Monday, April 30, 2012

Random Roundup

Yee haw!

Will got his permit a couple of months ago. Are you glad you aren't me?

The girls got bug catching kits in Louisiana, and they used them to catch a pet cricket. They couldn't agree on a name, so they combined their name ideas into one... Cric-stripe. He lived for about a week, and the girls loved it... Paige even asked her teacher if she could bring him in for care sharing, but he died before she could.

Farewell, Cric-stripe! They had a whole funeral service and a song. Kids must be special in order to appreciate a cricket that much... can you see his little body in the middle of those leaves?


This is what we do while waiting for Paige to get out of dance class.

Brandon has a new trick... he gets food out of the pantry and then dumps it out on the floor. Not quite to the terrible twos, but already I have my hands full!!

Grandpa got cool glasses for these two little divas.

That's all folks!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Easter Weekend 2012

How long ago was that, right? Good thing I'm not a journalist, or my newspaper might be "Yesterday's News."

The Saturday before Easter, the Rogers family and cousin Josie joined us for the city's Easter egg scramble. What could be better than standing in a long line with hundreds of kids in the heat just to get four eggs? Answer: Almost anything! I think the kids had some fun, even though we made them stick to the four egg limit. Some other parents let their kids get as many as they could - I'm guessing so they would have a better chance of finding the winning egg... "I want a golden ticket NOW!!!"

The bounce houses turned out to be the most fun.

Kallie was scared to go down the slide, so I had to help her... which explains why there is no picture of her actually going down.

Paige and Josie were determined to conquer this one.

Easter morning, Brando didn't really understand the concept of finding hidden eggs... as soon as he found his Easter basket, he was all set.

The girls, on the other hand, found all the eggs in a jiffy.

Brandon learned a new word that weekend... chocolate!

I decided we'd start a new Easter tradition this year... Easter candy pancakes! I think a mix of jellybeans, chocolates, and peeps would have been pretty good, but everybody else wanted chocolate.

A satisfied customer...

Quiz: What's the best part about Easter?

The resurrection, you say?

No... Easter grass! Too bad I forgot to get a picture of the Easter grass celebration that the girls decided to have in the living room before church. I'm still finding bits of Easter grass around the house. Maybe it will all be cleaned up by next Easter :)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

First Time Roller Skating!

Ben and Kylee invited the girls to go roller skating with them, and the girls were excited to try it for the first time!

Everybody lace up!

Ready to go.

First try on the rink.

Taking a rest.

Way to go, Kallie!

The rink had this thing called a "skate mate" to help beginners. Sorry some pics are kind of blurry... I tried not to use flash.

Apparently, it gave Paige the confidence to try going out on the rink alone. She did awesome!

It's always good to end the night with a bang, and Russ didn't disappoint us. Losing his balance, he pushed hard on his skate to try to recover, and kaboom... the whole skate fell apart, and he went down. Ben saw him go down and wondered, "How in the heck did his insole get out of his skate?"

I'm no shoe expert, but I think these skates are done for!

Thanks guys for a fun time... we look forward to going again!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Back in N'awlins

Sunday afternoon, we arrived back in New Orleans and headed to the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. To get there, we drove through some of the neighborhoods hardest hit by Katrina. There was so much dilapidation that it kind of shocked my privileged suburban heart. To think that all of these homes were flooded, with some of the damage still visible, and to see so many abandoned homes with boarded up windows in such a poor neighborhood - it made the terrible impact of the hurricane more real to me, even several years later. Wow, we really have it good... a haboob in the summer is NOTHING!

Arriving at the historical park, we were able to follow our trip through the Ninth Ward with another moving experience at Chalmette Battlefield, where Andrew Jackson led a ragtag army to victory against the British in the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. The kids found a big tree to climb in.

I guess I always let the peace at a former battlefield permeate my soul. I feel a sense of reverence for those who lost their lives there, and I become keenly aware of the sense of safety I now feel in that same place. There is a national cemetery on the grounds, where many veterans of various wars and their families are laid to rest.

The visitors' center and memorial, which has a staircase that wasn't open. Sad.

Russ liked checking out the guns.

Yes, my dad had to ask about the gator, and the tour guide told him not to get that song in her head! If you must know, see the lyrics from "Battle of New Orleans" below.

We fired our cannon 'til the barrel melted down.
So we grabbed an alligator and we fought another round.
We filled his head with cannon balls, and powdered his behind
And when we touched the powder off, the gator lost his mind.

After the battlefield, we went down to enjoy the shores of Lake Ponchartrain.

A portrait of peaceful.

Kids find a way to disrupt the peace. At least they were having fun!

The next day, we had our last helping of grits and boarded the St. Charles streetcar for a scenic ride.

We hopped off in the beautiful garden district to check out Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. Visiting a cemetery in New Orleans is something I had always wanted to do, but never have because some of the oldest cemeteries in town are also very dangerous.

After the cemetery, we hopped back on the streetcar to get back to the French Quarter.

Happy, even though our streetcar broke down. I feel sorry for the suckers who bailed right before we were back up and running. It was quite a long way back!

Our last excursion in New Orleans was a swamp tour. Did you know that a swamp is a flooded forest? Yep, if it doesn't have trees, it's not a swamp. I did not know that before!

This was the first of three gators that we saw.

The tour guide was so good at spotting gators that we had to suspect they were animatronic props for the tour, but I'll help you city slickers out by circling it for you. See it now?

The cool city slickers always sit at the back of the boat.

Some of the "camps" on the bayou, which can only be accessed by boat. Apparently, they are like cabins where people go to recreate. We saw some people going out to catch crab, too.

I have never seen so many caterpillars at once as I did on this trip, and my girls always seemed to find them. Actually, all they had to do was look on Russ' shirt. The caterpillars were dangling from trees on their silk strands, and when our boat stopped for a little while, the breeze helped a bunch of caterpillars hitch a ride. I guess Russ was in the bonus seat because he ended up with half a dozen crawling on him. I was a little freaked out, and I kept checking myself for them.

In addition to gators, we saw a snake and this beautiful blue heron. I don't need to circle this one, right?

Spanish moss.

The river level was very high, which meant we didn't really get to see much of the cypress tree root systems, which I think are fascinating. We saw a few of the "knees," but that was about it. You can see them sticking out of the water in this picture.

It looked like a lot of the camps weren't accustomed to such high water levels, either. Check out this back porch.

This one did not survive Katrina.

And last, but definitely not least, we just had to stop in for a snoball before heading to the airport. These are New Orleans specialties, and while they are similar to shaved ice, though people say their texture is finer, you can order them with sweetened condensed milk or evaporated milk on top. I had coconut with evaporated milk... Delicious (with a capital D).

This was before Kallie dumped most of hers on the floor... Hilarious (with a capital H) to them, but a royal pain for me!

From there, it was back home for us and the end of spring break. Thanks again, Mom and Dad for inviting us to share your vacation with you. We had so much fun, tried new things, and made lots of happy memories.

New Orleans, we'll be back!