MAYHEM IN THE MIDWEST

Life as we know it........as told by Heather

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rounding out the trip

I've been dragging out this vacation for far too long. Following our stint in New Orleans we went back to Thibodaux. We had to stop here first in Metairie though. The last time I was here was the day after Ohio State lost to LSU in the national championship football game and I couldn't even stand to be in there. But it was bearable this time, even with the cashier who was complaining that her brother married some woman from Ohio and has starting liking Ohio State now that he lives "up there." After I told her that's where I was from she redeemed herself a little by saying how pretty it was here and that she loved shopping at Easton. Anyway, we are now the proud owners of these cups. I even drink out of them occasionally.


I don't remember (I know, odd for me since I remember EVERYTHING) where or what we had for lunch on this day. But I do recall that we checked in to our favorite hotel and the kids and I all took a nap. I have no idea if Jason did or not, I don't recall asking, but I think he was watching TV.


(Yes, Jordis has her finger up her nose)


After our siesta we headed over to Uncle Keith and Aunt Sheila's. A group of family had gathered and we sat outside enjoying the nice day while the kids played.



For dinner we met up with Jason's childhood friend, Jerad, his wife and little boy, and his parents. It was the only time we were able to get together our whole trip, so we were excited to see them. Jerad's wife is pregnant and wanted fried catfish, so we went to her favorite place, a local hole in the wall called Boudreaux's. Jason's aunt had told me the fried chicken was really good, so that's what I got. And she was right. The hush puppies were even better. It was a fried food bonanza. Everyone was trying to broaden my horizons so I also tried fried okara, fried catfish and fried oysters. Jason shared his fried crawfish with me and I had some onion rings, too. Jerad and Christy bought us dinner which was so unexpected and generous. We bribed the kids to take a picture together after we ate.


We went back to the hotel and called it a night. We had to get up for some shopping the next day.

Singing Debut

I mentioned previously how Xander loved his music from Vacation Bible School. We had purchased the CD a few weeks in advance so he could be familiar with all the songs.


He knows all the words.


And the hand motions they taught him.


He said he was going to get up and perform with some of the other kids at church Sunday.


He promised.


Jason worked 2nd shift the night before and was able to adjust his sleeping schedule so he could be there.


Jordis even asked if we could take her to her class late so she could "watch brother sing."



We talked about how the church would have other people in it and that they would probably be looking in his direction, but that we'd show him where we were sitting so he could look just at us.

This is what happened...

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We were so proud!


And Xander got bonus hugs for sitting up on stage for a while.


At dinner Monday night Jordis said she was going to take care of bears when she grows up. I told her that given her performance at church I thought she'd be a singer instead. Her reply? "Yeah, I'm gonna be a wockstar."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Vacation Bible School

Last week was Vacation Bible School at our church. The theme was Crocodile Dock, which was a Cajun theme that Xander loved. Tonight I heard him in his room through the monitor saying, "God is with us!" His first day was a little rough, but the rest of the week went great. Since I had to drive him there every day I decided to volunteer, and that was interesting. It reminded me why I'm glad I decided not to be a teacher.

I tried to take pictures of the backdrop, but one of them is a little blurry. And of course we don't have pirogues here, so a kayak had to suffice. One of the leaders is married to a man from Houma, so she pointed out one day that Blossom the Possum was wearing a purple bandana because he must be an LSU fan.



The kids also spent some time with my mom Thursday night so Jason and I could go to dinner and attend a memorial service for one of my former co-workers. They had a great time playing water boats in the tub and eating my mom's homemade popsicles.

On Saturday the kids and I went to Logan with my dad to the Washboard Festival. Xander had seen it on TV and we haven't seen my dad since April so I thought it would be a nice way to spend the afternoon together for Father's Day. My dad's parents are from Logan so we thought about visiting his aunt while we were there, but that didn't work out so well. All in all, it was a nice day though, and the kids loved riding rides and eating lunch at McDonald's. My dad did not love the whining, beating each other up in the back seat and the forcing of Xander to clean-up the trail mix that he threw all over the car.
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After the festival we met my step-mom at Eagles Pizza by their house for dinner. I've always wanted to try their pizza and it was REALLY good.

Jason was working 2nd shift that night so we stopped to see him on our way home. They had fun visiting with him and two other officers, especially Mr. Travis. He came for dinner one time and read Jordis a book and drew sidewalk chalk with her, so she likes him a lot.

It was a tiring week so looking forward to this next being much more restful.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Last week's summer fun

We were pretty busy last week. Over the weekend we went to a wedding reception for my friend who got married last month in Florida. I had so much fun catching up with my friend, Vicki. We went to school together from 3rd - 8th grade and also played violin together in the orchestra. She moved right before high school so I didn't see her for years. Ran into her briefly about 5 years ago then had lunch this past winter. She's a music teacher now and so much fun to talk to.


Jason had school during the week which meant really LONG days for me. On Monday we went to a play date with about 20 kids. Yikes! My friend Liz was pretty brave to host that at her house. And somehow by the time we left I was co-leader of next years' MOPS group. That afternoon we went to the library to get books and movies.



The rest of the week we studied pandas and bats. On Tuesday we went to RAVE for the free showing of Kung Fu Panda. My friend Jen met us there with her little guy, Arjun a.k.a. Prom Date (he and Jordis).

The movie was a bit scary for the younger two, but Xander said he wasn't scared. Afterwards they spent quite awhile running up and down the ramp outside.


On Wednesday I had the kids signed up for a program at the park called Going Batty. There they got to make bat hats, color bat pages and read books. Then we took a tram ride where they told us that bats are mammals, sleep hanging from their toes, have babies called "pups," and are nocturnal (like Daddy). But we already knew that because we learned it from our library books.


Jason's mom was off of work on Thursday so she and his dad came to visit and I got to go to the grocery store by myself. For some reason it still took the same amount of time, I think maybe because I actually had time to read labels and am still getting used to where things are at our new Meijer. And because I have a knack for picking the s.l.o.w.e.s.t. checkout lane. My mom was off of work Friday so she joined the kids and me at the zoo. Our zoo doesn't have pandas, but we did visit the brown bears. They were having so much fun!


And of course we saw the bats.


The kids always have to climb on these animal statues and it's so hard to get pictures of them without someone else's kids running around and getting in the way.

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On Saturday Jordis' friend down the street turned three and we were invited to her Dora the Explorer cookout. You'd never know by looking at them that Jordis is actually older, but Megan (even though her parents are each about the same height as Jason and myself) is in the 100th percentile for height in her age range.


The kids had fun eating hot dogs, cake and ice cream and playing in the pool and slip n' slide. We had fun socializing with other adults and getting to meet some neighbors at that end of the street.

What a busy week we had! And I spent no money on the kids' outings. The movie and the bat program were free. We have a zoo membership so I guess technically I "paid" for that trip, but it pays for itself in just a few visits so it's kind of free at this point. What is everyone else doing on-the-cheap for summer?


Friday, June 12, 2009

Last day in New Orleans

Are you tired of hearing about our vacation yet? Don't worry, it's all down hill from here.

On Wednesday we parted ways with Jeremy and Sarah for the morning. They went here...


...and we went here.

(I know, I'm slacking, I forgot to take a picture of the place from the outside).

So, the Insectarium was full of, um, insects. You could look at them...




...touch them...

...even eat them...


There was also an interactive bug movie that we went to see.




My favorite was the blue crawfish.

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There was also a huge butterfly exhibit. You first saw the life cycle of the butterfly.


Then you could walk around in a room full of them. They were beautiful, but the kids thought it was scary if they would land on you.



After the Insecatrium Jason took the kids back to the hotel to eat lunch and go to the pool.


The guys had made a deal with us that we could lunch and shop all afternoon while they kept the kids and then we'd take the kids while they went to dinner, the French Quarter and the casino. So while I waited for Sarah to join me I had the opportunity to be all alone in the French Quarter. It was so much fun to wander around at my own pace. I spent most of the time reading menus to find us a neat place for lunch, but I also went to a few galleries and did some shopping. While I was on Royal Street I came across this impromptu music session.


Sarah and I ate lunch here in Jackson Square, then we shopped, got a daiquiri, shopped some more and grabbed dinner to take back to the hotel.


Jason and Jeremy came back to our favorite place to eat dinner, this time nabbing some balcony seating.


They had fun doing the guy/brother bonding thing, and our time in New Orleans ended well. The kids are still talking about it, I can't wait to go back.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Centsible Summer Fun

With lots of days between now and the start of school, my kids have a lot of time on their hands. If I don't find a way to entertain them they will eat all of our food, fight all day and generally do a number on my blood pressure.

By nature (thanks to my math teacher dad), I'm pretty good at being cheap frugal. This is with the exception of most food items and vacation. I think it's important to eat healthy and I'm willing to pay more for particular items. Vacation is money we've set aside already and you only live once, so if I want to do something or eat somewhere, I do it. Jason has finally convinced me to buy myself souvenirs, too, and this year I went a little overboard. But that's okay. It makes up for other years when I didn't really get much.

But I digress. Taking the kids to do something every day would be really expensive, so I'm trying to do it economically. The planning is actually kind of fun.

Last week we studied pancakes. I found some children's books at the library with stories about pancakes, Xander asked me to read him pancake recipes (seriously) and we took a trip to the Westerville Senior Center for their monthly pancake breakfast. Xander embarrassed me flattered some of the ladies by asking, "Where are all the old people?" And apparently Mrs. Butterworth incited the silliness that involved squinting up our eyes for picture-taking. This is why I pay more for REAL maple syrup. The first ingredient in that fake syrup is high fructose corn syrup and HFCS = crazy kids. Proven fact, folks. Stay away from it when you can, it's not good for adults, either.



The kids also tried to shake hands with the statues outside.

We also had a play date with our MOPS friends and did some playing outside. The pancake breakfast was $7 and I think that's all I spent for the entertainment that week. Stay tuned for this week's activities related to animals.




Monday, June 8, 2009

Out and about in the French Quarter

We'd heard lots of good things about the Aquarium of the America's, so we couldn't wait to take the kids to check it out. I even dressed them accordingly....Xander in a shark shirt and Jordis in her frog dress. When we walked in I loved how the fountain looked like fish scales.


Here's some of our favorite pictures of the creatures inside.







These are some favorite pictures of US at the aquarium.







The kids were really excited that we let them pick a souvenir at the gift shop. Xander picked his right away. Jordis wanted everything she saw, but finally settled on these mommy and baby penguins that she named Winnie and Squeak.


After the aquarium we all went to lunch and then did some shopping. We let the kids each pick out some beads. Xander got a police car and Jordis picked mermaids.

Then we went on a carriage ride. The kids had no interest in being there or having their picture taken.

Xander perked up though when our guide, Nick, let Xander *drive* the mule, Rock.


On our way back to the street car we came across this girl singing out in front of St. Louis Cathedral. She was filming a segment for the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. A crowd had gathered and we stayed to listen for awhile.


This is what she was singing. She recorded it in her kitchen and plays all of the *instruments* herself.



Dinner was at VooDoo BBQ.


Then we decided to walk back to our hotel instead of getting on the street car again. It was a nice night, but 1.4 miles with 4 kids in strollers is kind of a long hike. After the band at the hotel next door quit playing (Cinco de Mayo) we slept really well. It was a long, hot day.