Mardi Gras 2012

Ever since my father moved to New Orleans, we’ve had an annual tradition. He sends a king cake to  Seattle and we use it as the foundation for a Seattle Mardi Gras party. This year, my parents arranged to join us (most importantly, Baby G) in Seattle for the festivities. They arrived on Friday and brought some local supplies with them, including beads galore, many pounds of gulf shrimp, Louisiana crab meat, and a variety of New Orleans sauces.

They also brought two king cakes with them this year, one from each of the top two bakeries in New Orleans, in order get a Seattle vote on the decision of “best king cake.” The first was the historic champion (and annual delivery tradition): Randazzo’s praline king cake. However, the Randazzo family has been subject to some drama recently, and some locals (including my father) believe they are losing their touch. Enter Exhibit B, an apple and cream cheese filled king cake from Rouses that is my Dad’s current favorite. 

Yesterday morning we awoke early and headed to Pike’s Place Market to get the remaining ingredients necessary for Grandma Lynn’s cooking extravaganza. While we were out, Lauren and Gloria has some serious excitement on the home front. Unbeknownst to us, Shawn and Jessica booked a last minute flight from San Francisco, and they showed up on our doorstep at 10AM this morning!

We had a fantastic time this afternoon sipping Hurricanes and gorging on Cajun cooking. Somehow we all saved a little bit of room for the king cakes (competition for the baby Jesus embedded inside the cake didn’t hurt). When all was said and done, we had a clear winner; all but one vote was cast for…..Rouses! The overall food winner however, was Lynn’s crab cakes, which received numerous raves of “the best crab cake I’ve ever had.” 

Imagine my surprise in receiving this picture while I was out grocery shopping!

Mardi Gras feast
The feast – jalapeno corn muffins, jambalaya, crab cakes, rozo crab salad, and hurricanes

Dad and Lynn
The New Orleans locals bringing the Mardi Gras cheer to Seattle

Our little Mardi Gras queen
Our little Mardi Gras princess

Lauren and her presents
Showing off a gift that Shawn and Jessica brought back from Burma

Gloria Highlights, Week 9

This week was chock full of highlights. Gloria slept 7 hours continuously one night (and is averaging around 6 hours for her long stretch). This weekend she took to the air for the first time and enjoyed a festive weekend with my in-laws in San Francisco. In addition to her test flight, we also had a Halloween test drive courtesy of a ridiculous cow costume from Grandma Sandra.

Finally, on her two month birthday today, Gloria fit into her first “3-6 month” outfit. We celebrated this event (and her good spirits today) with a brilliant passport photo shoot. They grow up so quickly.

Silly Uncle Shawnie
I want to eat the little fingers

Grandma H and Baby G Grandpa M and Baby G
Glowing grandparents

At the Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge could only keep the afternoon nap at bay for a few minutes

Three Lavoie generations
Three generations of Lavoie

Showing off her 3-6 month clothing
That’s right, I’m already in 3-6 month clothes, what you gonna do about it?

A Whale of a Time

Yesterday we took Gloria on her first boat ride with Grandpa Gary and Grandma Lynn to see the orcas up close and personal in the San Juan Islands, located about 100 miles northwest of Seattle. There are a bunch of companies that offer whale watching tours out of Friday Harbor; after some research we decided on booking with Western Prince.  


The trip started out with a pre-adventure at home. We piled into the Prius at 9:30AM and put it in reverse. I pressed on the gas and nothing, the car simply slid forward a bit on our steeply inclined driveway. We tried everything we could think of, including rebooting a few times, but to no avail. It’s our only car, and we thought we were sunk. Fortunately we have the best neighbors ever, and they lent us a car for the day. We also lucked out with clear highways to Anacortes; we boarded the ferry for Friday Harbor with about 90 seconds to spare.

Our stress disappeared once we were on the ferry. I can’t believe that I have lived in the Northwest for 14 years and hadn’t done this trip before. The scenery was stunning, both on the public ferry ride and in our whale watching boat. Western Prince had knowledgeable naturalists on board, who explained how you can identify orcas by their fins, mouth, and spots. The salmon were running closer to Vancouver, so our guide took us into Canadian waters to track the orcas (who dine on salmon). We were blessed with gorgeous weather; it was sunny and crystal clear. I lost count of all the whales we saw, and the orcas seemed like they were going nice and slow to enjoy the day as well.

We had a few other wildlife encounters on the boat. We witnessed a school of Coho salmon jumping out of the water and flapping their tails. I wasn’t quick enough on the draw to snap any (good) photos, so I kicked back and enjoyed this rare treat (the naturalist told us she’s seen Cohos jumping like this maybe twice in the past decade). Closer to Friday Harbor were a few families of harbor seals, plump and playful. It was the middle of pupping season, and we spied a few of the new arrivals nursing away.

It was a great day trip, and I think Gloria enjoyed her time on the water (the rest of us certainly did!). Our full photo set from the day is available here.

On the ferry
On the ferry to Friday Harbor (Gloria is hiding from the sun under the baseball cap)

Kenny on boatLauren on boat
Killing time on the Western Prince en route to the orcas

Gloria with her grandparents
The adoring grandparents with their little Glorca

Harbor seals
Harbor seals

Orca and the lighthouse
Orca in front of the lighthouse

Orca up close
Up close with one of the orcas

Orca in front of Mount Baker
It took about 50 tries to catch our orca friend at just the right time with Mt. Baker in the background

Faces of Jadon

It’s been four and a half months since we last saw our nephew. In that time he’s gotten even more cute and expressive, and it looks like the blue eyes might be here to stay. He also drools a lot more. See for yourself:

Looking coy

Mr. blue eyes Drool
Pre-wedding postures

The guys in their tuxes
Jadon was a little worn out by the time the wedding was about to begin, but he still looked dapper in his little tuxedo

Bad ass look Hanging in the stroller

Drool central
Drooling all over Chinatown

Ilene and Erik’s Wedding

This weekend my little sister pulled out all the stops for her wedding festivities on Long Island. For the main event, Lauren got to wear the dress we had made in Thailand, and courtesy of family courier services, my tuxedo and accouterments met me in New York. We had a great time, and I can’t believe it’s over already. As I write this, Ilene and Erik are en route to New Zealand for their honeymoon and Lauren and I get to babysit their apartment for the remaining few days of our stay in NY.

Congratulations Ilene and Erik!

Starting early on the champagne

Mom getting made up
Pre-wedding hair and makeup (and mimosas) in the bridal suite

My beautiful wife Me and grandma Rosie
Lauren in her Indian-Thai dress, me escorting Grandma Rosie down the aisle

Laura the maid of honor with two escorts
The maid of honor, my sister Laura, is so beautiful that she needed two best men as an escort

The married couple

You may kiss the bride
The happy couple

Father-daughter dance
Father-daughter dance

Snake on a Plane

I just saw the family off at the airport for their 2PM flight. Since they had a huge breakfast of Thai favorites at 8AM, and some bonus dishes at Lauren’s NGO around 10:30, we skipped out on lunch. But just in case they got hungry on their way to Chiang Mai, I sent them off with a parcel of snake in banana leaves, complete with all of the garlic/chili/cilantro trimmings.

It was a great having Shawn, Jessica, and Moose here for the past five days, and I am sad that they’re gone. Fortunately we’re going to meet up with them in Chiang Mai on Friday afternoon for a few more days of Thailand fun!

Snake at Lauren’s office, not on a plane

More Burmese Snacks

During Songkran, my co-workers were excited to reintroduce us to snake in banana leaves, and they also taught us how to make another traditional Burmese snack. This one was even simpler:

  1. Hand-shave the flesh of several ripe coconuts.
  2. Make dough using a combination of rice powder, sticky rice powder, and water. Mix well with your hands.
  3. Tear off a small chunk of dough.
  4. Embed a piece of dried palm sugar (seems very similar to jaggery) in the dough and roll it into a ball.
  5. Boil the balls in a big pot of water. When they rise to the top they are ready.
  6. Serve with shaved coconut.

Songkran snack

They taste like little mochi balls with sweet syrup inside. I liked mine with lots of coconut. There’s also an element of excitement, caused by the fact that some of the dough balls have chilies inside of them instead of sugar! We made these snacks again this weekend for my family, and I tricked my brother with a very spicy one that I made just for him:

Shawn was not happy
Shawn’s snack wasn’t what he expected

Songkran Plans

We’ve been warned that the Water Festival is a crazy – and sometimes even dangerous – time to be in Thailand. Locals are not shy about pelting innocent passersby with huge pails of water, and have been known to cause traffic accidents and even deaths. When we were in Chiang Mai, Tim from Bon Kitchen told us that many locals choose to hide out in their houses all week to avoid the madness. Supposedly the moat in Chiang Mai is a particularly crazy place to hang out.

Of course, in our tiny town, things will probably be tamer. My office will be “closed” Tuesday-Thursday, but course since the staff lives at the office this probably just means that we won’t get any work done. Kenny and I have been invited over to help make and consume holiday snacks, and participate in water fights and other silliness. I expect we’ll also play in the river, and we may join for visits to a local monastery or two.

My dad, Shawn, and Jessica are arriving in Bangkok tomorrow (hopefully they’ll remember not to wear red!), and will be spending most of Songkran on Ko Tao. Then they’ll be joining us up here in the north! We’ve already written a list of restaurants and sights we can’t wait to show them. We’ll probably do our best to entertain them here for a few days, and then join them for the weekend in Chiang Mai before they head home.

Meeting Our Nephew

This weekend in Miami we spent most of our non-wedding hours hanging out with Laura, Aaron, and our six-week old nephew Jadon. He’s adorable, good natured, and already gets along well with Dante (Laura and Aaron’s dog).

chilling with auntie Lauren
Relaxing with auntie Lauren while Dante keeps watch

playing on uncle Kenny's lap
Chilling on uncle Kenny’s lap

Father and son Mother and son
Smiles for Daddy and Mommy

Laura, Jadon, and Dante
Laura taking care of her two dependents