Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Kite Flying

Last Saturday the weather was perfect for kite flying. The wind was strong and the sun was behind the clouds (which made it easy to stare into the sky). Luz had been begging to fly this incredible bird kite for over a year and the timing was never right at the same time as the weather. Saturday was her lucky day.

The kids loved it and were amazed. They had flown kites before but not one as spectacular as this one.

I think Christian might have enjoyed it the most. While Luz and James walked over to Richmond's to see if he wanted to join us for lunch, Christian decided to see how high he could get the kite. When the kids returned and could barely see the speck of a kite in the sky they were devastated, crushed imagining that their kite was gone forever...

And thrilled when they figured out it was not.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Giving Thanks

I held my breath and kept my fingers crossed for a few weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. The kids were on the verge of exploding with excitement anticipating Thanksgiving in Thibodaux with Liam and Pete followed by a visit from their cousins, Richmond, Steven and Miller in NOLA. It sounded too good to be true and in the back of my head I figured there were so many moving parts and x factors and so very little about life that we can control, so I tried to play it cool. But it worked, all of the x factors and moving parts came together perfectly for a most memorable Thanksgiving holiday. I know it was one that we will never forget, especially Luz and James and for that I have many thanks to give.

One small snafu...James came home on Tuesday with his first black eye, so at that point I sort of figured my idea for a fabulous family picture and a possible Christmas card photo was out of the question:

I held my breath and kept my fingers crossed for a few weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. The kids were on the verge of exploding with excitement anticipating Thanksgiving in Thibodaux with Liam and Pete followed by a visit from their cousins, Richmond, Steven and Miller in NOLA. It sounded too good to be true and in the back of my head I figured there were so many moving parts and x factors and so very little about life that we can control, so I tried to play it cool. But it worked, all of the x factors and moving parts came together perfectly for a most memorable Thanksgiving holiday. I know it was one that we will never forget, especially Luz and James and for that I have many thanks to give.

With Liam, Pete, Nana &Papa:

With Miller, Richmond & Steven:

There are very few things in life as special to me as my cousins. I know that Luz and James already realize how lucky it is to have cousins and they treasure every minute they are together.

I have tons of pictures from the last few days and I promise to post more soon. The weather was perfect so we spent a ton of time outside (we even ate Thanksgiving dinner outside) - satsuma picking, turkey frying, hayrides, nature walks, lounging in the hammock, golf cart rides, bonfires, 4 wheelin' in Papa's Jeep, etc!

Sunday, November 20, 2011


At Christian's suggestion and only after making a fair amount of fun of him, we loaded up the kids and headed to the Louisiana Renaissance Festival yesterday.  I am still trying to scratch my eyeballs to erase some of the images that were burned on my retinas.  Suffice it to say, there were way too many women in corsets a few sizes too small prancing (well, lumbering actually) about the place and it was just a tad disturbing.

This was not my first Renaissance Fest experience.  I went to one (again, with Christian - are you sensing a common thread here?) over 10 years ago and remember very little about it, save the giant turkey legs and vague recollections of birds of prey, mead, and cinnamon roasted nuts.  The Louisiana Renaissance Fest is situated on about 12 or so acres of land, so there is plenty of room to roam around and, even with a good sized crowd, it is comfortable.  There are about 5 different stages set up featuring old-timey plays, puppet shows, magic (there was lots of magic going on - I guess because people did magic all the time back then?), roving bands of lute players, drum circles (I still have not figured out why there was a drum circle), jugglers, glass blowing demonstrations, living history demonstrations, rudimentary rides, jousting matches, birds of prey demonstrations, ponies, goats, face painting, hair braiding, and a ton of children's games along the lines of throwing darts, knocking down bowling pins, etc...There were endless food and drink options, none of which were memorable - Luz and James were thrilled to eat chicken tenders and fries followed by cotton candy.  The highlight for me was a soft pretzel and cinnamon cashews.

I have to say, I was a naysayer going into it, but I had a decent time.  Sure, I got really grossed out by all of the carnie types running the show, the matted hair and dirty fingernails from the people working the food stations was nauseating, and I did not love ducking every few minutes when low-flying hawks and falcons seemed to be close enough to relieve themselves on my head, but Luz and James had a great time, which made it totally worthwhile.  

Lady Lucy the Lovely:

Lord James the Joker:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thinking About Missing Out

So, Luz did loose her tooth while I was in Houston for work last week. I was gone one night, just one, and it happened to be THE night. The build-up was exceptional; the excitement, palpable. The tooth had been wiggled, twisted, coaxed, studied, and discussed for weeks. When I left on Tuesday morning the tooth still appeared firmly planted, at least enough to last another few days. I missed out on the first tooth loss and I sort of understand that losing teeth eventually becomes less exciting, so I really wanted to be a part of this experience, just like I wanted to be a part of so many other milestones and was not. Maybe it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. I always complain about missing out on so much of the wonderful stuff of parenthood because of work, lamenting that it is someone else who fed my kid his/her first spoonful of something sweet or watched chubby, wobbly legs find their footing....ah, so it goes, and I realize it is a tired refrain and that I am not unique.

What I did get was this though:

...a precious gap-toothed smile and a joyous 6 year-old bubbling over with excitement as she described how it happened and what the tooth fairy did and how everything about her day (and night) was almost indescribably incredible. If I had lived it right by her side I would not have had the pleasure of such a heart warming play-by-play of 'The Day I Lost My Second Tooth', by Lucy Vaicius, and for that I am thankful.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Our Weekend

It was another beautiful and busy NOLA weekend and it went by way too fast.  We celebrated a friend's birthday on Friday night at Superior Grill, which was tons of fun, but left my purse smelling like a gigantic burrito...two days later and it still STINKS.  Do any of you have suggestions for how to get rid of that total taco tattoo that you get in certain Mexican restaurants? Superior, although delicious, tends to be particularly offensive in that respect.

After James' R.E.A.D. class Christian and I took the kids to the Blues Festival down the street.  The kids had a fabulous time playing in the many inflatables that were set up and listening to the various bands.  Christian and I enjoyed all of the different food.  I had the most delicious french fries ever (yeah, although I really do not eat fried food as a rule because it makes me feel lousy, I make the very occasional exception for super-awesome fries, shrimp po-boys about 2 times a year, and a fried oyster here and there).  The fries were garlic, parmesan flavor and came with 2 different sauces.  I could have eaten the entire container (they are served in nifty 'Chinese takeout' style containers).  The kids had crepes from Crepes A La Carte (one bacon and cheddar, one banana and nutella); they were delicious.  And Christian finally had a beef skewer from the Brazilian bbq truck.  We went back later that night for more music and food.  I had a 1/2 grill cheese from The Big Cheesy and it was delish (but I haven't really met a grilled cheese I didn't like), we shared a variety of empanadas from the Empanada Inifada truck (beans and platanos, chicken and beef).  I will never find one in the states as good as the ones I ate in Bs As, but these were tasty.  We also sampled a side dish of mac and cheese (this was Jamesy's dinner but he didn't mind sharing a few bites) and the Yakamen soup made and served by the lady featured on Bourdain's last Louisiana, it was super-salty but delicious and perfect for a cold night (and probably a hangover too). In addition to the food and music there were local vendors set up, nothing too elaborate, just a nice street festival for a good cause.  The money earned supports Cops 2, a program that provides extra money for the 2nd District NOLA police.  

At some point during the day on Saturday Christian watched the UGA game and James and I took Luz to her friend Maggie's house in River Ridge for her first sleep over! She did not miss us in the least (well, briefly this morning while she was at mass with her friend) and loved every minute of it.  I am happy that it went well and that I did not have to pick up a teary 6 year-old at midnight, but I think this is just another sign that she is really growing up.  James enjoyed a quiet night with 100% of our attention.  We watched Cars 2 and he loved every minute of it.  He lined all of his "Cars" cars up on the coffee table to "watch with us".  I wish I had taken a picture.

Today was spent cleaning and organizing, running errands and (sort of) watching the Saints game.  Here is a pic of Jamesy in his is almost too small...I hope it makes it through this season.  He is outgrowing everything these days, pants I bought 2 months ago are too short...he is growing and growing and growing and not at all a baby anymore:


Monday, November 07, 2011

Here I Go

My new position is supposed to offer a better work/life balance, and there have been some good improvements in just three weeks.  One of my biggest complaints in private practice was the amount of traveling I had to do in a month.  I felt like I was always missing out on something.  Well, I suppose some travel is going to be inevitable in my profession, so here I go, off to Houston for a night.  Fortunately, it is a quick trip and not something that will happen with any regularity.  Unfortunately, Luz is about to loose her second tooth.  I missed the first one (I was at work) and I am 99.9% sure I will miss this one too.  Oh, and I have to travel one more time in 2011, this time to Florida for two days, one of which is the day of Luz's Christmas concert.  I am sure I can purchase a recording of the concert, but it just is not the same.

Deep breaths, these inconveniences are just that, inconvenient, but I look at these guys and I remember about how fast life is passing me by and the little inconveniences become something gigantic:

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Hooray For Milestones

About two years ago Luz stopped sucking her thumb in public places and about a year ago she stopped sucking it unless she was sleeping. I am sure she will not be happy later in life when she finds out I am sharing this information with everyone, but I am only doing it in an attempt to help other moms who might be out of ideas for coercing a stubborn child to let go of his/her biggest comfort.

Luz sucked her thumb in utero...we have the ultrasound photos to prove it. I was thrilled. She could soothe herself and I would never need to mess with a pacifier (incidentally, James was never wild about pacifiers either - in fact - he had NOTHING to soothe himself with, which posed a challenge now and again). When Luz was a toddler and was still sucking her thumb it did not bother me because she looked cute doing it and it made her so peaceful. I will never forget the smile on her face when I would put her in her crib and she would curl up with her lovey (Bun-bun) and start sucking her thumb.

And it is precisely because of this love that I did not really pressure her to stop...until she turned into a little kid. I started to worry about it and I wanted to be sure that I was addressing it in the 'right' way. Everyone, even the professionals, said not to worry about it, that in time she would stop doing it and that to pressure her before she was ready to stop would be a disservice for a variety of different reasons. I was promised that she would ultimately succumb to peer pressure and stop on her own. But she didn't. And then she turned 4 and the thumb was still around. And then she turned 5 and the thumb would appear at night and that was when I started with the obsessive plans. I tried bandaids over the thumb which worked for about a month. I tried alcohol and other offensive substances on her thumb and that did not work (she would wipe it off or suck through it). I created elaborate sticker charts. In September 2010 I told Luz that she could have whatever toy she wanted in the entire world if she stopped sucking her thumb. She was enthusiastic and eager to please and many nights she would not suck her thumb at all...but not every night.

I finally gave up and took comfort in stories I heard from perfectly normal, healthy, well-adjusted adults who sucked their thumbs for many years. Some even had the misshapen thumbs to prove it. And then, one night in August 2011 a friend told me about how much she loved sucking her thumb and how her mother tried everything to get her to stop and she didn' night when her mother showed her pictures of 'buck' teeth. I raced home that night and googled 'buck' teeth on the internet and the search resulted in some nasty, offensive photographs of people with severe 'buck' teeth. I showed them to Lucy and she has not sucked her thumb since that night. So, on Saturday, over a year after I made the promise, we headed to the Disney store so Luz could pick out a doll she has had her eye on. I give you, 6, 7 or 8 year-old Mulan from the Disney Animator collection; a decent consolation prize for giving up the thumb. James was excited about the new addition too (although he looks rather serious in this picture).

Thursday, November 03, 2011

More Halloween

I have had a tough time getting pictures downloaded to post lately. My camera battery died the one night I set aside some time to do it, and from that point on I just got sidetracked. It is also starting to get cold, which means late at night the last thing I want to do is sit in the somewhat chilly and totally uncomfortable study to wait for the photos to download and then troubleshoot when and if necessary. I finally charged the battery, found the power cord to my laptop, set up shop in the warm, cozy den, and loaded about 100 pictures. I will spare you a ridiculous post filled with nothing but pictures of Luz and James that make me smile and will, instead, just post a few at a time. What follows are a few from Halloween night. We trick-or-treated on State Street with friends and family again this year and, thanks to Aunt Margot, had a home base complete with snacks, drinks, and all of the comforts of home. I allowed unfettered access to the candy for the night with only one caveat - a grown up had to examine and approve every piece of candy before consumption. It worked well for the most part. Luz was actually remarkably restrained, James, not so much. They both enjoyed trick-or-treating, but as it got darker James started to get increasingly more freaked out by the crowds, costumes, and decorations. He quit before Lucy did and spent the remainder of the night handing out candy. The highlight of Halloween this year - a holiday on All Saints Day - I think it would have been impossible to get the kids up, dressed and ready for school after that night.
Luz & James w/ their friends, Emma & Luke, before heading out to trick-or-treat James made a last-minute costume change and opted for Batman instead of the pirate (which totally irritated me because it was the 2011 Halloween theme, but he is only 2 and apparently does not understand why themes are important to me)
Luz w/ Katie (who is dressed as a sort of cat - adorable and festive)
Luz w/ her parrot - Katie found this perfect addition to the pirate costume. At one point we crossed paths with a guy dressed up as a pirate (the Johnny Depp Pirates of the Caribbean pirate) and he started harassing Luz, saying she took his pirate and it was pretty authentic and she started to totally freak out until I got involved and straightened things out which required looking at the dude with a 'hey, pal, you are taking this one a little over the top, easy' kind a of look...funny stuff.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

My Favorite Time Of Year

I love the period of time in a calendar year that begins just a few weeks before Halloween and ends on January 1. I love everything about the holidays and appreciate each one in different ways. I think it is something about the cooler temperatures, the endless excuses to celebrate with family and friends, the seasonal tv specials, and always having something to look forward to. Next up, Thanksgiving in Thibodaux with family followed by Luis and Casey's wedding one week later! Until then, I will be thinking about nothing but sugar cane, bonfires, and is, after all, that time of year.