Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mom's Birthday Joy

Do you see what I saw on Tuesday night? Big huge flakes of beautiful snow. I just know it was part of a wonderful birthday surprise that God sent to me on the eve of my birthday. We were on our way to to have dinner at Olive Garden to celebrate with the family.
I just can't believe that we had any snow falling this late in the season here in Houston. It was so pretty.
We (the younger 8 children and I) arrived and Dad and Pooker were already sitting. Pooker from school and Dad from a business trip. The place was almost empty, I suspect the weather had many people staying at home. I was in such a good mood. I didn't have to cook dinner and it was snowing.
We had finished a great day of homeschooling. Everyone felt joyful. We all love the salad and bread sticks that were to come. Yummy!!!
Bagel was is so cute in this picture. She is working on coloring while she waits for the treats ahead. After dinner the fun began. The kiddos had a cake brought to me with singing. I was a tad embarrassed. The kids liked watching me squirm.
This was shot taken my Bear and he captured my joy of this delicious cake put in front of me. We all got a small piece and it was so good.

It really was a great time with my dear husband and wonderful children.

We laughed and talked and enjoyed being together as a family.

This was the perfect gift to any mother alive. Her family with her sharing and enjoying each other.

I feel so blessed.

On my birthday we all slept in and then enjoyed a light school day. Goobers and Bear and I went off for Catholic Coffee Club. Most of the teens showed up and it was a good class. Two dear friends brought me a treats to share, a cookie cake and big old chocolate cake. Those gifts we all enjoyed and brought the leftovers home to the children at home. So much fun! Thank you God for all the wonderful friends in my life. I am so blessed!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Beignet Day

Last year J and I waited for an hour and a half for the experience of sitting in Cafe DuMonde. We ordered our beinets and coffee and waited another 30 minutes. Then these beautiful hot donuts showed up with steaming strong coffee. It was great fun and well worth the wait. This year it didn't fit into our schedule. We tried to visit a Cafe DuMonde stand inside the Mall on Mardi Gras before leaving town. Unfortunately the Mall was closed. Something to do with the Holiday that was declared in New Orleans for the celebration of Mardi Gras. So this was last year's shot and being close to those treats just made me crave the yummy beignets. We had told the children that we would try to bring some beignets home for them. That didn't happen either. What could we do?
Every great marketing guru in the world will take any product that has become famous and try to add it into the market. We had tried making these before. They are certainly not as good; but yummy non the less. I woke up early on Saturday morning and mixed the batter. I started the oil and tried my best.
The smell woke up the children. They were eager to help. I admit that we made a huge mess but had a blast.
It did take us a while to learn how thick to press the mix. Too thin and they would not rise, too thick and they wouldn't cook.
To tell the truth I was very glad to have the helpers.
I think we all wanted the job we see Princess doing here. The powdered sugar is the best part.
Then it was hard to not eat them all before we woke the older helpers. Pooker, Goobers, and Bear eventually came to join us.
I know they don't look like the ones at the cafe but it was so worth it. I am very glad that we didn't make it to the official stand this year. We were able to make a mess and laugh as a family instead.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


One of the really cool things about Mardi Gras is going to the very formal Balls associated with the parade. I don't know the history or the traditions but I do know that they are a lot of fun. The convention center is huge. The areas are sectioned off making huge rows for the parade to come and go in and out of the tables. The decorations are festive and the music is loud. There is dancing and eating. You must be in a formal floor length gown, a tuxedo or a float costume to be allowed inside.

After an hour or so of dancing the huge doors are opened and the floats and the bands start to enter. Here the floats are introduced. As the floats roll in and out of the tables, beads are thrown just like outside.
The Orpheus Krewe is a newer one on the scene from what I have been told. It was organized originally by Harry Connick Jr. from what I have been told. We did not see him last year at all but this year he was on a float. I only wish he would have sang as well. We hear from a couple we met on the street the night before that one of the first years, Harry's float broke down in front of them. Instead of getting upset he just put on a concert. The Krewe is there to entertain you and that example has been set from the beginning.
LSU is a big deal in these parts. LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri was on hand to celebrate their season with the crowds.
The little ones love the Imagination Movers.
These guys knew to point out their Saints affiliation.
Did you hear a rumor that the Saints won the Superbowl? That trophy has been shared with the entire city. New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton was holding the thing high for all to see. He also took it into the crowds (with guards close at hand) for pictures. The fans could touch this symbol of victory.
Is that a train inside the Convention center? Yes it is. It is a super long float with 5 cars hooked together. Turning the corner isn't easy but it sure if pretty to watch with the confetti blowing out the smoke stack.
It is a feeling that you just can not describe. Watching this huge float roll past while screaming for beads and trinkets to be thrown your way.

My favorite float was soon to follow. It was a two car float that was all about Angel food and Devil's Food. They were beautiful floats.
Then I got to see what I came for there on the top of the second car was J. The masks are gone now that they are inside the building. What a fun feeling to look up and see the love of you life throwing beads out. He is so much fun, I only hope that in the years to come the children will get to visit New Orleans with us and see their Daddy throwing beads from a beautiful float.
Something tells me that the crowds were thinner that night than last year. It was just above freezing around midnight. That is very rare in New Orleans so J found that there were less kids standing around than last year. Either way it was a fun night and we brought home a few bags of beads for our own children to play with.
J is proud to now be on the Krewe and we look forward to next year's adventure in New Orleans!

Our Day in New Orleans

The first person we met that Monday on the elevator of our hotel greeted us with "Happy Lundi Gras!" Fat Monday was here and so was the day of the Orpheus's Parade! J had to check in. I still am taken back when I peak into that room and see those huge floats, so beautifully colored, and beads everywhere just waiting to be loaded and then thrown at the revelers. (New word- it refers to the people that come to carnival and make merry watching the parades.)
After a lunch of Gumbo and Po Boy sandwiches J was off to ready for the parade. I ventured into the French Market to enjoy New Orleans. This group walking along the river front were members of the Zulu Krewe. I am still trying to learn more about them, they have tons of traditions.
Saint Louis Cathedral is a beautiful reminder that many member of this city are from a Catholic heritage.
The other thing that was being celebrated everywhere this year was the Saints victory at the Superbowl the weekend before. These were some very proud fans.
The name of the cross street was Ursuline. Having gone to a school run by the Ursuline order I take great pride in their history. They were educating young girls here in American before many in the world thought it was possible for girls to learn or that there was any value in it. These young woman went on the develop the city of New Orleans, and the other cities where the Ursuline nun's built schools, like St. Louis. This street bears the orders name because the convent and school are up a few books.
I don't know what I will see when I visit this city but I do love the food and the people. To all my friends from the area I thank you for sharing your city with me.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mardi Gras

Everyone has their own idea of what Mardi Gras in New Orleans in all about. I used to be under the impression that is was a celebration of drunkenness and promiscuity. I avoided all things Mardi Gras when I was a young adult. Accept for eating a big ole meal on Fat Tuesday knowing that the Lenten sacrifices would begin the next morning. I visited New Orleans one summer and saw only the Bourbon Street type of activity. That just solidified my idea. I judged all things Mardi Gras from that point forward. Then I moved to Houston and began to meet more and more people that referred to Mardi Gras activities as being very family friendly. I now had very traditional Catholic friends that spoke of Mardi Gras with love in their hearts and not disgust for the drunkenness. This was hard for me to digest.
I was confused how these very loving families, very Christian men and woman would ever be apart of screaming for beads. I thought it only had to do with the seedy side of life. I learned that I could not be farther from the truth. Mardi Gras is a celebration of people. There can be a seedy element but only if you want it to be there.
Jason got to go to Mardi Gras again this year as a business activity. We asked Jason's mom and dad to join us for this event. They flew down and I suspect they were a little surprised as well at how family friendly a parade actually is. We learned to just stay away from Bourbon Street. New Orleans outside of that area is really a beautiful place. It is full of life, history, traditions, pride, and joy that I have not seen in other places.
So much I still don't understand. Asking my friends has helped. Yet somethings they just do and they don't know why. I turned to my favorite teacher and have learned so much. A children's story book about any given topic will always do a great job of explaining the what and the why often using pictures and the wording is always simple enough for even me to understand. If you think that Mardi Gras is nothing for the family then I would encourage you to read these books: Mimi's First Mardi Gras and Jenny Giraffe's Mardi Gras Ride (Jenny Giraffe Series) .

I promise that these books will help with understanding all that you see.

I think that Nanny and Gramps had a fun time. It is amazing how silly and yet how much fun it is to scream up and beg for beads. It gives you a feeling of childhood all over again. It also becomes so addicting. These beads are cheap. The people standing the corners are not poor. Yet we stand for hours yelling up asking for a trinket. One of my favorite things to see are the trees all colorful with the beads all over them. Again J and I had so much fun. Don't be surprised if you head to a Mardi Gras parade next year in New Orleans and you catch me standing there screaming for another strand of beads. I can't explain it but I know you will enjoy it if you just give it a try.

Now if you understand why people wear costumes and masks on Fat
Tuesday to attend a parade I would love to hear it. We even watched a
woman at the air port eat an entire meal with her mask on. She wasn't
taking if off for anything. I don't understand why?