Posted by: Jamie Stamm | May 4, 2008

Vacation, Day 1 (continued): Miles to go before we sleep

Though New Orleans would be our destination in a few days, the first stop on our trip was the home of Jerry’s Aunt Madeline and Uncle Don in Mobile to celebrate his grandfather’s 90th birthday. So we loaded our luggage and the kids into a rental car and headed for Alabama.

It wasn’t a long drive, only about two hours, but thankfully it lulled Cera and Anthony to sleep for a much a needed nap (Jerry and I could have used one ourselves, but he had to drive, and I had to make sure his eyelids weren’t inadvertently closing behind his sunglasses). We amused ourselves by reading the many billboards along I-10 (it’s not quite as bad as I-95 heading from North Carolina to South Carolina, but it’s close), most advertising upcoming performers at the casinos in Mississippi, ranging from Engelbert Humperdink to Merle Haggard to Poison vocalist Bret Michaels.

We arrived to a full house in Mobile, joyfully reuniting with Jerry’s grandfather (PaPa), aunts, uncles, cousins and family friends, many of whom we hadn’t seen in nearly three years. It was the first time most of them met Anthony, including PaPa, and it was beautiful to see his first contact with his only great-grandson.

We stayed at the party for a few hours before heading to our hotel to check in, hoping to catch a quick nap before returning to Madeline and Don’s. But somehow, in the 3 1/2-mile trip, we got horribly lost. By the time we found our hotel, we had just enough time to unload our bags before climbing back into the car. We were exhausted!

But the kids weren’t. And they were thrilled with all the attention they were getting. Each received two big bags of presents from their PaPa, Aunt Brenda and Uncle Robbie, and they got right down to business, turning Madeline and Don’s back deck into their “playroom” in no time at all.

The highlight of the night was PaPa’s birthday cake, and he was sweet enough to blow out his candles twice – once with help from Cera and once with Anthony. The kids were big fans of the icing, and PaPa picked a big, blue rose off the cake just for Cera. By the time she left the table, everything from her tongue to her teeth to her fingers was blue. She was in heaven!

We finally returned to our hotel around 10 p.m., but it was more than an hour before we got Cera and Ant settled in to bed.

And me? I was asleep the second my head hit the pillow.

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