Go Orioles!

And… working backward one more time… the Monday before we went to Uri & Dahlia’s and to Koren’s birthday party was Orioles Opening Day!

Ken & I dropped Julia off at daycare and moved the carseat from Ken’s car to the car of one of her daycare teachers who had agreed weeks before to babysit for Opening Day!  We then went home to get ready for the game and then took the lightrail downtown.  We met up with our friend Pete to have lunch at Faidley’s first (an Opening Day tradition!) 3.31.2014(7)

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and then we had a few drinks outside the ballpark with some friends of his.  The weather was absolutely perfect after having snowed briefly the day before!  And it was so nice to be outside for the first time in weeks.    3.31.2014(5)Our seats were in the upper deck on the 1st baseline and luckily the Orioles did fairly well and won their first game! 3.31.2014(9)

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3.31.2014(2)They haven’t been doing spectacularly since then but at least they’re above .500!  I haven’t been to any games since Opening Day but Ken’s been to a few.  I’m eager to see how Julia does at her first game this season since the last few games we took her to were back before she was walking.  Now that she’s walking it might be a bit more challenging to take her to games but I’m sure she’ll go to a few this season!

Go O’s!

 

 

Happy 2nd Birthday to Koren!

I’m working backwards here… but the week before we went to Connecticut, we spent a weekend in Aspen Hill & Gaithersburg.  We drove down to Aspen Hill Friday after work to spend Shabbat with Rabbi Uri & Dahlia.  We were the only company they had for dinner Friday night so we had a lovely and intimate Shabbat dinner with them.  Saturday we spent a lot of time playing at their house and Julia & I had fun at the Tot Shabbat programming that Dahlia organizes at their Shul.

Once Shabbos was over, we drove to Phil & Sabrina’s house in Gaithersburg to spend Saturday night and Sunday with them and to celebrate Koren’s birthday on Sunday!  The weather was beautiful so we got to hang out outside and Julia had a little too much fun eating chocolate cake! 4.22.14(18)

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It was also our first time using our new Umbrella stroller… which Julia seems to enjoy greatly!  4.22.14(16)

Ken is very into reading reviews on Amazon, Babies R Us and Consumer Reports.  After reading countless reviews and mulling over the decision for weeks we finally decided upon the Joovy Umbrella stroller and so far (3 weeks in) we are very happy with the decision.  It folds easily, reclines to a laying down position so Julia can sleep, rolls very smoothly and has a lot of storage room.  The handlebars are also high enough that you don’t have to bend over to push the stroller and it’s fairly attractive as far as strollers go.

Happy Passover!

Hi there!

Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve posted.  We just got back Sunday from a week-long trip to Connecticut for Passover.  We drove up last Saturday and Julia was an absolute trooper in the car!  She slept the last hour and a half on our way there and was happy playing and reading books before then.4.22.14(13)  We got to Bubbie & Zaydie’s house in the mid-afternoon and had some time to play outside with Marlee & Jonah before getting in the car again to head to dinner in Providence with Nana.  4.22.14(15)

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Sunday we spent much of the day cleaning and cooking for Passover so Sunday night we all went out to dinner again.  Any restaurant that can accommodate such a big group with three noisy kids is a winner in my book!  The food is kind of an after thought when dining with a toddler.  When you go to dinner with a toddler, all your attention is being given to the toddler to make sure they don’t “turn into a pumpkin,” as Ken & I like to say.  Crayons, toys and room to run around are key!

Monday we spent much of the day preparing for the two Seders.  Monday was a lovely day… until Julia was playing on a bed and fell and chipped her tooth!  Luckily she is such a brave little girl that she was barely bothered by the whole thing.  Ken & I were worried though, so Robert came with us to take her to the dentist.  The dentist shaved the tooth down to make it less sharp and said that we could get a second opinion if we want to but she wouldn’t recommend filling it at this point since it will be too hard to keep the tooth dry and since it’s a baby tooth and will fall out in a few years anyway!  Julia was back to her happy bubbly self within a couple of hours, but here she is showing off the tooth! 4.22.14(11)

 

The two Seders we had were lovely and Julia enjoyed all the time she had to play with Marlee & Jonah.  Marlee is such a little helper with Julia and has a great time with her.  Jonah is still at an age where he doesn’t quite understand that Julia’s still a baby and hasn’t grasped the concept of sharing yet.  I can tell that in a few years the three of them will be great friends though and it’s so special for Julia to spend time with them.

Jon & Sara left with the kids on Wednesday so Ken, Julia & I had a few days of relaxing with Mona & Robert.  We went to the mall (Julia is definitely NOT a shopper but she did fall asleep in her stroller at the mall!), had a lot of time to just hang out as a family, and Ken and I even had a date night at the Casino!  4.22.14(9)

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Friday Julia and I had a Mommy & Baby Play Date at the Aquarium in Norwalk along with a few of the other Pumpkin Patch Moms & Babies from the NY/CT area.  It was so nice to meet so many of them and Julia had a lot of fun playing, making fishy faces and then eating lunch with everyone!  4.22.14(8)

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Having the Pumpkin Patch really is like being in a sorority with connections all over the country.  It’s such a special group and the longer it exists the more grateful I am for it!

The last couple days we were in Connecticut the weather was absolutely beautiful so before we left we got some nice pictures of Julia with Bubbie & Zaydie.4.22.14(6)

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We left Saturday around lunch time to head to Jon & Sara’s house in New York for the night and then Sunday we came home to get settled back in for a week back to work and daycare.  I was off Monday so I got to spend a lovely day with Julia.  We got a few errands done in the morning and spent much of the afternoon outside in the beautiful weather!  We walked to the Sherwood Gardens to check out the flowers there and had a lovely time playing in the park! 4.22.14

SURPRISE! And a visit from Grandma :)

Last weekend I pulled off, for a 10th year in a row, a surprise birthday party for Ken!  And somehow, he was surprised again!  Since he was so distracted in the past few weeks by studying for his test, I figured it would be easy to make plans without his knowledge.  While he was taking his test, his parents flew in from Connecticut, his brothers drove down from NY and CT and friends arrived at our house from all over the Baltimore/Washington area.  He called me when he was done with his test and we all got ready to surprise him when he got home!  3.25.2014(4)

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Since I couldn’t very well prepare ahead of time as far as the food was concerned, I kept the food very basic… we got a fruit tray, a veggie tray, chips with salsa and guacamole, pita chips and hummus, cheese and crackers, and we ordered pizzas.  We also had 2 birthday cakes–one was “hot chocolate” flavored from a local bakery and the other was a carrot cake from Whole Foods.  For beverages we had beer, cider and soda and juice.  3.25.2014(5)

Jon and Sara and the kids came down just for the day but it was very special to see them!  Julia always has a lot of fun with them. 3.18.2014(3)

 

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Ken’s parents, and Adam and Jen stayed over night.  Bubbie  got to read Julia her bedtime stories: 3.25.2014(2)

and in the morning we all went to breakfast at One World Cafe (where they had plenty of vegan/gluten free options for Jen!) 3.24.14

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The party itself was “open house” style party which meant Ken had time to really talk to everyone who came to celebrate with him.  And, since his test was over it meant his mind was not focused on the studying he had to do.  The party was definitely a success and I’m so glad I was able to keep him unaware throughout the planning!  It was a wonderful weekend with our family and friends!

 

On Monday after the party weekend, we had ANOTHER snow day!  I’ve lost count of the number of snow days we’ve had this winter but this one seemed like the least necessary of them all… the roads were fine, there wasn’t that much snow on the ground, and it started to melt by mid-afternoon.  We played at home in the morning for a little bit, where Julia had lots of fun reading books while sitting in her chair, and eating her toes! 3.18.2014 3.18.2014(2)Then we went over to Pete & Sarah’s house for a playdate with James!  Julia had a lot of fun playing with Mr. Pete’s gloves.  She looked so silly with her giant hands.  At one point she gave one of the gloves to James so they could high five!  That was pretty cute!  3.18.2014(5)

Then on Thursday last week… I picked up Julia from daycare and then we went to pick up Grandma from the airport!!!

Julia had lots of fun with Grandma this week.  Thursday night Ken & I went out for dinner just the two of us while Grandma babysat.  We got sushi in Fells Point and then got a beer at a bar we used to go to in college for trivia.  Friday we had a Mommy, Baby & Grandma day at home in the morning before running a few errands in the afternoon.  Julia had lots of fun playing with Grandma’s yarn! 3.25.2014(9)

and she also had fun with Grandma’s scarf and gloves. 3.25.2014(8)

We took some silly pictures of course, with various pairs of sunglasses: 3.25.2014(7)

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and then we went out to do some grocery shopping.  In the afternoon we went to a Toddler Play Date at the Walters Art Museum.  We played with two other little girls and their mommies before heading home for a lovely Shabbat dinner at home with Daddy!

Saturday the weather was beautiful so we all went out on a walk on the Hopkins campus and spent a lot of time outside in the sun.  Julia had a lot of fun playing with dirt and running around on the upper quad of campus.  She also enjoyed sitting in chairs like a big girl! 3.25.2014(13)

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Sunday it was starting to cool off… so in the morning my mom and I took Julia to the Science Center, where she had tons of fun playing in their Kids Room. 3.25.2014(11)

Then we got a call from Uncle Adam that he was driving down to DC from Connecticut and he wanted to see us for lunch!  So we met him in Pikesville at one of the Kosher Chinese Restaurants.  It was a nice treat for Julia to see Uncle Adam in the middle of a Sunday afternoon! 3.25.2014(10)

Monday I went to work while Julia stayed home with Grandma.  They had a lot of fun but Julia didn’t want to give Grandma a break.  She ended up not napping the whole day!  They did have fun though–on her rocking giraffe: 3.25.2014(14)

playing with all her toys in her room: 3.25.2014(15)

and brushing her teeth for 20 minutes! 3.25.2014(16)

Last night Ken and I had a second date night… this time at Birrotecca, where we had a scrumptious wild mushroom pizza!  And this morning my mom and I dropped Julia off at daycare and then headed to the airport.  It’s always hard to say goodbye after my mom comes to visit and it seems to get harder and harder each time.  The older Julia gets, the more fun they have together and the harder it is to say goodbye.  Luckily this time we already have tickets booked for our next trip home in May.  We’ll be going to visit Grandma AND Grandpa in San Francisco just seven weeks from Thursday!  Talking to them on FaceTime helps a lot too, since it makes it seem like we’re really visiting with them.  And we will be quite busy between now and then so we’ll have plenty of adventures to write about before then!

 

 

 

#2

I’ve had on my mind a lot lately the question: When should we have another baby?  I’ve always wanted to have at least 2 for many reasons (which I won’t go into here) and Ken and I have always talked about having at least two (I can’t really see myself with more than 2 but I’ve always said we’ll have 2 and then we’ll see how we feel).  Our dear friends Phil & Sabrina just had baby #2, 22 months after baby #1.  And our friends Holly & Isaac recently had baby #3 (their kids are 23 months and 27 months apart).  I think that just like with the question “when should we have children?” there is no perfect answer to this question.

I used to think there was a science to figuring out the perfect time to have a second baby and I would ask everyone I met who had more than one: “how far apart are they?  What do you think of that age difference?” but then I realized that I know siblings who are 2 years apart who hate each other and siblings who are 2 years apart and are the best of friends.  I also know siblings who are 5 years apart and hate each other and siblings who are 5 years apart and are absolutely inseparable.  How far apart you space your children does not (at least from what I’ve seen) have much of an impact on how well they get along as they get older.  I think siblings get along because of the way you parent them and teach them to love one another and to respect one another and because you show them each that you love them for who they are.

That being said, I do think there are certain things you can do to make having a second child easier on you… for one, I think waiting until baby #1 is out of diapers probably makes things a little easier so you don’t have to worry about potty training one while dealing with a screaming newborn who wants to nurse every 45 minutes.  I also think waiting until baby #2 is already out of their crib probably makes things a little easier so you don’t have to worry that they’ll see the new baby as forcing them to move from their crib to a toddler bed.  And I think it’s probably a little easier to focus on a newborn if your older child is somewhat self-sufficient (i.e. can eat by themselves, can play for 15 minutes without a huge amount of supervision, can go to the bathroom without too much assistance). But I really don’t think there’s an exact science and I think the biggest thing to decide is when you feel “ready” to add a second child to your family dynamic.

For me the answer is “not yet.”  Right now I’m really loving our little family of 3.  I love the way we interact.  I love the way Julia’s personality is blossoming and she is really becoming a little person with ideas and thoughts of her own.  I love how well she and Ken are bonding more and more the older she gets.  I’m very happy with how things are going right now and I’m not quite ready to rock the boat.  When I will feel ready, I do not know.  But I do know the answer is “not yet.”  I’ve sort of arbitrarily decided that I want Julia and her younger sibling to be 3-3.5 years apart, which would mean starting to try to get pregnant around January of 2015 (i.e. 9 months from now) but I don’t know how I’ll feel then and for now I’m liking the way things are.

Absolutely Necessary Baby Gear

Now that we are nearly a year and a half into this whole parenting thing, I decided that it’s about time I put together my own list of necessary baby gear.  We are also at that point in our lives when more of our friends are starting to have babies and some are even having second babies so we need to figure out what gifts to bring to baby showers and new parents.  While cute outfits are cute and all, the fact of the matter is that babies spit up and poop and cute outfits will get spit up and poop on them and they will not be cute once they are stained.  Also everyone brings clothes to baby showers, and don’t you want to be different?!

(Here’s an important tip: if you do decide to bring cute clothes, because they are just so irresistible, to a baby shower, bring them in size 18 months or 2T because everyone else will be bringing clothing that fits a newborn, or clothing in size 0-3 months but nobody will bring bigger sizes.)

There are also some gifts that you get someone that they’ll use for a few months (like those cute little bibs, or sun hats that fit size 0-3 months) and then the baby will quickly outgrow it and it will just sit in their basement gathering dust for a long time to come.  So these gifts I’m suggesting are good because either they have lasting power (i.e. will be used many many times or for a looooooong time) or they will increase the parents’ level of sanity (i.e. will help the parents get more sleep).

Feeding:

First up… if you are going to breastfeed, you will probably need a pump at some point.  This one got me through Julia’s first year of life as a working/pumping Mama: The Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pummedela

High Chair: we use Julia’s highchair 3 times a day, every day and have been since she was about 6 months old.  I don’t see that stopping anytime in the near future.  If you want to get a gift that the parents will use very often and for a long time, this is a good choice.  (I will always remember that my dear friend Dana and her mother Kim got us our high chair and it’s probably one of the gifts we got that has gotten the most use.  Thank you, Dana!)  There are so many to choose from but I recommend not getting one that’s super expensive because it will take abuse… your kid will kick it, will spill food on it, will spit up on it, will pour juice on it, etc.  Also, if you’re going to get one with a fabric cover, make sure the cover can come off easily and be thrown in the washing machine.  We have been very happy with ours (I don’t see our exact high chair on BRU anymore but this is very similar to the one we have): highchair

There’s one other feeding-related thing that I use every single day and have since the day Julia was born, and that’s our Boppy Pillow.  Whether you’re nursing or not, this is a useful pillow to have.  boppy

As far as other feeding things are concerned… obviously you’ll need spoons and forks and plates and bowls, bottles and sippy cups, etc.  I personally don’t use bibs with Julia since she pulls them right off and won’t keep them on.  And as far as the bottles/sippy cups go, I would let the parents decide because there are way too many to choose from and you never know if they’ll choose a bottle that looks like a boob or if they want to avoid any and all traces of BPA or if they want to be super green and use bamboo baby bottles.  Also babies are very picky and some will flat out refuse certain types of bottles while others will drink happily from anything you put in front of them so let the parents pick the ones that work for them.

Sleep:

You know those “receiving blankets” that people give you?  Those are only good to use as burp cloths.  We never used them as a blanket because they are too small to swaddle and they are too light to keep the baby warm.  Don’t buy those for anyone.  If you want to buy blankets, I recommend Aden & Anais blankets.  They have HUGE swaddling blankets that are fantastic, very soft, easy to use as a swaddling blanket and they also have thicker blankets that Julia loves.  These are the ones I recommend:

These swaddling blankets: swaddling blankets

and these thicker blankets for when the baby’s a bit older: blanket

Swaddlers–there are two types I highly recommend.  The ones with velcro help you swaddle as tightly as possible and help keep the swaddler closed so the baby can’t break out of it.  And then there’s the Miracle Blanket, which is great because it really is like a baby straitjacket!

We loved these SleepSlack Swaddles from Pottery Barn Kids:

swaddlerand here’s the Miracle Blanket:

miracleblanket

Diaper Changing

Just like feeding and sleeping, diaper changing is something that parents of babies do a lot.  So if you want to get a gift that will last a long time and be used very frequently, get something related to diaper changes.  Our dear friend Gabby was the one who bought our changing table pad and I am grateful to this day for that gift since it is one of the things we use multiple times a day every day (and will until Julia is totally potty trained).  You don’t need a picture or link since it’s really not that interesting, but if you want to get a gift that will be well used, get this.

Toys

I’m trying to think back to the toys we got that got the most use and they are not always the ones you would think about initially…

one of the first toys Julia was interested in was this balloball

she also loved her Sophie the Giraffe squeaky toy (we were lucky that we got 2!)sophie

As Julia got to be a bit older, she loved her little activity center/exersaucer/whatever you want to call it.  She spent a lot of time in it.  Here’s one similar to the one we had: exersaucer

and once she became mobile she really liked (and in fact still likes to play with) the activity table we got as a gift for her first birthday.  This isn’t the one we have but it’s similar: activity table

and of course now that she can walk around more her tastes are slowly changing… she’s getting to be more and more into books, her baby doll, and stuffed animals and she also loves her musical instruments and Duplo blocks.  One last thing I would recommend as a gift is this tunnel from Ikea.  Julia’s Uncle Adam gave it to her and she absolutely loves it!  tunnel

That’s all for my recommendations for now… any questions?  Other things to recommend?  I’d love your suggestions!

 

 

Our little 17-month goof ball!

This past weekend was very relaxed and we spent a lot of time at home and going on walks outside.  This was Ken’s last weekend of studying before his big test on Saturday and it was the first weekend that gave us a hint that spring is approaching!  We also had to change our clocks on Sunday morning, which threw things off a little bit but luckily this was our time to “Spring forward” which meant that this morning, rather than waking up at 6 AM, Julia woke up a little after 7 AM.  The extra sleep was glorious!

On Saturday, Julia also turned 17 months!  How big is Julia??? SOOOOO BIG! 3.10.2014

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Saturday morning the three of us went to a Masonic Lodge out in Towson for their monthly pancake breakfast!  Ken is looking for a Lodge to join here in the Baltimore area that has meetings on a night that works with his schedule and with a group of brothers he connects with.  We had a wonderful time at the Pancake breakfast and met a bunch of very friendly guys.  One of the guys had his son with him, who was about 3 weeks younger than Julia.  The two of them enjoyed running around the lodge, eating pancakes, and giving one another hugs.  It was pretty adorable!  3.10.2014(4)

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When we got back from the pancake breakfast, Julia and I walked over to the bookstore for Story Time.  Julia’s not really old enough to appreciate story time since she can’t sit still for more than a minute or two, but I figure it’s good to get in the habit, and it’s nice to have something to do.  In a couple of months we’ll probably start going to swimming lessons on Saturday mornings with her again but for now story time is nice since it gets us outside, teaches Julia to love books and is just a fun activity in general.

After story time we came home for lunch, a nap (almost 2 hours long!) and some playtime at home.  Julia and I also ran a couple of errands in the afternoon and the three of us took a nice walk outside.  It was good for Ken to get a little break and to get some fresh air since he spends so much time indoors these days.  Julia also tried on the (sickeningly cute) mouse costume she’s going to wear for her daycare’s Purim parade next Monday.3.10.2014(8)

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In the evening, my friend Sarah and I had a girls night… we watched the movie, Chocolat, drank wine and ate chocolates!  It was truly delightful and much-needed.  3.10.2014(3)

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Sunday we spent most of the day playing at home and then in the afternoon, my friend Natasha came over.  Natasha and I have known each other since the 9th grade in San Francisco and she recently moved to Baltimore.  For some reason it’s taken us many months to connect but finally this past weekend our schedules worked out and we were able to plan a get-together.  It was wonderful to reconnect with her after so many years.  In high school we were really great friends and we somehow lost touch in the years since high school but yesterday it was as though we picked up right where we left off.  Natasha, Julia and I went on a long walk to One World, through the Hopkins campus, and around Charles Village before heading back home to play a little bit and then we grabbed Ken and the four of us went out for Indian food for dinner.  3.10.2014(9)

Full-fledged Toddler

In case we had any doubts, this past weekend (which ended up being a 3-day weekend because of the snow day we had yesterday), Julia proved to us that she is definitely a full-fledged toddler.  She is so busy all the time and never stops moving unless she’s sleeping.  I put her hair in a ponytail which definitely made her look more like a little girl:3.4.2014(6)

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She also has a new favorite word: “no.”  She says “no” whether she means “yes” or “no” though, which makes conversations with her somewhat pointless.  She’s still in this very frustrating stage where she doesn’t have enough words to communicate with us and she gets so frustrated when we can’t understand what it is she’s trying to tell us or ask for.  From my interactions with parents of older kids, I hear it starts to get better between 18-24 months and that her vocabulary will really start to take off in the next few months but for now it makes for some very interesting conversations:

 

Me: Julia, are you all done?

Julia: No

Me: Do you want more to eat?

Julia: No

 

Me: Do you want me to put you down?

Julia: No

Me: Okay, do you want me to keep holding you?

Julia: No

 

Me: Julia, do you want me to carry you?

Julia: No.

Me: Okay, do you want to walk?

Julia: No.

Me: Okay then, you can go in the stroller!

Julia: NO!!!!!

 

There are a few words she has started saying with some regularity and that we actually understand: “uppa” (means up), ball, book, more, milk, Mommy, Daddy, Kitty, apple, hi are just some of them and it seem like every day she has a new one.

As frustrating as she can be sometimes, she’s starting to get very lovey and cuddly, which is really nice.  She loves to give us hugs now and will gladly walk from Ken to me just repeatedly giving us both hugs.  The other day we had some lovely snuggles after she woke up from her nap:3.4.2014(3)

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And when she’s happy, she’s very happy!  3.4.2014(8)

When she gets upset it’s usually easy to redirect her attention in order to make her forget what she was initially upset about.  And luckily (though I’m always afraid to say this for fear of jinxing things) her sleeping and eating have been pretty good lately.  3.4.2014(2)

3.4.2014We have some fun visits coming up in the near future… at the end of this month my mom will be visiting us for a few days, then in April we’re going up to Connecticut for Passover.  Julia will get to see her cousins, aunts and uncles again and since we’ll be away for the whole holiday we won’t have to bother with cleaning our kitchen!  Then in May, we’ll be going to San Francisco for a visit with my parents and for my 10-year high school reunion!  Julia has become quite the traveler.

 

Happy Mardi Gras, y’all!

Happy Mardi Gras from a place where today really is just another Tuesday.  Ken and I have both been feeling very depressed in these days leading up to Mardi Gras and have decided that from now on we’ll just have to try, if at all possible, to go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras.  Obviously we won’t be able to make it happen every year if we’re not living there but if at all possible we’ll just have to make that a yearly vacation.  It’s just so sad to be in a city where Mardi Gras is just another Tuesday if you know what you’re missing.  Mardi Gras is about so much more than just Mardi Gras Day: it’s about the camaraderie, the celebration, the excitement, the joy, the culture, etc.

beads in tree

It’s about getting bundled up and dressed up in a costume to go outside and catch beads, it’s about coming up with a clever sign to hold up to ensure that you get your fair share of decorated coconuts, shoes and purses.  It’s about getting together with friends and family to share some gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish and king cake.  It’s about sorting through your beads with friends after a day of parades to decide which beads to keep, and which ones to keep to throw next year.  Until you’ve been to Mardi Gras, you don’t understand.

bead tree

Like I said last week, we know what it means to miss New Orleans and today we are missing it more than ever.  Happy Mardi Gras!

Happy 30th Birthday to Ken!

Yesterday was Ken’s 30th birthday!Kens bday

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In the evening we had a babysitter come over and we went out to dinner at Woodberry Kitchen to celebrate this big birthday of his.  It’s hard to believe that we’ve now been together for a third of his life!  I feel so lucky to have found such a wonderful man to be my best friend, my husband, my lover, and the father of my children.  Julia and I love you so much because of all that you do and all that you are.  You are funny, loving, caring, thoughtful, so smart, hard-working, and passionate.  We love you and wish you the happiest of birthdays!