Category Archives: Musings

Slippery Summer To-Do List

The kids were told to list any ideas, feasible or not. I doubt we will make it China this summer.

There was a time not long ago when I hated summer. HATED it.  My kids are less than sixteen months apart, so for those early years with a newborn/infant, infant/toddler, toddler/potty-training toddler, potty-training toddler/preschooler the summer was miserable.  It was exhausting to haul babies around in 110 degree heat indices.  Vacations required the equipment equivalent of a major rock band tour.  I would tick the calendar all the way to Labor Day.

And then it happened last summer.  Parenting books may identify major milestones as walking, sleeping through the night, and potty-training, but the most significant finish line is this:

Being able to read a magazine while the kids are in the pool.

Sure, having a swim-capable child is one thing.  But having a kid that can swim well enough that you don’t constantly have to keep eyes on him is another entirely. So last year, when I recognized that I could relax with the kids around water, my perspective on summer completely changed.

Summer is good.

The realization that my kids won’t be little much longer has set in over the last few months.   The other day AG asked to borrow my flip-flops.  Because they fit her.

And that scares the shit out of me.

There is a line in the sand approaching, where impressing the other gender will be more important than perfecting an underwater handstand, and where going for a drink won’t mean getting sno-balls.

I don’t know when that line is going to show up here, but it’s coming.

So on this, our first official day of summer, the work of creating memories begins.   We will break out our Summer To-Do List and see how many things we can cross off.  We do not fear the sun- that’s why they make hats and sunscreen and showers.  We will concoct our own adventures, and sometimes, we will just be.

And we will hold on to each slippery day as long as we can, knowing that in just a few moments this summer will have passed, too.

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It’s Elementary. Chess, That Is.

Dude and I are headed for a big adventure this afternoon:  The National Elementary Chess Championship in Nashville, Tennessee.

He’s 7.

The kid loves chess.  And in this day, who wouldn’t do everything in their power to encourage a seven year-old boy to pursue competitive chess??

Time out.  I just googled “too much screen time” to see what research is out there on this subject.  Holy shit. One Utah study found that children ages 8-18 spend 7 ½ hours a day in front of a screen.  That’s almost as much time as most adults spend at work. 

Unbelievable.

Anyone out there been to a chess tournament?  It’s pretty frickin’ hilarious at this age.  Most of the kids, like 95%, are boys.  At our city tournaments, the little ones finish their matches way before the older kids, and because all ages compete in the same room, there’s an awful lot of free time for the first-graders.  They usually end up running around outside, wrestling with each other, or whatever Lord of the Flies stuff they do to let out steam before the next round.

It’s basically tackle football interrupted by the occasional chess game.

Wonder how the fancy-pants mega-hotel is going to take to a herd of seven year-olds throwing balls around the lobby, because I’m pretty sure no one on Dude’s team can play chess without at least three fresh brush-burns.

So wish us luck.  Send us good vibes.  The word from our awesome chess coach is that this is the best crew of first-graders he’s seen in a while, so we have a good chance to bring home a big win.

And I’ll try to restrain myself from getting this to commemorate:

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French Quarter Fest 2012

By now, you know that I prefer cooking and eating at home to going out.

Usually.

But one of my favorite New Orleans events is French Quarter Fest. It’s free, the music is great and the food is phenomenal.

Unfortunately it’s pretty frickin’ hot.

Exhibit A:

That would be Dude, age 1, after a couple of hours at FQF. He was always a sweaty kid, but it was really hot that year.

And dangerous. Notice the brush burn on his forehead.

Nonetheless, it’s a fun place to bring the kids if you can find a place to park. And pee.

(Everyone knows about the 1850 House on the east side of Jackson Square, right? If you walk in like you know where you’re going and smile at the security guard, you can use the potty, which is much cleaner than the public ones in the French Market.)

The music is so good at FQF it’s hard to make recommendations, though I may try to get down there Saturday for my fellow Lafayette High Alum, Roddie Romero. (I’m sure he’ll be looking for me, too.)

On Sunday, it’ll be a toss-up between the man who sung to me on my 21st birthday, Leroy Jones, and my kids’ dentist’s band, The Bucktown Allstars.

Honestly, looking at the lineup, you can’t go wrong unless you don’t go.

And in case you needed more ammo, here’s Tom Fitzmorris’ Obsessive Eater’s Guide to FQF.

Like AG would say: Peace, love and FQF.

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A Tale of Two Activities

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.

At some point last week, the words “Why don’t you each invite a friend to sleep over?” slipped from my mouth.  I have been especially conscientious of being a present parent lately, and though I meant to give my children a fun-filled Friday evening, as the words escaped, I wished I could take them back.

I’ve never allowed them to have friends sleep over on the same night.  And definitely not as a solo parent.

But the looks on their faces of excitement, nay, disbelief, immediately told me there was no going back.  So I was going to tread on unknown territory.

Just me versus four school-aged children for eighteen-odd hours.

I planned the evening with the tactical skills of Seal Team Six.  I’d swipe them from school, feed them a sugar-free, low-carb snack, then wisk them away to unknown destinations and wear their asses out until they didn’t know their names.

And then I made a grave mistake.  I asked Dude and AG for their input.  And nearly simultaneously they said “Chuck E. Cheese.”

My only hope was that I could divert their attention and bring them someplace that would at least keep us away from the crazy rat for as long as possible.  And, long shot of all long shots, satisfy them enough that we wouldn’t have to trek to, what’s that place where they keep the airport, Kenner???

So after a somewhat decent afterschool snack at home, I threw all four of them in the car and headed to the undisclosed destination.  When Jack realized we weren’t headed to CEC immediately, he asked where we were going.  I gave some vague reply, to which he responded in his best Louis Armstrong, sing-songy voice “No-body knows…

The kid is funny.

We arrived at the scene- Where Y’art? at the New Orleans Museum of Art.  I was very worried that it would be terribly crowded and parking would be a problem.  Turns out, no one in town must know what a gem this is, because we parked nearly in front of the museum and arrived to no line at the desk.  And, to my pleasant surprise, no admission charge either.  The regular admission of $10 per adult and $6 per child is waived for NOMA members.  Sweet!

We walked in, and I as I grabbed a glass of wine from the bar in the main hall, the kids listened and watched, mouths open, Amanda Walker, a fabulous pianist and singer.  We headed over to the free kids’ activity, a multimedia stenciled piece, that kept them happy for thirty minutes. We left NOMA without really seeing any of the exhibits because I wanted to check out the Besthoff Scultpture Garden and the Newman dance group.

So… my kids love the sculpture garden.  It’s seriously a hidden treasure of New Orleans.  I knew they would enjoy a visit.

I was not, however, so confident in their interest in modern dance.

We found the group, traveling amongst the pieces, and watched.  All five of us.  There was a healthy dose of “modern” in their dance.  When the piece ended, I held my breath.  Would there be giggling?  Pointing?

Neither.  Just one little head that looked back at me and asked “Can we follow them and keep watching?” To which the other three little heads nodded.

So we went.  And watched the remaining performances.  It was a lovely spring evening.

And the kiddos were perfect.

Until they remembered Chuck E. Cheese.

So true to my word, we headed west and entered Hades.  I’m sorry, did that slip out?

Any of you who really know me, know I’m honestly up for any adventure, but I’m pretty sure I’ll never stride into CEC on a Friday night again. Ever.

The pizza was pretty awful.  I spent WAY too much on all-you-can-eat-salad for each of us, because, can you really deny a child salad?? And within fifteen minutes, Dude’s friend had his tokens stolen.

Good thing I schooled the crowd in carnival basketball and got a shit-ton of tickets.  (The current high score at the Veterans CEC is 71.  And it’s mine.  Swear.  It’s my secret talent.)

And, to the Greater NO Metro population, when you’re in what is generally considered a family restaurant, would you kindly cover your ass-crack and not yell at your toddlers with such colorful language that my eight-year old asks me to interpret?

Great. Thankssomuch.

As a parent, and I feel like I speak to all of you, since why on earth would you be reading this shady blog if you didn’t have kids?… I couldn’t have been prouder of all four kids when they redeemed their tickets for crappy prizes.  They were all about “Yes, ma’am,” “please, if you don’t mind,” and “thank you so much.”  The sweet seventeen year-old managing the prize counter (I would rather collect trash in August than take that job) was dumbfounded.

So we collected our bookmarks, pencil toppers, and erasers, and got the hell out.  I’m pretty sure our guest B has PTSD. The kids were exhausted and barely made it through showers and dental hygiene before they passed out.

Exactly as planned.

I have to say, to all the bajillions of readers out there, that our guests, J & B, were perfectly delightful and well-mannered. They are welcome anytime.

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Rock Bottom

Rock bottom is the place in addiction when some event is significant enough that you realize you have a problem.

I hit rock bottom yesterday.  I bought these:

I don’t buy pre-made baked goods.  Especially not trashy mass-produced ones.   But yesterday I did.  And notice how they’re almost gone?

I served them to the kids for breakfast.

Things have been a little off-kilter in the MMTR household.  It’s tax season (the only time I work) and fundraiser season (where I work even more for my best friends for free.)

And some other stuff that I’m not ready to blog about.

Before anyone gets too worried (Mom), no one is dying and things are fine.  Promise.

But I haven’t been cooking or baking as much as I’d like.  And I certainly haven’t been able to photograph and write about what I have been able to scrape together.

So I took a big step today- I bought fresh blueberries.  Today when the kids get home from school, we will play in this lovely New Orleans weather, and I’ll trick them into watering the plants and washing my car.  At seven and eight, those antics won’t work much longer, so I’m cashing in while I can.

And when they get pooped, we’ll come in and make some real muffins.

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Give Me Cornbread

 

My kids and I were listening to the Zydeco masterpiece Give Him Cornbread by Beau Jocque on the way to school.  It’s a song about, you guessed, cornbread.  At some point, he shouts “Couche-couche!” which is cornbread left over from the night before sort of mushed into milk and eaten for breakfast.  I have distinct fourth-grade cafeteria memories of the boys making a huge mess on their trays pouring milk over their cornbread and mashing it up.

 

AG pops up from the back and responds “I love couscous!”

 

My thoughts:

 

A#1- At eight years old, hell, at eighteen years old, I had no idea what couscous was.

 

B#2- And I’m proud that she loves food in the way I do.

 

C#3- But I surely knew about couche-couche.

 

D#4- And it makes me very sad that the kids are disconnected from my Cajun heritage, my people.

 

Does every parent who leaves their childhood home feel this struggle?  I love Acadiana.  I love the people, the food, the music.  I get goosebumps when I hear Edwin Edwards talk.

 

My kids have already had a broader life than I did growing up there.  They’re exposed to so many different cultures, ways of life, ethnic foods, and therefore, more of the real world.

 

Some might say I over-romanticize. But I miss home.  And I don’t get back often enough.  So this weekend, if only for twenty-four hours, we will push off some of our commitments and head west on I-10.

 

And learn about couche-couche.

 

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Pin! Me

I barely understand Pinterest, but I know enough to realize that it’s sweeping the mommy nation.  If I post a cocktail pic on Pinterest, I get about three times more views than if I don’t.  And I’ve figured out a way to add a chipper “Pin It!” button to my posts.

Except that I forgot to today.

So I just updated the St. John and Lagniappe Cocktail post with a happy little button at the bottom.  Thanks to LaLa’s beeeauuuutiful picture, today’s post is on mark to be my highest trafficked yet, so if all of you crazy Pinners would kindly pin it to your boards, I’d be much obliged.

I might even make you a cocktail. :)

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Major Pet Peeve

I am not a perfect mother. Far from it. But I can not f-ing stand it when people feed their kids nothing but crap.

To the mother who left the grocery with a basket full of Totino’s frozen pizzas, chips, Coke and Little Debbies, you can not be surprised when your child has behavioral problems, can’t walk to the car without breaking a sweat, and develops diabetes.

At age 10.

Whole Foods Parking Lot

There was an incident in the New Orleans Whole Foods Parking Lot last week.  Someone was so pissed about the way another customer parked that he pulled out a GUN and threatened the driver.

Really?

Seems a little out of character for Whole Foods patrons, no?

A video on that subject:

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Seas Between Us Broad Have Roared

Ok, maybe just the Atchafalaya Basin, but damn it feels like a long time since we’ve talked.  I spent a good chunk of the last three weeks with family and friends in Hometown, which was good for my soul.

And the kids’ too.  We are usually rushing in to see my parents late on a Saturday after sports, then leaving on Sunday after lunch.  Not this time.  I swear that Dude played football in the yard with my brother and nephew for roughly 72 hours straight.  And that’s what a school break is about, no?

I woke up this morning, somewhat blase about writing again.  There’s always so much to do in the new year, and you can’t ignore the excitement of a fresh start.  I feel compelled to declutter, to revamp our diets, to, what do they call it again, exercise??

But then I pulled up MMTR (to find the lamb meatball recipe, actually,) started tooling around, and realized that I’ve missed you all.

I hope each of you had the amazing holiday you deserved and connected with those special to you.  I did.

But it’s good to be back.

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