Sunday, December 08, 2013

My 4 yr old monster

Four years ago this little creature entered our world. Life has never been the same.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

All hallow's eve

All Hallows Eve

Spooky. Scary. A night intended to scare off the demons.

But what I finally realized tonight, is that it is anything but.

I've never been a huge Halloween person. I've had my share of parties and been to my share, but if it didn't happen, I probably wouldn't have missed it. But now I have kids. And they're All. About. Halloween.  Dressing up, getting candy.

Sami, Will and Lenaïc 2010
But now, what I realize Halloween is really all about? Neighborhood. Community. What is "trick or treating" if not a way to become part of the neighborhood? And the way we do it, Lavaca style, it's all about the 'hood. See, when we first moved here, there weren't many kids and it was not exactly the coolest place to be. Halloween saw precious few kids. Around the same time, the trend for kids to trek to the "cool" neighborhoods became the norm. And by "cool" I mean where they could get the most loot. But while our closest neighborhood is THE place to be, some years ago we realized that trick or treating with truck loads of roving teens was not so fun for 2-4 yr olds. So a few neighbors decided it was time to Take Back Our 'Hood.


And so we did. We started with a pre-party for the kiddos to get fueled up on "healthy food" (i.e. something that wasn't candy), check out costumes, take a group picture, and head out. The neighbors, long since accustomed to so few kids coming by, were THRILLED.
Lenaïc, Sami, and Will 2011


Attempting to herd cats, 2013
And here we area, 4 years later. It was our turn to host the pre-party. We saw old friends and made new ones. We connected with our usual neighbors, we made friends with new neighbors, we sent kids out trick or treating, and then with friends to our next-neighborhood to pass out candy to the masses. I sat, realizing, that Halloween is really just, or most importantly, about community. And oh, how lucky my kids are to have that.

Will, Sami, and Lenaïc, 2013
 After all, what is Halloween, without friends and neighbors?

Sunday, April 28, 2013


KWAKs are our King William Area Kids. We parents, I like to call "SAPs" - Southtown Area Parents.

Because one can have too many parties, every year during Fiesta (a city-wide, 10 day series of events), our KWAKs participates in the King William Parade. The>parade
kicks off the King William Fair a sort of arts gala and tribute to the funky and weird that is my neighborhood (King William is the fancier side of Southtown). The local newspaper described the parade as "geared towards families." And it is, if your family enjoys drag queens. My family does, so it's all good.
Ok, not ALL drag queens, but the KW Parade is all about anything goes. Quirky, funky, strange, serious, funny, real, and unreal. For a number of years now, the kids in the 'hood jump on the trailer made into a float and sing, cheer, and sometimes pout.

Needing to get things off to a fun start, we decided to merge our Friday playdate (just a few kids...) with the float decorating party and move it all to our house.

While the kids played, the parents worked, then the kids worked, and despite the drizzle off and on, we created a float.

 And on Saturday, the kids went wild. And then we all partied some more. These days, we don't bother going to the Fair itself. After the parade we hang out at our friends' house along the parade route, enjoy our neighbors, then stumble home.

We didn't get too many pics of the actual parade, but we got the important part - the KWAKs! 
Click HERE for more

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Kids in the 'Hood - Easter

Every year our neighborhood has an Easter Egg Hunt. A wonderful family who live across from Upper Mill Park collect eggs all week (every family is asked to leave 1 dozen per kid) then spend the wee hours of the morning hiding them. This year they brought some bunnies too. And it was a record year - well over 100 eggs to be hidden!

The 3 yr olds and under go first, then they big kids count down 60 seconds, and race off.

I cheat though. While I left off my 2 dozen eggs, I brought another dozen in my bag. Having seen my own kid confused my the whole "race to get as many as possible" idea, and there are usually a few late arrivals, I keep my stash and hide one at a time for the little ones. After awhile, I was re-hiding Lenaïc's own eggs, since really all he cared about was finding eggs. And it helped to have a few to hide for his buddy Will.

The kids have a blast hunting for eggs and playing with friends.

For more pictures of the Hunt, click HERE

The Egg Hunt was followed by two birthday parties and a dinner party. All the better that none required getting in the car!

So we spent Easter Sunday relaxing, well, until Angelina went next door and found they were going to another egg hunt and invited herself along....Oh, and if you consider my working 6 hours in the yard as relaxing.

What a great neighborhood!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Why I Love Lavaca part XXIVI

Yesterday was another regular sunny Sunday with no commitments. Well, that part was unusual as we often have some local activity happening. But anyway...

One neighbor posts a note on Facebook that his kid wants to kick around a soccer ball. A few of us say we'll join them. After playing an hour or so and all are ready to stop, Angelina yells "every one over to my house!"

Parents conferred and agreed it was ok. An entourage of kids head over, on the way we see another neighborhood family on the river, invite them to join us.  Soon we have 9 kids playing in the yard.

Frederic reminds me he wants to drive out to see the comet - west of here, where the viewing is better.  The other parents wanted to see it as well. We also realize it's dinner time.  Though I haven't gone shopping, I scrounge up everything in my pantry and fridge while others run home to see what they can bring from their fridges and gardens. We manage a feast for 6 adults and 7 kids (plus one baby). We eat and caravan to the west end for comet viewing.

Just another day in the neighborhood.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Southtown Kids, take 2

I sit here in my partially renovated 1880s-era Southtown house, soaking in the quiet.  So calm and peaceful with no kids in the neighborhood. Well, that’s because it’s 10 am and they’re all at school. If I were to write this at 3:30 pm, well, I wouldn’t. There would be too many distractions - kids laughing, kids playing in the street, kids chasing the dog in the yard, kids playing on our trampoline, or slide, or playhouse or, in the summer, our pool, kids going back and forth between houses on the block, like they’re all part of one family.

But, “No families live downtown.”

And so, coming back to my computer late at night, it went today. By 4pm, at least 10 neighborhood kids were in our yard playing, and a few non neighborhood kids who come to Southtown because “this is where all the fun is.” In the summer this is a weekly event. In the winter, it’s about once per month, not including all the other impromptu events with kids.

Every day we walk our older child to the neighborhood school, with smiles and cheers for our beloved crossing guards.  We watch a neighbor ride his bike to school, another ride his scooter with his dad – a teacher at the local school, and 2 younger sisters, while my 3 year old follows along on his tricycle. Just a few of many kids on foot or bike.

But there are no kids in Southtown.

And then there’s KWAKs – King William Area Kids, a group organized to get parents in Southtown together for fun and kid activities. These include bike rides on the Riverwalk (we don’t even have to get in a car), nature walks and scavenger hunts along the river, Easter egg hunts, picnics at Chris Park, and, for the one activity that requires getting in a car – a neighborhood campout.  The first campout was so much fun, that the second annual campout spots filled up in a matter of hours.     

I wonder if the kids I see every day are really invisible, since one reporter believes, from driving around, that “no kids live in Southtown.”

If we “young professionals” or “aging hipsters” fancy a beer and a bite, we head over to The Friendly Spot.  So friendly it has a playground and on any given day a ton of kids running around. Or to Alamo Street Eat Bar, where the neighborhood kids come up with elaborate, creative games while eating gyros or bahn mi. Or we walk for a taco at Taco Haven.  And then, we walk home. Walk? You know, that thing you do with two feet, that doesn’t require a vehicle, gas, emissions and all that fun stuff.

I think Southtown must be filled with aliens under 4 ft tall, since no human kids live here.  Or so says one local reporter.

For those of us who come from far away lands, with no family nearby, we learned the value of a community. We know that, should I require an emergency hospital stay while the other parent of my children is out of the country, there is no hesitation. My children have “extended” family – not blood relations, but neighbors, friends – who will take them in in a heartbeat.  We know that, when we have other health or family crises, or when we just need a mental health break, our neighborhood community is there to step in and help – so many in fact that we have to say “Thanks but we’re covered for now.”

But there is no “community” in Southtown,  “it's basically an apartment complex spread across several blocks of tree-covered lots. It will not evolve.

I moved to Southtown as a single young professional, when it was far edgier and far less hip than it is now.  I later met someone, fell in love, bought a house around the corner from my rental in Southtown; had kids, and am now raising them in our beloved Southtown, among what my 6 year old describes as her “family.” In her mind, Southtown is one big commune, and all her neighbors – including those without kids, including those straight, gay, single, married and all colors of the rainbow  – are her family.  

Southtown has evolved. It has evolved back to what it was in its earliest days: a community of people who share their lives, and a place where my kids know they belong.  It will continue to evolve. It will evolve so that our kids’ kids can live here too.

But, apparently none of us really exist, since “there will never be herds of little kids riding bicycles to the corner store or playing street football.” Except, oops, there go those kids riding their bikes and playing football in the street.

Southtown Kids!

An ignorant reporter recently wrote an article about our neighborhood, claiming there were no kids, and therefore the "hip" neighborhood would eventually die as the "young" professionals who live here would eventually move out to the suburbs once we married and had kids.

While I like being referred to as "young,"  this poor piece of journalism could not be more wrong.

Just another summer day in the 'hood (literally, this was a weekly event this past summer)

July 4th King William Celebration - apparently these kids are invisible

And fun isn't only in summer - this was December

Hipster kids at an Election Night Party

Friday, February 08, 2013

Quotable Quotes

There will be many more coming, but for now, here's one:

Upon seeing a police car on the road, Lenaïc shouted, "Look! Police! Woo-Wooo. Wooo-Wooo!" (imitating a siren). Then it passed us with no lights or sirens, and he said "The police car must be out of batteries."

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

An Advertisement for L.L. Bean

More stories of California adventures to come, but for now, a mini-advert.

In February 1992, I took a ski trip with my sister and her family to Colorado. Her son Richard, 2 years old, wore a lovely green snow suit and jacket from L.L. Bean.  A few weeks ago, digging for snow clothes for Lenaïc in Chris and Debbie's storage, I came across the very same outfit. Not only has it lasted 21 years, but it's gone through at least three Rohr kids, and probably the two Bowen Boys in between, and maybe a few more. If that's not an advert for quality, I don't know what is! Rich, now 22, all grown up and visiting with his girlfriend, was happy to see his name still marked inside the jacket.

And of course they're pretty darned cute.

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