Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Day 2, or the day I found a friend

Our second day in New Orleans was dramatically better than our first. We decided that, since Nola likes to sleep in, we would stay in our hotel room until after Sweet One had her first nap and this made such a huge difference. She slept for 1h20 and awoke in much better spirits than most of the previous day. (I think this helped her nap better later on in the day as well.)

We decided to hop aboard the St. Charles street car and go to the Garden District. Standing in line, Big Love was a little concerned that we might not get onto the first car as it looked packed but it wasn't as bad as it looked. I ended up with Sweet One in my lap sitting next to a young woman. (I thought she was a college student.) Sweet One reached out to her and she smiled. "Wow! She never reaches out to people she doesn't know." Sweet One continued to entertain the gaggle of tourists we were sitting among with her smiles and silly sounds. Usually I get nervous initiating any degree of conversation with a stranger beside me but since Sweet One had made the first move, I asked the young woman if she was 'from here'. She said no and that she was in fact from LA.

When we got off the street car, we crossed the street as the rest of the tourists were (we had completely forgotten to take our guidebook on this entire trip). The young woman I had been sitting beside was on the other side of the street but then she quickly came across since that's where the rest of us had gone. "I guess I went the wrong way!" she said. (She was wearing very nice books with a pointy toe and a moderate heel - just like I hope to have one day.) Then she asked if Big Love and I would mind if she joined us, "so I don't get kidnapped since I'm all alone."

We spent a couple of hours walking around the Garden District and I was amazed at how easy it was for me and this young woman to chat the entire time. Usually I have moments of awkwardness where I don't really know what to say around someone I don't know. I learned that her husband has the same name as mine, she has a degree in criminology and now works in pest control, loves going to estate sales and is 10 weeks pregnant. Her mouth dropped when she found out I was just about 32 years old and I was equally surprised to learn that she was 27. It felt so nice to have a young woman to talk to, especially one who I seemed to have a lot in common with. Even Big Love said we seemed to have a bit of a connection.

When we returned to the French Quarter, Big Love, Sweet One and I went to a restaurant this young woman had recommended and had our first good meal since we arrived. Even Sweet One ate a surprising amount of fries considering she hadn't eat much at all since we left two days ago. When we left our hotel room that morning I anticipated the amazing houses in the Garden District to be the highlight of my day, but in the end it ended up being a conversation with a complete stranger!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

First day in New Orleans

After a tiring day of travelling, our first day in the New Orleans area ended up a difficult one. With Sweet One as our alarm clock, we woke up early. I naively thought that Sweet One may have some good naps in her stroller througout the day and therefore leave us with the freedom to wander around, check out the market and enjoy our time. I was somewhat wrong. We were out and about so early that we had our choice of tables at Cafe du Monde! Luckily I enjoyed that because it was the only meal that was any good our first day.

Sweet One has never been a good "on the go" napper and this trip reminded me of that. She ended up quite cranky throughout our first day and by the end of it I was exhausted, in tears and ready to go home. So far, the trip wasn't anything as I had expected. With us getting up so early, and still on EST, our early morning site seeing was a bit of a waste of time because this city doesn't wake up early - probably due to the late night culture it has! We should have stayed in the hotel room and let Sweet One get one good nap during the day.

One of the main things we wanted to do on this trip was see a plantation. I had spent a lot of time figuring out which one we should see, even saw a DVD about it prior to leaving. I anticipated that it would be a highlight of our trip. The one we saw was a Creole plantation rather than the typical antebellum ones in the area. While it was not huge in grandeur, it was consider very typical. The depth of knowledge that the guide (also the owner) had about this place was amazing. There are 5000 pages written about life on this plantation by a young woman who lived there. The stories, and the guide's delivery, about how the business and family were run was amazing. In the end, our guide pointed out that running a plantation not only dehumanized the slaves that worked it, but also the president (the woman who ran it - this particular plantation was always run by women) because of what was required of her.
This is the only plantation in the area that does not ignore the history of slavery. These slave cabins held two families and believe it or not, people lived in the cabins until 1977! I can not fathom it.

While I felt like the stories were rich and the guide was very skilled in his storytelling, I did leave this plantation on a sour note. For the most part, Sweet One wanted to run around and so we let her. She is much quieter if she can move around than if I am forcing her to stay in my arms! Big Love and I followed behind the group so that her noise would not bother anyone - we took turns listening to the tour but it was warm outside and I wasn't sure if we'd make it! At one point the guide came up to me and told me not to get too far behind because he didn't want me to miss what he was saying. I thought that was very kind of him and felt a little better about being there. Once we got into the house Sweet One settled down and wasn't making much noise at all. She seemed very content in my arms and so I joined the group and enjoyed being able to hear more of the tour.

I find it hard to believe that a parent in such a situation would ever not be completely sensitive to how much noise their child is making. Countless times when I've been worried about her noise, I've been told that parents always think their children are noisier than they really are. After three or four short vocalizations I was asked to leave the room. I immediately felt sick to my stomach. The way our guide asked to "take the baby out of the room" was blunt and rude. I honestly did not think that her sounds merited this - we paid our tour fees just as anyone else did. At one point during the tour he spoke of how the President who ran the plantation said that she was God - maybe the current owner has adopted that attitude as well! "Do not make noise while God is talking!"

All in all we learned a good lesson our first day in New Orleans. We needed to change our expectations of how we would enjoy this vacation and that Southern Hospitality doesn't always extend to parents with small children when visiting a plantation.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Waiting... to play and for our vacation

There hasn't been a whole lot going on for us over the past few days. Sweet One has taken on a new game of Hide and Seek where she'll stand behind a chair and wait for us to find her. She's completely quiet with no sounds to help us figure out where she is. At one point I ran upstairs, used the facilities, grabbed the camera and she was still there waiting for me!
But then sometimes she finds other things to do while she waits! She really seems to be getting older on us ... any ideas on how to slow this down?

We leave for New Orleans tomorrow morning. I'm so excited. I really hope that this is one of those vacations that goes down in the history books of a place that was so unique, where we ate great food (at prices that didn't kill us) and just enjoyed ourselves. We're planning on taking a Plantation tour which we figure is something that can not be missed. Other than that, well, we don't have any major plans. Now I just have to wait a few more hours .. if only I were as patient as Sweet One!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Skating and the Beast

My sister got whisked off to Mexico for her 30th birthday over the past week. The trip was a total surprise for her - she only got 24 hours to prepare. One of the things that had to be taken care of was a skating dress for my niece's upcoming carnival in which she has a solo and I volunteered to take care of it. I just finished it and despite the stress of the whole thing I am quite happy with the results ... except for the fact that I'm not completely sure it is going to fit. I haven't seen my niece since last April and with these skating dresses it is very hard to make without the person being there. I did my best and in the end, it is going to be a very expensive dress once I express post it over there! Hopefully she'll wear it for more than 4.5 minutes.

One thing that has come out of this experience is that I have outgrown "the beast". My mom bought this sewing machine in the early 70's and I've been using it quite a bit in the five years since she's passed it on to me. The skating dress would have taken much less time and energy if I had a newer machine. There are also many things I'd like to make for Sweet One but this machine doesn't enable me to make them. Big Love and I (as well as my "call a friend sewing crisis" person) have agreed that it is time I get a new machine. One that I may one day perhaps pass on to Sweet One.
It has been a loyal beast and I'm not willing to part with it, just retire it as it feels like the time to do so. I remember my mom sewing with it when I was young and I have spent hours making diapers, curtains, dresses, pajama pants, stockings and a housecoat.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

What a shriveled up fruit can do

Today I learned an important lesson. It is not a good idea to let a young child, who is barely 18 pounds, eat 5 prunes a day. Even if she walks into the kitchen with an expectant look on her face, pointing to the cabinet that they are kept in, it is not a good idea. Not even if she opens her mouth for you to pop one in and then happily turns around with a cheek-full and a bounce in her step. Yes, they are fruit but they are also a fruit with purpose. A purpose that has been known for eons. No. Not at all. 5 prunes a day is too much. Especially if you cloth diaper.

And now there is some chiffon waiting to be sewn. I'm a little frightened.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Wide Mouth Mason

In almost every way my daughter is a wee one. She's 14 months and weighs around 18 pounds. If I don't have a cloth diaper on her, the 12-18 month pants practically come off on their own. They are absolutely too long. She is only starting to outgrow her 12 month clothes. And yet one part of her doesn't seem to be that small at all .... rather than biting the rounds of banana into smaller pieces she stuffs them in her mouth and slowly works on them until they're gone. (Also does this with prunes and pieces of apple. I've tried giving her smaller pieces but she really doesn't like it.) Even more entertaining is how she has recently started to lean into the banana so that I can place it closer to her mouth where she proceeds to wrap her little mouth completely around it and take off the piece I have already part way broken off. Hmmmmm....

Sunday, March 7, 2010

New Orleans, here I come!

In two weeks from tomorrow we will be hopping a plane and going to New Orleans. It is a place I've always thought would be amazing to see. Thanks to credit card rewards points and a very cheap hotel rate, we will arrive there on a Monday and leave on a Friday. I am so excited and hoping so much that this is one of those vacations that go down in the history books. We're thinking of going on a Plantation tour and other than that we don't have any specific plans other than to find some good food at a good price and to see what there is to see.

Have you ever been to the Big Easy and have any suggestions? We did receive some suggestions of places to eat but they aren't quite in our price range. I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A little girl and her Dada

We have this funny little landing that is the midpoint of our staircase. At one point there was probably another staircase that lead directly to the kitchen but in a renovation it got closed out. We never knew what to do with it because it is quite useless. Perhaps closing it off into a closet would be nice.

Sweet One seems to have her own ideas of what to do with this space - it is the place for her blocks. She loves climbing up there and playing with them. She and her Dad have spent a lot of time there together.

Lately I've been marveling at the relationship that is growing between Big Love and Sweet One. He will sit and play with her, completely focussed on their play, until Sweet One's attention gets diverted. The other day they spent 45 minutes stacking the blocks and then knocking them down. I really don't think that I could do that! Sweet One knows he is home from work when she hears the outside door creak. Today as she sat in her chair eating supper, she looked at me with excitement and said, "Dada!" (This is the first time I heard her directly connect those syllables with him.) Other days she will be standing , a book in hand, eagerly waiting for him to come through the inside door. As she holds it up to him, Big Love immediately drops to his knees and opens the book, leaving his coat lying on the floor. Nothing is more important to him than this time with her.

Big Love is the father I always dreamed my child would have. His love is gentle and steadfast. I know that without judgement or belittling, he will always be there to hear what she has to say and to help her figure things out. His support will help her gain confidence in who she is. And all because they took the time to find a little space to play together.