Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Brady.... and a Brady fan

It's no secret that Chris is a fan of the New England Patriots. He has been a fan as long as he can remember. Being from New England certainly makes it easy. So when we were coming up with names for our first child, Brady was always a favorite. But when the baby turned out to be a girl, we picked Kennedy (a name I absolutely love). Since we didn't find out the gender of baby # 2, we had a boy name and a few girl names lined up and ready for the big day.

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......

Look who is....

... sitting up! We're still a little wobbly, but for the most part, Brady is upright and looking around at everything! He's grabbing for toys and drooling all over them. He sits in his high chair (thanks Aunt Tracy!) and has enjoyed tasting the new cuisine: green beans, peas, carrots, and sweet potatoes.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Reflections from 2008

2008 will be remembered as an eventful year. A lot has happened this year. Some good. Some bad. But all have been learning experiences and events that have shaped the person I am today.
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 2008

We had such a wonderful Christmas this year! Our first Christmas in our new house... as a family of four.
We went to the Christmas Eve service at Grace Methodist with my parents, my brother and my sister and her family. Kennedy's new Hannah Montana doll (a Christmas gift from Aunt Susie and Uncle Ford) started blaring a song in the middle of the service. It was hysterical, not because it was blaring and we couldn't get it to turn off, but because Kennedy was sitting in her Uncle Tim's lap and she just naively pointed to Uncle Tim to lay the blame. What a mess she is going to be... and is already!

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

Merry Christmas!

I can hardly wait to celebrate our first Christmas as a complete family!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

You can't be a Southern Lady while running...

Beware: this post contains some "interesting" content!

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!

Ballerina, First Year to Second Year

Kennedy has changed so much in one year. She started her second year of ballet this fall and after having parent observation night last week, I can see how much she's grown in her dance class. Last year, she paid attention half the time. She was always one or two seconds behind. And she didn't quite get the moves just right. (pictures from 2007 below)
THIS year, she has so much poise (for a four year old). She pays attention in class and knows each move just like a mini-ballerina! I cannot wait for this year's recital! She will do amazing job...

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Holidays Continue!

I can't tell you how much I am enjoying this season!!!! It's cold outside... Christmas music is playing on the radio... Kennedy is getting a daily treat in our advent calendar... and I started wrapping Christmas gifts last night. I am so happy to be living the life that I have right now and am so blessed by those who nourish me daily with their love and friendship. This season has been FULL of fun times...
...including girlfriends at a cookie exchange...

...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


For the past two years, the holidays have not been enjoyable. Last year, we were renting a house that was small, old and extremely cold. I know that a house is not just about four walls... it's about what's inside. But with half our belongings in storage and one bathroom for three people (one of which was pregnant) - it made it difficult to celebrate. The year before that, we were preparing to move to Shreveport, so it was our last season in the first house Chris and I bought together. It was very emotional and I cried... a lot.

This year, I cannot contain my excitement. We have moved into our freshly-built home, have done some of the decorating and it is BURSTING with energy and life from our two healthy children and their mommy and daddy who love them more than anything.

To start the season, Kennedy celebrated Thanksgiving with her class at pre-school with an "Indian Child" program.

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.

The Latest

It's been an entire week since I've written on my blog and so much has happened in that one week:

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....