Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Cheering on the marathoners

 It was our second annual watch-the-marathoners excursion on March 1! The family walked from our house down to Kuykendahl, around the 18-mile mark. The grueling 1/2-mile stroll from our home was tough enough for us - we stood in awe of the crazy and wonderful runners (Mr Leaven has run marathons before, Mrs Leaven did a 5K in college once...).

Yay! Runners!

My favorite part of family walks these days - E reaches for my hand!!!!! And look at that happy little girl!

After the exhaustion of the marathon, we walked over to Dosey Doe for a carb load. Boy, watching runners makes us hungry!

Better y'all than us, say Em and her mama! We'll stick to our Pilates and tummy time.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Thanksgiving !?!

Managed to post the Thanksgiving pics before Easter...

We had a wonderful feast and some beautiful time with family. We had planned to meet at Mom and Dad's, but because Dad wasn't feeling well that didn't work out. Jess & Kev graciously stepped in and hosted our standard late lunch potluck at their lovely home.

I had to go in to work in the morning, so I dropped the spouse and kids off and headed to the hospital for a few hours. Mr Leaven worked on our contribution to the potluck while carrying 2 children - SuperDad!

This was Em's first time to meet most of my mom's family - so glad we could all be there! Later in the afternoon, the Leavens visited Mom and Dad (Dad was already on the mend) and got some quality grandparent time in.

Meeting great-great Aunt Dorothy (she's really great!)

Taking a break from cooking for a quick selfie - how many arms does this guy have? Only I know...

Thank you for the fabulous outfit, Aunt Jess

DeeDee and our living doll

Cousins! Piper and Em

Just hanging out in our cool playpen

E wishing Grandpa a very happy Thanksgiving,

By the way, have I mentioned how much I HATE this computer??? No idea if the photos will show up in a variety of sizes and pixellations like the preview shows but OMG does it ever kill me to blog from this thing...

Monday, March 17, 2014

PT Day 10 recap

Hooray! Just over 1 week and E is (mostly) potty trained! The most amazing part is, we are still using a diaper for naps and at night but they've been dry for the last 3 days - he night-trained himself! 

I say mostly because he seems to still be having a little trouble determining when he has to go #2. He waits just 10 seconds too long and then, well, it's 10 seconds too late. And his favorite place to do this is at day-care (church, gym) where the caregivers are not able to devote their full attention to Mr E. 

All in all, though, we are just astonished with how well our 20-month-old guy (yesterday was 20 months!) has figured all this out. He either tells us he has to go or walks right to the bathroom himself, then waits while we help with his clothes. He loves flushing and especially loves the high-five he gets from mom and dad. Such a cool kid. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Zoo with friends

At least a few times each year, 4 of my dear girlfriends and I get together to celebrate birthdays, holidays, babies, usually with our families but sometimes just the girls. Today was a family gathering at the Houston Zoo. Unfortunately, Kirsten's son was sick and they couldn't make it, but 8 adults and 9 kids all converged on the zoo on a rainy morning, determined to take it all in. Turns out, a rainy day is a perfect zoo day, if you don't mind getting a little wet (and all of us have been in Houston for many years, which means we're all very comfortable with getting caught in sudden downpours). There are no crowds, and the animals love a little rain so they're out and about, frolicking on a rare mild day in Houston. I mean, it's the first day of spring break for the Houston school district and we parked in the fourth row - we had the place to ourselves!!

It's been so exciting to see the zoo through E's eyes. He's really noticing the animals now, and he races from exhibit to exhibit. He still does love the fish in the ponds, the mockingbirds in the bushes, and those amazing lightposts, but he's got a new appreciation for the elephants, giraffes, and okapi as well.

We also loved seeing him interact with the older kids. Katie was just wonderful with him, helping him up to see the animals and showing him the signs and little zoo games. At one point he reached up to hold her hand, and they walked along the chimpanzee exhibit like old friends. Love, love, love! He's got such a wonderful set of friends to grow up with. I just loved watching all the kids spend quality time together today. Of course, as always, it was also wonderful to catch up with adults I've now known more than half my life...

We took a quick spin on the carousel (Em loved it, E is so happy with the carousel that he now insists that Dad not touch his back during the ride - he can do it himself!) then had a simple lunch in one of the covered zoo pavilions as the rain picked up. I've really been so impressed by our zoo - I love that you can bring in food from outside and picnic just about anywhere. There's tons of places to sit and enjoy time with family and friends. And the bathroom facilities are clean and very kid-friendly (which is great when you bring a potty-training toddler on his first prolonged excursion - he was perfect, by the way).

Mary and Katie made birthday cookie bars which everyone enjoyed. Then the Leaven family headed back home to get the kids their much-needed afternoon nap. Thank you to all our dear friends for an absolutely lovely morning!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

New Orleans

So, we just got back from a quick trip to New Orleans and I want to post about it while it's still fresh in my mind... said me 5 months ago when I was still on maternity leave and actually had time to do these things but still didn't...

Here are some photos from the trip. They'll probably remind me of fun things that happened, and then I can talk about it a little.

Heading out! Em's first road trip. Obviously this is old hat for E.
Pit stop at the only open restaurant we could find. The best part of Waffle House was all the snuggle time since I was doing everything in my power to keep E from touching ANYTHING that didn't share his DNA.
A pigeon in Jackson Square! Something else E is not allowed to touch!

First glimpse of Café du Monde

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Beignets and a binky.

Kids were sacked out so E missed his beignet initiation. Not to worry, we returned 2 days later.

Two hotties in front of Jackson Square. One of them inexplicably has sprouted a tiny flag.

Apparently pointing is a family trait, right, uncle Kev? Behind my boys is the mighty Mississippi, even though it looks like a German strip mall.

Window-touring the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum
Both guys getting their drink on at Acme Oyster House.
Good eats
Not a lot of newborns at Acme but they were very obliging. We asked everyone to keep their voices down because the baby was asleep. They all sat quietly for about 30 minutes while we enjoyed our oysters.

Turns out there are not a lot of newborns or toddlers on Bourbon Street either. We asked everyone to keep their voices down because our kids were tired. They all stood quietly for about 45 minutes while we strolled around then headed back to the hotel on night one.
Bourbon Street baby-wearing!
Seriously, tourists? Do you have to keep having fun and keeping me awake? I'm kidding, of course - we loved all the [non-Mardi Gras] craziness of the French quarter at night and the kids were worn out and slept pretty darn well.
Wore out.

Ooh, day 2 we went to the Aquarium! We got there early and wandered around on the patio for about 30 minutes before they opened. That's the mighty Mississippi behind us, even though it looks like a parking lot. I'm an amazing photographer.

E was fascinated by the fish tunnel at the entrance. He circled it maybe 25 times before finally allowing us to head up the escalator to the rest of the exhibits.


You could climb up a flight of stairs to a pathway through the trees and parrots. This was during E's stair-climbing phase, so we spent a lot of time going up and down the stairs. He was climbing on his hands and knees, and you know what? Pathways through trees and parrots are fairly covered with seeds and bird droppings, so fun!



Otter feeding!

Back in Jackson Square

Out of chronological order but we're in Jackson Square again, taking in the local color.
After walking and walking and walking and walking, we finally stopped for dinner at a really yummy spot named Stanley on the corner of Jackson Square. Both kids passed out while we were there, so we chilled and enjoyed our eggs Benedict.

Cheers! Coffee and milk the morning of day 3 at The Ruby Slipper Café.

Bloody mary for me, vegetable garnish for E. Win-win!

We spent the morning at the New Orleans city park, where there's lots of outdoor space and an ancient kids' park called Storyland. There are bridges, statues, boats, slides, and much more each with a different storybook theme. This was Captain Hook's boat.

An accordion-playing alligator. Wearing denim shorts. ???

A fire-breathing dragon slide

Somewhere, in some family album, there is a photo of 12-year-old me with this lovely bronze. One day I'll find it and scan it and it'll be just wonderful.
E, meet beignets.

Hello, beignets.

Happy kid. Yeah, he likes beignets.

After lots of good food, a million miles of walking, and general levity, we took the leisurely way back home. So many pit stops. This was a park in Lafayette we found via Google search. I didn't take any photos of our other Lafayette pit stop but it involved to-go shrimp po-boys. Old Tyme Grocery. Nom nom.

Napping in the sun in the park

Fun crazy X-Wave 2 thingamajig at the park


Haha! My favorite pit stop. A campground off I-10 where I could feed Em while E wandered around a playground and campsites and a lot of trailer homes. It was actually a lovely stop.

Mr Leaven and I were pretty worn out, so we asked E to drive the rest of the way. He cheated by using cruise control.

This trip was a really lovely cap to 2 1/2 months of maternity leave. It was Mr Leaven's first time in the Big Easy (indeed, his first time in Louisiana) and I think he enjoyed himself. He was a little astonished by the decadence of Bourbon Street by night and the concomitant dirtiness by day, but overall he was pleasantly surprised by all that N'Awlins had to offer. And for me it was quite a hit of nostalgia, since my first visit was as a child (though a bit older than our 2 littles). I look forward to more road trips to New Orleans as the kids grow up. Laissez les bons temps rouler!