Monday, June 18, 2012

No Training Wheels for Kate!

Last week, Kate made great strides in her attempt to ride without training wheels.  Here's video of her success!

Jill's Big Girl Bed!

Jill is sleeping in a big girl bed now!  Well, I'm using the term "sleeping" generously.  We've had our ups and downs, but so far I think she's doing pretty well.  This picture reminds me of another little girl's smiling face, not too long ago.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Anniversary Trip to New Orleans

Josh and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary this June, and to celebrate we took a couples trip to New Orleans with our dear friends, the Conlys.  (The Conlys' anniversary is the day after ours.)  My mom and dad kept Kate and Jill for us, and Josh and I drove to Baton Rouge to meet Rocky and Sunee, who had dropped off their kids with his parents.  We enjoyed walking around downtown Baton Rouge and seeing the Conlys' old stomping grounds, viewing the state capitol, watching the sun set over the mighty Mississippi, eating some good sushi, and then spending about $2.50 total at the Belle of Baton Rouge Casino. 
At the Louisiana State Capitol
Looking out from the steps of the Capitol, which have all 50 states names on them.

Nice anniversary photo...a benefit of vacationing with trained photographers.

The view from the rooftop of the sushi restaurant in Baton Rouge.
The next day, we traveled to New Orleans.  We purchased Living Social deals for the Royal Sonesta hotel, which was beautiful and extremely nice...except that it was right on Bourbon Street, which made for very interesting people-watching, to be sure.

We spent most of our time exploring the French Quarter, but we also did a walking tour of the Garden District and Lafayette Cemetery.

On St. Peter, a few blocks from our hotel.

Intricate wrought iron balcony, feels very French Quarter to me.

On the streetcar with Sunee.

The Garden District is full of beautiful homes, built mostly in the 1840s-50s.  We saw several historically significant homes, as well as some that have been purchased by celebrities.

Nicolas Cage's house...which was apparently repossessed by the bank and is currently being renovated on the inside to look less like the planet Krypton and more like an 1840s mansion.

John Goodman's home

Sandra Bullock's home

Home used in Brad Pitt's movie "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."

The Commander's Palace...former brothel, now a restaurant.  (Or, who knows, it could very well still be a brothel.  This is New Orleans after all.)

Eating lunch at Parasol's...home of the "best roast beef Po' Boy in New Orleans."

This is in the hotel's lobby.  The hotel had fabulously exotic flowers and plants everywhere, orchids in every room, and a beautiful courtyard with orange trees.  Our hotel package included complimentary hors d'oeuvres and cocktails every evening, as well as dinner both nights in the hotel's restaurant and jazz club. 

On our last day, we drove through the lower 9th Ward.  There were still some vestigial reminders of Katrina's devastation, including abandoned houses with the "X" mark on them.  However, most of the area we saw was comprised of either vacant lots or new homes being built under the direction of Brad Pitt's Make It Right Foundation.  Many of the new homes featured very modern designs, with solar panels and other sustainable/green features.  The area actually reminded me of East Austin, with its strange coupling of disintegrating wooden homes from the early 20th century and sleek, ultra-modern houses.

On our way out of town, we had a picnic lunch at the City Park (think "Central Park" of New Orleans), and walked through the sculpture garden.  It was a fun, memorable trip with good friends and a great way to commemorate our anniversaries!