I picked up the kids on Friday afternoon, in the minivan laden with suitcases, car seats, dogs, and a snowblower tied to the roof (to sell on craigslist in Chicago) and started on to Little Rock. Tonio had been at a conference in Chicago for the past couple of days and the earliest trip back to Houston wasn't until evening. I didn't want to waste the afternoon and not drive, so I suggested meeting him in Little Rock. I (!?!?!?!?) suggested it!?!?!? That was without knowing that right after getting out of the city we would be stopped for 2 hours on the highway for an accident. If you can imagine the excitement of going to Chicago, and then multiply it by 1000 because this was going to be a SURPRISE for my parents- the energy was palpable. And then we stopped moving. People were taking down their bikes from their roofs and riding along the shoulder and between the lanes to see if there was any news about movement forward. Dog and kid potty breaks in the bushes, 2 Disney movies, a sunset, and dinner finished: we finally saw brake lights as people began to turn on their cars again. Yay!!! And the whole time I couldn't call my mom to tell her what was going on because our trip would be a surprise! We made it to Little Rock at midnight instead of 9:30pm and the last hour I was so tired. Tonio kept me awake and "followed" me on his computer on google maps as I told him what bridge I was passing under or street I was passing. The next morning we got up and started on our way. We finally made it to town around 6:30pm. We had planned the story for weeks!!! I called my mom and was very distraught (ie biting my cheeks not to laugh) telling her that Mingo had escaped from our backyard (she had done this once before). We talked for a minute about how worried we were, and then hung up before the shrieks of the kids and squeals of excitement would give her a clue about our plan. We were just down the block! We ran to their backyard with the dogs, and let them run crazy. We were hoping my parents would hear their barking and peek outside, but the dogs wouldn't bark. They were so happy to be running around they wouldn't make any noise- just sniffing around. Finally we found a ball, they barked and barked, my mom looked outside and we heard her say "I wonder if it's Mingo! haha" When they realized it was, it was awesome.
We had a fantastic time seeing our friends, cousins, family, visiting the Science and Industry Museum's Christmas trees from around the world, and eating a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner! My sister and her boyfriend also surprised my mom, so instead of Thanksgiving for 6+ a baby, they had 10 adults, 4 kids and a baby- now that's a Thanksgiving dinner! A full, loud, happy table! The drive is worth every minute!!!