Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Oh, where do I begin!?

We had an incredible Thanksgiving this year in New Orleans. It was hard for me to believe, but it had been nearly a year since I was there last Christmas. I try to go home during the holidays and once during the summer, but with having Stella, we weren't able to make the trek this summer. Needless to say, we were SO ready to go down to NOLA for a visit with my family!

The kids did so well on the drive down and the drive back. We watched lots of movies, played with cars and dolls, and made many stops, but we made both journeys safely and soundly. When we got in to New Orleans late Saturday, we were so excited to see Nana and Grandpa!

Thanksgiving week went by so quickly as we were busy visiting friends and family and trying to get to our favorite restaurants. We tried not to overdue the busyness this time, and I think we were able to maintain a good balance of doing exciting things and spending quality time together as a family at my parents' house.

Liam enjoying his breakfast of Cheerios in a "big boy bowl."

On Sunday, we all went to a family reunion/90th birthday celebration for my Great Aunt Adelaide.  We ran into lots of cousins and aunt and uncles there, but we weren't able to stay too long because we were all pretty exhausted from the long drive the day before and the kids desperately needed naps.  After we got some rest, we went to dinner so that Jonathan could get his first dose of fried shrimp that he was so badly craving!  We headed to Mother's in downtown NOLA!

Eating a roast beef po-boy.

Enjoying his fried shrimp.


On Monday the kids were ready for some activity, so we headed to the Audubon Zoo!  New Orleans has the best zoo (at least of the ones that I've been to), and Nora and Liam just loved seeing all of the animals and running around playing.

Checking out the flamingos.

Hello, Love!  They were shooting a documentary while we were there and the elephants were being filmed. It was exciting to see all of the film equipment set up, but we weren't able to see much because they were busy.

In the zoo they have these HUGE Live Oak trees everywhere that are probably hundreds of years old.  I used to climb these trees when I was a little girl, so it was fun to watch Nora and Liam climb on them as well.  I had to get some pictures!  Nora was so brave and climbed all the way up one of them and then her Daddy had to climb up to rescue her!

Not as brave as Nora!

After the Live Oaks, it was time to conquer Monkey Hill!  New Orleans doesn't really have an hills, so in the zoo they created a man-made hill for the kids to climb up and down on.  It looked like fun, so I joined in!

Liam and Nana sharing some lovin'

Here are some random pictures of us hanging out at my parents' house:

Tuesday and Wednesday we were able to see some of our friends.  Tuesday morning we met up with my girlfriends Stephanie, Chrissy, and Hope along with their children for Story Time at the mall.  Afterward, we ate lunch at Chick-fil-a and then the kids rode the Christmas train!  Thankfully, Jonathan came along with me so I was actually able to visit a bit while helping to manage our three kids.  Between us four girls we have 10 children!  Isn't that crazy!?  I did snap a picture of the four oldest girls, but it's on my phone so I'll have to share it later.

On Wednesday, one of my best friends Brigette came to my mom's house for the day along with her two kiddos Eli and Bailey.  Here are some pics of their visit:
Nora and Bailey (9 months)

Nora (4), Eli (3), Liam (2.5)
I had an impromptu mini photo session with Bailey in my parents' backyard:

Then Stella woke up and joined the photo party:
Bailey (9 months), Stella (nearly 6 months)

Stella talking to Grandpa before he leaves for work.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving Day and another big surprise.  My sister Emily got to come in town for Thanksgiving.  Initially she wasn't coming because she had to work Wednesday before Thanksgiving and Friday after.  But, Emily's boyfriend Tom talked to my dad and they got it worked out for her to come in late Wednesday night through Friday night.  Emily was able to switch work days on Friday with a friend, so we got to see her!  We didn't know when we would see her again because we'll be in Knoxville for Christmas and she'll be going down to New Orleans in December for her vacation.  I am sooooo glad she came!!!!

Cooking in the kitchen: Emily and Hillary

Thanksgiving night while the football game was on, Nana popped some popcorn and watched a movie with Liam and Nora in the office.  The kids loved it!

Ok, my pictures are out of order now.  Here are some of my sisters and I being silly:

Back to Thanksgiving morning:  Our breakfast tradition for holidays is Monkey Bread.  But I made these delicious Sticky Buns for a different, yet similar treat.

My dad asked me to make a Paula Deen cake that he saw on the Food Network, so OF COURSE I had to oblige.  In return, he made his famous Seafood Gumbo!  I think I got the better end of the deal.  However, Jonathan documented my endeavour.  It tasted great, but I need to work on my cake decorating skills.....the thing was definitely lopsided.

Me holding my masterpiece:  Four-layer Coconut and Lemon Curd Cake.


On Friday, we went to our family's favorite po-boy place: Parkway Bakery and Tavern.  They have the BEST fried shrimp po-boys and my favorite dish of all time: Gravy Fries.  Seriously, Gravy Fries are a meal in and of themselves.  I ordered my own because I wasn't going to share!  We got there right at lunchtime and it was packed.  Here's the line out the door just to order:

Jonathan held a table for us and probably played Angry Birds.

Cutest. Parents. Ever.

Emily and Tom.  !!!!!

Hillary- the epitome of cool.

Stella- the epitome of cuteness and sweetness.

Liam enjoying his "Lemon-egg"  (Lemonade)

One Happy Man!

Pay no attention to the attractive way I am eating my sandwich.

One heck of a good meal: Large Shrimp Po-boy, Gravy Fries and a Barq's Rootbeer.

Tom's first New Orleans Shrimp Po-Boy

Emily and Tom left Friday afternoon to get back to NYC.  We had such a great visit with them, and even though it was only two days, it was such good, quality time.  I miss her so much!

On Saturday morning, we got up and packed the kids in the car to head home to Knoxville.  It took us FOREVER to get home, but we made it home safely.  All in all, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving and made wondeful family memories.  God is so good to us and has blessed us beyond what we deserve!

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