March 2009

A Few More Mardi Gras Moments

Here is some of what happened before we took off on Lundi Gras.  Some night parades…right by the house…

With light up ghoulish throws…

And dudes that are totally NOT going to pose for the camera.

And of course, our Sunday morning Thoth parade.  The kid posse was out en masse, despite it being cold and windy.  Will worked (in the words of one passing merry-maker) his “BEST EVER PIMP HAT” to it’s fullest and secured a sword…. ALL BY HIMSELF.  From that moment on, as far as Will was concerned there was no need to stick around for the rest of the holiday.  His Mardi Gras was complete.

Kate took advantage of the big kids roving mass and occupied the bench… for two seconds.  My Dad, Brother, and Sister-in-law were all on hand (hooray!) so it was easier than usual to keep her in check… trying to climb the flag pole at Whole Foods and working our neighbors for more cheese and crackers.

It was cold and windy, but at least it was sunny and clear.

What to do with all those beads?  Well, here’s an idea…

Favorite picture of the morning…

Then, later that day, my brother’s best friend from elementary school stopped by with his girlfriend.  They live in California, but it turns out that they found the blog a few years back (Sarah is from New Orleans) and this year, managed to meet up with Skip and Emily at our house during Mardi Gras!  Matt moved out to California when he and Skip were still in grade school; Skip flew out each summer to see him until they were well into their teens.

Matt went to film school and is now a TV writer.  No concerns, though, that any of the California mystique has gotten to him — he is exactly the same!  Oh, and Matt, we totally love Sarah.  Just in case you were waiting for our approval.  Ahem.

Oh, and if there is a new TV show that features this guy and his friend, and the friend has this sister who is totally a busy-body control freak, there really isn’t any reason to think that the writers… whomever they may be… are drawing on any life experiences.  None.  No reason.

Art & Photography
Family Life in NOLA

Comments (0)


Stuff Management: The next phase of home renovation

For the past few months, we’ve been getting wonderful surprise packages from my friend, Gwen. If you follow her blog, you’ll know that she possesses unlimited energy and discipline toward anything she puts her mind to (giving up dairy at the drop of a hat? not spending a dime on anything excess for a month?) but what she really excels in is household simplifying.  I can attest to the extent to which she reduces within her home, because as she does it, she is thoughtful enough to put aside little tokens for our family. They include sentimental objects (like sunflower bags we sewed together in 6th or 7th grade), fun things (a French book for Will), and little gadgets that she makes (hair clips for Kate).

I am not so disciplined.

In fact, my influence may work in the opposite direction; I sent back the sunflower bag with explicit instructions that she keep it forever, so that when we’re sitting together in the retirement center people will comment on how cute we look with our matching bags.  But this weekend, I let my inner-Gwen reign supreme.

In a fit of energy and enthusiasm, I stayed up all night on Saturday and organized the kids’ toys. Paul had a head cold and didn’t make it passed 10 — just long enough for me to nearly kill him by making him move pinball machines with me — so I was up all night working by myself.

My catalyst was the spring Children’s Clothing Exchange, which started accepting items on Sunday. Saturday afternoon, I talked Paul into buying a small storage unit for the toys and after the kids went to bed, I started in on the work. I literally poured each and every toy they own into the center of the front room. First I sorted by theme/type. Then I went through each and purged.

Unfortunately, I only have photos of the finished product, taken in poor light this morning.

Please ignore that we still have to sand, paint, and repair the walls and trim in this room. It’s one of several rooms we still have to renovate. As for the paper blinds we taped up there 5 years ago?  Hmmm, well, a drawbacks for having a handy husband is that he can completely be on board with spending a year’s worth of savings on better wood to use under drywall so that the walls are straight.  And contemplate a few year’s worth of work trim.  But window treatments?  Not so much.  Don’t misunderstand, it’s not really a financial thing, since I wouldn’t know what to do, anyway.   Actually, the one room in the house that actually has something in the vein of window coverings is the kids room… because my Mom gave me old curtains she had used in a previous home.  Our paper window blinds aren’t there because we’re tacky.  It’s because we’re clueless.

Games and puzzles are in a chest in the front room right now.  Except for some hats, costumes, and stuffed toys in their room, these are their toys!  They can see everything, it’s all organized, and clean up makes sense.  Same with inside the kitchen — just a few items and all organized.  Sometimes?  I like to just open the doors and look at how plates are with plates and pots are under the stove and all dessert toys are in one bin, separate from the fruits and vegetables.

The feeling leaves a fabulous, if unnatural, calm.

And did you note that fantastic kitchen?  We’ve had it for months, as a result of my favorite manner of shopping… bottom feeding.  They are floor models from the local pottery barn that we picked up at a discount of 75% off the original price.  A little beat up, but nothing a touch-up stick can’t fix.  We also bought a bunk bed for Will this way.  It’s not a fast way to shop (we signed up for the bed about 2 years prior) and it’s not particularly convenient (Will’s bed has been in pieces in the front room since August) but it is definitely a way to save.

Oh, and that table?  With the clear tape covering the rips and tears?  We took it and the matching chairs out of a neighbor’s garbage after Katrina.  Remember!  Not tacky.  Resourceful.

Will’s room is also getting together.  We emptied the closet and put in an organization system.  All his clothes are now here:

I talked Paul into going forward with this without refinishing the inside of the closet.  We still have to paint the room… and are working to find the inspiration for doing this.  Once we paint the room and finish trimming the lights we can put together his bed — and then the kids will each have their own room.  Whoa.

With Will’s room empty, this means we’ve moved into the study!  We’re using the old stuff now and hope to put matching work tables with wall shelves above in the future.

We switched up our standard paper window hanging routine to opt for the Priority Mall box look for this room.

Note the unfinished outbuilding in the back of the last picture.  We have many more beefcake home-fix-it photo opportunities in our future…

Until then, anyone have decorating advice?

Arts & Photography
Home and Renovation
Mi Familia

Comments (3)


Not out of the game, yet!

I’ve made a simple website with instructions for voting:

Additional information about the project, links to the relevant sites, and some photos are there. I’m not a graphic designer, so let’s just call the page — nostalgic. A throwback to a time when our websites were in a place called “geocities” and we used car phones the size of bricks.

Thank you thank you thank you for your help!

Art & Photography

Comments (0)


Photohunt: Four

It’s not his age. It’s a state of mind.

Or perhaps the number of peanut butter cookies he’d like to munch.

Kind people visiting… could I encourage you to visit here? And support my photography dream? It will only take a moment. Thank you thank you thank you!

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

Art & Photography
Mi Familia

Comments (3)


Nighttime Notetaking

Mi Familia

Comments (1)


Disney Day Three

Day Three was our last full day in The Land of the Mouse and our last day to visit the parks.  If you’ve been following the Mouse-venture, you’ll remember that we took off Day Two in favor of a less packed and hurried day so that we could enjoy our second and last day to explore the Kingdom. 

There was a great deal of debate about what to do on our last day.  Paul was routing for EPCOT, but knowing how far away the attractions are from each other and understanding that there wasn’t as much that the kids would be interested in seeing, I hesitated.  Ditto for Animal Kingdom, particularly since we live a few blocks away from a spectacular zoo.  The Studios (or, DHS, in the lingo of The World) had a few attractions we wanted to do with the kids… Voyage of the Little Mermaid live stage show, Playhouse Disney show, the Muppets 3D, and (for Will) Star Tours, including the “How to be a Jedi” training outside of the attraction. With that in mind, we started the day bright and early — arriving to park in the very first row of cars right outside the gate at Disney Hollywood Studios.

As we waiting for the park to open, a cameraman and (scary) lady walked through the crowd with a microphone, soliciting auditions. Persons she favored received numbers for the day’s finals in The American Idol experience; winners from each day get special passes to audition first in line for next season’s Idol.  And while that was entertaining in a “Welcome to the Dollhouse” gutwretching sort of way, we couldn’t help but feel that something about the crowd was just…. wrong.  Usually Disney crowds are a mix of everyone.  Europeans with practical shoes and trendy hiking clothes, blue-blooded Americans with expensive strollers and kids way too young, regular family of four folk with sneakers and backpacks, and then your salt-of-the-earth types who decided to forgo this weekend’s Nascar event in favor of a trip to Orlando.

The crowd around us appeared to belong most heavily to that last group.  Sort of like a few hundred Joe the Plumbers.  It wasn’t that we were bothered by it — it was more that it was just strange. I was having a hard time finding high-strung looking parents of whiny young children (our favorite crowd watching past-time.)

FINALLY. The doors open and we go in and right as we swipe our tickets, they are there.  ESPN.  With blaring music and sports fan information sheets.  WHAT?  Apparently, it’s ESPN DAY at the park!


Okay, whatever, we’re here, we’ll deal.  This is what we say and that’s what we start to do.  We go through the dance of getting the Disney stroller and start off towards the few things we’re there to do.  But at the first attraction, we’re pushed aside by The Harlem Globetrotters (maybe this would have been a big moment for someone else, but I couldn’t have cared less) and find that the line to even FASTPASS the Toy Story attraction is 30 minutes long.  And the start times to the other shows we’re there to see?  Not for at least another hour, because ESPN cheerleaders are there.  The crowd is suddenly enormous, swallowing us down in a sea of chewing tobacco and Aqua Net, with horribly mixed AC/DC gunning so loud that Paul can’t even hear me screaming beside him.

Just then, we’re approached by an extra perky MouseLand Team Member.  I’m ready.  Starting with, “I know this isn’t your fault…” I unload on her.  She sends us to Guest Services.

Disney folk are expert at customer service and Crazy Parents are their specialty.

In Guest Services, I explain that my Disney experience is relatively extensive, having had grandparents who worked for The Mouse for two decades (ahem), and with a few mentions of “un-Disneylike” and an expertly placed tear, asked for my morning back.  Not just my day’s ticket, but another entire day.  I wanted to re-do.  As in, a free park day for me and my family so that I could have a chance to restart our visit at a park from opening — on a day that wasn’t overrun with cheerleaders and dull-looking athletes.  (Our argument: we called ahead, there was no notification of the event, and had there been, we would have done something else.)  Yes ma’am, sure and absolutely!  (Apparently, even the employees had been left in the dark.)  Five minutes later we were holding day park-hopper passes for three and exiting Hollywood Studios.

We were inside Animal Kingdom before 10:30.

Animal Kingdom is a beautiful park with “lands.”  In Africa, you go on safari.  No zoom necessary, because the animals are RIGHT THERE.  As in, this baby reticulated giraffe almost ate Will’s hat.

I’d never actually seen a baby elephant that tiny before.

No worries, Mom was right there, too.

Lots of Rhinos.  That’s Will’s head on the left.  I wasn’t kidding about the whole THEY ARE RIGHT THERE thing.

The kids rolled with all the changes and got into character soon.  They LOVED the 3D bug show.  It was actually an interesting test, considering that it’s a bit intense… at one point, spiders and wasps attack the audience (not to give anything away, but it’s really a 4-D experience).  I kind of remembered what was coming and jumped in to cover Kate’s eyes through part.  (Think, spiders falling from the ceiling and smoke and sounds of bugs whizzing by your ears.  It’s pretty cool, or pretty terrifying, depending on your point of view.)  Kate?  The TWO YEAR OLD?  She loved it.  Go figure.

The Tree of Life is the centerpiece of the park.  It’s what Cinderella’s Castle or Spaceship Earth is to Magic Kingdom or EPCOT — the stunning visual that holds everything together.  As you approach it and walk around and through it, you can see hundreds of animals carved into the tree.

We had a nice lunch on the lake (Animal Kingdom has better park food, by virtue of the global cuisine in Africa and Asia), supplemented by our packed drinks and snacks.   Then we saw The Festival of the Lion King, which is a stunning theatre-in-the-round performance.  It’s sort of a combination ‘best of’ Lion King songs and characters with dancers, stilt walkers, singers, animatronics, moving sets, acrobatics, and audience participation.

The kids LOVED it.  Kate was all eyes and dropped jaw for the first 10 minutes and then… got a bit heavy in my arms.  SCORE!  She fell asleep.  We couldn’t have planned it better.

With Kate completely passed out, we decided to leave Animal Kingdom.  (The other thing we wanted to see, the staged “Beauty and the Beast,” wasn’t showing until 2 hours later.)  We figured that it didn’t make sense to go back to the hotel since Kate was already napping.  So, we went over to Magic Kingdom.  Three parks in one day!

We arrived around 2:30 and decided to get a snack on Main Street’s Bakery while an afternoon parade went by.  Along with the sandwich, we bought a frozen latte that Paul and I shared.  I have no idea what was in it, but for the rest of the day, we were ROCKET FUELED.  We literally skipped from attraction to attraction and had another perfect afternoon.

We rode the things we’d missed the first time around, like the Wedgway People Mover, the maintenance of which was my grandfather’s number one job.  It’s just a little tram that jets you around Tommorrowland, letting you see inside Space Mountain and giving great views.  Kate LOVED IT.

In fact, Kate loved it so much that we rode three times in a row while Paul and Will drove the cars in the Motorspeedway.

We also re-rode our favorites… Peter Pan, Pooh, and It’s a Small World.  This time, I played around with the camera.

Yeah, the song can drive you nuts after awhile.  But the kids could have ridden it all day long.  And honestly, I think I’d notice something new every time.

She winked at Will.  Really.

I love the spinning sun in South America.

Not all of the dolls are animatronic, but all are beautifully detailed.

When Paul and I rode this years ago, the ride had some sort of malfunction and we were stuck in this room for 10 minutes.

We decided to stick around for the fireworks, which were beautiful two nights before.  I didn’t have a tripod, so these were rough pictures.  And, I didn’t want to leave the kids in the crowd to get a better picture spot.

The castle changes colors, by the way.

We watched the fireworks and were out with the first throngs of crowd.  No problem!  Wonderful end to a wonderful trip…

Goodbye, MouseVille!

We’re totally ready to go back.  Who’s with us?!?

Mi Familia

Comments (5)


Cookie Monster.

Art & Photography
Family Photos

Comments (2)


It will only take a moment.

And it will mean so much.

Help me give beautiful portraits to families who have no means to make a photographic record of their memories.  Please help me make this dream of giving back a reality!


Go here.  This is my “idea” — my dream assignment.

Register. (Click “register” in the box on the top right.)

Check your email, click through the verification to bring you back to the website.

Find my “idea”. Either by going directly back to my “idea” page, OR, by searching on my “name” — coldspaghetti.

Once you are on my Idea Page, click the yellow “PIC” box.  It is to the left of the assignment description, under the number of votes.  It will change from “PIC” to “PIC’D” which means that you have successfully voted for me.

Then leave me a message so I know you’ve voted. (This part makes me feel less insecure gives me warm fuzzies.)

Extra bonus step… Spread the word to your friends, family, students, co-workers, kids, neighbors, mailman, hairdresser… and ask them to vote, too!



Comments (9)


Extra Support.

Because sometimes, you need more than a night time pull-up to give you that snug fit.

Mi Familia

Comments (3)


Just Posts for a Just World: February 2009

Here in New Orleans, February was Carnival month. It’s the best and worst of life each day here, but somehow the dichotomies are heightened during Carnival. The joy coupled with the danger, the opulence and the excess, the celebrations and the hangovers.

Just Posts follow suit this month with a wide range of issues, views, expressions, and topics. There are poems, lists, rants, and realizations. Every one represents a piece to a larger puzzle, a few stitches in the tapestry of our world.

Before the list, though, I have a favor. I have submitted an entry to win my Dream Photography Assignment. In short, my dream is to have the funds to return to impoverished areas where I have worked in the past with the goal of providing portraiture photography to the families living there and then giving them copies of the photographs. It is a gift that I always try to give, but due to time constraints, logistics of travel, print availability, and cost — one that I am rarely able to do. In the few times when I’ve brought back a photo, I have been intimately moved by the response. So much so that doing this on a larger scale remains one of my fondest dreams. While there are opportunities for photographers to pitch assignments to document poverty, photograph landscapes, and capture everyday life — there are few (if any) funding opportunities for photographers to simply give back.

I am hoping you will help me. I’m hoping you will vote and spread the word for others to do the same. The ideas with the top 20 votes will be judged by a panel — and I need your help to get in that top 20.

Please consider visiting the site and putting in a vote for my dream.

And finally. Thank you thank you thank you for reading, nominating, and writing…

Our Readers:


Our Writers:

Amy at Je Ne Regrette Rien with A Day With Fibromyalgia and This Angel Needs SOLE.

Jen at One Plus Two with En Route and Welcome to the Jungle.

Thordora at Spin Me I Pulsate with When a Man Wants to Murder a Tiger…

Bon at cribchronicles with More.

Angela at Letters from usedom with We are in the Middle of Something New, I was given a beautiful award, and Tapestry of Life.

Reya at The golden puppy with Money Changes Almost Everything, Past Present and Future, and Right or Wrong.

Julochka at Moments of Perfect Clarity with School is Cool.

Hummingbird at Hummingbird with Friend, stop a moment.

Deborah at What if with What a Wonderful World and My Dear Valentine.

Peter at The Buddha Diaries with Film Review: Wheel of Time, Another much bigger ethical conundrum, and Post-Racial.

Third story at Three Stories High with Kites on a Corner.

Elder woman at Elderwomanblog with Just One Shift.

Jarret at Creature of the shade with Stay or go.

Maggie Dammit at Violence Unsilenced with The Beginning.

Erika at Be Gay About It with Violence unsilenced.

Em at Social Justice Soapbox with Take Action: Responding to the Victorian bushfires.

Susie J with Grow and Garden and Share.

girlgriot at If you want kin, you must plan kin with How now, Juan? and To B(oycott) or not to B(oycott).

la loca at baggage carousel 4 with  wrong reason, right vote.

Thailand Chani at Finding My Way Home with Jiho.

One Year to Change the World with To bin or not to bin and The Age of Noisy Altruism.

Brigitte Knudson with Education Stimulus: What America Really Needs.

Neil of Citizen of the Month with My Once A Year Jewish Rant.

Alejna’s conversation is up and singing, too!

If you’ve nominated or written for this month, please feel free to copy the button to your website. If you want more information about Just Posts, check out the Just Posts Page.

Art & Photography
Home and Renovation

Comments (5)