Monday, February 15, 2010

Eileen and Dave's Wedding!

Congratulations to Eileen and Dave Badger! The big day was Saturday, February 13th at the Villages. The party got started at the rehearsal dinner on Friday night. It was great to catch up with Steph and the kids...

Maddy, Kobe, Jake, Ali and Zoe looking adorable...

The Cary Earlys!
Princess Mya...
Ali in the church...
Maddy waiting for the bride...
Jake the Ring Bearer...
Zoe!
The kids all together...
Liz, Jen, Missy and Rita...
Me and Mike!
With Maddy...
Eileen, Maddy and Mya...
Liz and Matt...
The wedding party...
Jen, Rich and Mya!
The happy couple!
'All the Single Ladies'

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The kiss...

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Who Dat!

I had a business trip to New Orleans scheduled at the very beginning of the year but our flight ended up getting cancelled. Hardly a surprise to me since this is the second plane I've sat on for over 2 hours that never left the ground in the last six months :(. Anyway, the trip ended up getting rescheduled for the week before Mardis Gras and Superbowl weekend! Since the Saints had made it to the final game for the first time in history (and ultimately won:)) - things were a little crazy in the city to say the least. That said, I get the impression it is never exactly 'sleepy' in New Orleans...
After working during the day on Friday, we checked into the MonteLeon hotel (the oldest in the French Quarter) and went down to see the parades and the craziness we had heard so much about. I have to say, in the couple of hours or so that we were on Bourbon St, I didn't even see as much skin action as you can see on any beach in Spain! All pretty tame actually :)

Here's me in Bourbon Street, virtually beadless and fully covered up thank you very much.
The next day, we went for a tour of the city. Here's St. Joan of Arc holding the Saints flag!
After a brief tour of the main city, we went over the bridge to the 9th Ward, which had been so devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Much of the area has been completely cleared now. It's hard to imagine that there was a house on almost every lot at that time.You can still see the crosses on the houses where the rescue teams went in. The number at the top of the cross is the date of inspection (Sept. 12), the state of the inspection team is on the right (Nebraska in this case), the number on the left was the number of living found in the house (18), and the bottom of the cross was the number of deceased (0). We were all shocked at how late the rescue teams were actually in the majority of the homes we saw when you consider that the storm hit on August 28th...
This memorial to the 1800 people who lost their lives shows how deep the water actually was after the walls were breeched...
Brad Pitt has been a really big contributor to the rebuilding effort. There is one area where architects have built houses that could sustain a category five hurricane. This one is able to be used as a boat! This is the area that Harry Connick Jr. has rebuilt...The spirit of the locals that we met was amazing. This guy has rebuilt his house and decorated in "Zulu" theme - the largest and oldest African-American Carnival Krewe. He came out and gave us some prized Zulu beads!
We were so moved by the story of Robert Green. After losing two members of his family, a 3-year old girl and 74-year old woman, in his home during the storm, he lived in a FEMA trailer until his new home was built. During the lengthy amount of time he had to live in the trailer, he took the opportunity to write his feelings and opinions on the side and has done numerous interviews with the media. Although his house has now been rebuilt, he hasn't let them take his trailer away to serve as a reminder to all who visit. He has a family memorial beside the steps of his original home that was destroyed.

80% of New Orleans was under water after Katrina due to over 53 breeches, primarily along the canal walls. Many of the locals remember stories about when the levees were deliberately blown up to 'save the city' in the early 1900s and still believe that's what happened five years ago. There are also those that think it was caused by a barge. Here is the new wall that has been built to protect the ninth ward. There is much debate about whether or not it has been built solidly enough to hold next time.
There's a Banksy on the new wall...
After the ninth district, we went to see some of the famous New Orleans mausoleums. Apparently New Orleans was discovered by the Spanish, then colonized by the French before being purchased by America, so the catholic tradition of burials (as opposed to cremations) has been around for a long time. Since the water level is very high, they built mausoleums to house bodies above the ground. After placing a casket inside, the intense heat destroyed the bodies very quickly and the groundskeepers in the graveyards used to open them up about 2 months after a 'burial' to sweep the remains into a hole at the back. Very environmentally friendly and this also made room for the next family member who passed away. The tradition of extravagant family mausoleums in New Orleans has become a symbol of tradition and prestige. We saw a whole bunch of resting places for famous local families - fascinating stuff...
Mardis Gras celebrates 'Shrove Tuesday' (it's French for Fat Tuesday), the last day before Lent on the Catholic calendar. It's really a whole season which starts on twelfth night so the celebrations go on for weeks. There are parades all day long. The locals have these ladders with little seats on top for their children to see the parades!
The houses are all decorated in Mardis Gras colors with trees and wreaths just like Christmas! Even the port-a-potties are in traditional colors! This guy charges a buck for a pee and then sells you a beer when you come out :)
We took a tour of all of the celebrity houses in the beautiful Garden district. I can only remember a few: John Goodman, Nicholas Cage, Degas, the lady who wrote Interview with a Vampire and Peyton Manning...here is the house that was in the Benjamin Button movie...
You could spend a week in New Orleans and not see it all. The amazing folk art...
The delicious food...
And I didn't even get to the music, museums, gambling and voodoo...:)

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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Girls Weekend!

Since Mike was away in NY, Maddy and I planned a special girls weekend! On Friday night after school we went to the Big Cat Rescue for the night tour for the first time. It was a whole different experience in the dark and we really loved it! On Saturday we went shopping, had a sushi lunch, took a nap and then went to see the midnight showing of The Blind Side. We actually had the whole theatre to ourselves when the movie started!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Epcot

At Epcot now they have added a whole interactive game for kids with a 'Kim Possible' theme to make the countries more kid-friendly. Actually it's very cool - there's a whole adventure with clues, and the kids can make robots appear and make water flow and all kinds of stuff using a cell phone! Maddy thought it was OK and Mike loved it :).

Here's me and Maddy in "England"...
 
Mike getting romantic in Italy...
Me and Maddy in China...
Mike and Maddy at the ball...
Me and Mike!
Waiting for the fireworks...
Me and Maddy...