Chris played golf yesterday morning, a treat he rarely gets to indulge in. So I took the kids to the park. This isn't just any park. First, it's the "Right to Play" playground that allows children with disabilities to play. There are ramps for wheelchair-bound kids and special swings that allow children who can't swing on their own to be locked in so they can swing just like everyone else!
Second, there are HUGE musical instruments.
And last, but certainly not least, the water!!
This is what Brady did the whole time.....
It was a great morning and the kids passed out in the afternoon!
We have brick! I drove by the house this morning on my way to a meeting at W.T. Lewis Elementary School. It took the builders no time at all to get the brick up! But as happy as I was about the progress of my beautiful house, I was sitting there thinking about all our neighbors in south Louisiana who have rebuilt their homes... only to have another hurricane threaten to destroy them again! Hurricane Gustav has already killed nearly two dozen people in Haiti. Now he is on his way to the Gulf Coast and I cannot believe this could be happening again.
Chris and I were living in Dallas when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005. Kennedy was only one year old. We were glued to the television with the most devastating images and stories I had ever seen. I was born and raised in Louisiana, so my heart ached for the people of my home state... even while I was living in Texas. I remember being so moved by the events that happened that I took donations from my company, rented a mini-van and drove them to Shreveport where shelters were open for evacuees.
Now that I am living in Shreveport again, I will be even more effected by the storms because I learned yesterday that LSUS will open a Red Cross Shelter in our Health and Physical Education building. As Director of Media and Public Relations, I'll be corralling the media. I will be even closer to the people who evacuate south Louisiana and I fully expect to be very emotional because I cannot imagine packing up my belongings and family and leaving my house for the wrath of a hurricane. The unknown is terrifying, especially when we have no control over Mother Nature. I just hope she is gentle on us this time.
But in the last year and a half of my family living in apartments and rent homes in Shreveport, I have come to realize that a house is just a house. My HOME is my family and friends that I surround myself with. My HOME is not material possessions. It's my beautiful, healthy children who smile at me everyday. It's my amazing husband. It's my friends who get together and laugh and celebrate life. The house is just a roof. What's important is what's inside.
My niece Lauren turned one last week and we celebrated this weekend at Nina and Papa's house. She is so precious and a spitting image of my sister. I feel like I'm holding a pint-sized version of Tracy when she's in my arms. As with most first birthday parties, the ceremonial mini-cake was placed on her high chair. Needless to say, she LOVES cake.
Seeing Lauren grow over this past year has been such a joy. I only wish I could see her and my sister more. (Trey, too!) They live in Little Rock, which is only 3 hours away, but traveling with children can be tough. The amount of "stuff" you have to pack makes it hard to pick up and leave for a weekend trip. So we see them when we can, but secretly - I pray that God will lead them to Shreveport soon. I know my parents would love that. And I would love it more than anything. My sister and I have not always been very close - we have different personalities and different interests. But becoming mommies has brought us together in a way that I cannot describe. We have that understanding when talking about late night feedings... we trade parenting tricks... complain about daycare workers. I not only have a wonderful sister but a best friend. And her daughter, Lauren, is very blessed to have such a wonderful mother.
If you know Kennedy, you know that she is not a shy child. Nothing embarrasses her. She sings everywhere she goes, including public places. I do not discourage this because I want her to have fun in everything she does... if possible. She never meets a stranger and often walks up to people and says, "Hi! My name is Kennedy!" So you can imagine my disbelief this morning when I saw her BLUSHING for the first time.
We were walking into her school this morning and ran into one of my co-workers whose son, Alex, is in Kennedy's class. After the usual good morning greeting, he said, "Kennedy, did you kiss Alex yesterday?" Kennedy said, "Noooooo..." When the teacher walked by, my co-worker friend asked the teacher if it was Kennedy or Kennley, another little girl in the class. The teacher smiled and looked at me, "Yes, it was Kennedy!" When we got to Kennedy's class, I asked her to point out Alex to me since I couldn't recall which little boy he was. He looked at me and Kennedy and rather loudly said, "Hey! Kennedy kissed me yesterday... TWICE!" And thus, my child blushed for the first time. She was smiling so I was relieved that it didn't hurt her feelings that Alex made this announcement to the entire class.
Of course, I explained to Kennedy that we can hug our friends, but kisses are reserved for family only. I haven't told daddy this story yet. I imagine when he reads this post, he'll have some feelings of his own..... :)
Today is my sweet niece's FIRST birthday! I can remember driving up to Little Rock when she was born. Unfortunately Kennedy and I did not make it there in time for the actual birth, but we were there a few short hours later. My sweet sister did not know she was in labor and when she finally got to the hospital, the doctors performed a C-section because she was breeched.
This is Lauren with her "Nina" - which is what Kennedy named my mother when she was learning to talk. My mom wanted to be "Nana", but Kennedy couldn't quite say that. "Nina" came easier and that has been her name ever since.
This was taken in May and she's already changed so much! We are celebrating her birthday this weekend. New pictures of her smeared in birthday cake to come!
My dear sweet Brady gave me a small present last night - seven hours of sleep! He must know that his daddy is out of town and that his momma is exhausted from the daily routine with two kiddos. After I got him out of bed and laid him down to change his diaper, he gave me the biggest grin! It was a great moment... AND a great night of sleep.
5:29 am - I open my eyes one minute before my alarm goes off. Do I really want to get up? I could sleep a little longer. YES - I do want to get up. GET UP!
5:30 am - My alarm goes off and I quickly shut it off so I don't wake Chris. I go to the bathroom, step on scale (ugh...5 pounds of baby weight remaining) and then head to the living room to quietly get dressed. I slip on my clothes and head out the door, iPod ready to blare some motivating music.
As I warm up heading down our street in Broadmoor, I think about today, my birthday, and how much I have accomplished in my 31 years. I have an amazing husband who moved from Maine for me and loves me, despite all my faults. I have two healthy and wonderful children who bring so much joy to my life - one precious princess and one handsome prince. A boy and a girl - such a blessing to have one of each. I have a job I love where I can see my BFF everyday. I live in the same town as my parents, two wonderful people who adore their grandchildren.
As I continue on my trek, I'm about at the 1/2 mile mark. I'm already sweating, but it feels good. I pass three other runners. It's barely light outside, but we still wave to each other - something I LOVE about this town. People wave... particularly runners passing each other. I start to reflect on my running. Since Brady was born, I've only been running for about four weeks. But a gift from my husband, the Nike+ chip, has made it fun to track my distance, times, and pace! I never imagined being someone who liked running.
The interest started in the spring of 2007 when my dear friend Susie and her hubby Ford were training for the Chicago marathon. They have been running for years, but I hadn't run since being on the cross country team as a freshman in high school. I am certainly NOT in the same shape as I used to be. But Susie mentioned a Couch-to-5K plan online and that maybe I should give it a shot. Thus began my new hobby. I worked up to a 5K and then started training for a 10K. I was about two months pregnant when I ran the 10K, but I was DETERMINED to run it since I had trained for so long! I finished it in 1:06:26 - not bad for a first timer! I don't run fast or very long distances. In fact, I have always considered myself a "jogger." But today, as I am running a quick 2 miles before work, I decide that I am a "runner." I try to run at least three times a week and it's something I enjoy doing. So now... I think I'll add that title to my resume.
I am so amazed by my daughter. She is so beautiful and lights up my life in a way I can't describe. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, I try to make myself slow down and spend a few moments with her to let her know how much she means to me... not just in words, but in action. Yesterday was the perfect example. I received an e-mail from Barnes Portraiture in Ruston that was asking for model volunteers to take photographs with a hand-carved Cinderella-inspired carriage. This picture does NOT do it justice. Of course, Cinderella being Kennedy's favorite princess, I volunteered us. The best shoot time available for us (considering Ruston is an hour away) was Thursday at 5:00 pm. So Chris picked up the kids early, I left work early, and Kennedy and I flew to Ruston, hoping to not be late. In the midst of the craziness of my work day, we were running behind and I grumbled to myself that I was CRAZY to commit to something else! I just can't say no! But I am so happy that we went. Not only did we get to spend some valuable mommy-daughter time together, but Kennedy had a blast and looked like an angel. She didn't want to leave! Photos of her IN the carriage coming soon....
I have come to realize that sleep is not a right, it's a privilege. For the past nine weeks, I have been sleep deprived because of the sweet cries and hunger pains of my baby boy, Brady. But those cries aren't so sweet when I hear him "calling" around 2:00 am. Just in the last few nights, Chris and I have finally gotten B to only wake once a night. And I am optimistic that B will start sleeping through the night very soon! Kennedy seemed to sleep through around the two-month mark, but as I hear from everyone - each child is different.
So last night, my wonderful husband let me sleep all the way through the night. (Thank you honey!) It's only the second or third time I have gotten more than 3 or 4 hours straight since Brady was born. So you'd think I would feel recharged today with 7 hours under my belt, but the fact is - I need more sleep! One night just didn't do the trick I thought it would. In fact, a co-worker bluntly told me today, "You look tired. Are you okay?" Maybe I need more concealer. Maybe I need some caffeine. But what I really want is precious sleep.
So Kennedy and Brady could be athletically inclined - OR they could just be good luck charms. YOU decide.
I must preface these facts with the very important fact that we are huge fans of all Boston/New England teams. The year I was pregnant with Kennedy, the Boston Red Sox broke the curse and won the World Series for the first time since 1918. Also that year, the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl... again. The summer Kennedy was born - we were glued to the TV for the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
When I was pregnant with Brady, the Red Sox again became the National Champions. Unfortunately the Patriots did not win the Super Bowl, BUT the Boston Celtics had a stellar season and beat the Lakers in the NBA Finals. My husband has been a Celtics fan, even when they were one of the worst teams in the NBA. And again this summer, after Brady's arrival, we find ourselves watching the Olympics in Beijing.
So do we have future Olympians? Or maybe a baseball player? I haven't seen any prodigy-type athletic tendencies yet. Stay tuned...
We are half-way home! Literally! Chris approved the frame of our new house this morning, so now the walls will go up... appliances, carpet, paint - the works!
I cannot wait to move into our new house. Living in our rent home has been... challenging. One bathroom means racing to see who gets there first in the morning. I'm constantly stepping on Kennedy's bath toys. And let's not even mention how Kennedy doesn't quite understand how to KNOCK before walking in!
It's looking like we'll move in around the beginning of October. We were hoping for middle of September, but I guess we will just have to wait a few more weeks. We've waiting this long, we can wait some more.
We visit the house every weekend, so now Kennedy knows exactly where her room is. She now gives US tours when we're there. She is standing in her (future) closet. Bossier City, here we come!
As my dear working-mommy friend Angela recently told me, "I don't want to live in a trailer in South Dallas.... so I work." My sentiments exactly. And not only do I work for the new house we're building, the big SUV I love and the occasional shopping trips - but I also work for me. I enjoy getting my creative juices flowing when I'm developing a new PR campaign. I thrive on being busy and crunching before my magazine deadlines. I like the feeling of accomplishment when I've finished a big project.
But.... all this doesn't make it any easier to hand my kids over to the daycare workers (who we really like, by the way!) I naively thought that dropping off Brady on Monday would be easy! I'd done this before with Kennedy, so mentally - I was prepared. But emotions are a different story. It took me 20 minutes to hand B to nice nursery ladies. And when I left, I cried. Not just a small tear rolling down my face - I had to reapply my eye make-up! But with the fantastic support of my friends and family, each day this week has been a little easier.
One day, I hope my kids will realize that I'm working to make our family life a little nicer. I hope they realize that I want to set the example for them that moms CAN work, if they want to. Women can be career-oriented AND be excellent mothers, too! But most of all, I hope my kids realize that more than any career - the BEST job in the world is being their mother.
Kennedy celebrated her 4th birthday today with a party fit for a princess. Kennedy really enjoyed her class at Power & Grace last year, so she really wanted to have her party there. It was so much fun to see the girls pick out a princess costume and follow the dance moves of the teacher, Mrs. Kourtney (who was also Kennedy's dance teacher). The girls shrieked with excitement when Cinderella walked in and performed a ballet for them! Thanks to everyone for joining us!