Mardi Gras came hot on the heels of Christmas, and together those holidays sandwiched a Disney trip – so basically it’s March and I’m exhausted. But exhausted by fun!
First – we came back from Disney on Thursday. We almost didn’t make it, as the previously mentioned polar vortex froze up all of I-10 – but it melted in time for us to leave on time, thus saving us the thousand or so bucks we had considered spending on an extra day at Disney, to wait out the snow. Anyhow, though I was disappointed not to have another MK day under my belt, I was pleased to save the dolla billz and I was also quite pleased to have all day Friday at home, to put away our Christmas decorations, get out the Mardi Gras decorations, and pull together the boys’ Christmas presents.
MG Tree – plus my favorite “ornaments” – the purses and shoes I’ve caught in Nyx and Muses
Helping me decorate
Our first weekend back, our neighbor came over and the boys got out some of the crafts they’d gotten for Christmas to play with. Shrinky Dinks turned out to be a hit, though they were skeptical at first.
Shrinky dink magic. The boys were sort of meh about this, until I shrunk the first batch, and then they were absolutely gobsmacked.
Bakin’ and shrinkin’ our dinks, with our neighbor buddy
We also played with our paint-by-sticker books, 3-d printing pen, dot to dot, and some puzzles. It was a fun day. The next day, we took the boys for a nice long walk around Audubon park, and fed the ducks.
Duck feeding on a chilly Nola day
Reentry into work after all that was pretty brutal, as I recall, and the Prof almost immediately had to leave for a short Colorado business trip, so life was a hectic, sleepless mess as I tried to do seven thousand things in the space of a 24 hour day. However, Supermom over here managed to squeeze in a trip to the aquarium trip the next weekend, while solo mommin’ with the boys.
Aquarium trip when dad’s out of town. Liam is clearly upset with me about something.
I find it’s just easier to parent them when we’re out and about doing something, than when they’re at home and I try to do something else (even laundry, or dishes), and they’re fighting or pestering me. I do remember this day was absolutely frigid, windy and cold, and everyone and there brother was at the aquarium that day.
A friend came over that same afternoon to drop off some stuff her slightly older kid had grown out of, including about eleventy bajillion legos and a small lovely foosball table, which we made room for upstairs in my playroom. She then proceeded to sit on my floor and play Legos for a pretty epic amount of time. It was cute.
Saturday night solo mommin’ it, we did Costco pizza and some Harry Potter. Jack popped us some popcorn. It was great.
Pizza and a movie
Somewhere there in January we also had a freezing sleet. The kids were out of school about a billion days, which also seriously complicated my daytime work productivity, causing me to work far too many late nights. Basically I took a weeks’ vacation and there were two holidays in January, the kids were out of school a week, the Prof was gone for several days, and I still billed over 180 hours (billable, plus another 20 non-billable). I. Nearly. Died.
This is ice, not snow, and it didn’t melt for days. The boys tried to make a snowman but it was just one solid sheet.
The Prof returned from his trip just in time for me to take Liam to a pretty cute birthday party at the animal shelter on Sunday afternoon. I didn’t even know this was a thing, but it’s kind of a great thing. The LSPCA gets paid to rent you space in their building (FWIW the Louisiana SPCA is the absolute most top notch government facility I have seen in this state, which generally has a Decaying Southern Gothic architectural style), you bring everything, they supply puppers and kittenz and bun-bun-bunnies for scritches and snugs, and man I can’t even talk about it without devolving into baby speak. It was really fun and special, and it was just for Liam and me, as siblings weren’t invited to this one due to space concerns. He has a way with animals – they bring a tenderness out in him that isn’t normally present. I wish I had the capacity to buy him a million bunnies and kitties to love.
Petting the kittenz
We also had some friends over for grilled salmon and craft beers that night – keeping it simple but social, that’s the theme in this city.
This big boy wanted to sit on a stool with the big kids.
We normally Mardi Gras the whole season with them, but this year their oldest (born with a cleft lip and palate) had to go to Boston for some surgery over the Mardi Gras period. Boo.
Through this early January period of time, I knew that Mardi Gras was fast approaching, and this particular year it meant costume planning! New Orleans is the only place I have lived where all adults have a costume box – I pulled some things out of mine and added to it through some purchases from Party City and Leg Avenue, to create my costume for being part of the Wonder Woman krewe walking in Chewbacchus. Chewbacchus is basically the nerd parade for people (like me) too poor to spend thousands on riding in a bigger parade. It has no floats, and thus it is very cheap – much of the dues spent by riders in the bigger parades go toward float decoration, storage, and maintenance, as well as paying the guys who drive the tractors that pull them. What Chewbacchus has instead are individual krewes who come up with a sci-fi or pop culture theme, create their own contraptions powered by small electric engines or pedals, and then walk through the streets tossing small throws (since we have to carry everything on our backs). Our very limited dues of $42 goes to pay for the road-clearing and police presence, and that’s about it. My krewe was the Wonder Women, and we had an invisible jet contraption that was basically made of a frame, lined in white twinkle lights, built onto a recumbent bike that was pedaled by somebody’s husband.
More on that, though, in a bit – for now, my February 3rd parade was fast approaching and I had to get on the ball for getting together a costume and some lightweight throws. Some people buy a full WW outfit, already created, but I like to have a little more fun. I went to a few in-person shops, and finally settled on the WW tights you see below. These were the most expensive piece of the ensemble – high quality, so they lasted without runs or tears, and everybody loved them. I built the rest of this ensemble around the tights, shopping for the remaining pieces online – the starred blue boy-shorts and tutu, a red bustier, the wrist and headband accessories, and a blue boa.
I walked with a bunch of friends who each made their own designs, and we have plans to do it again next year and work on beading our bustiers and lining them with lights, and also beading/lighting up some shoes (I have old sneakers I can use for this). Super fun.
Hundreds of throws, dozens of dollars, barely any lbs!
I also went to the Party City website and threw into my online cart some of every Wonder-Woman (or Wonder-Woman-adjacent) themed party favor they had. All very light and cheap, but perfect for me to carry on my back for a couple of miles, and pass out bit by bit. I had plastic bracelets, stickers, barrettes, bubbles, and other doo-dads, and I carried them all on my back in a British Airways drawstring bag (the perfect color scheme, matched great). We were also given some pretty rad WW buttons to hand out, also part of our dues.
My own Chewbacca
Just before the season really kicked off, our littlest turned 4. He has yet to have a birthday party in his short life, because it always falls right at the Christmas/Mardi Gras seam, and I can just never get it together. There are only 24 hours in a day and kid party planning takes some of them, and I’ve never crowbarred the time into my life. I really intended to this year, but Craiggy goes to school with about 15 kids who all have birthdays in January and February (literally, all but 3 of them), and the months were packed end to end with 4 year olds’ birthday parties. So we skipped it again. However, I did get him those cute Chewbacca pjs, and we had cake at home and he opened some presents. He didn’t seem to miss the party this year, but NEXT YEAR. PROMISE, BUDDY.
Our next post will see the kick off of the season, with our first parade, then MY parade, then the Prof’s parade, and then off we roll. In the meantime, here’s the meal plan for the week, which is what I sat down to do when I thought – let’s just do a catch up first. 1.5 hours later . . .
Last week’s choices were fine, except the tortellini soup didn’t work out the best. It was more like tortellini with watery tomatoes on it. I like the idea, I just need to work on the execution. This week, I’ve got lots of ground beef in the freezer, plus some boneless skinless chicken thighs, so we’ll be finding ways to use those up.
- Spaghetti and meatballs – jarred spaghetti, frozen meatballs. Dinner of champions. I’ll have Liam make it. We will add to this meal – and every meal – whatever bulk Costco green veg I buy this week. It will not be squash. We are all kinda over squash at this point.
- White wine and herb braised chicken thighs and potatoes – this seems fairly simple, and perfect for the slightly chilly turn in the weather down here
- The best beef enchiladas – I make enchiladas a lot but they are always chicken and black bean, or black bean and sweet potato. I hardly ever make beef enchiladas (since I don’t use a lot of beef generally), so this will be a treat.
- Chili and cornbread pie – I have everything in the pantry already to make this.
- Honey paprika chicken thighs – These look divine. We’ll have some sort of starch and veg on the side – probably rice, but perhaps potatoes. This is a real meat and potatoes menu this week!
- Leftover vegetable macaroni and cheese from last week, which I froze. One meatless meal at least!
So that’s dinner for the week. I won’t have to buy much to make all of this, so we will do a little spring clean-out of the freezer and pantry, and then start segueing into cooking for the warmer season! I can’t wait to fill my back porch pots with herbs and maybe some tomatoes and peppers this year. Mmmmm. Spring comes early down here – hoping it springs for you soon as well!