Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Why We Got Here And How We Ended Up

Two years ago when it seemed like it might not be possible to ever return to New Orleans, Christian, La Luz and I were bolstered by the support of friends and family. We would not have made it back here without your love and support. Thanks to everyone who understood why it was so important for us to get back to New Orleans and stood by us to make it possible. There is no question that we would not be here today without your contributions. We continue to be humbled by how you rallied behind and along side of us. We only wish we were able to provide a proper 'thanks'.

I still cringe when I look at the pictures and I sometimes have to turn my head and cover my ears when I hear people talk about Katrina. I know that we are lucky, that we have so much to be thankful for, that our struggles are not of consequence. But yet I am still waiting for a time when my memories of Katrina and the subsequent fallout will be of no moment, when I will shrug my shoulders and say, "yes, I remember that time". Maybe next year, and then again, maybe never.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Please Don't Wake Me Now

There are going to be a few long days for La Luz between now and the end of the volleyball season in mid-November. Today was one of those days. I made the rookie mistake of bombarding La Luz with way too much information for a half-asleep toddler before leaving the house this morning, and I guess it sort of set the tone for the day:

"Here's your lunchbox. This is how it opens. Take a look at what is inside, delicious, yes? This is your drink. Someone will help you open it. You will eat it in a cafeteria today and nobody will be there to feed you. You will probably stare off into space, or at the person sitting next to you, or maybe you will talk to your food. After lunch you will take a nap on a napmat. It has your name on it, look. It also has a bunny stuffed inside of it so you have something to hold on to. You have never slept on a mat before but I promise you will think it is fun. Kelsea will pick you up today. Kelsea will bring snacks and drinks and will let you do whatever you want to do within reason. She will take you to the volleyball game. After you watch volleyball I will pick you up and you will, finally, go home with me."

After I finished with the instructions I told her to get her shoes on, that we were running late. La Luz asked for 5 more minutes to play and when I said no she swatted at me and burst into tears and put herself in 'time out'. She walked a Bataan Death March type of walk into the corner of the den, an empty area of the room, and proceeded to sit on the floor, quietly. This was particularly interesting to me because we have never had to put La Luz in 'time out' and don't even have a designated 'time out' zone in the house. I am not even really sure how 'time out' is supposed to be used because it wasn't ever a punishment inflicted on me as a child. We had to 'write lines', don't ask. At any rate, she was contrite and, I think, believes in the purpose of a little time out now and then. I can't wait to find out what she did to merit a time out at school.

Here she is enjoying a few minutes of play time earlier tonight:

and getting ready to crash with Christian:

Monday, August 27, 2007

Home, A Four Letter Word

I am attaching a link to an audio file on NPR. It is a Chris Rose essay and, as usual, it is just so right. I have been careful not to get up on my soapbox lately. I have kept my mouth shut while the crime spirals out of control. I didn't say a thing when we learned that OT is not the man we so badly need him to be. Thoughts were never verbalized when I heard about the Jalila Jefferson sign a few houses away. In short, I have been quiet, but that doesn't mean that there isn't so much to discuss about the state of the city I love so much. Rather than bellyache, I decided that the way I will memorialize Katrina is to focus on the positive. My thanks to Chris Rose for helping me get started:

La Luz spent her afternoon and evening at Aunt Margot's house. Part of the fall schedule includes Mondays at Margot's. La Luz had an excellent time playing with all of Catherine's old strawberry shortcake dolls and watching one of the mountains of Disney movies that the Jones kids watched when they were little. The nicest part of the day was that Margot somehow managed, while taking care of La Luz all afternoon, to cook a homecoming dinner for Jordan. He arrived in New Orleans just a few hours ago and it was so nice to see him. It is hard to believe that he is finally home from Iraq. We all had a delicious and peaceful dinner together. It was a total treat.

Here's La Luz in her car earlier tonight:

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The First Five Times

The new game at mom and pop's house involves hiding under La Luz's blow-up swimming pool. There are many variations, but the most widely played version involves La Luz hiding out under the pool with someone while someone else (somehow it always ends up being me) roams around the house pretending like they have no clue where La Luz went and announcing to nobody in particular where they will look to find her. Is she in the closet? No. Did she hide behind the toilet? Nope. Maybe she is under the sofa? Think again friend. Aha, underneath the dining room table, of course! Aw, so close. Finally, when she can't stand the anticipation any longer, and whoever is with her is covered in sweat after being trapped under the pool for the past five minutes, she kicks the pool away and screams with joy. It is such a lame game. I was able to tolerate it the first few times because I love to hear her laugh, but I can listen to her laugh by tickling her and that is much less labor-intensive.

The weekend was lovely. It was not particularly eventful, but just right. Richmond was in town after spending the past few months kayaking in the San Juan's. It was nice to visit with him and hear a bit about his summer. He picked up the tiniest, most adorable fleece for La Luz at the Patagonia outlet and I can't wait for the cold weather so she can test it out. Since Richmond was in town we got the benefit of two delicious dinners at mom and pop's house.

Christian built an igloo/tent that we got for La Luz earlier this summer at Ikea. She flipped out when she saw it set up in room, but for some reason she thinks it is a dog house and keeps asking to 'go play in the doghouse'.

Today was grey and rainy. It was totally relaxing and set the mood for a very peaceful day. I actually feel well-rested and ready for the week for a change.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Things He Carries With Him

For some reason the pockets in Christian's clothes are magnets for odds and ends. Most people lose things in their washing machine and dryer, but in our house we gain things. I have been accused of being bossy and a nag on way too many occasions so, when tolerable, I try to keep my mouth shut. I am rarely able to do so when it comes to the things left behind in the pockets of dirty clothes. I can't conceptualize why emptying pockets before placing something in the laundry room is a task entirely too challenging for an adult to master. But it is and, consequently, the top of our dryer looks like the contents of a bag lady's basement by the end of the week. I am still dealing with the millions of tiny pellets (either a berry, bead, or animal excrement) that Christian brought back in the pockets of a pair of cargo shorts he had with him in Costa Rica. Frankly, I am not even sure how he made it through customs. The oddest part is that he has no recollection of how he came to be in possession of these unidentifiable pellets. Most recently,the contents of the pockets included a uniball rollergel pen (now unusable), which may or may not have stained other clothes along for the ride, and a Paul Frank pin/button about the size of nickel that says 'volume' and has a picture of a volume knob on it. I can't even imagine where such things come from.

It has been a long week around here. We are looking forward to the weekend. Here are some pictures of La Luz goofing off earlier tonight:

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Spinning Some Of Your Favorite Songs

The August mix is in and it does not disappoint. It could not have come at a better time as it seems I will be spending a large amount of time in the car for work over the next few weeks.

1. Open Heart Surgery - Brian Jonestown Massacre
2. Now Now - St. Vincent
3. Ruby - Kaiser Chiefs
4. She Doesn't Love Me - The Aliens
5. Weekends Away - Math and Physics Club
6. Is It Like Today - World Party
7. Car Crash - Josh Rouse
8. 10:20 - Spoon
9. Where Do I Begin - Chemical Brothers and Beth Orton
10. The National Side - Romantica
11. Why Not Me - Locksley
12. Rollercoaster - M. Ward
13. Maybe Sparrow - Neko Case
14. Bone - Map Of Africa
15. The Black and The White - The Alternate Routes
16. Easier - Grizzly Bear
17. Three Times and You Lose - Travis
18. Ideology - Billy Bragg
19. Burnt - The Futureheads
20. The Book I Write - Spoon

I am really into Spoon these days, especially the new stuff, so the Spoon tracks are at the top of my 'favorites' list as far as the mix goes. I have been fascinated by Brian Jonestown Massacre ever since we watched, Dig and I always enjoy their songs. I will always have a soft spot for anything Beth Orton has her hand in, M. Ward songs, and Travis (much in the same way I will always enjoy Coldplay). Some surprises - St. Vincent, because she has a beautiful voice and is very reminiscent of Kate Bush with a modern twist; Math & Science Club - spot on, either Christian knows me very well or I am just too predictable in my love for sing-songy tracks with sweet harmonies.

The Alien track is interesting, definitely pretty in that big, far-reaching, 'got a story to tell' sort of way, like The Band. The Josh Rouse song is sort of silly and, after a little investigating, I think I understand why Christian included it. Overall, it is a great mix and I am looking forward to many hours of listening pleasure.

La Luz did not have school today and it just worked out that mom is not starting work until the end of next week, so they spent the day together. La Luz got to run errands with mom and AJ followed by lunch at Picadilly. I was jealous of the running errands part (for some odd reason I used to love to do that as a kid, especially when my aunts and various cousins were along for the ride) and Christian was jealous of the Picadilly part, because nothing tastes better than mashed potatoes and gravy. The combination must've been right because she was in an excellent mood this evening.

Here are a few pictures we took in the kitchen before dinner.

Does she look more like me or more like Christian?

Monday, August 20, 2007

In Your Tartan Dress, With Your Lunchbox

All things considered, La Luz's first day of school went swimmingly. It is no secret that I was a bit apprehensive, but I really shouldn't have been. She was excited about her uniform, all gigantic and perfectly laid out the night before next to her red keds. Once dressed, she was ready to go.

Her dress is ridiculous (too big, no monogram) and she looks rather 'street urchin-like':

But, consider how the morning started out:

The scene at the school was sort of surreal. Moms and dads were walking their children down the hallway, video cameras in hand, faces red and tear-streaked. But our arrival wasn't at all like that. I carried La Luz into her classroom, introduced us to the parents, teachers and children already in the room, and proceeded to enjoy an imaginary tea party for about five minutes before leaving. My departure was not nearly as dramatic as I expected. There's no doubt she was scared, but she was distracted by all of the toys, and her cubby and the other children. Maybe the novelty will wear off, but for now the distractions are welcome.

I had a tough time capturing a decent picture of La Luz in her uniform. She is generally a compliant subject, but never on a day when I really want her to sit still for a picture:

My hope is that eventually there will be more pictures of La Luz in her uniform than anyone cares to look out. For now, these will have to do.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Aren't You Bursting With Butterflies

At least while volleyball is in season I will be leaving work early on Fridays to pick up La Luz from ASH. It means one less day of having a babysitter in the afternoon and a great opportunity to force myself to leave the office and enjoy life a little bit. Fridays afternoons are a logical choice because they tend to be a bit relaxed. In a great example of how 'life is what happens while you are making other plans' last Friday was totally chaotic for me. It was almost impossible to extricate myself from my desk in time to pick up La Luz from daycare and it set the tone for the remainder of the weekend.

It was bustling, but as I sit here now it isn't clear exactly what I accomplished. We did some of this, some of that, and the combination of those things sort of wiped me out. Here's a random sampling:

We picked up some rocks from the Cottage Living rock garden (don't worry, returning them the next day and selecting a new crop is part of the game):

Kept cool by standing over the air vents:

and played ball in the house (totally excusable when the temps are in the 90's):

I guess I am sort of anxious about the start of school tomorrow. If La Luz hasn't picked up my anxiety about it yet I would be shocked. It is silly and not unlike the same emotions any parent has about sending their child off to school - the first time when they are little and probably also, and maybe even more significantly, when they go away to college. The worries are universal and the preoccupations not unique in the slightest. I try to forget about them but it is useless. The result is that I speak to La Luz about the school incessantly and do so with the worst, most transparent cheer. I know that it will take some getting used to for La Luz, that there will likely be a few rough days in the beginning. I also know, though, that I will blink and the year will be over. In a few brief moments there will be a routine and a familiarity about all of this. Soon I won't think twice about whether her new uniform collar will scratch her neck, or if she will be eating her lunch alone, with no one there to point out how delicious cheese and turkey taste when paired together.

I will probably close my eyes and take a deep breath and when I open them again I will wonder where all of the time went.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Power Of New Shoes

It was the first of many long days for La Luz. She stayed at Ashfin a full day and was met at the house by Carlee who babysat for her all afternoon and then tonight while Christian and I went to Parents' Night at ASH. After visiting La Luz's room and meeting her teachers and the other parents I feel much more confident about sending her to 'school' at such a young age. I think she is going to love it and I know she will be well cared for.

Christian and I did not get home until 8. I was thrilled when I arrived and discovered that Carlee had already bathed La Luz and that she was ready for bed. A good mom would have scopped up La Luz and gone straight up to read a story. Instead, I let her open her present from the Moores (the Dora slippers featured below) and proceeded to watch her become completely and totally nutzo-hyperactive. She was literally bouncing off of walls and throwing herself on top of furniture. It was too entertaining to put a stop to it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Just The Faces Change

School officially starts tomorrow for Christian so things are a bit hectic around here. Fortunately mom made dinner so there was one less thing to worry about. I have not figured out how to feed and bathe La Luz in time for her to make it to bed at a decent hour. She is fast becoming the kids I was oddly curious about in school - the ones with no bedtimes, the ones who could pick out and make their own dinners, the ones who were allowed to skip baths if they preferred, the ones whose uniforms were never ironed, the ones without rules. I think I will be able to establish a good, healthy routine. I have in mind what I want for La Luz - evening walks with Christian and Loki, dinner together at a table with each food group represented, baths every night at 7:30, followed by a book or two and bed. La Luz gets a slight variation of that theme, but it is the variations that concern me. For example, at 8:30 tonight when she should have been asleep and dreaming, we were busy working on her 'faces' and practicing blinking and winking:

Can you blame me for wanting to keep her up past a reasonable bedtime?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Don't Know Why

I should stop trying to predict La Luz's reaction to things. Generally speaking, I have a pretty good idea of her likes and dislikes. I am even insightful enough to know better than to bet the odds on how La Luz will react to a tall, overbearing man who wants a hug. I like to think that she is predictable, but then I am proven wrong on a number of occasions. Most recently, yesterday.

Christian returned from Costa Rica with a mama monkey/baby monkey stuffed animal. The baby came attached to the mom and both are, in my opinion, frightening. I was certain that the sight of the monkeys would propel La Luz into my arms, but I was wrong. She is, in large part, disinterested in the mother monkey; but the baby - that is another story entirely. She hasn't put it down and has cared for it much in the same way any mother cares for a newborn. Within a few minutes, she was busy changing the baby monkey's diaper. I didn't bother to try to explain to her why that was unnecessary.

Here she is, playing with her baby monkey and in the sea turtle necklace Christian picked up as well:

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Christian arrived safely from Costa Rica yesterday evening and La Luz and I couldn't be happier. There is much to do over the next few days, but for now we are just enjoying being together again in a world that feels complete.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Eyes Locked And Shining

I spent the morning with La Luz and, as usual, it was much more fun than a morning in the office. We had breakfast at P.J.'s, ran a few errands, visited her new school, and went to the doctor for her very late, two-year old checkup.

Christian and I decided, somewhat on a lark, that it would be a good idea to move La Luz from the daycare into the toddler program. She will be the youngest in her toddler group and, I guess, the youngest ASH student for the 2007-2008 year. The alternative is to keep her in daycare for another year where she will be the oldest. There are advantages and disadvantages on both sides, but we ultimately decided it makes sense to have her somewhere with a bit more structure, in a 'school-like' environment. Most of my reservations were assuaged during our tour of the school this morning. La Luz's jaw dropped when she saw the library - all spacious and light and airy, filled with books and posters and stuffed animals and quiet corners and comfy chairs. She will be very comfortable. Now, getting uniforms and supplies and orchestrating schedules and crunching numbers, all before school starts in a little over a week, will be a bit of a trick.

La Luz's checkup went well too. She is still in the 25th percentile for weight and height and 90th for head circumference. The doctor said that it probably won't change much, that she will probably always have a big head. It is like an orange and a toothpick.

I felt sort of nostalgic walking out of there today, after the doctor told us bye and said she would not need to see us for another year. I suppose that means La Luz is not a baby anymore. She is just one more step closer to being a kid. It makes my heart ache a little, and it makes my breath catch, and I feel that part of me that wants to make sure I remember every detail of every moment when she is still like this - all soft, chubby hands and clear-voiced and pure love. I enjoy every day with her more than the last, but yet I don't want her to grow up. I suppose this is just one of those things about being a mom.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Dinner At GG's

This evening GG, Papa George, and Henry came to the rescue. They fixed a delicious dinner of grillades and mashed potatos. There is no place I would rather eat grillades than at GGs. She is a master grillades chef and I know that Christian will be sorry he missed out since it ranks as one of his all time favorite meals in the city. La Luz ate more dinner tonight than I have seen her eat in weeks, so I think she is hooked too.

La Luz had a great time playing with all of her toys at GG's house. She particularly enjoyed wearing the plastic, be-jeweled crown. I didn't have my camera with me tonight and by the time I decided to take a picture with my phone she had removed it, but I managed to capture her playing with some of the other toys.

Here is a recent video of La Luz that I took with my phone. I am still not clear on how to upload a video to the blog, so please do not be surprised if you experience technical difficulties while trying to watch it. The video is nothing special, just a little bit of La Luz - the first video taken with my camera. I finally broke down and did it because Molly has been begging me for 2 years.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Occupying Our Time

Contrary to what I expected, the week is actually going by fast. I hope that Saturday will be here before we know it. Christian was able to get a signal today and called to wish me a happy anniversary. It was great to hear from him, but it made me miss him even more.

La Luz has been an absolute slug for the past two mornings. If it were up to her she would lounge around in her pajamas in her bed and/or on the sofa for the better part of the day. I can't blame her.

Here she is earlier today snapping and unsnapping the stroller straps, another favorite pastime.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Be The Music In My Head

Tomorrow Christian and I celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary. As has been the case for most of our anniversaries, we are celebrating it apart. Christian has a knack for being out of town each year on August 7th. I cannot say that I particularly care. I am not one for big celebrations. I certainly don't want to spend any money on gifts, and really don't need anything anyway. I also don't need any special reminders that I am lucky and blessed and wouldn't change a thing about my life if given the opportunity, particularly the part about spending it with Christian. Here we are back on our wedding day in 1999:

There's no question that I had inkling that something big was in the works the day that we met, finally and formally. I just never imagined it would be this good and that ten years later we would be able to see the best of both of us (and maybe the explanation for why we found each other) in La Luz:

Happy Anniversary Christian; come home soon.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Just Smile All The Time

Friday night we had dinner at Galatoires to celebrate Josh's birthday. He and Erika were in town for a show late last week and to hang out for the weekend. It was really nice to finally meet Erika in person. She is precious and sweet and totally charming. La Luz was, as usual, a little stand-offish at first but by the end of the day today she was sad to see them go back to Chicago. She will particularly miss playing with Erika's orange suitcase, something she became particularly intrigued by and will not stop talking about.

The weekend was busy but very nice, with the exception of a trip to the doctor on Saturday morning to find out why La Luz was experiencing perpetual nosebleeds (after-effects of a sinus infection related to the fever virus last weekend). She is fine though, clean bill of health, and she is back to her normal, energetic self.

I spent hours this weekend gathering up toys that are likely include in the massive Fisher Price/Mattel recall. Needless to say, La Luz was very confused when she started looking for some of her favorite figurines in the usual hiding places and they were not to be found.

The remainder of the weekend consisted of me playing the overly-enthusiastic 'mom who has 101 ways to make you forget that your dad, your favorite person, is busy hanging out in Costa Rica and will not be home for another week' game. It is a tough game to play for any extended period of time. It is made all the more difficult by the fact that Loki is also depressed and La Luz is a stubborn toddler who really doesn't understand that it is just not possible for me to take her to Costa Rica "after her nap".

So, here she is doing her best to cheer Loki up:

and looking out of the window, 'waiting for daddy'

and watching the Saints game, without Christian:

Thursday, August 02, 2007

We Are Hope Despite The Times

I was feeling all jazzed up about the start of the Phoenix recycling program this month until I got a forwarded email detailing how it is actually going to cause more pollution to recycle because the recycled goods have to be trucked to Baton Rouge. Apparently, the New Orleans recycling facility is still not up and running and there are no plans in the works to have it running in 2007. We won't get a city-wide recycling program until it is obvious that there is a need and enough participation (among other things) so I feel stuck in a sort of catch 22. At the end of the day I will participate in the Phoenix program simply because it pains me to throw away things that are recyclable. Maybe if I do a carbon offset as well I will break even, but then I really won't have any money for frivolous living. I suppose the no-frivolous-living bit is part and parcel of a truly 'green' lifestyle anyway.

La Luz is still not back to her normal, congenial self. She barely napped at all and woke up screaming, complaining that her head hurt, and running a fever. I hope it is just a bad, long, virus and not the after-effects of chewing on her leaded Dora The Explorer figurines for the past, oh, 2.2 years. It is impossible to separate the questionably tainted Dora products from the probably safe ones, so I think I will have to do a massive purge over the weekend and just throw everything in the trash. This will break her heart, as she continues to be totally attached to the Dora and Boots figurines. In fact, she has three of each, which is why I can't tell which ones are recalled and must throw them all away.

La Luz is still bummed out about the fact that Christian is nowhere in sight. She has had some good distractions though - her Uncle Josh is in town and he is pulling out all the stops to endear himself to her. It is much like trying to charm a brick wall.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Not Just Travelling, Hiding

This is how it feels to be two years old and not at all happy that your favorite person in the house is deserting you for two weeks of kayaks, sea turtles, and eco-education.

I know, it is all relative. There is no question that it could be worse, that life is really good, but it doesn't make my heart ache any less for her when she checks in closets and behind curtains thinking maybe, just maybe, he isn't really gone and is, instead, just playing hide-and-seek.