Sunday, May 2, 2010

Up & Down

2010 has been a year of ups and downs for us.
Unfortunately, so far, the downs have tended to be downier than the uppitiness of the ups.

The last month has been a little different, so here's a rundown of where we stand.

A few of the ups:

1. It previously looked like Caroline's family would not be able to come to Disney World with us because none of Paul's job possibilities would allow it.
Then, as if arranged by Walt's frozen head, a job appeared, right up Paul's alley in Baton Rouge and he landed it. Yay for ups.

Then we realized that because Liz works for a major retailer and we are going between Thanksgiving and Christmas, she wouldn't be able to get time off. Well that's fitting.

Then as if Walt's frozen head got bored again, she was granted the time off. Yay for ups.

Then we called to book them a room at our hotel, and there were no rooms left. Well that's fitting.

Then as if Walt's frozen head bankrupted a family from Minnesota, when I called back to make them a reservation at another hotel, a room had opened at ours.

Aside from the fact that my Dad obviously won't be going with us as originally planned, the trip is now as complete as nature will allow it to be. I'm super pumped.

2. Having a big yard and two grand kids who will be around for a while, Joan's Mom bought a playhouse for her backyard that we assembled. The set up is made by Step 2, a company whose products have impressed me.

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But the final product (not pictured above) looked like a nightmare to mow around, so we built an enclosure and filled it with rubber mulch and it came out looking great.

Fortunately, I picked up some skills from my Dad over the years and I'm pretty capable of doing these things. I also picked up a predisposition to overbuild things which I always have to battle. It took me 10 minutes to figure out how to build it, then 30 minutes to work backwards from overbuilding it, but I'm happy with the finished goods.

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3. Our Goodnight NOLA weekend (see next post)

4. A few weeks ago Melissa Stevenson & The Dill Pickle Band played a show at the Acadiana Center for the Arts. Hers is the only real kids' music, aside from classic Disney stuff, that Riley has listened to. It took him a while to warm up, but eventually he and his pal Anna got into the show.

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5. Festival international was a mixed bag this year. Riley was sick but got to have fun with his cousins.

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6. Office crawfish boil. Riley had fun, rode his bike, made friends, ate a lemon and splashed in the pool.
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7. I went to the cardiologist who said my heart sounds good, and, at least for now, i don't have to worry about having the same problems my Dad did.

The Downs

1. The day after I dumped all of our photos from New Orleans, our computer died for the third time this year. Unfortunately this time it was a hard drive. Unfortunatelier, it was the hard drive that had all of our photos and videos, that I hadn't backed up since before Riley was born.

After a sickening, sleepless night, we were able to get the equipment that allowed us to get everything off of the drive, and it is now backed up in two places. But, for a while, the office was a war zone.

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2. The lorakeet feeding at the Zoo of Acadiana is not as much fun as it sounds. They are more interested in eating you and fighting with each other while sitting on you than they are in the sticky cup of food spilling all over your hand.

Granny seemed a little amused, but neither Riley or I enjoyed the experience. I've never considered birds scary, but when they are on you and you can't see them, it is a bit unnerving.
Especially so with the second hand smoke stained Zoo of Acadiana birds. With the crowds that they see all day, I'm surprised they haven't learned to tie little birdie nooses out of grass just to end their misery.

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3. As I write this, I feel like I've been beaten up from the inside because, well, essentially I've been beaten up from the inside.
Despite not being symptomatic for a couple of months, all the tests showed that my gall bladder was shot.

The doc said he couldn't believe I wasn't hurting with the numbers I had, but then I flexed for him and he understood what he was dealing with.

Ok, only half of that was true.

But since it sounded like removal was inevitable, I went ahead and had a laproscopic cholecystectomy last week.

Four incisions later and I have one less internal organ than I was born with.
Warning, you can't unsee what you are about to see...

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That's like a self esteem booster for 95% of guys out there. Pretty good gut for a skinny guy, huh?

I'm bouncing back now. Some soreness still, but I ate crawfish and chips and salsa yesterday without any additional pain, so I'm pleased with the results. And I didn't say anything too embarrassing under anesthesia, so I'm happy.

The hardest part really was the mental weight that came with showing up on a cold, early morning to a hospital in the same parking lot as the hospital my Dad was at. Felt too familiar, but even more personal knowing I would be the one with the bracelet on this time. But that's in the past now, and you've all seen my sexy bruised belly, so I expect the hit count to skyrocket and make it all better. Electronic ego is a wonderful thing.

4. While I was building the playset at Joan's parents' house, she and Riley were playing here. At some point, she stepped over him just as he sat up, resulting in a cut on his forehead. He took to explaining to everyone that , "Mommy walk on my head." often adding that she went to time-out and that it was not nice. No scarring involved.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Goodnight NOLA

As you all know, we're nerds.
You also know, if you are a regular, that we've kinda become semi-photo geeks since we bought our dSLR last year.

That hint of a hobby, combined with trying to raise a literate toddler, sparked an idea for a little photo project that I'll share with you today.

If you've been around kids, you are probably familiar with the book Goodnight Moon, wherein the narrator goes through a catalog of impractically juxtaposed items in a bedroom, acknowledges them, and then gives them a dismissive night time greeting.

Fortunately, from this crap on a page, a Louisiana author had the idea to do a New Orleans themed version, but less crappy.

Riley's Nanny, Lesley, introduced us to the book Goodnight NOLA by Cornell Landry and Louis Schmitt.

It's like Goodnight Moon, but good.

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The book sticks to the "Goodnight (insert object)" formula, but with New Orleans/Louisiana items, and much better illustrations than the Moon based original.

Here's some examples from the official website:


you can pick up your copy at or at some of the chain book stores.

Now to why this is relevant here.

I thought it may be fun to set aside a weekend, head down to NOLA, and "recreate" the book with photos depicting Riley with the subject matter.
Throw it all together online and we've got a neat little keepsake. Then we can do it again as both he and our family grow.

So, a few weeks ago we ran like mad all around NOLA trying to be sure that we got everything.

Our rules were simple:
1. All shots had to be taken that weekend.
2. We had to incorporate all of the featured objects in the book.
3. Shots had to include Riley unless absolutely impossible due to legal or sleep reasons.

It was quite an ambitious project with a 2 year old with active sinus congestion, but it made for an interesting weekend.

We got some good shots for some pages, and had to settle on others, but, 800+ shots later, here's our handy work. (cropped, but otherwise all natural)

Goodnight red beans, goodnight rice

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Goodnight pralines and Zatarain's spice

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Goodnight Cathedral, goodnight French Quarter

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Goodnight Cafe DuMonde

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Goodnight Muddy Water

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Goodnight po'boys and Hubig's pies, Goodnight Lucky Dogs and Cooter's fries.

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Goodnight to the Saints and the Dome filled with noise. Goodnight to the fans cheering "Bless You Boys!"

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Goodnight to the Hornets and the balls that they dunk,

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Goodnight to the bands playing Jazz, Blues, and Funk.

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Goodnight to the restaurants with their glitz and glam. Goodnight to the cooks and to chefs who yell, "Bam!"

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Goodnight to the Aquarium and the Audubon Zoo, Goodnight to the fishies and animals too

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Goodnight to the Bunny and the bread that he bakes.

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Goodnight to the Causeway that crosses the Lake

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Goodnight to doubloons and Mardi Gras things

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Goodnight to Rex and to Cakes made for Kings

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Goodnight to streetcars and rides which are breezy

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Goodnight to the city they call the Big Easy

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The End

If you don't have the book, pick up a copy, for yourself or as a gift for a parent trapped in the cow-pie minefield of most kids books. Well worth the price.

We learned a few lessons during the trip, including:

1. Riley is afraid of cooked crawfish, but not live ones;

2. In our post 9-11 world, the sight of three late-20s looking, pasty white people, with a toddler, photographing the Causeway Bridge is apparently some sort of threat to national security worthy of police attention (fortunately he was polite, unlike most stories at

3. Most of the non-Ron Paul supporters at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference are major douchebags. (yes that includes all of you chubby frat boys wearing seer-sucker suits and white shoes and ranting about gay marriage like it is actually a pressing political issue.)

4. To get a shot of a Lucky Dog cart during the day, you have to stand in the middle of Decatur.

5. I like taking shots reflected off of Riley's sunglasses.

in closing, here's some miscellaneous shots we just liked.

If the sign fits...

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His middle name

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Safety First

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Looking older

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Strike a pose

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Rockin' the milkshake at Creole Creamery

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