It was finally here! Spring Break! And after two long months of cold and rain, we were ever so glad to see it arrive.
The Prince had a conference in Chattanooga, so he left a day ahead of us and that left me to realize how much he helps out when it is time to pack us all up and get us going.
I took a day off, so we would only have to stay one night at home without him, and we jumped in the car Friday morning and headed to the country.
We had a great eight hour trip. The sky was overcast, and it only sprinkled on us a couple of times. The oldest princess was a wonderful navigator. She came up with a brilliant plan of an alternate universe, where eighteen wheeled trucks have their own lane, and fires only break out where they place street signs with firetrucks on them. She even drove and gave me a break for about 45 minutes. In which I got totally hooked on a new Karen Kingsbury book. The Young Prince entertained us the last few minutes of the trip with his impersonation of a very famous American. You will have to ask him about it, if you know him that is.
We made it to our destination about mid-afternoon. And despite my still parking the car, the kids were bailing out of every available door in the car trying to get to Unca and Aunt T as quickly as possible. We ate, and talked and talked and ate...and that pretty much sums up the whole trip. Talking and eating. Eating and talking. At least that's the way it felt to me. But seriously, we did do a few other things among the talking and eating.
We were sitting on the back porch catching up, when the UPS truck came down the road. Unca went to get the package and Aunt T mentioned that she bet he had ordered chocolate covered strawberries. YUM! So we anxiously awaited his return with the delicacies we all (except for the young prince) love. Unca came back and told us that their dog jumped up in the truck and went to the back with the delivery man. He said he apologized for the dog's intrusion, and the delivery man said it was no big deal, that he had recently had a goat do the same thing...just another day in the country. Anyway, we all waited with watering mouths, trying not to look to anxious, while Unca opened the package. It was....a....heater. Oh, okay. A heater. No problem. Glad Unca got his heater. Okay, seriously, I was a little disappointed. But it was not the end of the world. Later Aunt T confessed that we were hoping the delivery would be chocolate covered strawberries.
We actually got Unca to play a game of Pictionary with us. It was a pretty friendly game. Unca enjoyed himself, even if he wanted us to think he was miserable. Plus, it helped that he was on my team, and we won. I was helping one of my children who had to draw a dachshund. The said child asked if that was the dog on the big bus. Um, no, that would be a greyhound... Then the other child who was guessing, guessed "weenie pig" instead of weenie dog...but that was about as rowdy as it got.
Then we had to humor the youngest princess and let her ride Unca's fancy new "tricycle" as she called it. It was actually a cool little three wheeled scooter that could be ridden standing or sitting. Unca dared the youngest princess to ride it to the end of the road and back by herself, in the dark. She did it without a second thought. The older two tried their best to get us to let them scare her, but we would not do it. Next it was the Oldest Princess' turn. She did not want to, but could not be outdone by her little sister. So she rode it wide open and got down there and back as quickly as possible. The Young Prince went next. Unca tried to get someone to prove they were REALLY brave by getting them to go by themselves to the cemetery and take a picture of their hand on a tombstone, but he had no takers. We all worked together and got Unca's new recliner in the house, which was no small accomplishment. And then we decided to call it a night.
I had a room and a bed all to myself for all of about... half the night, until the Youngest Princess got up and came and got in bed with me. The Young Prince slept on the bottom bunk and only hit his head once (at least the first night). And some of you (those who have also slept on that bottom bunk and conked your head) can sympathize with him (right J and J?)
We went and saw a couple of movies on the rainy days..."Be kind and You no say to me no!" And we all tried crawfish for the first time. And before you ask...No. We only ate the tails. We all liked them...me the most of all. I was really surprised, because I did not think I would.
We went to church, where we thought we had lost the Oldest Princess, but thankfully we found her before we had to call the police. We then went on to celebrate the Youngest Princess' 9th Birthday with lunch at Applebee's and a movie. Then home to some designer, one of a kind cupcakes. And more games. We played Gestures, and some of us spent too much time looking for props (cow bell), while some of us did better guessing than we did acting things out. And yes, since you asked, my team did win. Aunt T measured the kids against the door frame in the pantry, and it looks like one of them (the Oldest Princess) has grown as much as she is going to grow. The other two are shooting up like weeds.
We spent a day working, to earn money for our upcoming mission trip. The older two kids washed a couple of cars, and then did their favorite chore of all....cleaning out the gutters. Unca and the Youngest Princess picked up limbs. I never thought that the Youngest Princess was like Unca, until this go round. Turns out she is MUCH more like him than I ever thought. He helped her pick up limbs for a few minutes, and then he moved on to something else, so she recruited me to help her. She wanted to drive the golf cart, find the limbs and direct me to pick them up. I told her that was not how it was going to be, and that she was to help in the picking up process. She then wanted to tell me how to load the limbs and where to put them etc. I was picking up some limbs when she announced, "This bus is leaving in 5 seconds!" I told her that she was NOT her uncle, and she could not talk to me that way. To which she laughed and said, "I know, but we are blood-kin." Yes, indeed. And that has never been more apparent to me than now. The Youngest Princess and I did a little crawfish "fishing" with a hot dog as bait. We found one that would play tug of war with me, until he could steal the bait, but we never actually caught one. That night we amused ourselves and several others making silly Helium Booth videos. I definitely think Aunt T had more fun than any of us. Unca even got in on the fun...Oh, the memories!
We took a trip to Avery Island, LA, home of the Tabasco factory. We paid our $1.00 fee to get on the island, by pulling up to the little gatehouse, where the man promptly held out a stick with a rectangle piece of wood attached to the end of it. A clothespin was nailed to the wood. Clipped to the clothespin was our pass. We took the pass and replaced it with our $1.00 bill. I've never paid a fee that way before...doubt I ever will again.
Much to our consternation...I mean, er, um, delight...there were two school bus loads of children at already there. Exactly what a teacher on spring break wants to see (or maybe not). And even more to our delight, two more busses rolled in. There were kids everywhere! And while in the gift shop, Aunt T happened to get in line behind one of those children. He had picked up one of almost everything in the shop. And of course he did not have enough money to pay for it all...so the very sweet, patient girl behind the counter worked with him, taking things off, putting things back on...until he was satisfied with the items/money spent ratio. The teacher in me wanted to come unglued! Where was the adult with this child!!!! Obviously not supervising his little shopping spree.
Then it was time for us to take the "factory tour"...a fancy way of saying we got to watch a video (with about 50 of our new 3rd grade friends) about the making of Tabasco and take a short walk by a glass window that gave us a peek into the capping and labeling of the bottles. What we saw was really neat, but it left us wanting more. We wanted to see more of the behind the scenes factory stuff, but alas, it was not to be.
We left there and headed over to the Jungle Garden side of the island to experience some Lousianna bayou flowers and wildlife. And boy, did we experience some wildlife...Starting with two more school busses and about 25 parents in their personal cars clogging the one way trail (Unca only honked about 15 times to let them know how he felt about them being in the way and then called to tell the office that we were stuck behind the unmoving masses), and in the middle there were alligators, turtles and snakes, Oh, my! And ending with tons of birds at Bird City. We got some pretty good pictures of the kids as well. We stopped and ate some more crawfish, only fried this time. I can also say that I tried a crawfish enchilada, and crawfish etouffée...and now being a fine connoisseur of crawfish...I can say that boiled is my favorite. While we were eating, my Prince was able to log on to the restaurant web cam and see us. He didn't watch long though, he said it made him feel like a creeper. But we felt like he got to be a little part of our day.
When we got home, there were not one, not two, but three boxes of chocolate covered strawberries waiting for us on the front porch. Unca is THE man! We promptly and happily indulged. Then we played some more games. We were having fun, until the Oldest Princess announced that she was not feeling well. I will spare you all the details, but the rest of the evening was more clorox wipes, trash cans and yuck than fun and games. And again, I missed my Prince and realized just what a wonderful help he is to me. Especially when I am cleaning up yuck. But things finally settled down, and we all got some sleep. And the Oldest Princess felt much better the next morning. But for some reason, she turned down the offer of a chocolate covered strawberry. My guess is it will be a while before she wants one again.
Cuz came over and brought Little Miss P. We built Pinterest worthy (well, maybe one of those "Nailed It" Pinterest pins) Easter gingerbread houses. We also played hide and seek, and even hid some Easter eggs. After they had to leave, we hung out by the pool, before cleaning up lots and lots and lots of pollen (AHHH-CHOO!). Unca cooked ribs on the big green egg. B came over to clean the pool, and see us of course. We asked her to join us for dinner. Aunt T used some concentrate shrimp boil that had us all choked up, literally, but at least it did not set off the fire alarm. It was some strong stuff! But the shrimp turned out delicious, and I know that B would wholeheartedly agree with me on that.
We then went to visit one of my aunts, because we had not seen her and we had to head home the next morning. We enjoyed our visit with her as always.
We played a couple more games when we got home and then headed to bed. The next morning was full of packing up, and getting ready to head home. I hate this part of the trip! I was the official photographer for the 1st Annual Gummy Octopus Eating Tradition. I had already eaten Crawfish about every way possible. Gummy Octopuses are where I draw the line.
Aunt Y and Uncle H came down to see us off, and after a few minutes of teasing the Young Prince about chickens and mailboxes, we hugged and kissed everyone goodbye and headed back home. The only disappointing thing about the trip was that Unca barely squeaked by without having to eat his words and a $500 plant...that would have been interesting to see...
Thankfully we had an event free trip back home (with the exception of some pretty heavy rain the last hour and a half). Aunt T's PB&J sandwiches hit the spot, and it was a good thing, because the bag of 7 plus crumbs of Munchos would never have been enough to tide us over. We made it home to my Prince, and we were all glad to be reunited and back home again.
I just talked to Aunt T and Unca, and it looks like they may be making a trip our direction in just a few weeks to see the kids in the school play, so hopefully that will work out, and we will get to see them again very soon. It was a great time as always. We love our time with our family, it is more precious to us than anything in the world.