Ted's work party was held at a beautiful Italian restaurant on a Friday evening. It didn't begin until 7:30 p.m., so we hired a babysitter for Lucan and Zaden. I'm so glad we did! It turned out to be a very long evening, as we didn't get home until midnight! But it was so. much. FUN!
Getting there, however, was an adventure all on its own. We had our first experience with the GPS going psycho on us and sending us up steep, narrow paths. It was dark and raining, and we missed a turn before we realized what had happened. We were on a dirt road with no end in sight and no way to turn the Suburban around, so we had to go back almost 200 yards. I stuck my head out the window to help guide Ted, as there was NO light at all and the rain made it very difficult to see. We finally reached the "road" where the GPS said we were supposed to go and blindly followed its directions.
Bah! Worthless directions they were! The stupid thing led us up and up and around and around until we had dead-ended in a family's back yard!! We worked at backing the Suburban around so we could retrace our steps and found a couple of wondering Italian guys coming outside to see what the heck was going on! They helped guide Ted into making the turnaround, and then we crept back down, adding a few more healthy scrapes to the sides of the Suburban as we made sharp turns that were easier to make going up than down! Ted went back to the main road, where the GPS calmly "recalculated" the route and took us straight to the restaurant on nice, NORMAL, wider, well-lit, main streets. What the heck?! Why didn't it take us that way to begin with?!
We were only a few minutes late, hardly even worth calling "late," considering our harrowing adventure minutes before. The kids were ushered to a play area, though Charis chose to stay with us and ended up sitting at our table rather than at the kids' table. We settled into our seats and began visiting with those around us. I met a delightful young wife whose husband and Ted already knew each other, and the two of us enjoyed visiting throughout the evening. They have one little 3-year-old girl who is just precious. She cleaned her plate--we were amazed at her persistence and capacity to consume so much food over the course of the evening, but then we learned that someone had told her Santa wouldn't come unless she ate everything on her plate...so...!
The first food didn't appear until nearly 8:30, but then it just didn't stop coming! Appetizers, soup, pasta, more pasta, meat/potatoes/veggies...at each course I was sure we'd be getting dessert, but no, it was more FOOD! And it was all AMAZING! So while our first Italian ristorante experience was actually in Capri, this was our first REAL, sit-down, multi-course, Italian RISTORANTE experience! I loved it, even though I truly hated to see the uneaten food go to waste. :-( (It's considered rude to ask for carry-out containers; they simply whisk away your plates when you're not looking, it seems, and return with a new plate of different yummy food!) The dessert was some kind of amazing creamy goodness with chocolate and coffee sprinkles, all covering a sponge-cake that positively dripped with rich coffee and who knows what else. Oh, my!
During all the feasting were various games and giveaways, interspersed with musical numbers from a talented musician (and a bit of dancing from a major who apparently likes to entertain others!). Ted and I each won a bottle of wine (I picked a lucky chair with a "wine" tag taped underneath, and he knew a trivia question). I also won a flash drive, which I may very well take to the NEX and exchange since we don't really need another one, and at the end of the night I won one of the big prizes, a fancy, expensive purse that I would never in a million years even think of purchasing! It actually is practical, though, being waterproof, and with this being the rainy season, I can put it to good use! The name brand means nothing to me, as I have never heard of the brand before even, but I'm thankful nonetheless for a surprise blessing. (Indeed, many surprise blessings!)
The kids were in and out, trooping outside to play with the teens the restaurant had hired to keep kids occupied and coming back inside to eat more food. (Their dishes were different from ours--definitely more kid-friendly, but still way different from fries and McNuggets, LOL.)
Toward the end of the evening "Santa" made an appearance (Ted's boss was the lucky "winner" who got to don the outfit!) to give gifts to the children. Our kids had no idea that we had been in on the Santa plan and were surprised but delighted to hear their names being called. We had decided to get them all slippers, as they had been saying they wanted/needed some with our hard, cold, tile floors. (Tobin had even been known to steal mine from time to time!)
This is the best reaction we got--Kenna's face!
All in all, a very enjoyable evening and a fun Christmas event we'll remember for a long time. In fact...I think I'm already looking forward to next year's Air Force Christmas party!