Part I and Part II).
For Christmas, we went home…as in back to New Orleans. Normally these fun-filled family trips are driven by my husband and I sit at his right hand navigating my ass off and annoyingly monitoring the gas gauge as I have some twisted fear of running out of gas in the middle of nowhere. Call it what you want. I call it shamelessly watching waaaaay to may horror movies. Not to mention, I am also in charge of occasionally reaching into the back of the car to threaten the offspring for bickering over who is taking up a larger percentage of the oxygen that fills the back seat. Well, my dears, this trip I played a dual role. I was both driver and navigator. Although, as you read earlier “navigator” seems to be a jack of all trades role just like “mom”. How convenient!!
The morning we left was a frenzy of childish excitement. The kids were bouncing off the walls like they had just downed a Red Bull. The boy loaded all the suitcases into the back of the truck and the girl was instructed to load the coats into the front seat with the laptop. We say our goodbyes to the roommate, Buddy and Deuce the dog and hit the road on the 724 mile trip. Since I’m not accustomed to driving for so long, I had decided that I would stop halfway and stay in a hotel both ways.
Almost into Wichita Falls, I glance over to the pile of coats in the front seat and realize I don’t see mine. So ask my daughter if my coat is in the back seat with her. She informs me that my coat is on the kitchen table. Why is my coat on the kitchen table, you must be wondering to yourself. I was wondering the same exact thing as I thought freezing my ass off with only the hoodie I was currently wearing. So I say, “Girl, I’m confused. I told you to put the coats on the front seat. They were all piled next to the suitcases. Why did you put yours and your brothers into the truck and put MINE on the kitchen table???” Then I got the answer that all parents LOVE to hear. She replies, “I don’t know.”
After dinner, I made some phone calls and checked in with a few family members who wanted me to keep them updated on my whereabouts. Afterwards, we all took our turns showering and settled into the comfy beds. The kids fought over what to watch and I relaxed browsing the Cracked.com website trying to tune them out and convince myself NOT to call room service for an entire bottle of wine! It was hard but I managed.
The next morning we loaded up the truck again and headed to the restaurant for breakfast. Later we hit the road yet again. Most of the trip was smooth sailing that is until we got to Baton Rouge. I was sure we’d run into traffic once we were close to the Mall of Louisiana as it was December 23rd but this traffic was before the bridge even. I ended up discovering that the traffic was caused by a small amount to road construction and a whole lot of stupidity (i.e. people in southern Louisiana are not very educated in the ways of merging). Oddly enough, once I made it near the mall the traffic wasn’t too bad.
Finally we made it to our destination. We were set to spend about a week there, leaving just before New Year’s. We stayed in our normal spot at the Château Terry aka Nick’s grandparents’ house. Staying there was difficult though for both me and the children. In April Maw-Maw passed away. So other than the funeral, this was the first time we had made it back. Part of me kept expecting her to walk out of her room at any moment. The kids confided in me on a few instances about similar feelings during our stay. They would tell me they were scared and I would tell them Maw-Maw was nothing to be scared of and if there were any ghost in the world I would want to cross my path it would be her. They would calm down. Once my daughter asked me what was she supposed to do if she saw Maw-Maw, I winked at her and told her “Tell her I said ‘Hi!’”.
The boy had a more difficult time dealing with the issue. A few days before we left to head home, we found out a friend of his from back in Oklahoma was dead. The fourteen months we had preparing the kids for the likeliness that Maw-Maw would pass once we found out she had cancer NEVER could have prepared me for how to help my 10-year old deal with the death of his friend at the hands of his parents. Don’t worry. More to come about that in a later post. I told you I had a list of things to blog about during my time on hiatus.
Anyway back to trip…
While we were there we visited here and there with family and friends. It is sort of stressful trying to spread yourself so thin. Everyone wants to see you. The kids had a blast being spoiled from every possible angle. They ended up racking in enough Christmas money to buy themselves each a new TV and entertainment center. I was glad that most people gave the kids cash. That was less stuff I had to lug back to Oklahoma. At one point, my daughter got sick with some sort of stomach bug which is no shock considering the air is full of the aroma of piss and puke thanks to years of Mardi Gras, oh, and death courtesy of Hurricane Katrina. Good ol’ New Orleans!!
The kids received a substantial amount of money that I managed to convince them to spend on something worth a crap instead of useless toys. They obliged once we made it back to OK.
We did Secret Santa for the adults. My secret cheap-o totally jipped me!! It’s time for a deep breathing exercise right about now.
Pause for some pictures highlighting our trip...
My mom who is usually completely on edge during events like these was unusually calm. I secretly wondered to myself if she was popping Xanax in the bathroom or sipping something funny when no one was looking. Maybe she was huffing paint…oh wait, that’s someone ELSE’s mother I’m thinking of.
We also had the pleasure of meeting Paw-Paw’s lady friend. While I want him to happy and she seems very nice, it is still something that I need to get used to. It seemed to happen fast but who am I to put a time limit on anything for anyone other than myself? The girl child seemed oblivious to what was going on but the boy took a more defiant stance. He informed me that he was NOT going to call her Maw-Maw. I had to have a discussion with him basically letting him know that no one expects that at all but I expect him to show her some respect just as he would to any other grown up which he agreed to. On another occasion my daughter crawled in my lap and after relating to me how much she missed Maw-Maw. She then proceeded to enlighten me of her fear of the new lady-friend being mean to her. I then had to de-Disney deprogram her by letting her know that every new person that seems to replace another person isn’t always necessarily bad. We talked about how no one could ever replace Maw-Maw in our hearts. We just have to stretch it out to make room to fit one more.
We began the trek back to Oklahoma with the same plan in mind…drive halfway, stop for the night, drive the other half. Once again, we ran into traffic in Baton Rouge. This time in lieu of the road construction I was lucky enough to be caught behind not one, not two, but THREE trucks carrying wide loads being escorted by state troopers. People get stupid cautious when they see a cop. The constantly tap their brakes and do grandma speed under the speed limit. Speed limit is 55 mph? Let’s do 35 mph. Every time I would get to multiple lanes that would allow me to get around the wide loads, I would get a few miles up the road only to be caught behind yet another one.
I finally made it into Shreveport and we stayed in the same hotel. We did the same song and dance as I described above during the previous visit. When we left the next day I decided to stop at the Texas welcome center. The kids enjoyed picking out brochures for places they would like to visit when there dad came home. When we finally got back on the road, we ran into the worse traffic of the whole damn trip!
Somewhere between Shreveport and Longview on the interstate when we were not at a complete standstill, we were doing 5 mph…10 mph when I was really lucky! Of course, I assumed somewhere up there one of the lanes were closed probably due to an accident. AND of course, when I finally saw the sign to say what lane was closed I OF COURSE was in the wrong lane. I immediately put my blinker on and started to try to find and opening or some with enough courtesy to let me over. I was unfortunate enough to be driving next to the biggest assholes on the planet. You know the ones. They drive as close to the other person as possible because GOD FORBID you get in front of them and get somewhere first.
Finally, we made it home in one piece, with no blood on our (my) hands. So I’m back and ready to fill in the darkness of the emptiness I left you guys with during my absence.