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I woke up yesterday morning in my own bed at home filled to the brim with gratitude after spending an incredible week in Utah with my sweet Aunt Carolyn and my awesome cousins. Their hospitality was AMAZING, the mountains were beautiful, and the memories will last for a lifetime. My Aunt Carolyn is one of my favorite people on the planet. We always have lots to talk about, and we pick up where we left off, like no time has passed since the last time we saw each other or talked to one another on the phone.

The only two people missing from this visit were my cousin Max, who now lives in San Antonio, and my charming Uncle Charles, who passed away three years ago. Uncle Charles was one of my Daddy’s older brothers and Aunt Carolyn’s sweetheart. Thankfully, I was able to visit his place of rest to tell him how much he is missed. He loved to tell stories and jokes. I always enjoyed spending time with him.

The last time I was physically in Utah was back in June of 2000 when my Daddy, my hubby, and me flew to the beehive state. With my Aunt Carolyn turning 80 years old in November 2020, and it being seven years (yikes!) since I had last seen my family from Utah at my cousin Max’s wedding in San Antonio, I knew it was time for a visit. I sent a message to my cousin Karen, who Aunt Carolyn lives with these days (in her beautiful basement apartment), and we set a date for me to come stay with them.

Back Row: (Daddy, Karen, Kat) and Front Row: (Aunt Carolyn, Uncle Charles, Barry, Sr.)

The week started off with my friend Kathryn and I traveling together. We flew out of the NOLA airport early Monday morning (12 July), changed planes in Houston, and landed in Salt Lake City before noon. While I was visiting my family in Tooele (about 30 minutes outside of Salt Lake City), she was visiting her daughter and son-in-law in Salt Lake City.

Karen and Aunt Carolyn retrieved me from the airport, and my vacay in Utah was underway. This trip to Utah was all about spending time with family. Karen is married to John, and they have three terrific children (Samantha aka Sam or Sami, Zach, and Taylor). The last time I was in Utah, they were all young children.

Zachary, Taylor, and Samantha

On Monday and Tuesday while Karen and John were at work, my Aunt Carolyn and I hung out at the house or ran errands in Salt Lake City or Tooele. We ate lunch at Applebee’s on Monday and Chili’s on Tuesday. On Monday evening, Karen picked up pizzas on her way home for dinner. She bought them from Papa Murphy’s Pizza where they make fresh from scratch pizza that can be baked, grilled, or smoked at home. I had a couple of slices of pepperoni pizza along with salad and a breadstick. The meal was delicious! Sam along with her adorable three-year-old twins, Carsen and Cory, joined us for dinner.

On Tuesday evening, Karen and Sam cooked dinner for all of us which was yummy (pork chops, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, green beans). I got to spend some more time with the twins. They are so much fun! Zach, his wife Teshia, and their adorable baby Maverick joined us for dinner. Zach has a lovely family. Later that evening, Taylor and I took the family dogs, Hobbs and Murphy, for a walk around the neighborhood. Even on vacation, I need to keep up my walking streak, and Taylor was the perfect walking buddy.

On Wednesday morning, Karen went with the twins to swim lessons because Sam, who is pregnant with her third baby, had a doctor’s appointment. Afterwards, Karen, Aunt Carolyn, and I had lunch at American Burgers which is one of Aunt Carolyn’s favorite places to eat. I ordered a BLT (my favorite sandwich) which was tasty. Later, Karen took us for a scenic drive. I love the mountains! We passed through Pine Canyon, and when returning to the house, we stopped above Deer Hollow; then, we rode through some neighborhoods where we spotted lots of deer. Deer are beautiful creatures. Utah is unfortunately experiencing a drought, so they’ll come down from the mountains searching for water. In fact, recently, Karen filled up a baby pool for a deer that wandered in her backyard. Her kind gesture was greatly appreciated.

Later that evening, I went out to dinner with Aunt Carolyn and her girlfriends from church. Her friend Cindy provided transportion for us as well as for Joyce, Janine and Janine’s daughter Barbara. Joanne met us at the restaurant, Los Primos (formerly Stockton Miners Cafe), which is located in a nearby town called Stockton. Karen had driven us to Stockton earlier in the day on our sightseeing adventure. I decided to order breakfast for dinner (French toast with two sausage links, an egg, and coffee). I was so excited about the French toast that I forgot to take a picture when I first got my food. HA! The food was awesome and the company was wonderful. Aunt Carolyn’s friends are cool, and I was thankful to be included in their outing. Back at Aunt Carolyn’s place, I walked around the neighborhood (definitely needed a walk after all those carbs). I spotted some quail in a neighbor’s driveway before heading inside. Sam and the twins had come over, so I was able to see them for a little bit. After they left, I hung out with Karen and John. Karen and I stayed up pretty late talking that night. What a delightful day!

On Thursday after noon, we drove to Salt Lake City and spent time at This Is The Place Heritage Park. I am writing a separate post about this excursion later this week. This is the day that I finally got to meet Sam’s husband Michael. Stay tuned!

On Friday morning, I walked around the neighborhood before breakfast since we were having a big family gathering in the evening. Karen had to work, so Aunt Carolyn and I ran a bunch of errands and ate lunch at Jim’s Family Restaurant. I ordered breakfast for lunch (avocado, mushroom, and cheese omelette with hashbrowns and coffee). Scrumptious! On the way back to Karen’s house, we stopped at the cemetary to visit Uncle Charles’s grave. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend his funeral because I was out of town for a professional development conference for work. Back at the house, I spent the afternoon getting organized for my departure on Saturday morning. I also spent some quality time with Murphy. Both of Karen’s dogs are super loveable.

Friday evening was FANTASTIC! My cousin Scott and his wife Kim came to the house for dinner with their three children. Zach, his family, Michael and Carsen were all there. Sadly, we were missing Sam and Cory. Cory was feeling unwell, so Sam and Michael decided that he should stay home for the evening. It was an enjoyable evening spent eating fabulous food (everything was sooooo yummy), engaging in carefree conversations, and taking family photos. Karen’s savory macaroni salad and mouthwatering key lime pie were a hit with my taste buds. Scott’s daughter Tylee made a delicious chocolate cake that I thoroughly enjoyed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (and chocolate sauce). I definitely splurged this week. Carsen came inside to find me, so I could see the rainbow she spotted in the sky. What a perfect way to end such an amazing week!

Well, dear reader, Saturday morning arrived too quickly. Michael drove Aunt Carolyn and me to the airport where we said our final good-byes. It was time for me to meet Kathryn for our returning flight to Louisiana. What an incredible visit with Aunt Carolyn and my Utah cousins! This trip was assuredly well-spent with some of my favorite people. I felt so welcomed and enjoyed everything that was done for me to make this visit special. The hospitality, generosity, and thoughtfulness of my extended family will never be forgotten. Happiness!

Kat and Kathryn at the Utah Airport (heading back to Louisiana)

“The memories we make with our family is everything.” ~ Candace Cameron Bure

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December is in full swing, and I’m in the midst of writing Christmas cards to send out to family and friends. My hubby and I have started buying the handful of Christmas gifts for the holiday season. And today, I will start reading A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This Christmas season I opted to create a Christmas Fun List to help get me into the spirit of the holiday.

I’m a bit behind on my 12 Days of Christmas Horror Marathon which is one of the items on my Christmas fun list. Every day this past week, I had some kind of commitment after work which did not allow time to watch movies. At the moment, I have only watched two Christmas horror movies, Krampus and A Christmas Horror Story, and they were both delightful. This upcoming week will afford me more time, so I can catch up. My goal is to complete my Christmas Horror Marathon first and then start watching traditional Christmas movies. Also, Kelsi and I have discussed having two Zoom conversations, one on Christmas horror movies and one on our Christmas fun lists which will include traditional Christmas movies as well as our other holiday activities. 

Yesterday, my hubby and I drove to the South Shore and visited by parents to celebrate their birthdays. My Daddy’s birthday was the day after Thanksgiving, and my Momma’s birthday is today. They wanted to eat at Zea Rotisserie and Bar where we all enjoyed a scrumptious meal. Afterwards, we headed over to PJ’s Coffee and enjoyed coffee and dessert.

Of course, what I look forward to the most this month is my two-week holiday break which starts on 18 December. It will be a time of reflection on the past year and preparation for the upcoming year. I love new beginnings, dear reader. Although the pandemic will not be over and a new president will take office in the United States, I remain hopeful that 2021 can be better with a change in perspective. I’ve already started tossing around ideas for my theme for the new year and items for my 21 for 2021 list. Happiness!

“The Christmas spirit is simply an honest spirit of love for all humanity. It is the force that moves us to give what we can, to help as we are able, and to always be of kind comfort.” ~ Richelle E. Goodrich, Slaying Dragons

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The passing of time has always fascinated me. At times it drags on like a boring lecture while most of the time it seems to fly by like a shooting star; yet, the amount of time is the same. As a child, time feels unlimited. Since I’ve turned 50, time now feels limited and has become more valuable to me. It feels like yesterday that my Daddy and I were enjoying a cup of coffee with my Uncle Manuel in his kitchen in Kentucky although it was a month ago to this day. And, so much has happened to all of us in a month that our time together feels like a distant memory.

Aunt SueMy Daddy had been wanting to visit his older brother for quite awhile. He is one of five siblings (three brothers and a sister) and the baby of his family. In the last three years, two of his brothers have passed away, and it began weighing on his mind that he might not see his remaining brother before either one of them departed from this Earth. Sadly, it took the passing of my Aunt Sue to make the trip to Kentucky a reality. My Uncle Manuel’s beautiful bride died at the end of July, and my Daddy was unable to attend the funeral services. So, he and I talked; and with the help of my cousin Mark, we hatched a plan that I would drive him to Nicholasville, Kentucky.

I was excited about the prospect of seeing family and finally visiting Kentucky since I had never been, but I was also a tad bit apprehensive because I would be driving which is not what I do on a road trip. Thankfully, my excitement outweighed my apprehension. So, on Wednesday, 02 September, Son #1 picked my Daddy up on his way home from work and dropped him off at my house. Then, we loaded up my car and pulled out of my driveway at 6:30 that evening. Our plan was to drive a few hours, spend the night at a hotel in Grenada, Mississippi, and get up early the next morning to drive the rest of the way to my Uncle Manuel’s home in Kentucky. After a few pit stops along the way, we made it safely, and our adventure in bluegrass country was underway.

Road Trip

Kentucky is a beautiful place. Parts of the state are mountainous while other areas are hilly with plenty of farms in between. Near my Uncle Manuel’s home there are many horse farms. What a joyous moment when we eventually arrived at his home! My Daddy and I were greeted by my Uncle Manuel, his new puppy Rocky, and my cousins, Mark and Junior. Even though the last time we had seen each other had been at a family reunion many years ago, it felt like hardly any time had passed at all while we were all hugging and smiling our big smiles. Conversations started up, and the comfort of family surrounded us like a warm blanket on a chilly morning. The next couple of days were wonderful. We stayed with my Uncle Manuel which is a few steps away from my cousin Mark’s house. The weather was gorgeous and provided much cooler temps than back home.

Uncle Manuel's Home

My Uncle Manuel and Aunt Sue had six children: Junior, Mark, Denise, Connie Wayne, Kimberly, and Lelia. Growing up, it was always a big deal when they would come visit. They would stay at my Nanny and Paw Paw’s house for about a week. As time passed and my grandparents were no longer alive, our paths would cross again at family reunions held in Monroe, Louisiana where both my Nanny and Paw Paw were originally from and many of our extended family members still live today.

Manuel Walters Family

Back row: Denise, Mark, Junior, Connie Wayne Front row: Aunt Sue, Uncle Manuel, Kimberly, Lelia

So, it was nice to have the opportunity to visit my cousins in Kentucky. Except for Denise, who was out of town, my Daddy and I were able to spend time with the rest of the bunch and their families. Even though we didn’t get to see Denise during this visit, we did meet Denise’s daughter Jessica and her family. The hospitality shown to us during our visit was amazing.

On Friday evening, Dempsey, my cousin Kimberly’s husband, drove my Daddy, Uncle Manuel, and me to Junior and Betsy’s house for dinner in an old-timey car that he and my Uncle Manuel rebuilt. I believe it took the two of them three years to rebuild it. Riding in that beautiful car was like stepping back in time. It was really cool! I had never ridden in a car like it before and will cherish that memory.

Yellow Car

On Saturday, Mark and Teresa provided their house for a huge family gathering. Mark barbequed and everyone else brought lots of food. Everything that was prepared was delicious. Before we ate dinner, Mark revealed a surprise to my Daddy and Uncle Manuel. He had purchased my Uncle Ronnie’s motorcycle from our cousin Cindy who had decided to sell it. Mark felt it should be kept in the family since it was a reminder of my Uncle Ronnie who had passed away about three years ago. Despite being a little teary-eyed, they were both happy and definitely surprised.

motorcycle

Uncle Manuel, Mark, and my Daddy

 

The time with my Uncle Manuel and Kentucky cousins was certainly not long enough. However, it was pleasant, memorable, and a much-needed boost of happiness for everyone. As my Daddy and I journeyed back to Louisiana on Sunday, we reminisced about our brief but lovely time spent with our family, appreciated the time traveling in the car together, and planned our future visits. Time will not stop, dear reader, and we should all take advantage of spending time with the ones we love. It will be time well-spent. Happiness!

“Family and friendships are two of the greatest facilitators of happiness.”             ~ John C. Maxwell

Brothers

Uncle Manuel and my Daddy

Me & Uncle Manuel

Me with my Uncle Manuel

 

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Back in October, I made an appointment with my eye doctor for the Saturday after Thanksgiving (#13 on my 18 for 2018 list). It had been a little over four years since my last eye exam. While seeing distance was still fine, my close up vision had changed slightly. I was having to hold whatever I was reading a little farther than usual. My goal for this visit was to examine my eyes, purchase new glasses, and inquire about contacts that would allow me to see close up and at a distance. During the glaucoma part of the examination, he noticed that my eye pressure was a little high and there was slight cupping of the optic nerve. While he was not overly concerned, he requested that I schedule a 30-2 test. That test is scheduled for this upcoming Tuesday afternoon. I did pick out some new frames, and my glasses should be ready on the 13th of this month. Unfortunately, I did not order contacts. I am not a good candidate for the distance/close-up combo because of my horrible astigmatism. I had a feeling the answer would be no, but I remained hopeful all the same. The last time I purchased contacts, they were for distance only. It was not a wise purchase since I read so much. I constantly had to use reader glasses which was a pain. The point of wearing contacts is to not wear glasses. However, I have been wearing glasses since the 4th grade, so I quickly built a bridge and got over it. I guess it boils down to vanity and the fact that I personally do not think I look great with glasses unless they are sunglasses.

In Other News:

Andrew & Mr. Levy

Coach Levy and Andrew

Andrew’s Swim Banquet was held on Tuesday evening at Le Fleur de Lis in Ponchatoula. The food was delicious, the slideshow was wonderful, and the presentation of the awards was enjoyable. I am super proud of Andrew and the STA Swim Team. They are an incredible group of young people who swam well this year. They all lettered and were acknowledged for working together and putting in 100% at practices and the meets. Andrew received the Coach’s Award. He was both surprised and honored that Coach Levy chose him. It was a proud mama moment watching Andrew receive this award. Even though Andrew’s high school swim career has officially ended, he is still connected to the friends that he made, the accomplishments that he earned, and the satisfaction of being a part of a team. I’m happy that he went out for the swim team his junior year. I not only enjoyed watching Andrew and his teammates swim, but I also enjoyed becoming friends with the other moms. Thankfully, there is Facebook to keep up with them.

Over the Thanksgiving break, Andrew visited his ENT doctor because he has been struggling with congestion on and off for the last couple of years. She prescribed him two nasal sprays (one for the morning and one for the evening), ordered x-rays of his nasal area, and requested allergy testing. He took x-rays later that day, and I scheduled his allergy testing for this past Wednesday. Thankfully, the x-rays showed his nasal area is clear. No sign of infection. Sadly, the allergy testing revealed that Andrew is allergic to 15 of the 17 tested allergens. UGH! Of the 15 allergens, two are cat and dog. Double UGH! This means that he will start getting weekly shots for the next year. In addition, changes will need to be made at home, especially in his bedroom to help alleviate some of the allergy triggers. Thankfully, there are measures that can be taken to keep the allergens at bay. And, he does not come in contact with some of the allergens. Hopefully, with adjustments at home, the nasal sprays, and shots, Andrew will be less congested or not congested at all in the near future.

Today marks the first day of December and the last month of the year. This month is the last leg of my 18 for 2018 journey, and I have just seven items left on my list to complete before the end the month. Can I do it? I’m hopeful for completing all but two items which I’ll write about later this month. Did you, dear reader, fulfill the goals you set for yourself this year? You might want to create a 19 for 2019 list or something similar. Happiness!

“The rung of a ladder was never meant to rest upon, but only to hold a man’s foot long enough to enable him to put the other somewhat higher.” ~ Thomas Henry Huxley

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As my dear readers who have followed me over the years know, I struggle with time. It eludes me constantly. I am continuously amazed by the fleeting moments of my life whether those moments are enjoyable or miserable. Of course, I should have a firmer grasp on my time because after all, it is my time. However, the reality of the situation is I do not completely own all of my time. There will be those among us that argue how you spend your time is a choice. And, I somewhat agree with that assessment. I need to eat and clothe and shelter myself; therefore, I need to work in order to obtain those basic needs. As a result, time must be set aside to work. We all know that all of our time is not spent at work, so we must be good stewards with the time that we have left over at the end of each day. This is easier said then done if you take care of children, pets, or elderly parents.

Having children was a choice for me. I consider my two children the two most precious gifts that God has given me. However, when I made that choice, I was not 100% clear about how much of my time would be invested in their care and well-being. For a period of their life, the time spent on me was no longer flexible. It was no longer just “me” because I had become a parent. I was now responsible for these little people, and I not only determined how I spent my time, but also how they spent theirs. Many of the decisions I made in my life were based on taking care of my children. Consequently, I shelved a few of my dreams, so I could provide opportunities for my children to explore their own dreams. And, watching them over the years experience those opportunities has been a delight for me. They have both made me proud to be their mother.

ConcessionsAndrew is traveling to Germany, Prague, and the Swiss Alps with STA during spring break of 2019. He along with the other travelers were given the opportunity to work concessions at the LSU home games this football season. Each game, they will receive a percentage of the sales to help pay for their trip. Crazily, I also signed up to help. I have worked concessions over the years at STA for Barry’s cross country meets and at Southeastern for Andrew’s Boy Scout troop; however, nothing prepared me for working LSU’s concessions. Last Saturday was our first time working the concessions. Firstly, I had never been to LSU Stadium, so I was clueless about its size. A huge stadium equals a huge number of people. Secondly, we were understaffed for our first game. Thirdly, it was hot and humid. By the end of our shift, we were all extremely hot, thirsty, and worn out. All things considered, we survived and made some moolah. And, personally I thought it was fun. I enjoyed working with the STA crew and felt satisfied with the results of a job well-done. In fact, so much so, that I plan on doing it again.

I do the things that I do for my children because I want them to experience some of the opportunities that I did not have during my childhood. Soon, Andrew will graduate from high school, and I’ll be able to begin unshelving my own dreams. Eventually, I will gain back more time for just “me,” and it is important that I make good choices with how I spend it. Time may be elusive; however, time is also of the essence. Make the most of your time, so it feels well-spent, dear reader. Happiness!

“The days are long, but the years are short.” ~ Gretchen Rubin

 

 

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On July 6th, my hubby, Andrew, and I drove over to Lafayette to visit the Lafayette Science Museum (formerly the Lafayette Natural History Museum and Planetarium). As we entered the lobby of the museum, we were greeted by an Allosaurus attacking a Camptosaurus. Both of these dinosaurs lived during the Jurassic Period.
Allosaurus

We spent the next two hours walking through various exhibits. Our first stop was at the atrium on the first floor where we saw a display of fossil casts of an American mastodon (Mammut americanum), two saber-toothed cats (Smilodon), and a giant ground sloth (Megatherium americanum) from the Cenozoic Period. A fact about the American mastodon, that I found fascinating, was one was discovered near the Trappey food canning plant in Lafayette in 1970. It was called the Trappey mastodon.
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Barry-Virtual RealityOur next stop was the Virtual Reality Laboratory where all three of us took turns putting on special headgear to experience a science theme. There were several people at this exhibit, so we only participated in the space station. Afterwards, we ventured through the Energy Unearthed (The Science of Petroleum Exploration) exhibit where there was a collection of rocks and minerals. One of the minerals on display was garnet which is my birthstone. Before leaving the geology exhibit, we passed a fossil of Megatylopus (extinct giant camel). According to the museum, it was found in Oregon and acted similarly to a giraffe. We also walked by the Geology Lab which had a gigantic prehistoric whale hanging from the ceiling. Amazing!

The second floor of the museum is home to “The Crawl Space.” There were skeletons (bat, snake) and skulls from a variety of animals native to Louisiana: a racoon, a turtle, a fox, and a deer to name a few. There were also animals (grizzly bear, bobcat, beaver) on display that had been stuffed. To complete the collection, there was a skull of a juvenile, female Sei whale. She had beached on Marsh Island on the coast of Louisiana and was recovered by Louisiana’s Wildlife and Fisheries Department.  IMG_1554However, the neatest part of this section was the live insects, centipedes, and arachnids on display. My most favorite creepy-crawly was the tarantula, and my least favorite was the Madagascar hissing cockroach. And, just around the corner was Stegosaurus which happens to be my most favorite dinosaur ever. Stegosaurus is also from the Jurassic Period.

 

Before heading back downstairs to learn about Nanotechnology, we visited the Air & Spacecraft exhibit and the Meteorites exhibit. Interestingly, there have only been three meteorites found in Louisiana. Unfortunately, there was not a Planetarium Program for us to watch during our visit; however, the museum’s website does have a section under Planetarium called “Observe the Sky.” There are handouts, checklists, guides, and star maps available under this tab that will allow the astronomer in you to explore the night sky right from your backyard. Andrew-virtual realityOur last activity at the museum was another virtual reality encounter. It was about the evolution of the Internet. As you can see from the picture above, there was a television screen showing you what the person (Andrew) with the headgear was experiencing.

Andrew & PigUpon the recommendation of the receptionist at the museum, we decided to eat lunch at Dwyer’s Café which was within walking distance of the museum. Leaving the museum, we encountered a man walking his pig. Yes, a pig! And, it was adorable. After we all petted the pig, my hubby, Andrew, and I walked over to the restaurant. Our lunches were delicious and quite filling, so we walked around the downtown area for a little bit before heading back home.

Dear reader, we had an enjoyable day not only learning about different areas of science, but also exploring another part of our state. If you happen to be in the Lafayette area and have a couple of hours to kill, check out the Lafayette Science Museum. The admission is reasonable, it has a small store to purchase science related items, and you might just find yourself running into a man walking his pig. Happiness!

“Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science.” ~ Edwin Hubble

 

 

 

 

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Dad and KatHappy Father’s Day to all the dads out there who have earned that phenomenal title “father” in some form or sense of the word. A special shout-out goes to my daddy, Milton Walters, who I think is absolutely AWESOME. Yesterday, he, my hubby, and I spent some time celebrating him. Barry and I drove to River Ridge to pick my daddy up and take him to lunch. He chose Bobby Hebert’s restaurant on Veteran’s Blvd in Metairie. We started off with an appetizer, Fried Eggplant Sticks. My daddy and I both ordered the Bobby and Deke’s Mardi Gras Pasta (shrimp, crawfish tails, bell peppers and onions in a creamy alfredo sauce), and Barry ordered the Cajun Cannon Redfish (sautéed redfish topped with crawfish & mushroom cream sauce; served with vegetable du jour). Everyone enjoyed their lunch choices. Next, we visited Cold Stone Creamery for ice cream: Coffee Lovers Only for my daddy; Strawberry Blonde for me; and Peanut Butter Cup Perfection for Barry. YUM! Afterwards, we headed over to PJ’s for coffee and conversation. As a Father’s Day gift to my daddy, Barry made reservations to take him on a tour in July of the PT-305 in New Orleans. That particular boat also holds special meaning to Barry because of his own dad who is no longer with us. Apparently, he did some work related to that type of boat during World War II.

 

Kat & Barry 2018

@ Superior Grill

The other man in my life that needs some Father’s Day love is Barry. He is the father of my two incredible sons, Andrew and Barry, Jr. and works hard to provide for his family. After we dropped my daddy off at his house yesterday afternoon, Barry and I drove to St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans and checked into the Best Western Plus St. Charles Inn. Surprisingly, we were not celebrating him for Father’s Day. I wanted to see the author Matthew Pearl at Octavia Books last night, so Barry volunteered to take me and suggested we spend the night since we could get a free stay using his travel points. After the event, we went back to the hotel and walked over to Superior Grill which is on the corner next to the hotel. Since we had eaten huge lunches and ice cream earlier with my daddy, we opted for chips and salsa with our margaritas. It was a low-key and relaxed evening. It was a terrific way to end an already amazing day.

 

This morning, Barry and I woke up early, ate breakfast at the hotel, and traveled back home. He is spending today relaxing. Our boys have decided to get Barry an accessory for his grill which he uses all of the time. In fact, he is grilling burgers this evening for dinner. I hope, dear reader, that those of you who have a father or father figure in your life get to spend some time with him this weekend or in the near future. And, for those of you who have had your father called to his heavenly home, I hope you get to spend some time in remembrance of him. He will always be a part of you, and his memory is worth celebrating. Happiness!

“Dads are like chocolate chip cookies; they may have chips or be totally nutty, but they are sweet and make the world a better place, especially for their children.”   ~ Hillary Lytle

 

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Barry Jr. SLUThis past week has been an unbelievable week of proud moments for me. It started with Barry, Jr. graduating from Southeastern Louisiana University with a B. A. in General Studies. He chose not to walk at graduation which was initially disappointing for me; however, ultimately it was his decision, not mine, and I soon realized that walking across that stage is not for everyone and not walking does not make me any less proud of his accomplishment. Now, it is time for Barry, Jr. to embark on a new adventure.    Ring Ceremony

On Monday evening, Andrew and his classmates celebrated their Ring Mass where they received their senior rings. Andrew also served at the Mass which always makes me proud. He even received a shout out from his principal about his ministry to serving at school Masses and becoming a Eucharistic Minister. He is officially a senior at STA.

On Wednesday morning, my 8th graders at Holy Ghost Catholic School attended their Awards Ceremony where they were honored for their achievements in academics, service to their school and community, as well as sports and other extracurricular activities.  Later that evening, my 8th grade students graduated from Holy Ghost Catholic School. They are now officially on their way to high school, and I am proud of their accomplishments. Watching them walk out of church was a bittersweet moment for me because the 8th Grade Class of 2018 is my last group of students that I will teach. In a sense, I graduated with them.

Andrew and KatOn Thursday morning, I attended Andrew’s Undergraduate Awards Ceremony at St. Thomas Aquinas. Andrew and I were both overwhelmed with all of the awards that he received. He was recognized in Physics, English III AP: Language & Composition, Theology III, and Computer Science. He received the Sacristan Award for serving at the school Masses. He received the St. Michael’s College Book Award for demonstrating a commitment to volunteerism and leadership in community service endeavors. He also received the Cash, Coudrain & Sandage Scholarship for embodying the mission of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic High School. WOW! While I am proud of Andrew’s achievements, I am most proud of how humble he was when being recognized at the ceremony and how humble he is in general.

Letterman AwardOn Friday morning, Andrew and the Class of 2019 had Senior Step Up Day. Four generous moms had shirts made for all of the students to wear. The students, driving their vehicles, paraded onto the STA campus and parked in the senior parking lot. It was an exciting moment for them.

Finally, Andrew attended his Tennis Banquet this afternoon. He received the Most Improved award with his doubles partner Brian, and they both lettered. Again, WOW! I am so proud of them both. They played well together and always had such terrific attitudes on the court. True sportsmanship!

It was a whirlwind week for Andrew as he transitioned from a junior to a senior. It was an end of a chapter for Barry, Jr. and myself. All three of us are blessed to be moving in new directions. Dear reader, I am optimistic and excited for both my sons and myself. Hopefully, we will all enjoy the upcoming journey that begins now. Happiness!

 “The credit belongs to those who are actually in the arena, who strive valiantly; who know the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spend themselves in a worthy cause; who at best know the triumph of high achievement; and who, at worst, if they fail, fail while daring greatly, so that their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

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Sylvia the Sloth 

On the Friday after Mardi Gras, my hubby, my mother-in-law (Mrs. Billie), Andrew and I packed up the car and drove down to Orange Beach in Alabama. Along the way, we stopped at Lambert’s Café which is “home of the throwed rolls” and had an amazing meal. Once we checked into the hotel, Andrew and I headed to the beach where we scoured the shore for seashells, relaxed on the sand, and admired its magnificent beauty.

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Barry took a picture from the hotel lobby of Andrew and me on the beach.

We all woke up early Saturday morning and ate a hearty breakfast at the hotel. Before packing up the car, Andrew and I walked along the beach and collected more seashells. Then, it was time to travel to the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo in Gulf Shores where we participated in wildlife encounters. Mrs. Billie and Andrew played with the lemurs. This was the first time that Mrs. Billie had been to the zoo, and it was her first wildlife encounter. She had a blast!

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Mrs. Billie and Andrew playing with the lemurs

Afterwards, we all made our way over to the enclosure that housed two tamanduas, Xena and Titan. A tamandua is a lesser anteater. Andrew and I spent about 20 minutes interacting with them. They were both very busy, either investigating, digging, or walking around their enclosure and did not pay us too much attention.  Both of them were gentle and allowed us to pet them. Surprisingly, tamanduas have thick, coarse fur.

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Andrew petting Xena

As soon as our encounter with the tamanduas was over, the four of us walked around the rest of the zoo. Since it is not a large zoo, we were finished in about an hour. Mrs. Billie was getting tired, so she sat on a bench watching the kangaroo encounters while my hubby, Andrew, and I went to our sloth encounter.

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Sonic the Sloth

First, we met Sonic and Speedy. They are two-toed sloths who were neither speedy nor as fast as Sonic the Hedgehog. The zookeeper tried to entice them with small pieces of fruit to wake them up, and we were hopeful when Sonic looked up; however, it was brief, and he was soon back to sleep.  Sloths sleep 15 to 18 hours per day. The zookeeper told us that we could pet Sonic and Speedy; however, we would have to pet them on their backs. Apparently, sloths have poor eyesight and poor hearing. They are also closely related to anteaters. While anteaters do not have teeth, sloths do. Their fur is also thick and coarse.

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Andrew & Sylvia

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Kat & Sid

Since Sonic and Speedy decided to sleep instead of participating in our meet and greet, the zookeeper took us over to the other sloth enclosure to meet Sylvia and Sid who are also two-toed sloths. Sylvia was active and climbing on the ropes in her enclosure. My hubby, Andrew, and I pet Sylvia while she was exercising. We followed her into the room she shares with Sid. I was surprised by how fast she moved. She nestled in an elevated corner of her room to sleep. Sid slept through the entire encounter. This was a wondrous experience. Check out my Facebook page where I posted videos of Sylvia going back inside her room, as well as other pictures of our adventure in Alabama. For any of my readers interested in seeing the videos and are not on Facebook, email me, and I will send them to you via email.

Our Alabama adventure was an awesome way to end our Mardi Gras break, and it gave me the opportunity to cross off another item on my 18 for 2018 list. While I wish we could have spent more time at the beach, I am grateful for the time that we were there. It just means we need to go back for another visit. Maybe the next time we go, we can introduce my momma and daddy to the lemurs. Have you ever, dear reader, had a wildlife encounter at a zoo, a wildlife sanctuary, or in your own backyard? If so, please share in the comments. Enjoy your upcoming week. Happiness!

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” ~ W.B. Yeats 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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District Donuts #1

District Donuts

Happy Mother’s Day to all the women who take on the role of mom. I have been blessed and privileged with being the mother of my two sons and the Godmother of my niece Emma. Yesterday, Andrew and I went to the movies to see The Jungle Book (excellent film). He seemed disappointed that he did not have a tangible gift for me. I told him the gift was his time with me. I told both of my children that I did not want any gifts. I just wanted to be able to spend some time with them. I LOVE them tremendously!

District Donuts #2

Sliders

Today, my husband and I took a road trip to Magazine Street in New Orleans. We visited District Donuts. The donuts are HUGE! I ordered a cheeseburger slider and a Rose and Champagne Donut (creme filled with sugared covered rose petals on top). My hubby ordered a pork slider and a donut called the Elvis (glazed donut with maple frosting, bananas, and bacon). Afterwards, we visited my mother and his mother bringing them both a donut and roses. We plan on taking our mothers out for lunch somewhere special later this month.

District Donut #3

Elvis

This evening I will have dinner with my boys. My husband is grilling chicken and stuffed mushrooms. What a perfect way to end my Mother’s Day!

Remembering ALL mothers still with us and those watching over us from heaven. Your love is with us always. Wishing all of you, dear readers, a pleasant week ahead. Happiness!

“Our mothers always remain the strangest, craziest people we’ve ever met.” ~ Marguerite Duras

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