Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Some Of James' Favorite Things

These days his tastes are changing quickly and I am, yet again, reminded about the mind being like a sponge in babies. I wish I could have a few of the synapses at work in James' brain. At any rate, it is fun and exciting and endlessly entertaining to watch him figure out what is going on in the world around him.

He has no lovey, no paci, no thumb to suck but is still totally addicted to a bottle of milk before bed. He doesn't need the calories and drinks out of a sippy cup with ease, but I just can't break the habit. Not yet. With Nana's help we put an end to a naptime bottle but there is something about that quiet 15 minutes we have together while he drinks his bottle - rocking in the chair, naming all of the objects in the room, counting fingers and toes - that I am just not ready to give up. Soon though. I promise.

Here are some of the things he loves other than his bottle:

These "soft" cars are a mama's answer to the matchbox ones we all grew up with. This new line comes in every size and shape imaginable and James loves them. They are the perfect size for toddler hands and come in bright, attractive colors:

Tiana and her friends...anything to do with Tiana...the closest thing he has to a lovey is Luz's Tiana beach towel, which he occasionally sleeps with:

Buzz Lightyear...he loves him and I can't ever tell if he is asking for his Buzz figure or the soft toy school 'bus' from the collection mentioned above:

This was Luz's and she kindly put it in his crib before he was born. He sleeps with it every night:

He prefers these frozen and would eat an entire box in a day if I let him:

He would eat these (or some variation of them) all day long and might very well at daycare. He learned about them from watching Luz, of course:

When Luz was a baby we read Tumble Bumble by Felicia Bond every night and I memorized it. James is also a Felicia Bond fan, this is his pick (and I almost have it memorized as well):

For days when he is looking for something more cerebral, James turns to National Geographic. Seriously...best investment ever. He could flip pages of our back issues for hours on end. My child for sure:

So, for those of you curious about the likes and dislikes of an 18 month old, there you have it!

Sunday, August 29, 2010


It was tough to avoid the media coverage of the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. I did a decent job of ignoring it by keeping the t.v. off for most of the weekend. But, I broke down for CBS Sunday Morning because that show and a bottomless cup of coffee is a total indulgence for me, particularly when it is raining outside and I have an excuse to lounge around in pjs. There was a story about NOLA and how it/we are doing and it was just right. I teared up, like I am supposed to, remembering the last morning we spent in our house - about what I would have done differently if I had known. I stopped myself from thinking too much about what it felt like in those first few days and weeks when we didn't even know if we would ever be back here, when people were so kind and accommodating that it made my heart ache, when Luz slept in borrowed beds and many different sets of arms and about how it changed the lives of loved ones, some in particular very slowly and quite profoundly. I am sure a doctor would agree that there is a little bit of ptsd in all of us, just in varying degrees.

On the other hand it also made me smile. It reminded me that it is okay for me to want to be here, that this is a really incredible place and I hope I never have to leave it again. Did you know that NOLA is the second fastest growing city in the nation? Okay, yeah, I get why the statistic is skewed, but at least people aren't leaving. We are on to something here and have been for a while. CBS Sunday Morning interviewed Alex Beard, a local artist who, incidentally, has some really amazing paintings/drawings/puzzles/books (I have coveted his animal designs as the perfect accent to a nursery/kid's room), who put it quite nicely when speaking about the general sentiment of New Orleanians these days when he said, "life is full of hard things...we will rise to the occasion." Alex, I could not agree more.

This is a nice Alex Beard drawing that caught my eye, The Plight of the Flamingos' Flight:

Quite fittingly, it rained all weekend, really rained. By noon today the cabin fever was high so I took Luz and James to the zoo for a somewhat wet adventure and then stopped by GG and Papa George's house for a visit and to play with all of the fun toys. It was a lovely day...

Checking out the animals:

Looking for the white tiger:

Preaching to the elephant fountain:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lap Of Luxury

We have almost finished the first week of school and it seems like the morning routine is going to be much smoother. We are off to a good start, and, yes, I realize that we are all invigorated and that ultimately we will begin to backslide, but I am optimistic. I set my alarm clock for 15 minutes earlier than I set it last year and Christian made the decision that he actually did need to get up no later than 7 in order to make the mornings work. So far so good.

But, there have been a few mornings this week where I wanted to stay in bed and dream about my two nights of incredible luxury while I was out of town last week. I suppose that the combination of timing and the economy resulted in some jaw-dropping hotel rates that we were able to take advantage of.

While we were in the LA area we stayed at the Ritz Carlton in Marina del Ray for a song. It was as beautiful as you would expect a RC hotel to be and the location was lovely. We had time for a run to Venice Beach and I got to put my feet in the Pacific, which made the trip for me. I loved checking out the architecture along the beach, beautiful old wooden houses interspersed with unique, contemporary numbers. Fascinating. The people watching was great too - no ladies in bikinis on roller skates though.

Here are some photographs of the hotel:

The most beautiful part of the hotel is this huge veranda filled with sofas, tables and chairs. It is where I met Charlotte and Adele for dinner. We watched the sun set over the marina and enjoyed the incredible temperature. I wonder if 72 degrees ever gets old. I can't imagine.

Our next stop was Scottsdale and I had very little time to actually explore the hotel, sadly. We spent the night at the Fairmont and it was incredible (and cheaper than my last room at the Hampton Inn in Richmond, Virginia). The hotel is located in a sprawling area outside of the city. There is literally nothing around but the hotel, yet there are hundreds of things to do. I could have spent hours just lounging around in the luxurious hotel room but, realizing that I shouldn't waste my time, I checked out the spa and gym and ambled around the hotel grounds a bit. I got lost a few times and was always directed back by one of the uniformed, totally accommodating staff members. The only slightly irksome thing about the place is that the staff members wear bolo ties and I have always found them to be somewhat creepy looking.

I am looking forward to a return trip to both places with the kids and Christian and hope that the timing of the trip and the economy work in my favor again, otherwise I will be down the road at the nearest Hampton Inn (and this is no jab at the old Hampton. I love them, they are consistently quite comfortable, but you know).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Luz and James have enjoyed quite a few visits with various cousins over the summer. Last weekend Luz and James spent time with Edward and Helen and Betsy somehow managed to capture all four of them together:

I have enjoyed watching Luz and Edward grow up and totally appreciate how their relationship has evolved. It is heartwarming to watch them pick up where they last left off and spend hours together without the need for any parental supervision. They had a great time together last Saturday in the French Quarter and at the zoo. I took a few pictures but was mostly too preoccupied with the heat to concentrate on capturing the moment.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

If God Is Willing

I spent an hour watching what was left of the second part of the latest Spike Lee documentary earlier tonight somewhat accidentally. I have done a decent job of staying away from most of the 'Katrina remembered' and 'Katrina revisited' broadcasts that have been clogging up the tv for the past few days, but tonight I got sucked in. I am glad I did. It certainly stirred up some old feelings and I didn't appreciate that particularly, but it was compelling and I am inspired to check out part one. From what I understand part one focuses a ton on the Saints and the Superbowl so I have a feeling it will be a bit easier on my nerves.

I generally try not to dwell on Katrina. It was a long time ago and is now, for me, a distant memory. That said, it only takes a smell or an image or even a quick thought to take me right back to how hopeless I felt five years ago.

I haven't looked back through my Katrina-era photographs in a while. I am inspired by the documentary and by seeing images of flooded belongings on my friend, Jennifer's, wall the other day. Maybe I will work up the nerve to take a look at them in honor of the anniversary. Then again, maybe I will just look at some of the pictures from last weekend instead.

Luz, my Katrina baby, and Papa-T:

Papa with Jamesy:


Waiting for pizza:

Yes, this is much more fun.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I was out of town last week for work and, as is usually the case with life, it happened to be a particularly busy week around the Vaicius house because it was the start of the school year.

There is no way that we would have managed the schedule juggling last week without Nana and grace of god. Somehow it all worked out and, by all accounts, was a lovely week. I had no control over anything that happened since I was thousands of miles away in a different time zone. It is always a nice lesson for me to see that, even without me, things are just fine.

I think I was saddest about missing the first day of Kindergarten. I really wanted to be here for it. Fortunately, Christian managed to capture the start of the day for me:

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Our Weekend

It was one of those remarkably 'weekendy' weekends - you know the kind. There weren't many plans but somehow what started out as a particularly mellow, aimless 48 hours became busy and exhausting in that end-of-summer kind of way.

On Saturday morning I let Christian sleep late and drank coffee while I watched this and smiled:

Luz, James and I headed to Lakeside in search of a carousel (that we apparently missed by a few days) and new lunchboxes for the start of the school year. I think Luz was actually relieved to learn the carousel was gone. I heard her exhale and she instantly became incredibly upbeat about the outing pointing out why all was not lost. She and James had fun running around anyway:

We had dinner with my Eustis cousins and their kids and it was crazy (like it always is when we get together) and Luz loved every minute of it

Maggie, Robert, and Uncle David:

Luz with her cousin Liam (I guess he is actually 1st cousin once removed):

Luz and Robert, flying a remote controlled heli in the foyer:

Mom-mom, Luz and Bill:

We spent most of the day today with the Eustis cousins swimming and then at the park with Luz's classmates getting too much sun and enjoying the hot but beautiful weather. Luz crashed at the end of the day and could barely keep her eyes open to wait up for Nana's arrival.

Nana flew in town tonight to stay with us for the next week. It is possibly the trickiest week of the year because it is the start of the school year and, wouldn't you know it, I have to be out of town for work. I have said it many times before and I know I will say it many times again, we are blessed, because there is absolutely no way we could do this without our family.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Early Morning # 1

Speaking of navel-gazing...

Occasionally when I am doing something I will write a little poem in my head. It usually happens when I am watching the kids play or entertained by something Loki has done. Every now and then it happens when I am at work and should not be thinking about poetry. More often than not it happens when I am running in the early morning.

There is nothing refined or fabulous about my poems, they are mostly just observations and they certainly don't adhere to any rules. Frankly, I am not even sure it is fair to call them 'poems'. Perhaps I should just call them 'notes'. I do remember and appreciate some of the rules. I know how to write a haiku (5-7-5, I agree, it's a gimmee). I grew up with two brothers who spoke in iambic pentameter for sport. This is all just to say, I get it, at least to some extent. Yes, I know that stanzas should have the same amount of lines. I also remember e.e. cummings and learning about how sometimes there aren't any rules. But I gather that, much like in other art forms, you sort of have to master the rules before you can break them.

At any rate, here is one of my more recent ones:

Early Morning #1

The alarm buzzes quietly and it is just me
awake and with creaky bones and sweaty skin
because the ceiling fan wasn't quite up to the task.

As the family dog shakes off a night of sleep
we are gone and those first few steps make me rethink.
It is hot. I am tired and my belly sloshes from too much water.
But I start to notice there are others who are awake,
yet he is not like me; he is fast.

And soon the rhythym of my feet and the dog's lulls me
and I am distracted by glimpses into dimly lit kitchens.
I see mamas clutching coffee cups and business men tucking
papers underneath their arms and I think...
they are both like me, but not completely.

I pass a loud bus filled with quiet passengers
and school children with pressed uniforms and they make-believe
that they are ready for the day, but I know better.
They are bleary-eyed and they are not like me, they are still sleeping.
I am like the little bird chasing the littler worm.
This is me, my peaceful time, my graceful good morning.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What's On My Mind

I really can't wait to see this:

I admit it, I love Julia Roberts. I know I am probably in the minority, but I enjoy her movies and can tolerate a two hour escape from reality with her as the main character. That said, the main character in the book (I read it when it came out years ago) is so incredibly obnoxious that I am wondering how I will react to Julia Roberts as this character. I cringed at the navel-gazing deconstruction of her marriage and yawned through her self-righteous globe-trotting BUT the story was compelling and in the end I was even inspired to read more of Gilbert's books (but I never did). I am looking forward to seeing how it translates to a movie and I will be sure to give a brief review.

Oh yeah, I miss this:

Monday, August 09, 2010

Droid X

Have you seen this guy yet:

I ordered one today and am still just a bit unsure about my decision. I am a Blackberry girl for sure. I love the keypad, the software, the way my email 'looks' and the overall design and function. That said, I have a very outdated Curve. In pink (supposedly the only color they had in stock the day I went shopping). I can barely open pdf documents, can do very little in the way of internet browsing and have no extra-special features that make the phone worth holding on to. On top of that, I am do for a new phone - have been for weeks. I am ready for something that does more than the Curve and, with all the love I am getting from Verizon (upgrade, rebate, and customer loyalty incentives) it would be crazy to pass up the opportunity to get the newest and best Verizon has to offer.

I know there are detractors and I know it is not the Iphone (sniff, sniff - but I LOVE Verizon and I will never return to AT&T) but this looks like an incredible device. I am a little worried about the size of the phone. My hands are tiny and it is easily one of the wider phones I have ever held. I think it will get old when I am on those hour-long phone calls with my sister but, other than that, it should not present a problem.

At any rate, it ships in a few days and I hope to have it up and running shortly thereafter. I will provide you with a full report once I am (somewhat) up to speed.

Sunday, August 08, 2010


We took a spin around Audubon Park early this morning with Luz's new bike, Rosebud. While many of the kids in her class are mastering the art of riding a two-wheeler, Luz is still tackling the challenge of training wheels. Remember, this is the kid who is terrified of carousels and only recently conquered her fear of rocking horses. Baby steps, truly. It was no small accomplishment. It was incredily hot and there was some serious pedaling going on. She hasn't quite figured out that pedals are simple machines that can operate without too much effort.

Starting out, on a roll:

Post ride, so hot:

By the ducks:

After stopping to feed the ducks and spend time on the playground, we had breakfast at P.J.'s and window-shopped at Magic Box while Christian slept...my small gift to him in celebration of our 11th Anniversary. 11 years, yikes.

Please let us in, no, really: