Wednesday, February 27, 2019

From Beale to Bourbon

One thing on my bucket list since high school has been to go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. With my 35th birthday approaching, I decided it was high time to fulfill that! Between finding decent flight prices, days we could go that we didn't already have prior engagements, making sure the minis had people to stay with, the cats could be taken of, and everything else that goes with leaving town for a few days, I decided the best way to do this was a crazy road trip. 15 hours from Des Moines to New Orleans with so many fun stops in between.

Even though it was a long drive, it was an easy (straight) drive into NOLA. Our first stop was in St. Louis. We didn't do much as we arrived later in the evening, but our hotel was amazing for a good night of sleep with no interruptions. Something that rarely happens at home! We needed it since we woke up early the next morning so we could beat the winter weather that was headed their way. Our plan worked, plus it gave us an entire day in Memphis, TN!

The drive from St. Louis to Memphis, and Memphis to NOLA, was beautiful!

My parents gave me new walking shoes for my birthday (early, so I could have them for my trip). Now, I have plenty of running shoes. All of them are in bright, obnoxious colors. They suite me well. However, I really wanted a pair of walking shoes that were neutral colored so they would go well with my daily tourist clothes. These fit the bill and were amazingly comfortable! I wore them from Thursday to the next Tuesday with no issues of aching feet after a long day on them, no red marks from rubbing, no blisters. I hope these shoes hold up so I can wear them this summer for our big 18 day east coast road trip.

I survived on a lot of gas station coffee this whirlwind road trip. The best part was that I got to drink it hot and finish it all in one sitting. I didn't have to warm my coffee up once while I was away.

The drizzly, cold weather seemed to follow us into Memphis. I was hoping for sunshine and warmth, but instead we got humid and cold until we reached New Orleans. That didn't stop me from stuffing my winter coat in the trunk of the car (48 degrees was certainly warmer than I had felt in weeks) and enjoying Memphis. Our first stop was to Sun Studio. I knew as soon as we saw the outside of the building that we would have to come back with the kids. After touring Beale Street and skipping a few other tourist attractions I have on my list, I knew the minis would LOVE Memphis. I don't know when, but the five of us will definitely be back!

I love the history of Sun Studio sure, but browsing through the records and listening to the music coming from the old jukebox in the corner were my favorite thing. 

Beale Street was our next stop. We had fun listening to all of the blues music coming from the various stores, restaurants, and bars. I look forward to being back here on a warm night with everything open and the music pouring into the crowded street. 

This store was my favorite!

The wind got the best of my hair this day!

This was an outdoor bar, but they kept the front of the building (historical purposes).

When in Rome (or in this case, Memphis) you drop your vegetarian lifestyle for yummy local eats. I had fried chicken, the cheesiest mac and cheese I've ever had, and buttery vegetables. Hubs had the brisket, baked beans, and mashed potatoes. I've had dreams about this meal! It was hands down the best fried chicken I've ever had!

Hubs had originally wanted to eat at South of Beale restaurant, but the sounds and smells of BB Kings drew us right in. Next time we'll for sure do SOB, but everything about this meal was wonderful.

Six hours from Memphis, a big change in weather, and we were at our Airbnb in New Orleans (at a decent hour too)! To be honest, our Airbnb wasn't in the nicest or hippest part of NOLA, however it was perfect for us. We had our own little apartment (a separate building in the backyard of a house) that had the best patio ever! Patio beers were enjoyed in relaxation. 

Close to 10 p.m. Hubs and I decided that we were finally ready for something to eat after our lunch. Uber was incredibly cheap to and from the French Quarter so we didn't even bother driving and attempting the parking situation. Several minutes later we found ourselves diving into beignets at Cafe du Monde, enjoying jazz music in Jackson Square, and taking in the sights and sounds of the French Quarter. One of my favorite things to do on vacations is just simply walk around the streets, window shop, and enjoy the locals favorites. 

As soon as we stepped down Royal Street, I was in love. So many fun shops, antiques, galleries, and restaurants. We spent a good portion of our evenings on Royal.

Dinner has never been sweeter.

We couldn't leave the French Quarter without a stroll down Bourbon Street. We did it in style with Hurricanes and King Cake Rum drinks.

Our last stop for the evening was a voodoo shop. I thoroughly enjoyed browsing and picked up a voodoo doll (for creativity) to bring home to the minis. It now sits on our "travel shelf" (that holds all of our goodies from our road trips) and the minis keep making comments about how creepy it is.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Mom and Minis Weekend

It had been a while since the minis and I had time just the four of us. With Hub's new work schedule, he's with us quite a bit more than in the past. This is great for family time and time as a couple, but this particular weekend took me back to the days of odd work schedules, toddlers, and me being the main caregiver. 

Hubs was sick all weekend and that left me to provide the entertainment. It was such a fun weekend for the four of us, but it did leave me exhausted!

Friday night was spent at the mini's school for it's Centennial Celebration. We had a blast seeing families, teachers, and friends. Friday's are usually low key for us since we're all exhausted by the end of the work/school week. We pretty much came right home from our outing and went straight to bed.

Saturday morning required some shuffling around. The middle mini had his acting class, the other two minis didn't care to come with me, and I had a handful of important emails and calls to return. Luckily, it all worked out. Not only did I get all of my important things taken care of, I got to enjoy my coffee and muffin in the quiet lobby of the Playhouse. 

Since acting class is only an hour and fifteen minutes, I left the other two minis at home by themselves, leaving the ten year old in charge. We have done this a few times over the last few months and so far so good. I love doing drop-in calls on our Echo Dots to hear what the minis are up to!

The minis chilled on the couch while I got ready for the day. From there we ran a few errands, went to the RV Show again (the same one as the previous weekend), followed by some MUCH needed time outdoors. It was slightly drizzly and foggy, but the temps were warmer than 40 degrees so we took advantage. The minis and I took a long walk around Gray's Lake. It was wonderful!

Read about our adventure here. We followed up our afternoon of exercise with dinner at Olive Garden. Saturday was an excellent day! It made me realize how much I've missed our special Mom and Minis Days.

Sunday we celebrated my mom's (aka Grandma) birthday AND survived a trip to Walmart! That alone wins me all the points in the world.

Harrison made Grandma his own gift. In a little heart box (that he picked out the previous day at Target) he put a few of his toys, homemade glow in the dark slime, and odds and ends he found around the house. I lost it when I discovered he wrapped up a piece of his slime in tissue paper! Kids crack me up.

Our celebratory "we made it through Walmart" picture! So, Walmart was crazy busy, the kids wanted to push the cart, they managed to knock over not one but TWO displays (one of Cheerios, the other of Ramen noodles that the middle mini then pouted about because we didn't have any in our cart to buy), and I had to work on my breathing techniques to make it through without yelling at them.

But they made up for that "awesome" trip by helping me clean the house Sunday evening. I can't really complain about anything after having my floors vacuumed, dishwasher unloaded and reloaded, and laundry switched out. I dig this kids getting older business.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

A Saturday Out of the House

Time is precious. As I age I realize how very little of it we have. Add in busy schedules and commitments and much of our time is taken up. We have numerous home improvement projects in the works, but I wanted at least one day to play on this weekend. Of course we had to start the weekend with Harrison's Saturday morning acting class. From there, we caught a late breakfast/brunch at The Drake Diner, saw a special preview of The Lego Movie 2, watched the kids jump through obstacle courses at Hop A Lot in Merle Hay Mall, went to an RV show (the mini's idea, not mine!), and played with their new Lego's (because how can you see a Lego movie without getting new Lego's?).

Sunday was our day to finish a big basement project. We've had the idea to finish part of our basement since we moved in two years ago, but we got serious about it this winter. Hubs built new shelving for me to organize all of the toys (however, it turns out I have collected  A LOT of toys over the last 8 years and more shelves are needed). We cleaned up a good portion of the basement, put in a pantry, and getting the rest of the basement ready for the next big step: new flooring. It's so exciting to see these projects come together!

Our Friday nights are rocking these days. Elizabeth's new "thing" is to watch dancing videos and copy their dance moves. Then she proceeds to make up dance routines. I have to admit, I'm kind of in awe of her (plus it makes me laugh so I can't stop watching).

It was a busy morning at The Drake Diner, so we snuck in pictures.

Max ordered an adult portion of french toast. That's four whole pieces that he ate completely. He followed this platter up two hours later with popcorn at the movie theater.

The Lego Movie 2 was excellent! Even Hubs and I laughed at it.

Hop A Lot is a great place to get out "your wiggles" (as Elizabeth says), but it's definitely not a quiet place (hence the need for Ibuprofen for me).

She's got quite the attitudes lately. Her facial expressions says it all.

We couldn't see the Lego Movie 2 without coming home from the mall with new Lego sets. 

The new toy storage area is complete (although we have way more toys than this so new storage areas are currently being planned) which puts us closer to our overall finished basement project!