Riley, Ella and I spent quite a bit of time in the hotel room. We didn't just sit around bored, but most mornings Ella would take her first nap in the room before we headed out for the day (while Riley quietly watched a movie and heard his mama say over and over, "we have to whisper because sister is sleeping!"). And then every afternoon we went back to the room for group nap time. Riley and Ella crashed in the afternoons. One day she slept for 3 hours straight - I effectively wore them both out. :)
We walked and we walked and we walked! A few weeks before leaving for NOLA, I ordered a new Graco stroller, and I'm so thankful I did! I don't know what I would have done without it on this trip! I had so much fun strolling the kids around the city and pointing out new and exciting sites.
I would show something to Riley and after a couple times of taking his picture in front of different things, he started saying, "Mama, do you want a picture of me with it?"
The last day we were there, we went to the French Market to do a little shopping. I wore Ella in the baby Bjorn, but thankfully that was only about 45 minutes. Our sweet girl is getting a little too heavy to comfortably stroll around with her attached to me - especially in 90 degree weather!
Music, music everywhere! Riley loved seeing musicians all over the city. One night we were waiting to be seated at a restaurant, and this impromptu parade walked by. The people behind the band threw tons of beads to the onlookers.
Riley studying his beads once we were seated at our table. He has had more fun with those (as he calls them) 'bracelets'!
Sister got some beads, too! This little girl has a grip, and she was careful not to let anyone remove the beads from her possession!
Later that night, once the kids were in bed, I was able to sneak away with some wonderful friends. We ended up at a delicious gelato shop called Sucre. We had so much fun catching up. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time - tears were rolling down my face!
One morning we went to the Convention and walked around the Exhibit hall. The Louisiana Baptist Convention is celebrating 200 years this year, so they had a booth set up where you could take pictures with a baby alligator. Riley refused to hold it for the picture, yet when it was time to move on, he started crying because he didn't want to leave the gator. Oh, the emotions of a 2-year-old!
Obviously, the gator was completely forgotten when we saw this...
Thanks to my husband, I was able to go to two events child-free. One was an adoption panel breakfast, and the other was a Minister's Wives Luncheon. Mary Kassian (below) was the speaker at the luncheon. She spoke challenging words based on 1 Peter 3. I'm very thankful for the opportunity I had to attend this event - and for a husband who was willing to support me in this way.
It wasn't all work and no play for Daniel. We stole him away one morning for a ride on the ferry that crosses the Mississippi River.
The seminary always has a picnic for alumni. We had a great time being back on campus seeing lots of old friends and showing Riley where he spent the first 6 months of his life.
As I said earlier, Daniel and I left New Orleans completely exhausted. However, as I told him, it was worth every minute of it because of the experiences we had with friends and as a family. Riley had so much fun - when it was time to leave the hotel and head home, he kept saying, "I don't want to go back to Texas! I want to stay in the hotel another night!" Prior to the week, I wasn't sure how it would work out for us all to stay in one room for 4 nights. It went so much better than I expected. Much prayer went into this trip, and I, of course, experienced the Lord's faithfulness and strength throughout our time away. He is SO good!
I want to wrap up this post by sharing about two items given to me while in New Orleans. One was from my husband, and the other I received at the Minister's Wives Luncheon. You'll see two bags pictured below. The one on the right was from Daniel. He bought it from a WorldCrafts table. It was made in Indonesia, and just as with all worldcrafts items, I can't help but wonder how his purchase has helped a woman halfway around the world. The bag on the left was made in India by women who work for Freeset, which is a fair trade business that offers employment to women trapped in the sex trade in Kolkata. What priceless treasures to bring home as souvenirs. Not just souvenirs, though. Constant reminders of the difficult world we live in, AND the merciful God we serve. I will definitely pray for women around the world while using these bags. If you're unfamiliar with WorldCrafts or Freeset, I encourage you to check out their websites and pray about how you might be involved in their ministries or ones similar.