Well, we've been home for about five days, and I feel like I am finally catching my breath! The laundry is done, groceries have been bought, we've had a few good nights of sleep under our belt, and the Christmas decorations are about 90% up. Things are coming back to normal, and the holidays are here! I mean, when did Christmastime show up? We have our Care Group Christmas party tomorrow night and a few other things coming up next week. I just can't believe how amazingly quick the end of this year has approached!
We had such a wonderful time in New Orleans. We were gone for about 16 days! 16 days! That is a LONG time! This trip could have gone by and seemed very, very long, but our time just flew by! Being out of town with two small children, and a week without my husband, there could have been some major meltdowns, catastrophes, accidents, head banging.....but there wasn't! We were blessed with a great trip. The kids were such troopers. They ate great, played well with everyone, loved spending time with my family and friends, and slept wonderfully (except for Liam who had a few rough nights due to a cold/allergies).
We left home on Thursday, November 12th and drove about 7 hours until we reached Meridian, MS, where we stopped and spent the night in a hotel there. THAT particular night was not so much fun in my book (story for another time: two children and two adults in the same hotel room all for the first time PLUS a husband with a cold who couldn't help but cough VERY loudly VERY often). We woke up, ate the continental breakfast, and got back on the road.
We got to my parents' house at lunchtime on Friday, just a few hours after my middle sister, Emily, arrived in town from New York City! YEAH! We pretty much just lounged around the rest of the day on Friday and enjoyed lots of yummy seafood. We had fried shrimp poboys for lunch from one of our favorite poboy restaurants called Parran's. Then, Friday night we all went to eat at one of our favorite places, The Galley! The food was incredible and incredibly rich. I always forget how rich and filling the food is when I come down here; not used to all of that up in Tennessee.
Saturday evening was my dad's surprise 60th birthday party....one of the reasons we went down so early and stayed down there so long. So, we spent much of the day Saturday trying to get some thinks done incognito. My mom was running errands picking things up, dropping stuff off, etc. Jonathan and I tried to keep things as casual as possible so that my dad wouldn't be suspicious. SO, here's how we got him to the restaurant where we surprised him.
OK, so my dad LOVES this disgusting Mexican restaurant called Pancho's. Ever heard of it? It is basically a huge Mexican food buffet with some nasty stuff. I am sorry. If you can't tell, I am NOT a Pancho's fan. We used to have Pancho's in New Orleans when I was a kid, and my dad loved it then. We would go there all the time, and even then I wasn't into it. About ten years ago, Pancho's went out of business. SHOCKING! What a sad day that was for my daddio. HOWEVER, just a few months ago, Pancho's came back! With a vengeance. They found a much bigger location and have doubled the size of their buffet. Needless to say, RJ (my dad) was there shortly after it reopened and goes back repeatedly. I seriously don't know how his body handles it. I mean, really, it shouldn't be allowed.
Anyway, Jonathan has never been to Pancho's. So, we started talking on Friday night at The Galley that we wanted to go there for dinner since Dad loves it so much and Jonathan hasn't been. Jonathan and I love Mexican food; in fact, I'd dare say we are Mexican connoisseurs. My dad knows this, so he bought right into the plan and the deal was set that we were going to Pancho's on Saturday night. The problem, however, was that the surprise party was starting at like 4:30 in the afternoon. Who goes to eat at 4:30? How were we going to pull that off without being super obvious? My mom thought that I should say we needed to go eat early since the kids were still trying to get used to the time change. (New Orleans is on Central Time). I am a scheduler, so it wouldn't be too out of the ordinary for me to say something like, "Hey Dad, can we go eat early since the kids' suppertime is earlier with the time change?" To make it even more believable, Jonathan "bought" movie tickets to the movie 2012 so that he and my dad could go to the show. Since the movie was opening that night, Jonathan said that he "got the only available tickets left for the 7:00 pm show." MY dad totally bought into that idea, and it made it even better that we were going to go to supper early since they had to be at the movie theater before 7 pm.
Our plan--with a few kinks thrown in--worked great. When I say kinks, I mean things like people randomly calling my dad to wish him Happy Birthday. Saturday was NOT his birthday. His birthday was the 18th. We threw the party early on purpose to enhance the element of surprise. Who didn't get the memo that YOU.DON'T.CALL.THE.BIRTHDAY.BOY on the day of the surprise party? ESPECIALLY if you really don't ever call the birthday boy. It just screams OBVIOUS! Anyway, I'm off that tangent.
The whole fam walked into the restaurant where we were greeted by the hostess. They took our name, the number in our party, then were walking us to our table when we entered the room where everyone was! It was great. He was so surprised. Almost all of my dad's siblings were there. He is one of six, and only the baby brother, Uncle Phillip, couldn't make it due to work. My brother, Jeremy, and his wife and son drove in for the day all the way from Tyler, Texas. I think that probably meant the most to my dad! Lots of their friends from church, their Life Group, and from work and just life were there! I think there were about 60-70 people that showed up to surprise him! (Isn't that awesome....my dad is so loved!).
My dad blowing out all 60 of his candles!
My adorable nephew, Tanner! He looks just like my dad did as a little boy!
Crazy family shots:
The next morning, Jonathan flew out of NOLA back to Knoxville to work for the week while the kids and I stayed at my folks house. Sunday we pretty much just all sat around and rested since we were all pretty kaput from the weekends' festivities.
Ok....at the risk of this being the LONGEST post ever in blog history. I am going to do a "to be continued" and pick up with the rest of our trip at another time. I am already boring my.........snore. Oh, myself. Later!