Tuesday Night Lights

JT has officially started playing football at the middle school. He is #62 in the photos.

He is the one that you can't really see his number - black socks, white shoes.

Yep, that's him tackling, which I guess is better than being tackled.
Again, he is in there tackling.

My preferred position - him just standing there.

And he is the guy in the middle.

He is loving his first adventure with football. I love watching him but really hope baseball season starts soon. 



This summer we opted to take a few smaller trips rather than one large trip. The first was at the end of the school year to Great Wolf Lodge and the second was a special invite from Lee and Rebecca to a sugar plantation.

Originally this trip was going to be just me and kids so Rick could stay home and get a few things done and enjoy some quiet but the accident threw us a curve ball and I felt more comfortable having Rick drive and a road trip is always a bit more fun with him. The other added excitement was that we got to take the rental car that had DVD player although we quickly realized that while the Chevy Traverse is fun to ride around town, it is not a road trip car for a family of six.

I don't even know where to start with describing this trip. I should probably start with mentioning how thankful it is to have two natives show us Louisiana. I am not sure the boys (and the girls) would loved red beans and rice, BBQ shrimp, or a host of other treats if it wasn't for Lee and Rebecca. And as I have stated numerous times here and other places, Lee and Rebecca may be the best hosts ever. Along with that the plantation was just beautiful and such a fascinating place.

So let me start with a quick bit about where we were, which was lovely Patoutville, Louisiana; home to Enterprise Plantation.

Deeply rooted in Louisiana history, M .A. Patout & Son, LTD, LLC is the oldest complete family owned and operated manufacturer of raw sugar in the United States.  The company is composed of Enterprise Plantation along with three subsidiaries: Sterling Sugars, LLC, Raceland Raw Sugars, LLC and Patout Equipment Company, LLC.

Enterprise Plantation, founded in 1825 by Simeon and Appoline Patout, is the original M. A. Patout & Son sugar plantation located in Patoutville, Lousiana. Sterling Sugars and Raceland Raw Sugars were acquired by M. A. Patout & Son in 1994 and 1996. The combined capacity of the three mills is 4,600,000 tons of cane annually.

Rebecca's dad is a descendant of the Patout family and shares in the ownership of the plantation. This family legacy includes the ability to stay at the original caretakers house on the plantation property.

Working clockwise from the top right corner is the house we stayed in, which  was beautiful and so large that there was an entire section that we didn't even hang out in. The brick building below at one time was a wine cellar as the family had originally intended to grow grapes and start a winery. The bottom photo is the mill, the original workers quarters complete with mud walls, the big house, the planters are actually huge cast iron bowls that were used in the mill, and then a row of cedar trees.

We had such a relaxing weekend just being lazy, swimming, eating, drinking and laughing.

What is a trip to Louisiana without Rebecca doing something incredibly fun with the kids like tossing marshmallows in to their mouths from upstairs. She even joined in.

The Lucas clan loves us some Louisiana and time with Lee and Rebecca. We are looking forward to our next adventure with them.

5 and 7

Yesterday kicked off the first day of school. JT started 7th grade and Zach is in 5th. The girls won't start for another two weeks.


Children of the Cane

Finally, after lying to you on my last post, I am working on updating my photos from the summer. Here is another teaser from our trip to Louisiana; this is the girls in the sugar cane.



I am working on editing my photos from our quick trip to the sugar plantation. In the meantime, here is a rare Meghan shot. That is KitKat with me and Lulu in the background heading in to the citrus grove.


10 Already?

I like to torture the kids on their birthday by sharing their birth stories with them. Today in great detail I recounted how I spent the evening before Zachs birth with Michelle at a high-end auction, watching people bid large sums on ornate furniture, and talking to the couple next to us who shared their picnic of wine and cheese. I carelessly sipped the sparkling wine and ate soft cheese despite knowing they are all on the banned items list for pregnant women.
My labor with Zach was the toughest of the three but even then it really wasn't that bad. He was demanding the first few days at the hospital but since then he has been the most easy going guy. He is always ready to offer a hug, comfort someone when they are sad, or provide a witty remark. He is happy to spend hours pouring over atlases, encyclopedias on airplanes or cars, and memorizing random facts.
I know he is my kid but he is really fun to hang out with. I am looking forward to continuing to watch him grow and develop in to an even better kid than he already is.


Thank You Ford Motor Company

In September of 2002 I was 8 months pregnant with JT and with hormones in full force I remember telling Rick that we should really go look at a new car. At the time we had my trusty Oldsmobile from graduate school that Rick took to work and a Ford Explorer that I drove. We had recently been told by a mechanic that the Explorer was probably on it's last leg.

Rick and I made the journey to Covert Ford out in Hutto, Texas, which at the time it felt like we were driving out to a corn field in the middle of nowhere. 

We walked through the car lot (although I probably waddled) and looked at the used Explorers. Rick and I both despise car shopping so I am certain neither of us were in a great mood as the salesman followed us along chatting. I recall sitting in an Explorer that we thought was the one until the salesman asked if I wanted to sit in an Expedition. I climbed in the big silver beast and fell in love. I went back and sat in the Explorer again just to be sure but I knew that Expedition was mine. Sitting in it made me feel safe. We drove it home later that day.

This past Friday in preparation for the kids and I taking a mini-road trip to Louisiana we headed out in the trusted Expedition to run errands. There are multiple ways to get us to where we were going but out of habit I took my normal route that I drive to work. We sat at a light waiting for the green arrow to turn left. I don't even recall what we were talking about or what was on the radio. I remember looking at the guy to my left who was in work clothes and talking on the phone and thinking he was probably from Dell and taking a conference call. I looked up, the light was green, I looked back over at the guy next to me, and then I looked forward to where I was turning. I never looked straight ahead. If I had, I would have saw that there was a truck coming our way that was not stopping. All I heard was a horn honking before there was impact, the Expedition being pushed, and the air bags deploying. The boys and I described it later as what we imagine it feels like to get hit by a train (although a train is probably worse). JT was screaming, Zach and the girls were in shock. The powder from the airbags looked like smoke and I just kept telling JT to calm down for everyone to get out of the truck now. I wanted to scream and cry like the kids but knew I couldn't breakdown in front of them. I herded everyone to the median, counted the kids, checked everyone, and then held them each. 

A sweet couple who saw the accident jumped out to check on us. As well as every employee at the Mr. Clean Car Wash that is there on the corner. Lulu was attached to my leg, Kit Kat was just sitting quietly on the ground next to Zach who was crying, and JT was pacing and crying. While I was trying to calm JT down, the gentleman (whose name Zach told me later was Skips) sat on the ground with Zach and spoke to him in quiet words that in the midst of the chaos I couldn't hear.  Zach won't tell me all of what he said, just that he told him everyone was ok and that was all that mattered.

The EMS, Fire Department, and Police all arrived. It is honestly all a blur. Everyone was asking me questions, asking me to fill out forms, asking me who was coming to get me.  I never saw or spoke to the other people but from what small pieces of conversation we overheard and pieced together later they were all ok.

My phone was sitting in the console when we were hit and I wasn't able to find it. JT had called Rick and only said "Mom was in an accident." Rick had no clue what to expect. When Rick drove by the truck and saw it sitting flat on the ground (all 4 axles broken) he thought for sure that if not all of us but at least one was either injured or worse.

This September the Expedition would have been with us for 13 years and officially 15 years old. We have loved every moment with the Expedition. It has brought home all 4 of the kids from the hospital. We have driven through 23 States in the Expedition. We have laughed, cried, argued in the Expedition. The Lucas Family Circle of Trust lives in the Expedition. Every year as something minor cracked or broke, Rick and I talked about getting a new one but we keep saying, "Let's just hold out for one more year." 

We all walked away from the accident without any major injury. We are all a bit shaken but otherwise we are fine. The Expedition is not fine. It is sad to lose such a trusted vehicle. The moment of safety I felt when I first sat in the Expedition never left. I am thankful for every inch of steel Ford used to build that vehicle. Thankful that after 15 years, the airbags still worked perfectly. Thankful to all the people that stopped despite whatever they had going on to check on all of us. Thankful for whomever was watching over the 5 of us on Friday. 

I am not sure how we will replace the Expedition but I doubt I will be happy with anything other than another one. Honestly right now, I am just thankful that missing an item is the only thing I am doing.