Thursday, January 31, 2008

And After

The ladder detailing - not terrible, but certainly not impressive in any way:

Christian's parade was canceled because of the terrible rain so we didn't even get to use it tonight. There are now four parades scheduled to roll tomorrow night. The ladder is cool and all but I have my doubts about whether La Luz will stay in it for four parades.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Visions Much Grander Than My Ability

Christian bought a ladder for Mardi Gras last year. I have always suspected that a motivating factor behind becoming a father for Christian was the thought that, with a child, comes the excuse to stand on the back of a ladder during parades. The ladder is high up, so it allows for an enormous height advantage over the rest of the crowd and, as an added bonus, even with a kid or two in the seat there is still room to rest a beer.

We didn't have time to do it last year so painting the ladder is something we have talked about quite a bit over the past few months. Christian and La Luz picked out the paint weeks ago, but it rained just about every day since then. The weather finally cleared up enough to allow Christian to apply a coat of yellow paint. It is amazing what a difference just one coat of yellow paint makes on a ladder. While discussing and thinking about the painting, I imagined the beautiful stencil work I would do towards the end of the project. I pictured glossy golds and greens, shiny purple and sparkles. I imagined different symbols - beads, masks, letters. It all looked so beautiful in my mind.

Christian brought the ladder inside this evening to avoid the rain and to allow us some time to finish the painting project. When I set out to get to work on the stenciling I was excited. Half way through my first attempt I discovered that it is not altogether easy to do. I muddled through, somehow, and the result is nothing close to what I imagined I was capable of doing. Really it isn't bad, just not neat, not precise, not shiny - or - as Christian said, "it looks nothing close to the one he saw at Harry's". I am lucky that La Luz is not as tough a crowd.

Here she is, earlier tonight, pre-stenciling efforts, practicing for the parades:

Monday, January 28, 2008

More Firsts Of The Season

I had an incredibly long day at work followed by a trip to the New Orleans Arena for my first Hornets game. The Hornets beat Denver without even breaking much of a sweat. Even though the game was not exactly exciting, it was an entertaining evening. Professional basketball games are not really just about basketball anymore. There is so much to look at other than the game itself that it causes a bit of sensory overload. Every minute of the game something is being thrown or given away. Once or twice a quarter spectators engage in dance-offs and random seats are selected for money or other awards. It is something to see for sure.

I am also dealing with my first running-related injury and am feeling completely deflated. After being sidelined with a bad cold last week I started running again over the weekend and developed some pretty uncomfortable ankle pain. It is not a pain I have ever experienced before and it feels like tendonitis. Unfortunately, it does not seem to be improving, which could make finishing the marathon training program impossible. I am optimistic that it will heal, but I just don't know if the healing will happen fast enough.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Firsts Of The Season

The Mardi Gras season is in full swing here in New Orleans. The first parades started (in the middle of a downpour actually) on Friday night. Although Christian was brave enough to stay out there for a float or two, La Luz and I declined and, instead, stayed inside where it was warm and dry. On Saturday the weather was not much better but La Luz got to enjoy a taste of Mardi Gras when we visited the float den and she had the chance to play on Christian's float.

She even got to sit on the king's throne.

Earlier today the sun came out, finally, so La Luz and I walked down the street to check out some of the parades that were passing by. I love living a block away from the parade route because it is easy access to extremely cheap entertainment. On the other hand, there is no excuse for missing a parade and a lot of pressure when I am inside the house listening to the drum line thinking I am crazy for not standing out there, no matter the forecast.

Here's La Luz, having a picnic in her wagon, waiting for the parade to roll.

La Luz loved her first parade watching experience of the season. We only watched 5 floats but it was abundantly clear that the parade going experience with La Luz is going to be vastly different from last year. I am really looking forward to it.

Here she is with her first catches of the season:

Waving for beads and other treats:

And inside her wagon, buried by an obscene amount of loot:

This is insane - 5 floats and this much stuff. It sort of nauseates me to see all of this stuff. I can only imagine what would happen if we watched further down Napoleon and not right where the floats line up. I have to find out what I can do with all of these adorable stuffed animals.

Tonight La Luz had her first crawfish of the season at a crawfish boil at Kelsea's house. I can't remember the last time we ate crawfish in 45 degree weather. They were delicious though - nice and spicey, so we were able to stay warm.

Kelsea somehow convinced La Luz to eat crawfish and she loved every bite. I was shocked because my lips are still burning from the spice.

Nana and Papa-T arrive on Thursday and we are really looking forward to having them here, especially La Luz. Every time I woke her up this weekend she asked if they were here. The next week is going to be a bit chaotic to say the least and, although I will try to post as frequently as possible, I have a feeling I will not have much time.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Toys With Staying Power - Entry #2

Entry # 2 features a book, arguably La Luz's favorite book, easily in her top 5 all time favorites. This is a book that I got at my baby shower before La Luz was even born. My friend, Kim, gave me this one and, since she is a mom, I figured she had a good idea about the kind of books kids enjoy. I had no idea, however, that two and a half years later La Luz would still ask me to read it to her. It is a lift the flap book. Some of the flaps are lost and other flaps are on their second and third round of masking tape. When I got home from work tonight this book was sitting on the table in the front hall. I knew instantly that it was because she wanted me to read it to her again and again and again, and I didn't mind for a second:

The illustrator is Karen Katz. She has a series of books that are all excellent. If you can find a box set it is a worthwhile investment.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Toys With Staying Power - Entry #1

There are certain toys and books that La Luz has had since she was born that she continues to play with/read two and a half years later. I decided it would be a good idea to keep track of the things that have been most appealing to her in order to maintain a record of the good stuff.

Entry # 1 - Elegant baby bath toys

This particular toy (or set of toys) is not the first entry because it is the greatest, but is so simply because I watched La Luz play with them tonight and was amazed for a second that she still has so much fun with them. I got these when she was probably about 6 months old and she has played with them almost every day. She carries them around with her, bathes with them, puts them in the swimming pool, and even sleeps with them occasionally. I like the size because they fit easily in my purse and my pocket. When La Luz was teething she chewed on them. It was a great investment at around $15 if I remember correctly. I think I got La Luz's set at Ah-Ha. I actually had to get a second set because she lost the monkey out of the first set and sort of flipped out because he was her favorite.

The duck in the picture is actually not part of the set.

La Luz and I had dinner with mom-mom and pop who are finally back in town after almost a month in Houston. La Luz was thrilled to see them and to spend time playing at their house. After getting La Luz bathed and settled I tackled the first in a long list of chores that need to be completed by mid-week next week in preparation for Mardi Gras. The chore tonight was ironing - something I suck at and hate. Honestly, by the time I am finished I think clothes look more wrinkled. I had to do it though - I finally got tired of staring at and moving the pile of clothes that have needed to be ironed since Halloween (I promise, it feels like yesterday). I am also still battling a disgusting cold that seems to have infected my entire office. I am ready to feel better so that I can get back to training for the marathon. I have already missed a week of running and am hoping I can get back on track this weekend. I am feeling particularly lethargic and keep waiting for a clear head and a good burst of energy. Actually, I think I have been hoping for a clear head and a good burst of energy since high school. Wishful thinking indeed.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Great King Cake Debate

La Luz got the baby at school last week so tomorrow is her day to bring a king cake. In my family there really is no debate about which king cake is the best. Hands down the vote goes to McKenzie's. Unfortunately, when McKenzie's closed the best king cake in the city was unavailable...until Tastee Donuts decided to get its hands on the recipe and start making them (incidentally, the old Tastee Donuts king cakes tend to come in second place among the family favorites). As far as we are concerned there is nothing better than the delicious, brioche base that makes a McKenzie's king cake. In our world there is no place in our king cakes for white icing, non traditional colors, raspberry filling, and bavarian creme. Most of us will not even tolerate cinnamon in our king cake, believing it is best left for sweet rolls.

I still order Haydel's king cakes for out of town friends and family because I like the way they are packaged and, even though they have white icing and cinnamon, they taste pretty delicious. But, if I am going to eat king cake in New Orleans and I have a reason to get anywhere close to Clearview and West Metairie, it is going to look like this:

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Day With The Ponies

La Luz and Christian had yet another holiday today. While I was at work they went to the racetrack to watch Uncle Walker's horse race. It was La Luz's first horse race and she apparently loved every minute of it because I had to hear all about it all night long. The late start time for the races meant a very late nap time for La Luz and a somewhat exhausted two and half year old by the time I got home from work.

This is what I came home to tonight:

Practically asleep on the sofa

Why is Christian intimidated by barrettes? Yes, her hair usually looks like this when I am not around to dress her. She also wears converse tennis shoes with dresses when I am not around.

All in all I think it was a holiday well spent. I am sad that I missed it.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Just Another Reason To Be Here

There are many reasons why I love my family. Those reasons are, in large part, what fuels my desire to stay in New Orleans. My extended family is extremely close. My cousins are like siblings, my aunts and uncles are like second, third and fourth sets of parents and my grandmother has been a constant source of support who, in large part, has created this wonderful, dependable, loving extended family. I never downplay the role that my family has played in my life, never take for granted the friendships that I have with my cousins, never doubt for a second that any one of them would be there for me if necessary and I have never been proven wrong. Tonight was just another reminder about how important my family is to me.

My mom and dad have been in Houston for about three weeks because pop has been sick. Three weeks is longer than we expected and I am very homesick for them and tired of trying to explain to La Luz where they are and what they are doing and when they will be back. Yesterday was Richmond's birthday and my mom and dad were not around to celebrate. My mom is great about making birthdays special, even for people in their 30s who no longer have any huge desire to celebrate birthday. It just didn't feel the same without them around forcing Richmond to blow out candles and open gifts.

Things felt right earlier tonight though. In mom and pop's absence, Aunt Julie planned a Sunday evening supper in Richmond's honor and it couldn't have come at a better time. I definitely needed an excuse to spend time with my family and La Luz needed a good dose of love from her aunts and GG. All in all it was a perfect night - we ate a delicious dinner, celebrated Richmond's birthday with king cake, and watched football. The only thing missing was mom and pop.

Climbing on Richmond

Helping him blow out the candles

Finding the baby - you can rig it now since they no longer hide the baby

Watching football

Happy Birthday Richmond!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

There's No One That Compares With You

Before La Luz was born, whenever I had a bad day at work Loki was always waiting at home to cheer me up and it usually worked (with the exception of the days when he decided to do something annoying like scratch the paint off of baseboards or climb under the covers on my side of the bed - yes, he knows how to do this). I have always appreciated his unconditional love and it never ceases to amaze me how comforting it is just to be in the presence of a pet. I don't know what it is, maybe the way he somehow manages to duck his head under my arm, forcing me to scratch his head. It is always makes me laugh.

When La Luz was born I had an even better reason to be cheered up at the end of a bad day. I know exactly what it is about her though, it is the way she freezes when she hears my keys in the door, immediately stops what she is doing and, finally, runs full speed to the front of the house to attack me with hugs and kisses. There is absolutely no better feeling in the world.

After the morning I had at work that cast a shadow over the remainder of the day, there was nothing I needed more than a nice welcome home and I was not let down:

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Still Life With Toys

This is what I saw on the coffee table when I came downstairs at 5:30 this morning:

Clearly there are two kids in my house. I find it incredibly disturbing that the Fisher Price "My Little Baby" doll is just sitting there on top of the guide book to Assassin's Creed. Eerie as it is, I suppose La Luz will just get used to it. Now, if I could just get them to pick up their toys I wouldn't have to ponder the juxtaposition of good and evil first thing in the morning.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

One Year Ago Today

I have been feeling sort of sentimental lately about how fast La Luz is growing up. She is much more like a little kid these days than she is like a baby. It is sort of wonderful and heart breaking all at the same time.

Here she is, one year ago today, playing at the same park she played at earlier this evening with Christian:

And now, one year later and so very different:

As predicted, I undid all of Margot's hard work yesterday. I know it would be different if I had the time to spend with La Luz. I am certain that if I were with her for more than just a few hours each day during the week she would be potty trained by now. I am not naive or unrealistic. I realize that because I decided to work and be a mother I have to accept that both my skills at work and as a mom will, on occasion, vary in precision. I can usually accept that, but every now and then it disturbs me because I am very much a perfectionist and I get the sense that it is not just that I am not doing things right, it is that I am totally missing out on some very important things. Sometimes it just doesn't make me feel any better to remind myself that I am 'doing the best that I can do'.

"No voy a llorar y decir que no me merezco esto" - Julieta Venegas

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Start Of Something

La Luz spent the afternoon with Aunt Margot and, by the time I arrived at Margot's for dinner, La Luz had managed to stay dry while wearing regular underwear for about 6 hours and, I think, even requested a trip to the bathroom at one point. She was very impressed with her accomplishments and proudly carried around her reward - an orange (of course) Tootsie Roll Pop. She sucked on the lollipop all night and I finally had to wrangle it from her at bedtime, place it in a ziploc, and promise to give it back to her first thing in the morning. There is no question that it takes upwards of 1,000 licks to get to the center of one of those when you are 2.5 years old. I anticipate she will be at it for days, maybe weeks.

I think she just might finally be figuring out the whole potty training thing. I also think that Margot is sort of a master at all of this and the ground she covered today, thanks to her hard work and patience, will likely be unintentionally unraveled by me in the next week. With any luck, maybe not. Fingers crossed.

Here she Gemini...mood swings in a matter of seconds:

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Moving The Goalposts

My cousin Jane's high-school soccer team came to New Orleans for the weekend to play a few soccer games. During the Hurricane Katrina evacuation a bunch of New Orleans high -school students ended up at Jane's school and, consequently, the girls became friends and stayed in touch. Eventually the girls decided that the schools' soccer teams should play each other. So, La Luz spent a great deal of time watching Jane and her team play out on the soccer field this past weekend. I hope that La Luz gets comfortable out on there because I have a feeling Christian is going to force her to play whether she likes it or not, having already decided that she is too short to play volleyball. I would like to see her taking ballet classes or maybe tennis but I am not sure if I will have much of a say-so in this matter.

Here she is serenading her stuffed bear (which she refers to as a dog) just before leaving for the soccer game:

and in the stands, watching the game:

and coming off of the field:

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Ahoy Matey

When we are at Nana and Papa-T's house toys and costumes surface in the blink of an eye. I know that the 'baby junk' clutters the living space and sometimes causes Papa-T to hyperventilate, because at times it is impossible to move without stepping on something that squeaks. The junk and the clutter and the time chasing Papa-T and Loki around the house with Liam and the screaming at the top of her lungs is, for La Luz, exactly how she wants to be spending time with her grandparents in Atlanta. The visits, though infrequent, add a touch of magic to her life:

Christmas 2007, Atlanta, Day 2 - Pirate hat unearthed

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

NOLA, I Love It

While Christian was at the Hornets game La Luz and I spent the evening with one of my old friends who is in town from Chicago visiting with his girlfriend, an EENT who is interviewing for a position at Children's. It was wonderful to see him and the idea of having him back in New Orleans makes me happy, but I find that, as much as I love this city, I have a tough time persuading people to move here. As incredible a place as it is, this city is not without its challenges and it takes a very special appreciation of the place and a ton of patience to live here. I hope that he and his girlfriend move here, but I also hope they are realistic about what to expect. That said, at this point I can't imagine anywhere I would be happier and I can't picture La Luz growing up anywhere else.

I don't think we would get this reaction driving through the suburbs with the windows down.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Nothing Like The Smell Of Fresh Popped Popcorn

Back when Christian and I were both in school at UGA we saw movies all the time. The Tate theater at the student union played movies almost every night of the week and the cost for admission was an unbelievable $1.50 (and no, I went to college in the mid 90's so this was a great deal). The Tate theater is possibly the most comfortable theater I have ever been in and the movies were rarely crowded. Occasionally on a Friday or Saturday night they would play a new release that many people were interested in seeing, but the usual fare was stuff with subtitles and things shot on Super 8, not real crowd-pleasers necessarily. The Tate theater was where I changed from a casual moviegoer to a veritable addict. I imagine that we averaged 3 movies a week while we lived in Athens.

The move to Baton Rouge, then to New Orleans, the start of 'real' jobs and responsibilities and the arrival of La Luz all caused the average to drop. We went from seeing 3 movies a week to seeing 1 and now it is closer to about 3 a month, tops (and this includes Netflix).

I miss the old days of being in the cool, dark movie theater, of being spellbound and on the edge of my seat, of crying or laughing because someone got it so 'right on'. I am not snobbish or particular about what movies I will see. I am open-minded and love all genres. For me there is no better drug than the two hour anesthesia of watching something that is so far from my life.

At the end of each year Christian and I would make a list of our top ten movies of the year. Sadly, I think most of those lists were washed away along with the rest of the journals, notes and other scribbled on scraps of paper that drifted out into the floodwaters. Consequently, as my memory fades I have very little recollection of what my favorite movies were in years past. I decided that I want to revive the tradition because my memory loss is so profound that I barely remember what movies I watched last month. Even though we probably only watched about 20 movies this year, I am motivated to list my favorites. I am only selecting 5 because there are so few to pick from. So, here they are in particular order (1 being the most loved).

1. Once
2. Darjeeling Limited
3. Juno
4. No Country For Old Men
5. Knocked Up

One night when I am not so tired and I don't have to run so many miles at 5:30 a.m. I will explain why.

And as much as I miss the movie-going, 2 hours of this is definitely my first choice:

There is no question that having a kid makes your priorities change, but in every way it is for the better.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Geaux Tigers

The impact of the championship game and the Sugar Bowl on the city has been huge. Regardless of whether LSU wins tonight I will be happy. New Orleans has looked like its old self to me for the past week. It is so nice to see the streets packed with tourists, hotels at max capacity, and streetcars filled with passengers. I hope that the media coverage for the games and the stories that will be told by recent tourists will entice others to come here and enjoy all that New Orleans has to offer.

La Luz was in rare form tonight. She was dressed in her LSU cheerleader uniform but was doing the "Go Dawgs" cheer. I guess that is what happens when you live in a divided house.

It Rolls Along

I just got back from a night in Houston visiting my dad who is arguably the best patient around. Bolstered by spending the past 24 or so hours around such a remarkable guy, I somehow found the energy to post a few of the Christmas pictures before heading to bead.

La Luz and Loki, en route:

La Luz, holding baby Wesley:

La Luz and Liam, spending some quality time together:

And with Papa-T:

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Let The Seasons Begin

I have plenty of pictures from the past few weeks that I am itching to post. There is no easy way to quickly upload the monstrous photographs so I have been putting it off. My concern is that if I don't do it now I won't ever do it and then the initial purpose of the blog (my desire to chronicle, at least in part, La Luz's life for friends and family who are far away) is lost. So, please bear with me while I indulge a bit and post some of the pictures taken over the past few weeks.

La Luz and Christian enjoyed a few days together before my vacation started. With the exception of the day that they kicked around the house while the duct work in the attic was repaired, they were very busy.

One of the more exciting excursions was a trip on the streetcar to the aquarium and to visit me at work. I think the streetcar is La Luz's preferred method of transportation these days. She has already been on two rides since the St. Charles line reopened:

Here she is in my office, "working". She certainly makes it look like fun.

They also spent an exciting afternoon at Kelsea's playing with (terrorizing) Noodles the cat:

La Luz and Molls at Christmas Eve mass at St. Patrick's:

Here are a few pictures from Christmas Eve at GG's. It is amazing how impossible it is to get two toddlers to sit still for a picture. Consequently, these are the best ones of La Luz and Edward together:

I will post pictures from Christmas day and the Atlanta trip over the weekend so as not to inundate everyone.