Tuesday, July 21

Louisiana Ramblings

I just got back from a short trip to Louisiana to meet up with my parents who were bringing a trailer load of stuff back from my late grandparents house. As usual, being down there was like being in another world for me. It is so different being in that environment, rural deep south, when I spend so much time in suburbia and in an office/laboratory environment at work. It was good to get away for a short time, although I missed my wife and kids, and spend time with extended family.

Angela told me I should do a blog post on the things I saw while I was down there that were out of the ordinary (which in Louisiana can be quite a lot) and other observations from my trip. So here it goes.

As I was flying into New Orleans and as we were driving around the Baton Rouge area I noticed that there were still a lot of the "blue tarps" covering roofs, remnants of Katrina still prevalent.

The grocery store is always fun in Louisiana. You can get all kinds of goodies ranging from Zapps potato chips, to andouie sausage and boudin, to Community Coffee, to fresh pralines. But I saw something new this time. On the end of an aisle in Walmart (where you usually see something that is on special or something that is being pushed as new) they had a whole display of gallon jars of "pig lips". From what I could tell, I have to assume that this was pickled pig jowls. I also learned through a visit to a local "meat shop" that you can make something from about every part of a pig.

Coming from SEC country and with the rising storm for Volunteer football in the air right now, I had to take a picture of this. In case you can't tell it is a port-a-potty that was purple and gold (LSU colors) provided by "Tiger Toilets". My comment when I sent the picture to Angela was that LSU football must be going to ****.

I think I gained 10 pounds during my three day stay in Louisiana thanks to my Uncle's great cooking. I enjoyed such delicacies as deep fried chick-ka-bobs, smoked chicken, jambalaya, fresh eggs from the chickens out back, and stone ground grits from the mill in the garage.

You can buy fresh shrimp, some so big they defy the name shrimp, at numerous places along the side of the road in Baton Rouge and the surrounding area, but you can't pay by credit or debit card. Cash or food stamps only...

When you are out in the country, nobody is in a hurry to do anything...

Friday, July 17

Moving and meanness

I can never get myself to go to bed at a reasonable hour when James is out of town. I don't know what's up with that, but since I'm up, I thought I'd post about what's going on around here. We have a closing date of August 7 for both houses, so we'll be moving in the next few weeks. I'm slowly coming to grips with this fact. I've been so caught up in the contract negotiations/repair negotiations/repair scheduling - you get the picture - that I think I've been in denial about the actual physical process of moving and what that will entail. As of right now, we have two boxes packed. Luckily, we're moving literally two miles away, so it shouldn't require great effort in packing, but we still have to get everything out of here. I see a garage sale in our future... My mom and sister-in-law will be coming next week to help, so we'll hopefully get a good bit done then. I'm going on a mission trip with the middle school youth from our church the last week of July, so that's going to put a crunch on the moving schedule. But, at least we have made all of the repairs to our house, so we can just focus on the moving part now.

Today I completed my jury duty commitment. I had to call in every day for the past two weeks to see if I would have to report the following day. I know, good timing on the part of Knox County. I was sweating it a few days while having to schedule repairmen to come to the house. Today was the last day of my commitment and I almost forgot to call in. I actually did have to report today and, of course, the appraisal of our house had been scheduled for this morning. James stayed home in the morning to get the kids and dogs out of the house during the appraisal and I found a sitter for the afternoon, but I ended up getting home before the appraiser was even finished. They chose the jury members alphabetically from the list and didn't make it to H. It wasn't an interesting case anyway.

James decided today to go to Louisiana to help his parents go through some of the things in his grandparents' house. I mean he decided today and left - today! It was very uncharacteristic of him, but I think he'll be glad he went. I'm sure going to miss him. Tomorrow is his day off, so he was going to spend time with Kate while I took Owen to speech and I was looking forward to not having to take her with me. Ok, I was looking forward to some interference! She's been pretty tough to handle lately. She has a bit of a bad attitude and can be pretty rude and disrespectful toward me (I haven't seen her do this to James). But, she and I tend to go through spells like this once in a while, so I just have to TRY to keep my cool while letting her know what's what! Yesterday, I took the kids to open play time and gym bugs, out for dinner to Chik-fil-A with ice cream afterward, and then to the play area at the mall. After all that, she had the nerve to tell me I am a "mean, mean woman" when we had to leave to go home. I don't even know where she learned that phrase! She has been having us play the parts of Cinderella and the wicked step-mother a lot lately... hmmm...

Well, I had better head to bed if I don't want to be a mean, mean woman tomorrow! Maybe one of these days I'll get some more pictures on here.

Saturday, July 11

My sweet little boy

Owen is finally starting to walk! He started about a week ago walking between me and his Nana as we sat on the floor. He likes to walk around holding someone's finger, but he can take several steps on his own. Yesterday, he walked from me in the living room to Kate who was in the kitchen, about fifteen feet away, with a right turn at the end!! And he can go from sitting to standing by pushing off of the floor (without climbing up furniture or someone's leg). He still doesn't choose walking as his primary means of getting from point A to point B, but he does like to show that he can do it, and it's all much closer to the real thing. I'm so excited! I am keeping in mind that he army-crawled for two or three months before he crawled on his hands and knees, so it could be a while before he wants to walk all the time, but we seem to be on our way.

There's more to this story, though. Since he's not walking, we got a referral for a physical therapy evaluation at the Children's Rehabilitation Center (part of our beloved Children's Hospital) and they decided he needs some braces for his feet/legs. His right foot has always turned out at the ankle and the left one does slightly, causing him to walk in he insides of his feet. It doesn't seem to be the reason for his not walking, but it's not helping and could cause trouble with his knees and hips if not corrected. So, our next adventure is to get him fitted for and then wearing DAFO (dynamic ankle foot orthosis) braces. These braces are made of plastic and foam (with a choice of colors and patterns) and are fitted to his feet and legs. He'll also have weekly physical therapy to help strengthen his legs and core and to improve his balance. I keep updates posted as to how this all goes.

Saturday, July 4

Angela the Juggler's Assistant (or her impression of the statue of liberty)

For the past two years we have gone to a July 3rd festival that is held at a local church. They have games for the kids to win little prizes, hand out little American flags, have inflatables for the kids to jump on, and hand out watermelon. The night culminates in a traditional fireworks display, like any good July 4th (or 3rd in this case) celebration should.

Anyway, they also have some entertainment with music groups on a main stage and a side stage where we have enjoyed the jugglers for the last couple years. I am not big on jugglers, but this one who is there every year is quite entertaining and Owen seemed mesmerized by him this year. So we all ended up sitting in the grass watching him for a while between waiting in line for Kate to jump on the inflatables and walking around the games. This year though was extra special as Angela got called up on stage to be the assistant during the flaming baton juggling extravaganza. It was definitely worth it to watch Kate's face as mommy helped the man with the flaming batons.