A very long attempt at catching up

I have the hiccups. I hate hiccups. They usually hurt, and I hate feeling like I'm not in control of some part of my body. This is why I also hate being tickled.

Anyway, I've been thinking in odd moments today about how I've sorely neglected my blog since I joined Facebook. So ha, those of you who kept bugging me about joining... you get to read random status updates and have me send you a hundred thousand Lil Green Patch plants, but you don't get blog updates nearly as often. And to those of you who aren't on Facebook: (1) Good for you. Resist! and (2) I'm really sorry I've been so absent here.

So here's a quick catch-up on the last few days. Jack's birthday was great. If you read Jack's post, you already know that Kent painted Jack's wrapping paper for all of his presents. I did a photo shoot on Wednesday with Kent dressed in some of Jack's work clothes, so Jack got an email with a link to this album on the morning of his birthday to cheer him up at work. Kent and I were very creative and conspiratorial. It was great.

The Queen of Sheba cake was a big hit (and I highly recommend this recipe, which I ended up baking in two small oval-shaped casseroles because she scared me away from using my apparently-inferior 9" cake pan). The frosting was much better than most, because it uses semi-sweet chocolate and butter instead of a bunch of powdered sugar, and I loved the chopped almonds inside the cake. It's a rich cake, not too sweet but with a pronounced chocolatey-ness (yum), so it was nice to have something to break up all of that. The cardamom-honey strawberries on top just made it even better.

Moving on... Kent was awake for over 3 hours in the night on Friday night, so Valentine's Day had a decidedly different feel to it than usual. We were all dead tired. I had bought Jack some fancy chocolate bars for him to open that morning, but he wanted to take me to Whole Foods to pick mine out because he's afraid of my choosiness. We hit the farmer's market first thing in the morning, where Jack bought me some red and pink dianthus plants to put in pots (much more sustainable than cut flowers) and we got a few veggies, including green tomatoes that I'll soon be frying to serve alongside red beans. Whole Foods was our next stop, and the good people at Dagoba tempted me with their Roseberry and Lavender & Blueberry flavors, so I got two delicious chocolate bars to enjoy. After lunch, Jack, Kent, and I all ate bites of all four of the chocolate bars, and since these chocolates are so rich and full-flavored, there's almost no way to overindulge, because a few small pieces are enough. I've virtually eliminated Hershey's, Dove, Cadbury, etc., from our house, replacing them with a few bars of the real, dark stuff.

On Saturday evening, we went over to a church friend's house for a Mardi Gras get together with jambalaya and vegetarian chili, then headed downtown for the Krewe of Orion parade just after dark. It was raining slightly, so we got a little bit wet, but it was a fun, short parade with impressive floats, and we caught some HUGE beads (I think they're getting bigger each year) and an all-important plastic cup commemorating the parade. Some of the more enterprising kids stand really close to the floats and end up catching stuffed animals, balls, glow sticks, and the like, but we didn't get that close with Kent, and those things wouldn't have meant that much to him this year, anyway. He was most excited about the floats and the beads he got to wear, and he also started dancing and bobbing each time a band marched by. I think about half the bands were playing the Hey Song, which I remember well from high school band and had a lot of fun listening to again. And again and again.

Kent's two new words yesterday were "float" and "beads", and he kept requesting more of each after we left. That's his big thing, saying the name of something over and over, then saying "moh" and signing it until we calmly or impatiently tell him that there aren't any more right now. He's actually just started putting two words together, usually in the form of "more [insert current fascination here]", like "more raisins" or "more floats". We did tell him that there will be more parades this coming weekend, not that the concept of "this weekend" means anything to him right now. It's still such fun to share Mardi Gras with him and let him experience all the non-drunken revelry and excitement.

Sunday was a good day, too. We caught up on sleep on Saturday night, and then after church, we had the return of the Soup & Pie Luncheon. Five amazing soups (including duck & deer sausage gumbo, lentil soup, and black bean soup with avocado/tomato salsa on top) and homemade bread would have been enough of a draw, but then there was the annual pie contest to really get things going. I'm the chair of the Fellowship Committee this year, so it fell to me to help plan the event and award the prize necklaces (pie tins on a strand of Mardi Gras beads, which I constructed) after our judges chose the winners. We had discussed in our meetings ways of making sure that everyone got to sample the pies, since in previous years, the 13-and-under crowd tends to descend on the pies before others get a chance, so we ended up slicing them into tiny slivers, providing only knives and forks for people to serve themselves instead of wide pie servers (just TRY and get a big piece that way, HA!), and putting out little plates. This worked pretty well, but it didn't deter me when I went through the line from trying to get small pieces of as many types of pie as I could. I managed to fit 7 different kinds of pie on this one tiny plate, enough for Jack, Kent, and me each to have a few bites of each variety on the plate. Kent is a pecan pie guy, so he turned down the key lime, blueberry, etc., and we ended up bringing home a few slices of leftover pecan pie to ration out to him over the course of the next couple of weeks.

Also, I'm having some moms and kids over for a painting playdate on Thursday, and we're going to see how the kids do at painting their own Mardi Gras masks. I just love the combo of toddlers and paint. It's such a surprise to see what they come up with. Wish me luck, and wish us good weather so that we can paint outside instead of trying to corral a bunch of small people with fast legs in our not-very-big kitchen.

I've already spent an hour writing this post, so I think I'm going to hit "publish" and call it a night. Mardi Gras pictures will be forthcoming, perhaps after all the madness has concluded and we're in the somber period of atonement afterward — I'll definitely make a Picasa album to share all our parade pictures so that you can see everything through Kent's eyes.

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I agree with you about Facebook. I had been blaming my lack of blogging on Will but now I realize that Facebook has a lot to do with it as well. I hope to jump back on the blog soon... but we shall see.

Sounds like you are having a great time down there taking Kent to a ton of fun new things for him. Good luck with the painting party on Thursday!
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