Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Welcome To The World Wesley

My nephew, Wesley Andrew Martin, was born early this morning, weighing in at 8 lbs. 7 oz. By all accounts he has a great disposition. I can't wait to meet him.

The best news is that he is healthy and happy and Susan is doing fine. I am always blown away by the awesomeness of birth.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Light Rock, Less Talk

La Luz is still sick and Christian and I are both totally frustrated. There doesn't seem to be anything particularly wrong with her other than a ridiculously high fever. The fever comes and goes too. For the better part of the day today she was fever free, but after her nap it was up to 103.6. We are bracing for another long night, one that neither of us likely has the energy to deal with, one that we are both totally dreading. Maybe the Motrin will do its trick and lull her into a peaceful slumber.

Here she is trying her best to play despite feeling lousy. You can kind of see the battle wounds on her right eye:

Christian leaves on Wednesday for Costa Rica so we are both hoping that La Luz is on the mend tomorrow. This time I am really not looking forward to his departure. It is not so much that I am envious that he will be in Costa Rica, which I am. It is more just that I am anxious about being left behind with a hyper-active dog, a sick toddler, and a mountain of work at the office.

It is not all so awful though, some exciting things are also happening in the next few days. My sister-in-law, Susan, is on her way to the hospital to give birth right now and it is killing me that I can't be there. Josh is on his way in town for a few days, which means I will finally get to meet his girlfriend and I think we are going to dinner at Galatoires one night. We should have some good distractions in Christian's absence. Let's just hope that La Luz gets well soon.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Photo Booth Trio

While I was at the trial ad program on Saturday La Luz had a collision with her stroller, or something like that...
She looks like Rocky - either the Sylvester Stallone one or the Eric Stoltz one - pronounced bony ridge, odd-shaped eyes, totally asymetrical. I keep finding new bruises on her and it breaks my heart because they look very painful. As if the bruises were not enough, she woke up with fever and has been, for the most part, misreable for the better part of the day. I couldn't get any pictures of her today - she was impossible. Instead, you will have to deal with some pictures Christian and I took inside the photo booth at Catherine and Stephen's wedding last night at Latrobes. These are the reject pictures (for obvious reasons). The best ones were left behind in Cat and Stephen's guest book.

Friday, July 27, 2007

La Luz, Nightgown

Christian and I had a party tonight for our friends who are getting married on Saturday. We predicted it would be somewhat chaotic around here so La Luz spent the night at mom-mom and pop's. Here she is, all bathed and ready for bed. She is wearing a nightgown that mom-mom got her and looks totally grown-up.

I am wiped out and cannot believe I am only 1/3 of the way through the CLE/trial program. I need to find the energy and desire to get through the next 2 days.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

La Luz, In The Rocks

One of La Luz's favorite new activities is spending time loitering around the Cottage Living house. I can't say I blame her, there are so many attractive things about the place. She likes the bricked-in driveway and the hidden set of steps leading to the side entrance. She also enjoys spending time on the front porch, looking up at the fan. I think, however, that her favorite part is the miniature rock garden. Most days when I get home from work I can find a new pet rock or two around the house. Yesterday I found one on my way upstairs. I am not exactly sure where she got the idea that these garden rocks are community property. Needless to say, she has grown very fond of the rocks and refers to them as 'her babies'. Apparently she removed a rock from the rock garden earlier today, placed it on the front steps of the Cottage Living house and proceeded to sit on it - like a mother duck protecting her egg. Sometimes two year olds behave in very eccentric ways. This is just one example.

The picture was taken with Christian's cell phone as I was stuck at work until very late. The next few days will be extremely chaotic around here. I am stuck in a mock trial type of CLE for the next three days (yes, that includes Saturday) and, somehow, we are having a party at our house tomorrow night for our friends who are getting married on Saturday night. I think I will feel relieved on Sunday morning, but until then, I am not sure if I will even remember to breathe.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

To Our Favorite Octogenarian, With Love

On this day 80 some odd years ago, La Luz's Papa George was born - certainly a reason to celebrate if ever there was one! The story of how he became a part of our lives reads almost like a novel, but suffice it to say he literally brought me into this world and for that I will be forever grateful.

Happy Birthday Papa George with all of our love.

Summertime continues to make life warm and bright around the Vaicius house. Tonight after work was just more of the great activities that mean summer is in full swing - bbq chicken and wagon rides. Here's La Luz enjoying a bit of both:

Monday, July 23, 2007

That Summertime Feeling

I have had a terrible time staying focused at work this past month. I think it is a combination of my vacation during the beginning of the month, and some particularly stressful projects in need of my attention, that is making it difficult for me to stay focused. Mondays have always been troublesome days for me, but Mondays during the summer when Christian is around and can dedicate the entire day to having fun with La Luz are particularly rough for me because I know I am missing out. I came home during my lunch break today and had a picnic on the front porch with Christian and La Luz. I love the feeling of being at home during the middle of the day. Although it is not at all a big deal and really takes only a few minutes longer than I would spend running to the food court, it feels completely liberating and a tad rebellious.

The weather was perfect this evening. The humidity was low and the bugs were not too bad so we all enjoyed some time on the porch while La Luz ate a popsicle. I loved eating popsicles as a kid. I remember thinking that the chance to sit outside and eat a popsicle while listening to the cicadas had to be one of the greatest summertime events ever in the life of a kid. I think La Luz is catching on.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Likes Of You Again

La Luz's cousin Edward has been in town for the past few days spending time at AJ's while Betsy and Dan are in Cancun. Consequently, La Luz and Edward had a chance to catch up this past weekend. When La Luz wasn't busy being territorial she had an excellent time with Edward. She introduced him to the swings at the park, Nemo fun fruits, the precarious steps in our house, high-fives, and knuckles. Baby Betsy and Jen even came over earlier today to join in all of the toddler fun. Betsy didn't think twice about getting in the middle of the 'big' kids.

Most of the weekend was spent doing stuff around the house. We managed to fit in two movies which is pretty rare these days. We watched Russian Dolls on Friday night and it was great. I particularly liked the cinematography. The overall 'look' of the film captivated me. The story is interesting enough, frustrating in parts but also quite sweet at times. On Saturday night we watched Smokin' Aces. It was bloody but entertaining. I intended to catch up on a bunch of work at some point but, for some reason, there simply wasn't enough time. We ended the weekend enjoying a lovely dinner with GG, Papa George, Mom-mom and Pop. I blinked and it became Sunday night at 10:00 and I started writing this post, wondering how it could be that the weekend ended so quickly.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

New House On The Block

The Cottage Living 2007 Idea Home was 'unveiled' tonight for certain VIPs in the city of New Orleans and neighbors. The people at Cottage Living put together a great party replete with 'tastings' from some delicious local chefs/restaurants, a decent sampling of alcohol, free tours of the house, and, my favorite part - swag. I have never been to a party where swag was available but I have heard and read about it and it always sounds lovely. Who doesn't like free stuff?

Jessie came along with us. We pretended she was La Luz's nanny in order to get her in as one of the 'neighbors' but really they wouldn't have cared. I think anyone in suitable attire could have shown up and would not have been denied admission. In an ironic twist, La Luz only wanted me to hold her and she refused to walk. Consequently, I got hot and sweaty very quickly, couldn't really 'study' any of the rooms, missed out on some great photos, and had to race through the house. I think I will pay the $10 admission and walk through it again, slowly, without La Luz on my hip. The admission fee goes to the PRC as a donation anyway, so it is a worthy cause.

After touring the house and enjoying a few beverages and bites to eat we retired to the porch to check out the swag and watch the passersby. The gift bag was a bit disappointing - mostly advertisements and brochures for stuff I could never afford, but there were a few nice things included - an oxy stick that 'removes stains on contact' and some Laura Ashley lotion.

Overall it was a really nice party and decent payback for the inconvenience. Christian is still out there drinking with the neighbors. I think he has made up for the value of our inconvenience in Abitas.

Here is a picture of the house, all finished and beautiful:

and La Luz, in an enviable orange armchair:

Word on the street is that it will be on the market for $595,000.00. Any takers?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

It's Just You Sitting Next To Me

For the most part, La Luz, Loki and Christian have been inseparable since Christian's return, and I understand. Nevertheless, it leaves me feeling a bit left-out. I managed a few quiet minutes with La Luz and Loki this evening on the porch while La Luz ate a popsicle. The more Christian is around after being away, the more I realize I hate when he is away. When I came home from work tonight dinner was made, the yard was mowed, the garden was weeded and pruned, the fridge and pantry were stocked, and La Luz was in a great mood. It stands to reason that a girl could get used to such things. I think it is even worse for La Luz though. When Christian left to walk Loki earlier tonight she bawled. I tried to explain that he would be right back but it is much more black and white to a two year old - you are here or you aren't. So it goes.

Tomorrow evening is the Cottage Living Idea Home block party. After a little over 3 months of hard work the house is complete and it looks beautiful. We are really looking forward to the party - a fair trade for not being allowed to park on the street during the day tomorrow and for the nuisance of the heavy construction over the past few months. The house has been open since July 12 but we have not seen the inside (except for pictures) yet so we can't wait for the chance to check it out. I will hopefully get some good pictures and have more details about the place tomorrow night.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Say Hello To Her Little Friend

Somewhere between here and Nicaragua Christian bought La Luz a tiny, yapping, shrieking, motorized chihuahua. I would have bet money that La Luz would run in fear at the sight and sound of this creature. I was wrong. She is in love with Chichi who has become fast friends with Hoppy, the bunny, and Achoo, the cat. Our den is beginning to feel like a petting zoo.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Lessons Learned Later

Apparently a combination of the following foods fed to a toddler within a period of about an hour and a half may induce serious nausea.

2 tbsp hummus
1 cup milk
1/2 bag snack size Lay's original potato chips
1 bag (1 serving) dehydrated banana chips
1 cup of undiluted minute maid lemonade
5 bites of chocolate dippin' dots

It seemed harmless to me at the time but at two a.m., while picking up regurgitated clumps of the night's menu, it suddenly seemed obvious that it was irresponsible to let all of those things go into La Luz's stomach at the same time. I know better now. I am not sure that means I will recognize a similar situation if in it again. Only time will tell. La Luz's belly has not been the same since that night, and neither has mine after witnessing the fallout.

La Luz and I had a quiet weekend. We enjoyed the rain, despite what it does to Loki. We rested a bit, and caught up with friends we haven't spent time with in months. I felt rejuvenated before the start of the week and am particularly energized because Christian returned at 3 a.m. yesterday. Everything is tougher as a single parent and I have a great support staff. But it wasn't so much the trouble wrangling La Luz into her stroller in the evenings to make sure Loki had a proper walk and not so much the mess and the fact that we didn't have any meals (excluding those that were prepared for us); the difficult part was the obvious, gaping hole around here when he is not and the sensation that some essential part of us was chopped off and discarded, leaving us to figure out how to get along without it.

Here's what it looked like around here on Saturday morning. La Luz is playing with the birthday card that Josh and Erika sent:

and on Sunday in her new glasses:

and Sunday night, on her new pillow, easily the tackiest thing I have ever purchased:

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Happy Birthday Josh

Tomorrow La Luz's Uncle Josh turns 30. It is hard to believe that he is 30 years old. It makes me feel particularly old because I have distinct memories of when he was a newborn. I remember that he was one of the happiest, most easy-going babies around. With the exception of the times when he would bang his head against the wall or shake the side of the crib, he was always pleasant.

Here he is with me and Richmond on the front porch swing at Audubon Street. Based on the attire I think the picture was taken around Christmas and it was in 1979, I think.

And here he is now, so many years later:

I will always be thankful that Josh is a part of La Luz's life. I have him to thank for the inability to walk La Luz past a freshly mowed lawn without having her ask me to 'dive bomb' and for her ability to clap and stomp on 2 and 4. What more does a little kid need?

Happy Birthday little brother!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Peanuts and Cracker Jacks

La Luz attended her first baseball game today. Tonight was the firm's annual Zephyrs night and, although I couldn't tell you what happened during the game, we had a great time. The weather was terrible and a rain delay forced the game to start about an hour late but La Luz held her own. Fortified by a long nap and dinner at mom-mom's before we headed out, she was on decent behavior and was not too grouchy. By the time we got home tonight she was exhausted though. She barely had enough energy to tolerate her bath.

Christian called tonight but we missed him - it never rang and, instead, went straight to my voicemail. It sounds like he is having a good time but we miss him terribly and cannot wait for him to return, especially La Luz.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Let Your Heart Take Courage

A friend of mine, Sheri Ellis Murray, died in a tragic automobile accident in Atlanta, Georgia on June 30. Sheri left behind her family, including her husband and two beautiful baby girls, a two year old and a six month old. The details of the accident are almost unbelievable and absolutely gut-wrenching so I will spare you. I have been in a very dark place since I learned about her death and I can't stop my heart from aching for those she left behind. I have never feared death and loss the way that I do now that I am a mother. But I cannot complain, my sadness is nothing like what her family must feel and instead I get the benefit of life and the reminder that we must take nothing in our lives for granted and that we are obliged to live each day to the fullest.

I am attempting to do just that and to channel my sadness towards something positive. It does nobody any good to wallow. Sacred Heart established a scholarship in Sheri's name. She was an honors student, an athlete, and generally a lovely person to be around. It is a beautiful tribute and precisely the way such an extraordinary girl should be honored. The endowment is $50,000.00 and I know that we will be able to raise the money, but the contributions have only just begun and there is a long way to go before we reach the goal. So, if you knew Sheri or if you feel so inclined, please consider a contribution. Checks, credit cards, and cash are all acceptable and can be sent or phoned in to Sacred Heart, 4521 St. Charles Avenue, NOLA, 70115. If you write a check, please write Sheri's name in the subject line so that they apply it to her scholarship.

On a lighter note, La Luz only asked me to take her to the jungle to see Christian once this evening. She spent an hour with Mary while I took Loki for a quick run and even practiced going to the bathroom on her potty. I can imagine Mary was thrilled when La Luz insisted on using it. She spent some time this afternoon at her great-grandparents' house and filled me in on all the details before she went to bed - apparently she played with the baby (which GG is now in charge of keeping an eye on in La Luz's absence) and ate goldfish with Papa George. For La Luz, it doesn't get any better than that.

Here she is just minutes before bed time, all clean and even sort of cuddly:

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Burn, Refuel

There are too many reasons to count why I am lucky to live near family. Tonight, reason number 1,000 was last-minute babysitting courtesy of my sweet cousin Mary who is in town for the summer before she heads off to Italy. Returning the favor, I suppose, of the many nights and days I spent as her favorite babysitter, Mary again came to my rescue and stopped by tonight for an hour to keep an eye on La Luz while I took Loki for a quick run. But not only did Mary watch La Luz, when she arrived her hands were filled with dinner - for me - and it was delicious. It was a recipe from the Cooking Club cookbook and it included pancetta and cheese and white wine. With ingredients like that it goes without saying that I enjoyed every bite, though I imagine I cancelled out any of the calorie burning from the run.

Here's what La Luz was up to tonight, more of the driving the car stuff. Tonight the picture is in black and white so that it is not mistaken for a smilar picture taken on Monday night.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Not Only Beautiful, So Far Away

Christian is in Nicaragua and La Luz, Loki and I are all missing him in our individual ways. Loki, predictably, mopes and whines and acts disinterested in those that are around. La Luz is mostly bummed that her constant source of entertainment isn't here. I am no good at playing horsey or driving the car and my ability to read books is, apparently, passable at best. I just miss the company. I can't bellyache about needing the extra hands or worrying about the danger of coming and going from the house because mom cooked dinner and pop followed us home. I am well cared for even when left alone. I have nothing to complain about but I am so accustomed to having Christian around that without him everything feels hollow.

So, we muddle through the evening, La Luz reading, practicing on the potty, and driving her car

and me, reading and listening to some music that might make me miss Christian a bit less.

I just finished Mockingbird, the biography of Harper Lee, which I borrowed from Jessie over a year ago. No, I haven't been reading it that long, it just took me a while to finally pick it up. It was excellent. Generally speaking, I am not a non-fiction type of girl. I like fiction, especially and particularly the contemporary stuff. With the exception of quasi-memoirs and John Krakauer, I stick to the fake stuff and I love it. But Mockingbird was a very pleasant surprise. I have always been fascinated by Lee - intrigued by the idea that someone could write such a wonderful book and then nothing more. I have a better understanding of why that happened now and a new appreciation for Lee and her life.

I am now reading Dave Eggers' most recent collection of short stories. It is entertaining but there is the ever looming, 'so what'. I haven't been blown away by any of the stories or characters yet. He has a few notable short shorts in the collection. I love short shorts because I think they are very hard to write. How does one make something so simple become something relevant? I believe he is able to do that in a few instances and that makes the collection worth reading, at least so far. Next up is Eat, Pray, Love and I am really looking forward to it. I have been known to pick books based upon the cover art and this one is particularly attractive to me.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Halcyon Days Of Summer

Vacation is (almost) officially over for me and I just can't believe that I have to go to work tomorrow. I can't complain - a week of rest and relaxation is more than most people so I suppose I am lucky. La Luz enjoyed every minute of her time in Atlanta. She particularly misses hanging out with her cousin Liam, playing with all the toys Nana has at her house, climbing into and out of "Papa-T's" chair, swinging and sliding on all of the clean, safe public playgrounds, walking on the safe and well-maintained nature trails, and shopping in clean, well-stocked grocery stores where people want to help you (oh wait, that is what I particularly miss). She does not miss the driving and the traffic.

Most of our time in Atlanta was spent lounging around, which is precisely what I wanted to do. We swam, read books, watched movies, enjoyed leisurely dinners together and slept. On July 4th I ran the Peachtree Road Race for the third year and had a blast. It is quickly becoming an annual tradition for me. We spent the remainder of the day in Nana and Papa-T's backyard swimming and bbq-ing with friends we only get to spend time with in Atlanta. It was the perfect way to celebrate the holiday.

Here's La Luz in her 4th of July outfit - I think this is one that Christian's cousin Stacey sent a while back, very festive:

La Luz spent most of her time playing with Liam and in the doll house that Nana got for her. She was very particular (bossy) about who could go in and out of the house and when. I was invited inside twice during the course of the week and once I was in I had to sit there, in a chair built for a toddler, and eat imaginary crawfish for close to 45 minutes.

I also spent the week on baby watch. La Luz's Aunt Susan is going to have her baby any day now. I thought for sure it would come while we were in town - it only seemed fair that I would get to be there. No luck though. Instead of having a baby, she was busy chasing Liam around the pool and - yeah - cutting our hair, all of us, even La Luz got her first hair cut.

Christian, getting a good clean shave for Nicaragua:

and La Luz, just post her first haircut. Don't let the pout fool you, she loves it:

La Luz and Liam actually played together this year. During our trip to Atlanta for the 4th of July vacation last year they basically sat next to each other and stared or played independently. This year it was very different. They chased each other around the house, yelled and screamed, and generally enjoyed each others' company. They have both changed so much in one year.

Here they are on July 4th 2006:

and now on July 4th 2007:

And this is what I will miss the most now that we are home: