Thursday, September 28, 2006

Swinging and Climbing

La Luz had another fun filled day. After spending the morning at Ash-Fin and lunch and a nap at mom-moms, she hung out with Aunt Julie. They ran some errands and walked up and down the block multiple times. AJ fixed her dinner and even indulged La Luz a little with a popsicle while she waited on the porch to welcome Uncle Edward home from work.

By the time I got to her she was just about ready for bed. It makes me ache when I only get to spend a few hours with La Luz. The weeks are incredibly busy with work and our time together is so limited. I hope it is true that it is the quality of the time and not the quantity, becuase boy do we have some quality time. For example, tonight we swung on the front porch and stared at the moon for about thirty minutes and then went inside and climbed the staircase.

How's that for quality time?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Business as Usual

It was business as usual around the Vaicius household today. We started with a bit of cabinet reorganization this morning - apparently La Luz does not like the way I have arranged the tupperware -

and ended with a series of diaper changes for every baby doll and animal in her room.

The highlight of the day was when we drove home with all of the car windows down and didn't break a sweat. Another extraordinarily exciting day, which is fine by me considering the chaos at work.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Still High From the Night Before

We were blessed with another beautiful day in New Orleans. The kind that make you want to scrap work and goof-off. Needless to say, it took a bit longer than usual to get it together and get out of the house this morning. La Luz and Christian were still euphoric from the Saints' big win last night.

I purposefully dressed La Luz in her fancy dress from Mami and El Jefe in Argentina today. I am still recovering from seeing her in the Bush jersey all day yesterday.

La Luz and I spent the evening with mom-mom at our Turkish friends' house celebrating the start of Ramadan. The start of Ramadan also means the return of the moon, thankfully. La Luz has been looking for it and asking about it non-stop for about three days now. She was ecstatic when she saw it, or rather, the tiniest bit of it, hanging up in the sky tonight.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Our Team, Our Home, Our Spirit

I could not have asked for or anticipated a more perfect and memorable day on the occasion of my thirty-third birthday. It was perfect for a variety of reasons, many of which were beyond my control, most notably : the weather, the office closing at three, and little Betsy opening her eyes while I held her. It was also perfect because mom made my favorite dinner, Richmond came in town (let's face it, not just for my birthday), and I was the recipient of many wonderful presents from friends and family. It was memorable because tonight the Saints played their first home game in the Superdome.

I heard Douglas Brinkley on the radio again on my way home from work. He opined that the Saints might be more than a regional team, they might be America's team. I disagree but only because I don't think the city of New Orleans wants to share them. We have very little that is good that we can still hold on to so please don't make us share the Saints. So, I admit, I was wrong about the Saints, just like Christian said way back when. I started waffling a bit about this two weeks ago but the reality of the impact of the game really hit me while I was standing in line for forty-five minutes at the Black and Gold shop on Vets with every other New Orleanian waiting to buy a Reggie Bush jersey for La Luz. My first present of the day was seeing La Luz dressed and ready for an 8 a.m. pep rally at Sacred Heart.

I was excited and emotional and filled with joy all day. On my drive to work I saw a dad and son on a bicycle built for two, both clad in Saints jerseys - one was Horn, the other, McAllister. I saw moms wearing fleur-de-lis everything and businessmen revealing their spirit with the added touch of yellow tie paired with a black suit. Begining at 8:00 a.m. the streets in the Central Business District were filled with people and they were all wearing black and gold and they were all really happy. People walking around looking happy is not something we see often around here anymore.

My second gift of the day was my 8 a.m. phone call from mom. Every year on my birthday she calls me at around 8 a.m. because that is precisely when I came into the world. My third and entirely unexpected gift was when the office closed early. On the way to mom and pop's I stopped off for a quick visit with the most adorable, tiniest little baby around. She was perfect and peaceful and I felt lucky just to hold her.

I spent the remainder of the evening at mom and pop's enjoying the beautiful weather outside with La Luz. She enjoyed dive-bombing the perfectly manicured lawn and chasing down the neighborhood dogs.

Mom made my favorite dinner and my special request for lemon squares instead of cake. It was delicious and my favorite way to celebrate my birthday. After dinner we watched the game until La Luz couldn't stand it any longer and needed to get home, bathed, and in bed.

The biggest present of the day might be that, at least for now, I have a little bit of that feeling of hope I had a year ago on this date. I have the Saints to thank for that, along with a husband who was right all along and a little girl with alot of spirit.

Julie Through the Glass

If any event can come and go without much hooplah, I hope it is my birthday. Once I turned thirty I became much less interested in September 25th. However, I can't let the day pass without at least noting that it was on this day thirty-three years ago that I came into the world at precisely 8:00 a.m. I used to think that I was prompt, that it was my birthright to always be on time, but these days I am always late, for everything. So, here I am, or rather, there I was on the same day in 1973:

Thursday, September 21, 2006

And Now for Something Totally Unexpected

It is a very exciting night. La Luz's sure to be best friend, Betsy, made a very early debut entering the world at 7:56 p.m. after a roller-coaster of a day. Jen was sent home from the hospital earlier in the day and told that she was essentially experiencing a false alarm. Not true. By the time Jen got to the hospital after spending a long afternoon in pain, the anesthesiologist told her it was too late for an epidural. Eighteen painful, unmedicated minutes later Betsy arrived and she is perfect:

If you are interested in the stats (I for one never really kept track of La Luz's) here they are:
5lbs 14 oz
18 and 3/4 inches

What's interesting about this is that Betsy wasn't supposed to get here until October 18th. Fortunately, her mom is one of the most organized people I know. With the exception of the painting on the exterior of the house, everything is prepared for Betsy's arrival and has been for a few weeks. Here, take a look:

It is late and I don't have time to explain just how incredible it is that Betsy arrived in this manner. The short story is that her mom is a micro-manager, a list-maker, a do-er, a planner, etc...and over the past year she has been robbed of the opportunity to do much of those things. She has had no choice but to react and let her instincts take over and the culmination of all of it was having a completely unmedicated labor this evening four weeks ahead of schedule. And she was a champ. I guess the lesson is that people do adapt and maybe, in the end, they are even better for it.

For those of you who need a fix before the weekend, here's La Luz looking fetching in her fancy-girl togs.

You can check out more about her day at:

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

When All Seems Right With the World

When I stepped outside at 6:20 a.m. suddenly everything felt lighter. I should have known what was in store when the alarm clock first went off at 6:00 and Loki was in my face - looking, breathing, whining, begging. It was more intense than usual. How do dogs know that it feels incredible outside and that they are missing out? The second we got outside Loki started jumping, yapping, twirling, twisting, and pulling. He wanted to go somewhere far away and he wanted to get there fast. It is amazing what a difference 10 degrees make. I think we would all be happier if it didn't get so hot around here. I know for a second there I didn't care about my M.I.A. mayor, the crime right around the corner, the work sitting on my desk, the monthly bills, the future of social security; none of that seemed to matter.

Loki worked up quite an appetite after our run this morning. La Luz was there to supervise and make sure he ate every bite of his food. I realize we are not supposed to let them near each other during mealtimes. I pulled her away right after I took the picture.

We took advantage of the nice night and bbq'd. La Luz supervised from the beach chair that Nana gave her. We set it up on the deck so she could simultaneously watch Loki act like a fool in the yard and Christian operate the grill. It was perfect.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Loveliest Girl I Know

Christian and I were supposed to go to the Sufjan show tonight but becuase I was up at 3:30 a.m. with La Luz (diaper rash and serious congestion) and then again at 5:30 for pilates and I just didn't think I would get enough out of the show to justify spending almost $100.00 (tickets for two, parking, babysitter, drinks), we didn't go. I know I might regret it tomorrow. I usually do when I pass on shows I know I want to see. It happened with Jeff Buckley and now I will never see him.

I don't know though. Maybe it isn't about the diaper rash and the congestion or my long day. Maybe it is that I don't want to give up any of the limited number of nights in my life when I will be able to rock La Luz to sleep and read Tumble Bumble and kiss her chubby hands. Maybe even 50 years from now I wouldn't trade the Sufjan show for a few hours with La Luz:

Would you?

My love for her has a crippling effect and I hope that never changes.

Monday, September 18, 2006

A Little More Novacaine for the Week Ahead

I am feeling tired and since I have to be up at 5:30 for pilates tomorrow morning I decided that my post would be some pictures from yesterday. Christian installed La Luz's swing (sort of - we realize it is too high but it has to be that way until we get some chains or something) and she was in heaven:

Loki, as usual, could take it or leave it, but he enjoyed the opportunity to lounge around in the grass:

Sunday, September 17, 2006

French Fries and Fetid Farm Animals

La Luz, Loki, and I survived the weekend without Christian. Somehow we managed to keep it together. Rest assured, I had plenty of help. On Friday night Mom-mom and Pop treated La Luz to her first Frankie and Johnny's experience (in all fairness, it was at my urging). Fries and chicken fingers, and Christian was nowhere in sight, it just didn't seem fair. As can be expected, she loved it...

On Saturday we met Kelli and the kids at the zoo and had a great time checking out all the animals. It was hot though, really hot. I took La Luz into the petting zoo and she was sort of grossed-out by the goats (at least I think that's what they were) and I guess it was more the smell than the animals themselves. She must get that from her grandmother.

On Saturday night Catherine and Gerrish came over and basically hung out and witnessed our exciting nightly routine - dinner, play (a little), bottle (kind of), bath, and bed. We also grilled turkey burgers, drank some wine, and ate some crazy, incredible, wasabi chocolate. Really.

Christian returned at around 5:30 a.m. after a long bus ride. La Luz must have sensed his presence because she woke up shortly thereafter at 6:00 a.m. to play. Guess who had the honor of joining her?

If she looks weird to you in that picture, well, that is kinda' what she looks like when she wakes up at the crack of dawn. Good thing there was nobody around to take a picture of me.

Since it was Sunday, there was plenty of cleaning to tackle but, first, there was plenty of football to watch. Christian and La Luz watched the Saints win while I went shopping with Jen (probably the last time Jen and I will have an afternoon of shopping before the baby arrives). While we were shopping I bought La Luz her Halloween costume. I even took a picture of her in it because when I tried it on her she looked so adorable I couldn't resist. I won't post it though because I would hate to ruin the surprise for you. While we were out I broke down and picked up an Elmo toilet seat for La Luz. I am not quite sure how to go about the whole potty training thing. I sort of hoped that maybe if I bought the seat and installed it she would just climb up there and start using it. Needless to say, it didn't happen that way. I will let you know how it goes.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Thursday Night Lineup

La Luz had an eventful night starting with swinging on the porch with Mom-Mom, opening her package and playing with the new Dora doll Aunt Julie got her last time she was visiting Edward.

The excitement continued with an excellent birthday dinner for Jonathan at Aunt Margot's where she spent the first 30 minutes trying to get Chloe to come to the back door and the last 30 minutes taking all of the wrapping paper from Jonathan's presents to the kitchen to put in the garbage.

She also rocked in Jordan's chair:

and helped Jonathan open his presents:

She even took her first bite of doberge cake and talked to Jordan on the phone but I didn't get pictures of either of those things.

It was so nice to get to visit with everyone and to celebrate Jonathan's birthday and to not have to worry about preparing dinner. By far the coolest moment of the night was when Jonathan opened his gift from Catherine who happened to paint one of the most awesome looking paintings I have seen in a long time. I hate to sound cliche but I guess there is no way around the fact that it is bold and edgy and just a bunch of fun to look at. I should have taken a picture so those of you who weren't there could see it.

La Luz, Loki and I are bracing for long weekend without Christian. I suppose we will muddle through it somehow. I have a feeling I am going to be hearing a lot of this, "where's dadda...I don't know", over the next few days. Wish us luck.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Something Like Normal

I was sort of dismayed by Nagin, again, when I read some of the coverage of his "100 Days and Counting" speech. If you are going to bother setting a 100 day goal of sorts, and you are going to make a speech (something you have done only rarely over the past year), you should make sure you have something more concrete and inspiring to offer your public than, "an essential city service [trash collecting] has returned to something like normal." Okay, well, in all fairness he didn't say it, Couhig (his adviser in charge of 'quality of life' issues) did. It came from his 'team' though, and it isn't true. Our trash gets picked up once a week, usually. But I digress...I guess I was just hoping for something bigger. Now I feel kind of like I have been feeling for the past few months - that nothing really good is happening and that it is going to take some sort of miracle for things to get to where they need to be around here. I really want things to be better but I feel like it is an insurmountable task.

Now onto the really important news. When I dropped La Luz at daycare, Ms. Sherrill asked me if I knew that she could talk. I must have looked stunned because they all started nodding and saying, "oh yeah, momma, she can talk". No kidding she can talk. She talks all the time and has been for months. She repeats pretty much anything you want her to, knows most animal names and sounds, household objects, family members, and can even sing portions of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star", "ABC", and "Ring Around the Rosie". I was mystified and kinda' sad that it took her this long to say something. They were particularly impressed becuase she knew the word "zebra".

Tonight was peaceful around the Vaicius house. The first thing Lucy wanted to do when she got to her room was dig through her new purse.

Here are some pics:

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Brown Paper Packages

I started to feel generally ill this afternoon at work. It was an effort just to get up from my desk, get into my car, and drive to mom and pop's to pick up La Luz - and I usually love leaving work. Before you start to worry, you should know that I am paranoid about catching La Luz's random illnesses so I guess it might be psychosomatic; nevertheless, my head hurts and my body aches. Incidentally, I took my temperature and it was 98.2. Maybe it didn't work right since it was the baby ear thermometer?

My life was made much easier by mom who made La Luz's supper and packed it away for me in tupperware and even easier still when La Luz and I arrived to find this:

Chris' cousin Stacey sent Lucy a birthday gift. Stacey gave birth to a beautiful baby girl last week - her fourth child, third girl. Stacey is my hero. She was born to be a mom and she does it so perfectly. She works, goes to school, and happens to have four of the most adorable kids around and still remembers things like birthdays. The beautiful part about the gift was not that it allowed me to do what I wanted most tonight - nothing, it was that she selected something that incorporates two of La Luz's favorite things: purses and Elmo. Why didn't I think of that? I wish I had 4 hands because I wasn't able to capture the awe on La Luz's face when we opened the package, she saw what was inside, and realized it was hers. What follows is the aftermath, not quite as good, but still very entertaining.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Shake Well

I sort of already addressed 9/11 in a previous post but I can't let the day pass without mentioning how incredibly inspiring the stories of everyone immediately impacted by the tragedy can be and still, five years later, how incredibly sad. I guess that I commemorated the day by remembering all of the people that are important to me and I hope that you all did the same thing.

Now, on to the trivial things that make up my life...

La Luz was up and upset for most of the night last night. She had a similar incident once last week. I thought for sure she was in serious pain or something in her room was scaring her, alot. I checked her head - no fever. I removed the night light (in case it was casting weird shadows on unsuspecting stuffed animals) and I removed everything from the bed except the blanket, bun bun, and penny lane (the cat). No dice. Somehow we made it to the morning and she finally settled down when Aunt Julie came over to watch her so that I could go to work. She improved so much that she was even entertaining when GG stopped by for an impromptu visit.

Notwithstanding the speedy recovery, I decided it was best to take her to the doctor to rule out any medical problems. I knew that if it wasn't an ear infection or a sore throat it had to be a ghost. When you live in an OLD house that looks like this:

chances are some old Irish family lived there with their 5 kids and one (or maybe all) of them don't cotton much to interlopers. So, could it be that Edmund, Cecilia, and Eulalie Mullaney are trying to restake their claim that dates back to 1907 or is it the Covey spinsters who reportedly lived in the house for decades looking to kick us out? God, please let it be an ear infection.

According to the doctor, it is not likely either of my suggestions. And, yea, I realize there is probably a permanent note on La Luz's file that reads: mom believes in ghosts. What can I say, it's true. At the end of the day, the doctor thinks it is nasty congestion that La Luz has been dealing with since probably the second day of daycare. By the looks of the other kids, I think it might be a permanent condition for all daycare kids. At any rate, she prescribed some antibiotics. I am reluctant to give them to her but mom's right, the doctor knows more than I do. So, La Luz, welcome to Prescription Nation:

Because what most of you want to see is a picture of La Luz, here you go:

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Let It Rain

After another relaxing weekend in Thibodaux, La Luz, Loki, and I returned to New Orleans to find Christian and a whole bunch of rain. Loki was not happy about it.

At about 5:30 it had tapered off a bit so I decided it would be safe to run to the park. It is rare that I have more than about 30 minutes of time to dedicate to exercise so I have to take advantage of the opportunity to spend some time running whenever it comes along. Sure, it was a bit damp outside but what difference did it make, I was about to spend the next hour doing nothing but running. I left behind Loki, La Luz, and the ipod - none of those things do well in rain - and set out on my own. I realized that it was the first time in over a year that I was running without something - dog, baby, music. It was peaceful. I could hear the sound of the rain hitting the trees and then the pavement and the colors were perfect. By the time I reached the back of the park it was an absolute deluge. It didn't bother me until my shoes became so saturated that it required extra effort to lift my feet and my clothes became so wet that they clung to every curve. At that point there was no reason to stop. So, I kept going and the rain washing over me was, I think, just what the doctor ordered. Once I got home I could see just how much rain had come down. We now have a little lake in the front of our house, Lake Vaicius:

For their part, La Luz and Christian didn't let the rainy weather get them down. Instead, they came up with a new game that provided hours of entertainment, Noah's Arc. The object is to put a bunch of crap in the basket (La Luz is apparently the only one who knows what is supposed to go in it), then climb into the basket so Christian can push it around the living room, but only around the living room so as not to miss any of the game. After being pushed around the room everything has to be thrown out of the basket only to start the process all over again. I know, captivating, right?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Don't Need aTicket, All You Need's a TV

Tonight was the season opener for the NFL. I know this because I chose to live my life with someone who claims he doesn't have enough free time to keep his car clean, yet miraculously manages three fantasy football teams (that I know of). Opening night went much as I anticipated it would for the Vaicius family. Suffice it to say, there wasn't much fanfare.

We were all happy to see that La Luz donned a pair of fancy new shoes for the occasion though.

Despite the new shoes, she still bristled at my affection, as usual. Although she is improving, she is still not exactly a cuddly baby:

The word is that she is starting to hold her own at daycare. Today she ate someone's lunch, stole another kid's toy, and scarfed down most of the animal crackers before any of the other kids could partake. Of course my child would be the one to eat all of the cookies. The theft troubles me a bit though.

La Luz, Loki, and I are off to Thibodaux for some more fresh air. I need it. I feel restless and sad. I don't know if it is sadness about New Orleans or about the country but whatever it is I want it to go away. My guess is that it is a combination of not seeing much to make me happy around here coupled with the upcoming 5th anniversary of 9/11. I am glad that our President has decided it is, finally, okay to put the people behind the attacks on trial but I am wondering why it has taken FIVE years to get to this point. I am also concerned about the "military commission" and the 'alternative' interrogation methods. I don't know about you, but I don't want any other country to use 'alternative' interrogatoin methods on my cousins, brothers, uncles, fathers, sons - you get the point. Why can't it be straight up Geneva Convention-style interrogation and leave it at that?

Maybe Christian is right, maybe football is bigger than I think it is and maybe it is cherished by so many becuase it is such a welcome distraction from everything that is bad. So, are you ready for some football?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Suri With a Fringe

So, at long last we get to see a picture of the spawn of TomKat and she is adorable. She looks like a mini-Bjork or an Inuit. She has a ton of hair though, right? It looks like she has on one of those baby toupees from I know becuase I thought about getting one for La Luz way back when.

It reminded me so much of another picture:

Actually, it didn't remind me of it at all, I just wanted to show you a picture of La Luz at the same age.

I left work a bit early this evening in time to make it to the ASH volleyball game. We made it in time for the last two matches and the easy victory. For any 14 month old, no high-school volleyball game is complete without some of this:

and some of that:

But for La Luz, the thrill was not in the victory but rather in the open, glowing court and the chance to dance on the cardinal's head with the rest of her friends...