Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year with all of our love.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

An Early Christmas Present

Today La Luz and Christian supervised Nelson while he installed the new duct work, vent covers and UV filters for the ac and heat in the upstairs of our house. It is the most unexciting home repair work ever and possibly the lamest way to spend the first day of Christmas vacation.

The work wasn't all without reward, however. The big surprise that Christian failed to mention on the phone is that Nelson also replaced the upstairs and downstairs thermostats with, oh yeah, you guessed it, electronic ones. Here's the new look in our house:

Check one gift off of that crazy list!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

All Dolled Up

La Luz had a big day today. She spent the morning with AJ and Mary running errands and the afternoon at Mom-mom's house playing with the train, exploring around the neighborhood and blowing bubbles. She was completely wired by the time we got home and only just went to sleep. I hope the late bedtime means she will sleep late since she and Christian are both now officially on Christmas break. Don't get me started.

Here she is wearing some stick on earrings Mary apparently gave her. She pretty much threw a fit when I had to take them off to bathe her. They look so cute it sort of makes me wish I would have pierced her ears when she was a newborn.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

He Knows When You Are Awake

The older I get the more creeped out I get by the lyrics to Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I hate the thought of someone, anyone, even Santa, knowing if and when I am sleeping. That is just a little too omniscient for my taste. It makes me wonder why more little kids don't get freaked out by that idea. Whenever I mention it to La Luz she seems intrigued, but mostly appears to just make mental notes, as if reminding herself to say "please" and "thank you" and generally exercise decent behavior at the risk of missing out on presents.

I remember one Easter a long time ago my younger cousin, Mary, became completely flipped out and inconsolable when she finally realized that a rabbit would actually enter the condo in Destin, the one where she was sleeping, scurry across the kitchen floor, and place a basket for her on the breakfast room table. I think she was so traumatized that my mom tried to convince my aunt to just break the news to her.

For now at least, La Luz seems to dig the idea that Santa is coming down the chimney, the one nearest to the tree, and will leave some presents for her on Christmas morning. At the start of the holiday season I didn't really think that she was old enough to be bribed with Santa but I learned a few weeks ago that her teacher bribed her on a number of occasions to get her to take a nap in the afternoon. Once I discovered that she was actually threatened by the thought of Santa not coming to our house to leave her an orange car under the tree, I used it every time I needed a decent bribe. I will have to resort to more creative measures in a week, but for now I can convince her to do just about whatever I need her to do (or not do).

Here she is earlier tonight after a lazy afternoon of steetcar and wagon rides with Christian. She is checking out her new princess ponytail holders (a Christmas gift from her teacher) in the mirror and looking incredibly scuzzy.

Monday, December 17, 2007

They Shouted Out With Glee

La Luz's first school Christmas party was this morning. I decided to take the day off because I was worried that I would get stuck at the office and be late, as usual. I loved every minute of my day off with La Luz and even managed to be a bit productive while she napped. It worked out perfectly that I took the day off because there was no after care at La Luz's school and Christian has been busy all day grading his exams.

The Christmas party was totally entertaining. I had no real expectations going into it, assuming that there isn't much you can do with toddlers. The girls came out of their classrooms wearing reindeer shirts made out of their hand and footprints and headband antlers. The reactions as they left their classrooms and discovered that there parents were waiting for them in the entry hall to celebrate were hilarious. Some of the girls did the obvious screaming and jumping. Others scanned the crowd, craning their necks with looks of anxiety as they searched for familiar faces, and some saw their parents' faces in the crowd and immediately flipped out and started bawling uncontrollably until their mom or dad rescued them. La Luz was one of the few kids who was just generally excited at the idea of a party, at school, with parents, and, most importantly, presents and unrestricted cheetos and sugar.

After a very disorganized photo session wherein all of the girls were lined up and asked (bribed) to stay in place, the kids made it through one round of Jingle Bells (which, incidentally, never sounds better than when sung by a 2 and 1/2 year old) and then dispersed to run around the hallways and eat Christmas candy. Santa made a guest appearance but La Luz would not sit on his lap. I hoped that she would feel courageous after watching her friends sit on his lap but that did not work. She made sure, however, to get Christian to hold her and walk within shouting distance of him. She yelled from about three feet away, "Santa, may I please have an orange car? Thanks".

Most of the pictures have her classmates in them. This might be the only one I have just of her:

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I Hope You Had Fun

I have never been much for manual labor. It is not that I mind it in particular, just that I have never been asked to do it, so it is not part of my routine. Organizing, stacking, sorting, dusting and general cleaning are very much a part of my skill set. Christian, unlike me, actually had to do a fair amount of yard work as a kid (at least this is what he tells me) so taking care of the lawn is something he dreads, though does without complaint once he finally decides it has to be dealt with.

Even though it has been in the 70s and 80s for the past two weeks, we have been kicking our way through 6 inches of beautiful leaves in our front yard and on the sidewalk every time we leave the house. I kept hoping something would happen and they would all disappear - lots of wind? strong rain? a generous lawn service hired by neighbors? On Saturday Christian tackled the very overwhelming task of clearing the front of the house and sidewalk. I know this is nothing close to shoveling snow but it was 80 degrees outside, humid and breezy so the job was extra burdensome. When La Luz and I pulled up to the house I couldn't get inside fast enough. La Luz, on the other hand, was ready to dive right in and offer her assistance - as long as she was allowed to wear the special gloves:

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Saint Lucia - The Queen Of Lights

Today is the feast day of St. Lucy. I love the saints and their stories. Over the course of my life I have had a few different copies of books containing stories of the lives of saints. I remember being intrigued by the things that were depicted in the pictures with each saint - St. Francis always had animals around him, St. Christopher (and I don't think he is a saint anymore) had the baby Jesus perched on his shoulder, and St. Lucy had her eyeballs gouged out and displayed them on a dinner plate. Wow. Gorey stuff.

A year ago I posted the story of how St. Lucy came to be and why she is so special. If I actually spent time learning how to work blogger I could put a link back to that old post. I have had that on my "stuff that needs to get done" list forever but that list is always disregarded in favor of the "DO THIS NOW, FOOL" list.

The short story is that the feast of St. Lucy is celebrated as a festival of lights. Her name means "light" and so she became the patron saint for the eyes - the light of the body. In the olden days girls wore crowns made of lingonberry twigs and blazing candles - sounds incredibly dangerous. In Sweeden the youngest daughter wears the crown and wakes the family with a tray of steaming coffee and saffron buns. I don't know what saffron buns are but I bet I would like them. At this point, La Luz is barely capable of retrieving a handful of dry cereal from the box so I wasn't altogether surprised when she didn't bring me steaming coffee and saffron buns. Maybe next year.

Here's my Lucy:

always keeping it very light indeed.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Come N' Get It

Dinner time at the Vaicius feedlot. This little operation has been in effect for a week or so now. Sometimes it involves two or three bowls and baby dolls. What you see here is a more simplified version. I am glad someone is keeping track of who had dinner.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Check It

The image Christian has been trying to stage for the past year and a half.

It happened while I was busy getting ready for work this morning and I love it.
I don't know what it is about the picture that really gets me - the fact that Loki is so comfortable, her insouciant pose, or the mystery of how they got like that...it is all so amusing.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Xian's Xmas

What follows is Christian's completely unsolicited Christmas list. Contrary to my list, I am not posting this list in the hopes that someone will get him all of this stuff. It just amused me. I like the list because, 1) he assumes someone is getting him something and is confused about what he might like and 2) the list ranges from the very attainable and totally realistic to the truly ridiculous. Here it is in no particular order:

Polo shirts for school. This is an image of a Gap polo shirt but I don't think he cares where it comes from. He would like black, white, and/or red. He also asked for a royal blue one but I am not wild about that color and he is colorblind.

A seat cushion for the bench in our kitchen. There is only one person that has the possibility of making this wish come true and somehow I think her hands are full this holiday season.

Two electronic thermostats so we can finally figure out what temperature it is around here.

Madden 2008 (or 2007) for the PS2.

A saw. I guess it is a circular saw that he wants because the project that he needs it for involves removing and resizing baseboards.

A stained glass window with our street addressed etched in it for the front door. Um, yea, not happening pal.

Finally, although it is not on the list, I think all hell would break loose if either this:

or this:

appeared under the tree on Christmas morning.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Looking Like Christmas

It is unbelievable...a second ago it was Friday afternoon and now it is Sunday night, late. I am not sure what happened over the past 48 hours to make the time go by so fast, but looking back it doesn't seem like I managed to get all that much accomplished.

I got the tree all lit up and decorated with Christian and La Luz's help. We also put some lights and garland on the upstairs balcony and hung the stockings. It is starting to look a lot like Christmas around here even if it is 80 degrees outside and the ac is on. Decorating the tree, and even having a tree, is much more fun this year than last year because La Luz finally 'gets' it and she is really into the idea of Christmas. That is about where my productivity ended. The rest of the weekend was filled with a bunch of hanging out and doing fun stuff.

La Luz's weekend was, for the most part, filled with Christmas-oriented activities.

Aunt Kate sent an advent calendar and it is exactly what I had been looking for but was completely unable to find. La Luz spent the afternoon on Friday opening up the doors for the days that already passed and trying to figure out how to get us to agree to let her open the remaining days.

On Saturday I took La Luz to ASH to see Santa. We saw him, from about 25 feet away. As I got closer to the stage and Santa himself La Luz started clawing at my neck and suffocating me with her grip of death. I thought that she had outgrown her weird fear of Santa. No such luck. Maybe next year. She enjoyed the rest of the activities. Especially playing with the light up, lawn display manger and the toy soldiers.

Kelsea babysat three nights in a row and last night brought La Luz her Christmas present, a precious cat named Sasha, but renamed Noodles after Kelsea's cat. Noodles hasn't left La Luz's side since. Here she is opening it up:

Earlier tonight Christian cooked lamb chops on the grill - a recipe he had been anxious to try since he discovered it at Saskia's wedding. Not bad, eh?

Margot, Walker, Mom, Pop and Uncle Richmond came over for dinner and La Luz was totally on fire. It took about an hour to get her sedated and ready for bed. Needless to say, she crashed instantly. Here she is forcing Richmond to play the piano with her:

It is hard to believe Christmas is in about two weeks. There is still so much to be done to get ready. Let's see if I can pull it together.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

OneTriangular Shaped Tree, No Flocking Please

Tonight is the last cold night for the next week or so. The temperatures over the next few days are going to reach into the upper 70s and, occasionally, the 80s. With that in mind, we decided to search for and purchase our Christmas tree earlier tonight. Neither Christian nor I have any particular likes or dislikes when it comes to Christmas trees. We both essentially agree that the tree should look triangular, but that is about as specific as we get. In past years we have had overly-dry trees, incredibly crooked trees, trees with extreme bare patches, trees with oddly growing branches, you name it. I am sure this year will be no exception. I can't quite tell what the defect will be this year because the tree has only just been released from its netting. As far as La Luz is concerned, it is perfect. Here's the look on her face when the guy held it up for our scrutinizing eyes:

She became so attached to the tree in such a short period of time that I had to make a special exception and allow her a quick trip downstairs after her bath to 'tell the tree goodnight'.

This was all great news to me because when we first arrived at the tree lot she ducked straight into the 'flocked' tree area. In all my life I had never set foot in that section. Clearly though, it was the place she wanted to be and contained the tree she wanted to bring home. She particularly liked the red flocked tree. I am not even really sure if I knew that they made such things:

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Love Letters And Old Lists

I hate old books and not because I don't have an appreciation for recycling. The reasons I am disinclined to peruse used (and rare) bookstores are varied and many. Christian, on the other hand, loves nothing more than the idea of sharing books. He loves the browsing amidst dusty old volumes no longer in print. He can spend hours at charity book sales and is never one to turn away a hand-me-down or two, unless of course it is a contemporary fiction writer he does not care to read. I have no problem reading a book that belonged to a friend or family member, it is when the book comes from a place I do not know and was touched by hands and breathed upon by people I can only imagine that I start to get nervous.

The first time I read a 'used' book (and I am not talking about school text books, those don't count, you don't have a choice) I was in high school and it was a copy of Cat's Cradle I picked up at the Symphony Book Fair. I was about twenty pages in and already hooked when I came across a page with a big greasy thumb print. A few pages later I found an eyelash. I was totally grossed-out by that point and, fortunately, was able to borrow the copy Richmond had on his shelf. It is not that I never pick up used books or read the occasional book without knowing the origin, it is just that I do it with extreme care and caution. As a rule I will not read used books in bed and I would like to do it only while wearing latex gloves, but this gets complicated. The solution is to stick with new books when possible.

There is, however, one thing I love and will never cease to appreciate about used books. I love a certain aspect of the human impact - everything from the underlined words and notes made in the margins to the receipts and postcards left inside. I love the glimpses into the lives of the people who came before me and read (and maybe enjoyed) the book I am reading. If I could guarantee that human impact, and not have to worry about the other kind, I would continue to read used books with reckless abandon. Unfortunately, nobody can guarantee that I won't find a booger tucked away deep inside of Chapter 11.

The Found Magazine website has sort of filled this void for me. Although I only looked at the site once before tonight, after seeing and listening to Peter and Davy Rothbart earlier tonight at the Found v. Post Secret event I think I am hooked. I have had a lot of trouble making the links to other websites work but if you are interested you can check it out at www.foundmagazine.com. It was an interesting night. The highlight was listening to the founder of Post Secret, Frank Warren, discuss how the project started, what it means to him, and what it has meant to the hundreds of thousands of lives it has touched. The impact is huge and far-reaching.

No pictures of the bug today but tomorrow will be a big day - St. Nick in the morning, dentist appointment, and tree shopping. It is going to be in the 70's and 80's this weekend and I have a problem selecting a Christmas tree in shorts, so I think we are going to try to go tomorrow night so that it will at least feel like Christmas at the tree lot.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Everybody Has One

Tomorrow night Christian and I are going to the Post Secret/Found event at the Iron Rail reading room in the Marigny. I think it should be a very interesting evening. Christian showed me the Post Secret website (www.postsecret.blogspot.com) about six or so months ago and it never ceases to intrigue me. Post Secret is a community art project and the way it works is that people send in anonymous postcards with their secret(s) on it. The card (and message) is then prominently displayed on the Post Secret website for the world to see. It is updated once a week. Sometimes the content is a bit intense, but I am so captivated by the concept that I can overlook the more disturbing (and occasionally distasteful entries). If you haven't been there yet, stop by and check it out for yourself. It is fascinating.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Season Of Preparation

I remember that Advent calendars were a very big deal in my house when I was growing up. Oddly enough, it was Mema, my non-catholic grandmother, that always provided us with a really cool calendar each year. I have three siblings so growing up I had to share and only got to open the calendar on every fourth day. Sometimes the images underneath the corresponding dates were lame, like a French horn or piece of holly. On other days we were all impressed by pictures of presents, snowmen and elves. As we got older the calendars became more elaborate. I remember a few that actually had chocolate behind the 'day'.

I have been looking for a calendar for La Luz but have not been able to find one. Fortunately, school sent one home so I tacked it up on the wall in the kitchen. There is nothing fancy about this advent calendar but the message is lovely. La Luz gets it, for the most part, and I think that is really cool.

The calendar is more proactive than I am accustomed to but I think that is a good idea. The message on the calendar for today is, 'hug someone'. The result looks something like this:

I am almost positive this beats out the image of Santa and the one of the stocking filled with candy canes and puppies.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

All Tigers And Dawgs

The announcement that LSU is playing in the national championship game and that UGA is going to the Sugar Bowl was just the finishing touch on a lovely weekend. Even better still was the phone call from my godfather telling me that he was sending us FOUR tickets to see UGA play in the Sugar Bowl. My Uncle George has always done an impeccable job of spoiling me but this sort of blows my mind.

I got back Friday evening after spending three days in Atlanta and discovered that Christian and La Luz had, not surprisingly yet a bit disappointingly, gotten along just fine without me. I had a great time in Atlanta when I wasn't working and particularly enjoyed spending Friday morning with La Luz's Aunt Susan, but I was psyched to be home. The house was neat, La Luz was in a great mood, and there were no visible signs of trauma.

We managed a few projects (or should I say, Christian managed a few projects) around the house. He finally hung the mirror in the hallway and installed the wire photo holder that we bought at Ikea at the end of the summer. Things are starting to shape up around here.

In addition to the hallway project Christian ventured into the attic and brought down the gigantic tupperware filled with Christmas whatnots. I feel very behind in the holiday prep because I think every house in my block and most people I know already have their tree up and house decorated. Wow. I think there is a chance it might happen next weekend. Then again, maybe not.

Loki could not be bothered to do much of anything this weekend. It was warm here, in the 70s and 80s, so he spent most of the weekend much like this:

On Saturday night Christian and I went to my friend, Saskia's, wedding. The reception was at Benachi House on Bayou Road. It was one of the most beautiful receptions I have ever been to and I am amazed that, not only have I never been to a wedding reception there, I never even knew the place existed.

We spent the day today in Baton Rouge celebrating Camille's 2nd birthday. La Luz and Camille do not get to see each other often but they share a special bond because during our Katrina evacuation La Luz lived in Camille's room before Camille was born. We had a great time visiting with the Stones, my friend Hal who I rarely get to see, and we even got to meet Uncle Richmond for a quick cup of coffee. All in all it was a great trip and La Luz (and Christian) particularly enjoyed the spacewalk.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I am on a 6:15 flight to Atlanta tomorrow morning and am already dreading what it feels like to be awake and cold and getting gussied up in a suit at 4:30 a.m. I would much rather do just about anything, even hand-pick pieces of Loki's dog hair off of Christian's winter coat. I have to be in Atlanta for work for a few days and I decided to take an extra day to spend time with my family while I am there. I wish Christian and La Luz could come with me but we just couldn't make the schedules work. I hate leaving them for anything more than a full day of work, but somehow I think they will be okay without me around for a few days.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Little Cyber Shopping For Stuff I Think Is Cool

As I get older I do less Christmas shopping each year. Somehow it has just worked out, thankfully, that we stopped focusing on buying stuff and started concentrating on just enjoying being together for the holidays. Nevertheless, there are still a few things that catch my eye now and then and it is really hard not to get caught up in the consumer frenzy that surrounds Christmas - black Friday, cyber Monday - it is all so silly and yet, at least on some level, it is making me want to purchase stuff.

Here are a few of things that I think are cool and wouldn't mind buying for myself, my friends, and/or my loved ones:

Reidel stemless wine glasses. Prefect for the wine-guzzling klutz.

Timbuk 2 laptop messenger bag because it holds everything an attorney needs but is a great disguise.

Banana Republic shirt in cranberry red because it is totally festive and looks like it would fit like a glove. The best part is that nobody would notice if you didn't brush your hair.

Neutrogena Minerals powder in Illuminator - for those of you who, like me, are too old not to wear makeup.

Ipod Nano - because, thanks again Apple, it is just so tiny and oh-so-cute.

Book Two of Lian Hearn's Otori series because Book One was such a great read.

Garmin pedometer that does all kinds of crazy things associated with your workout. I doubt I could get through the manual that likely accompanies it though.

A gift certificate for a few solo-reformer sessions at Romney Pilates. Wow. Totally indulgent but perhaps even better than a massage?

Don't get me wrong, I don't need and have not asked for any of this stuff. It is just that now and then I enjoy a bit of shopping and daydreaming and what better day to do it than on Cyber Monday.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Giving Thanks

I am holding on to the last few hours of my Thanksgiving vacation and stretching it out as long as possible. At the end of a break I always have an urge to stay up all night in an effort to prolong the awful inevitable. If I weren't yawning already I might stand a chance. I can't complain too much though, the next few weeks should be nice. It is my favorite time of year after all. It always seems like work is a little more laid back during the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

We spent most of the past few days in Thibodaux with the rest of my extended family. It was great to have a chance to visit with my cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. I accomplished almost everything on the list and, most importantly, feel very well-rested for the first time in a long time. The energy is thanks, in large part, to having a ton of help with La Luz and is also due to the fact that the country air turns La Luz into a hibernating bear. She took four hour naps and slept until 9 almost every day.

La Luz spent most of the weekend playing with her t-ball set, throwing rocks in ditches, chasing the dogs, chasing the dogs in the golf cart, chasing the dogs while being held by her cousins, looking for the horses, feeding the horses sugar cubes, and picking satsumas, oranges, and grapefruit. I am surprised she is not orange considering how much citrus she ate in 4 days.

I read a ton (magazines and my book - which is excellent and totally frustrating and has taken whatever small amount of pleasure I had in grocery shopping away entirely - even shopping at Whole Foods - forget it, it is not enjoyable anymore). I also managed to fit in a ten mile run to keep up with the marathon training program. The best part of the run (other than the scenery) was that I finally outran Loki. I don't think he has exerted any energy, save what it takes to eat a bowl of food, since then.

Here are some of the highlights: