Friday, March 20, 2015

New Yorleans!

After hearing the kids' interpretation of New Orlean's name, I'm never going back to the original.

On Monday afternoon we hopped in Boatie and headed to Jackson, MS for an appointment Alexe had with the Tax folks early Tuesday morning.

We got to Jackson after dark, and explored what felt like the back streets of Beirut, if Beirut insisted on one way streets.  Downtown Jackson has suffered in the past 50 years from various social and economic disasters, and though there is construction everywhere hopefully signifying the beginnings of a turnaround, there's a long way to go.

We checked into a nice hotel in the middle of the mess, a spot that has undergone a $60+ million renovation in the past 5 years.  

The kids got their own door entry cards, and checked on the quality of the mattresses before we headed out for a late night driving exploration of the town, and a search for food.

We ended up back at the hotel an hour later, a bit scar(r)ed, and still hungry. So I ordered a pizza and we went swimming while we waited for it to be delivered. It was never delivered, because Papa John's placed the order with their Oxford location.  So at 10 minutes before the kitchens closed we ordered room service.  

9 the next morning we were here for Alexe's meeting.  (Contesting late fees on sales tax payments when the state website was having technical difficulties and was unable to accept payments the day they were due.)

One of my persistent questions of what the state feels is a higher priority than education spending: This is the state revenue campus.

Being almost halfway to New Yorleans, we turned Boatie south again and kept going.

A pleasant 3 hour drive later, and we were walking through the Garden District, and stopped at a Thai place for a late lunch.

Window shopping.

Something I miss about dense population centers: the architecture and infrastructure that they support.

And the funky historic properties.  Notice the stairs snaking down the side of this house from the third story. 

We checked into our hotel, a nice enough spot, if they had been able to supply hot water for all their guests.  The room layout was very convenient, a single room, with a set of spiral stairs leading up to a sleeping loft for the kids.

We settled in, and then hit the streets for more exploring.  Alexe's love of growing things has been a surprise over the years, and continues to grow.

Being a few weeks after Mardi Gras, there were beads everywhere.  Caspian, the collector that he is, picked them up, brought them home, and created a project of snipping them into distinct beads.  He's all about the process; once he finished he promptly spilled his bag of beads all over the car, and moved on.

Being in New Yorleans with kids is very different.  There's less walking, less jumping over graveyard walls, less fancy dining, and more early evenings in, and playgrounds.  With the good bread and cheese shops, piles of books, and Doctor Who episodes, we made the most of our early evenings in the hotel.

Breakfast was in City Park, for hot chocolate and Beignets.  

Followed by playground time.

Duck and turtle watching.

Being cool.

Then it was back to the hotel to drop off the car, and catch the street car into the French Quarter.

These kids are ready to travel anywhere.

First stop was a candy shop, where they each spent ages picking out their 10 pieces of candy.  This was a delay tactic; ice cream had been mentioned on the drive to New Yorleans, and we had yet to find a functioning ice cream shop.  Caspian was checking in on the ice cream schedule every three minutes.

We ended up in H&M.  We swapped the kids boots out for new matching sneakers, and then the girls went off to the fitting rooms, so Caspian and I tried on hats.  Or anything that might function as a hat.

Properly shod, we hit the streets again. This time with me carrying several bags of boots and new clothes.

For many adorable photo ops.

Annaliese is very serious about having her own (broken) iphone, and was doing her best impression of a tourist.  Which reminds me I need to track that phone down and take a look at the pictures she took.

We enjoyed a street magician show, (see his blog here Great crowd work, decent magic,) and then headed for lunch in this 1700s feed store / restaurant.  I love these courtyards, and the porches that are build on flat stock steel, maybe 2" wide, turned on edge and stuck out the side of a building.  No modern building code would allow for this, yet theses porches have been holding up crowds of revelers for 100s of years.

Team us.

The kids were zonked, so we headed back to the hotel.

Where I fell asleep face down on the bed surrounded by the kids watching cartoons and Alexe reading. When I came to we headed out for the promised ice cream. Which neither child finished.

This car.  She has survived so much abuse, and continues to get us where we want to go.  We have been seriously thinking about getting a Volt, the only modern car we would be willing to drive instead, but on this trip Boatie bounced and squealed her way there and back, and won our hearts again.  

We had a nice breakfast in a neighborhood cafe before heading home.

And then to combat the 6 hour drive wiggles, we stopped in the Auduban park across from Tulane to let the kids vent some energy.

She says she's a morning person...

Caspian was all over the place.  

Visiting the ducks.

Climbing the trees.

Annaliese was in a grump, and swinging.  She's way back through the trees.

Ducks in Trees!

A bouncy ride home, with a pit stop at a Fresh Market about half way, and we were back in the Valley.

March, waiting for Spring Break...

Cold and wet outside, cozy and pajama-themed inside.

Wandering up and down the street like I have time to do these days, this is where I find Alexe and the kids after school.  Turnage Drug Store, getting ice cream cones.

The cold and wet gave us a few breaks, but never both at the same time.  This was a strange moment when the cold lifted, and the rain stopped for a little while.  We went in search of frogs.

And then our under-exercised little ones found their legs just couldn't get them back up the hill.

Our chickens have turned into prodigious egg layers, and we've fallen behind in our egg consumption.  Alexe whipped together this delicious pound cake in an effort to use up some eggs. And to have cake.

The evening had been picture perfect.  Family fun was had, dinner/homework/bath time had gone by pleasantly, and the kids were in their jammies and having their last frolic before hopping in bed. Caspian was riding Annaliese in a game of horse, we think, and she collapsed, bringing his eyebrow down on the rounded corner of the hot-chocolate table.  Lots of blood, lots of wailing, but when we got him cleaned up and calmed down, it turned out it was a mean pinch that had torn, rather than a gash.

A few minutes later we got him to smile.

Though he didn't relinquish the "tragic victim of a vindictive universe and older sister" role entirely.

Annaliese, who had not done anything wrong other than collapse under her little brother, who weighs a pound less than her, turned into a mother hen, like she does when her brother is genuinely upset. (We've heard from other people in the community that in social situations when we are not around Annaliese dotes on Caspian, making sure he never feels left out.  Which is wonderful to hear, considering what she puts him through at all other times.)

They had a sleep over in his bed, and she read him many books while he ate a late night snack of apple. 

The next day he proudly marched into school to show off his blooming black eye. 

Just hanging out.  Possibly watching Doctor Who on a cold afternoon.

The second home-born animals on our farm, three chicks!  The first hatch did not go well, with three young chicks born, and 20+ fully formed but unhatched. After much research I believe our humidity level was too high, so we have a new hygrometer and we'll be trying again soon.

On one of the many snow days, Annaliese went to work at the BTC, and Caspian requested a boy date in Oxford.  Off we went.

The chess club has started meeting at the BTC.  So fun to see the booths full of young minds thinking away.

Yup.  Someone took a bite and replaced it in the cookie jar.  People are weird.

Alexe and Caspian walked home; Annaliese and I followed in the truck later, and ran into this road block.

Grouchy children on a Saturday morning.  I walked them the full length of the town and let them play on in the park.

By the time we made it back up town to the BTC, they had worked themselves out.

A sunny Saturday, Alexe working for another couple hours, two smiley kids, what to do?  We loaded up a collection of old fire extinguishers, drove out to a friend's land, and had our first hunter safety course.  Caspian's fingers are not quite long enough to comfortably reach the trigger, and he is more interested in collected spent brass.  Annaliese's first shot with a Browning 22 handgun at 35 ft:

The kids set an alarm, got up on their own, and made this breakfast-in-bed for Alexe Sunday morning.  

And then Caspian asked for a chore and went to scrub the sunroom floor.  

They were sweet and helpful all day.  We planted a few fruit trees, picked up around the house, and generally refused to get out of our pajamas.  Followed by a family nap in the afternoon.

The next day we hopped in Boatie and headed South.