Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful... for 100 miles logged

Today, I felt like a grown up. Chris and I hosted Thanksgiving at our house this year, our new house. We cooked the turkey, rolls and desserts. My family brought the rest. We entertained eight people and three kiddos and had such a good time. It was a lot of work, but totally worth it to host our first official holiday here. It's been a long time coming and I know my mom appreciated the break! Now I cannot wait to put up the Christmas tree and celebrate our first Christmas in this house! Making memories is one of my favorite things....
After everyone left and things started to quiet down, I took the opportunity to go for a run. As I logged my four miles as part of my 1/2 marathon training - I pushed harder than I have in quite some time. I clocked 4 miles in 44 minutes. Normally I run 12 minute miles, but there were songs on my iPod that motivated me to push harder and faster. During this run, I logged my 100th mile since Brady was born. Before I got pregnant with Brady, I never kept track of my miles. But with the nifty Nike+ chip Chris gave me for Christmas last year, I have been tracking my miles since I started running again in September.
100 miles.... wow.
I'm thankful for the ability to run.
I'm thankful that Chris watches the kids so that I can train for the New Orleans race.
I'm thankful for the motivation to keep going, even when I don't want to.
I'm so very thankful.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I am giving thanks this week for so many blessings in my life. Last year, Kennedy kept singing this same line of a Thanksgiving song she learned at school. She kept singing the same line over, and over, and over, and over.... it got very old.

"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

Saying goodbye

I have cried everyday since Sunday. I have maintained a mild headache for several days as well. And now that the memorials are over, I must start the healing process. I owe it to myself and my family... and Amber. But I can't help but think about her husband, Eric. I couldn't see the pastor during the service, but I had a clear view of "E" and I watched him ride an emotional roller coaster through the long, extremely difficult service. He didn't look in the eyes of the speakers. He just stared down at the floor. At times he would shake his head. At other times, he cried so hard he shook. And when the songs and eulogy were over and people lined up to give their sympathies - Susie and I made our way to the front. I wanted to hug him with all my strength and when I finally got my turn - I squeezed as hard I could and through our tears, I whispered, "I promise we (SneStinBaLas) will take care of you. I promise you that." We sobbed in each other's shoulders and while I am grateful for the chance to see him today, it was one of the hardest moments of my life.

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

Explaining death to children

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

Our friend Amber

It is with a heavy heart and extreme sadness that I write this post today. While I usually have no trouble at all finding words to write or say, I am at a loss now... over the loss of my friend.

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

Half-marathon... oh my!

"Never say never."

I told my best friend Susie I would never run more than a 10K. I accomplished that goal last year just a few weeks after I found out I was pregnant. After that race, I had to stop running because I couldn't keep my heartrate at a safe rate for the baby.

So about three months after Brady was born, I started running again. I am only up to about four miles now (approaching 100 miles total since I started back), but........ I have gone and decided to become one of "those" runners.
Call me crazy, but I have signed up for the New Orleans Mardi Gras Half-Marathon on February 1. I am working the Hal Higdon Training Program, which is 12 weeks - exactly enough time between now and the race. If I'm going to do a half-marathon - why not do one that is fun and in one of the best cities in the world?

My only goal is to finish... no time goal at all. Just pure fun!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

5 months old

Brady is five months old. He has grown so much since he was born. Here are the stats:
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

Kennedy or Brady?

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

My husband

I am married to the most amazing man. He is absolutely my rock and I am blessed to be his wife and the mother of his two children.
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.

The latest on Amber

Things are improving for Amber! There has been a lot of confusion and varying versions of stories on how she is really doing, but the most recent news from Ford is that her temperature is normal and has been for 36 hours. The doctors have brought her further out of sedation and she is breathing at a 1 to 1 rate now (meaning that she takes a breath and the machine takes a breath). Last night she was at 3 to 1 (3 machine breath, 1 Amber breath). She is certainly not out of the woods, but over the past 24 hours, she has made a massive improvement! She has been sedated and intubated to help keep her calm and not coughing because her lungs are in such a delicate state right now.

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

Brady's bumps

Brady has had some red bumps that pop up, disappear and then show up somewhere else on his sweet little body. They started in his armpits and I honestly thought it was ant bites because they had a white raised section in the middle of it. But there were no ants in his bed and his teachers at daycare said there hasn't been an ant problem. So we took him to the doctor yesterday. Turns out he is having an allergic reaction to a virus! Poor baby! But you wouldn't know it by looking at his happy mood! He was smiling at the doctor while she was checking him out. But his sweet, soft skin didn't look so hot.
The good news is the doctor gave us a prescription to help with the hive-like bumps and he woke up this morning with no bumps!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My Maine Family

Chris was born and raised in Maine, so now that we live in Louisiana - we only get to see his family a few times a year. And since we have had children (plural now!) - we aren't able to travel as often. So we were thrilled when his mom, dad, sister, brother and niece decided to travel down south to our great state! They arrived at the airport and Kadence (her cousin, also known as "KK") ran to Kennedy and they hugged as if they were old friends. Memere (pronounced MEH'-meh) scooped up Kennedy and Brady and loved on them both for several minutes. This was the LaPierre family's introduction to Brady. It was a very sweet moment.

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 believe in prayer. I believe that talking to God and "handing over" my worries is a valuable tool in my day-to-day life. It's not always the first tool in my toolbox when I am stressed or overwhelmed, but it is something I do on a regular basis. I am teaching Kennedy about prayer, too. Her prayers tend to be conversations about events as if she's telling God what happened during her day, which I think is precious.

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.

A New President

Whether you voted for him or not, we have a new president: Barack Obama.

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!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Family Fun...

Kadence and Kennedy have enjoyed their time together... playing at the park, going to the fair and being scrubbed from head-to-toe in the tub! More on their trip to Louisiana later, but for now, here is a sneak peak:

LaPierre Family Halloween

My family from Maine has been in town for the past several days and we have enjoyed spending time together... especially Friday night for Halloween. My sister-in-law Kelly and I always enjoy laughing and cutting up together and this trip was no exception. Our daughters were pirates... and so were we! Arrrrrgh! Trick or treat!