Sunday, July 24, 2011

Life in the Swamp

Week 8: It has been a week of learning to live in the bayou! While we were talking about this past week, Ed had some insight into our lives..."when life hands you Louisiana, make etouffee." Well, I didn't quite get to the etouffee, but I made a delicious gumbo! I cannot wait to share it with you guys! I am still tweaking and working on things, but I am going to brag on myself and say it was really good! What can I say; we are making the best of our situation. We were hoping to work on the etouffee, but I am still a little scared of crawfish tails...I am working up to it!

I hate to say "I wish it would stop raining," but, "I wish it would stop raining!" We have had to plan our week around when we thought the rain might hit! Not an easy task, especially with 2 kids in tow! Thank goodness for the little girls in the neighborhood. I may have talked about them before, but we have twin girls across the street from us and this week they decided to take us on as their project! The girls have been over 3 days this week during the day to play with the kids. What a relief from the rain! We have done lots of crafts and played restaurant, princesses, Wii, and anytime the rain stops we play outside on the swing set! The girls have truly been a life saver this week!

Once it stopped raining for a few hours, we tried to venture out. Of all places to go, we had to go to the DMV! (Who knew you needed a Louisiana driver's license to register a child for school.) It's a little bit backwards down here, and of course we had to make two trips - I didn't have the right information that they wanted me to have to get my license (even though I had what I was originally told to have). Anyway, two trips later and two long drives to Livingston in the pouring rain, I have my license. As a treat for the kids for going to the DMV, we tried out another new playground. This one was more Mary Virginia's speed or so she told me! Once John Bay finally climbed to the top, he told me that he was "weally, weally high and I no like." He got over it and was climbing and sliding on all of the equipment!

weally high!

Mary Virginia found her favorite toy at the playground - it is kind of a bowl that you sit in and then spin. I think she spent the whole morning spinning!

I caught a quick moment of the kids relaxing before I had to run and catch up with them again!

Mary Virginia had another riding lesson this week! She is really thriving here. Miss Abby is an amazing instructor and doesn't put up with much from MV (as you may know, she gets a little chatty!) I am so proud of her. The instructor had her working on her balance and using her leg muscles this week...she road without hands! I think she was a little nervous at first, but after about a minute, she got the hang of it. She was posing on the horse showing us how good she was at keeping her balance! She even trotted without her hands (not holding the reins) and no one on the lead line! Her favorite part of lessons is when she gets to practice her 2 point stance and walk/trot/jump over the poles. Bailey did an excellent job with the lesson and Mary Virginia was able to jump over two poles! (The picture is not great, but hopefully you can get the idea - I was trying to keep up with John Bay as he was helping to let horses in and out of the pasture.)

We spent our Saturday night with another displaced Brasfield and Gorrie family! B&G has so many jobs going on in the Baton Rouge area that we are able to spend time with people from home that we may not have otherwise met! We had dinner with the Davis family. John Bay was in heaven - they have 2 boys around his age! These are the first boys his age that we have met. We ate at one of our new favorite restaurants, Papi's Fajita Factory, and then treated the kids to ice cream at the cupcake store down the street. Just a note, stay away from Superman ice cream...very yummy, but very messy! We can't wait to get together with them again! The wives are trying to plan our first girl's night out adventure...

Our final adventure of the week was a trip to the Swamp! Well, kind of. In between rain storms, we went to another Baton Rouge park - Bluebonnet Swamp and Nature Center. Mary Virginia had seen Ed watching an episode of Swamp People and she wanted to go find her very own alligator in the swamp. This park is in the middle of Baton Rouge, but surrounds the Bluebonnet Swamp. They have built a great boardwalk through the swamp and you can hike all through the paths. This was not quite the swamp that Mary Virginia had hoped for...she kept asking "where is the swamp" and "why isn't there more water". We had a great time hiking/walking around the swamp and looking for animals - all we found were some grasshoppers (they were HUGE) and a few spiders!

The stopped by the Nature Center after our walk and checked out all of the cool animals and the touch tables that they had inside. We loved seeing the turtles and the baby alligators. The kids are learning to recognize snakes (I am not too happy about looking at snakes) - YUCK, but glad they are learning! We also played with snake skins and pelts. We learned about some creatures that we had never seen before like the huge grasshoppers from our hike (also known as Devil's Horsemen - grasshoppers without wings) and a huge red ant that I had seen at the barn on Thursday (Red Velvet ant or "Cow Killer - actually a type of wasp). On a side note...if you see one of those - DO NOT TOUCH - not that I did...I was just warned! John Bay and I took a quick peek at the bee hive they had and listened to the millions of bees making honey - he was not too impressed!

It has been another fun filled week - next week is going to be a hard one, I have to register Mary Virginia for school! Wish me luck!

Check out the artwork section. I have a few new things and I am working on a few more...hope to have them up by Wednesday!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Back in the Saddle

Week 7: Breakfast in bed...Is there a better way to start the week? We are slowly trying to get ready for school to start in 3 weeks, so we are getting up earlier to get used to what will be our way of life. But what do you do in the summer when you get up so early....I treated the kids to breakfast in bed with "shows". Not a bad way to start the week if you ask me!

I think that I mentioned last week that we went back to school shopping...Mary Virginia would not pose for a picture in her uniform - I will get that on the first day of school - but I thought I would show a picture of what we have to look forward to for the rest of the year.

(Sorry for the bad picture, everything just came out of the dryer and I threw it out there for a quick picture)

We made our weekly trip to the library to turn in our reading list and check out lots more books! The kids thought we needed a picnic at the playground after a morning of reading and quiet time at the library. We have had temperatures in the mid to upper 80's this week, so I thought why not. We played hard and had a great morning!

We also did some exploring this week! The kids and I explored Gonzales, LA. We checked out Gonzales soon after we moved here, but this time, we were on a mission to find a stable! Before moving here, Mary Virginia's riding instructor and I thought we found the perfect barn...after doing a "drive by", I found that the Internet lies! We were all extremely disappointed. After much more research and many phone calls, we had a list of a few more barns that met our criteria. I made a deal with the kids that we would play at the park after riding by a few barns and exploring the Gonzales area. (There are back roads that lead to the area from our house that are fun to explore...small towns with LOTS of personality!) Of course, we made our way to the park and the splash pad. Another great park with lots of kids and overall a great facility! I can not believe this area!

Through much snooping and lots of "drive bys", we found a barn that we love. As I have said before, it is not Windwood and nothing will ever be, but this is the one that we found where Mary Virginia can get the lessons that she needs and they have a covered arena, so no rain delays! The instructor, Abby, was wonderful and so were the horses! So, Mary Virginia is "Back in the Saddle" again. Although she stayed on the lead line the whole lesson (the instructor wanted to get a feel for her abilities), Mary Virginia was trotting and posting again! She was even practicing her 2 point stance - as she told me, she is getting into her jumper position so that she can be ready when it is time! This is the pony that she rode, Bailey, next week she will be riding Indy - a small horse. Bailey is a little bit stubborn and slow and Mary Virginia was a little impatient. I am not sure they knew what to think of us at the barn, we pulled up and Mary Virginia jumped out with all of her gear...pants, boots, helmet, grooming kit, and horse treats. Apparently, we are not the typical riders of the area!

2 point stance on Bailey

Trotting on Bailey

And finally, our weekly exploration was the Baton Rouge Zoo! On Saturday, in between rain storms, we made the journey to the zoo! It is another area in this city that is run by the parks board. I am amazed by what that organization has done around this city! The kids were so excited! We will be heading back next week - we didn't get to ride the train and the kids were not happy! Of course, we are now zoo members, so I am sure we will be heading back weekly!

Of course, you have to have a great gator exhibit in Louisiana. These were huge gators...John Bay was bored with them; all they did was lay there! As you can imagine, Ed had him yelling "choot em" at the gators. (Our Swamp People moment of the week)

You had to know that if there was a playground, we were going to find it. Halfway through the zoo, the kids found the play area! Another great playground (one way in and out so that parents could sit on the shaded benches at the gate and watch the kids)!

After a great morning at the zoo - we topped off the exploration with a Poboy! Ed has found a yummy restaurant near his job site, Best Seafood and Poboys. They did not disappoint! It was my first poboy as a resident of Louisiana! I tried out the shrimp and I think it was a good way to start!

Overall, we had a fun, very productive week! We are looking forward to what next week has to offer...a trip to the library and riding lessons are already on the books, but who knows what the weekend may bring...think, crawfish tails!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Splashing through the Summer

Week 6: It is hard to believe that we have been in Baton Rouge for 6 weeks. It is proving to be a city with lots to do and the temperature can only be described as HOT! You would think that growing up in Alabama would prepare you for hot weather, but this is unlike anything I have ever experienced! We have found that the only way to beat the heat is in the water or to stay inside! We have done a little of both this week...

What better way to start the week than with a holiday, Ed had a 3 day weekend! Since the 4th of July was Monday, we spent the day relaxing and hanging out in the back yard...pool side.

Between the pool, the sprinkler, and a few wind gusts, Monday was a very relaxing day! We missed our usual 4th of July routine, cooking out with the neighbors in Coventry, but we managed to have a low key holiday!

The kids and I had a slow week - we tried out the library for the first time since we have been here and everyone has a new library card! The kids are so excited that they can check out their own books now! They also signed up for the summer reading program, so we are a little obsessed with reading all of the books in our house again and again! I am very proud of them; they are taking their library cards so seriously! We went to story time, which the kids loved, and we also went to a show they had at the library, Harvey the Rabbit and Friends. We have been counting down the days until we go back to the library!

I know that I have posted pictures from the Forest Park Splash Pad, but since we went again on Friday...I thought I would post some more pictures! After a long day which included getting a new tire for the van, I treated the kids to a day at the park! John Bay actually played in the water this time and made a few new friends.

The weekend proved to be just as hot as the week! We had the Howells over on Saturday night for pizza and playing in the yard and to watch Ed get beat on Wii boxing by Trevor (Scott's son). And to end the week, we tried another new church - which we really enjoyed...Mary Virginia asked if we could go back everyday! We ended the day with another new experience, the water park! Mary Virginia has a new favorite activity...water slides! John Bay was not as happy with the whole water park idea, but he loved the water cannons! We had a great afternoon at the park and the best part is that it is just a few miles from the house and it is a community park! We will be making another trip to the water park!

Ed and John Bay relaxing in the lazy river!

This is the kids slide on the wet playground. (You can't see it in the picture, but there is a huge bucket on top of the playground that dumps gallons of water on everyone about every 5 minutes.)

John Bay and the water cannon...

we spent most of the afternoon shooting people in the pool!

Mary Virginia going down the other slide on the kid's playground. In the background are the two large water slides. Mary Virginia's favorite was the green slide (Ed's was the blue slide).

I wish we could have gotten more pictures at the water park, but we spent so much time in the water that I was scared to keep the camera around...everything there was wet! Between the zero entry pool, the lazy river, the water slides, and the extra large bucket dumping water on us every five minutes - we had a blast!

We were all exhausted and we ended the night with a sleep over!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Back to the Bayou

What a way to start the week...we headed back to Baton Rouge. Gigi and Jaja made the trip with us this time. We are so excited that they are going to get to hang out in Baton Rouge with us for a few days. When we got home, Ed had a wonderful surprise waiting for the kids....a new play set for the backyard! John Bay thinks that he has his very own playground.

We had a few adventures and new experiences this week and we took Gigi and Jaja along for the ride. To start things out, we decided to take a trip to the antique district in Denham Springs to start out our city tour! The stores were a little overwhelming and the kids were NOT in the mood - but I found the store of my dreams....salvage windows, doors, shutters and much more! I will definitely be heading back there ALONE! On another day trip, we went to see Mike the Tiger and take in the LSU campus (and of course, a quick drive by Nick Saban's old house - also the house that the cast of Twilight stayed in...). Mike has an amazing habitat across the street from the LSU stadium complete with a swimming pond, lots of play toys, and plenty of shade for nap time. The kids loved seeing the tiger. I just wish it hadn't been so hot, Mike was resting.

Mike the Tiger

John Bay in his Auburn orange with Mike

We spent the last day of Gigi and Jaja's visit having a picnic and a trip to the playground. We wanted to make sure they knew how hot it really gets in Louisiana! We had a fun time - but it was a short visit...

We all needed a nap once we got home!

We rounded out the week with some early 4th of July celebrations. The first was a trip to the Walker City Fest - which was a day of fun with a bounce house, inflatable water slides, a playground, train rides, hot air balloons, live music, and lots of food! Mary Virginia and John Bay had their very first SnoBalls! Apparently instead of Yogurt and Ice Cream shops, Livingston Parish has SnoBall stands all over the place...we have not ventured to try one until this weekend at the park! The kids loved their new treat! We also found out that John Bay loves dancing to Mustang Sally and many other similar songs!

We had the Skippers over for some early 4th celebrating! We kids had fun playing in the pool and sprinklers and on the play set! We were able to eat some BBQ and watch fireworks, all from our backyard!

The new play set

We were sad to see Gigi and Jaja go, but we are excited to see what July has to offer! Bandit is adjusting well to the Louisiana way of life, he especially loves his 2 or more walks a day around the neighborhood!

We also want to welcome a new addition to the family, Baxter Thomas Peake! We are so excited for Jen and Glenn and we can't wait to see all of you!