March 2009

Designated The Will Zone

We’ve been using Paul’s ‘idle’ hours to move things along on the house.  Each morning, he starts work at 6am and works for several hours on the start-up.  Then around lunchtime, he moves on to working on the house.

Today we worked to finish many of the tasks in Will’s Room.

This included finishing the painting.

As a reminder, “painting” one of our rooms means sanding, washing, fixing, filling, priming, and perhaps doing all of those things two or more times before moving on to actual paint.  Then 1-2 coats of primer on the oil surface and at least 2 coats of paint on the walls and 2-3 on the trim.  Alllll the way up the 12 foot walls and on the ceiling.  Because of the humidity near the ceiling, it takes hours for paint to dry.  So it took the last three days to finish painting walls and trim.

Then Paul moved into baseboards.  Repairing open sections and installing toe molding.  Delicate cuts make it all fit…

Notice that our family room is the sawdust catcher.  We start to get nervous if at least one room in the house doesn’t have sawdust on the floor… it’s just not home without it.

Here’s the big picture.  I still can’t believe the awesomeness of this room.

He’s making a round cut around the edge so that it will mesh in perfectly.

Ta-da!  This also is to give a sense of how small the room is… although it felt huge after the paint was up.

The lights went in over 4 years ago.  Trim kits went in today.

We don’t claim to be speedy.

Ceiling view from the door to the hallway.  It took Paul a lot of research, trial, and error to figure out how to install standard lights and trim kits in old ceilings, where beams are not spaced the same as modern construction.  He actually fashioned special cutting tools and ways of working through the layers of lathe in order to place the lights where we wanted them in the ceiling and have them properly aligned and spaced.

When he was still trying to figure out the particulars, he actually contacted This Old House with specific questions about recessed lights in these types of ceilings.  They never responded.

I figure it’s ’cause Bob Villa has nothin’ on Paul.

See the beige oil paint around the door?  We’re still not sure what to do with the doors.  Dip them and stain them?  Paint the trim?  Paint everything white?

We want to have them repaired and have working hardware (none of our doors actually close) and figure we should go ahead and dip them, too, since it’s usually part of the process.  And it seems a shame to paint them after the beautiful cypress is exposed.  But there is no way we’re stripping the doorways, so would it be strange to just have the doors be natural wood?

Trivial details.

After scraping paint off the window, cleaning the floor, and hanging the curtains, we set up Will’s bed.  The one that has been sitting in our front room in pieces since last September — the kids have had to climb on and around it piled behind our couch for almost a year.  We’d have jacked it up on cinder blocks, but that’s how we store our cars in the front yard.

The bed!

Will currently sleeps in a full-size bed, so we have a mattress for the bottom bunk.  We realized that we wouldn’t be using a box spring… what do we do with a box spring?  Paul wants to put some carpeted plywood above to make a play space on top.  I’m thinking we’ll wait a little longer before anyone goes up… I’m nervous about Kate.

The bookshelves are still full of our work stuff.  All of Will’s clothes are currently in his closet and though he won’t have a dresser, he’ll have plenty of shelf space!

Family Life in NOLA
Home and Renovation

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NOLA-style Bon Burgers

Will’s class works on a reward system where kids are given points for good behavior at the end of each day.  When the kids have earned 10 of these points, they are awarded a BIG “Bon” Point and are allowed to select a “Creature” card: a little picture of an animal on cardstock with their name, the date, and the animal’s name in French written on the back.  Somewhere in the craziness of last fall, Paul and I tied rewards at home to the school’s rewards… Will gets to pick dinner on the nights he brings home a Big Bon Point.  While he’s surprised us once or twice with requests for pot roast and/or macaroni and cheese, almost always the request is for a cheeseburger.

A few weeks ago, we decided to enjoy the beautiful spring weather and make an afternoon of the cheeseburger Bon Point.  We walked up to the Streetcar, rode down to Camilla Grill, ate our counter-service burgers, caught the Streetcar back down St. Charles Avenue and walked home.

A very New Orleans family outing.

Even though we can see it coming from a mile away (well, almost), I still get nervous about someone getting hit by the streetcar.  We end up holding the kids too tightly for way too long, dropping quarters in sweaty hands and grasping at falling bags because we were too anxious.  Silly, silly.

Windows open!

The kids are quiet and serene on the streetcar… once they settle into a seat.

The “wedding cake” house, nestled in the live oaks.  There was scaffolding up all around it for almost a year to paint it — the job simply took that long to get right.

Walking home, the kids had a lot more energy.

And did more exploring.

Kate LOVES to smell flowers.  Only, she doesn’t quite have the whole “smell” thing down.  She sort of snorts on them.  (Bummer for the unsuspecting plant when her nose needs a proper tissue-holding blow.)

Whoa!  A bee!

See the monkeys in the tree?

Kate was pretty independent on the walk back.

Enough, Mom.


No, she’s not running at Paul because she wants picked up (as if).  Kate is no more.  THAT is a MONSTER.

Incoming!  It’s a MONSTER!

This is the last picture I took, because Paul and Will were promptly eaten immediately following this snapshot.

And they tasted mighty good with those Camilla burgers in their tummies.  Just ask Kate… errr… The Monster…

Art & Photography
Family Life in NOLA
Family Photos
Mi Familia
Special Family Moments

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Photohunt: Hands

For more of my photohunt, go here.
For more information about photohunt and links to many more, go here.

Art & Photography

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The Funny Boy

Nurse 1: “How old are you?”

Will: “I’m 5. I’m not old enough to drive. My PapPap says I have to be 16 and then I can drive his truck.”

Nurse 2: (smiling) “Oh, okay. Mom, is Will allergic to anything you know of?”

Me: “Nope, nothing.”

Will: “Except poop.”

Nurses 1 & 2: “What?”

Will: “I’m allergic to poop.”

Pause. Nurses look confused.

Me: “Do you mean your sister’s diapers?”

Will: “Yeah, I’m allergic to Kate’s stinky poops.”

Nurse 1: “You’re allergic to your sisters diapers?”

Will: “Yeah. Sometimes they stink even badder than my Daddy’s toots.”

Nurse 2: “Well, I’ll write it down then. It sounds serious.”

This is why the top of every informational piece of paper in my son’s medical chart, RIGHT at the top under “known allergies,” it reads POOP. (Someone in the surgical ward added “per patient,” just to clarify.)

When we reached him in the recovery area, he was shoveling in heaps of crushed up grape Popsicle. Every member of the medical team addressed Paul and I as we entered, “That’s your son? He is HILARIOUS.” Will glanced up from the cup of Popsicle with glassy, dreamy eyes, just long enough to ask when he was going to get his tubes in. I noticed the bloody tissue coming out of his left ear. The one the doctor said held a thick, dull, gray membrane — very different from the perfect shiny membrane in his right. As I came close to ask how he was, explain that it was all done, he reached around the back of his head with his unfettered hand, the one not strapped to a board connected to an IV, to poke in that ear.

“Mommy, my ear hurts.”

He looked up at me with a woozy face, cheeks sort of blotchy and eyes not awake. Out of nowhere, cauliflower sprouts burst in my own ears, filling my brain with white fuzz. It came fast. I had no choice. I sat right down, on the spot, quickly getting my head between my knees. That’s right, I nearly lost it right there. And again, several times, in the short stay unit. It’s 4 hours later and I’m still woozy just writing about it. In this situation, I do not have the constitution to handle my children’s medical needs. Quality parent, me.

Just in case I missed how pathetic I was, our nurse found me a Raggedy Ann sticker to go with Will’s SUPERHERO badge. “It’s ’cause your Mom was so raggedy,” the nurse tells Will.

“Yeah. I have to take a lot of good care of her,” answers Will.

Mi Familia

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For the Surgeon.

Dear Dr. C:

5 years ago, surgical residents at one of the top teaching institutions at one of the best hospitals in the country delivered my son.  In doing so, they used poor protocol and caused extensive scarring and infection.  I rationalized 2 and a half years of health problems as normal because I never would have doubted the solid training or benevolent intent of a medical provider.  Their surgical mistakes in a routine procedure cost me years of pain, put strain on my marriage, and when it was time for my daughter to be born, put her life in danger and nearly cost me vital organs.

So maybe this surgery is routine and ordinary.  Maybe it’s sort of boring.  Maybe it pays poorly and doesn’t offer you challenges or papers or glamor or any of the things you wanted from medicine.  But understand it is a very big deal to me.  Routine surgeries can cause irreparable harm.  I know.

My trust in you to be thorough and professional and GOOD at your job is a Very Big Deal.

Remember that.  Please.

And thank you.

— The Mother of the child you are operating on today.


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It’s Silly. I know it is.

In 9 hours we report to the Short Stay Unit at Children’s Hospital for Will’s surgery.

Tubes.  We’ve waited for about a month and now the day is almost here.

It’s no big deal.  I know, it’s routine.  It’s no big deal.  We know countless kids who’ve done it; some more than once.  It takes no time.  He’ll be fine within hours.  It’s no big deal.  I KNOW ALL OF THIS.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but I’m nervous.  Maybe because I can’t control what will or won’t happen?  Maybe I’m nervous because  I’m trusting that this cut-happy doc will respect my wishes and leave Will’s healthy adenoids alone.  I’m trusting that he won’t screw up.  That his ego will remain in check and he’ll do his job respectfully and thoroughly.  I’m letting my kid go into a medical facility where germs exist in all sorts of places, some of them so well evolved that our medicines can do little to fight them.  It’s a scary place, but that is where I am bringing him.  Me, because it was my choice.  I’m The Mother.   I just have to trust that when they are done he will have holes in his ear drums not made by exploding tissue but by little plastic regulators that will finally get that fluid out of his head and help him hear.  It’s a good choice; so I’m surprised to find that tonight, I can’t sleep and my stomach is in knots.  If everything turns out okay then I made the right decision.  If everything is not, well, then it’s my fault.

Pity the Fool from Cold Spaghetti on Vimeo.

Is it silly to be nervous about something so routine and regular?  What would I do if this were something truly serious?  Or risky?  Or vital?

I’m embarrassed.

Maybe I’d be better with it if I liked this doctor more.  If he weren’t so showy to his residents.  Perhaps if he hadn’t pushed for removal of adenoids (which he did, despite having no clinical reasoning for it nor support for why it was even a consideration in Will’s case) I would trust him better.  I don’t think that you need to like a surgeon, you just need to believe that they can work magic.  I’m surprised to be questioning him now.  Is it nerves?  Or is this guy unworthy of the privilege of working on my kid?

I’m embarrassed.  And nervous.

But I know it will be fine.  I know it.

Will: January 6, 2004 from Cold Spaghetti on Vimeo.

Mi Familia

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Dancing and Singing at Fete Francaise

Our kids’ school held a huge French Festival last weekend — it’s the biggest fundraiser for our nonprofit and is the event around which the entire school revolves.

This is to say, it’s a big deal.

We’re very invested.  (See?  That’s us — major supporters.)

The kids open Fete with songs.  Will, among the youngest in his grade (and so darn cute), stood front and center for the kick-off song medley — all popular French songs that we parents have heard sung to us a few dozen times a year.

For this first performance, Will (standing smack in the center for all to see) was the kid that sort of stands there while the rest sing around him.  Either he knows the songs so well that he can’t bear to sing them AGAIN, or, this whole thing with his hearing reduction over the past 6 months is so severe that he didn’t quite get all the words to some of the songs.  Or, maybe his nose is just so enthralling he could not leave it alone?

It was actually pretty hilarious, watching him sort of heavily sigh.  Particularly during songs he’s belted out 800 times at home, like “Freire Jacques”.

Really, being the center of attention to several hundred adoring parents and classmates is SO BORING.

And then this started.  Circled for emphasis.

With some more of this.  Again, circled.

Eventually Will took a seat (see him in the audience?) to watch the rest of the classes perform.  His individual class performance came later.

Before he took the stage for his second performance, he told me he was going to sing his class song AS LOUD AS HE COULD and RIGHT TO ME.

Here they are, warming up to the song with a dance inspired by the story, Kirikou.  It’s a story they’d read many times in class and took a field trip to the local movie theatre to see a special showing of the French release of a movie based on the story.

Here they are, getting ready for the song:

And here’s the song:

Kirikou Song at Fete

Kirikou Performance Fete Francaise from Cold Spaghetti on Vimeo.

Kate’s class, the youngest in the school, also performed.  Here she is hanging out in the chaos of students, teachers, and parents… waiting patiently.

Despite all her singing of “Freire Jacques” at home — and perhaps in spite of my maniac practice of it on piano and drilling the words with her so that she’d be able to sing it for Fete — Kate’s class didn’t sing.  They danced.

Three of Kate’s classmates didn’t make it through the circle dance.  Parents were invited to join in, to keep the little ones calm.  We didn’t worry about Kate.  We knew she’d be ROCK OUT, NO PROBLEM.

Kate at Fete

Creche Fete Dance from Cold Spaghetti on Vimeo.

Here’s some more of Will, bustin’ moves.

Still, with the nose.

And whatever else…?

Singing to me(!), as promised.

What a cutie.

Singin’ in French.

School? Mission accomplished. We parents have effectively been brainwashed into believing that the amount spent on school last year (more than twice my total student loan debt and more than the cost of all 4 years of my college education combined)… was worth it.

Work hard, kids. You ARE our 401K.

Family Life in NOLA
Life in New Orleans

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Bellies, Poles, and Po’Boys

Paul’s buddy, Dave, was in town late last week for a conference and brought down his awesome wife, Shelley, for their First Ever Time Away from the kids. We met them for lunch at Bayona on Friday, before giving them a tour of the city and stern lecture on “The Real New Orleans” — which is so much more than what you see on COPS. Hours were spent explaining that we’re not a city filled with sex-obsessed exhibitionists, that Mardi Gras is really a family holiday, and that we spend a respectable amount of our lives both sober and responsible.

Good thing we spent all of this time drilling those important facts into them. Otherwise, Shelley may not have had the proper perspective when she agreed to accompany me to an event Friday night while The Boys went out for po’boys and beer. It was a fundraiser, for women only, focused on exercise and self-improvement — all in the interest of raising money for a nonprofit preschool. The title?


Held at a yoga studio equipped with a stripper pole.

In other words, it was a totally and completely appropriate way to cap off what Paul and I had been yammering on about all day.

The class was taught by a board member who happens to be (in addition to having a MA in childhood education) a professional belly dancer. She taught us specific belly-dancing moves most pertinent for, ahem, private moments, punctuated by descriptive words like “all fours,” “oral,” “shlong,” and (our personal favorite) “Love Tunnel.” (No, really, it deserves to be a Proper Noun.) In addition to Shelley, my favorite local Moms were there for the bonding experience. Appropriate amounts of wine, delicious food (donated by Slice), and Italian chocolates and gelato (donated by La Divina) were also in attendance.

The class itself involved a mix of yoga, stretching, isolations, undulations, and shimmys… with explanation, tips, demonstration, and use of scarves. The move with the best name went to “The Umm-mee” which is a small rotation of the hips (knees not bending) in a box. The move with the best bang for the buck, so to speak, was “The Camel;” I’m pretty sure that the spouses of any of the women attending would pay good money for a thorough explanation of The Camel (we’re not talking). Roughly half of us attempted the stripper pole; the rest of us were quick to claim those with the most impressive pole-action as dates for the upcoming Indigo Girls concert.

I think that we are all agreed on one thing: belly dance is pretty cool, waaaaaay harder than it looks, and no one is sexier than a belly dancer. No. One.

Photos are being held for my own protection. Except for this one.

Paul and Dave picked us up at the end of class, greeting us at the studio door with blushes and smiles. As we got into the car, we mentioned that the classroom held a stripper pole, to which Paul exclaimed, “Why didn’t you tell me? I would have gone inside and tried it, because I CAN TOTALLY WORK A STRIPPER POLE.”

As the wife, I didn’t know what to do with that… at first. Now, I have plans to put all that home improvement hotness to work. I’m booking Paul into clubs in the Quarter. I’m guessing that tool belt can hold a lot of dollar bills….

Family Life in NOLA
Life in New Orleans
Mi Familia

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Fete Francaise — this Saturday!

Ecole Bilingue is celebrating its 10 year anniversary!

“Fête DIX” Fête Française 2009

March 21, 2009 10:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m.

*** Free Admission ***

Fête will be held at our new campus:
821 General Pershing Street (Next to St. Henry’s church)

More information here.Auction items here.
Families drive from Mandeville, Ponchatoula, and Baton Rouge to bring their kids to Ecole Bilingue, Louisiana’s only French immersion program using the French Education Nationale, a national education program highly respected worldwide and a model for many other education systems around the world.
This fundraiser is the largest in EB’s school year and where the funds are raised to support yearly tutition scholarships — next year, our family is among those receiving some of this aid.  We’d love to see you at the Fete!

Family Life in NOLA
Life in New Orleans

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Everyone needs a little love, right?

Thanks, Lucy, for this!

“These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to bloggers and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.”

My five… More Lima Beans, The Painted Maypole, Janna Bee, The Journey, and Adventures in the 32-Aker Wood.

Thanks, Tina, for this!

“This award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his/her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary and personal values every day.”

Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person that has granted the award and his or her blog link. And pass the award to blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment.

My five… The Albemarle Sound, More Lima Beans, Collecting Tokens, Wheels on the Bus, and MadHatter Mommy.


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