Monday, February 20, 2012

The Louisiana Diaries: In the heat of Mardi Gras!

          The Louisiana Diaries: Doin' the Mardi Gras! In Lafayette . . . yesterday all day at the carnival riding rides and listening to zydeco on the bandstand all set up near Cajun Dome - home of U. of L Ragin' Cajuns!
            Tonight, the Children's Parade in downtown Lafayette -- where one can expect to be buried in beads. Tomorrow, another parade and all day festivities in downtown Lafayette. Later this week..., a trip to NOLA to visit the French Quarter POST Mardi Gras (filled with drunken college students; including 'flashing' women. Not exactly family entertainment!).
           Happy Mardi Gras all! BTW, so far Mary is going to give up her computer for one week for 'Lent;' dad is quitting smoking (again) and I am thinking of giving up housework!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mardi Gras: Let the Party Begin!

           The Louisiana Diaries: C'mon Mardi Gras! This weekend starts what will begin a seemingly endless round of parades across Louisiana - up north in Shreveport, known as Plantation Country; in Lafayette, Cajun country, and of course, in New Orleans! The girls parade tomorrow at their school; hauling preschoolers in wagons who will toss beads at the older kids.
            In Lafayette, Feb. 17-19 begins the 51st ...Annual Courir de Mardi Gras featuring a gumbo cook off, a Saturday Children's Parade, and Sunday's Courir de Mardi Gras Parade and run, plus carnival rides and entertainment. In NOLA, revelers can look forward to Feb. 18's "Endymion" known as the most 'bodacious" and extravagant of all the New Orleans Super krewes (clubs that sponsor and put on the various parades and festivities, including opulant grand balls with cornation of kings and queens!).
             This year newsman Anderson Cooper will be on hand for this event, along with musical guests, Maroon 5! Then on Feb. 19, the "Bacchus" starts late afternoon featuring comedian Will Ferrill as King Bacchus this year. Apparently with this parade you watch out for the towering gorilla floats! We are headed to NOLA for one day's activities . . . all of which culminate on Fat Tuesday on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter with a series of increasingly ' beyond description' floats, and yes, women who flash from French Quarter balconies asking for 'beads.'

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Louisiana Diaries: A look back: How it all Began, or plus baby equals 5

Column One

Please note: This column ran in May 2003 in the Anchorage Daily News as part of a series of columns under the title: "Midlife Mom." 

           Seven years ago my husband and I uttered these fateful words: Let’s start a family. In early July, last year, our wish came true with a vengeance. On that day, three babies entered our lives. Three girls. All. At. Once.
            How did this happen?  A convergence of events came together in a way that can only be explained by starting at the beginning.
            I am now 45. I was already in the fertility Bonus Round when we began ‘trying’ to have children. Over 40, a woman’s miscarriage rate rises to nearly 50 percent. In two years, we had endured four  miscarriages. Since the point was to have a child, not necessarily ‘our child,’ we began to look into adoption.
            Here’s the way most people think it works: You adopt, then suddenly you ‘relax’ and get pregnant. If only it were that easy. What most people don’t understand is that for couples like us, who pursue both having children and adoption, what often occurs is that the two come together. That’s what happened to us.
On a Monday in early July, the adoption agency we’d been working with left a message for us to call them. One week earlier, we had had a positive pregnancy test. The next day my husband went to work and returned the call. Meanwhile, I called my doctor to go in for a check up.  By the time my husband had called the adoption agency, he not only learned that we had been chosen by a birth mother, but that the baby had already been born that very morning.
My husband gave me the news as he drove me to my doctor’s appointment. We quickly reviewed our options: To go forward with the adoption or not. Without hesitating, we said ‘yes.’ We could handle two.
At the doctor’s office, we had an ultrasound and saw a heartbeat. We were overjoyed. My husband then asked about a dark circle in the corner of the monitor. ‘Oh, it’s probably nothing,’ the doctor said. But as he moved the ultrasound wand over my belly, we all saw it: A second heartbeat! We were having twins.
My husband was left having to explain to the adoption agency that we were pregnant with twins. They conveyed this information to the baby’s birth mom, who said ‘no problem,’ she wanted her daughter to have siblings and to be with us.
Over the next 48 hours we had to decide what to do. We called a myriad of friends, including one mother of twins, who also had two young children under the age of five. Bill called his boss, the father of three. We spoke with counselors who warned us against the idea (it wouldn’t be fair to any of them, we were told). One woman who had worked with us in trying to have children, scoffed at the idea. We each called a half dozen or more friends to get their opinion. I had never felt such intense pressure. I’m the kind of person who agonizes over what socks to put on in the morning, much less a life changing decision such as we were facing. I was both drawn to and terrified by what we were contemplating. I was not afraid of the cost of raising three children, or how tired it would make me, or how overworked I would be, or how my life would change, because I certainly hoped that it would.
What I worried about was precisely what the one counselor had warned against – could we give all three what each needed, especially in their early years. Could we hold them enough, answer their cries, be there when they needed us?
But as I look back over that time period, I realize it was not so much a decision as it was a foregone conclusion.
Two days later we brought the first of our three babies home from the hospital. Despite how many times we tell people the story, they still say ‘Did you hear about Kim and Bill? They adopted and then learned they were expecting twins!”
 I correct them every time. What the above implies is had we known about the twins beforehand, we would not have adopted; that it was some kind of cosmic mistake. It wasn’t and it will always be important to us that she know that.
            Are we nuts? Perhaps. My editor thinks deciding to have children is about being drawn by a life force and fulfilling a powerful longing. In our case, our love and desire to have children was so strong, that it brought three babies into our lives.  I like that.
As my husband put it: Think of the story we can tell the girls – of how they all came together on the same day and how they were destined to be together.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Hangover

     The Louisiana Diaries: Welcomes you to my world!  I am a writer, journalist, college professor, Alaskan who has moved to Louisiana via Dallas Texas. Long story. For now, it's Monday and I have a headache having just spent the weekend celebrating my twin daughters' Ninth birthday!
        The festivities began Saturday afternoon in a party held at the Zoo at Acadiana.  More then 25 kids came (we nearly ran out of cake!) and more than 10 adults.  The parents stood around chatting while the kids ran to and fro at the zoo.  Our seating area was by the giraffe (a grand view) and a pair of chickens kept running under foot (searching for food droppings, no doubt).  Rare, frigid temperatures ruled the day -- below 50!  I, the Northerner, wore the most clothes -- a ski cap, gloves, scarf and down coat. And still cold.
       Two hours later, we were continuing the celebration at home with a sleepover for five of the girl's BFF's (what were we thinking?).  Not bad, though.  Dad made tacos.  King Cake (Mardi Gras just around the corner) for dessert.  The kids spent the night opening presents; playing video games, watching TV and movies and dress up!  Mom, that's me, spent all night picking up, cleaning up and watching movies on my kitchen TV -- ah, the life.
     The night went without conflict or much trouble. At 10:30 I ordered everyone into PJ's, then set about making beds on the floor . . . by midnight everyone was down, if not out.  Only one became homesick at 1 a.m. and dreading driving in frigid temperatures, I managed to calm her down and coax her to sleep.
     Sunday was a whole new form of torture.  The clean up.  I spent an hour folding every blanket, quilt and sleeping bag we own -- I have three daughters, plus five, equals too-many-beds on the floor!  Then as parents gradually picked up their children; and others walked home in the neighborhood, I continued my weekly cleaning, made longer by the party mess.
     No chickens, tigers or babies left behind, but there were a half dozen or more half full bottles of water, balloons rolling along the floor, half empty gift bags, half eaten bags of Fritos and misc. pieces of clothing left here and there.
     I didn't finish until bedtime, and collapsed, along with the girls, at 9 p.m.
     This year, as with past, I swear I will never do another sleepover party again!  But then my oldest has her birthday coming up in July.

Monday, February 13, 2012