We had a long drive to Baton Rouge, but the kids did mostly ok in the car. Matt was in the middle of a huge mess at work, but managed to stay on the phone in the car for several hours of the drive, and then had to work after we got there Thursday night. He was set up to work from the house on Friday, and we were all going to drive up to the condo Friday evening. But it turned out the work mess went on and on, and Matt was up early and on the phone, and he needed silence that was not possible with four kids around.
|The Three Musketeers: Addison, Ryan, and Emilyn (in baby Abrielle's crib)|
We went to the mall to hang out and eat lunch with the kids to keep them out of the house while Matt was working. When we got there, Kate parked a few places down and as she got out of the car and was bending over to get the stroller out, I whistled at her. Apparently two other people who I didn’t notice walking by thought I was whistling at them and turned around to look. I was embarrassed and tried to hide behind my car. We ate and let the kids ride the merry-go-round, and then it started pouring, right when I was headed home to put the kids down for nap. I was wearing flip flops that were not made for running. I stood inside the mall doors and rolled up my jeans and tried to arrange my purse and two kids so I could make a run for it. A very helpful young man stood there watching me and offered commentary on such subjects as how wet I would get, how wet the kids would get, and how fast he thought I could run to my car. He also politely refrained from opening the door to get me started on my run through the parking lot, even though he could see I was CARRYING TWO KIDS! I mushed us all through the door and began to run, and made it about two steps before I realized I should have taken off my shoes since I could not run at all in them. But it was too late, so I sort of quickly walked in the downpour to my car. We were all three completely and utterly soaked by the time I got there.
Kate and I left Friday evening (around 5) to head into New Orleans, where Ryan's aunt owns a condo that she graciously allowed us to use for the weekend. Matt was still working, and Ryan had some work to do from home as well. While we were packing the cars, the kids were all playing together nicely, running back and forth through the house. They finally went into Kate’s room and shut the door, but we could still hear them laughing and playing. After about 3 minutes, I decided to go and see exactly what they were playing with and what a sight I saw – apparently Ryan had knocked over their paper shredder and the kids began throwing handfuls up in the air, having their own parade. This would have been a mess regardless, but Kate and Ryan are moving, so most of their room was in the process of being packed in boxes, which were still open. So pretty much every single box or bag had lots of pieces of shredded paper mixed in. Kate made an executive decision that our heads would explode if we had to actively deal with the mess right then (after all, we were about to take 4 kids into New Orleans for the night by ourselves!), so we just shut the door and herded the kids outside. They played on the driveway and dropped pieces of shredded paper from their hair, clothes, and diaper. Her noble husband cleaned up the mess with very little complaint when he got home.
|A small bit of the mess|
|Shedding paper on the driveway|
We stopped to get dinner (fast food) to feed the kids in the car, since it was rainy and there was already traffic into New Orleans. It took pretty much forever to get there, and it was cold and gross outside. There were a few points where traffic actually stopped. The kids were getting grouchier and fussier, and then we got on the long 10 mile causeway into New Orleans. At about mile 4, Ryan suddenly puked all over the seat, himself, the straps, the floorboards, and the toys that were in his lap. It was very nasty and he cried some, but then calmed down. What to do? We were stuck in slow traffic on a long bridge. Technically I could have mushed the car to the side of the bridge and narrowly avoided cars, but I didn’t think that would accomplish much of anything, so we hung tight and waited till we got off the bridge. At this point it was still another 30 minutes or so to the condo, so we immediately all pulled off into a seedy looking gas station with hoodlums hanging about. It was drizzly and COLD! Poor Ryan – thank goodness he won’t remember being stripped from head to toe and left to stand shivering and crying on the sidewalk next to a trash can. My only real options were to use wet wipes to sort of wipe him down (and of course it was getting all over me and my clothes). I had nothing to “dry” him with, so I took a pillowcase off my pillow from the trunk to clean him and put his gross clothes in. However, the carseat material and straps were also covered, along with residue down in the crevices and workings of the seat. Anyone who is a parent can imagine. I did take out the cover, and tried to wipe out some puddles, then used another pillowcase to set Ryan on (he was now in other clothes) and buckle the vomit-straps on him. It was less than ideal, but we had tired kids and tired moms and not many options.
We finally pulled up the condo, and after an initial scare of NO WATER when I tried to get my vomit-covered child into the tub, we got the water turned on, kids washed, and down for the night. Very luckily for me, the condo had its own washer and dryer. I threw stuff in and washed it, and then flopped into bed. Only to be awaked a couple of hours later by Addison, who stood up and said, “Mommy, I’m throwing up!” I ran her to the bathroom in the dark, but she’d already puked on the bed I’d made them on the floor, the floor itself, and the bedspread of the bed I was sleeping in. So then I had to rinse her off, sneak around the room seeing where the mess was without waking up Ryan too, move blankets around so that they weren’t sleeping in vomit, and digging around in closets trying to see how many extra blankets were stored and where they were, plus then cleaning up the floor so we didn’t slip around in it all night.
Next morning, I rounded up the new pile of vomit covered linens and threw them in the washer. Kate and I took the four kiddos to the Tucks parade that morning, and the kids had a blast. They stood and were good the whole time. I took turns lifting each kid up to wave and yell “Give me toys! Throw toys!” They threw mostly crap and beads, but there were a few stuffed animals being tossed, so we were hoping for those. Near the end of the parade, I yelled and waved, “Throw me a toy!!!” as loud as I could, and someone must have misunderstood because they threw a plastic toilet right at my face and it hit me in the tooth. It hurt! The kids were satisfied with the bounty we collected, so we went home.
|Catching some beads|
|Seriously, Leia with long BLONDE hair?|
|I think my dad was in this group|
|Mommy's little princess, I mean, prince|
The boys had just arrived when we got there, right around the time that the washer died, full of water. It wouldn’t drain or spin. It had worked fine last night, but now it didn’t. I was of course freaked out that I’d broken it somehow, but Matt and Ryan fiddled around and then finally called Ryan’s aunt who said that the washer had been broken and not to worry about it. I don’t know why it worked fine the night before, but whatever. So they tried to hand-wring out some clothes so we could dry them, but it was taking forever and they were still soaking wet, plus we had another load of blankets to wash, so Kate and I headed to a laundromat to wash the stuff. Did I mention it was storming and raining, and that they cancelled the evening parades that we were all excited about?
Anywho, we had a good time at the laundromat. Kate and I, with our college degrees, finally managed to figure out how to get the washer turned on and then sat down to do her Bible study. She asked me to read some of the verses, so I began reading loudly and dramatically to the entire laundromat, much to Kate’s embarrassment. Kate then correctly identified the bright neon red crunchy thing under the bench as some sort of firecracker Cheeto thing, and we debated getting ice cream out of the vending machine, but ultimately decided to park illegally and get some big flavored coffees on the way home.
The kids were pretty stir crazy and loud, as Emilyn dealt with the novelty of having a temporary little brother and they all wanted to be out seeing more parades. We went out to eat that night, although I was pretty fearful of feeding the kids much of anything even though they both seemed to be fine. Addison was so tired she nearly fell asleep in the booth.
The next morning was sunny, and there were a couple of parades in the morning so we decided to head out. It was totally packed along the road, unlike the day before, so it was kind of hard to get a good spot. Older kids (and adults) were snagging all the good stuff that was thrown, but the kids still seemed to have a lot of fun. We stayed for one parade but decided to head homeward afterwards, since we knew traffic would be terrible. We’d parked many hundreds of blocks from the parade, so we had quite a hike back to the car. We had to continually carry and/or herd the kids to keep them together, moving quickly, and out of the ways of cars and other people. A car was coming, so I yelled loudly ahead to Kate to “Get out of the road!!!” There were lots of other people walking in the road, and they all turned back to stare at me, as if I had been yelling at them instead of Kate. To clarify, I lamely added, “Kate” to the end of my yelled comment. So they would know who I was talking to. Poor Kate was again embarrassed by me, but luckily for me, it was Mardi Gras and you don’t have to be embarrassed by anything you do there.
After navigating the closed roads of the French Quarter for nearly an hour trying to get out of New Orleans, we finally hopped on the highway and started our long drive back home. Matt had to do yet more work on the phone. The kids were decent in the car, and we got home and put them to bed. The next day was almost the only day of preschool Addison missed – I couldn’t bring myself to wake her up early, but she woke up and we were just 30 minutes late.
Overall, it was definitely a trip we will never forget, for a lot of reasons, but most of all because Kate and Ryan are in the process of moving to Orlando, after at least ten years in Louisiana. We had to get one more round of Cajun food and Mardi Gras before they left the Swamp State (isn’t that what it’s called, Kate?). And just think of the fun that awaits us the next ten years in Disney Country!! I can’t wait!