Special Family Moments

Unbridled avarice… but done relatively neatly.

Wow. We told the kids that they could not dive into the holiday bounty until we gave the go ahead… and they listened.

(Please forgive the unfinished touches of the room. Have a mentioned that we’re in year 5 of renovation on our 100+ year old house… wait, I have? Well, don’t I get to use that excuse for at least a decade or so? Or at least get some reprieve because it’s Christmas?)

xmasday 1

Paul and I were exhausted. Presents had been stock-piled far away from child eyes for weeks — Will has developed an “exploration” habit — because we couldn’t risk a security breach. So, it was a last minute effort to pull it all together. The effort would have come off without a hitch, had Kate’s tea cart come with both a right side and a left side. Instead, it was equipped with two left sides and a nice note on the receipt asking buyers to please return the items by December 15th if there were problems. The item? It’s no longer available on the seller’s website.

This is yet another reason why doing Christmas shopping early is SO OVER-RATED. Next year, I am totally waiting until the last minute.

Here’s another behavioral surprise for the day: the kids also took turns giving out gifts and watching others open them. (With constant reminders, but still.)

I did manage a few surprises for Paul, despite his finding out about his Very Special Surprise, which I had worked for months to acquire. (By months, I mean reading a few internet articles and wiki forums.) So when he opened the awesome astronomy binoculars I researched and planned for, he was underwhelmed.

Wait. Why did I work so hard for weeks in advance?

BUT. I did surprise him with this little cutie. A piece by a local folk artist:

xmasday 4

It says:

“I loves you once
I loves you twice
I loves you more than
beans and rice”

Yea, you rite!

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Kate loved her surprises. A Belle dress from Will, dress-up box and Fancy-Nancy book from Nana, princess puzzle & bracelet from friends Dave, Shelly & Zoe, cute socks from Aunt Deb & Uncle Gary, games from Uncle Skip & Aunt Emily, toys from cousins Brayden & Maggie…. and CINDERELLA’S CASTLE from Santa.

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At it’s opening, I was expecting an ear-splitting scream, followed by a fainting episode. This didn’t quite happen, though she was definitely excited. Who wouldn’t be? The castle lights up. And plays music.

Really, we were all enthralled.

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Will’s interest in it was a bit different. He was looking closely for things to push later on, for the purposes of driving his sister crazy. A skill he is VERY adept at using.

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Also? There were one of a kind hand-made gifts!

Nana made a BEAUTIFUL matching sweater and hat!

xmasday 9

Gwen made felt SUPERHERO capes!

Super Will…. with his pants unbuttoned.

xmasday 2

And Super Kate, too.

xmasday 3


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Christmas List



— The Nutcracker Ballet.  Kate wanted to be taken on-stage to join in on the dancing fun.  Will admitting liking it after an hour of 6-year old whining about life.

— The Teddy Bear Tea at the Roosevelt.  High marks for decor (see above) and tasty treats.  Price keeps it a purely blue-blood affair.  Friendly wait-staff helped us smuggle out uneaten goodies.  We can say we’ve been there, done that.

— Lights at Lafrienere Park.  Original lights more interesting than the Copeland lights.  Free and open, a plus.  If you’re in the ‘burbs (say, because you need to buy car parts), it’s worth a few minutes of your time… and that’s all it will take.

— Holiday Movie.  The Princess and the Frog rocked in about seven-hundred ways.

— Packages mailed.  TODAY.  Used awesome FedEx discount.  Lots of lucky folks getting POST-Christmas surprises!


— Holiday eats.  Paul bought a turkey today.  The kind that you have to put in the oven and cook.  Can someone dial 9 and then 1 and just be ready…?

— Presents wrapped.  EVERYTHING for the kids is hidden and unwrapped.  We’re hoping for an early bedtime so that we can get to work.

— Christmas cake.  Kate is still begging for a “Christmas Cake” — this is the child who doesn’t even LIKE cake.  I must remember to not leave Southern Living magazines around where she can see them.

Happy Holidays!

(And, if you can, send suggestions on what to do with an 11-lb bird!)

Family Life in NOLA
Mi Familia
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Paddle Boat Recovery

On the afternoon of Day Two of Paul’s surgery recovery, we visited City Park.

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The kids saw the paddle boats.  Paul said it was okay.  That he was okay.  So we rented a paddle boat and rode it around City Park for a half hour.

boat 3

For the record, this is not a very good thing to do a few days after surgery.

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Nonetheless, we paddled around the museum, the sculpture garden, the ducks, the pelicans in the trees.  Will paddled for a little while, too.  (I don’t suggest this to folks who want to be able to walk when you get off of the boats.)

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The ducks were not afraid of the boats and swam right up looking for food, just in case.

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We had to go under several low bridges, which Kate loved.

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For the record, Kate is really cute.

boat 1

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Mi Familia
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Bag Girl

bag (1)

Kate has had a huge growth spurt.  She weighs almost 30 pounds and is about 35 inches tall. She is finally into size 3T (for most things).

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But she can still go to the store with her Daddy.

In the grocery bag.

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You should see the look on people’s faces when her head pops up in produce.


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In the WORLD.

As if we couldn’t find enough to do with the bazillion jobs, conferences, deadlines, dissertation drafts, broken bones, lingering illnesses, and all the rest… we decided to hold true to our intents from last spring and go to THE WORLD for the kids fall break (6 school days off).

We are having such a fantastic time that we may never come back. Maybe I’m spending too much time with princesses, but I’m beginning to believe reality is over-rated.

Just ask Will. He is SOOOO not ready for reality.

Twenty bucks says that by the time we go home, this 25 second encounter with Darth Vader will have morphed into 3 hours of non-stop battling, include a few hundred more storm troopers, and occur in some remote frozen land. But really, who can blame him?

Mi Familia
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While I’ve been working ’round the clock…

Paul has been taking the kids on lots of fun adventures.  Here are some photos.

kids 1

kids 2

kids 3

kids 4

Formatting is still a disaster with the upgrade.  As with everything else in my life, it’ll have to remain crummy a little longer until we know we’ve lived through the next few weeks…

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Zee Boy, he can READ

Will’s been working on sight words in the past few months and has been working up to actually putting them all together. In the French system, reading isn’t emphasized (particularly in French) until 1st grade. During Kindergarten over the last school year, he had English 2-3 times a week for about an hour each time. I didn’t think that it would actually amount to much. We read regularly and have helped him build his words as he’s learned to write, but there was no heroic effort on our part to push skills on him. Yet, here he is… working on completing a Summer Reading program that requires his reading a dozen English books and 3 French books.

I felt his reading this book was particularly appropriate.

Especially since he now has ANOTHER loose tooth.

Mi Familia
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Beach Week

Bugs or no, I am a beach girl.  I love the water, the sea shells, the sounds, the smells, the sand, and the sun.  At the beach, I can wake up and walk in the morning.  My hair naturally lightens.  My skin clears.  I loosen up.

Pools help, too.  Actually, in our scheme of beach days, pools are an absolute necessity.  Our perfect schedule: Beach first thing in the morning.  Move to pool late morning for snacks.  I go up to make sandwiches around noon.  Eat lunch around the pool and drip dry, then head upstairs for naps.  Late afternoon swim, movies after an early dinner, and everyone to bed at a reasonable hour.

We built different sand castles each day.  Here is the octopus.

Will and I snorkeled, used a net, or just reached down and grabbed up sand dollars and shells to decorate whatever creation Paul and Kate supervised on the beach.  (The big guy above has round shells on the ends of his long arms and sand dollar eyes.)

We took days off, too, to give us all a little break from the sun.  One morning we drove to Destin.  After missing out on a fishing boat trip (it filled up before we arrived), we went to play in the water fountains in Destin Commons, took our first-ever build-a-bear experience (Will’s dog has stars on him, has a surfboard and is named “Fred”, Kate’s dog has a t-shirt and is named “Boy.”)  Then we walked over to the movie theatre and saw “Up.”  The kids hugged their dogs, wore the 3D glasses, and took in all the movie without incident.

(This particular trip wasn’t without sacrifice… after we missed the boat, we had a little parking lot fender-bender.  Guy flying into the lot didn’t stop at the stop sign and Paul backed into him.  No damage to our car; his passenger door bent in.  We exchanged insurance information and Paul reported the incident immediately… we’ll see what happens next.)

Will and Kate were great play partners, particularly in public.

I had no idea there was a National Flip Flop Day.

I found at least 30 hermit crabs.  They were all over the sandbar, in every single shell I picked up, no matter how large or how small.  I took a few to shore for the kids to look at.

And also because this shell was the COOLEST SHELL EVER.  Paul called it Goth Crab, which was very appropriate.  The shell was actually darker (the umbrella is red and casts a red reflection on everything) — actually a black color — with spikes along the edge.  Seriously cool.  I secretly hoped this guy would hop in another shell or Paul would let us take him home.  (Both were equally unlikely.)

Isn’t that shell cool?

We let them run around in here for about 20 minutes before setting them free.

Here is the big fish.  Originally the idea was the have a HUGE mouth and put Kate inside.  Instead, Will and I found pointed sand dollar pieces to use as teeth on the bottom of the mouth (hard to see due to their color, but they are there!)  The boogie board became the fin, gills defined the sides.  He reminded us of the piranha fish in the Amazon.

Another off-beach day was at the Pensacola Air Museum.  Initially we were meeting my Mom here to bring her back to the beach with us.  She didn’t show, but we enjoyed the museum so much we returned on the way back to New Orleans on Sunday (with me limping along).  During our first visit we watched the 3D Grand Canyon IMAX movie, River at Risk, which we heartily recommend.  Both kids were awesome.

And they loved the overwhelming museum and the amazing exhibits.

The ocean was calm for the majority of our trip — so calm that we found it impossible to sneak out to go sailing (something we’ve been trying to do now for over a decade).  Well, technically we were thinking of going on our last afternoon after having an early dinner.  But we made the mistake of splitting a frozen adult beverage and were a little too fuzzy to sail afterward.

It was so clear that seeing all sorts of fish was incredibly easy. Just beautiful.

Will was determined to catch a fish.  I caught a jellyfish for him that he took to the beach and studied with several beach-friends, but managed to only catch fish when Will wasn’t around and I wasn’t trying.

The fish nibbled our feet.  It tickled.

We made drip castles, with steep walls in the front so that the water had to slowly work under and around the fort before taking it out.

I found another full sand dollar and a huge side of a shell.  Neither were found with the snorkel, though… my new friend is the net for shelling! (This makes me want to spend more time snorkeling there in the future — maybe out farther once Will is a little bigger and a bit stronger swimmer!)

Paul brought a shovel and dug wide holes in the shade for the kids to play.

They built castles and put chairs in their holes.

We didn’t sail, we didn’t kayak, we didn’t walk the Pier… but we swam, snorkeled, shelled, walked, flew kites, crabbed, watched movies, and had a wonderful time!

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Mother’s Day Wish

Between the two of us, Paul and I are not big gift-givers.  This probably comes as an extension from me… I came from a family that celebrated holidays on a whim, sitting down to celebrate when we were able instead of when the calendar said we should.  Maybe that defeats the point, but it’s one of those Military family sacrifices and that is what we did.  Now, as an adult, I regularly forget to plan ahead for holidays and don’t particularly mind that there is nothing under the tree for me or that my birthday goes by without fanfare.  It gives me excuse to indulge later… ’cause we didn’t celebrate that thing, you know?

For Mother’s Day this year, knowing full well that we’re too crazy right now to have any all-about-Mom plans, I accepted that no one would remember anything.  So I proactively told Paul that I only wanted ONE THING for Mother’s Day… something free requiring absolutely no grand efforts on anyone’s part.

I asked him to Never, Ever, Never Again move clothes that were folded or waiting to be folded from the bed to the floor, dresser top, or any other surface so that he could get into bed.  To simply put away and/or fold and put away clothes and not just push them aside for me to deal with later.  Have I mentioned before that I’m a little neurotic…?  Well, clothes on dressers for days gives me an involuntary twitch.  I can’t help it.

So tonight, when I came to bed roughly an hour after he’d already announced his impending bedtime, I was surprised that he was not in our room.  Then I remembered the laundry I had been working on during bathtime.  On the bed were whites (my least favorite laundry area) — towels, socks, socks, and more socks — to sort and put away.  They were on the bed, not moved to a dresser to await someone else’s effort.  Still there, waiting.

Paul?  Instead of moving them to the bed to climb in and sleep, he honored my request… just not in the manner I’d hoped.

He was sleeping on the floor beside Kate’s bed.

Paul: 1.  Me: 0.

Mi Familia
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Photohunt: Protect

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

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