Wednesday, December 31, 2008
The day B was born, we were ready to announce his name. And daddy was ready to wear his New England Patriots jersey. Brady has his very own jersey, too, thanks to Memere LaPierre in Maine.
And for those of you who think my son was named after Tom Brady, I say "no way!" We love the Patriots, but not that much......
Saturday, December 27, 2008
I spent half the year pregnant with our second child. The second time around was MUCH easier! Easy pregnancy (minus a quick hospitalization for dehydration after the stomach virus kicked my butt). We did not find out the sex of the baby, a decision I was extremely happy with. Some of our friends (and all of our family) gave us a hard time about not finding out. But what a joy to have Chris walk out of the operating room, holding our precious baby to announce, "It's a boy!"
In May, this area had one of the biggest rain storms in decades. The floods ruined a lot of our "stuff" being stored in the garage of the rental we were living in for most of this year. The house was in Broadmoor, which is an area that does not handle massive rain very well. I made the discovery a few days after the rain storm ended. I went to the garage, which is detached from the house, to look for something. I burst into tears. At 8 months pregnant, I had no idea what to do. Chris was out of town, so I called my parents and Susie. The SneStinBaLa "task force" came to my rescue. Kandi and Brian Sneed, Amber, Susie and Ford, and my parents helped me clean out and move everything that was salvageable. I was an emotional wreck. Pictures and family mementos were ruined... things that cannot be replaced. The coffee maker and seasonal clothes could be easily replaced, but yearbooks, my childhood Bible and other family keepsakes did not fare so well. Nonetheless, I kept them with rain-soaked pages. It was an amazing testament of the lasting friendships Chris and I have here. Rarely would someone take a day off work and help clean out a nasty, rainy, stinky mess. But this group did. We jokingly said that when one of us is in crisis, we "mobilize the troops." That's exactly what happened. What a blessing.
June was a wonderful month as our son, Brady, was born. Weighing in at 8 lbs. 10 oz., he was quite a big boy! Chris and I have been tremendously blessed with a boy and a girl. Each has brought us such joy and happiness in their own unique way. Kennedy loves him so much and has been such a helpful big sister. You can tell that he loves her so much because when she gets in his face and talks to him, he smiles from ear-to-ear and kicks with excitement. At six months old, he is sitting up and eating baby food. He is ticklish on his chest and his inner thighs. He LOVES bath time and smiles at anyone who smiles at him. Being a mom has made me complete. I cherish each day with both my children.
About two months after B was born (we call Brady "B" for short), I started running again. I had been running frequently before I became pregnant, so I was disappointed to have to slow down. I ran my first 10K when I was about two-months pregnant... but at the suggestion of my doctor - I stopped. I couldn't keep my heart rate low enough to be safe for the baby. So I was quite anxious to hit the pavement again. I was pretty slow to start, as expected after a nine-month hiatus. I slowly started working up the distance and shortening my time. Last weekend, I ran nine miles in 1:43. I am headed to New Orleans on February 1 for my first half marathon.
Chris' travel slowed down and eventually wrapped up for the year in November. We have thoroughly enjoyed having him home over the holiday season. We've had family dinners at the dinner table, bike riding lessons on our street, bedtime stories, and craft projects. There's nothing like having all four of us together for the day-to-day routine. I'm hoping the travel is minimal next year.
In October, we moved into our new home in Bossier City. We started building right before Brady was born and moved in this fall. We have never been happier. This house is perfect for us AND it's right around the corner from my best friend. Our neighbors are friendly and it reminds me of my childhood days when the neighbors stood on the front lawn and discussed gas prices and the weather. I have the "June Cleaver" ideals for this chapter in my life. That's probably as far as they'll go... ideals. It's hard to be June with two kids and working full-time.
I was honored as one of the 40 Under 40 this fall. It was extremely flattering to be named as one of the top young professionals by the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce. I am honored to not only promote higher education in my profession, but also give back to the community with my volunteer work. I love this town and I want to give my time when I can.
Almost as life changing as the birth of Brady... was the loss of our friend, Amber Sabala. One Sunday afternoon, Ford called to let us know that Amber and Eric were in the hospital and it looked like Amber would be diagnosed with leukemia. We all went to the hospital to be with her. I did not know that it would be my last time to see her. The next day, she was transferred to LSU hospital and spent the next month fighting for her life. God had other plans for her. She passed away on November 16. I have visited her grave several times and while I still mourn the loss of my friend, this has made me appreciate each day as if it were my last. We all are keeping Eric extremely close by... making sure he is in good company and recovering as best he can.
So as I reflect on the events of this year, I am exhausted... emotionally, physically, mentally. But that is what life is all about... sometimes it's a celebration... sometimes it's not fair. But it has to be about living life to its fullest... Loving my friends and family with all my heart, even at the risk of losing someone close. It's about becoming closer to new friends. It's about new life in the form of a baby boy or the loss of someone at a very young age. It's the circle of life, a life I will cherish everyday in 2009.
Christmas morning was.... interesting. I think the month-long build up may have been too much for Kennedy because once Christmas morning was here - she didn't seem as excited as I thought she would be. She calmly walked in our room and said, "Santa has been here brought presents. Why aren't they all under the tree? They are over on the side of the tree."
She opened presents, opened Brady's for him, found her big gift from Santa (Barbie Cruise Ship) and smiled a lot, but didn't seem to squeal like I expected. Hhhmmm.... maybe it was too much anticipation and build up of the big day. Maybe she is still adjusting to sharing mom and dad with little brother Brady. I'm not sure, but while she didn't seem very excited Christmas morning... things livened up that afternoon at Nina and Papa's house. And she's been playing with her new toys every day. She got FIVE (yes, five) new Barbie dolls, the Cruise Ship, the Barbie car, clothes, games, etc. So I guess her after excitement makes up for it.It's exciting to be in the house we will celebrate many Christmases together, as our children grow up. I have a lot to be grateful for this year: our expanded family, our home, our health, and much happiness that we've shared this year. More on my reflections of 2008 later...
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
I am about half-way through my half marathon training. Last weekend, I finished my longest run... ever. EIGHT miles! I was not sure what to expect since I had several factors to consider.
1. I'd never run that far before. (And actually my goal was only 7 miles)
2. I was planning to run outside, something I hadn't done in a couple of weeks.
3. It was a brisk 35 degrees with a windchill in the 20s!
4. I was going to try some new energy boosters.
So I meet Susie down at the parkway. Her distance made mine look pretty weak. She was running 22 miles as part of her marathon training. I started on my trek listening to my iPod. It took me about a mile to get situated. My iPod flew off my pants. My headband was making my headphones fall off. I was cold in some places, getting warm in others. To top it off, I had gas. At least I was outside!! After the first mile, I had adjusted and was getting into my groove. The second mile was a mental struggle.
How on earth will I finish this? I cannot believe I am out here. I should be at home with Chris and the kids. No... do this. You know you can. Stop thinking about what you're doing and think about WHY you're doing this. Now just run.
Back on track and doing good to mile four. Very energized. That's where I make a quick stop at the car, peel off a layer, guzzle half a bottle of G2 (low-cal gatorade) and pop a packet of electrolyte-filled jelly beans. About a minute break and back on the path. Half-way through. Mile four is more in the open. More wind.
I wonder how far Susie has gone? Dang that girl is fast. I wonder if I'll ever be able to keep up with her. Probably not... well, maybe in a few years. I'm approaching mile five. Uh oh.. what is the grumbling in my stomach? I'm not hungry.
This is about the time I start to realize that I have to go to the bathroom. Not #1 folks. There is no portolet on the trail... just some nearby woods on the trail. There is where the title of this post comes in.
"You can't be a Southern Lady while running."
It's true... because I had to sneak into the woods, take care of business and use the cleanest leaf I could find. Then I got back on the trail and finished my last three miles. But not before I threw up from the drainage, shot snot rockets from my runny nose and burped up jelly beans and G2.
But while this is gross to some, I know that I'm a true runner now. You do what you have to do for the race, which may even include enduring a bruised toenail!
Friday, December 12, 2008
...the challenges of putting up Christmas lights on the new house.... (which includes me climbing on the roof!!)
...silly Sunday afternoons with Kennedy...
...story time with daddy...
...and a Christmas program at Kennedy's school (singing "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree)!Only 12 days until Christmas and I can't wait to see what Santa brings!
Thursday, December 4, 2008
The day after Thanksgiving, we pulled down our Christmas decorations and got to work! Kennedy enjoyed putting up the ornaments and she even has her own hot pink Christmas tree in her room. She feels very special having her own little tree with tiny ornaments on it. A tradition that Chris and I started when we got married was to give each other an ornament every year that is personal. So each year when we put up the tree, we like looking back at the ornaments we bought each other. We are continuing the tradition with the kids, buying an ornament for them as well. So our tree doesn't have a theme or all matching ornaments, but that's why I like it. It's a hodge podge of ornaments that are sports related, have cartoon characters on them and many homemade ones, too.
And then there's the baking.... I don't cook very much. My idea of cooking is throwing a chicken breast in the skillet and boiling pasta to go with it. In my mind, that's a home cooked meal! So baking is something that is a little more challenging for me. I didn't know there was a difference between baking powder and baking soda until a few years ago.
Nonetheless, I try to do some holiday baking. This year, I made Candy Cane Puffs... and actually, they're pretty good!
And last, but certainly not least - this time of year means sports. LSU football in particular. Usually we're headed to a big bowl game, but the Tigers haven't done so well this year. But despite their season, their littlest fan... is still a fan.So the holidays this year are starting off very well. I cannot wait to share many Christmases with my family in our home... making memories that will last our lifetime.
1. Both my kids are now sick - Brady has an ear infection and Kennedy is so congested, she can't breathe through her nose.
2. My job has me buried with a massive project... (so much for slowing down at the end of the year!)
3. I was humbled with recognition as one of the "40 Under 40 Young Professionals" by the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce.
4. Christmas shopping underway... not near complete.
5. Christmas tree and decorations in the new house are up! (Not house lights yet, though)..
6. I'm planning a cookie exchange for some girlfriends at the house this weekend.
7. Chris is leaving town on Monday for the week, so I'm mentally preparing for the single mom life for five days.
8. I've kept up with my running in this week four of my half-marathon training.
9. We saw Eric last weekend to watch Oklahoma stomp OSU - and my heart sank seeing him.
10. My grandmother is finally out of extended care after her shoulder surgery and is now at home.
Whew... I'm exhausted....
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
"Thanksgiving day is a happy day and we say thank you God. Thanksgiving day is a happy day and we say thank you God.." on and on and on.
But it's true. It is a happy day and I say thank you to God for all the blessings in my life:
1. My husband, who loves me despite all my crazy moods and OCD tendencies. He is the most amazing person I know and I am blessed that God led me to Maine to meet and marry him. He is a provider, a loving father, and an amazing friend. I could not make it in life without him.
2. My healthy children. How lucky am I to have two wonderful, well-behaved and healthy children? Being a mother is something that brings such joy to my life. I had no idea how much love I had in my heart until I became a mother. And it makes me love my husband even more because we created these two precious beings, each one a part of him and a part of me. What a miracle.
3. Our home. It's not just a house, it's a place where we are making memories everyday. We are living in the house our children will grow up in. We will carve many Thanksgiving turkeys here, celebrate many Christmases here, have birthday parties, family dinners and movie nights here. I am so thankful to God for bringing us to Louisiana and our home is icing on the cake.
4. Family! Chris and I have such loving siblings and parents. While we are able to see my parents more often, Chris' family in Maine is with us always. Family is so important to us. They provide the support system we longed for in Texas.
5. Friends. This one hits close to home these days. After Amber's death, I appreciate my friends more than ever. Not only do I feel that God brought us back to Louisiana to be near family, but to be near my best friend, too. Susie and I have connected in ways that I cannot describe. Sometimes we finish each other sentences. And while we see each other at work everyday, we text message each other at night. She is my inspiration and motivation for my new favorite hobby and I cannot wait to cross the finish line with her in the 1/2 marathon in New Orleans. I thank God for introducing us 12 years ago.
So this Thanksgiving brings me quite a bit to be thankful for. I hope you are celebrating everything in your life as well.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Since the family had a private burial on Wednesday, our small group of friends decided to hold our own grave site service after the memorial. Seeing the freshly placed dirt is devastating. I have attended several funerals in my lifetime; the most recent in my family was when my grandaddy in Florida died when Kennedy was a baby. But somehow it's more difficult with a young person. My grandaddy lived more than 80 years. Amber only graced this earth for 25.
But I know God has a plan for everyone. My life's path dramatically changed when my father died when I was five. There's no doubt that Eric's life has dramatically changed now as well. But I have to believe that God has something amazing in store for E. I just know it.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
It is our parental instinct to want to protect our children from any harm. But sometimes, as a parent, we owe our kids the truth - even if it hurts. Such is the case with Kennedy and telling her about Amber. She knew "Miss Amber" very well and knew she was sick. We did not hide that from her. She asked to see her when I would visit the hospital and she colored many get well cards, pictures, and posters for her. One night, unprompted, she prayed for "Miss Amber to get better at the doctor and Mr. Eric, too... because I love them."
I am a very emotional person and always have been. Always will be. So I knew that I would barely be able to speak through the tears to tell Kennedy about Amber. And Chris knew it would upset Kennedy more to see me sobbing and trying to explain what happened, so he bravely told her while I was driving back from Memphis Sunday.
Dad: "Kennedy, we need to talk about Miss Amber... She is gone and we won't be able to see her anymore."
Kennedy pouts and asks why.
Dad: "Because she went to be with Jesus. She is in Heaven now."
Kennedy: "She's with JESUS?"
Dad: "Yes, honey. Do you remember when we used to pass by the cemetery on the way to your old school?"
(Kennedy asked Chris what the place was that had all the "things" sticking out of the ground. He explained that it was a cemetery and that's where people are buried when they die, but their souls go to Heaven. I commend Chris for being honest because I probably would have made up a story to avoid talking about death.)
Kennedy: "Yes, I remember. That's where people go when they die."
Dad: "That's right. They are put in a box in the ground, but their souls go to Heaven."
Kennedy: "Daddy, how will Miss Amber's soul GET to Heaven? Oh wait... I know. She'll climb in the box and it will float up to Heaven and she'll get out and see Jesus!"
At this point, Chris agrees with her and leaves the room because he is overwhelmed with emotion. Children are resilient and understand more than we give them credit for. And Kennedy's interpretation of Amber's "ride" to Heaven was simply amazing.
Last night, we talked about it briefly and it was the first time I heard her talking about it since Chris gave her the news alone on Sunday. I don't want her to dwell on it, but it came up during dinner and I started crying. She was concerned about me and Chris reminded her that "Mommy will be sad for a little while because she misses Miss Amber."
Kennedy, being the bright little girl she is, said... "And Mr. Eric is sad, too."
We will all be sad for a while because a member of our SneStinBaLa (Sneed, Stinson, Sabala, LaPierre) family is gone. She was an amazing friend and I will never forget her.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Over the last four weeks, Amber fought so hard to conquer the Leukemia that consumed her body and while the first round of chemotherapy worked, the internal bleeding was too much for her body to handle. Yesterday morning, the internal bleeding went into her brain and there was too much damage for her to recover. Her sweet husband Eric removed her from life support and she slowly drifted to heaven, where we know she is in no more pain. But unfortunately for those of us left here on Earth, we are in a tremendous amount of pain thinking about how we will move on without our friend. We are especially hurting for her husband Eric who can't make sense of it all. The loss of a spouse is more than I can comprehend.
Susie and I got the news simultaneously from our husbands yesterday while we were driving back from Memphis. We were out of town for a girls weekend and the guys got together and decided it was best to call us at the same time and let us know. Unfortunately it was a 7 hour drive home and we did not make it to the hospital in time to say our goodbyes. But while I wish I had the chance to see her and hold her hand before her time had come, it could be a blessing from God that I will always remember her as a healthy and vibrant young woman who had a tremendous amount of faith, a passion for decorating, and a very strong desire to be a mother. I only wish she'd had that opportunity. She would have been an amazing mother.
So for those of us left here to figure out why this happened... we may never have an answer. But we must try to carry on with our lives and hold onto our friends and family a little tighter. I hugged and kissed Chris a little more when I got home from Memphis. I snuggled a little longer with my kids. And I know I appreciate my best friend more today than I ever have.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
My only goal is to finish... no time goal at all. Just pure fun!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
He weighs 17 pounds... just two pounds shy of his cousin, who turned one in August. He is a healthy baby!
He eats oatmeal with his dinnertime bottle and he is finally getting the hang of it. We hope to start veggies very soon!
He loves bright colors and music, playing in the exersaucer, and swinging in his swing (something we could never get Kennedy to enjoy).
He is grabbing at toys! He can't hold onto them for very long, but he likes reaching for bright colored toys.
He is ticklish on his tummy and laughs when you play with him in that sweet spot! That is the sweetest sound a mother could ever hear.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Can you tell who is who? Which one is Kennedy and which one is Brady? These pictures were both taken when they were a few months old. Obviously I can tell the difference, but I keep hearing over and over again, "He looks SO much like Kennedy." Well I never realized how much until I started looking through pictures of Kennedy from when she was a baby. Four years ago may not seem like that long ago, but a lot has happened since then.... we've moved a few times (one of those times, we moved to a different state!). Chris and I both changed jobs. We built a house and had another baby.... so my memory isn't the best! I'm doing good to get matching clothes on in the morning! So if you haven't figured out who it is yet... I'll tell you. Kennedy is the one wearing the hat.
Friday, November 7, 2008
I am not the easiest person to live with. I can be demanding, picky, opinionated... you get the picture. But Chris just goes with the flow, no matter what hair brained idea I come up with. Last night, I was extremely emotional from a combination of things: exhaustion (as I usually am by Thursday evenings) and some events of the week. After ballet, I dropped off Kennedy (Chris had already picked up Brady) and fled to an evening event I needed to attend. Neither of the kids had been fed or bathed. I had no plans for dinner. I just kissed him goodbye and took off.
When I got home, both kids and Chris had eaten dinner. Both kids had been bathed and were in bed. The kitchen was cleaned and Brady's bottles were made for the night. I did not have to leave a list of "things to do" for the evening routine. I did not have to walk Chris through some dinner ideas. He put on his Mr. Mom hat and ran the evening circus, like I often do when he is out of town. No complaints from him... he just did it.
This afternoon, Chris is going to pick up Kennedy and take her on, what I call, a "Daddy-Daughter Date." She has NO idea he is doing this... he's going to surprise her. He is picking her up from school and taking her to see Madagascar 2 at the movie theater. As much as I want to see this movie (I love animated kid movies), I think it's more important for Kennedy to get to see it with her daddy.
I am one of the few women in this world who has a husband like this. I don't tell him enough how much I appreciate him, but I truly do. He is never one to sit around and watch me clean, cook, etc. He always steps in and helps. I think we make a great team and I am blessed that God led me to Maine to meet and fall in love with him.
Susie, Ford and I spent some time with Eric and his mother last night at the hospital and they are holding on. They are extremely tired, but have felt the love and support of their friends and family. Please continue to pray for her recovery!
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Memere and Brady
Kennedy and Kadence
We spent Friday at the Fair, which was a blast! The girls rode rides and even the adults rode some of the big rides!
Chris, Kelly, Matt, Monique, and David - a rare LaPierre family picture!
Kennedy and I rode the ferris wheel together
Matt, Chris and I rode this ride. I think I left some of my brains there... this HURT!
We spent some time at home and Brady fell in love with his Aunt Kelly!
The girls dressed up as pirates for Halloween and Kennedy's other cousin Lauren came with us as well. Kelly and I dressed up, too! We spent a lot of time laughing, telling jokes, enjoying the fire on the back porch. We enjoyed time as a family. We are all looking forward to seeing them again very soon.
I have been praying a lot lately. There is a lot to pray about. My friend Amber, who is struggling with fever and infections in ICU right now. She has a rough road to recovery.
I am praying for my friend Mercedes, who delivered her twin boys six weeks early and they are both in NICU in Dallas right now. They, too, are fighting infections and have premie complications. Her days are spent by their side in the NICU and her nights are spent at home with her husband and her other two boys.
I am praying for my friend and co-worker Viki, who's father suddenly passed away on Monday from a heart attack. She is pregnant and dealing with this major loss in her life and so I pray that she is able to heal and remain calm for the sake of her baby.
There is a somber feeling in my heart these days and I think it is because of the tough times people around me are going through. I have a tendency to internalize things and take on other people's feelings. I am an emotional person under "normal" circumstances, but I have been even more emotional lately thinking about the challenges life can bring us. I have had my fair share of challenges in my life, but nothing like what these friends are going through.
I pray that God will protect them and help them all heal.
I have noticed a lot of panic among friends and acquaintances about our new leader. I don't know if that stems from the fact that we live in the south and are somewhat less open-minded than our neighbors of the north... or if it's that he's African-American... or if that it's that he is "different." Maybe you disagree with him on some of his views. But I think we should all be appreciative of anyone willing to take on the role of president with the current state of our country. I, personally, am ready for the wars to end. I am ready for financial stability. And whether or not you voted for him, I feel it's an important time in American history to celebrate the election of our first African-American president. My children and grandchildren will look to me to hear about what it was like to live through this time in history... just as I looked to my grandparents to learn about World War II.
Now, if we can just start looking towards our first female president.
Oh.. and ps. I took a picture of myself voting. I'm pretty sure it was illegal, but I wanted proof that I VOTED in this election!