very glad you are all home, safe and sound. Your post made me cry, but in a good way. Such inspiring stories of kindness. God is so good.

  37. S! I totally just teared up seeing the operation Alex complete texts. I cannot imagine. At all. So glad everyone is home and safe.

    Just a note, I keep a ton of extra crap in my trunk. No food (maybe I should!) but I have chairs, hats, change of clothes, gloves, blanket, etc. I played soccer for about 15 years and my Mama said we had to prepare for anything!

  38. I’m an English teacher too, and I LOVE that the quote came to your mind. It’s perfect!
    My husband’s daughter lives in Bham and spent the night at Vestavia High while her mom slept at her office. Though we all feel for the danger and inconvenience and panic y’all have endured, it’s heartwarming to watch your city and Atlanta just bursting at the seams with people helping each other.
    PS I totally confess that I had Left Behind thoughts as well….

  39. So glad you and your family are all home safe and sound. In a pinch a regular rubber band and a paper clip work great for a hair clip. I got teary eyes seeing that picture of Alex. What a relief when you saw that.

  40. I’m so happy and thankful you and your family are home together, Sophie.
    I’ve been thinking of you so much the last two days that I just ordered a copy of A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet. :-)
    God Bless!

  41. HALLELUJAH!! So awesome to hear about everyone just helping out wherever and whenever needed. We need more news like that! I think the world is a lot more like that then we ever hear… I am so very glad to hear you are all together again and safely home. God Bless!

    I live in CA so we don’t ever get snow storms but I was separated from my then 4 year old daughter during the big quake of 1989 here and it was very scary for us both.

  42. I am SO GLAD you are home, what a set of circumstances and how wonderful that people just pulled together like that and THANKS TO THE LORD that so many people stayed put and stayed over places so they didn’t get stuck too. Whew!

  43. Goodness be! I’m so glad that your family is all under the same roof!


  44. I’m so glad you’re all home together! What a crazy thing. We southerners don’t expect such drastic weather conditions. I love all the news of kindness. Yes, we just have to look! Glad you’re safe!

  45. Oh happy day! So glad that you are home with your sweet people:) Prayers for you all in the South.

  46. Glad you’re all reunited!! I saw a quote on Twitter the other day that said “No one is more self-righteous than a northern living in the south when it snows”. As a northern living in the south, I have to say that’s quite true. ;) But on the flip side, you all know much more about dealing with tornadoes and that type of thing than we do!

    Saw this and thought of you-

  47. Oh my sweet mercy this brought a tear to my eye! So very glad you all made it home safely! I read about the Chick Fil A, what a wonderful story! We had the same system hit us here in Virginia Beach where we usually do not have snow. We ended up with 12 in and our main roads are a nightmare. Just like down south we just aren’t prepared for snow so they throw some sand on it and call it happy. Thankfully we are a bunch of rednecks and have 2, 4wheel drive vehicles. It has been a blessing to be able to go to the market and get milk or diapers for our neighbors and to help tow people out of bad spots. Praying that the ice clears up soon down your way and families can get back together again! Tell your teachers that folks here in Virginia Beach think they are AMAZING!!!!

  48. I hope you’re back to normal soon. I can just feel all the anxiety you must have had.

  49. I cried happy tears over the picture of Alex in the backseat of your friends’ car. My momma heart could hardly stand to know that all those kids were stuck at school. I would probably never leave the house again if I’d been separated from all my people. So happy that you are all home where you belong. And as a south Louisiana girl who was transplanted to the Midwest, I’m so thankful we have snow plows!

  50. Oh, so so glad you are all safe. Oh my word. What a … I don’t even know what to call it. I’m just glad it’s over and you and your family are safe.

  51. Lord, thank you for bringing Sophie and her sweet family home to their nest safely. And… Amen to the yoga pants in the car. A to the men.

  52. My son and his wife teach at Hoover high where they spent the night with 650 students. Eric spent the next day taking kids home. He said ‘ mama, I really enjoyed helping people’. Made this mamas heart happy! So glad you’re safe

  53. Melissa in Idaho says:

    “God does watch over us and does notice us, but it usually through someone else that he meets our needs.” -Spencer W. Kimball
    This quote has meant a lot to me and it certainly applies to what you have been through. Blessings to all the good people in our world!

  54. Praise the Lord, Boomama! So glad that you are all together and safe! I couldn’t help shedding a tear when I saw Alex and his smile. I taught 5th graders for 20 years and we have discussed a few times about “what if we couldn’t get home”. Of course, it hasn’t happened but what an experience it would be! I’m sure that many of the young teachers had little children of their own they couldn’t get to. My children are grown, so I wouldn’t have that immediate concern. This will certainly be a winter to remember for you! I’m so happy all is well with you and your family :)

  55. Wow!!!!! This blows my mind Sophie!! So happy you all made it home and are all safe together. xoxo