Friday, December 31, 2010

Hanging at the Skateboard Park

My brother was a great skateboarder when he was younger. I was surprised when he called me last month and said that he wanted to take Nicholas to a skateboard park while we are in town for Christmas. I didn't know he was still skateboarding but I thought I was really neat that my brother wanted to share his passion with his nephew. He even asked about a skateboard for Nicholas but politely accepted my worried mother "no". Instead he asked if Nicholas could bring his scooter with him when he comes to visit.

Nicholas was super excited to get to hang out with Uncle Steve doing cool stuff. He had fun watching Steve skate around on his skateboard.





Oh my goodness! That's scary!



When it came time for Nicholas to go down a small hill on his scooter, he got scared. Look how hesitant he was on his first try. Poor little guy.



But after watching Steve some more and practicing a few more times, Nicholas built up his confidence enough to go down the ramps without hesitation. He loved it!





Soon, he caught the eye of a young lady who was smiling at him. Double click the picture to get a close up.



Look at the cute expression on Nicholas' face as they flirted with each other. Too cute!



He even used Steve's skateboard to roll around some. He felt really cool.









Two rad dudes!



Even Rachel brought her scooter to the skateboard park.



She made it down the hills...with a little help. Note - that's laughter you hear from her in the video, not crying :)





But being only two years old, Rachel found many other things at the skateboard part that sparked her interest.

Like the standing water on the ground.



Of course, the next minute found Rachel sitting down in the puddle of water and completely splashing it all over her. And that is why I still have to carry a change of clothes for her in my purse at all times.

With all the skateboarding going on around him, Stuart just had to give it a try. Here was his first attempt

*ahem* with some assistance (but don't tell him I gave away his secret)




After some practice, even Stuart was skating around the park like an old pro.





Steve, thanks for sharing this cool sport and fun park with us. We all had a blast and Nicholas can't wait to go to a local skateboard park when we get back home.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez at Boutin's

Anytime we are in Louisiana, we seek out good Cajun food...because they just don't know how to make it right anywhere else. On this trip, we got to go back to Boutin's "A Cajun Music and Dining Experience". I love this place!



The restaurant has a real rustic, Cajun decor. Lots of wood, artwork of the deep South, and several antiques. I was excited to see this old Coke machine - cokes for a nickel! My Dad has this exact same nickel machine except that it hasn't been restored. There was some talk one time about getting rid of it because it was just taking up space at my parent's house. I said we'd keep it because I love it so on one of our trips, we hauled it back to Texas. Stuart did some work on it to get it running again and we enjoyed cold bottled Cokes out of our own Coke machine. But it's still unrestored and just hanging out in our garage for now. Maybe someday it will look like this again.



The food at Boutin's is great Cajun fare. Rich flavors and just the right amount of spice. I recall eating here when I was pregnant with Nicholas and everything was too spicy for me. Funny because I LOVE spicy food. Now I get to come back here and let both of my kiddos and let them try real Cajun cookin'.



After we ordered our food, we took a stroll on the deck overlooking the bayou (ok, it was really just a little creek but I'm trying to set the mood). There was a little coin operated vending machine where you could get food to feed the turtles and fish down below. It was actually Cat Chow and the stray cats came running when they heard the handle turn!



It was fun to throw the food down and watch the turtles come to the surface to eat!



Rachel loved my seafood gumbo. I think she might have eaten more of it than I did!



For my entree, I ordered the Catfish Boutin - Seasoned catfish fillet, lightly floured and grilled to perfection, topped with Boutin's crawfish etouffee and served with jambalaya, corn maque choux, and a homemade stuffed potato. Ca c'est bon, cher! (Cajun for, "That's good, my dear"!)



In the evenings at Boutin's, you'll find a live Cajun band and wonderful music. You just can't help but find yourself tapping to the beat when that real Cajun music is playing. We all took a turn out doing a little fais-do-do (Cajun for "dance") on the dance floor, even Rachel!



Laissez les bon temps roulez! That's Cajun for "Let the good times roll!"

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Superior Grill

It's hard to keep up with old friends when we all have busy lives with children AND live in different states. But with email and now facebook, we manage to keep in touch a few times a year and hopefully we will always find time to meet up with each other at Superior Grill at Christmas time.

These are my dear friends from LSU.



BFF!

I met Kristina when I first joined Zeta Tau Alpha sorority at LSU. She was my "big sis" in the sorority. We became best of friends. She helped me learn my way around school, recommended classes and specific professors for me, and took me to my first frat party. She knew everyone on campus so I met a lot of new friends through her. I can honestly say that if it hadn't been for Kristina, I wouldn't have met the wonderful husband I have today. It was also through Kristina that I met Denise who ended up being the maid of honor at my wedding.

I don't know how but we managed to wrangle together 4 of our 5 little ones together for a group picture.

The Little House on Candy Cane Lane

Every family has traditions. One of our traditions is that we work together on building a gingerbread house at Christmas. We don't do anything fancy and there is no way I'm baking my own gingerbread pieces or decorating the house with handmade spun sugar. But when creativity and laughter mix with a whole lot of sugar, you can't help but have a good time.

And please note that a tradition can still be a tradition even if it happens a few days AFTER Christmas.

Nicholas started us off by helping to build the house. He was in charge of the icing that glued it all together. Then he used the rest of the icing for decorating and holding the candies in place.



Rachel was only interested in eating the "tandy" before it ever made it onto the house.



The kit came with several gingerbread cut-outs so I got Rachel to help me decorate the gingerbread Christmas tree with green icing and sprinkles. I think as many sprinkles made it into her mouth as made it on the tree.



Eventually we got her interested in actually decorating the house. We let her use the icing too - because neatness has nothing to do with decorating gingerbread houses!



I loved watching Nicholas and Rachel work together on our family project. It warms this mama's heart!





Welcome to the little house on Candy Cane Lane!



And now it's time to eat! Yes there is no more wasting time with formalities here.





I've tried many gingerbread kits in the past and they were all fine. However, this year I tried a new kit that I found at Sam's Club. I really loved it and I will definitely seek it out again next year. The gingerbread pieces all have slots along the sides so the pieces actually connect to each other like a puzzle and then you glue them together with icing. This makes it much sturdier than the other houses where you just stick the two sides together end to end and hope the icing holds it all together. Not only was it sturdy but it was the easiest and quickest gingerbread house I've ever put together that was still standing 30 minutes later. The kit came with lots of candy for decorating and get this...the candy and the gingerbread actually tasted good. Imagine that!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas 2010

Christmas Eve.

A time to celebrate the love of Christ and the blessings of family.

And for little ones to burst with excitement as they wonder what surprises Santa will bring them once they fall asleep...yet they are too excited to actually sleep!

To help re-fuel his weary body, Nicholas and Rachel set out a plate of cookies and a glass of milk for Santa Claus. I'm sure he'll appreciate the snack before he saddles back up in his sleigh to finish his worldly travels tonight.





Once the wee ones were asleep with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads, Daddy got on his assembling duties in Santa's workshop.



He put together a baby doll bed and highchair that Grandmother C. got for Rachel. As in typical male fashion, he did most of it without reading the directions.



Christmas morning! Oh what joy!

Rachel loves her Disney Princess couch. It actualy opens up to form a little toddler bed. Nicholas had one of these in a Winnie The Pooh theme and he loved it. I'm glad to see Rachel likes hers just as much.



Checking out the goodies in her stocking.



Nicholas was thrilled to get the number 1 item on his wish list - the Nerf Vulcan and Nerf Stampede guns. These are massive toy guns that shoot the infamous orange nerf bullets at semi-automatic capacity. Santa did well.

EXCEPT...the elves need a little more quality control and Santa should check some items before leaving them under the tree. BOTH the Vulcan and the Stampede failed to work on Christmas morning. We changed out multiple batteries, re-read the instructions many times, had other family members work on them, and STILL nothing happened. Can you believe it?!

But non-functioning weapons didn't stop Nicholas from setting up in a bunker and taking aim at any enemy who made the mistake of going into the kitchen.



Once the Santa gifts were all opened, we headed over to my brother's house to celebrate Christmas with my family with presents and Christmas lunch.

Nicholas was excited to get some cool spy gear and Star Wars toys.



Pillow Pets were a big hit with both kids.





I got a cool new point and shoot camera. A Panasonic Lumix TS2. It's tough enough to be tossed into my purse but it can also handle a fall from my hands as I chase a little one around the playground. It can also survive a wet spill at the kitchen table or even a submerge underwater for some fun pics in the pool.



Maybe this camera will survive in our household better than my previous point and shoot cameras that go everywhere with me.

There were fights with Nerf swords and Star Wars light sabers. Somehow the kids decided to gang up on Daddy. That was fun to watch.



All the excitement of the morning made for one tired little girl. When Rachel gets tired she sucks on her thumb and holds her "baby" close while rubbing it's soft trim on her face for comfort. This is such a perfect picture of her in sleepy mode.



Eventually she took matters into her own hands and found a spot on the floor to lie down and rest.



The guys all enjoyed watching and playing a skateboard game on Xbox. Funny how they laughed so much at the pain and anguish of the guy on the screen who kept crashing into things or falling from great heights.



A second burst of energy and Rachel was up again playing with her Calico Critters. Mommy can't wait to play with these with her. It's fun having a little girl!



Daddy loves his little buddy...and Nicholas loves his new Nintendo game.



My brother has always loved playing with Nicholas. He's a cool uncle. But I know he was a little nervous when Rachel came along. A girl? How do you play with a little girl?

But judging by Rachel's smile, I think he's doing just fine with his little niece.



Of course, Grandmama was enjoying all the hugs and kisses from the grandkids.



Rachel ran up to Grandmama on her own to give her this hug. So sweet!



We got lots of good family pics...





The littlest one finally had enough and started trying to nap on my brother's coffee table.



We took her back to her bed and let her get a good nap until...

...it was time to get up and do it all again with the other side of the family later that evening...



Nicholas was super excited about his new R/C car.



Rachel loved her new baby doll high chair. I think it is neat how she arranged all the baby's feeding items symmetrically on the high chair.



What a wonderfully exciting day full of presents, good times with family, and turkey (times two).