We were able to stop in Bryant to visit for a little while with some of our dearest friends, Justin and Becky. It was so great to catch up with them, and even though we've lived here almost five years, they're the kind of friends that you just pick up where you left off and it's never awkward. (We love you guys!)
As we were pulling back onto the interstate, I had a text message from my sister asking how close we were. She was also on the road traveling to my mom's house, but from an entirely different part of the state. We estimated that she would probably arrive about 15-20 minutes before we would. Well, an hour down the road, I gave her a call, and she was exactly ONE MILE behind us on the highway. Crazy! We took turns passing each other a few times because the kids thought that was hilarious, and we stopped a little further down the road and met up. John graciously let me escape from Minnie-the-van and ride the rest of the way to mom's house with my sister in her sporty little car! I don't think we could have timed that any better if we had tried!
When we arrived at my mom's house, we had Sarah's birthday celebration, round 2, complete with presents and chocolate cake. Will took most of these pictures.
My kids call my mom "Cissy" and they think her house is really fun. She has all kinds of stuff for them to play with, and she also has cable which is such a treat for them. They all shared a room at her house and their room had a television which they thought that was the greatest thing ever.
We didn't have a full agenda on this leg of our trip which was fine with me.
One day, we went to Crowley's Ridge Nature Center which was right up my alley. I loved it, but I didn't take a single picture. Will and Sarah loved the alligator and got to watch him eat some fish. They also had tons of snakes on display...ugh...snakes creep me out, and I'm completely terrified of them.
Another day, we took them out to Craighead Forest where they have a fun sprinkler park. The kids had a blast playing in the water. Abbey caught a baby frog which thrilled her to no end. She was sad/mad that we made her let it go, but if that little frog could have talked, I know he would have thanked me a million times over for releasing him from the torture.
One afternoon, several of my mom's friends came over to see
This fall is my 20th high school reunion. I'm not planning to go. I keep up several of my high school friends, and I was able to see my two of my closest friends one evening while I was there. We spent the evening talking, remembering, and laughing until we cried. It was wonderful! That was WAY better than any reunion for me!
One afternoon, I took Abbey (the only one who could tear herself away from The Disney Channel) and drove around town. It was a trip down memory lane! The town I grew up in has grown and changed SO much in the 18 years since I've lived there. I drove past the houses I grew up in, and past my grandmother and great-grandmother's houses. This was my great-grandmother's house. We lived right next door to her until I was in sixth grade. My Nana's house is in the picture below (sorry it's so small). If I had the money, I'd buy it in a heartbeat! It is full of so many memories. You can't tell from these photos, but this house sits directly behind my great-grandmother's house. All of us lived on the same block, and I could walk next door to my great-grandmother's, or behind my house to my Nana's (on a path through our backyard) any time I wanted to. How many kids grow up living that close to their grandparents? It was wonderful! I could write an entire post about childhood memories.
I can't talk about this leg of our trip without mentioning the FOOD. My mom is a great cook, and she made some wonderful meals for us. My favorite was the night she fried okra (yum!), squash, and green tomatoes. We had that along with purple hull peas, ripe tomatoes and corn on the cob. It was seriously delicious. We also had roast one night (and leftover veggies), and one day for lunch we got fried catfish and hush puppies (yes, again). Oh my goodness...I ate WAY too much, but since it was vacation, I let go of the guilt!
One night my brother and his wife came over, and of course, my sister was there too. That was fun. We haven't all been together under the same roof in a couple of years! I wish I had thought to take a picture of all of us together.
I couldn't believe how nice the weather was for us. I was really dreading the heat and humidity, but I think we hit the weather jackpot because I was never really hot the entire time we were there. The mosquitoes were another story altogether. My kids were outside one afternoon with my sister and they came inside covered in bites. Ugh. That might be my least favorite thing about the south.
Thank you, mom, for everything. We all had a wonderful time.
We were sad to leave, but after several days, it was time to pack up again and head west to see my dad. Stay tuned for Part 3.