Monday, April 30, 2007

Gather It All In A Bunch Of Heather

Earlier today in an email to Christian I suggested that I might be able to get home by 6 and spend an hour in the yard weeding - something we meant to do over the weekend. I guess I inspired Christian because when I got home - incidentally it was not anywhere close to 6 - he and La Luz were working hard. She doesn't really know what she is doing but La Luz loosely grasps the concept and seems to enjoy the work. The hard part is teaching her how to differentiate between what stays and what goes.

Not only was I late, I wasn't much help around the yard. I felt lazy tonight and decided to sit on the steps, drink a glass of wine, and eat this asian snack mix that I get at Whole Foods and am completely addicted to. La Luz spent the remainder of the evening picking pieces off of the rosemary plant that pop gave us and rubbing them in her hands so that she smelled like delicious, fresh rosemary.

Here she is with the rosemary

and digging into the asian snack mix (and I am not supposed to let her eat this because she choked on a piece of it recently and it was sort of scary)

and standing in front of 'her' window in one of my favorite recycled dresses from Maddie Moore.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Girl From Argentina

My dear friend Victoria is in town for her first Jazz Fest experience and to spend time with La Luz. Toita planned on visiting immediately after La Luz was born but Katrina made that impossible so we have been waiting for the past year and a half for her trip to New Orleans. We all prepared Toita for her first meeting with La Luz. We warned her that La Luz is, at times, stand-offish and is, always, protective of her things. We let her know that she shouldn't take offense if La Luz refused to allowed her near her toys and insisted over and over that I was her mom, Loki was her dog, and that the potty in the bathroom was, in fact, her toilet. We shouldn't have bothered. La Luz was all over Toita from the moment she arrived - climbing on her, talking to her, sharing things with her - it was all very weird and wonderful.

Toita and I spent yesterday at Jazz Fest. We opted not to take La Luz along with us because we knew it would be a long, hot day. The weather was perfect. It was hot but there was a decent breeze and enough space to actually feel it. I introduced Toita to crawfish bread and straberry lemonade and spontaneous second lines and beaded indians. We battled lines and lounged in the sun and listened to some excellent music. All in all it was an excellent day.

Today La Luz, Christian, and I went to the French Quarter with Toita and mom-mom. The quarter was crowded, which was nice to see. We even had to wait in a line at Cafe Du Monde - it was worth it. La Luz loved the beignets and powdered sugar. She also loved the fountain in the back of Cafe Du Monde - particularly because Christian let her play in it. I couldn't stop thinking about how filthy the water must have been.

Over the past few weeks I have felt the return of my obsessive-compulsive cleaning and organizing problem. I haven't experienced the urge to clean and organize since the day before La Luz's birth. I can tell that it is making Christian nervous but I can't stop myself. I guess maybe it is related to work, or maybe it has to do with the fact that my 18 month old, very curious, nephew is coming in town next weekend. Maybe it is that my house really does need some help - no telling. Regardless, things are starting to look pretty good around here. I got almost three baskets of clothes put away earlier this afternoon. Very impressive.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


Cottage Living began the process of putting together the pieces of the modular home down the street yesterday. I was stuck at work but Christian was kind enough to race home in the middle of the day to document the process for me. By the looks of it, I missed out on quite a spectacle. It has been difficult for me to fathom how these modular homes work, practically speaking. The pictures help me understand that it happens precisely the way it has been explained to me in the past - the structure is built in a warehouse somewhere (in this case, Arkansas) and then transported to wherever it is supposed to go on a flatbed. Once it arrives at the desired location, the pieces of the structure (in this case there are three) are lifted off of the flat bed and put into place on top of foundation poured just a day or two before. To see pieces of a house above the telephone wires and amid the tree tops is positively surreal.

The end result is going to be incredible based on what I have seen of the past Cottage Living dream homes (the people at Cottage Living were considerate enough to treat the neighbors to a year subscription of the magazine for the inconvenience). I am not hard to please; anything is better than the dilapidated house that was sitting on the lot when we moved in and the post-demolition cavity in the middle of the block hasn't been much to look at for the past few months either. Needless to say, I cannot wait until the work is complete and we get to tour the inside.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Spend Your Days In The Sunshine

Today La Luz's Aunt Susan celebrated her birthday and I wish I could have been there to celebrate with her. I have felt like Susan was my second little sister since the day, or night, that I first met her, just one week after I met Christian.

On the occasion of her birthday I cannot resist posting a picture of her from way back when.

Not only has she always been like a sister, she has always been a great friend, and I cannot imagine what my life would be like without her. I think we get along so well because we like all of the same things - music, books, movies, and playing with our kids and dogs.

Here's one of my favorite pictures of Susan playing with a dog that adopted her on the beach in Hummarock.

She is adorable and hilarious and humble and engages in just the right amount of self-deprecation. She is also a superb baker and hair stylist - two things I am not. Susan has an 18 month-old son and is over half-way through her second pregnancy and I really don't know how she does it.

Here she is with La Luz over the Christmas holidays, the last time we were together.

She will be here next weekend for Jazz Fest and I cannot wait to celebrate her belated, happy birthday!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Our New Friend

Apparently La Luz can convince Christian to buy just about whatever she wants. Most recently he indulged her with a larger-than-life Dora balloon. It is positively one of the strangest things I have ever seen. La Luz is in love and I am just trying to prepare myself for what is going to happen when she starts to deflate. It is inevitable, right?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Another Monday

I had a hard time getting back into the swing of things after such a hectic weekend. To make matters more difficult, ASH was closed today because yesterday was the conge. Christian was sleeping on La Luz's floor this morning while she busied herself doing who knows what around her room. Needless to say, it was tough to drag myself out of the house.

Here's a picture of La Luz riding on the merry-go-round at the conge yesterday:

I think she really likes these things. I think maybe I have to get her one for her birthday in June. I just wonder what happens for subsequent birthdays when you have a merry-go-round at age two. It seems a bit extravagant to me - is it really necessary? Fortunately, I have a little time before I have to decide.

And since I am on the topic of birthdays, Austin and Jordan celebrated a birthday yesterday! La Luz, Christian, and I send you guys both a happy birthday shout out and we wish we could have been with you to celebrate. I think you would have gotten a kick out of listening to her sing the 'may the dear lord bless you' part.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Wedding-Filled Weekend

My cousin Stephen's wedding was on Saturday night so our weekend was busy with wedding activities. Fortunately for Stephen and his wife, Samantha, the weather was absolutely incredible. I am thrilled that they had great weather for the wedding festivities but couldn't help thinking that I would be even happier for weather like this next weekend for Jazz Fest.

I got back in town from Virginia Friday afternoon and, after I ran to the office to pick up a few things, I spent the remainder of the day working from home and hanging out with La Luz. On Friday night Kelsea babysat for La Luz and Christian and I joined the rest of the Eustis family for the rehearsal dinner. After dinner we all went out for some drinks and it was such a nice treat to catch up with all of my cousins, as most of them live out of town these days and we rarely get to spend time together.

On Saturday we we had lunch at Savvy Gourmet and spent some more quality time with everyone who was in town for the wedding. The ceremony was at St. Henry's and since it was a nice night we were able to walk. La Luz was great during the wedding but kept asking to go visit the "Jesus going 'night night'". In the back of the church there is a statute of Jesus after he is taken down from the cross, prior to being placed in the tomb. He is covered in blood. For some reason that didn't seem to bother La Luz. I suppose because he is draped with a white cloth she assumed it was a sheet and that he must be getting ready to go to sleep.

La Luz spent the night at AJ and Uncle Edwards so that Christian and I could enjoy the reception and not have to worry about La Luz having a meltdown. It was such a nice treat and La Luz got totally spoiled. Apparently she slept until 8:15. She would never have done that here.

This morning mom and pop and Aunt Kate hosted a brunch for all of the out of town wedding guests so I spent the first part of the day helping out and visiting with everyone. It was one last chance to spend some time with everyone and it made me sad when it was time to leave - the weekend went by way too fast. Here are a few pictures of the events:

Outside of St. Henry's, giving Pop knuckles

Second Line

Dancing with the girls. Yes, that is mom out there on the dance floor - a once in a decade event folks.

Me with the B'ham Browns

La Luz with her other cousin Liam, aka, big Liam.

I hope to have the rest of the pictures posted on my flickr site at some point this week.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Lucy Gallery

I am leaving town again tomorrow for two days. I am going to Virginia for a business trip and I am just so tired and overwhelmed with work that I am having trouble garnering the strength. I had a hectic and disappointing day at work in some respects so I am just feeling burnt out.

I have been running around so much that I haven't had sufficient time to post some of the pictures from last weekend that Christian took while I was in NYC - weekend with Nana and Papa-T, French Quarter Fest, etc. So, here is a small sampling and a picture of La Luz in ponytails holding her life-sized baby doll:

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Life Goes On As It Did Before

I can't shake the sadness and horror I feel about the mass murders on the Virginia Tech campus yesterday. I read every update I can find about the people that were murdered and the guy who did it. It is no secret that I tend to dwell a bit on depressing topics, I can't help it. I just get stuck and have trouble pulling out of funks that are induced by things so far beyond my control.

Yet again I had to remember the lesson that there are no guarantees in life and that we are all operating on borrowed time to some extent. I suppose I can believe that sometimes there are reasons why bad things happen, but it is really very little consolation at the end of the day. For now, my struggle is to remember that every second I spend with my friends and loved ones is valuable. I have to remember to make the valuable decisions whenever possible and to enjoy every beautiful second, as trite as it sounds.

Billy Bragg said it best, granted he was talking about war, but I think it is a universal truth:

"Everything in my life that I love could be swept away without warning. Yet the birds still sing and the chuch bells ring and the sun came up this morning".

Monday, April 16, 2007

Guess Who's Back

Once I realized I wasn't leaving NYC until tomorrow morning, Molls and I came up with a plan for the day - lunch at Witchcraft followed by a visit to the expanded MoMa, follwed by some shopping at FAO Shwartz, followed by dinner with little Luis on the Upper West Side at a Thai restaurant he likes. Once our plans were set and we were almost out of the door I learned that Jet Blue had a seat available on the afternoon flight. I was torn but knew I should take it considering they were predicting snow flurries and more rain in NYC - it would have been risky to stick around. So, I packed my things quickly and walked with Molls to her local bakery, Blue Moon Bakery, for a quick coffee and breakfast. The airport was absolute madness but I had very little trouble. My flight was late, but nothing to complain about, all things considered. It was heartbreaking to leave Molls, it always is, but it was so nice to see La Luz's smiling face when she and mom-mom came to get me from the airport.

My trip was fabulous. When I arrived on Saturday Molly and I went to a street fair just down the street from her house. I found a great sweater for La Luz - like the ones we found on the street in Soho the spring before she was born - the ones she outgrew this year. I also got her a really cute sundress that is this incredible aqua color and was handmade in Guatemala.

After the street fair we went to Soho where we shopped and had an early dinner at a little french bistro. The weather was perfect, so comfortable that we were able to sit outside. While we were eating Molly Shannon passed by pushing a stroller with her two kids in it - very cool. After dinner Molly (my Molly, not Molly Shannon) headed to the theater to get ready for her show, Giant, and I ambled around a bit more until it was time for the show to start. The play was excellent and the story was heavy, but also incredibly hopeful - which I guess is one of - if not the - main themes in the story. I was very impressed. The set was remarkable too - one of the best I have seen.

The rain was terrible on Sunday, no doubt. It was apparently the most rainy day in NYC in 30 years. Who keeps track of that sort of thing? We weren't deterred. We managed to get soaking wet and still shop for hours on end. It was unbelievable. The weather thinned the crowds out a bit so it was easy enough to get in and out of dressing rooms for a change.

I was home for less than two hours before talking about when my next trip to visit Molly will be - end of the summer, my birthday weekend. But I am getting ahead of myself. I think tonight Molls will enjoy having her bed back to herself!

Sunday, April 15, 2007


I have heard about this happening many times - seen the sad, tired faces on the 6 o'clock news - but this is the first time it has happened to me. Jet Blue cancelled the flight I was set to depart on tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. The weather is bad, but not terrible, at least not here. It is just rainy, but I am accustomed to rain. I am scheduled to leave on Tuesday morning on the same flight. I will not believe it until I am seated on the plane and it taxis down the runway.

In the meantime, I will have to try to figure out how not miss La Luz and Christian too much, and how not to stress out about work and enjoy an extra day of total vacation. Christian and La Luz will have to muddle along without me. By all accounts they are doing just fine. Nana and Papa-T were in for the weekend and left earlier today. Christian took La Luz to French Quarter Fest for a bit and La Luz apparently really enjoyed eating a brisket poboy, crawfish pie, and crawfish monica. Wow. Tonight they had dinner at GGs with the rest of the family to celebrate mom and pop's anniversary and Sarah and Cheairs engagement! Here she is playing with her pony collection on GG's sunporch.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

In My Shoes

Literally. Christian took the pictures this afternoon. I was stuck at work and then had to go straight to dinner with the summer associates at Clancy's and La Luz was asleep when I finally got home. Consequently, the pictures are all I know of her afternoon and evening, but they are great.

Whoa, yesterday's post stirred up a bit too much controversy for me so I am keeping it light today. Good dialogue though. For those who are interested, I learned that Community buys directly from coffee farmers in Rwanda for some of its 'premium' blends, which is pretty cool. One of the blends on the list that I recognized is the hotel blend. I have had it many times and it is, by far, a superior roast when compared with the dark and medium roast Community coffee. It is also more expensive, but only by a dollar or two. I am not sure about PJs and I am not sure about Cool Brew - my two biggest weaknesses - but I am going to try to find out the details and will let you know what I discover.

Papa-T and Nana arrive tomorrow afternoon for the weekend and I am off to NYC for two nights with Molls. I can't wait.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

How Much Do I Love My Coffee

Christian and I recently started watching a PBS series called, Independent Lens. I am totally addicted to it and highly recommend it. My recommendation comes with a caveat, however, if you are a champion of those who are taken advantage of, those fighting against injustice, and those whose voices desperately need to be heard, it might give you a case of good old fashioned 'heart hurting'. The episode we watched tonight, Black Gold, tells the story of Ethiopian coffee farmers and their fight for a fair trade. It is heartbreaking and, because I am a coffee whore, gut-wrenching.

I haven't figured out how it is going to work yet, but sometime soon the family below will be a 100% fair trade coffee family.

We switched long-distance service to Working Assets for socio-political reasons (okay, and for the ten free pints of Ben & Jerry's) and I enjoyed explaining to the Bell South representative during her monthly phone call - pitching the newest and cheapest deal - that I didn't actually mind that I paid more for my long distance service, that it was a choice I made and it had nothing to do with economics - obviously. At some point I understand that being a 100% fair trade coffee family might be completely cost-prohibitive, but I have to try. I just wish that more people in the world were willing to act out of altruism and not greed. The world would be a vastly different and much more beautiful place.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Spring And By Summer Fall

It seems like yesterday

and yet so much has changed, not the least of which is the growth of some hair follicles, thankfully:

Monday, April 09, 2007

I Don't Work, I Dream

As it always is after a three-day weekend, it was particularly painful returning to work this morning. It didn't help that it was a beautiful day and it didn't help that I left Christian and La Luz, cozy, in pjs, on the sofa, lounging around and enjoying a leisurely morning. I guess the hardest part about going to work is that I rarely enjoy what I do on a day-to-day basis. I don't even have the energy to go into it; instead I will post a picture of me playing with La Luz inside of the old dollhouse at White Plantation. I think I looked at this picture 5 times today and remembered the smell of old wet wood and rusty nails, the feeling of the sticky cobwebs as we pushed the shutters open, and the sound of La Luz's shouts as she peeked out of the window.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Lucy, White Plantation, Easter 2007

La Luz and I spent the weekend in Thibodaux and, although the weather left much to be desired, it was a lovely and relaxing three days. If you are really interested in more of the details check out banosfamilia for the recap.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Happy Easter

La Luz and I are off for a weekend in the country.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Sweep Down Early

In addition to Nana's birthday, April 4th is also Aunt Linda's birthday. Aunt Linda is one of my biggest sources for old family photos, but she has conveniently never provided me any featuring her, interesting. Happy Birthday Aunt Linda, we love you and miss you!

According to the ashfin ladies La Luz has a blocked tear duct. I agree that something is wrong with her eye because she keeps getting funk in it and every time we remove it, more appears within minutes. She also keeps telling me that it itches. I don't know about a blocked tear duct though. I have heard of dogs having blocked tear ducts, old dogs, but I have never heard of people having them. At any rate, we will find out what the deal is tomorrow when Christian takes her to the doctor.

I am thrilled that I have one more day of work this week and that Easter vacation is almost here.

Here are a few pictures of La Luz and Pop on the porch:

Monday, April 02, 2007

Let Me Take You On A Party Ride

On this day in 1952 Nana was born, the last kid in a long line of Johnson children, she was number 7, if I remembered everyone and counted properly. This picture perfectly captures what it must've been like to grow up in South Boston, the baby of such a big family. I love the expression - so snarky but also so patient - as if to say, "yes, this is just one of the many things they make me do". Maybe it is because she is short, or maybe it is the silly expression, but something about it reminds me of La Luz.

Here she is a few years later talking to Santa. She looks a little unsure. Maybe that is where La Luz's fear of holiday icons comes from:

and then in one of her favorite places, poolside with La Luz:

I guess maybe what you can't tell from the pictures is that Nana is one of the kindest people I know. If there is anything about Nana that I want to rub off on La Luz it is her openness to and acceptance of others and her inherent ability to love unconditionally. It is not that she is a martyr or anything, I simply haven't ever heard Nana speak judgmentally about another person. I think that is pretty incredible because I do it all the time, without realizing it. Christian has inherited some of that trait but I think he has become too jaded somehow. My hope is that things will be different for La Luz, that she will grow up with a similar pure and loving heart. That and the ability to do the electric slide flawlessly are two enviable traits, and I hope La Luz inherits them both.

So, Happy Birthday Nana...we love you and wish we could be there with you to celebrate!

Let's Go Red Sox

I suppose the season opener for the Red Sox doesn't merit much discussion but I couldn't resist this display:

Win or lose, La Luz was certainly in the spirit. It is a good thing she recently discovered Christian's collection of Sox hats because she no longer fits comfortably in her Red Sox ceerleading outfit from Aunt Ruthie. Not only does the shirt no longer fit over her head, I doubt it would cover her distended belly. For now, the hat will have to do.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

And I Find It Kind Of Funny, Find It Kind Of Sad

I am thrilled that it is a short week. We have Friday off and La Luz and I will be heading to Thibodaux to spend the Easter weekend out there. It will be great to see everyone who is in town for Easter and have some fun in the country. I am really looking forward to seeing the new colt and taking a nap or two in the hammock. Unfortunately, Christian is going to be here in New Orleans all weekend for the Easter Classic volleyball tournament.

The weekend raced by, as usual. Friday afternoon La Luz and I went to the ASH Baby Party with AJ. La Luz had a great time playing with all of the other kids and particularly loved the merry-go-round.

Friday night we went to dinner at Sake with Mike and Kelli and the kids and, at my urging, ended up at La Divina Gelateria. On Saturday La Luz and I ran in a race at Audubon Park with a bunch of people from work. We had a great time and La Luz was substantially more cooperative than she was for the race last weekend. That afternoon when Christian returned from coaching the quiz bowl team he planted some daisies for La Luz. We spent the evening sitting on the porch watching La Luz tear the lantana apart, trying to explain to her why she can't do the same thing to the daisies.

Saturday night was super-mellow. Christian bbq'd and after La Luz went to sleep we watched Stranger Than Fiction. I heard only negative things about the movie so I was a bit hesitant to take the time to watch it. I was totally surprised by how much I liked the movie. It was a bit slow, admittedly, but it was touching, sort of heartbreaking even.

Although it threatened to rain all day today it never did. Instead, it was a lovely, calm, quiet sort of windy-gray day, just the kind that is perfect for a lazy Sunday. Christian woke up early and made blueberry muffins for La Luz and me. After breakfast La Luz and I went to palm Sunday mass. I was reluctant to take her because it is the longest mass of the year but, with the exception of a ten minute sprint around the back of the church in the middle of the homily, she was very well-behaved. After mass we went to the zoo for a few hours and La Luz enjoyed every minute of it, of course.

After dinner with mom-mom and pop who had just returned from their trip to NYC, La Luz crashed but not after first pitching a bit of a fit about the Easter bunny. I don't know when it happened exactly but all of the sudden she became totally and completely paralyzed with fear at the thought of the Easter bunny coming over; Donnie Darko anyone?

Although it seems there would not have been enough time in our busy lives, Christian and I also managed to take care of some crucial tasks this weekend:

1. wash and dry La Luz's bun-bun - he is like new;
2. clean the air conditioning filter upstairs;
3. do laundry (does not include actually put laundry away, only washing and folding);
4. water the plants (since it didn't ever really rain);
5. watch one of the netflix we have had for 4 weeks; and
6. come up with a tentative summer schedule for La Luz.

Just a small sampling of the things that keep this house operating like the not so well oiled machine that it is.