Notes from the road

Well, we have returned from my grandmother's 90th birthday party in Midland, Arkansas. It was approximately 36 hours on the road, so we are tired and glad to be home, although Libby cried when I told her we had to leave. There was plenty of fun quality time with family.

We traveled alongside of my sister Susan and her family on the way up. Jackson was so excited I thought I was going to have to tie him down to the luggage rack and let him get a few bugs in his teeth to get him to turn down the excitement a notch or two. We stayed at a Hyatt Place in Baton Rouge, LA on the first night. We all decided it was the coolest hotel room ever and Penelope's pack n play fit IN the closet which scored major points with this mom.

Life on the road didn't really interest Cash and he took to screaming at the top of his lungs when he got bored. We tried to keep it at a minimum and finally on the last day of travel when we were only 4 hours from home, I said, "Let's just let him scream." And you know what? A two year old can scream for a long time, but not forever. Just in case you ever want to try it.

Here are some cute pics of Libby and Penelope on the road. They were good travelers. Over all, Jimmy and I got way more cranky than any of the children. Patience is a virtue! One I'm still trying to aquire...

On the morning of the second day on the road we both drove into a rest stop and took a bathroom break. We all got back in our vans and as we were on the on ramp Jackson says, "Mom, wasn't that cool? My cousins had to go to the bathroom at the exact same time as us!" I tried to explain that we were traveling together and that Libby had to potty so they followed us but he was so excited to pee at the same time as his cousins it didn't even take. Twice, he got to ride in their van and play game cube at the same time so basically, it was like heaven on earth for Jackson.

There was lots to do in Midland...um, not really. But we weren't bored. Two different people in town admitted that those in town for Mildred's birthday doubled their population, so you can imagine the places to go weren't many. But we played at the park, swam in my cousin Todd's pool, and some made a trek partway up Sugarloaf Mountain, Midland's main attraction. Jimmy can never quite remember the name of this mountain, and I like to hear the new names he comes up with. It's always something sort of close. My favorite I heard is "Butterloaf" and then later he moved to butterscotch...

The actual birthday party was Saturday afternoon. We all piled into the church basement and made Grandmother pose for way more than 90 photographs and I'm pretty sure my kids personally devoured every single after dinner mint available in the great state of Arkansas. My mom and her siblings, my aunt and uncle, put together a musical theme with lots of notes and such around the room. The invitations said "A Noteworthy Occasion...Mildred is 90!" and people were invited to leave a "note" or memory for Mildred to read later. Her children wrote 90 memories which were printed on notes circling the entire room.

This was the first time in a decade that all of my Grandmother's entire lineage was present. All her children, their spouses, all her grandchildren, their spouses, and every one of her 16 great-grandchildren were present. The only place we could think of to take a picture was in the church choir loft. It was fun, chaotic, and wonderful to be around such a strong family.

My grandmother is quite a lady. I hope I am doing as well as her at age 90. She is her own person and knows where she came from and where she's going. She likes to collect dolls. I took a picture of one whose hair she cut off. I heard her tell someone, "Isn't that the cutest doll? I thought she was just so cute, but she had the ugliest hair so I just cut it all off." And therein lies the rub. Grandmother didn't write the doll off, she just got rid of the ugly part and kept the rest. She saw something beautiful in spite of ratty hair. And who keeps a doll with no hair? Only Grandmother.

Sunday in church we all sang "Wonderful Grace of Jesus" per her request. I ended up standing next to her and I felt proud. I'm hoping I inherited some of her perseverance and strength. Those, coupled with that wonderful grace and I just might make it to 90 myself.

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