Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hurricane Gustav

I interrupt my memoir posts to say a few words about the new hurricane bearing down on Louisiana.

I am not even thinking of what might happen to our house/belongings. Not going there mentally. However, I do keep hoping that this storm leaves New Orleans alone so we can continue with our life and have little disruption. I know that sounds selfish, but I think New Orleanians have the right to feel selfish about this one. Some are still in the rebuilding mode and others have just finished.

Going through this evacuation/preparation/waiting game again is different from the first time. Now we all fear how long, how bad, what next? We all know we can recover from it because we have before. Just knowing we may have to go through it again makes me sick to my stomach. But, there is nothing we can do but be safe.

So I sit here in Dallas watching the constant news coverage and keeping up to date on the status of the hurricane and path. I am sitting in my father-in-law's recliner watching the news and typing this. Kids are happy to be at Gigi's! Hubby is in Hattiesburg, MS at a friend's house. A little more out of harm's way but able to easily get home after. If it gets really bad he will leave there and head to Dallas to set up his business here temporarily.

Just a reminder to those who may not be aware (and I don't expect you to be if you don't live near/in the Gulf South) but this hurricane is falling on the same day, same time of day and same week as Katrina. And that is eerie!

Katrina = Aug 29th, 10am
Gustave = Sept 1st, 10am-ish

Oh. And as I attempt to end this post the weather lady just tells me that the width of this storm is the same as Katrina! That means it affects those in a much larger area than where the eye passes over. The eye of Katrina hit 1 hours east of us. We still sustained an ENORMOUS amount of damage from it!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Hurricane Katrina - Our Story - Part 1

April 4th, 2004 - My husband and I move to New Orleans (Mandeville/Covington area) from Pittsburgh, PA with our 14 month old daughter.


Aug. 26th - My 2.5 year old daughter and I fly to Virginia Beach, VA to meet up with my parents, brother, aunt and uncle to celebrate my grandmother's 90th birthday. Hubby stays behind to attend convention in NOLA for work. He will catch first flight out in morning. I am aware of Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf of Mexico but believe it is going somewhere else.

Aug 27th - Attend my grandmother's 90th birthday at her assisted living facility. During party my husband arrives from airport and tells me about Katrina heading right for New Orleans. He spent the night before preparing our house by moving all outdoor furniture in, sand bagging the doors, etc. I had no idea the storm was supposed to come our way. Call the neighbors who are watching dogs for us and ask them to take the dogs with them. They couldn't. They were going to their daughter's apartment in Baton Rouge and already were taking 2 dogs.

Aug 28th - Storm is really bearing down on New Orleans. Those who were going to stay are now deciding to leave. Looking bad. Storm is taking up the entire Gulf on weather maps. I can't believe my eyes. Husband calls co-worker who agrees to evacuate our dogs with them to Tallahasee, Florida. We are staying at the beach and try to enjoy our beach time and forget about what is going on at home. Husband rents a surf board and goes surfing. Daughter spends the day in the pool with her grandparents and learns to swim with life preserver. We sneak peaks at the lobby televisions everytime we walk through. The hurricane news is everywhere we turn. I get up at 2am in the morning and sneak out of the hotel room because I can't sleep and sit in the lobby with night shift clerk, cleaning lady and security guard and watch the continuous hurricane coverage on the tv. They learn I am from that area and wish me the best.

Aug 29th - Hurricane Katrina hits Pass Christian, MS at 10am. It is 200 miles wide and we feel the effects of it tremendously.

Continue to Part 2

Hurricane Katrina - Our Story - The Intro

Well, today is the 3rd Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. I have been saying I am going to write our story for no other reason than for my kids. I have had many requests to put it down for others to read but just can't seem to find the time or maybe I am avoiding it for some reason.

My story is not as tragic as some. But, it is my story and it was life changing for me and my family. I want my kids to know the details of what happened 3 years ago in this country, what part we played in it and how our lives were changed by it.

I made a promise last week to myself to start writing our story today on the 3rd anniversary and to stop putting it off any longer. I even marked it as a To Do on my calendar! Little did I know that another Hurricane (Gustav) would have us all with that pit in our stomach again and evacuating or preparing for evacuation.

This evacuation is different. After Katrina the feeling and worry is so different than before. It is hard to explain but even a very bad storm has me wondering if a tree will be falling on my house while I try to sleep during it.

So, today on the 3rd anniversary, NOLA braces itself for Gustav and whether we want to or not, we will remember Katrina today. We don't even have a choice this year!

So without further ado. Here is our story.

Gustav & Katrina

With Gustav breathing down our neck and Katrina's anniversary today I have gathered some blog posts worth reading.

You Loot. We Shoot!

This is my home and I'll be damned if I am leaving

Flashback 3yrs

3 years

1 Katrina Pic A Day

Calm before the storm

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Take my political challenge

Ok. There are a lot of people out there who would love to vote this coming election but do not know who to vote for. They are either on the fence or dislike both Obama and McCain. I've heard it from Dems, Reps, Northerners, Southerners. Too many undecided.

So I am asking all those who are politically educated to take my challenge and help out those who have a tough decision to make this coming election. Please give intelligent, well supported answers and please no mud slinging. Be nice. This is not a forum to spew your political views. It is a forum to share your opinion in a nice manner.

Also, if there is a question you would like me to present here please email me and I will consider it for inclusion.

Read Barack Obama's stand on the issues

Read John McCain's stand on the issues

** Indicates newly added questions since original post!

Presidential/VP candidates:

1. Give the top 3 reasons you are supporting your candidate.

2. Give the top 3 reasons you are not supporting the other candidate(s).

3. Do you think Obama made a good choice in selecting Biden as his running mate? Why/Why not? **

4. Do you think McCain made a good choice in selecting Palin as his running mate? Why/Why not? **

5. Do you think your candidate (if not listed above) made a good choice in selecting their running mate? Why/Why not? **

Answer the following questions about the candidates that do not involve their political platforms.

1. Does Obama's previous associations, friendships, etc. bother you? Why/Why Not?

2. Does Obama's name bother you? Why/Why Not?

3. Does it bother you that Obama is a black man? Why/Why Not?**

3. Does McCain's age bother you? Why/Why Not?

4. Does McCain's personality/character bother you? Why/Why Not?

5. Does Biden's personality/character bother you? Why/Why Not? **

6. Does the fact that Palin is a woman bother you? Why/Why Not? **

Please answer the following questions not specifically related to the candidates?

1. Do you think the media is focusing too much or too little time on a specific candidate or party? Or is the coverage fair and balanced in your opinion. Please explain.**

2. Do you feel the economy is strong or weak right not? Why/Why Not? **

3. Do you feel that the current state of affairs with the lending companies is a result of bad corporate management or the government's fault? Why/Why Not? **

4. Do you feel the government should step in and bail out these companies or stay out of the business matters? Why/Why Not? **

5. What are your top 3 issues this election? **

6. Do you feel the candidates are addressing your issues in their political campaigns? **

Thank you for taking the time to post your opinions and help others make informed decisions this coming election!

Monday, August 25, 2008

A little about my boy

I seem to write a lot about My Girl. So here is a little about my boy.

1. He's two.

2. He loves pickles, raisins, apple juice and any type of meat!

3. He repeats everything we say.

4. He misses his sissy desperately when she is at school.

5. He does everything his sissy does.

6. He loves the school bus and wishes he could go on it.

7. He says, "Eh" for "yes".

8. He needs to hold my hair and suck his thumb to go to sleep.

9. He recognizes Elmo, Cars, SpongeBob, Jonas Brothers and Hanna Montana and shouts with glee when he sees them anywhere or anything!

10. He is really funny and loves to make us laugh.

11. He loves to dance and actually has some moves.

12. He loves his mommy - A LOT!

13. He eats more than his sissy does.

14. He can swim with his life preserver swim suit all by himself in the pool.

15. He likes to clean up and likes things in their place. (YES!)

16. He is into cars, trucks, tractors, airplanes, etc.

17. He likes to dress up princess with sissy but always adds the boy element like using the magic wand as a sword or playing hotwheels on the floor in his gown.

18. His favorite toys right now are knex and legos.

19. He sits in sissy's car seat when she is at school (shh. don't tell her)

20. He has red curly hair.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Losing a tooth New Orleans style!

So today was My Girl's second day of kindergarten and wouldn't you know she lost her lose tooth at school during lunch. I just knew it was going to happen at school because that dang tooth was so lose! She kept trying to have me pull it out yesterday but it just wasn't ready.

Apparently, the tooth was waiting to be lost in the most New Orleans way possible - EATING A BEIGNET! Yup, my girl ate her entire lunch at school - chicken strips, mac/cheese, orange slices . . . but when she got to the beignet for dessert, that is when the tooth came out!

She said she got a little scared but the mommy volunteer took her across the hall to the office and they put her lost tooth in a little pink treasure chest for her to bring it home in. The little treasure chest said "Tooth Keeper".

My Girl was so proud she got off the bus, said "Hey mom, guess what?" and shot me a huge grin similar to this:

Saturday, August 16, 2008

So how'd the first day go?

Well, the first day of kindergarten was a success! We waited for sissy at the bus stop. Even her friend and his mom were there to greet her! She got off the bus gleaming! She exclaimed that the bus was "so fun!"

She told me all about how cool the cafeteria was and how you raise your hand if you need help opening a milk or juice carton. She said they went to the playground 3 times that day! She tried to describe her new friends but couldn't remember all their names. She said they went to the gym and the library. Sounds like they did a tour of the school.

Later, at bedtime, she confessed that she cried a little bit at school. One time was in the gym because it reminded her of her preschool and then she thought of me and missed me. The other was when she had to get on the bus. She said she got scared and her new classmate who also rides her bus hugged her and said it would be ok. Her teacher put her on the bus and told her to sit with her new classmate. She did. I asked how the ride went after that. She said they laughed a lot but put their hands over their mouths so they wouldn't be loud and get in trouble.

Overall, she seemed excited about the whole experience. Brother was happy that "Sissy Home". The two of them played together nicely until bedtime. I think they missed each other.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Off to school she goes!

Well, today was the official first day of Kindergarten for my oldest.

She was a little nervous and a little excited at the same time. She said she loved her teacher after spending time with her at the prescreening. So that was cool.

She got up very excited and said, "This is going to be so fun!". She got herself dressed (she normally doesn't!) and listened the first time when asked to brush her teeth and hair. She was very particular about how she wanted her hair. Kinda funny! She also didn't want anything messy in her lunch as it might get on her uniform. Chuckle!

At breakfast she told me she was going to be just like her big cousin Mia. Then, when I said, "time to go" she got scared and tried to procrastinate. Bathroom run, etc. I finally got her in the car after a brief photo opt and off we went. She wanted me to take her and walk her in the first day and she would ride the bus home and from the next day on. So I did.

When we got to her teacher she saw a few friends and a couple of new classmates. It was when I went to leave that she got weepy and clung to me. This has been a theme all summer when I take her anywhere and have to leave. But I always find out that she was fine about 2 minutes after I left. So I gave the teacher a heads up about this beforehand and she told My Girl she would hug her so mommy could go. So My Girl clung to her leg and I turned and left. It may sound harsh and sad, but really it wasn't. I know My Girl well. After going through the door I peeked back through and watched and it was less than a minute and she was fine!

So little bro and I headed back out to the car and suddenly he started crying and saying, "No car mommy!" I couldn't figure out why? He finally pointed at the buses and cried, "Go on bus!" He wanted to go on the bus! Too funny. He cried all the way home about that!

Little bro misses his sissy. He has been asking about her all day. We went to the store and when we got back in the car he said, "No home mommy. Get sissy." I told him that Sissy was at school. He kept repeating. "Sissy school. Get sissy." Then at lunch he asked, "Sissy home?" No, I told him. It was going to be awhile. He is napping now and I guarantee he asks for her when he gets up! Poor little guy is missing his friend!

I am sure Sissy is having a blast. I know her. She adjusts quickly! I am anxious to hear about her day!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

New site to check out!

Just launched for my client Anita. She gave me a jar of her New Orleans Key Lime Marmalade and it is soooooo good! Order and ship anywhere in the US or Canada. Her Jams, Jellies, Marmalades and Preserves make great gifts!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Meal of a lifetime

Tonight, the hubbs and I got to experience a very special treat. Besides the fact that we got a babysitter and had a night out by ourselves, we also got the meal of a lifetime!

A very generous friend of ours decided to celebrate he and his wife's 20th anniversary by hosting 4 other couples for dinner at the Ritz Carlton of New Orleans - or so we thought. We were told to get a babysitter, arrive at 6:30 for cocktails and dinner would be at 7:00pm - and they were footing the bill.

So we found a friend to watch the kids, dolled ourselves up and headed to the French Quarter. We arrived and joined the group for a drink and then were escorted to the dining room - and then they just kept going (oh, I thought we are going to the private party booth area) and then they kept going (oh, we are going to a private room) and then they took us directly into the kitchen????? (Oh, I thought, they are going to let us meet the Chef or something) and then I noticed this large table right in the middle of the kitchen set for 10. That, my friends, is where we dined on a 11 course meal for the next 3.5 hours! THE CHEF'S TABLE!

The very first thing I noticed were the plates. I wish I had my camera to take a picture. But they were these fancy dinner plates with words around the border and prices. Like a menu. Absinthe, Shrimp, etc. But the prices were like .25 or .50. I immediately remembered NolaNotes post on similar style plates.

There were just as many waiting on our table as there were sitting at our table. The Executive Chef introduced himself and then told us there was no menu. The way it worked was that they picked what we eat. They inquired about any allergies, strong aversions to certain foods, etc. None in our group. We were all game. Bring it on!

So bring it on they did. They mentioned 7 courses at the beginning, but at the end we counted 11 including the last which was Cafe Bruno - a coffee with bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves etc and prepared over an open flame tableside and topped with vanilla ice cream and fresh cream.

It was so neat to watch all the staff come out together and serve each of us. If someone was not seated (bathroom break) they would hold the food and bring it out when the person returned to the table. Each time the Executive Chef, Sous Chef, Pastry Chef or similar would explain what was just placed in front of us with such great detail and they were so proud.

My favorite was the Wild Truffle (mushroom) Cappucino - the very first course. It was a very smooth soup that was served in a a cappucino cup and you drink it. It was so delicious!

Let's see if I can remember what we had.
Wild Truffle Soup
Fried Soft Shell Crab
Shrimp over some corn mixture
Sesame Crusted Seared Tuna with some Mango Smoothie in a shot glass (or so we called it!)
Filet Mignon with a potato of some sort and a crab stuffed tomato
Blueberry Glazed Duck over Cous Cous
Sorbet Trio - Cantelope, Strawberry, Passion Fruit
Creme Brulee Trio - Pistachio (MY FAV!), Coconut, Mango
Chocolate Mousse, Puff Pastry, Ice Cream and Deep Fried Fig
Bananas Foster (prepared tableside of course)
Cafe Bruno

Of course there were sides to some of these and fancy names, glazes, reductions, etc. My naming above does not do it justice. I don't even think I have recalled everything! Thankfully, everything was small proportions!

Oh and I should add that there was a constant flow of champagne and wine. They just kept putting something new in front of us. We just kept talking and eating and - well - drinking.

We finally exited the kitchen around 10:30pm. 3.5 hours later. Overstuffed and waddling, we took a seat in the dining area to watch Jeremy Davenport play his trumpet. About 5 minutes after sitting down to listen one of the other husband's in our group shouted across the table over the music, "Hey! You think we can get a little something to snack on?" We all just started laughing!

What a cool night out!