Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

For some reason (I suspect it was the arm-loads of candy the kids brought to school today) La Luz declined her mid-day nap. Her teacher warned me and wished me good luck, knowing it would probably be a long night. She was right. It is always when I make plans, have high hopes, expectations about how something should go, that I am reminded, silly me, that when plans involve a two year old, it is beyond my control.

We went to Margot and Walker's to celebrate Halloween with the rest of the family in the middle of Halloween central and it was total entertainment. After seeing the throngs of trick-or-treaters decked out in their costumes, La Luz ultimately decided to put her costume on and join in the fun. It was short-lived. She managed a few houses but, for the most part, wasn't interested in walking and preferred to be carried. When I denied multiple requests for candy that appeared to present a choking hazard, she threw miniature fits and broke into fake, and totally annoying, cries. By 8:00 p.m. she was done but I think she had a blast while it lasted.

Here she is, possibly the most jaded Cinderella ever:

Happy Halloween everyone!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halloween Mix 2007

Christian put together another silly and, most likely, very entertaining Halloween mix for me.
I am not certain why he is motivated to make Halloween mixes as opposed to, say, Christmas mixes but, for some reason, it entertains him. I love a good mix and will happily take one for any occasion. The result, 21 tracks of total terror:

1. Halloween Song - Evangelicals
2. Ghost of You Lingers - Spoon
3. Vampires in Blue Dress - Margot and the Nuclear So Sos
4. Shankill Butchers - the Decembrists
5. Blood Red Blood - Voxtrot
6. Halloween - Ryan Adams
7. Your Ghost - Kristen Hersh
8. Spiders - Editors
9. Diamonds in the Dark - Mystery Jets
10. Halloween - the Thrushes
11. In the Masoleum - Beirut
12. See These Bones - Nada Surf
13. Everyday is Halloween - the Postmarks
14. The Wizard - But for Lushes
15. Car Chase Terror - M83
16. Is There a Ghost - Band of Horses
17. Vampire Girl - Jonathan Richman
18. Skeleton Jar - Youth Group
19. Winged/Wicked Things - Sunset Rubdown
20. Pumpkin Seeds - Devendra Barnhart
21. Halloween - Siouxsie

Monday, October 29, 2007

Lucky You

Just around the corner, nestled between what appears to be an abandoned building and a smoke shop, is a new candy store. I love candy and shopping so it is only natural that I am attracted to this place. I have no idea how a purveyor of Smarties and Charleston Chews makes enough money to stay in business, much less make a decent living. I will do my best to keep the lights on at Lucky You and hope that any of you candy lovers in New Orleans will help as well. There is a great selection of sugar free candy for diabetics and health-conscious candy lovers. By Mardi Gras they will open the back patio and have Mad Hatter Tea Parties for kids. I think the store is a great addition to the neighborhood and am happy to have an excuse to eat more gummi bears.

Here's La Luz polishing off a gummi ice-cream cone after a successful potty-training episode:

Sunday, October 28, 2007

What Will You Be?

Sox are up, again. I am really hoping that they sweep the series. I would love to see them sweep because it would be incredibly cool, but also because I am exhausted and would like to go to bed at a reasonable hour for a change. I imagine that at this point the Sox fans living in the Eastern time zone are walking around like zombies, finding it tough to go about the day's business.

The weekend was lovely. The weather was perfect, even if a bit on the chilly side at times. We went to Boo at the Zoo on Friday and I somehow managed to convince La Luz to wear the full Cinderella regalia for the occasion. The crown only lasted about 10 minutes but she kept the dress on (though at times to her displeasure) for the duration of the night. Here she is on a haystack:

This was Christian's favorite part of the night, for obvious reasons:

In keeping with the Halloween theme, La Luz dressed up again for the Wilson boys' birthday party on Saturday morning. This time it was the dragon and, I have to admit, it kinda' rocks:

While under La Luz's strict supervision, I single-handedly carved three pumpkins on Saturday night. La Luz selected somewhat elaborate jack-o-lantern faces from her Disney Princesses, Sweet and Spooky Halloween book. Half way through the first pumpkin I was exhausted, my hands were arthritic, and I doubted whether I would be able to complete the job. Fortunately, I managed and even found the energy to sort through the guts and pull out the seeds for roasting in a day or two.

Tonight mom and pop came over for dinner and by the time they left at around 8 La Luz was totally wired. She was literally throwing toys and bouncing off the walls, but I suppose that is the effect that grandparents are supposed to have on their grandkids. I hope she gets some rest tonight and tomorrow because I know the rest of the week and next weekend will be busy with Sarah and Cheairs' wedding festivities.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sox Up, Time For Bed

The Sox are up, just barely. Christian is asleep in the chair, sort of. I just finished my dinner (yea, at 10:30, another one of those nights) and apparently Christian's menu contained 2 month old cheese, and lots of it. I love and totally appreciate that he cooked dinner, but I wish he would have checked the expiration date. I thought it tasted sort of weird, but I am tired and out of it and maybe the wine is making my taste buds 'off'. Oh well, what's done is done. I guess I might as well eat some candy corn.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Hobgoblin Of My Little Mind

There's much going on these days it seems. Some of it is really great, like the cold weather, the Sox in the World Series, and Sarah's wedding at the end of next week. Some of it isn't really great and isn't really fit for public consumption. All of it is a good reminder of the stuff that life is made up of, the good and the bad. All of it is also a good reminder that consistency works best for some of us. I like that there are some things that I can count on, that in the morning coffee will make me feel better, that people will continue to write books and music that will make me laugh and cry, and that La Luz will always be part of me.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Winning The Battle

I walked out of the room for less than 5 minutes, barely enough time to change into my p.j.s, and when I returned I was aghast. He somehow managed to wrangle her rubbery arms into a two-sizes-too-small dragon costume. To add insult to injury, she loved every minute of it.

There are a few activities between now and Halloween that call for dressing up. I figure the novelty of the dragon costume will have worn off by the time October 31st rolls around, but I am not holding my breath.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Winning Weekend

I spent half of last week in Virginia for work but managed to sneak in one extra day in Richmond visiting Sarah. I had a chance to check out Sarah's new house, get to know Willie the dog, and walk around the neighborhood. Just a few blocks from her house is the most delicious Italian restaurant, tucked away above an unassuming sub shop and up a long flight of stairs. I love the area in Richmond where Sarah lives and am already thinking about my next trip to visit her in the spring. Next time I might bring La Luz along with me because there is an incredible park just two blocks from Sarah's house and the neighborhood is filled with kids.

The rest of the weekend was spent trying to figure out how to deal with my allergies, La Luz's tummy trouble and watching sports, lots of sports.

We managed a few activities that were not related to football and baseball. Here we are baking Halloween cookies.

And visiting with Maddie Moore and baby Betsy.

The Moore family was in town after spending last night in Tiger Stadium watching an incredible LSU victory. They came over, along with Jen, Peter and Betsy, to have lunch and hang out for a few hours. La Luz was incredibly territorial about her stuff, as usual. Once everyone left, however, she lamented the fact that none of her friends were around to play, also as usual.

In addition to the LSU game last night, we watched most of the Saints game and all of the Red Sox game. It is unbelievable that all three teams won in the same weekend. I don't know what we did or didn't do to make it happen. Maybe it has something to do with me actually watching that much sports. I hope not though because I think my head will explode if I have to watch another baseball game.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Just One Near Perfect Thing

I am leaving tomorrow for a client-development trip to Virginia and will not be back until Saturday. I am feeling pulled in a million directions right now and am not at all ready to go on a trip. I was up until almost 2 a.m. last night finishing a project for work and spent the better part of today finalizing it and trying to prioritize what needed my immediate attention. The rest is packed in a folder waiting to be dealt with sometime in the next few days, assuming I can find a quiet moment to get some work done.

On top of the incredible amount of work I have to stress out about, I am really not thrilled about leaving Christian and La Luz. It is always tough being away from them. I have to admit, however, that I added an extra night to the trip for my own personal benefit. I wanted to spend one night visiting Sarah and Cheairs in Richmond. I am really looking forward to that portion of the trip.

I need to finish packing and get some rest. I hate to sound like Woody Allen but the second I sat down to type this post I realized that the right side of my throat sort of aches a little. I guess I must be catching a cold. Great timing.

Here's what I will be thinking about while I am away:

Sunday, October 14, 2007

What Sunday Night Sounds Like

I love when the Saints play, win or lose. I especially love it when the Saints play football on Sunday night and the weather is perfect - so perfect that everyone in the city has their windows open. Tonight while Christian cooked our dinner on the grill he was prompted by the shouts coming from every house on the block to run inside and check the t.v. The Saints had just blocked a punt and the neighborhood went wild. Later, while I was bathing La Luz, I didn't worry too much about missing the game because I heard the shouting after a touchdown all the way up in the back bathroom of our house. It is interesting that our brains know how to translate the good shouts from the bad. The differences are subtle and when the Saints play you have to know them both very well. Hopefully we will hear some more good shouting before the game is over.

If the Saints win tonight there will be so much time spent evaluating what we did different this time around. I am not talking about how Drew Brees threw the ball or whether the offensive line finally got their act together. I am talking about the stuff of superstitions and obsessive compulsions. Josh and Erika are currently on their way back to Chicago after being in town for a wedding and are missing all of the game. Does a win mean Josh can't watch the Saints play again, all season? He will probably say, "yes". Does it mean I have to wear my Desire NOLA t-shirt and pajama bottoms (yea, I know, but it is Sunday night after all) and make a meal out of candy corn? Maybe, but I hope not. Maybe it means that La Luz gets to stay up past her bedtime and spend the better part of the game running around in nothing but a diaper and my ruby-red flats. Either way, I anticipate there will be much hemming and hawing about what to do and what not to do over the next week. I prefer that to feeling heartsick for the Saints any day of the week.

Here are some pictures of La Luz outside of P.J.'s on Saturday morning. We were right back there again on Sunday morning. She is so fascinated by looking at houses for pumpkins and Halloween decorations that she is able to walk from our house to P.J.'s with ease. Of course, what should be a ten minute walk ends up taking 45 minutes, but I don't mind. These beautiful fall mornings together are my favorite.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Lucy, Nee Isabelle

The ridiculous, awful, uniform store finally finished the apparently laborious process of putting together two, size-two smocks for La Luz. I admit, I ordered the dresses just two weeks before school started, but I had no idea the first semester of school would be half over before La Luz finally had a uniform with her name on it. For the past two months she has been wearing hand-me-downs, most of which are a few sizes too big. Fortunately, she does not yet understand the significance of the script on the left side of the collar and hasn't really complained about going to school as Grace or, more often, Isabelle. It is nice to finally have a proper uniform, however.

I am really looking forward to the weekend, particularly in light of the gorgeous weather. There are no volleyball games or tournaments and not too much going on. It should be a relaxing weekend. Work has been sort of calm for the past week but, as can be expected, things really started getting crazy today. It always seems to happen that way. I need to learn how to be more efficient when things are routine. I suppose I just operate better with deadlines and chaos. I have a ton to do and a work-related trip to Virginia for three days next week, so I need to be diligent over the next few days. First things first, however, the main goal for the weekend is to pick out some pumpkins at the pumpkin patch and spend a little bit of time with Josh and Erika who are in town for a wedding.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Not Intended For Ages 2 And Up

If I ever had any doubts about whether the Fisher Price Aquarium swing was worth the investment I can now rest assured that it was worth every penny. Here is La Luz enjoying a quiet moment in the swing earlier tonight.

She is now somewhere between 27 and 28 months old and she plays in and with this swing on a regular basis. I am not even sure if it actually works properly anymore; I think she might have busted the motor because I believe she exceeds the weight limitation at this point.

During Katrina we moved around so much that we often had to reinvest in necessary baby items. Some things were destroyed and others were left behind as we moved from place to place and lacked the space for all of us and the essentials. It was nice that we were able to do so, and we couldn't have done it without the help of our family and friends. The life of a vagabond has never come easy to me, even less so with a two month old in tow. Consequently, we picked up what we needed when we needed it to make life as tolerable as possible. The result is that along the way we collected a few extra pack n' plays and swings, none of which have gone to waste. Every bit of baby accoutrement is currently in use either by us or friends and family. Some of the items intended for use by babies are still in use by La Luz today. La Luz's teacher mentioned to me this morning that a sibling would certainly help La Luz understand all she needs to know about sharing. Seeing La Luz in the too-small-swing earlier tonight reaffirmed what she had to say.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

What Was Old Is New Again

Apparently the sun was shining in La Luz's eyes as she and Kelsea drove home from school. The solution was, of course, to borrow Kelsea's sunglasses. I think La Luz has the Tom Cruise, Top Gun pout/scowl down.

I had a pair of those Ray Ban aviator sunglasses back when I was in high school. One day I will find a picture of me wearing them and will post it. I think it is interesting how certain things always come back in style. My Ray Bans were lost ages ago, forgotten about in the bottom of my closet or maybe even given away. My J Crew sweater dress from 1995, however, survived multiple moves, multiple wardrobe purgings and even Katrina. I can guarantee that dress will be making an appearance once or twice this winter.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Newer Every Day

Tomorrow is mom's birthday and I can't let the day pass without celebrating the occasion. I am always impressed by what mom is doing. Each year she seems to have something new up her sleeve - trips to Turkey and South Africa; random, crazy assortments of far-flung foreigners in and out of the house, and the latest and most impressive escapade is her full-time job as a teacher's aid in the new and improved Abramson Science and Technology Charter School in the heart of New Orleans East.

How does she do it? I have no idea. Why does she do it? I think it has something to do with the challenge, but mostly I think it is about the biggest heart I know and the need for it to touch as many people as possible.

Happy Birthday Mom. Thanks for being an inspiration and a model for me.
With all our love for another wonderful year.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Gimme A "T"

The weekend was unusually hectic. Christian and La Luz have the benefit of an extra day off because tomorrow is a fall holiday for ASH. Unfortunately, I will have to figure out how to get myself out of bed, dressed, and into the office while knowing that they will be lounging around in p.j.s for the better part of the day.

Christian coached at a tournament Friday afternoon and night and then again all day on Saturday. I recognized the opportunity to take advantage of Christian's absence and dressed La Luz up in the LSU cheerleader uniform. It is a little big (another Maddie Moore hand-me-down) but she loves it and really wanted to wear it. There are certain things I am willing to fight about with La Luz, but on a Saturday afternoon I care very little about what she wants to wear, particularly a Saturday afternoon on a day that LSU is going to be playing football. I think it must have been good luck.

I wish the Saints jersey had the same effect.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Knuckles Anyone?

Tonight Pop joined us for dinner since Mom is in Kansas City speaking at an interfaith event. Dinner wasn't anything special, but I have a feeling it is more about the company on nights like tonight.

Here's La Luz, all dressed up for the occasion:

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Music Next Door

There are a few good bands playing in New Orleans this month. It starts tonight with the Lucksmiths at Hi Ho. Unfortunately, because the show does not start until 10 or later, we really couldn't get a babysitter for La Luz. The show will probably run until close to 1 or 2 and all of our night-time babysitters are students. So, tonight I am home with La Luz while Christian checks out the show. Tomorrow night Rilo Kiley is playing at The Republic. I have missed them a few times and regret it terribly. I really want to see them tomorrow night but 1.) Christian and I cannot both go (money and timing issues) and 2.) I am not wild about the idea of going by myself and am not sure I can talk someone into going (particularly since Christian already talked Gerrish into going with him tonight).

Later this month is Voodoo Fest. There are quite a few bands I would like to see this year. We haven't decided how or if we will be able to attend.

Not being able to go to shows is one of the only things I miss about having kids. It used to be so easy for us to go to shows, and we had no hesitation about checking out bands simply out of curiosity. It is different now, but it is not just a logistics/economics thing. By about 9:30 p.m. my desire to lounge around on the sofa with a glass of wine is much stronger than my desire to stand for three or four hours in a smoky bar listening to people talk louder than the band (and that ALWAYS happens at shows in this city). I am not sure if my lethargy is related to age or motherhood.

Wednesdays are always long days for La Luz. She has to stay late at school in the after, after care "plus" program (the one for really neglectful parents who don't seem to have time to fit kids into their lives or, as I call it, those that work full time) and after I picked her up we went over to the gym to watch the remainder of the ASH v. St. Mary's volleyball game. We were all exhausted by the time we got home a little before 7:00. After a day like today, I am glad I could spend a quiet, peaceful evening with the bug instead of spending the night racing around to get ready for the show.

Here is a picture of La Luz swaddling Achoo:

and going to sleep on the floor with Christian and various 'bun buns':

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

It Must Be In The Genes

Aunt Linda sent a picture of La Luz's cousin, Samantha, in a dragon costume. I think the picture was taken two or three years ago on Halloween. I couldn't resist posting it because it clearly explains that the desire to wear a dragon costume is in the Vaicius genes. Nevertheless, Sam's sister, Delaney, apparently picked out a Cinderella costume at the Disney store somewhere in the suburbs of Boston, maybe at the exact same time La Luz picked out hers. So, which one will it be?

I cannot wait to see what costume wins out. One thing is for sure, it will be 100% La Luz's decision, without a doubt. As much as I would like to guarantee she will be Cinderella, I know it is impossible.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Nachita Libre

Yesterday Christian and I took La Luz to the Disney store to pick out a Halloween costume. She is really into Disney princesses so we figured we might as well indulge her a bit and let her dress up as a princess for Halloween. The Disney store was fully stocked with costumes for every character imaginable. I remember the uncomfortable costumes when I was little - vinyl with hot, plastic masks. I was miserable in most of the store-bought costumes I ever wore and I think they customarily broke after a block or two of heavy-duty trick-or-treating. Ultimately, I think I opted for homemade costumes, favoring comfort over style. A personal favorite of mine, and one that was quite easy to throw together quickly, was the hobo costume - old jeans or overalls, dirty white t-shirt, makeup/dirt on face, stick with kerchief tied around the end.

As expected, La Luz was completely overwhelmed by the selection. She initially decided she would like to dress up as Ariel; then it was Nemo. After about ten very long minutes of debating, she chose Cinderella. The dress is unreal - the most frilly, tacky gown imaginable. The costume is not complete without a crown, shoes and magic wand (even though Cinderella doesn't actually have a magic wand in the story). I drew the line at the shoes. I can't imagine that La Luz would get very far in hard, plastic, high-heels. She can wear her crocks instead.

Oddly enough, after all the excitement at the Disney store, once we got home La Luz headed straight for her bin of dress-up clothes and pulled out the dinosaur costume. This is the costume that Christian picked out last year. It is the costume that we begged La Luz to wear for Halloween and Mardi Gras to no avail. She loves it now, of course. So, I guess there is no telling what she will actually be for Halloween. The options are endless:

While La Luz was running around the house with the dinosaur hat on she reminded me of the wrestlers that wear masks,like Nacho Libre.