Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Dark Knight

Christian exchanged some tutoring sessions for a few free hours of babysitting. Tonight we cashed in those hours and headed to the movie theater to finally check out the new Batman movie. The last time we saw a Batman movie was the night before La Luz made her debut. I was much more uncomfortable that night.

The movie was great. The best of any of the Batman movies I have seen (and I now know - thanks to Christian - that there is a distinction between Batman and Batman Dark Knight, etc...I never really read comics other than Archie and Veronica when I was a kid so I am ignorant). It was totally entertaining and filled with suspense. Heath Ledger's Joker was horrifying. Christian Bale was great as Batman (though, admittedly, I get a bit distracted and annoyed by Batman's odd, whispery voice) and Aaron Eckhart was so easy on the eyes (at least for most of the movie). I could watch him do just about anything and be entertained though. I have heard a few mild complaints about Maggie Gyllenhaal, but I thought she was great (I am a bit biased though because I have enjoyed every movie she has ever been in).

It is definitely worth checking out if you have time. It is also one that you should watch on the big screen if possible.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Look At My Girl

Pretty much doing the same thing in July 2008:

that she was doing in July 2007:

How'd she get so old so fast?

And yes, she is wearing her nightgown at 6 p.m. in the first picture. Apparently, sometimes she takes naps in her nightgown and refuses to allow Christian to dress her when she wakes up. It is also a bit difficult for Christian to get her hair brushed and in a barette. Seeing her hair in her face drives me up the wall, but I think Christian kind of gets a kick out of the feral, lost-boy sort of look on La Luz. At least the nightgown offsets the street urchin look a bit.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Weekend With The Johnsons

Brad and Tally stopped off in NOLA last weekend and spent two nights hanging out. It was great to see them and they were happy to be able to spend time in the city. Christian took them on a tour through the areas around town that were heavily flooded during Hurricane Katrina. Without a doubt, it left an impact on both of them. It is strange that after almost three years there is still so much that needs to be done. I suppose maybe it will always feel that way.

To lighten things up a bit we decided on Jacques Imo's for dinner. Christian LOVES it and, especially when we have friends in from out of town, it is his restaurant of choice. I think it has something to do with the fact that he can wear shorts and flip flops. I was prepared for the usual wait but not for what the usual wait feels like without the benefit of a few beers or a glass or two of wine. It is tough. By the time we sat down to eat I was so sleepy that I am not sure if I was even hungry. On the plus side, we were able to sit inside of the Maple Leaf until our table was ready.

After waiting for an hour and a half for dinner we made Brad and Tally wait for about 45 minutes the next morning for brunch at Bluebird. They agreed that both were worth the wait. La Luz was a total trooper. It was so hot while we waited for our table on Sunday. Fortunately, she did a great job entertaining herself with the stand that holds the real estate magazines. She pretended like it was her doll's house. It was a good distraction for about 30 minutes.

Here we are at Bluebird. La Luz is licking the salt off of her hand. It is a new trick she learned somewhere - touch the top of a salt dispenser and lick your hand. Disgusting.

And playing with the doll's house:

Monday, July 28, 2008

Road Weary

I spent 12 hours in the car today. It normally would not have taken me that long to get from NOLA to Shreveport and back but there was a wreck (I guess)that stopped traffic somewhere over Whiskey Bay. Two elevated lanes of traffic and nowhere to go - eventually people were tailgating to avoid losing their minds. And all of that effort was wasted because my motion was denied. I knew I was doomed when opposing counsel walked out of the Judge's chambers laughing and drinking a cup of the Judge's coffee, probably out of the Judge's coffee mug. I was one of two female attorneys in a crowded courtroom this morning and I was certainly the only attorney from New Orleans. I was an outsider for sure.

I can barely keep my eyes open. We had a delicious dinner with Pop and Aunt Kate, but I think that is about all the activity I can handle this evening. I will post the rest of the pictures from last weekend tomorrow after I catch up on some much needed sleep.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Princess Or Tomboy

We had a lovely weekend - the perfect mixture of activity and relaxation. Afternoon rain showers on Saturday and Sunday helped keep things mellow around our house. Unfortunately, I have to be out of the house around 3:30 a.m. tomorrow to get to Shreveport for a hearing. I just couldn't face a night in a hotel... So, it is off to sleep for me. I will post more about the weekend tomorrow as there is plenty to report. In the meantime, here are some pictures of La Luz from Saturday evening. After the rain stopped she couldn't wait to throw on her boots and splash in puddles. She insisted on staying in her beautiful dress from AJ, however. What a sight!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Happy (Late) Birthday Josh

While we were out of town Josh turned 31.
He happened to be in town visiting mom-mom and pop for a few days so our paths crossed, though only briefly.

We celebrated his birthday a few days later with those in the family who are in town. It was a treat to get to see everyone, particularly for La Luz who was in Atlanta for three weeks.

I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow and am looking forward to hearing Baby #2's heartbeat and seeing how much weight I have gained. I feel absolutely enormous and am totally uncomfortable in all of my regular clothes. Unfortunately, I am not quite round enough for my maternity clothes yet. It makes getting dressed for work extremely tricky. I am probably being paranoid but I have a feeling people are looking at me thinking "wow lady, are you really to proud to invest in some bigger clothes?" I didn't start wearing maternity clothes when I was pregnant with La Luz until around the fifth month of my pregnancy. I doubt I will make it until the fifth month in my regular clothes this time around.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wandering For Distraction - Part 3

The last 3 days of our vacation were spent in Seattle. Christian attended an AP conference and I spent my time kicking around the city and lounging in the Westin's Heavenly Bed (I actually think it is a trademarked bed). Seattle is a beautiful city and, much like Portland, very easy to explore on foot. Our hotel was located in the downtown area and, although very close to many of the major Seattle attractions, I feel like I barely scratched the surface.

Our time in Seattle flew by. We went to a Mariner's game one night, had dinner one night with my aunt Adele who moved to Seattle forever ago (I had not seen her in ages so it was a total treat to catch up and to check out a Seattle neighborhood I otherwise would not have had an opportunity to see) and spent our last evening walking around the University campus and eating at this incredible, divey Mexican restaurant overlooking the lake. The only major attraction that I skipped was the space needle - $18.00 and a 2 hour wait was more than I could take. If I had had La Luz with me I would have stuck it out.

Self-portrait outside of the Experience Music Project - housed in an immensely cool building designed by Frank Gehry:

The Mexican restaurant in the University area overlooking the lakes:

View from our seats at Safeco, gearing up to watch the worst team play the second to worst team:

The line outside of Salumi, a delicious deli in Pioneer Square (owned and operated by Mario Battali's father). We waited about 45 minutes, there were no meatballs left by the time we order so I opted for porchetta and it was delicious and worth the wait.

My favorite areas of the city were Pioneer Square and the Pike Place Market. I know that the market is the quintessential tourist attraction but it is for a reason. There is so much to look at - so many incredible sights, sounds and smells. There are tiny alleys that intersect with the market lined with off-beat shops filled with odds and ends. I could have wasted many more ours exploring that area and eating all of the delicious food. I sort of have to agree with Christian that sometimes the best tasting foods come out of the scariest looking store-fronts.

Pike Place Market:

Pioneer Square area:

Christian, in front of a Japanese garden in the heart of the Pioneer Square area:

The weather in Seattle was perfect. I believed what everyone said about how it rains all the time and the sun never comes out. To the contrary, I am not sure I ever saw a cloud. It was an incredible trip. I had an opportunity to see a part of the country I knew I would love and I appreciated every minute of it. I hope that at some point in our lives we will be able to return and check out some of the many things that we missed.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wandering for Distraction - Part 2

Days 3, 4 and 5 of our vacation were spent on San Juan Island. Traveling from Portland to Friday Harbor (the main harbor town on San Juan Island) was somewhat complicated. It required renting a car at the Portland airport (the only place in Portland where you can rent one way cars), driving to the Seattle airport to drop off the rental car, picking up the shuttle to Anacortes, Washington at the airport and catching the ferry from Anacortes to San Juan Island. Getting from point A to point B took the better part of the day. It was absolutely worth the effort, however, because it is easily one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Incidentally, there are much easier ways to get from Seattle to San Juan Island, but for logistical reasons we had to do things the complicated way.

Coincidentally, we happened to be on the same ferry from Anacortes to San Juan Island as Richmond, who had just returned from a weekend in Whistler. The ferry ride was beautiful and provided great views of Mt. Baker.

We arrived in Friday Harbor, checked into our hotel, and met up with Richmond for dinner at the local Royal Marine brewery, followed by coffee at one of the many great coffee shops, The Doctor's Office:

Me, at the Bird Rock Hotel:

Here is a picture of the bikes at the Bird Rock Hotel. The first night we arrived I was astounded to find the bikes unlocked. The second night bike #2 was noticeably absent and the bikes were locked up. Maybe everything is not always perfect in Friday Harbor.

Outside of the Doctor's Office:

The following morning Richmond picked us up for our sea kayaking expedition. This is precisely what he does all summer so I felt bad making him spend his day off working, but he didn't seem to mind. Sometimes I think he actually prefers paddling on water to walking on land. The sea kayaking adventure was great. I was only a little freaked out at one point when Christian and I got stuck in a nasty current/tide. Once Richmond threatened to tow us out we figured out how to break free. The highlight of the trip was watching the harbor seals sun themselves on rocks and swim close to the kayaks to check us out.

Richmond, getting everything ready for our morning in the sea:

After a much-needed lunch in Roche Harbor, the fancier harbor on the island (where people like Sean Combs dock their yachts) we were exhausted.

We managed to muster the energy for an evening outing to Lime Kiln Lighthouse where we watched an incredible sunset and drank some local wine. It was lovely.

Friday Harbor is the perfect mix of sleepy, sea-side town and bustling port city. There are tons of lovely restaurants and shops and plenty of places to sit and enjoy the view (and it never gets old). I would have liked more time to explore the island and check out some of the other islands in the area. There is plenty to do in the San Juan Islands and I am already looking forward to a return trip. I can definitely understand why Richmond is always anxious to get out there at the start of the summer.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Return Of La Luz

I will continue my travel journal tomorrow. Right now, all I can think about is this:

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Wandering For Distraction - Portland to Seattle, Part 1

I returned to NOLA this evening after over a week on the road. There was a conference Christian wanted to attend in Seattle so we decided it would be a great opportunity to check out a part of the country neither us had ever seen. So, while La Luz was busy entertaining Nana and Papa-T in Atlanta, Christian and I spent a few days kicking around the Northwest. We started in Portland, spent a few days in the San Juan Islands visiting Richmond, and ended the week at the conference in Seattle. I am still adjusting to the weather (I forgot how hot 95 degrees feels), getting used to the time change, and aching for the return of La Luz who is still in Atlanta. I haven't seen La Luz in over two weeks and I am not sure how I have been able to stand it. I have never missed anyone this much and don't know how I will sit still at work tomorrow while waiting for her return.

Day 1 of our vacation started in Portland, Oregon. Christian flew from Atlanta and I flew out of NOLA. I had an awful flight as far as flights go. The generator on the plan was not working properly so, before taking off, we had to wait for an external generator to cool the engines. We started the journey about an hour late. An hour and a half into the flight the man directly behind me had 4 or 5 seizures and the pilot (thankfully) decided to make an emergency stop at an air force base in Colorado. The delay (though understandable, of course) only got worse when a drunk (and possibly drugged) woman smoked in the airplane bathroom (granted, we had been waiting in the hot plane for over an hour - remember, no generator so no a/c in the cabin). I am sort of unclear about what happened after she got caught but it involved an investigation and her removal from the plane, but not before she vomited in the bathroom. Needless to say, I missed my connecting flight and arrived in Portland about 5 hours later than expected, but the second I caught my first glimpse of the city I forgot about the chaos of the plane (and, relatively speaking, there are worse things).

I don't generally have the occasion to write about cities. I suppose I write about NOLA now and then incidentally, because it is where we live. I am having trouble writing precisely what it is (or was) about Portland that captivated me; it was something. These are the things I liked about Portland - it is a walkable city, the temperature is comfortable, there are tons of kids everywhere, the architecture is interesting, the neighborhoods are all very different and all comfortable, people ride their bikes or take public transportation everywhere, the downtown area is becoming revitalized in a way that I wish the downtown of NOLA would, there are good restaurants, great coffee shops, open-air markets, and possibly the most incredible bookstore I have ever been to in the heart of the downtown.

We stayed at the ACE Hotel. It was an interesting experience. There are parts of the hotel that I loved - waking up to the smell of fresh-brewed coffee from the coffee shop downstairs in the lobby, the lobby, the photo booth, the location, the minimalist decor and the old-fashioned vibe of the place. There are parts that I didn't love - the walls were sort of thin, the bed was not super-hotel-soft, and someone pulled the fire alarm at 4 a.m. on our first night. Not cool at all.

Here's the ACE from the outside (notice the firetruck doing a follow-up check the next morning:

and the lobby:

The delicious coffee shop downstairs:

The guy(s) on the wall in our room, okay, a little creepy, sure:

While in Portland Christian and I met up with some friends for a street fair, brunch and a bbq. Beyond that, we did plenty of wandering around the city, checking out as much as we could in two days.

Christian, outside of Powell's, the most incredible bookstore I have ever been in:

The open-air market that takes place every Saturday (and Sundays during summer months). It is somewhat like the French Market but with a larger selection of food and art:

Me outside of Kenny & Zuke's deli, eating potato pancakes and beet soup. Mema would have been so proud:

We both loved Portland and will definitely return. There is so much that we did not get to see (great outdoor activities and incredible wineries) and will have to wait until next time.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Little More La Luz

Originally uploaded by julie vaicius
Here she is at Adams Park near Nana and Papa-T's house:

Originally uploaded by julie vaicius

Originally uploaded by julie vaicius

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Further Adventures

While I am busy at work and kicking around a very quiet house, La Luz is enjoying her time in Atlanta.

She recently spent some time at the Atlanta zoo checking out the panda bears and then to Athens to hang out under the arches:

Originally uploaded by julie vaicius

Originally uploaded by julie vaicius

Originally uploaded by julie vaicius

I wish I could have been there...

Monday, July 07, 2008

Summer Travels

I am on day 1 of 14 days away from La Luz. Wow. 14 days is a long time. I keep looking at these pictures taken over the weekend in Atlanta:

and laughing. She looks so serious, so intent on her task of tending to her house - like a miniature, orange fraulein.

The 4th of July weekend in Atlanta was great. I somehow managed to run the Peachtree, despite feeling particularly lazy, and I had a great time. The route was a little different this year and it posed a bit of a challenge with a nice incline just before the finish. No post-race pictures this time. I was in no condition to be photographed.

The remainder of the weekend was lovely and low-key - bbq with friends and family and plenty of r and r by the pool. I was refreshed until Sunday night. My flight out of Atlanta yesterday was delayed 5 hours. Instead of leaving at 8:25, my flight departed at 1:15 a.m. I didn't get home until 2:30 and even then it was only because I shared a cab with 4 people headed uptown and we bribed the driver. Apparently there aren't many cabs available at the NOLA airport late on a Sunday night and there definitely aren't any that are interesed in going uptown. I met some nice people (even, very randomly, a new neighbor) but the last thing I wanted to do at that point in my night was make small talk. I have been in a fog all day and am looking forward to catching up on the sleep that I missed last night.

Because it is hard to resist when I miss her like's one more of La Luz, this time with Liam, sitting in Papa-T's chair:

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Vacation Getaway

I will be posting sporadically over the next few weeks. La Luz is going to be in Atlanta visiting Nana and Papa-T and spending time with her cousins. I will be back here for work and then preparing for my trip with Christian to Portland/Seattle and to visit Richmond for a few days in the San Juans.

Have a Happy Fourth of July!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Smile For Me Little One

We are holding our breath and closing our eyes and trusting that what they say about the capacity of the human heart is true. The e.t.a. for Baby Vaicius #2 is January 9th. In La Luz's world the time between now and January will seem like an eon. In my world it will all happen in a matter of seconds.

For now, though, there is nothing fast-paced about my life. There are cat naps behind the tall, leather back of my office chair, leisurely weekend walks in comfortable shoes, and then evenings on the sofa, spent mostly like this:

It is all so awesome to me, even the second time around.