Fat Tuesday in Chicago

 

Happy Mardi Gras!

 

One of my favorite, favorite, favorite cities is New Orleans. When you visit there, it’s like visiting a city in another country. There are so many cultures, traditions, legends…not to mention the wonderful food and colorful people.

I’ve been to New Orleans at least ten times and every time is an adventure. My oldest brother lives there so I get to see the city from a local’s perspective, not so much a tourist’s perspective.

Well, today is Mardi Gras in NOLA, the culmination of many weeks of parades, parties, balls and celebrations.

Bourbon Street is a sight to be seen!

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Mardi Gras Parades are one of a kind!

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Each Krewe will host a ball, a black-tie event and the costumes are out of this world!

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We don’t have anything like this in Chicago…not even close.

But we do have Paczki Day!!!!

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Paczkis are incredibly delicious doughnut-like treats that bakeries prepare the day before Ash Wednesday. They are a Polish tradition and are melt-in- your mouth delectable mouthfuls of sugar, fruit and flour.

My wonderful friend Noreen had a bunch of us moms over this morning after we dropped the kids off at school.

Paczkis Galore!!!!

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Chocolate Cream, Raspberry, Cherry, Custard, Apple, Apricot, Chocolate-Chip Cream Cheese filled….Yum, Yum, Yum!

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So much sugar and goodness, we had to wash it down with some fresh made cappuccino made by Noreen’s husband.

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Needless to say, I was a bit wired this morning!

But I did manage to continue my Fat Tuesday by making a New Orleans dish for dinner…

Cheesy Grits and Shrimp!

(I didn’t snap a photo of this because I was too busy shoving it into my mouth.)

And for desert, Bananas Foster with vanilla ice cream!

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You know what all this means?

Fat Tuesday = Fat Kathy

Oh my!

 

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Challenge: Pay it Forward

 

“Be the change you want to see in the

world”-Ghandi

 

We recently returned from a family trip to one of my favorite cities…

New Orleans!!!

In my opinion, going to New Orleans is like going to a different realm…the food, the architecture, the people, the music, the way of life…like no other city in the United States.

I started visiting there in the early ‘90’s when both my brother and sister attended college there and continued to go back through the years.  It’s always an adventure!

This is the first time my husband and I took our children who are 9 & 11 years old.  We went to visit my brother who still lives there with his family, and my mom, sister and niece went also.  It was an incredible time, so full of moments that will live in our memories forever.

Side note:  Going to New Orleans with children is a much different, yet still fun, time than going with your girlfriends to celebrate your 40th birthdays.Winking smile

My brother had a crawfish boil for us! 

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Learning how to “pinch the tail, suck the head.”

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We went on a Swamp Tour with alligators galore!

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We walked around the French Quarter…

(in the daytime, of course.  Young, impressionable minds, you know.)

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Creepy, Above the Ground Cemeteries…

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You get the jest…

My brother was the most gracious host, making sure everyone got to do what they wanted to do and had fun doing it.  He gave my sons the most beautiful St. Ignatius medals and my niece a beautiful St. Cecelia medal that they will treasure for the rest of their lives.

But this isn’t a post for tourism for New Orleans, though it may sound like it up till now.

Amazing things happened to us while we were there…

My niece was tired and hot, hungry and probably not in the best of moods.

A homeless person noticed this and started singing to her to cheer her up.  He started singing, “You are My Sunshine” and you could see her start to perk up.

Then he saw one of his friends nearby and had her join in…They started singing, “This Little Light of Mine” and before you know it, we all joined in.  It was a little, impromptu gathering of bad singers but we were so joyful, right across from Café DuMonde.

Our hotel kitchen started on fire, and no one was hurt and no one’s property was damaged.

Our flight home was terrible, crossing above storms that left Oklahoma so damaged.  I was terrified as I am not a good flier any way.  This is what greeted us after baggage claim…

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The amazing thing that stuck out in my mind the most was at a food joint called Salvo’s in Belle Chase, LA after the alligator tour.

We all were hungry, needing some Po’Boys and Sweet Tea.  There were eight of us seated at a picnic table style restaurant, our mouth’s watering and stomach’s grumbling.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw this very, very tall man, probably in his 50’s,  come in the restaurant.  He must’ve been about 6’6” tall, at least.

  I thought, “Wow, that’s a tall man.”

The waitress sat him behind us and I didn’t give him another thought.

At this point, my 11 year old accidentally knocked over his very tall glass of Iced Tea right onto my husband’s lap.

Ugghhhh!  He felt so bad about this…he was embarrassed because everyone turned to look at him and he was nervous his dad was going to be mad. 

He started to rub his eyes…the waitresses came over to wipe up the mess and were so kind to him, assuring him it was OK to spill, not a big deal.  We all told him it was OK…But he was still upset, was starting to cry, and got up to go to the bathroom where he could be alone.

I’m not sure why this incident upset my hockey playing son so much, but I could only guess it was because he didn’t want to upset his dad who now had a lap full of Iced Tea. ( He didn’t look too happy as he was cleaning up the ice between his legs.)

So I said between clenched teeth, “Go get him and talk to him and tell him it’s ok.”

My husband came to his senses very quickly, realizing how upset our son was, and went to speak to him in the bathroom. 

They came out, arm in arm, everything back to normal.

Our food arrived.  We all held hands and bowed our heads and said Grace.

 

When it was time to pay the bill, I waved the waitress over because I wanted to pay it for everyone.  My mom wanted to pay it for everyone.  We argued over this for a bit.

Then the waitress said, “Nobody has to argue over this bill,  it’s been paid for ya’ll”.

Huh?  We all looked at her stunned.  “Who paid it?” we all asked, almost in unison.

“That tall gentleman who was sitting behind ya’ll came up, paid his bill and left.  Then he came back and told me he wanted to buy ya’ll lunch because he was impressed at the father-son relationship and said, ‘If they ask, tell them it was because you don’t see that kind of family very much anymore.’”

I asked her if he comes in often, I would like to leave him a huge thank you note.

“No, I never seen him before today,” she said.  “I would remember him, he was so tall.”

I’ve heard about things like that happening, strangers paying for lunch out of the kindness of their hearts, but it’s never happened to me and I’ve never done it before, either.

How thoughtful, kind and generous that simple act was.  We all left that place a little different, I believe.  For the better.

I keep thinking of it.  That man did this without expecting anything in return.  He didn’t even see our faces when we learned he had paid.  We couldn’t even thank him.

The only thing that comes to my mind is,

 

Pay It Forward

 

So that’s what we’re going to do.

Summer break has officially started and I talked to the boys about this incident and we came up with a plan…

We will do one act of Paying it Forward once a week and post about it on Fridays.  One act is not asking very much.

We want YOU to get involved too.

It doesn’t have to be a big deal like buying lunch for eight people…it could just be a simple, kind act like leaving a note for a neighbor to tell her how pretty her garden is. If you ask me, homeless people singing “This Little Light of Mine” is just as much a kind act as anything.   I’ve included a cool site I found on the web for ideas…

http://www.spreadkindness.org/tools/ideas

On Fridays, I’ll post about what we did.  Please, please join us on this. Post to me what YOU did. I can’t wait to see what a difference we will make.

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
Mother Teresa

And to that very, very tall man who my mom’s first impression of was Michael, the archangel,

Thank you…you don’t know this, but you’ve started something good.