Sunday, February 28, 2010


I ran the Mardi Gras 1/2 Marathon today with my friends, Jennifer and Monique, and I really could not and would not have done it without them - starting with the actual arm twisting to get me signed up and ending with rides to and from the start and finish - I know I would have backed out if they had not been running.

It was nice to have people around for support and encouragement and great commentary while we had nothing to do but people watch for an hour and a half while we waited for our time corral to start.

All in all, even with the tricky logistics, it was a great race. I felt so lucky to be out there running on such a beautiful day and enjoying every minute of it. The bands were great - especially the one at mile 13 with the old ladies dancing in unison. It was so surreal that it caught me off-guard and I only regained my senses after a big breath of what Jennifer later described as "old lady perfume" did the work of smelling salts. The highlight, however, was seeing Christian, Luz and Big Sexy at mile 3. They were so smiley and proud, I felt like a hero.

It wasn't a super-fast race for me, but yet, I felt like I was working hard the entire time. I finished at 2:11, which is a pretty consistent 10 minute mile pace. The best part of the race - all of the free stuff at the end. I suppose it is the runner's equivalent of 'swag'. I didn't take any pictures of me, and you should be thankful. I did, however, manage a picture of all of the goodies:

Missing from picture are the following : one banana, one sports drink, one water bottle, 2 cans of Miller 64, and one bag of Zapps.

My favorite 'swag' : the 'blanket'. I am not sure what it is made out of and I have seen people using them before and wondered how they could possibly be effective. They warm you up in seconds. I was shocked. The best part - they were delivered to the runners post-race via a hug (this was optional, I know plenty of you would not have been interested - I thought it was sweet).

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Running Just As Fast As I Can

I decided to run the Mardi Gras 1/2 Marathon a while back but never committed 100%. I trained under the novice schedule and, although I somehow managed to put in all of the long runs, I skimped here and there on the regular/short runs and didn't bother cross training. I also didn't sign up in time so I have to see if there is still space available at the expo tomorrow. Maybe there won't be any room left and I will have to forgo the race. I am excited about it, don't get me wrong. BUT, I have been sort of hemming and hawing about it because race day logistics always put a damper on the fun and these logistics, in particular, are a total buzzkill.

I got bored reading all of the rules and regulations and ultimately stopped, but here are a few that I can remember:
no parking within a mile of the race start, access to the start line is via shuttle, recommended check in time no later than 6 a.m. for 7 a.m. start - which for me will be closer to 7:30 because I am in a slow time group...the list goes on.

None of these things in and of themselves are that daunting, it is the combination of it all that gets to me. I generally wake up, throw on some clothes, and run out of the front door. I don't do well when there is a lot of hurrying up and waiting involved. I get thirsty. I worry about having to go the bathroom and using a port-a-potty. I get sleepy. I get hungry. I get intimidated. I get nervous. These are all of the things that have a tendency to take the fun out of the whole event. That said, the Peachtree Road Race is the biggest logistical nightmare ever. I complain about it, but every year I have a blast and every year I swear I will run it again.

I LOVED the 1/2 marathon distance when I did it years ago before Luz was even born. Granted, I had a lot more time to train and focus, but it definitely left an impression on me and I have been wanting to do another 1/2 since I did the marathon a few years ago. So, I am signing up and getting ready and looking forward to 13.1 miles of music and fun and really hoping to see these guys somewhere along the way:

Thanks for all of the diaper rash tips. I have been told that it gets worse before it gets better and that is proving to be true. James spent a few hours running around diaper-less again tonight and he seemed to feel better. Incidentally, the daycare ladies told me I have to get Boudreaux's Butt Paste. Ew. I have a total aversion to buying something called "butt paste". Let's hope some of the other tips work first.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Over the course of the day James developed the worst case of diaper rash I have ever seen. It prompted me to phone the on-call nurse and the suggestions were very practical - let him run around without a diaper on for the better part of the day (I am sure daycare would love that suggestion), change his diaper once an hour and twice while he is sleeping (really), and refrain from using wipes when changing his diaper (in fact, she suggested just holding him under the tap/faucet). I know James is not an exceptional kid and that he is as rambunctious as any one year old. These suggestions are really almost impossible. I allowed about 45 minutes of racing around in the house in the buff but then got too paranoid; he moves around way too much.

Poor fella...

I am up for any suggestions, but they have to be realistic. Please don't bother telling me to do compresses or make my own salve. I am more likely to perform a ritualistic, bedside dance to summon the gods of smooth skin.

In the meantime, look how cute:

Like he's been walking for his entire life...and starting to grasp the concept of a snack trap, thankfully.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mardi Gras 2010 - Part 4

In a very rare move, we (well, Xian) actually did something way ahead of time, a year actually. He had a vision and he saw it through.

Our new ladder started out like this:

And thanks to a lovely coat of gold spray paint, now looks like this:

The finishing touch and what makes this ladder excellent is this:

How cool is that? The ultimate goal is to have the ladder covered in doubloons and medallions. I know they will fall off over time and will have to be replaced but I love the way it looks.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mardi Gras 2010 - Part 3

After waiting for the incredible snow that passed through Georgia earlier in the week to melt a bit, Papa-T, Nana, Liam and Pete finally made it to NOLA late Saturday night, just in time for my favorite day of parades, Thoth Sunday. Luz was so excited to have her cousins in town for Mardi Gras and couldn't wait to show them the ropes. I think the whole experience was a little overwhelming for the boys. It is hard to imagine Bacchus night through the eyes of a 4 year old and 2.5 year old who have no real understanding of what MG is all about. Needless to say, they were total troopers and, with a little big of conditioning from Luz and Uncle Chris, I think they will be ready for some more parading in the next few years.

Nana and Liam, waiting for the parade to start:

Pete, ready to catch some beads:

More than anything though, I think it was great that the cousins had the opportunity to play together. They appreciated that time more than any parades.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mardi Gras 2010 - Part 2

So, this was an exceptional MG season as far as 'throws' are concerned. Don't get me wrong, I have caught my share of MG underwear, gigantic beads, and spears. I remember catching a Harry Connick, Jr. doubloon the year Orpheus started rolling and I had one that Dennis Quaid threw when he was in Bacchus. Am I really old or do people know who he is? He was famous once, I promise. I also remember chasing after some celebrity in particular one night with Jen, and I think we caught what we wanted, but it all happened in the haze of margaritas, so the memory is faint.

This year was different, very different. I selected my four favorite throws of the year and ranked them for you:

1. Bobble-head Drew Brees. I love this guy because I have never owned a bobble-head, it is a sort of old-timey toy, Drew Brees is awesome, and it is going to look so perfectly cool in Jamesy's room. Now, my friend threw this to me so it has lost a little bit of charm since it wasn't some random rider (or superstar celebrity) throwing it to me. It was, at least somewhat, a planned throw. Nevertheless, it is still #1 for 2010:

2. Autographed Reggie Bush Orpheus ball, for obvious reasons, is the coolest ever:

3. Drew Brees football, not autographed but thrown by Drew Brees himself after making direct eye-contact with me. How many people can say they caught a pass from Drew Brees? Not many I imagine. Sure, much like the Reggie Bush ball, this throw was arguably meant for the kids in the ladder I was standing behind, arguably, which is why I call it 'mine':

4. Muses shoe. I wish I could properly explain the rarity of a Muses shoe. I can liken it to a Zulu coconut, but it is not really the same thing. Shoes are mostly handed to friends of riders with thoughtful consideration. They take hours to make and vary in their charm depending on who is behind the design. I have three Muses shoes. I treasure each one. Each one was made for Luz and given specifically to me for that purpose. Last Friday night Christian was thrown this beauty by a cute, young girl who clearly did not design it for him. I am a little jealous (and that is why this throw is ranked at #4), but just a little since I get the benefit of displaying it on the mantle:

5. Rounding out the list is the favorite throw/catch from the perspective of a four and half year old. I wouldn't have guessed this was the winner, but I am constantly surprised by what I learn from Luz. In all of my years of MG I don't think I have ever caught a stuffed flower. I am not quite sure which parade these came from but to whoever threw them, "thank you, thank you, thank you", they have provided hours of entertainment:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mardi Gras 2010 - Part 1

On Saturday Luz put together a costume that combined a pirate with a princess and came up with the name, Hookarella. I ran a little bit of interference this morning and came up with a better combination, Glenda Tinkerbell. The result was pretty good considering it was cobbled together with hand-me-downs and limited craft supplies 10 minutes before we left the house:

I decided not to dress James up in a costume. I felt like we would be pushing our luck squishing him into the one appropriate costume we have and really didn't want to mess up the incredible Mardi Gras mojo we were having with him. He loved every minute of every parade, with a few exceptions here and there when he was hungry and/or pelted with beads. There is no doubt that the gene for the love of MG was handed down by Pop, the only other person I have ever known to appreciate MG this much. I enjoyed every minute of it, realizing that next year could be a very different story as far as James is concerned.

Mardi Gras 2010 was one to remember, filled with great memories from the Saints' victory to having friends and family around we don't see enough of throughout the year. I will post more pictures and stories too (including the compelling stories about my all-time favorite MG catches) but right now I need to chill out. I stupidly decided to go for a long run this afternoon after being on my feet and carrying around a very heavy Big Sexy way too much over the past week. Needless to say, I am paying for it now.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Saints Superbowl Parade

Christian and Luz headed out to the Saints parade at around 3:30 yesterday afternoon. I figured it would be too cold for Jamesy and, in light of another ear infection, decided the two of us should stay at home and curl up in front of the t.v. to catch the parade. I am glad we didn't tag along because they did not get home until 10!

They had a great time hanging out with Jessie and Beau, starting the evening off at W.I.N.O. (I didn't even know they let kids in there but I guess anything goes in NOLA right now) and ending with Luz sound asleep in the stroller for a brisk walk back to the car. They should've stopped off at Lucy's for some post-parade drinks because Drew Brees was apparently there hanging out with the locals. How cool is that?
Luz and Xian, preparade:

At W.I.N.O., no fair:

The Saints, this gives you a good idea of how crowded it was:

Luz, being goofy, Italian Plaza/Poydras Street:

These pictures were all taken with Christian's Canon point and shoot and something is really off with the focus. I will have to play with it a bit this weekend to see what the deal is.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Hey Now!

As if celebrating the Saints' first run at the Superbowl was not enough to keep us occupied, our weekend was jam-packed with all sorts of pre-Mardi Gras or mini-Mardi Gras festivities. I love the parades the weekend before the weekend before Mardi Gras because the crowds are thin and the pressure is off. There are just a few so you have ample time to recover and don't feel like you have just run a marathon by the end of the weekend. We were fortunate to have great weather, friends around to share in the fun, and two incredibly cooperative kids who napped when needed, didn't cry when they got nailed in the head with beads, and were perfectly satisfied when dinner consisted of roasted peanuts and cotton candy.

The best part...Big Sexy LOVED being in the ladder. I didn't even bother trying it out at first, assuming he would be miserable. We put him up in it on a whim and he smiled and waved and even caught something - a candy cane (yes, I know, vile...I can just picture where its been for the past two or three months, tucked away in a dusty kitchen cabinet) - we let him suck on it through the cellophane and somehow he managed to reduce it to half of its original size. I have said it before. He will eat anything. I know it is a borderline unacceptable parenting move but you get desperate out there on the parade route sometimes.

And here is a closer look at the most adorable Mardi Gras t-shirts ever. They were designed and created by Mary Cox and I LOVE them. I will have to talk her in to making me one!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

We Dat

The feeling could only be improved if Pop were here to enjoy this victory. I am sure there are many people out there who believe their father, uncles, grandfather, etc deserved to see this day. I feel comforted imagining that they are all together, enjoying this incredibly sweet victory and grinning from ear to ear.

Thanks Pop for forcing me to watch football by commandeering the den t.v. (aka 'your' t.v.) and watching nothing but football, football and more football. It is because of you that my heart feels full tonight.

Pop and Luz watching some pre-season football in 2005:

Luz, watching the Saints with James and their friends, Emma and Luke, Superbowl 2010:

James and Christian:

Luz and Emma, gamefaces on:

Thursday, February 04, 2010

James, Walking Man

This is happening all the time now, these adorable little spurts of wobbley-legged meandering. Few things warm my heart as much as watching a toddler finding his sea legs. I smile every time and sit, captivated, so happy to see him growing up and, yet, so sad because he is walking now.

And, yes, he has a huge bruise on his forehead. In fact, he is covered in bumps and bruises and cuts. He is a rough and tumble sort of baby.

Walking Man from Julie Vaicius on Vimeo.

My videoing skills are really sub-par. I have been very lazy about recording the little guy. I will try to improve and capture the walking from a better angle sometime soon. He is fussing at the end of the video because Christian finally gated off the stairs and he can no longer scramble up them just waiting for someone to chase after him.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Stop Me, Please

My parent involvement day at Luz's school is tomorrow. Initially I was entirely too ambitious about this day and thought I would have each child make a tutu for Mardi Gras. I realized about a week ago, mid-way through my first tutu, that there was no way that could happen, not this year. I went with my backup plan, Mardi Gras masks. I hate masks; I find them very creepy. I never wear masks. I never shop for masks. I don't even enjoy talking to someone wearing a mask. It makes me uncomfortable. Luz likes masks though, especially during Mardi Gras. Because of this, I decided that it would be a fun activity for 4 and 5 year olds and, perhaps, something they would actually use.

I set out to make a prototype earlier this evening, assuming that it would be best to actually have something to show the girls as they sit down to work as opposed to just describing some very abstract idea : "we have feathers and glue and glitter...and well, you get the picture". I am so un-crafty that I cannot tell if what I set out to do works. This is possibly a complete failure and I am nervous that the kids will see right through me, like dogs smelling fear. I know they will be on to me. Christian said it looked okay and that he thinks it will be a good activity, but since I have been grouchy all day I don't think he wants to rock the boat.

Many of you are crafty and you all care about how I will be received tomorrow. So, I beg you, please tell me if I am out of my mind going in there with this project. If I am nuts, stop me, but only if you have a backup plan that I can prep for in time for the start of the activity. Time is of the essence as I have to be ready to get started at 1:45. Oh yeah, and the activity has to be something I can realistically pull off. I think my limitations are rather obvious at this point. Paper mache, for example, is clearly not an option.

Be honest. Does this look like fun: