Monday, June 30, 2008

Nice One

Today Governor Jindal vetoed a bill that would have increased the salary of our state legislators from $16,800.00 to $37,500.00. The controversial pay increase has been THE topic of conversation for the past few weeks. Generally, the voters have not been at all happy about the fact that some newly-elected legislators voted for the increase, which would have gone into effect Tuesday. I think an increase in pay is important, but it should not be something that is effective immediately. I do not believe $16,800.00 is adequate compensation for the work that the legislators do. Such a paltry salary perhaps equates to only the well-to-do being able to afford the luxury of running for public office, and I think that is wrong for many different reasons. Nevertheless, there is something incredibly distasteful about the bill and I am glad that Jindal finally worked up the nerve (or his electorate finally scared him into) vetoing the bill. Good choice.

Here is a picture of the first of many lovely sunflowers in our backyard. Okay, yea, the petals are a little 'weak' but this guy was over 9 feet tall. Can you picture how high up that is? High. Clearly, most of the energy was used up in building the stalk. It blew over in a recent rain storm so we had to cut it down. We have enjoyed looking at it for the past few days:

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Return of Some Good Things

The highlight of the weekend was Christian's return. He didn't arrive until close to 1 a.m. this morning and was, for the most part, wiped out today. Fortunately, he managed to drag himself out of bed to wake up La Luz this morning and she was thrilled, of course.

On Saturday La Luz and I celebrated the return of the Carollton streetcar line with a lovely, mid-morning ride to the Arts Market at Palmer Park. The streetcar was packed with tourists from our stop all the way to Audubon Park. It was nice to see so many people enjoying some of NOLAs finest offerings.

Here is a picture of La Luz, waiting for the streetcar:

Enjoying a breezy ride:

At the Arts Market (she is fixating on something - not sure what):

Enjoying a strawberry snowball from Plum Street - pure sugar:

Thursday, June 26, 2008

All These Things I Miss

I am definitely over being a single parent and am ready for Christian's return. And, okay, I really don't have much room to complain. Even though I have been a single parent for the past week I have had A TON of help. I am fortunate to have family members and great babysitters who are always willing to help out with La Luz and it is weeks like this one when I remember how lucky I am. I also haven't even had to cook a single meal all week. I am still scratching my head, wondering how that happened. Nevertheless, it is tough without Christian around and I think that is primarily due to the fact that he is usually the one who spends the most time with La Luz because of how much I work.

Interestingly, it is not the time he spends with La Luz that I miss the most, because I have had plenty of help. It is the other odds and ends around the house that I have no time to deal with during the week that I miss. Consequently, the house is pretty much a zoo (I actually cleaned up right before typing this post, but I didn't want to at all), there are dishes in the dish-drainer that have been there since the day he left, there is no milk, no yogurt drinks, no bread, no turkey (ie, very little to feed La Luz), and the trash can was full for 3 days - banana peels hanging on to the edge of a cereal box balanced on top of a yogurt container. I finally couldn't look at it and took it outside this morning. It really made me miss Christian.

The only positive difference not having him around makes is that I have only had to do one load of laundry since he left town. One. And I doubt I will have enough dirty clothes to merit another load before he returns. I will never understand the mystery of how Christian goes through as many clothes as he does on an average day, but I have enjoyed not having endless mountains of laundry to deal with (or look at as that seems to be the case around here these past few days).

I arrived home from work to see that La Luz had somehow raided Kelsea's collection of day-glo nail polish. The fingernails are a lovely plum; the toes, sunshine yellow. I couldn't get her to sit still long enough for a picture of the toes. Trust me, they are something.

She threw a fit when I put her in the bathtub earlier tonight because she was convinced the water would remove the nail polish. Crazy.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Baby Did It

We had dinner tonight with Aunt Kate and Mary Cox and they were subjected to an evening with a three year old who decided to skip nap time. They were both VERY good sports and didn't let La Luz's strange behavior bother them. Although she improved over the course of the night, within the first few minutes of arriving at mom-mom and pop's La Luz banished herself to time-out after informing us that her baby stole her manners.

I can't say I am particularly surprised, the baby is somewhat diabolical looking, wouldn't you say:

La Luz and I have had a great time hanging out with the B'ham Browns. She is going to be sad tomorrow night when they are not around and will be begging for them to plan a return trip to 'play with her' sometime very soon.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Orange & Hot Pink?

Kelsea figured out months ago that La Luz's favorite colors are orange and hot pink. I have always been told that those two colors clash and should never be worn at the same time. La Luz, on the other hand, does not believe there is a better combination. So, you can imagine her joy when she received her birthday present from Kelsea, a beautiful nightgown with her initials embroidered in orange and hot pink. I think Kelsea had to bribe the people at the store to agree to those colors. The result is, in La Luz's mind, perfection.

If I allowed it she would never take this nightgown off ever again:

Monday, June 23, 2008

La Luz and the B'ham Brown Girls

La Luz enjoyed a surprise visit from the Birmingham Browns tonight at mom-mom and pop's. They spoiled her with birthday presents - including an orange sprinkler - it doesn't get any better than that for La Luz. She spent an hour after dinner running around the house playing with Mary Cox, Katie and Aunt Kate. By the time we got home, long after her bedtime, she was totally wired.

Here are a few pictures of La Luz on the rare occasion when she allowed me to put pigtails in her hair. It was also the occasion of her first test-run on her new tricycle.

Notice how her hair goes from mildly tame in the first two pictures to crazy in the last picture? La Luz has some wild hair and the heat and humidity only makes it more out of control. And, yeah, she is definitely posing in those first two pictures. It is really the first time she has ever done that to me. She smiles and has been smiling for the camera for over a year but poses - that is something totally new. I guess it is part of what it means to be three. It sort of irks me but it is mildly amusing I guess and she does look really cute.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

La Luz's Third Birthday

Christian is in Nicaragua so La Luz and I had an extremely mellow weekend. Notwithstanding an incredible dinner at Irene's to celebrate Hal's brief visit to NOLA, most of the weekend was spent playing in La Luz's new Rose Petal Cottage and testing out her new tricycle. We managed a trip to the grocery, an hour or so at Audubon Park, a brief bicycle ride, and some time spent putzing around in the garden. Beyond that, some arts and crafts and lots of story reading occupied most of our time. It was hot outside so I didn't complain about spending most of the weekend inside.

Here are a few pictures from La Luz's birthday:

Birthday morning, still not sure if this is for her.

With the birthday girl in the window seat.

Blowing out candles and making a wish.

At the end of the night, a naked fairy in her cottage.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Happy Birthday, Beautiful

A year ago I took a picture of you in the exact same position and as I look at this picture I sit, slack-jawed, wondering how it is that a year has already passed and your legs are longer and your expressions more purposeful and your sentences longer and your desire for independence so much stronger. I am not ignorant, I understand what growing up and growing old means, but I am a fool and that part of me can't let go of the baby with the bald head and the fat-bracelet arms. Don't get me wrong bug, I wouldn't trade the miniature person you have become for the drooling baby - those people were right when they said I would enjoy each year with you more than the last - but I just wish that it wouldn't go by quite so fast.

You turn three tomorrow and it is undeniable that you are now much more a kid than you are a baby. But for the chubby thighs and the thumb sucking you wouldn't know that not so long ago you were the little ball wrapped up tightly on my chest, being carried with one hand, light as a feather. Now I only carry you on my hip, your squirmy body and long(er) legs interfering with my knees, and only when absolutely necessary, like when you are asleep or near sand.

You are totally self-sufficient these days and, though you will occasionally indulge me, for the most part you do everything on your own. You can imagine that I both love and hate this. You understand every direction or command and if you don't respond it is not because you don't get it, it is because you are strong-willed - which they tell me is a good thing and will come in handy later in life. I hope they are right. Maybe strong-willed is sugar coating it. You are 3 and you beat me at staring contests, that should tell you something about your determination. Obstinate or not, you are the sweetest, most loving child and when nothing seems right with the world, one minute with you convinces me otherwise

So, yeah, you might be three, but my heart still pulls and tugs with that overwhelming feeling of knowing that you belong to me and that I am responsible for you and that no matter what else happens as long as I am alive you will be my baby. Every day you challenge me to live a better life, to be a better person, to love more, to laugh more, to remember that what is important is what is happening now. I look at you and my breath still catches and my heart maybe skips a beat like it did the first time I held you tucked neatly underneath my chin and you sighed.

Thank you for being such a special girl and know that you will always be my baby, no matter how old you get.

Love, Mama

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Beach Weekend 2008 - Part II

Here are a few more pictures from our weekend in Perdido:

With Liam in her favorite chair. I love the way she looks at him - mystery and idolatry.

Liam, so totally not afraid of the sand or the water or anything actually.

Liam and La Luz with Papa-T. They do not leave him alone when he is around. Ever.

On the boardwalk, ready to search for shells.

With Mama on the beach.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Beach Weekend 2008 - Part I

La Luz initially hated the sand, just like last year. She eventually warmed up to the idea of having grains of sand actually touching her skin but she remained persnickety for the duration of the vacation. I guess some people are beach people and others are not. Maybe it is too early to tell. She loved the pool and the condo and, most importantly, the time with her relatives.

Here is the first batch of pictures from the weekend:

La Luz & Christian on the boardwalk.

The only picture of the three of them that doesn't display tears or the back of someone's head. Capturing three kids under the age of three in a single frame is tough work.

La Luz, haircut time.

At the beach, in the sand, the filthy filthy sand.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Still Feeling The Waves

We are just dusting off the sand over here after a long weekend at the beach.

But it is Father's Day, after all, so I can't resist a quick post. I can chase after the sand that will inevitably find its way into the corners of the sofa any day, but Father's Day only comes once a year.

La Luz was born on Father's Day 2005. We joked that there would never be a better Father's Day present for Christian, Pop or Papa-T. Ever. Each year since then I have realized how true it is - books, dvds, soap on a rope, none of those things quite compare. So, Happy Father's Day to Pop, Christian and Papa-T. Thanks for being such wonderful fathers and grandfathers. Over the past three years I have definitely learned that there is some truth to the old saying that any man can be a father but it takes someone special to be a dad. I love you all.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Summertime = Camp Time

I went to camp pretty much every summer when I was a kid. When I was younger Richmond and I (and then maybe even Josh at some point) went to the JCC camp. I never really liked it. It is not that it was a bad camp. In fact, as far as camps go, it was probably great. I can't really put my finger on what it was about camp that bothered me. Maybe it was something to do with the smells, the songs, the enthusiastic counselors, the wild was something, maybe a combination of those things. Or maybe it is because my mom is such an un-campy type of person that it confused me when she suggested I spend my summers at camp.

I distinctly remember sitting in our kitchen in front of the t.v. eating cereal and watching Johnny Quest. I remember wishing that my summer could be spent just like that, quiet, in my house, away from all the incessant cheering and the ear-stinging rounds of John Jacob Jingle Hymer Smith. It wasn't until I got older and started to go away during the summer for weeks at at time in North Carolina that I started enjoying camp. Even today though, I remember being homesick, I remember wondering why I HAD to go to camp, I remember thinking that one can only make so many macrame bracelets. I think maybe I can appreciate what camp had to offer me much more now than I did then - the carefree environment, the activities that were 100% kid tested, the freedom to play ALL DAY. I suppose it is too late to go back and do it all over again. Here's hoping La Luz has a greater appreciation for it while she is taking part.

La Luz, first day of summer camp, 2008:

Monday, June 09, 2008

Another Reason To Eat Locally

I love tomatoes and was horrified about the news that certain varieties of tomatoes in certain states have been linked to salmonella outbreaks. Disgusting. Louisiana is not on the list of states with reported cases, yet, many restaurants are voluntarily removing tomatoes from their menu. I was thrilled to find this gem on the tomato plant this evening. It might have been licked by Loki and slithered upon by slugs, but there's no salmonella in this guy.

Incidentally, the creole tomato festival is in the French Quarter this weekend. Creole tomatoes are not part of the tomato crop that has potentially become compromised, so don't worry. I didn't catch the festival last year but I have been in the past and have always enjoyed it. They literally give away tomatoes - or at least tastes of tomatoes. There is nothing I like more in the summer than a fresh creole tomato sprinkled with salt and pepper. I can literally eat them whole, like an apple. So, if any of you are around and are looking for something to do, I recommend checking it out.

And because no post would be complete without the preciousness of La Luz, I give you the saddest ballerina ever - La Luz REALLY missing her daddy:

Don't worry, I get the sense there was some acting going on here.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Power Of Girl

Welcome to estrogen city. Christian has been gone for too long. I can feel the girlishness taking over me. I am crying at Kleenex commercials, begging to braid La Luz's hair and testing out 10 shades of nail polish. I shopped, caught up on all my Gossip Girl episodes, read an In Style, and watched both The 27 Dresses and P.S. I Love You in a 48 hour period. It feels like a perpetual Lifetime movie around here so, unless you won't have a problem playing with my hair or tickling my arm, I suggest you stay away until a healthy dose of testosterone is re-introduced into our home.

No one is safe from the effects of girl power. Loki came inside (from what I assumed was a few hours of rolling arond in the dirt, barking at dogs and digging up the garden) covered in lovely plumbego blossoms. He looked radiant and natural covered in flowers and La Luz and I were ecstatic. La Luz is even becoming downright feminine. Earlier today she struggled to squeeze her marshmellowy feet into an undersized pair of dress-up heels, grabbed the nearest handbag and asked if I was ready to go shopping. Are you kidding me? Fortunately, Richmond was at dinner at mom-mom and pop's tonight and it wasn't long before La Luz was chasing him around the house and having imaginary, light-saber fights with him.

My girl:

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Finding Her Sea Legs

A few days in the pool with Kelsea and La Luz is finally getting a little comfortable in the water. Kelsea took a video earlier today of La Luz singing and swimming but blogger is not cooperating so I will try to post it later.

In the meantime, here are a few pictures. La Luz, feeling very comfortable in the Lucy-sized pool:

and playing with Noodles:

Her favorite animal. Ever.

I took La Luz to the firm's Zephyr's night tonight and she had a blast. Nothing like hotdogs, cotton candy and staying up way past bed time to entertain an almost-three year old. Cotton candy notwithstanding, I was careful about what sorts of junk she put in her mouth tonight. Last year the combination of hotdogs, chips, lemonade and dipping dots proved to be a terrible mix. At this time last year I was up with La Luz at 3 o'clock in the morning, cursing my decision to allow dairy to follow citrus. I hope I have done what is necessary to avoid an encore performance tonight.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Super Slide

While Christian is busy grading AP exams and I am stuck at work, La Luz is busy enjoying summertime.
She spent the day at Kelsea's house swimming, playing on the super slide, and chasing Noodles the cat. She must have played hard because she took a 4.5 hour nap.

Here she is standing by the super slide:

and after raiding the rack of bows in Kelsea's sister's room (Kelsea said there was a bow for every outfit and she wasn't kidding).

La Luz is now the proud owner of an incredible collection of bows. I am thrilled that I will never have to scramble for a holiday-themed bow again. Now the battle will be convincing her that she just can't wear a Mardi Gras bow on any given day.

I wish I could spend my day the same way...well, with the exception of the part about the bows. I think my bow-wearing days are in the past.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Welcome To The Monkey Room

In an attempt to beat the heat today Christian took La Luz to the Monkey Room to burn off some steam. The first two texts Christian sent left me feeling a bit uncertain about the decision. The first was something along the lines of La Luz being 'chicken'. Apparently she spent the first thirty minutes hanging out in the area designated for toddlers and was even too scared to go down one of the slides. The second text had something to do with Christian being the only guy there. Sure, it was the middle of the day on a Tuesday, but I would have expected a few dads in the mix. About an hour later La Luz had made friends and was hooked. I think it is a great concept and the perfect activity for hot summer days. I have a feeling we will be there quite a bit over the next three months.

Here she is, navigating the equipment:

Monday, June 02, 2008

Summer Is Here

It has been hot here, really hot. It hasn't rained much over the last week so we haven't had the benefit of cooler evenings after mid-day rain showers. The highs have been, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, in the 90's. It is June. I am dreading August. I suppose one plus to working in an office is the constant climate control. Granted, I am generally freezing, but I can always put on a sweater and it is a much better option than running around in 95 degree weather. With high temperatures and no swimming pool it can be challenging to figure out what to do with a three year old. Tomorrow Christian is going to take La Luz to a place called The Monkey Room. I gather that it is some sort of inside playground, which means it should be nice and cool.

La Luz and I braved the heat at the farmer's market on Saturday. We went early and were still coated in sweat by then end. It was worth it to me because we got some great produce - peaches, blueberries and creole tomatoes are all in season. I am not sure if La Luz feels the same way. The popsicle didn't even do the trick.

Here's La Luz, gradually deciding that the heat was more than she could take:

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Salutation, Valediction

On Friday evening, before the ceremony, La Luz and I headed to ASH to see Kelsea all dressed up and ready to graduate. Kelsea, very thoughtfully, suggested that it would be nice to get a picture by the fountain - Kelsea's last year at ASH and La Luz's first. I always feel nostalgic when I see the courtyard covered in candles and white flowers. There are the same rickety, rusting chairs from 17 years ago (at least) lined up along the patches of grass, filled with family members gushing with pride. The same songs are sung over the same buzzing and screeching p.a. system. The white dresses and white gloves and girls with flowers in their hair are always smiling or crying or both. Many years and countless graduations later, I haven't encountered a ceremony as beautiful as ASH's graduation, and I doubt I ever will. On Friday night, as I stood in the center of it all, I remembered, for a minute, the way that I felt on my graduation day - the incredible sense of liberation coupled with the absolute fear of knowing that I had no idea what was ahead. I know for sure that at that time I didn't suspect ASH would be such an integral part of my life and now I cannot imagine it being any other way.

La Luz, waiting for Princess Kelsea:

La Luz with Daddy, fountain-side:

La Luz and Kelsea, oh so sweet:

Kelsea wore the loveliest graduation dress I have ever seen. It was entirely unique and absolutely gorgeous, so it stands to reason that her mother made it.