Monday, May 31, 2010

ASH Graduation

I have seen enough to know that there isn't a more beautiful graduation than the one around the fountain at Sacred Heart. Granted, it makes me nostalgic to see it and I get sentimental when I think about Luz's graduation. All biases aside, however, it is something...and when the weather cooperates and the sun sets just right, I think it is perfect.

My cousin Molly graduated on Friday night, the last in our family until Luz. I knew the kids would not make it through the entire ceremony so we stopped by before it started, just in time to see Molly looking beautiful and enjoy the night.

Luz with Molly...she looked at her with total awe:

Luz with her great-uncle Luis:

By the fountain, probably interrupting about 10 other pictures:

Testing out Molly's chair:

James, getting fanned by Luis:

They discovered the streetcar and it provided about 15 minutes of entertainment:

Headed home, reluctantly:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

13 More To Go

If you can believe it, yet another school year has come and gone. What started out like this last August:

ended like this earlier today:

and meanwhile I couldn't decide whether to smile or cry. Why is it that no matter how they warn you, no matter how serious they are in dispensing the advice, there is simply nothing that properly prepares you for the bittersweet feeling of unconditional love and that sudden, crushing realization that, more than anything, life is fleeting?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hi There

Have you seen me lately? I am blowing my mama's mind on a daily basis.

I am climbing on sofas, chairs and tables. I am throwing valuable items into the trash and digging out inedible food scraps. I am commandeering the remote, the Ipod, and the Droid and I know how to use all three. I like things loud and understand that the up arrow is how to get there. I love to dance and twirl and I can 'spot' better than most of the ballerinas I have ever seen. I understand most basic commands and am generally obedient, but totally mischievous. I can say "mama" and "daddy" and "bottle" and "book" and a few other things, but usually I just fuss to get my point across. I love when people read to me, especially stories about Dora The Explorer. I LOVE my red crocs, even if I am not allowed to wear them to daycare any more because they make me trip. I really love my sister and anything she is playing with and holding her hand and sitting on her lap. I run and throw and catch and shout and laugh and play all day long and I don't stop until my head hits the pillow.

I am exhausting and unstoppable. I am full of love and joy. I am only 16 months old so I learn new things every day. I can't wait to show you what I learn tomorrow, so please try to keep up. I promise you will enjoy it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

It's That Time of Year Again

LSU is out and Kelsea is back in town so Luz gets hours of extra-special attention and treats and I get toy camera photos.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Birthday Celebration #2

Luz is still 4, but she managed yet another birthday celebration, this one weeks before any real celebration is due. That said, it was a lovely, super-easy, and yet chaotic party...but I guess anytime there are sixty 5 year-old girls within a square block and endless amounts of sugar, there will be mayhem.

The easy part was mixing this:

with this:

along with some of this for the moms and dads:

and plenty of popcorn, candy, and cake.

I love The Prytania Theater. It is easily my favorite place in the city of NOLA to watch a movie (although from what I have read the refurbished Canal Place Theater is going to be incredible). The lovely, octogenarian owner of The Prytania is more passionate about cinema than anyone I have ever met, and they are open for birthday parties, birthday parties involving five year-old girls who spill popcorn and sprite and run up and down the aisles and smash cake into the carpet.

I am sure it was a birthday that Luz will not forget. Sadly, because there was so much activity, I had a tough time getting shots.

Here is the most pathetic attempt at a shot of the "birthday" girl and her little brother:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I Wasn't Kidding

Here it is, birthday celebration #1:

And I accidentally left this off the shelf yesterday...Christian is reading one that I loved:

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Books On The Shelf

I am in a rush to finish up this:

and then start this:

Don't judge, it is summer, right?

Meanwhile, Christian is reading this one to Luz:

and James is enjoying a nightly dose of this:

Incidentally, I remember a different version. I don't know if I am imagining it or if they have changed the content over time. I have a distinct memory of snapping the dad's suspenders but it isn't in James' version.

What about you? What is on the shelf?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

James, Cutting A Rug

I would say that he gets his rhythm from his Nana, but I am not exactly sure that what you are seeing is rhythm, and I don't mean any slight to Nana's fabulous dancing ability:

Dancing Fool from Julie Vaicius on Vimeo.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Good Manners Tea With Luz

As time goes on I tend to block out the incredibly hectic, ultra stress-inducing start and finish of each school year. The calendar takes on a life of its own and practically requires an interpreter to explain to me what the color-coded signs and symbols actually mean. It is fair to say that I barely know what is going on from day to day but that somehow, by the grace of god, it all seems to work out. It is no small miracle. There are celebrations and meetings and half days and last minute field trips and uniform sales and a million other reasons why I feel like I spend a few hours each week at ASH. This is not to say that I don't love every minute of it, just that it becomes a bit crazy. Plus, it is tough to explain to people at work why May Crowning, Good Manners Tea, a 'fake' school birthday party (since Luz has a summer birth date), and the end of the year Luau all require my attendance. They do.

Would you have missed this:

Luz and her classmates displayed their impeccable manners recently at a tea in the school cafeteria. It was a total treat. There were hats and baby dolls and we ate scones and said "please" and "thank-you." The highlight - Luz picked one of aunt Molls' old dresses to wear for the occasion. She looked so totally old-fashioned and sweet:

Sunday, May 16, 2010


It rained most of the weekend and I kind of enjoyed it. Christian and I took advantage of the opportunity to do a little spring cleaning and organizing. I guess the idea of calling it spring cleaning is a bit of a stretch. What I was doing was, unquestionably, serious scrubbing and de-germing - the results of some incredibly poor housekeeping around here. By the end of the weekend we both agreed that we need to figure out how to make room in our budget for some help with basic cleaning.

The rain didn't really start until mid-day Saturday. In fact, it was shining on Friday morning for May Crowning at ASH. May Crowning is a beautiful tradition, something I remember well from my days as a student and something that Luz treasures already. There are few things as beautiful as the sound of children's voices in the chapel, watching girls in white dresses run around the fountain in the courtyard, and enjoying pink lemonade and gouter as an adult.

Luz, in her May Crowning dress:

On Friday night Christian and I listened to Isabelle Allende read from her new book, Island Beneath the Sea, and talk about her writing process. She is an interesting lady and a compelling speaker (and writer). I am looking forward to reading the book after listening to her explain how the story evolved. We ended the night at Cochon, something we have been trying to do for a year or so and just never had the opportunity. It was great, not quite in my top 5 NOLA restaurants but it is tough to unseat those already in the ranks.

Pros - I love the design and vibe of the place even the tight, European-style seating around the edge where we were located; I had the best salad I have eaten in a while (thinly sliced squash, goat cheese and pecan - seriously divine) and Xian's cochon entree was spot on; the price was totally reasonable for dinner/drinks.

Cons - The menu is limited if you don't love pork; the crowd was sort of odd (granted, we had a 9:30 reservation and by that point in the night a crowd just about anywhere is going to be raucous - but there was one couple that was literally falling down drunk, and that sort of kills the mood), the bread (I am a huge fan and critic of bread and when it is just sort of 'meh' I get bummed), the boucherie plate (I think the one next-door at Cochon Butcher kills the one at Cochon).

I will go back - primarily because I want to try the bacon and oyster sandwich which I mistakenly passed on because I figured it wouldn't be a great idea to eat something so heavy at 10 p.m. When the people sitting next to us got one I had a serious case of buyer's remorse.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It Is But The Winking Of An Eye

On May 13th thirty-six years ago in a hospital in Quincy, MA, this little guy came into the world weighing a mere 5 lbs. 11 oz. He spent the first few months of his life sleeping with cats. Cats. I am not kidding.

And then in minutes that baby turned into this kid:

And then quickly became this brace-faced tween:

And moments later, a 6 pack a day of Coke drinking teen:

And soon after, what was written in the stars came true and he:

and she:

crossed paths and then it was 1999:

And what felt like a few days later this happened:

Followed almost instantly by that:

And after what I imagine feels like a nanosecond it is his 36th birthday. I am forever thankful for that day in May because without it my life wouldn't be as beautiful as it is now.

Happy Birthday Xian. I Heart You.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

French Quarter Magic

James, in a rather miraculous and altogether uncharacteristic move, fell into a deep sleep on Saturday afternoon in the middle of the French Quarter. He is generally content in his stroller for a minute or two but I don't think I have ever seen him actually fall asleep in it. In fact, although the Vaicius family loves to sleep in a quite profound way, I was not blessed with kids who can fall asleep anywhere anytime. You know the type. You've seen the pictures - children slumped over stairways, kids snoozing while splayed out on a hard, cold kitchen floor - I just never had that kind of luck. Until Saturday...

Maybe it was the smell of jasmine everywhere, or perhaps it was the rhythmic clomp clomp of the horse and buggy. I am not sure what it was that induced such peaceful sleep, but I do know that if we had forced James to wait in line at Maspero's for an hour and a half the afternoon would not have been as lovely. Instead, while the rest of the gang waited in line and then waited some more inside, James snoozed and I rediscovered the French Quarter. James and I roamed up and down Chartres and Royal from Canal to Esplanade and back again. We tucked into quiet courtyards when the motorcycles made too much racket. We gravitated to the shady side of the street. We occasionally followed a somewhat circuitous path when we found ourselves surrounded by raucous drunks. And all the while I noticed some of the French Quarter treasures that I haven't taken the time to appreciate in recent years.

One of the first things I noticed is the top of St. Louis Cathedral...I never realized that, in addition to the steeples, there is a tiny cupola in the back. Lovely:

This beautiful green ironwork caught my eye:

Bevolo gas lighting, everywhere and oh so pretty:

Shady little secret courtyard:

And my favorite detail of all...these black and white signs. They are so simple and so classic. If I ever needed a sign, this is the style I would go with. Tucked away inside one of the pictures is the sign (in a different style) of my favorite little French Quarter restaurant. See if you can spot it:

We ended the afternoon with some relaxing in Jackson Square followed by a buggy ride. It was my first NOLA buggy ride experience and it was fabulous. I highly recommend it and will certainly do it again next time I have guests in town who are interested.

Luz and James, chasing pigeons in Jackson Square: