Monday, May 28, 2012

Well That Was Short Lived

For a few short months we had 4 teenaged daughters under our roof.  Not anymore!  Today Caitlin is 20 years old. I can't even begin to tell you how it feels like time just flew by.  Just yesterday she was 2 and today we added a 0 to that 2.  What a blessing she is to us.  Happy Birthday my little Mert.  I hope that your 20's will be your "Wonder Years"!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Four Hospitals And A Wedding

Have you ever had one of those times when you've been tempted to ask "what else could possibly go wrong?" but you don't dare speak such a question aloud? That was us the second week of March. We had been in New Orleans for a little more than a month and we were about as homesick as we could be.  Thankfully we had the perfect excuse for going home, Matt and Ashley were getting married!!  Yay!

 In hindsight, we should have seen a rough week ahead of us because the day that we left for Florida began with a trip to the ER.  Abbie had been in pain for about a week and that morning the pain had become unbearable.  Lee took her in to be seen while I delivered the pets all over town to be boarded for the week.  Keep in mind that New Orleans is a huge city and I was new to navigating my way around it.  STRESS! The ER doc told us that he thought Abbie had a  Pilonidal Cyst , he gave her two different antibiotics and pain meds, then cleared her to ride for 10+ hours to Florida.  So, off we went! 
On the monotonous drive East on I-10 a pebble flew up into our windshield adding another crack to the one that we were already ignoring.
The next day last minute wedding prep was in full steam!  Abbie endured like a pro, she was NOT going to miss out on all the fun! Lee and Stan got the windshield repaired while us chick-a dees got our wedding pedis and ran errands.  By the end of the day Abbie was in agony and was running a 103 degree temp.  Back to the ER in Jax we went.  They ended up having to do a little minor surgery.  The whole procedure was just a nightmare.  Poor Abs.  The next day: more wedding prep, it was pretty uneventful and Abbie was feeling SO much better.  Exhaustion from a night spent in the ER was taking it's toll though.  Supper with family that night was good medicine for us all.
Saturday: The big day!  Abbie had to go back to the ER to get the dressing changed on her wound.  Lee and Holly ran the Gate River Run (13 miles) in downtown Jax.  GO Them!!  I played chauffeur.  In all my driving that morning I noticed the truck not acting quite right but chose to ignore it.  Bad move!
 Later that afternoon Lee, Holly and I were making the 20 mile trip out to the wedding site. The other girls had ridden with other family members.  About halfway there the truck just quit.  I would go into all of the details but they're painful.  Short story: We missed the wedding ceremony but we got a new alternator and battery!  Not a good trade at all in my opinion.
We made it to the reception just in time to see the newlywed's entrance and first dance.  It was beautiful of course!  Even with all of our chaos, we were very thankful to be able to celebrate this beautiful marriage. For a little while we were able to relax and enjoy the moment, we laughed, and danced then saw them off for their honeymoon.
On Sunday we were excited to go to Orange Park Bible to worship and eat afterwards with friends at Chipolte.  All of the things we love and miss so much! 
Just when we thought things were settling down we said goodbye to the Jax group and pointed our truck south for a short visit with Mimi and Papa in Leesburg.
We weren't even out of town yet when my phone started going crazy with texts and calls.  Papaw (my maternal granddad) was being rushed to the ER in Gainseville by ambulance.  Possible heart attack!  Course change for the entire family.  15 of us made the 2 hour trip to Gainesville. Thankfully, Papaw did not have a heart attack and is doing fine now!  We just had an impromptu family reunion.  It's funny how even under such stressful circumstances we are able to laugh and enjoy each other.    I will never complain about spending the day with family, I'd just rather not do it in a hospital waiting room!
We did end up in Leesburg later that day and believe it or not, back in the ER the next morning.  This time it was Caitlin running a high fever.  Bronchitis and Strep had taken her down suddenly.
What a whirlwind "vacation"!  May we NEVER have another like it again!
By the way, The Newlyweds (Mashley as we like to call them)  have a sweet blog that you can follow:

Monday, May 21, 2012

Houses With Character

New Orleans is the place to be if you're in the paint business!

Can you think of anywhere else in the country besides maybe Key West where a house painted this way would be considered normal?

 We've had so much fun riding through neighborhoods looking at the unique architecture and color schemes!  Believe me, this will not be my last post featuring colorful houses.

All of these photos were taken on N. Rampart Street in New Orleans

Freak Glasses

We have a saying among us now when we go into the city of New Orleans. "Put your freak shades on! You're about to see something crazy!". I knew we would see some crazies in this colorful city but I was unprepared for what now just seems normal. Every time we wander into town we see something or someone odd and unusual that stops us in our tracks. I'm talking about grown adults dressed up like pink bunny rabbits or rose bushes. People carrying around large reptiles or a guy on a bike that looks like a carousel horse while dressed as superman with undies on where undies weren't meant to be worn. So I've decided to start blogging some of these sights. The first installment here is this ferry riding band of toga wearing girls. They happily let me, a stranger take their picture! I'm sure their mothers probably warned them against such things at one point in their lives.
Hey little Brownies, I don't ever want to hear a story about you wearing your bed sheets to town and letting strangers take your picture. Got it?
On the other hand,
Posing with an odd guy dressed as Mr Potato Head is perfectly acceptable.

Friday, May 18, 2012


This is our base chapel, the place where The Chaplain Extraordinaire spends most of his days.
It was rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina because the old one was too damaged by mold. 

 The sanctuary

This pretty little fruit stand is where Ms Hollybus works watering the plants twice a week.  On the days that she does not babysit the plants she makes snoballs and gator dogs at the  Snoball Etc stand next door.   

Pralines and Cream snoball anyone? 

In case you're wondering, a snoball is like a snowcone but the ice is shaved finer.  Snoball stands are a dime a dozen here in New Orleans and all of them stay busy. Providing the masses with snoballs is BIG business around here! 
You can use your imagination to figure out what a gator dog is. ICK! I just don't think that giant lizards were meant to be eaten.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

This And That

 Nothing in particular to share today, just a little everyday life kind of stuff. 
Hobbes and Wrigley are adjusting well.   

Our living room is so "cozy" that sometimes a few of us have to sit in the stadium seating.  Also known as the cheap seats.

Chocolate alligators.... just because.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mardi Gras Firsthand

 Honestly I don't even know where to begin!  We had no idea that moving to New Orleans at the end of January would land us smack dab in the middle of Mardi Gras mayhem.  You may think that mayhem is a strong word but I guarantee you that it is NOT.  This city LIVES for Mardi Gras season! In February Southern Louisiana turns Purple, Green and Gold!
 Being newbies to the area, people that we ran into delighted in educating us in all things Mardi Gras.  We learned about areas to stay away from, which parades were the best and how to get a good spot to watch them go by. They taught us techniques for catching beads and avoiding black eyes from those same flying beads. We were also told where to get the best slice of King Cake in town.  That was definitely advice that we took seriously but no one was able to give us a realistic picture of the true MANIA of Mardi Gras.
During the Carnival season parades roll every weekend all day long and even some week nights.  As Fat Tuesday approaches the parades get more frequent.  About 2 weeks before the big day Caitlin and I decided to do a little parade recon just to see if this would be something that the whole family could do. That Saturday we took the ferry into The French Quarter and made our way to a spot on the St Charles St. parade route.  Believe it or not, there's a Mardi Gras Parade Tracker app so of course we had that pulled up and handy.  

 It was freezing cold that day and our spot on the route was in the shade.  I popped into a little shop nearby and bought us New Orleans Saints hats and some socks to put on with our flip flops.  We were a funny sight dressed that way cradling our hot lattes from PJs Coffee shop across the street. Thinking back on it I realize that we probably looked more normal than the majority of the folks there decked out in crazy crazy outfits. In the end when the parade finally began to roll by we forgot all about the cold.  Caitlin really got into the spirit of it all yelling for beads "Throw me somethin' Mista!!"and competing with our fellow parade watchers for the best catches.  We were hooked!

  Now before you get any crazy but stereotypical ideas in your head I have to say that we personally never witnessed the kind of "girls gone wild" craziness that people associate with New Orleans at Mardi Gras time.  I know that it happens but like I already mentioned, we were well educated about areas to avoid.  For the most part it's just one enormous party that lasts for weeks! We quickly decided that the rest of the family had to experience it.  We ended up going to quite a few parades after that.  One of them we went to completely by accident!
It was a Friday late afternoon and we needed to go to the Apple store in the mall.  We walked in a few minutes before 6 and all of the stores were closing. People leaving as we came in told us that the mall was closing because a parade was about to start just outside.  Imagine that! A mall closing on a busy business night for a parade?! We were baffled, so we decided to stick around and see what the hype was all about.  Hey, we already had a great parking place so we may as well stay for the fun!

 It is simply amazing to us the number of beads that get thrown from 2 and 3 story high floats passing by. The floats are HUGE and decorated like nothing you've ever seen before.  There's 20 or more people aboard every float and all of them throwing trinkets into the clamoring crowd.  I thought it would be a strand at a time but boy was I wrong.  Often we would look up just in time to see a handful of big heavy beads headed straight at our heads.  Abbie and Holly began to just dodge them after awhile.  After all, a girl can only wear so many pounds of beads before you just start to look gawdy. :-)

  Just to give you a little glimpse of the mania I will tell you something that's hard to believe in today's day and age.  In New Orleans on Fat Tuesday everything closes, even Wal-Mart and McDonalds!  Unbelievable I know, but TRUE.  People decorate their homes and businesses just like they would for Christmas but with purple, green and gold.  King Cake is sold in every store. Businesses close, they block interstates so that parade floats can get into position, they light the Superdome up with blinking lights, trees that line parade routes hang heavy with beads and the booze flows faster than the Mississippi River.
Again, I can't even begin to convey to you the feeling of Mardi Gras here in this amazing city.  It's something you just have to experience for yourself.  So if it's one of those things on your bucket list, consider yourself invited to join in the fun with us next February.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

4 Teenagers In The House!

It was EARLY when I woke Gracie up that morning in Florida.  I leaned down and whispered in her ear "Happy Birthday teenager! How about I take you to New Orleans for beignets to celebrate?!"  She was NOT amused. Seems that my new little teenager is less and less a fan of mornings.

Thankfully we celebrated with family before we left. 

That night we wandered into Parrot Pete's for beignets. It was ok BUT we decided that it was not Cafe du Monde and we would just have to remedy that the next day, AFTER a good nights sleep. 

 Cafe du Monde or not, she was pretty happy with her powdered sugar covered birthday beignet.

She was also pretty excited about her very own Leatherman. She's such a quirky little precious soul!

Awwww..... the sweet taste of satisfaction!  Happy birthday Boo! 
I cannot begin to express to you how proud I am of you.
You have stolen my heart.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Moving Day

We took off for New Orleans on Gracie's 13th birthday.  One that she will never forget I'm sure.  

 Daddy and Gracie were in the lead car, setting the pace.  Caitlin, Holly and Hobbes were in the middle spot pictured above.  Hobbes spent much of the trip peeking out the back window. We think that he was just checking to make sure we were still in our spot behind him bringing up the rear.  Abbie and I had "the pleasure of sharing our journey with Wrigley and Fraidycat.  Let me just say that Fraidycat is NOT a good traveling companion.

About halfway there my dashboard went bananas!  I really was going the speed limit. I promise.....

Hahaha-That's my "the cat is making me CraCra" face!

Could there be a more desolate stretch of highway than I-10 from Jax to Pensacola?! By the grace of The Lord there is a really nice Starbucks at the Crestview exit.   A haven for the weary travelers!!

We made it! This basket of goodies was our welcome to New Orleans gift from the housing office.

Our new digs.  I've always wanted to live in a yellow house and the porches are really nice to have also. Since then we've prettied them up and they are nice places to sit and sip and chat. 

Tired, hungry, anxious, excited and a little sad but here we are in this new place that God has put us. Just after this photo was taken we headed out to celebrate our newest teenager!

From The Sunshine State To The Swamp State

 If you've been following this blog for very long you know that these are not the first moving day photos  you've seen here.  I just counted and I think that this move makes the 6th one that I've documented here on the blog.  That's got to be a record of some kind!
Sadly after HOURS of hard work we left our house in the hands of our renters. God provided the perfect family (at the last minute, but I'm not complaining!) to live there.  

All packed up but NOT ready to go.  Little did we know that we would not have room for most of what was brought!  I could have had a massive yard sale in Florida.  Military life has definitely taught me at least one thing: DO NOT get attached to stuff!!!

As the house was slowly being packed there began to be a shortage of places to sit.  Holly's bed (all the way in the back of the house) became the gathering place for everyone.  Military life has taught my girls another lesson: Sisters are there through thick and thin.  Friends are great to have but sisters move when you do! 

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Mixed Blessing

Let me see if I remember how to do this.  It has been awhile!
Years ago I started blogging to keep our family on the other side of the world involved in our lives.  The girls were growing and changing and doing silly things!  THEN God blessed us in a big way by moving us to Jacksonville, Florida.  Home! Of course blogging came to a screeching halt.  Its was a short two years of family dinners, parties, trips, holidays, celebrations and Starbucks dates.

God has now moved us along to a new place and we are trying our best to see it as a blessing.  My goal now is to introduce you to our new city: New Orleans and to keep you in the silly, growing, changing loop of our girls.  As most of you already know, when our family moves to a new place we try our best to milk it for all that it's worth.  New Orleans has A LOT to take in and we have already experienced SO much here in our first 3 months.  We moved in 2 weeks before Mardi Gras!!!!  In other words, I have some catching up to do to get you all caught up.  Stay tuned!  Take a look at our current New Orleans photos in our Picasa Web Albums linked on the right.