Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ladybug Girl & Bumblebee Boy

We just got back from a fabulous night of trick or treating and fun at Aunt Margot and Uncle Walker's house. It is the best Halloween celeration in the city - the streets are blocked off so trick or treating is care free, the houses are decorated and yet very kid-friendly, and there are tons of people out having fun. Luz says it is her favorite holiday of the year. Christmas still tops my list but I definitely have a soft spot for Halloween.

Unfortunately, Jamesy has not quite been his usual, jovial self since he got the flu shot late last week. So, as it often goes in life, we were all ready for fun and James was just not having it (or having as much of it). I had very little luck capturing their costumes (they are dressed as characters from one of Luz's favorite stories) simply because James was not feeling cooperative. So, here's the best I could do:

I have more pics to share soon but I am looking forward to propping up my feet (13.1 beautiful miles on these guys yesterday left me feeling sore), having a glass of wine, and watching the end of the Saints game.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I am back in NOLA after two days of traveling for work. It is always tough to be away from these guys:

but the trip went well and I was in the mountains where there is a proper fall and the leaves change. The scenery was breathtaking. I didn't really have much time to indulge in simply staring at the skyline, but even a few minutes of it was satisfying.

Now I am scrambling to get costumes, pumpkins and candy ready for the Halloween parties at school tomorrow and trying to get organized for a busy weekend. Somewhere in between all of the dressing up and candy eating I will be running the 1/2 marathon. I am tired just thinking about it, but also quite excited. So, if you can make it out there, be sure to save some words of encouragement for me!

Sunday, October 24, 2010


We capped off an incredibly busy weekend with a bbq at a NOLA. Not an urban farm (I have heard about these places, folks living in the heart of the city raising hens-that sort of thing), but an honest to goodness farm - 3 acres of grass, horses, chickens, cicadas and unobstruced sunsets all within the city limits. It was something to see (and find).

Before that, though, we spent our morning in the French Quarter with Katie and Mary Cox (who was in town just for the weekend), strolling aound the market, selecting pumpkins and, of course, enjoying some beignets. I didn't quite get the photos I was hoping for - both kids were somewhat less than cooperative and James was particularly tough to wrangle today. I guess that is just the way it goes sometimes. I was grateful for the extra sets of hands because the outing would have been tricky without the help.

Us, entering the market:

Picking the perfect pumpkin:

Luz, pumpkin patch:

Luz and James:

The girls:

Luz, finishing an entire order of beignets. I have never even tried to eat that many.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Man Walks Across America

In my last post I mentioned that the song, Home, has been featured all over the place. My favorite place is in this incredible video shot over a period of 14 days by a group of young guys who had relatively inexpensive camera equipment and a very interesting idea. The video is comprised of about 2,700 still images and the result is captivating. Here, see for yourself:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Home Is Wherever I'm With You

Just when I think I must be totally intolerable and an absolute beast, Christian does something sweet like make me a mix cd. Mix cds remind me of when we met and our first ten years together and what it felt like when we tried to impress each other with the perfect mix tape and fell in love with new songs together and spent hours listening to the perfect rock songs just because they sounded so good. Those were beautiful, simple times and a good mix reminds me of what it was like then, just like the way night blooming jasmine reminds me of my childhood on Audubon Street and now of my father.

October 2010/Home Is Where I'm With You:

1. Home - Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
2. I Saw You Blink - Stornoway
3. Giving Up the Gun - Vampire Weekend
4. Crash Years - The New Pornographers
5. Say No to Love - The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
6. Fixed - Stars
7. Bloodbuzz Ohio - The National
8. Daughter - Loundon Wainright, III
9. Don't Think Twice It's All Right - Bob Dylan
10. Wagon Wheel - Old Crow Medicine Show
11. Little Lion Man - Mumford & Sons
12. The Sun Also Sets - Ryan Adams
13. The Good That Won't Come Out - Rilo Kiley
14. Undertow - Warpaint
15. The Butterfly Collector - The Jam
16. 10 Mile Stero - Beach House
17. All the Umbrellas in London - The Magnetic Fields
18. Straight In at 37 - The Beautiful South
19. Where I'm Going - Cut Copy

My favorite track on the mix is, by far, Home. You have heard this song; I am sure of it. The song is all over the place - in commercials, in stores, in videos. It is simple and sweet and full of love and old-fashioned and catchy and just all around perfect. The other highlights for me are Stornoway (another lovely, catchy tune and there is a Lucy in that song), the Beach House track (wow, so so pretty), and the Vampire Weekend track, because I love VW. Then there are some old treasures that I can't believe I missed, like the Loudon Wainright song, Daughter, which is awesome.

Decoding the little secrets of the mix is the best part of all. I wonder about underlying themes, accidents, and coincidences. The parts that are obvious make me smile, like the Beautiful South song (part history, part age, part inside joke). Then there are others like Fixed by The Stars. We are going to see The Stars next month when they play here in NOLA, so that track makes sense. But I wonder, for example, about Little Lion has this incredible refrain that makes me want to run forever - is that why it is on here, 1/2 marathon motivation? And what about The Jam's, The Butterfly Collector, the song is so creepy - even with The Jam singing it! How can anything that The Jam sings sound creepy? Is it a nod to Halloween? Christian does have a decent sense of humor.

The best part about a good mix cd is how Christian wants to know whether I am enjoying the songs and if I think a track is as infectious as he thinks it is, and (probably) whether the mix makes me fall in love with him all over again, which it always does.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Perfect NOLA Weekend

We wrapped up a weekend of some of the most incredible weather ever playing outside and putting the finishing touches on our Halloween decorations. Luz and I battled the fake cobweb decorations for what felt like hours and finally managed to get it to look at least somewhat authentic. I don't know though...I read the directions this year and paid very close attention to some nice examples around the neighborhood but ours still looks like it was created by someone totally inept (ahem). The kids like it, so I guess that is all that matters.

Christian coached volleyball Friday night, Saturday and Sunday so he was missing from most of our adventures. The kids and I checked out the Courtyard Grill on Friday night. This restaurant is a recent renovation of a long-standing NOLA favorite, Tee-Eva's. I was sad to see Tee-Eva's leave this location and somewhat heartbroken when they painted over the iconic mural during the renovations, but I am giving this place my support because I hate to see restaurants fail and I certainly do not want any more unoccupied buildings in my neighborhood.

I needed a place we could walk to and where the kids would not disturb other patrons and this seemed like the right spot. We sat outside on the covered deck and it was perfect. James could run up and down the ramp without getting too close to Magazine Street and there was enough noise and commotion that it didn't seem to bother anyone. Our waiter was incredibly accommodating and patient. He understood what it means to be dining with kids. Everything we ordered came out quickly and he had great suggestions for Luz and James. I don't think there is a need for another Middle Eastern themed restaurant in NOLA and I was disappointed when I discovered that this place is not just a 'grill' (something I think would actually do quite well on Magazine Street) and is, instead, focused more on kebabs than anything else. That said, the food was good and I will go back. I had a delicious salad and the kids had a totally kid-friendly burger and fries. We ordered hummus as an appetizer and the kids devoured it, but I found it somewhat bland. The homemade bread that was served with it was delicious and worth going back for. The prices were all reasonable but the kindness of our waiter was easily the best part of the experience.

On Saturday I woke up early to tackle a 10 mile training run - just a few weeks left until the 1/2 marathon and I am really looking forward to it, especially now that the weather is so nice.

After the run I took the kids to their friend, Elizabeth's, birthday party. It was Halloween-themed, of course, so it was the first of many opportunities for Luz and James to test out some of their costumes. I bet you can guess what Luz had on, oh yeah, all weekend (unless I insisted she put on 'regular' clothes). The obsession with the gown might be borderline unhealthy.


and she


and James got to play with Joseph, also a Superman:

When Christian got home from coaching we headed out to Oktoberfest and it was a total madhouse. Admittedly, this is not high on my list of favorite NOLA activities, but Christian loves it and so does Luz so I mustered the wherewithal, albeit somewhat grudgingly. It was as chaotic as I expected it to be but the kids had a great time practicing the chicken dance and running around the neutral ground (they expanded this year and blocked off part of the street - which was a huge improvement). Most importantly, Christian was able to enjoy two plates of his favorite food in the city, food he can only get once a year (and, incidentally, maybe not at all next year depending upon the fate of Deutsches Haus).

With wreath in hair:

Practicing the chicken dance:

Relaxing in a borrowed chair :

We spent the morning at the City Park fall garden show. The gardening part is, for the most part, lost on me, but I enjoy looking at all the flowers and seeing what is for sale. The highlight is the scarecrow trail. For the past 3 years Luz's class has created one and it is always fun to go around the trail hunting for the one that her class created. It took a while this year and it just happened to be in the miniature train area, which means we stayed in that section of City Park for about an hour because James was riveted. This event is only over one weekend and I wish it lasted longer. I recommend checking it out if you are in the NOLA area and looking for an excuse to walk around the Bot Gardens at City Park. There were artists' booths set up, craft tables for kids and plenty of food and drinks (Abita beer and mojitos - it doesn't get much better than that).

After our morning in City Park we visited with GG and Papa George and watched a bit of the Saints game. As usual GG sent us home with all sorts of goodies, including some delicious lentil soup! Luz and James love playing with all of GG's treasures and could easily spend hours there playing and exploring.

I am not sure what the weather will be like next weekend but my fingers are crossed for more incredible weather. I have a few ideas of some things I would like to do, including a trip to Cafe du Monde and the French Market to pick out our pumpkins (a Eustis family tradition). Until then though, there is a week of work and schedule juggling and routine craziness to get through. Here we go!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wheeling Around

Just in case you missed seeing this little guy...

He has fallen in love with Luz's girlie-colored tricycle and he does not mind riding around in nothing but a diaper. In fact, it might be his outfit of choice. I guess he should enjoy it before it gets too cold around here.

Riding the tricycle without instruction and any sort of bribery is just one example of the many different ways that Luz and James behave. It is refreshing to be able to have two rather divergent personality types. I appreciate Luz's caution, but I embrace James' recklessness. Why not just climb on the bike and see if you can figure it out? 7 out of 10 times you will not hurt yourself. It is a gamble worth the reward, at least in his mind.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Photo Journal of NYC 2010

Rather than spend an enormous amount of time going through each important picture and providing you detail about the event(s) depicted, I decided to give the new Windows Media a spin and put together a quick little video of the trip. I could not get the selected soundtrack to play and did not do a great job of editing out boring photos, but I think it is a nice overview of the trip.

The photos were all taken with Christian's Cannon. I normally swear by the PowerShot but I have been underwhelmed by the images I get using Christian's. It could very easily be simple user error, or it could be that Christian lets James play with it, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this one just might be a lemon. That said, there are still some sweet shots that you should enjoy.

Untitled from Julie Vaicius on Vimeo.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Luz, mom mom and I returned earlier tonight from a very brief but incredible weekend in NYC. We packed in more activities in 2.5 days than I normally do in an entire week, despite the fact that mom mom was dealing with a displaced meniscus. There are plenty of pictures and stories to share, but I am tired and ready to spend some time with Christian.

I promise to tell you all about Luz's first American Girl Doll experience, NYC hot dog, cab ride, ferry ride, ferris wheel ride, pedicab ride, experience playing on the set of a play with actual props, Broadway show, FAO Schwartz heart-attack, Plaza Hotel foray and many many more. Until then, here is a picture of Luz at the Top of the Rock earlier today:

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Pulling Out Fillings

On Sunday morning while Luz, James and I were enjoying a leisurely breakfast in the middle of the incredible cross wind that is created by opening the front and back doors, I heard the unmistakable sound, the tell-tale clomp, clomp that can only mean one thing.

I haven't figured out the pattern, but Camp Street is occasionally the route of choice for the Roman Candy Man, so every now and then we get lucky. Luz is familiar with the sound at this point too and immediately darted out of her seat, grabbed her baby doll and the nearest pair of shoes and raced to the front porch (did I mention she had on a ballgown - she wore it all weekend - a recent score from an incredibly generous round of hand-me-downs from my friend, Natasha). James followed behind, shrieking, and I was trailing behind both of them, fumbling for dollars and the nearest pair of shoes.

It was a sight, fortunately one that nobody else saw because it was only about 9 a.m. It was also James' first experience with taffy and, in retrospect, one of my stupider parenting moves. Brand new baby teeth really can't do much to reduce taffy to a substance that can be swallowed. I know that now. Luz, well, she enjoyed every minute of it and ate the taffy even after dragging it over every surface at the playground.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


I blinked and a week in my life came and went and I do not know exactly what happened other than the usual chaos of the Vaicius house. Over the course of that week we got to visit with Uncle Josh who was in town from Chicago for a wedding, stayed out until long after sunset celebrating Art for Arts Sake on Magazine Street, chased the Roman Candy Man a block and a half, watched the Saints just barely capture another W, and welcomed - at long last - cooler temperatures. We spent much of our free time outside enjoying the weather and, consequently, I was able to get some pictures of Luz and James.

Here are a few of James that I took on Saturday morning after I came back from a 9 mile run (yes, 9, I am still somewhat on track to be ready for the 1/2 marathon on the 30th) with my friend, Kelli. He is enjoying the dregs of my Gatorade, learning how to screw the cap on and off, and looking - objectively - somewhat Chinese in a few of these: