Wednesday, April 29, 2009

TEACHER SAVES LIFE

Laurel's lunch has once again become a little more difficult to pack. Yesterday, her teacher informed Laurel that she cannot bring chocolate coated granola bars in her lunch because they are too much like a candy bar. Today, Ms Laura told Laurel's mommy that she shouldn't bring crackers any more, either. Maren and Ms. Laura had this conversation at 12:45 this afternoon while Maren was picking up Laurel early from school. Ms. Laura had called a few minutes earlier to explain that Laurel and another child had been playing a counting game in the lunch room with their crackers. All seemed fine until Ms. Laura turned around to look at Laurel and the crackers were suddenly gone. Laurel had stuffed all of them in her mouth and was now giving the universal sign for choking. Ms. Laura attempted the Heimlich twice with no success, but then was able to open Laurel's mouth, hold down her tongue, and scoop out the mess. The teacher said it scared her to death. Fortunately for the Cupits, Ms. Laura had taken a required CPR class not too long ago and was able to put that training to use. She said she would have preferred not to stick her finger in her mouth, but after the Heimlich didn't work, she had no choice. She is now officially the best teacher ever! Laurel also explained that she had eaten some fruit snacks before the crackers and that they were a little stuck, too. Maren will now be packing 2 drinks in Laurel's lunch to make sure she has PLENTY to drink. She will not be bringing crackers any more either. Curiously, despite prodding, Laurel has no desire to talk about what happened. She won't tell the story or describe how she felt. Maybe another day she'll be more talkative about it. Ms. Laura said she was very impressed that Laurel knew how to tell her she was choking. Laurel's never been taught to do this, so it may be instinctual, or she may have had some angels watching over her. Regardless, be assured that plenty of prayers of thanksgiving have been offered by the Cupits today!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

BALL BRINGS IN THOUSANDS

In an apparent last minute decision, almost every family with a young girl in the City of Baton Rouge decided to take a family outing to the Old State Capitol Friday night. The ball was part of the annual Red Stick Animation Festival. Last year, for the ball's debut, roughly 300 princesses attended the event. According to preliminary estimations, this year's ball had over 2000 in attendance.

The Cupit family was shocked, and definitely a little disappointed. Best kept secrets don't always stay secret. By the time the Cupits reached the ball, the line of princesses and their royal families wrapped around the Capitol, and by the time the family was admitted on the grounds, they were politely refused entrance to the building and instead diverted to the "Queen's Garden Party" on the front lawn. Fire code only permits a few hundred people in the building.

Maren thinks the deal wasn't too bad; the night featured lovely weather in the high 60s and a slight breeze. The outside event was probably more comfortable than the stuffy ball in the old building with no air conditioning. The tent on the lawn had fantasitc entertainment. A crew of professional princesses taught all of the little ones how to dance like their favorite Disney princess. Laurel (whether she admits it or not) had a great time doing this! Unfortunately, her royal highness Laurel was more than miffed that she was forbidden from the castle.

On a positive note, Brad spotted the last free parking spot in all of downtown Baton Rouge, and the event didn't ask the garden partiers for the typical $5 donation, so the night was free (except for dinner at Frosttop!) By the time the royal family headed back to the car, the young royals were pooped. This equals success!

For your enjoyment, here's a few more pictures from the night.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

FOOD: SPRING FOR DELICIOUSNESS

In the days since April 15th, Maren has remembered how to cook again. A few items have turned out delicious. Here she shares two of her recent favorites with you:

1. Cajun BBQ Shrimp

Maren's father-in-law was kind enough to scan the family recipe and e-mail it just before the dinner hour yesterday. There happen to be two family recipes, plus a plethora of recipes online. She compared, contrasted, and combined based on the ingredients on hand and came up with the following. Besides, it might not be fair to give the family recipe for the world to see.

1 lb. of shrimp (word to wise, use head on shrimp, but peel and devein the rest of the body. The fat in the head gives tons of flavor... Maren will keep this in mind next time, but this time she just used the large shrimp on sale at Albertson's. They were not local gulf shrimp; instead, they were imported from Thailand...gasp!)
3 sticks of butter (and this is conservative!)
1 medium finely chopped onion
4 crushed garlic cloves
some vegetable oil (could probably omit)
few generous squirts of Worcestershire sauce...and maybe a few more!
3 Tbsp of lemon juice
1/2 tsp of garlic powder (not sure this is necessary with the fresh garlic)
1/2 tsp kosher salt (Brad's new all-time favorite ingredient for every recipe)
crab boil to taste (this is one super potent liquid heat...do people outside of Louisiana even know what this is?)
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to broil. Maren put hers on low broil and it was plenty hot enough. Place shrimp in shallow baking dish and sprinkle with kosher salt. In saucepan, saute onion until transparent and then add the garlic and butter (all the "experts" say don't use margarine).

When the butter has melted, begin to add each ingredient...garlic powder, salt and pepper, crab boil, and Worcestershire sauce. Add one and then stir well before adding the next.

After mixed well, add the vegetable oil and lemon juice. Stir about a minute and then pour over the shrimp. Broil about 8-10 minutes. Maren did 10 minutes and could have definitely done less. Don't overcook!

Serve over pasta and/or with the best french loaf you can find for dipping in the buttery goodness! Exercise religiously for the next week to remove ill-effects from your body, all the while sweating garlic!

2. Grilled Asparagus

Snap asparagus at the easy snapping point to remove the tough part. Roll the asparagus around in a plate of kosher salt, lemon juice, and olive oil. Drop them directly onto a medium hot grill (being careful to shake as much excess oil off as possible.) The oil may cause some flare ups on the grill which will char the asparagus. Try to avoid this. Turn once on the grill after about 3 minutes. Grill a few more minutes. Eat them as soon as possible.

Here's hoping a few of our readers can put these recipes to the test in their own families!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

TECHNOLOGY SERVES LAUREL


In an unexpected decision, Maren learned one afternoon while picking up Laurel from school that she had received a new device. Previously, an amplification system had been installed in Laurel's classroom connected to a mic on the teacher. This allows the entire class (and most certainly Laurel, too) to hear the teacher over classroom noise. But on this day, Laurel received a personal fm system attachment for her hearing aids. This has two components including a transmitter and microphone worn by the teacher, and a specially programmed receiver which attaches to one of Laurel's aids. The teacher can then whisper a command to Laurel, even if she's across the playground, and Laurel will immediately get the message. All parties involved are thrilled with it's success. Laurel learns new alphabet sounds and blends quickly now and seems to enjoy school a little bit more. Her auxillary teachers use it as well. Laurel wore the device during her performance yesterday at school, and the teacher was able to send her a secret message about when to exit the stage. A device of this quality costs about $2000 retail, so the Cupit family feels blessed to have such great advocates for Laurel within the school system.

Monday, April 20, 2009

METAIRIE HOSTS MARDI GRAS MADNESS



This may have been the last year for this particular spot on the parade route. Brad's cousin and her family will be moving into a new house soon and it's not close to the parade. It was nice while it lasted.

It's been some time since Mardi Gras, but Maren still remembers that Brant was sick the weekend prior to the parade and then relapsed afterward. He was a good sport during the event and spent most of the time sleeping in Papa K's truck. Laurel had a great time, but it wasn't until later in the afternoon that her worst sunburn to date evidenced itself. She definitely inherited her mom's fair skin.

The family took home plenty of loot and Brad ate his fill of Popeye's fried chicken.

Laurel also enjoyed a parade at her school. The kindergartners supplied the floats and everyone else got to be the crowd. Laurel and Brant had a great time. They even had a great band to lead off the parade.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

CHILDREN AND MOTHER REACQUAINT



April 15th has come and gone. The Cupit family is still intact. Maren spent Thursday and Friday remembering and readjusting to life as an all-day mom. Laurel and Brant were home from school on spring break this week, so Thursday and Friday were an opportunity for together time.

Papa K brought the kids home on Thursday morning. They enjoyed a 3 day vacation at their grandparents' house so that Maren could finish up the tax season. What a wonderful blessing. After they came home, Maren attempted to be a "good mom." She and the children read some books, played some board games, played outside, and even took a walk around the neighborhood. Admittedly, she did glance at the clock a few times for a mental countdown to naptime.

Friday, Maren decided it's a lot easier to keep the t.v. turned off if the family gets out of the house. Off to the strawberry patch they headed. What a great place, and a great trip. "Ms. Heather" has plenty of activities for the kids and even benches for the moms to sit. The Cupits saw a few friends at the patch, too. They brought home half a flat of strawberries and a mason jar of homemade strawberry jam. The thought crossed Maren's mind that she could maybe make the jam herself, and then very easily and guiltlessly the thought left. She did get an assortment of other fruit at the produce market to make a knock-out fruit salad, though.

Pictures below include the milking cow (with water for the kids to milk), the horse swings, the tractors, the animals, the strawberries and more.