Mardi Gras Birthday

February 05, 2008

It's been a half-year of firsts for us: First Halloween with a kid, first Thanksgiving, first Christmas and New Years, first day of preschool. Perhaps the most fun has been in the past week, which featured both the first Mardi Gras as well as Vanya's first birthday with us (and second overall).

If you've checked the pictures of the day, you saw that we were the best-costumed, non-prize-winning family in the Baton Rouge dog parade, and that we were holed up at the New Orleans Ritz Carleton with toddler and crazy dogs for a couple of days. The dog parade was won by who-knows-who, but the fix was in. The Dille's won one of the places, even though the sponsor was Mr. Dille's employer. The upside is that the Raising Cane's gift card which was the prize hadn't been loaded with any monetary value. So a rectangular piece of plastic and an awkward moment at the drive through window was the big prize.

Begging for Throws

Mrs. theskinnyonbenny was supposed to appear in the Muses parade in New Orleans on Thursday night, but thunderstorms, driving rain, and winds that gusted to gale force postponed the parade until Friday. I stayed with my folks outside of town during the delay days, and drove down late Friday morning. The dogs were quite pleased to go from accomodations on the floor of an enclosed porch to a luxurious stay in the beds of the Ritz.

We had a couple drinks in the afternoon, then a decent nap, which turns out to have been a very good call. I gave the dogs a walk through the French Quarter while trying to avoid sinkholes with the stroller. Around 6:30 or 7:00 we caught a cab to go watch parades uptown.

We got to our spot about halfway through the first of four parades. It was a little chilly, but nice. Vanya sat and watched quietly at first, and then became interested in catching beads when he realized they were raining from the sky. It took him about the time of one parade to turn into a typical Mardi Gras toddler -- screaming to be held up high every time a float passes. He clearly enjoyed the bands and the horses, and I dare say it was one of his most fun evenings ever.

A birthday shot.

As the parades dragged on and on, he fought sleep, finally dozing on my shoulder one float before Mrs. theskinnyonbenny's. By now, it was somewhere around midnight. But something woke him, and he and Mom got to see each other from float to sideline. He nodded when asked if he saw Mama, but it's hard to imagine he recognized which one was really her in wig and mask. Maybe. We could hear her voice for sure, so he probably really knew she was up there.

Vanya and I got back to the hotel room at 1:30. He had gotten a second wind and was laughing and teasing me while I tried to change him into pajamas. Unbelievable. Mrs. theskinnyonbenny came in a half hour later.

We got up early and drove home Saturday. Everyone but me had long naps, and I cleaned up the back yard for the next day's birthday get together.

The birthday thing was nothing special, but Vanya had a lot of fun again. We ate sausage balls and chicken wings, and rolled right into the Super Bowl once it got late.

The pictures are more birthday-balanced than this post.

Happy Mardi Gras!