Bacchus, Sunday night.

Bacchus was wild.

We were not prepared for just how wild.

Okay, so we’re not completely oblivious.  Breesus was presiding as King, so we knew it was going to be a mad-crazy event.  The Saints homecoming parade drew the biggest parade crowds of any event, ever, according the local media.

We volunteered to work the school parking lot (a block off of Napoleon, which is the street where the parade was to begin).  Though the Archdiocese demanded a hefty sum of 50% for us to use the parking spaces the school rents from them (ahem) it is always worth it to help our little nonprofit school bring in funds, so of course we wanted to help.  At first, the plan was for me to bring the kids home after the morning parades for nap and let Paul walk up to the school.  But the fun of the morning put us into some sort of ecstatically-impaired state of mind where our sensibilities left us completely.  We threw the ladders and wagon and bags and signs and kids into the truck and illegally rolled ourselves slowly down back streets until we arrived at the school.

Then the plan was to meet up with friends who we knew were on the route and let the kids run around until parade time (it was still more than 2 hours before the parade start time).  Paul would work parking until right before the parade and then join us. In a normal situation, this would work perfectly.  Except that it was Bacchus and the people were already DOZENS deep.  The streets were already filled with Mardi Gras mess, and the people were Very Serious about their tent cities.

Thank goodness we found Emmy and the kids — and thank goodness that her friends, Erin and Chuck, were kind enough to 1. share the space; 2. help watch the kids, and 3. accommodated Will, who instantly fell in love with their adorable baby boy and tried multiple times to fold him up and put him in his pocket (Honestly though, who could blame Will? That kid is great.)   Chuck masterfully maneuvered our ladder and wagon in with the mix so that all the kids could sit up safely — nearly eye-level with many of the riders — allowing them to see and keeping them safe from the crowds.  I stood beside on a step stool, often with one of the kids standing with me, talking to the kids and keeping an eye on the straps and bars (I get a little freaked out when the kids get antsy.)  Still, the crowd was so tight that one man held on to the side of my step stool to keep from getting shifted too much in the jostling crowd.

Or, maybe because he wanted to be that close to the view of my rear-end, depending on your perspective.

Despite the crowd, it was a fun night.  The energy was amazing and for the most part, the people were all friendly and thoughtful.  Another child in the crowd joined into an open seat in our ladder set-ups (another unwritten rule — when you have open seats, you ask other families if their kids want up — one more small child out of the crowd lets us all breathe easier) and he was hilarious.  (“Here are your guesses for the next float, Ms. Holly.  A porcupine, a giant heart with letters, or chickens in a pot of soup.”)

The parade itself was mostly standard fare of floats and parades and riders — with added coolness of confetti, search lights into the night sky, and several “mega” floats pulling dozens of riders with several connected units.  Combined with the incredible crowd, it was sort of breath-taking to be there.  Especially at the start of the parade.

A woman nearby had a mini-Lombardi trophy.  Several folks came over to take pictures with it — including these kids.  The cuteness!

What we didn’t see was that further up the parade line, friends of ours had made a NINE FOOT LOMBARDI TROPHY.  (Photo from Cade‘s collection.)

We heard that Breesus himself bowed down to it upon passing, that Sean Peyton acknowledged it, that folks are leaving signed mementos on it, and others are showing up to get photos with it.  Here’s an interview showing the statue and talking with them about it.

How cool is that?

But back to the parade.  Breesus went right on by us, just like that.

A friend of mine from college is shocked that Paul doesn’t get stopped in the streets regularly for being mistakenly identified as Drew Brees.  I wasn’t sure there was much resemblance and then I saw Breesus’s new Dove commercial.   (Note: this is really worth watching.)

After seeing that shower scene, I whole-heartedly agree. Paul is a dead ringer for Breesus.

Being a big Krewe, the mega-bands were out, too.

It was a beautiful night, full of crazy energy and madness.  A wonderful way to cap off our Mardi Gras parades for the season!

Family Life in NOLA

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Sunday Morning Mardi Gras Magic

I know what you think.

You think it’s not for you, this Mardi Gras thing.  Maybe you don’t see yourself as much of a drinker.  Maybe you’re a little put-off by the whole girls-gone-wild thing; you weren’t the type to want to do Spring Break in South Beach even when you were in college.  So you figure that Mardi Gras isn’t for you.  And also?  That city?  New Orleans?  Well, you saw the pictures and heard the stories and it’s a mess.  You can’t figure out why people would even want to live there, let alone visit.

You’ve thought at least some of those things, I feel certain.  I fully admit that until I moved here, I thought THE VERY SAME THING.  Actually, both Paul and I did.  And now we can say that we were very wrong.

New Orleans is an absolutely fantastic place to be, especially during Carnival season — and especially for families.  As an example, here is our family, enjoying parades this past Sunday morning.  Music, laughter, conversation, floats, horses, football, dancers, prizes, and of course, beads.

Krewes of Okeanos, Mid-City, and Thoth.  Vantage on Magazine Street.

Family Life in NOLA
Family Photos
Mi Familia

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Sunday night, 9pm.

Family Life in NOLA

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All photographs were taken with an Iphone. None involve live animals.

If you’re the sensitive type, the kind that can’t handle any sort of recognition of the fact that we all own private parts, or worse, sometimes bring them out to play, then I urge you to stop reading now.  Because this may press a button or two.  Not because I’m talking about something related to our current Carnival season.  Because I’m going to talk about my cat.

The cat likes stuffed toys.  Scout has been with us for over 11 years now, since that snowy February night when he was rescued from an abandoned lot, less than a pound and only a few weeks old.  From the start he has been a knead-er, pushing his little paws and purring until he is content to curl up and sleep.  Often, he does this on a blanket or bed.  But when we’re not around, he likes to knead stuffed toys.  We’ll come home to find tufts of fuzz in a trail through the house, leading to where Scout has kidnapped Snoopy or left Pluto in a mess of polyester orange fur.  Making sure anything soft and impressionable is off the floor is important in our house; lest the cat decide to get cozy and half of your teddy bear goes bald.

It seemed like a fairly benign quirk.  Then a few weeks ago, Paul and I entered our bedroom one afternoon to find Scout on our bed, kneading away at a stuffed Lady, from Lady in the Tramp, one of Kate’s favorite toys.  We quickly pulled Lady away from the assault and accidentally flipped Scout over in the process.

He landed on his back with his belly up.  Showing clearly that he was very very visibly… excited.

And then.  With us there staring away at his little red thing pointing up at us, he started to shake.  SHAKE.  I am not making this up.  The bottom half of that damn cat was TREMBLING.

O. M. G.   The cat was getting off on our daughter’s stuffed dog.

All this time, and the cat was going to our kids’ synthetically-filled plushies to get laid.

<I know, I need a moment, too…. but I promise, just stick with me, a chaser is coming.>

Since then, our efforts to protect the kids toys from the love, I mean loooooove, of our cat have improved.  But we still find him occasionally curled up on Will’s pillow, surrounded by rolling paper with catnip scent in the air, laying a little TOO close to that Ugly Doll.  During Mardi Gras, the volume of throws being brought in by the kids makes it more difficult to keep the house to a PG rating.

So when Will walked in tonight from the Morpheus parade, I think I heard Barry White go into overdrive in the cat’s head:

As Kate would say, I KNOW.


So here’s the story of Long-Fellow (as named by Will.)

It started earlier today when I spontaneous cut a piece of cardboard, painted it black, and started cutting up beads.  This was the result.

The sign was a huge hit with Kate at d’Etat.  But Kate got cold.  Granted, it was pretty cold out tonight, even if we did bundle the kids as warmly as possible.

Yes, Kate wore a princess nightgown over her layers and coat.  It was a compromise.

Anyhow, towards the end of d’Etat, Kate got a little tired and cold, so the sign went to Will.  I walked home with Kate while Paul stayed with Will to watch Morpheus.

A rider passed Will a stuffed toy and Will said “Merci” and showed the sign.  Then, he blew her a kiss.  The float stopped and she melted.

She motioned him over to the edge and pointed him our directly so that everyone would know that she had something for him.  Then she pulled out the snake’s head and handed it down to Will.  But she kept pulling and pulling and pulling and Will turned in circles as the snake wrapped around him.

And that was how Will came home — completely wrapped up in a stuffed snake now known as Long-Fellow.


Will was not the only one to take home a prize throw.  Kate, who rebounded after the home-visit, requested “The Girls Parade.”  So we piled up and went back out to take in Muses.  Muses was on the main parade route and had many, many more people than the previous parades.  It was packed!


Kate got a shoe.  It’s her second.

Happy Mardi Gras, Y’all!!

Family Life in NOLA

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Party Crashers

Last week, I joined A-M, an actress/singer friend of mine, to take part in an “Improv Anywhere” style event. On the request of another friend, we crashed her hospital nursing department’s Employee of the Year luncheon. A-M was the crazed fan. I was the paparazzi. The shtick was that A-M (character name: Nola Bee) was a hospital volunteer and completely head-over-heals for the Employees being honored at the event. Mz. Nola Bee brought a book — complete with staff pictures and areas for signatures — and dutifully requested each to sign with me snapping away (“she’s photographing for my documentary”).  A matching red-wig for me and a few practice sessions and I think we could have pulled a Sweeney Sister routine out, too.

I can officially check “Crash a formal event” off of my bucket list.  Maybe even add it to my resume?

Carnival is gearing up. Krewe du Vieux was over the weekend.  Krewe du Vieux is one of the earliest parades and is known for its satirically-oriented adult theme.  It’s not the parade to bring the kids to, particularly if you child wants to know why the Governor is in THAT position, for-goodness-sake.  The whole leaving the kids at home situation has made it tough for us to go in the past.  This year, a friend graciously offered her 16-year old for sacrifice: he watched 4 kids (ages 2, 3, 4 and 6 — two were his younger siblings, two were ours) waaaaay past their bedtimes.  It felt a little like babysitting crashing; which, for the record is very worth it.

For us, Krewe du Vieux was a great night out with many friends.

Costumes are encouraged, of course, so we obliged.  I wore my favorite purple wig (Kate: “Mommy, why isn’t your hair white?” Me: “Because I thought I’d make it LAVENDER, that’s a fancy word for light purple!”)  I also used a purple and gold feather boa as a scarf (it was cold) and left purple plumes flying behind me wherever I went.  Paul wore a Fleur-di-Lis cape and helmet.  To my knowledge, no one got a picture of us and for that, I admit, I lose 2 points and do not pass go.

To be fair, we were busy.  Friends, socializing, drinks, food, and parade and all.

The bar where we collected ourselves for the start of the night had food for sale outside, including FRITO PIE.  I had never heard of this culinary delight before and I can honestly state our horizons have been significantly broadened.  Open up a bag of Fritos, dump in a scoop of your favorite chili, and viola!  FRITO PIE.  A friend demonstrates it’s goodness:

It really IS good.  I’m still craving it two days later.  And with the assortments of bagged junk foods available, the creative options are endless.

After the parade and after-parades filed through, we made our way down Frenchman and eventually ducked into Maison, the very location of the coming Krewe du Vieux and Krewe du Jew (no, I’m not making this up) after-parties.  A great brass band was playing and eventually we found drinks and headed up to the (relatively) quiet upstairs where we snagged chairs at the balcony.

The place was actually quite cleared out for over an hour (the crowded area shown above had a kid hulla-hooping in it for awhile).**  We enjoyed more bar-eats and general conversation.  And then I saw my Committee Chair.  Yup, the very person who holds all the cards in my game of doctoral degree-seeking.  Then he and his girlfriend joined us for awhile.  At first, it felt a little like being out at a party with your parole officer, but hey, it’s Carnival time in New Orleans.

Crashers welcome.

** We left when the Krewes were arriving — had to clear out to get back to the kids — but here’s a video of the fun when the Krewes entered!

Family Life in NOLA

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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.

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Family Life in NOLA

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Mardi Gras 2009… Saturday Update

– We are surviving Mardi Gras week(s). Current favorite throws: big Kohl’s cares teddy bear, Muses Watch, Muses Portable Radio, Light up gooey skulls, Deck of cards, New Orleans ball cap, Roller Girl-given glass beads. Current favorite bands: Panorama and Pink Slip. Scary moment: seeing a rider fall from a horse and stepped on in the staging area of D’Etat. New hotness: Will in his rockin’ hat. Fun thing: Parades in our backyard each night.
– Three parades are rolling past our house tomorrow. If you’re reading this, you’re invited to our annual kid posse parade party! Email me for more information.
– Paul has 1-2 days work a week for a month or two. It’s enough for us to be fine and actually allows him to work more on the start-up. No worries.
– The animal previously known as the beloved pet Scout missed the liter-box by two rooms by relieving himself on that newly laid floor. No smell left after serious cleaning… we think. Smell would indicate that we would have to replace the entire floor, due to the way it’s installed. Anyone interested in a small fur rug?

A few highlights:

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Family Life in NOLA

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Tonight, briefly.

The kids parade in Audubon Park in the morning… so just a few little favorites from tonight.

(As for anyone who was there and maybe on a more informed part of the route, WTF happened?!)

Even with the huge breakdowns (or whatever) we had a blast!!

Art & Photography
Family Life in NOLA
Mi Familia

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Post-Parade Dreams…

… happen by the light of a glow stick throw.

The sounds of the bands gearing up for the parade a block away were too tempting, so even though I was in a board meeting, Paul put the kids on the ladder and rolled them to the corner. By the time I got home, the parade had been thoroughly enjoyed, kids were bathed, and Paul had taken this photograph of Will and his prized light stick.

Family Life in NOLA
Family Photos

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How we roll.

How does a New Orleans family do it?  All the parades, all the loot, all the accessories… we must tote the costumed kids, the ladders, the stools, the coolers and the snacks…?

This is how we do it.

(By the way, yesterday, Kate was a cowgirl and Will was Peter Pan.)

I’m sure others have done the kid-riding-on-the-ladder thing, but we still get stares.  Mostly, it’s parents looking at us going, ‘why didn’t we think of that?!’

Paul admits that this would be hard to do if he’d been drinking all afternoon.

(Side note: The costumes today were Mardi Gras Butterfly and Superman.)

Oh, and Will’s new thing?  To correct the way we say “Mardi Gras” to the French pronunciation.  Basically, it’s just like how we say it now, but with the added inflection you’d give it if you were trying to dislodge something stuck in the back of your throat.  It’s what makes all things in French sound so pretty.

Aren’t I allowed just one beefcake picture? Gotta get it all out of my system before Lent, you know!

While Paul does the heavy lifting, I follow with cooler, accessories, and loot bags.  Randomly stopping to photograph festivities along the walk…

It’s Mardi Gras time!

Art & Photography
Family Life in NOLA

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