Monday, November 30, 2009

Herding Cats

While we were in Thibodaux for Thanksgiving I attempted a photograph of the second generation of cousins. As expected, it was an unsuccessful endeavor. I know that as the kids get older this exercise will be much easier but at this point it is nothing short of exhausting. So, here are a few of the many attempts:

The kids are usually in this order : Edward (3.5), Helen 9.5 months), Luz (4.5), James (10.5 months)

and there were a few moments when I had no idea what was going on, like this:

and it mostly ended like this and I realized it was time to stop:

I am hoping that Betsy got a better shot of all four of them. I have to learn a few new techniques before Christmas.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

I started out the week anxious because of a small trial I had on Monday, totally blue because I was missing my dad (his birthday, Thanksgiving, all these things I wish he was still around to be a part of), exhausted due to an ongoing sleep deprivation issue on account of the kids, and worn out from a nagging sore throat. Over the past week James cut a new tooth (the total is now 5), Luz came down with a nasty ear infection, Christian caught the sore throat I started the week with, and then we gave Luz a toxic dose of Delsym and had to keep her up until 3 a.m. to make sure she was going to be okay.

That said, we managed to have a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner surrounded by family in Thibodaux, we picked about 50 lbs of citrus, took long walks, watched the incredible sunsets (and sunrises - at least James and I did once or twice), stared at the trucks going about their business harvesting the sugar cane (James can watch loud trucks dump things into other loud trucks for hours), fried turkeys and twinkies (this is true, really), roasted smores and sat by a bonfire, went on a hayride, had two lovely dinners with the B'ham Browns, and started watching Christmas cartoons 24/7, and it isn't even December yet.

I can be thankful for the highs and the lows. I have to be because I know I cannot have one without the other.

Christian and Luz (in her precious MCB design t-shirt):

Luz, part pilgrim costume:

Luz and Edward, by the tractor wheel:

Golden sunset:

James, grapefruit = ball:

James, first hayride:

Attempting to get just one picture of them together in their Thanksgiving t's:

Sunday, November 22, 2009


James is finally at the age/stage when he can eat most 'table' food in addition to his canned baby food. Along with this ability comes the freedom to feed himself. I never understood why some moms stymied this developmental milestone and opted, instead, to feed their baby ever meal. Messiness was never an issue with La Luz. She was fastidious and fed herself in the most tidy manner imaginable for a baby. James is the polar opposite, and now I understand why there is a market for disposable mats to place underneath the highchair and why many people opt to disrobe their kids before mealtime. I also have a new appreciation for Loki and his keen ability to lick ground meat stick out of a seat buckle in less than 5 seconds.

I am not kidding, here, see for yourself:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

How Bad Can It Be?

I think a conservative estimate is that one night a week we eat soup and sandwiches for dinner and if someone has not made some sort of homemade soup, our 'go to' soup is this one:

Christian and I both share a love for Campbell's Tomato Soup. For Christian it makes him nostalgic for cold, dark Massachusetts nights after hockey practice and for me it is reminds me of early sunsets, Sunday suppers and blts.

Two years ago I read the list of ingredients in Campbell's Tomato Soup and I almost cried when I discovered in had high fructose corn syrup in it. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised, what doesn't contain it? For the past two years we have been on a mission to find a suitable replacement and it has been to no avail. We have tried every commercial brand out there and even some of the homemade versions at Whole Foods and other stores and none of them hold a candle to the deliciousness of Campbell's. I guess the fact of the matter is that in some cases high fructose corn syrup is the magic ingredient and I suppose we are just going to have to accept it because I don't think we will ever be willing to give it up. I think there is only one reason why it is so "mmm, mmm good."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New Purple Hat

Aunt Molls brought her latest creations with her to NOLA and it was just in time for this nice cool snap. The first time I learned that Molly could knit was when she made the most perfect, sage green blanket for James. I was shocked. This time her handiwork included a fabulous green hat for the little monster that I can't get him to keep on his head and this gem:

La Luz and her purple "hair"

Molly and Josh both left for the respective home cities today and we are all thankful that they will be back in a month - even though a month for a 4 year old plays out like a year for the rest of us.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cool Fall Morning, 2009

Here is La Luz waiting so patiently for me to finish my very-rushed morning routine:

I hate that she is always the last kid to arrive at school, that we are screeching around the corner as the carpool line is winding down, long after the NOPD officer has taken off his orange vest and called it a morning. We live less than a mile from school and yet...It seems that no matter how early I wake up and how quickly I move in the morning there is always something that needs my attention, something to delay our departure - a loose hem, a last-minute decision that cold lunch sounds much better than whatever the cafeteria has to offer, the perfect photograph, scratchy socks and forgotten art projects. All of these things make us late but, mostly, it is me and my inability to select an outfit or be satisfied with the silly curl on the side of my head or find the perfect bracelet. I am a mama but still 100% a girl.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Being Thankful

Molly and Josh both managed to perfectly coordinate their busy schedules to spend a week in NOLA. Needless to say, we spent most of the weekend at mom's house visiting, enjoying a faux/pre-Thanksgiving dinner, and watching the Saints take it to 9-0. The house has been loud and chaotic and just the way I like it. There is still, though, the sense that an important piece is missing, one that is impossible to replace. I suppose that there are some things that nobody will do as well as Pop did, but we are all muddling through and trying to figure out how to fill in the gaps. Even more than that though, we are appreciating the lovely things he did that we can still enjoy, like lining the flowerbeds with night-blooming jasmine so that when the air is cool and the windows are open and our cacophony is pouring out into the neighborhood, we are surrounded by what we all agree is the most perfect scent around.

Richmond, Molly & Josh tormenting sweet Jamesy after a long night:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Separated At Birth?

I am calling it a night and settling in to watch my favorite t.v. show, Top Chef. I love this show and I love this chef and he endears himself to me more each week as he continues to be the sweetest, humblest chef around, cook some incredibly sophisticated dishes, and look eerily like my little monster. I know that somewhere along their blood lines these two have a relative in common.

I cannot wait to check out Kevin's restaurant when we are in Atlanta over the Christmas holidays. I have heard great things about it and am totally curious after watching this season of Top Chef. I have been thinking about it since the second episode of the season and will be looking forward to it for another two months.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Win. Again.

Have you seen what Drew Brees does in the huddle right before the game is about to start? I am not savvy enough to figure out how to post a video on here, otherwise I would find one for you somewhere on the great interwebs, as someone (a relatively young person) in my office referred to it last week, and share it right here just in case you missed it. Instead, you will have to watch the start of the next Saints game and see for yourself. It is worth it.

I am not a huge sports fan. I like sports okay. I watch the occasional game here and there but I won't lie, I would rather shop or go for a run or watch a movie or even tidy up the house a bit instead of siting in front of the t.v. for multiple hours watching a game. But, I happened to catch the start of the Saints v. Falcons game the other week and I happened to see the magic that happens when Drew Brees gets the Saints pumped up for a game.

I played sports when I was in middle school and high school - basketball, volleyball and a season or two of soccer. Oh yeah, and there was that time I ran track and threw the shot-put. Seriously. I was part of a team, for sure, but I was certainly a bench warmer, fill in record keeper, go to line judge, coach confidant, and official water-getter. I never minded much that I didn't spend much time on the court. My father was always there in the stands and it never seemed to bother him that I didn't ever play. He enjoyed just being involved in that part of my life and I guess maybe he had a deeper appreciation for what it meant for me to be a member of a team. I suppose he understood the lessons I was learning about playing nicely with others and learning not to make excuses. I thank him and my coaches for always making me feel vital, even when the only thing I was doing was watching lines and gathering cups of Gatorade. Regardless of my role, when it was time for the game to start and we were in the huddle I felt like I was a part of something big. Maybe that is the reason I will always appreciate an energetic huddle...or maybe there is just something incredibly captivating about watching Drew Brees, this seemingly mild-mannered and affable guy, get seriously pumped.

Christian and James earlier tonight, post volleyball game and ASH victory where they were all very pumped:

Monday, November 09, 2009

James, 10 Months

James is 10 months old today and he is 100% energy. He is into absolutely everything. He does not stop. He is babbling up a storm, carrying on conversations with himself, everyone around him, and nobody in particular. He is opening cabinets and slamming his fingers in doors. He is getting stuck on thresholds and cleaning the floors with his wriggling belly. He is smiling and laughing and screaming and crying and SHOUTING. He races around in his walker all over the house, chasing us. Nobody is safe, especially not Loki. We cower in corners and jump on furniture to protect our feet and he thinks it is the funniest game he has ever played. He is filled with love and joy and everything that is wonderful and, even though he wears us out every day, he is the perfect reminder to enjoy every single minute because soon he will be walking and then saying words and after that speaking in sentences and learning to tell time and tie his own shoes and I will be scratching my head trying to figure out where the time went.

The challenge of taking the monthly picture has reached new heights. I could only do it by strapping him in the highchair. So, here he is after a LONG day of wearing Christian out (the threat of Hurricane Ida shut the schools in NOLA down for the day so they were all stuck at home while I was working). There is nothing glamorous about the pictures. This is very much the way Jamesy looks at the end of the day:

Cute as ever...

Sunday, November 08, 2009


We spent most of Saturday in Thibodaux picking satsumas and grapefruit and checking on the progress of the sugar cane harvest. It was one of those perfect days - the weather was just right, the sunlight nice and warm, the birds were busy and singing, the sounds of the cane trucks - totally peaceful.

The satsumas are delicious this year and bountiful...more than making up for the poor performance last year.

My first one of the season, nature's candy:

James' first one of the season and of his life:

and on the porch and with me:

La Luz, enjoying the porch, getting ready for sunset:

and with Xian:

Loki, burning off some serious steam with Star:

He slept the entire time we were driving home.
My favorite shot of the weekend, courtesy of Christian's eye:

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


I have been feeling stressed out and anxious about work. Things have been a bit hectic both at the office and at home and I am just feeling sort of like my focus is off a bit and it is causing my mind to race and my heart to beat a little too fast (not in a good way). I wish that I could calm the nerves, alleviate the anxiety a bit and take a deep breath. I wish I could feel that if I try my best it is good enough. So, right now in particular, I am thankful for the beautiful distractions, the love and support of family and friends (GG's paella tonight was such an unexpected and incredibly welcome surprise - not to mention - it was delicious) and the preoccupation with wondering just how long we can wait to child-proof things around the house. James has become fixated with opening and closing things. I never understood all of the locks and switches and bars on top of doors and handles and toilet seats...until now. Forget about the millions of safe and entertaining toys around the house, all this guy wants to do is open La Luz's dresser drawers and proceed to open and close them until he catches his hand inside, whacks his head on an open drawer, or tries to pull up on it and dislodges it. The game never ends well.

Here are the two beautiful distractions earlier tonight, getting ready for a Thanksgiving story and carefree sleep:

The lighting was challenging (so was James - what a face!). I wish I had more time to learn how to take pictures.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Celebrating Our Loved Ones

Mom and I took La Luz and James with us to the cemetery last Sunday. It was a little tricky trying to explain the concept of burials and cemeteries to La Luz. She has a pretty profound understanding of heaven (or at least what she believes is heaven) but the idea of a cemetery is a little bit beyond her grasp. I don't suppose that is surprising because some parts of the idea are still things that I struggle to understand. Needless to say, despite a few irreverent suggestions that we open doors and climb stairs, she was totally respectful and intuitive during her first visit. James, on the other hand, just ate grass. I am telling you he eats anything and everything he can get his hands on. Clearly, he is part goat:

Monday, November 02, 2009

All Saints

I suppose it is fitting that today in particular I am really missing Pop. I thought about him quite a bit yesterday since it was All Saints Day and then again today when I really couldn't get him out of my head. It started with an email from mom attaching a picture of James. She noticed a very uncanny resemblance and I sort of have to agree:

And then today was one of those perfectly beautiful NOLA fall days. The sky was blue and the air was thin and clean thanks to cooler temperatures and a burst of low humidity. On top of the picture perfect day, NOLA was vibrant. The Saints are playing the Falcons in the dome tonight and it felt like Mardi Gras or New Year's Eve or Halloween downtown. The streets were packed with people, tailgaters were already setting up as I pulled into the building for work this morning, tourists spilled out of stores and restaurants and on to the sidewalk, and it was all so energizing to see. I know Pop would've appreciated it so much. I know that on a day like today he would have disappeared from behind his desk at lunch time and spent the rest of the afternoon over a long lunch with friends and then strolling down Bourbon Street checking out all of the 'fools' celebrating in the French Quarter. Later on he would have asked me, ironically, 'what they all do for a living that allows them to hang out in the Quarter at 3 p.m. on a Monday' and it would make me smile and I would email my siblings so they could have a laugh.

Pop was a die hard Saints fan and, like all Saints fans, excused their abysmal performances and hoped for something better next year. I know that he would have appreciated the mood in NOLA today, this incredible swelling of pride. I guess I am comforted imagining that he is watching it all unfold, this time from the best seat in the house.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween 2009

Although La Luz is still operating off of a sugar high that started sometime around 5 p.m. yesterday, I managed to get her tucked into bed by 7:30 p.m. (thanks, I am sure, to the time change). I watched the excitement and the craziness of Halloween through her eyes and I just don't think it could have been any more spectacular. We spent Saturday night at Margot and Walker's hanging out with friends and family, enjoying the street party that went on for blocks and thinking that there isn't a more perfect way to celebrate Halloween.

Here she is, ready to go:

Waiting, so patiently, for the sun to set and for trick or treating to begin:

Jamesy, so much less enthused about costumes and candy:

and by the end of the night it was something like this, La Luz eating a pixie stick that was longer than she is tall - at some point she figured out that physics dictated a change of position and decided it would be best to lie down:

and James, chewing on a Strawberry Shortcake Dream house toilet:

La Luz woke up this morning wondering why we couldn't just trick or treat every night. It was all that fantastic to her and I really remember that feeling. It is so hard to explain to her that she wouldn't appreciate it as much if she did it every night; that is not a concept that she can wrap her head around. When you are 4 years old there is no such thing as too much of a good thing.