Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Oh My Azaleas!

When we first moved here we also heard a lot about the Norton Art Gallery.  Art.  Gallery.   Let's be honest...we live in Louisiana.  I wasn't in much of a rush to check out what I was certain would be nothing.  Nothing?  Mary Cassatt.  Charles Marion Russell.  Rodin.  I guess if you call that nothing, then sure.  It turns out we have a fantastic art gallery here in town, owned and operated (free to the public!) by the wealth of an old oil family. We've visited it a few times now and Eden loves looking at the paintings and sculptures.  Jude doesn't seem to care much, but that's a baby for you. 

Our most recent adventure at the Norton was to enjoy their forty acre grounds.  I've been stalking them on the gallery's live "azalea cam" and the moment was finally right.  (Not one word about my nerdiness, or I swear I'll punch you right through this computer screen.) Man alive!  It was an incredible fairy land of azaleas.  Take a look...

I'm sorry that these pictures don't even begin to do the grounds justice.  There are so many gorgeous sculptures and water features and waves and waves of flowers that I just didn't catch.  Come visit me sometime and I'll show you what I mean.  Don't worry...I won't even tell anyone if you scope things out on the azalea cam first!

Jude kept busy with graham crackers...can you see the crumbs?

Did I mention that we were lucky enough to have my excellent friend Karissa and her adorable little guy along for the fun?  We've been really blessed with neat friends here (of our own age!  kind of exciting, though we do miss all of the grandparents Ogden had to offer...)

Although I'm sure we will pay many more visits to the Norton Gallery in the meantime, I'm already counting down the months until next year's azalea party.  We live in a beautiful place.  That makes me happy.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Nacho Dog Tacos

I know, I know.  You're probably freaking out a little right now and thinking, "Is this a post on some kind of super weird new dinner recipe?"  No. Nacho dog tacos.  That's Kris's transliteration of Natchitoches, a little city south of here which is actually and nonsensically pronounced like Nack-a-dish.  Or Natchodogtacos.  Whatever you prefer. 

Anyway. We've been hearing about Natchitoches (town of Steel Magnolias fame) ever since we moved here and we finally went down to see it a couple of weeks ago.  Worth the drive for sure!  We had lunch (meat pies, don't ya know?) at a totally sketchy looking but delicious diner in the gorgeous historic district and then went to see some old plantations.  Par for my typical course, I didn't take any pictures of us.  But you're used to our ugly mugs anyway, right?  So relax and enjoy some scenery from Melrose Plantation...

Cows (those tiny black specs back yonder) grazing in the pecan orchard.  That, my friends, is a lot of nuts!

Buildings and grounds.  I can't actually tell you about any of them because we were too cheap to pay for the tour.  (Insert here whatever you would like to think about an old plantation in the deep South.)

Pretty though, right? Ignore the giant dumpster in the background.  Darn modern nuisance!

It's a funny feeling for me, visiting these types of places.  With their natural beauty and abhorrent antecedents they carry a strange magnetism that's at once engrossing and repulsive.  I have to detach myself a little and remember just to observe and let be, instead of saddling up on my high horse next to Sherman and marching straight to the sea.  The South is so easy to judge. 

Is slavery evil?  No question.  Of course.  But that's a pretty easy thing to say as an educated white lady in 2014.  Pretty easy thing to say as a black HUMAN BEING being worked like an animal in 1850 too, I guess.  Somehow it wasn't an easy thing to say at all for the white slaveholders.  (Somehow?  Filthy lucre.  Right?  But greedy rich people are still people too...)  I certainly can't give the Antebellum White South a pass, but I do feel some small sense of compassion for the individuals who participated in the slave system.  They weren't any better than their time.  I'm sure someday I'll pay the price for all of the ways in which I am not better than mine.     

Pretty heavy stuff for a post titled "Nacho Dog Tacos", huh?  Just keeping you on your toes!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Potty Training: The No-Method Method

*This post is primarily because I don't want to forget what we did and how it all happened, so I'll be prepared when Jude arrives at the magic age.  Skip away, friends!  I won't blame you. :)

Eden being our first kid, I didn't even know where to start the potty training party.  So I talked to a lot of friends and relatives, did the usual Google searches, and got familiar with every sticker chart-marshmallow treats-tinkle target- new undies trick in the potty-training playbook.  (I should add here that if you have used any of those with your kids or plan to in the future, more power to you!  No judgment here.  I really believe that every parent has to do whatever works best for their kid and keeps them sanest.  I'm sure your happy poopers are wonderful children with bright futures.  Good job, you!) I should also confess to sometimes being mighty tempted to throw in the towel and join the bribery brigade.  But I just couldn't do it. I mean here was my amazing daughter, the one who learned to breathe and swallow and smile and coo and roll over and crawl and walk and talk for no reason other than because she wanted to, because she was driven to.  How could I look into those trusting eyes and announce the end of learning things because she's motivated to and the beginning of learning things because I'll give her a pony at the end?  I couldn't.  So we chucked all of the "potty train your kid in three days!" rules out the window and followed Eden's lead.  For a year.  Here's how it all shook down.

18 months
We took Eden on observational trips to the potty frequently.  Gross?  Sure.  But everybody poops.  Sometime during this month she started sitting on the potty occasionally too and every now and then something came out.  We thought we were on the verge of total success.  We were not.

19 months-24 months
We bought a cushy tushy and a step stool.  They don't make cloth potty training undies or regular undies for people who are not yet two years and who are actually the size of a nine month old, so I bought the 2T size and tailored them.  This was a waste.  She was interested in the potty, but didn't actually have the bowel control yet to move to undies.  We checked out potty books from the library (I know...I just had to force my mind not to go to wherever those books had been before) and Eden loved reading them.  She definitely understood by now exactly what the potty was for.

24 months-29 months
We took a break from all things potty during the six weeks of insanity known as our move and Jude's arrival.  Along with moving into a twin sized bed, Eden had simply had enough changes.  To jump start her again, we bought several potty books and spent a lot of time with her sitting on the potty just to read them.  It was also right about then that we started letting Eden spend all of her home time naked.  Hey, it was a bajillionty degrees and the child is a born nudist.  Why fight it?  Funny thing was that if Eden was wearing a diaper, she only used the potty about half the time.  If she was naked?  She used the potty 100% of the time and only had one accident in these several months.  So by this time she had the bowel control...it was all about making the decision that the potty was better than the convenience of diapers.  It was also hard for her to grasp the difference between diapers and undies.  She almost always peed in the undies.  We tried a couple of very short trips out of the house in undies and these were successful.  But it just wasn't quite time yet to kick diapers. Occasionally she would rebel against the potty entirely and refuse to use it at all for a week or so at a time.  I think part of that was because Jude wears diapers and she wanted to hold on to being a baby just a little bit longer.

30 months-32 months
After taking another potty training hiatus because of our trip West, we got back to it again.  This time (at a friend's recommendation) we started emphasizing keeping undies dry instead of focusing on using the potty.  So we would make her wear undies at home and often ask her, "Eden, are your undies dry?  Remember not to pee in undies!"  This finally clicked. One magical day, she simply stopped asking to wear a diaper and we have been in undies exclusively (during the day...we'll get to the night sometime) for almost three months now.  She's only had two accidents during that time, and one of them was because she asked to use the potty but we were in the car and it took us twenty minutes to find one (which she then used). 

So there you go.  I know that working on potty training for a YEAR sounds like a lot less fun than doing it all in three days, but we are really happy with how it has turned out for Eden.  I love that she figured it out in her own time and not because we pressured her or disapproved of her for doing what came naturally.  I also think it wouldn't have taken quite so long without all of the disruptions we've had this year, but that's another story.  It feels like we didn't ditch the diapers until Eden had a very solid grasp on it all both conceptually and physically, which has resulted in very few accidents and skirted around the frustration (for her and us) which goes with pee and poop in the wrong places.  I hope that we are able to follow a similar pattern with Jude, but I know that every kid is different.  At any rate, we are thrilled for this milestone in our little girl's life.  What an almost-preschooler!