Friday, April 26, 2013

Peter's Birthday

Peter turned the big O-4 this week so we celebrated with pizza and cake.  

This year he chose a Mississippi Mud Cake.

Chocolate cake with marshmallows on top - waiting for the fudge sauce. 

Singing Happy Birthday

Blowing out the candle.  

Present time!

He had a good time and thank you for the cards that came in the mail today!  


Monday, April 15, 2013


So, it all began innocently enough.  I was going to vacuum out the van - it really, really needed it - and I went to plug in the vacuum at the outlet just outside of the storage room door.  

I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm always afraid of this outlet.  Not because I think I'm going to get electrocuted when I plug in a cord, but because lizards tend to hide inside the cover.  

So, like I usually do, I knocked on the cover - to warn the lizard that I was coming and let him know who's boss - and I carefully opened the top.  

However, today it wasn't a lizard waiting to pounce out and scurry up the wall.  It was a spider.  A LARGE spider.  I may have screamed a little and let the lid fall back down.  I asked Jon to get me the 'spider jar'.  Last week we had found a somewhat big spider inside the house and kept it in the jar for a few hours while we investigated it.  There are brown recluse spiders here.  We weren't able to find out any incriminating evidence so we eventually let it go out in the backyard.  

However, this spider was different. 

 I got some gloves while Jon fetched the jar and, when he returned, I knocked the spider off of the underside of the lid, into the jar, and quickly screwed on the top.  

And that's when I knew.  

We could see the bottom of the abdomen and there was an orange hourglass.  I knew that this was no ordinary spider.  

I cleaned off the webs and the dead carcasses of about five other spiders and bugs.  I wanted to Google the spider, but I needed to vacuum.
  So, I set the jar inside the door and got my work done.  

As soon as I was finished I went inside to the computer and looked up the spider.  

Brian got home for lunch just in time to hear all about our excitement.  

Turns out it was a Brown Widow.  Interesting stuff.  

We added a nail-polish-remover-soaked cotton ball to the jar to take care of it and I was able to get some pictures.  

Thinking later I decided that it was a good thing that lizards had taught me to be careful with that outlet.  Otherwise I would have opened it and stuck my hand in there to plug in the vacuum and the lid would have landed on my hand - that's where the spider was sitting, on the lid - and I may have been bitten.  Yikes!  So, yay for lizards - and they eat mosquitoes too.  Bonus!!  

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Jury Duty

Last year I got a summons for jury duty in the 19th Judicial District Court of Baton Rouge.  It was different than the summons Brian had received in that I was commanded to report.  Brian just had to call in each evening and see if he was needed.  Anyway, at that time I was nursing Matthew and so wrote a letter requesting an excuse.  My request was granted and I was sent a letter informing me that I would be called again on April 8, 2013.  I was glad to be excused and filed the letter - never to be thought of again.  

Until a few weeks ago when I got the new letter.  Bummer!!  

So, Brian took the week off work using his vacation days and I prepared to show up downtown early Monday morning.  

I left home an hour or so before I had to be there because of traffic and parking concerns.  

My first morning rush-hour drive in many, many years.  

Luckily, I found a parking meter a block from the courthouse.  I didn't have to pay for parking - how nice.  

My view of the Courthouse from the sidewalk.  

I spent a long time in the jury waiting room - waiting.  We watched a movie about what happens in the courtroom and our duty as jurors.  

Then they called out 13 lucky numbers.  These people would get to go home and not have to come back the rest of the week.  

Unfortunately, I was not one of those numbers.  

Next they formed the first jury for Judge Erwin.  I was among the approximately 50 people called for this judge.  We took the elevator to the 10th floor.  There were four courtrooms.  Two civil and two criminal.  We waited outside of a criminal courtroom.  There was some confusion about when we were supposed to enter the room.  Finally the bailiff came out and ushered us in where we took seats in the back of the room.  Two young black men in orange jumpsuits sat inside.  

The judge told us there was good news and bad news.  The good news for us was that one of the men had pled guilty and been sentenced to 35 years in prison.  The bad news was that we had to return after lunch because he had more cases on the docket for the day.  

I believe these may be the stories of the two men who sat in the courtroom that morning.  I found them in the paper today.  

So I left the courthouse and sat in the plaza to call Brian.  As I was on the phone I saw the bus from the prison arriving at the courthouse.  

I headed across the street to Subway for lunch.  

The courthouse building from Subway.

The little Subway.

I ate quickly, went back across the street to check out the downtown library - disappointing - and then returned to the courthouse to wait until Judge Erwin was ready for us again.  

From the library looking at the courthouse building - the large garage doors where the prison bus enters with inmates.  

In the jury waiting room there was a movie playing on the projector.  We waited quietly to be called.

We went back up to Judge Erwin's courtroom.  They were ready for another trial.  The defendant was there and the state attorneys also.  They randomly called out 14 names from the jury pool - I was NOT one of them - and they took seats in the jury box.  We sat through three hours of information and the Voir Dire where they question the prospective jurors.  It was quite lengthy.  

Throughout this we learned a little about the case.  Then each side had a chance to challenge any of the jurors.  At this point the judge let the rest of us go with instruction to be back Tuesday morning at 10 am.  

Tuesday morning I drove James to school and then arrived downtown.  I was not able to find parking on the street so had to use the garage parking and walk a bit.  

When we arrived upstairs we noticed that the police officers involved in the case were seated in the courtroom.

There was a quick arraignment.  The man pled not guilty to theft of property.  He could not afford an attorney so one would be appointed to him and he received a trial date for July of this year.

The judge informed us that they had kept all of the jurors from yesterday's case except for one.  So they randomly chose three women - I was NOT one of them - and they took seats in the jury box.  We had to listen to the same process again.  Mostly the same questions.  At the end they chose one of the women to be the final juror and we were told we could go.  

View of the Louisiana state capitol from the 10th floor of the 19th JDC.  

Downtown Baton Rouge and the Mississippi River.

We checked in downstairs with the jury coordinator who told us we were assigned to Judge Erwin and if he didn't need us the rest of the week - we were free to go.  Now we do not have to serve until at least two years has passed.  We'll see how long it takes for my name to come up again.  

I came home in time for lunch!  

My thoughts:  Although I didn't like being "commanded" to appear somewhere it was an interesting experience and I did learn some things.  None of the potential jurors in there seemed to know what  "presumed innocent" meant.  Even though the judge repeatedly told us that the State had the burden of proof in this case.  Two of them actually said that they felt the defense needed to prove the innocence of the accused.  One of those women was chosen today as the alternate for the trial.  Scary.

I also learned that some people have very little patience.  Sitting next to adults who hem and haw about how long they had to sit was a bit annoying.  I almost asked the lady next to me if she wanted a snack and a toy to play with because she was acting like my two-year-old in the waiting room.

I'm glad that I was not needed to sit on the trial.  Hopefully the random system will give me a break and leave me alone for a while.  

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Chris Visits, Strawberries and Shawarma

James friend Chris was visiting with hiss family from Kentucky during Easter.
Fortunately it lined up with Spring Break for James and we were able to have Cris sleep over one night. We had pizza and slushies. 
 And we played Chris' favorite game, Phase 10.
Poker Face
I got my phase!

They boys also had a chance to do some Lego wars with the other kids.  It was a good visit for them. 
Friday I made some caramel corn. 

Or Care-amel corn if you're from around here.
'Twas good!
Saturday we hit up the Fresh Market in search of Tahini and pita bread/chips.  They had so many fancy schmancy things in there.  It was fun to look around.  Then we went to the Produce Market.  We picked up a flat of Louisiana strawberries.   

And we took them to the park in our neighborhood. 

'Bout to hit the playground.

That night we had Chicken Shawarma with hummus for dinner. 

Matthew is ready to eat.

Clockwise form top left:  Chicken Shawarma, pita bread with lettuce, rice and hummus.  I hadn't gotten my pita chips yet. 

Three brothers digging in. 
Matthew was getting very sleepy during dinner. 
Check out this video . . .
At this point I had to go grab him. 

He slept in my arms while the rest of us finished eating.  Sweety. 
I'm reporting Monday morning early for jury duty downtown.  Wonder how that will go!?!  I'll keep you updated! 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Chair Shopping, Flowers and Mud

Over the weekend we did some chair shopping.  We went to Office Depot to look at some office chairs.  They were having a sale and had some chairs right in the front of the store.  As we were testing them out we looked to the right and Peter was also testing out a chair. 

A different kind of way to test out a chair. 
He was having fun. 
My rose bush is blooming. 


The roses are both from the same bush but they look so different. 
It rained yesterday.  So, that means that my yard,
And my boy are covered in mud. 
So, innocent and cute. 
The older boys were also out there, but they're not quite as muddy. 


They're still goofy though.