Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Nice Treats

I had a late night tonight as I was out celebrating with the Banos family women. We got together for dinner because Betsy is in town from Dallas for a few days and, as is usual, there was no shortage of reasons to celebrate (Catherine making a decision about residency programs, Pop returning to work for the third day in a row, the marathon). One of the biggest blessings in my life is my family and one of my favorite treats is spending time with them. We met for dinner at Luke and, though most of us gravitated to the moules et frites, all of the dishes looked amazing. Even the simple house salad mom ordered as an appetizer was divine. The best part of the night was, of course, the company. Meals always taste better when they are shared with people that I love - GG on my left, mom on my right and aunts and cousins all around. I forgot my camera but mom took some pictures and, if I can get mom and the aunts to agree, I will post them.

Another nice treat arrived yesterday. It is a Valentine's Day present from Christian that finally found its way to our doorstep. I am really looking forward to reading it:

I am still reeling from The Omnivores Dilemma. It is an understatement to say that it totally revolutionized the way I look at and think about food, but mostly in a good way. Needless to say, I am not quite ready for In Defense but I think I will be soon and I know I am going to enjoy it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Will You Join Me For Another Round

Crossing the finish line was, without a doubt, the high point of the weekend. Here I am with Jim. Did I mention that he is 73? Yea, he beat me too. To be fair he has run over 25 marathons in his life. He convinced me to race him to the finish line as we rounded the bend on the last stretch of the race. He said the crowd would love it and he was right.

The brunch at Commander's was pretty incredible as well and is a very close second. Apples and oranges really. Here we are, post race, post brunch, sated and exhausted.

Thinking about Commander's reminds me that I have not been able to keep up with my food journal at all. The last few days before the marathon I decided not to keep a close watch on what I ate because I was worried that it would cause me to cut back on carbs and calories - two things I knew I needed. It was tough to keep track on the day of the marathon because I lost count of the Gatorade and GU. Brunch at Commander's was another story entirely - how do you quantify buttermilk pancakes with Strawberries and Mint Julep Whipped Cream? After one more day off (I am going to dinner at Luke tomorrow night) I will again be diligent about keeping a record, in case you are curious.

Scarlet took some great pictures over the past weekend. If I was a bit more savvy I would know how to link to the Kodak website. I will try to figure it out this week.

Monday, February 25, 2008

I Will Play A While Here

Scarlet was in town for the weekend so it made for a magical three days of fun. She came to New Orleans to run the half marathon and make sure that I didn't chicken out of running the full, but I am convinced she has some ulterior motives, one of which was breakfast at La Boulangerie.

Here I am enjoying one of my favorite treats, pastries, hot coffee, and a chance to visit with Scarlet and Jen. I wish every weekend started off this way. I have Betsy on my lap. It took a few minutes for La Luz to figure out that she was sort of jealous. She got over it though and ended up playing quite nicely with Betsy:

Jen and Scarlet:

La Luz, La Boulangerie

Why can't I get her to drink chocolate milk? She will have nothing to do with the stuff.

The second culinary stop during Scarlet's visit was Domilise's for unbeatable po-boys. I was craving a Domilise's po-boy after watching the No Reservations New Orleans edition a few weeks ago so Scarlet's timing was perfect.

Tucker and Kitty were also in town for the weekend and they joined us at Mom and Pop's for lunch - the perfect Saturday afternoon.

Here's La Luz opening up her new favorite toy - a Playmobil set that Tucker and Kitty gave her:

More tomorrow after Scarlet has a chance to send me some pics. My legs ache and I am a little sleepy tonight.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


I did it!
I had tons of support along the way and there's no way I would have finished without it.
Thanks everyone!

Here I am at about mile 7 in Audubon Park:

Scarlet took tons of pictures so I will post more soon.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What Spinning Can Do To You

I left work early today to stop by the doctor's office and get him to look at my throat and ear. I have had a 'mystery' sore throat that comes and goes every few days since my cold in the beginning of January. The doctor said that my ears are fine and that it is probably either a low-grade sinus infection or allergies (which he thought was unlikely). He says it is not uncommon for a sinus infection to last five weeks and that the reason why it affects only one side of my throat at a time has to do with what side I sleep on at night. I guess that makes sense, sort of. The good news is he thinks Claritin and nasal spray may get rid of it.

I was home unusually early tonight and brought and armload of work with me. Instead of actually getting some work done, however, I decided to go out for an evening run, probably my last one until the race. I have never felt like I had great afternoon or evening runs. I tend to get side stitches, feel lethargic, and suffer with the sensation that my feet are cement blocks if I run any time after noon. It was a nice run though. I had the side stitch to deal with and the cement feet, but I can't complain too much because I eventually fell into a nice rhythm. The park was beautiful and empty (because of the rain and the hour I suppose) and the water made everything seem very clean. It was a perfect run to end my training.

While I was out La Luz decided to spin to whatever music she and Christian were listening to. The spinning ended with a face plant on the door of the tv cabinet. I can only imagine the wailing. She bellyached about her bruise all night and only stopped when I threatened to put more ice on it. I think she is going to be okay but it definitely looks like it must have hurt:

Busy weekend up ahead - Scarlet arrives tomorrow for the marathon, Kitty and Tucker will be here for the weekend too and better be out on the race route on Sunday. Christian is off to Shreveport for a volleyball tournament so he will miss out on the festivities. If everything goes as planned he will be back in town Sunday evening just in time to take care of La Luz, because by then I imagine I will not feel like getting off of the sofa. I am nervous but super-excited. I have everyone lined up intermittently along the race route to keep tabs on me. Eyes closed, fingers crossed, here I go.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Most Admirable

There are many interesting side-effects that can be associated with being a child of the Sacred Heart. Things were different when I was there ages ago, but some of the traditions have not changed a bit. I have always had trouble explaining to others why it was perfectly acceptable in my mind to direct my prayers to Mary as opposed to, say, Jesus or God. It is an understatement to say that ASH encourages a spiritual relationship with Mary. After just a few months there, La Luz is already brainwashed. She knows Mary as "Mater" and has information about every little detail of Mater's life.

I have a light blue pashmina that Molls picked up for me on the streets of NYC a few years ago. I think I wear it at least once a week in the cooler weather. Everytime I put it on La Luz is ecstatic and says, "wow, you are mater, mater, mater". She always asks me to swaddle her and then asks to wear it, much like this:

I kind of think it is incredible that she already appreciates Mary. It is sweet and sentimental to me. The sing-song grace that she learned is new to me, but is certainly a lovely habit that makes mealtime more beautiful. The spiritual, "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus" that can occasionally be heard over the baby monitor at 7:00 a.m. is another story...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

You Could Be Happy Here, I Could Take Care Of You

Here is a picture of La Luz that Christian took earlier tonight.

It reminds me of the scene where E.T. hides in Gertie's closet. I love it and always wanted to recreate it after seeing the movie.

My everlasting sore throat, the one that finally went away last week, came back at around 10:30 today. I just don't get it. I hope it doesn't make me feel so lousy that I can't get ready for the race on Sunday. I don't think I can ingest any more vitamin C at this point.

Monday, February 18, 2008

My Love Goes Following You

For my sweet little Lucy bug...

I have been an inconsistent record keeper for the past year. Milestones have come and gone and maybe at the time I looked at you in awe and discussed it with friends, but a few weeks later I don't remember what the milestone was and I am kicking myself yet again.
So, here it is, a day late and a dollar short, my feeble attempt to make a memory of you and preserve what this feels like so that when you and I are old we can look back and smile. But, don't think for a second that every little change is not the most important thing in my world, because it always is for me.

I suppose the most striking thing about you is that you are very much a little kid these days. I woke you up one morning and you were big. Your shirts no longer covered your belly and your pants were just a few inches too short. You spoke in complete sentences, followed orders, and made reasonable requests at appropriate times. I am holding on with a tight grip to the little clues that indicate my baby is still there underneath what appears to be a little girl. I smell the sweet lavender and chamomile shampoo in your hair, I grab your soft, chubby thighs and pray that they never change. I remember my thighs at age 14 and am mindful about not wishing too hard. I can tell you are still very much my baby when you quickly fold yourself between my arms and under my chin if I so much as look at another child with interest. And, at the end of the day, when we are rocking in the chair and you ask me to read you Tumble Bumble I know that I have at least a little bit longer while you are like this - satisfied to be rocking in my arms and reading silly stories.

You sing and read and run and jump. You dance with near-perfect rhythm and even to complicated songs. You love playing with your tea sets. We begin and end each day with some concoction that you have thought up for our delight. You are still very much a caretaker of all of your animals. They are often invited to join us for tea. You are even thoughtful enough to include Loki on occasion. You make sure Loki has plenty of treats each day and have commanded enough respect from him to get him to sit and give you a high-five before getting a treat. I love watching this play out each day. You have the memory of an elephant. You know the different paths to certain places in the city we frequent. You can recount events from over a year ago with alarming detail. You remind me of every single promise I ever make to you. Every one. It is bordering on Rainman-esque and is only mildly freaky. To take advantage of your sharp memory I introduced you to the game, Memory, which you refer to as Remembery. We only play with a few 'matches' at a time but you are pretty good already and are totally hooked. I would say that you are actually a bit obsessed with 'matching' and constantly point out when things do and don't match. Or maybe you have simply inherited my impeccable taste.

The other morning I was drying my hair, getting ready for work as usual, and you appeared in the bathroom doorway and had a huge smile on your face. I looked down at your feet and saw that you had put your shoes and socks on. You did this by yourself, without my prompting. I have not taught you how to do this. I don't know who did, but thanks. I was totally impressed and completely caught off guard and I gave you two stamps, your favorite new reward. You love these things. You constantly barter for stamps and, consequently, you are usually covered in red ink by the end of the day.

You are great about using 'please' and 'thank-you' but you seem to think that adding please before and after any request makes it a guaranteed victory. "Please can I eat that bag of Valentine's candy, please, mama" does not get you an entire bag of candy, but it does sound really cute and make me smile.

Maybe it is because you are uniquely mine, but you make me smile every day, even when you are not around and nothing else in my life has ever had that effect on me. What used to be the thought of you grabbing at my face and drooling as you bit my nose when you were 6 months old is now the image of you carefully putting your almost-grown-out bangs behind your ear and starting a sentence with "Actually,". C'mon, you are not even three, there is no need to begin 75% of your sentences with the word actually, but you do and that is just one of the many things that you do that makes me laugh.

You still love everything orange. You prefer yogurt drinks and cheese over anything else. You still call me "Julie" and your father "Christian" if you really need our attention. You still wear diapers and are only occasionally interested in the potty. You still love princesses and fairies but your favorites, the scenes you always want to go back to, are the bad guys and that troubles me a little. You still can't pedal your Dora tricycle. You love drawing with chalk and your pictures are finally starting to become more interesting. I love when you draw something and ask me what it is and I have no clue because the images are not yet obvious. I usually try a safe bet, "dog" or "cat". This morning you drew a huge ball of orange and yellow and when I responded that it was a "sun" you looked at me like I was crazy and responded that it was "actually, dadda". Well, excuuuuse me.

Even after just 32 months together there is nothing in my life that has made or ever will make me luckier than the time spent as your mama. Thanks for being a constant reminder about the capacity of my heart.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

It Tastes Good, Really

Once again the weekend flew by. Although it rained off and on today, the weather yesterday was perfect and La Luz and I tried to spend every minute possible outside. We spent the first part of the morning feeding the ducks at Audubon Park with Jessie and her friend Courtney who was in town with baby Cate.

After the park we hit the Farmer's Market (which, incidentally, was inside this weekend). La Luz danced to some Klezmer music and enjoyed an avocado popsicle. I am not kidding. It was delicious.

We bought some delicious greens, broccoli, grapefruit, and strawberries. For the second weekend in a row I bought meat from a man who works on a farm in Mississippi. The guy sells tons of different cuts of meat (some of which, like the one I got this weekend, don't look like the cuts you find in a grocery store) and it is only a few dollars per pound more than at a conventional market. The cows are raised on grass, as they should be considering their internal design. They are also allowed to roam free. The result is delicious meat, yes, it does taste different from the meat you buy in the store, and there are no growth hormones or other potentially harmful antibiotics used that could make La Luz grow hair under her arms at age 8 if reared on a steady diet of such fare. The bonus is a (at least somewhat) more humane life for these cows. I pretty much destroyed tonight's dinner but that was because I just don't really know how to cook. I think I will stick with ground meat and sausage until I learn a few more skills.

Aunt Kate, Katie and Mary Cox have been in town all weekend visiting with Pop. We all had dinner together last night and La Luz got to spend some quality time with her namesake. She somehow managed to lure her into her favorite hiding spot at Mom-Mom's and then got her to sit still for a few minutes of quality time with the baby doll.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

We had an excellent Valentine's Day dinner with two Argentine students who have been in town for the past few weeks on an exchange program, and their host 'sisters'. Christian did an excellent job as executive chef. The grillades were perfect. A very impressive first attempt indeed.

La Luz enjoyed all of her adorable Valentines and wanted to sleep with her new book from mom-mom and her pin from GG. She ate more candy than I wanted her to, but I can't judge, I had a brownie and two glasses of wine.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Cool Stuff

As I was on my way to run a few errands during lunch today a guy in the back of a pick up truck painted all sorts of crazy colors and blasting loud music tossed this to me:

To promote the NBA All Star game this weekend there have been all sorts of things going on around town. I suppose tossing free basketballs to people in the CBD is just one of those things. I can imagine a few places where free basketballs would be much more appreciated, but I presume those sorts of things are also going on. I hope, otherwise I will feel pretty guilty about my recent acquisition.

I have always loved basketball and am thrilled to have an actual basketball to play with. I can't remember the last time I owned one. I played basketball when I was in middle school and high school. Well, I didn't get to play all that much, but I practiced quite a bit. Although this particular basketball boasts that it stays inflated ten times longer, in all other ways it is just like the basketballs I played with in high school. The smell is identical and it took me right back to the humid, filthy old gym and, just for a second, I felt the rush I used to feel when the coach would put me in the game. Who cared that there was only a minute left and we were up by twenty points. I loved being part of a team.

The errands during my lunch break included a trip to my favorite candy store, Lucky Me. The shelves were looking a bit bare. In fact, I managed to snag the last bag of conversation hearts. Here is what I came away with and it was just under $10 - not bad.

I spent the majority of my night constructing the valentines for La Luz's classmates while Christian prepared the first part of his Valentines Day dinner menu - grillades. It is incredibly labor intensive so I am impressed with his ambition.

Happy Valentines Day everyone!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

My Day

I had an 8 o'clock conference call this morning and I stopped by the hospital to visit Pop on the way home from work. When I left this morning La Luz was barely awake and when I returned home she was already asleep. It reminded me of what life was like when we lived in Thibodaux after Hurricane Katrina and commuted to Lafayette. During those days, even if I never saw La Luz when the sun was up, I would see her a few times in the middle of the night to feed her. Now she is old and once she is asleep, she is asleep, usually. The temptation to run into her room and pick her up out of her bed and hug her and rock her is huge. There is nothing I like more at the end of a long day. After all of Christian's hard work it just wouldn't be fair for me to disrupt her. Or would it...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Fishies For Three Years

I am a sucker for progression photographs. They don't really work well when your subject matter refuses to cooperate and your photographer is lazy. I often think, "I wish I would have taken a picture of that before..." I have managed to catch La Luz with the Proteus fish for three years in a row. I tried to duplicate the pose from the first year but have not had any luck. At any rate, I still think it is interesting to see how she has grown:

Things have been a bit hectic around here. Mardi Gras break is finally over for Christian and La Luz so it is back to the old routine - which means there are stacks of laundry in every bin and basket, not enough groceries, complicated pick-up and drop-off schedules - the works. Christian seems to have recovered from whatever awful flu has been circulating around the city, but he is somewhat bitter about the fact that most of his vacation was spent in bed. I am still training (but now finally tapering) for the Mardi Gras marathon and I am starting to get very anxious with the race less than two weeks away. I also started keeping a food journal that is public. You can access it by clicking on the link on the left side of the blog. I am keeping the journal mostly because I would like to pay closer attention to my nutrition but also because I would like to lose a few pounds. The actual hassle of keeping the journal is somewhat of a deterrent, but so far I have enjoyed seeing where what I eat comes from. In just a few days I have discovered that, for me, 2,000 calories a day really isn't all that much. I have also disocvered that my diet does not contain enough calcium - this despite the fact that I drink milk and eat yogurt every day. The journal is just one aspect of some of the changes I am trying to make. I am shopping at the farmer's market every week and am making a more concerted effort to buy what is local, seasonal, and most humane when possible. Another aspect is the scale - but I will save that for another day.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Chalk Drawings

Christian finally started to feel better today. His timing was perfect because the weather was beautiful. La Luz and I went for a long bike ride around the park and we managed to drag Christian outside for a picnic on the porch when we got home. We spent the remainder of the afternoon drawing with chalk on the sidewalk in front of the house. For some reason La Luz is obsessed with tracing and insisted that Christian trace her entire body. I thought it was sort of disturbing, but she thought it was awesome. I guess that's how things are when you are living in blissful toddler-hood, protected from the harsh reality of the world around us.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

I Do Have Spirit

Christian thinks that I don't love Mardi Gras. Simply because I occasionally opt to miss out on a parade here and there or because maybe I don't flip out over beads and wave at every single float passing by does not mean that I do not love Mardi Gras. I do. I absolutely do. I realize that nobody can love Mardi Gras as much as he does and that his perspective is a bit off but I think this picture that Nana took shows that I clearly have Mardi Gras spirit:

La Luz and Christian did not make it to see Obama at Tulane this morning. Christian seems to have caught one of the many illnesses circulating around the city and has been low on energy. It was probably a good thing that they didn't go because there was a huge turn-out and they likely would not have made it inside of the auditorium. Richmond was there and has a nice post about it at so check it out.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Last And Best Catches Of The Season

Here are the last and most prized Mardi Gras season catches. La Luz caught these during Orpheus. They are really nice stuffed animals. I think they are the kind that kids collected years ago before webkins became popular. At any rate, they are appropriately named, Mardi and Gras. The colorful one is Flambeaux. Any stuffed animal on the receiving end of La Luz's love gets a feeding bowl. It is a top notch operation over here.

Obama is speaking at Tulane tomorrow morning. I would like to see him but, oh yeah, I have to work. Can you think of a better way for a 2.5 year old and her teacher father to spend the second morning of Mardi Gras vacation? I can't.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Mardi Gras 2008

It is hard to believe that Mardi Gras is (almost) officially over. The past few days have been filled with parade-watching and spending time with family and friends. Notwithstanding the deluge on Thursday night, the weather was incredible. It was 80 degrees today. 80. It is February 5. New Orleans temperature is always unpredictable but I can usually count on not breaking a sweat in early February. Not this year.

La Luz had a great time but doesn't have quite the stamina for parade going that she needs to be a New Orleans kid. I see my friends' children who wouldn't miss a float much less a parade and I don't get it when La Luz starts complaining that she is ready to go home after four floats. She made it through a few full parades but most of the time we split the evening between the parade route and the house, taking necessary breaks at her request here and there. The convenience of living a block from the parade route was worth all of the other hassles that come with the location this weekend.

Nana and Papa-T were in town for the weekend. They left early this morning and La Luz is already complaining that she misses them terribly. It was great having them here because it meant having an extra set of hands to take care of La Luz.

The ladder looked great out on Napoleon Ave. I thought the stencil work was inferior but, upon closer inspection of other ladders, I think La Luz's ladder might even be one of the better ones that I saw. I am already planning some upgrades for next year with the help of Jessie and Tiffany. I won't give away too much but it involves things I don't own like rhinestones and hot glue guns.

Here are some of the highlights of the past few days:

With Christian, Nana and Papa-T - Iris Saturday.

In the ladder with me behind - Thoth Sunday

Rebirth kicking it around the block from my house on Sunday - how cool is that?

Richmond - getting ready to light the way for Proteus

In the ladder with Betsy B - Orpheus

Tinkerbell and me - Mardi Gras on the neutral ground

Tinkerbell - Mardi Gras day

La Luz - on her way to visit the queen of Carnival