Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas, Part 3 (Nina & Papa's house)

Christmas Day at Nina and Papa's house... another tradition in our family. We head to south Shreveport to have Christmas lunch and open presents from the grandparents. Of course there's always a ham, sweet potatoes and other veggies, desserts, etc. We always get our fill of good food.

Both Nina and Papa command the kitchen by carving ham, heating up rolls, brewing iced tea, setting out plates.... it's kind of a whirlwind for the first hour or two we're there. After we all pig out and clean the kitchen, we settle in for presents. Lauren cleaned her face with a wet wipe to get ready for the action!!

So both of my kids got big riding toys from Nina and Papa. Brady got a junior tricycle and Kennedy got a cool new scooter... pink, of course. The both wanted to ride their toys in Nina's house. Not such a good idea...
But the hit, by far, was the new Wii Kennedy got from Santa. The video game captured everyone's child-like spirit... everyone got into the game and played bowling, tennis, boxing (the most entertaining to watch!!), and golf. Yes, that is Nina you see playing here!
And Christmas wouldn't be complete without a little family snuggling! Brady latched onto Uncle Tim for the most of the day! They were two peas in a pod.
Of course Kennedy got in on the Uncle Tim action, too! They both love their uncle!!

It was a fantastic Christmas.... one I will always remember!! Good food, good family time, great gifts and fantastic fun with everyone!! Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas, Part 2 (Christmas Eve)

An annual Christmas Eve tradition: Christmas Eve service at mom and dad's church - Grace Community Methodist Church. They always do a special story at the altar where the kids come down and hear from the pastor, face to face. Kennedy loves this part. I can tell that she feels special that she's invited to the front - no adults allowed.
Brady, my sweet rambunctious boy, lasted all of 10 minutes in the service before Chris quietly slipped out the back and took him to the nursery. He was much happier there, and the folks on the rows in front and behind us appreciated it as well, I'm sure. Lauren was as quiet as she could be, although she frequently switched laps until she got comfy with her mama.

After a yummy crawfish etouffe dinner at my parents' house, we packed up and headed home to get ready for Santa's visit. Kennedy had been running fever all day and didn't feel well (turned out she had the H1N1 flu - more on that later). So both kids passed out fast asleep in the car on the way home.
We successfully transferred both kids to their beds when we got to the house, but Kennedy - in a groggy, fever-induced tone - came out of her room and said, "Mooooooommy, I hadn't put out the cookiesssss and millllk for Santaaaa. Can I pleeeeease do that befffffffore bed?" Poor little angel was so sleepy. So we quickly poured the milk........

And placed the home-made sugar cookies that we had baked and decorated at Nina and Papa's house on the plate. There, perfect. Milk and cookies for the big guy. OH wait! Don't forget the reindeer food! That went on the front porch for the hungry little deer, especially Rudolf.
Then, back in bed... close our little eyes... and Santa would be here before we knew it. Good night!
LOOK AT ALL THE PRESENTS!! As Kennedy pointed out the next morning, "Mommy! SANTA CAME! LOOK at everything he BROUGHT us!!" As you can tell, Brady had no interest in a picture-taking session. It was time to rip into the goodies.
So off we went.... tissue paper flying, wrapping paper ripping, stockings opened. It was an amazing Christmas for everyone. Kennedy got rollerskates, Barbie clothes, non-uniform clothes for her to wear around town and to play, books (LOTS of books), games, and socks/mittens/candy in her stocking. AND - the best present of all - a Wii! My child LOVES that video game. And she's very good!
Brady's discovery of his Christmas goodies was hysterical! We buried his little giraffe bike and MASSIVE bag of leggos in the back of the tree behind some wrapped gifts. Once we started peeling away each layer of presents, he caught a glimpse of a yellow object with a bow on it. I think he might have stepped on a few gifts to get to it. As you can see, he LOVED the new ride.
Christmas morning with our kids was fantastic - honestly, my favorite yet. I'm not sure if it's because I feel very settled in our home... or if it's because Brady is a little older and can actually open presents... or if it's because it was a great year and we have so many blessings.
But the day was just beginnings. Chrismas, Part 3 - at Nina and Papa's house is next.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas, Part 1

Kennedy's class at Legacy Elementary School had a Dr. Seuss-themed day as the last day before Christmas vacation. "The Grinch" had been taught and read to all the kids in school, so each kid was allowed to dress up like a character from the movie. Of course, we attempted "Cindy Lou Who"... the little blonde girl. Turned out pretty cute! Kennedy and Cassidy Wilson were the only girls in Mrs. Ward's class who attempted this crazy hair!

Then each child was given a letter, hand written by one of Santa's elves! Mrs. Ward read aloud each child's letter. It was SO sweet!

Another new tradition we participated in was with our church, The Simple Church. Families were asked to pick up an empty box and a list of groceries to purchase for a family in need. What was unique about this project was that we were also asked to take it to a home of a family. It was truly a humbling experience. We talked to Kennedy about it being our duty as humans to help those in need.

(And never mind the fact that Kenned was wearing a princess dress. She was getting ready to see a princess movie and wanted to dress the part.)

Teacher Gifts

Teacher gifts are H.A.R.D. to come up with. I probably put way more pressure on myself to be creative and not give a Christmas ornament or a stereotypical apple/school bus/school house figurine. I totally copied this from someone's blog but I put my own twist on it. Do you like? I think Mrs. Ward, Kennedy's kindergarten teacher liked it because she immediately put it on her door. We love Mrs. Ward SO much in our house that I HAD to do something creative and unique.
Here is how I made it:
Start with a styrofoam wreath. Then find cool coordinating, but not matchy-matchy fabric that you like. Cut the varying styles of fabric into strips and start tying. Tie them in double knots all the way around the wreath. Then on a canvas, paint the name you want with cute polka dots or stripes, hearts, stars, whatever you think your recipient will like. To attach the canvas to the wreath, I used wire, poked it through the excess on the back of the canvas, wrapped it around the wreath a few times and covered it with another strip of fabric!
Presto! I cool teacher gift that only took a few hours to make. Seriously, if I didn't have to work full-time, I'd be a craft-aholic.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Rash decisions

Rash decisions are not good. I make them all the time. I don't think things through and BAM! - we have a new car. Or BAM! - I'm interview for new jobs. I get antsy and just leap before looking. Luckily these decisions haven't cost us a lot of money, except for that time we went to test drive a Isuzu Rodeo and drove one off the lot.

I am trying to be a more rational person. I am trying to think about things before I act. Susie reminded me that I thoroughly thought about my decision to get my graduate degree. Good point. Thanks Suz. It's a work in progress.

But when I got my pathetic cholesterol results and BAM! - upgraded my 1/2 marathon to a full marathon.... that is one decision I didn't think through. Yes, I know I could finish. Yes, it's something I want to do. But I didn't think about entering a training schedule half way through. I've been running every weekend for months, at a minimum of six miles, but rarely get to enjoy weekday runs. It's a luxury I don't have with my night class on Monday night, Kennedy's gymnastics on Wednesday, and Chris traveling for work.

Some VERY WISE person reminded me recently that you "train your body during the week and train your mind on the weekend." Yes, exactly. And if I can't train my body during the week, I'll be miserable during the race. I don't do things half-ass. I can't. I think that's my daddy in me. Do it right or don't do it at all.

So, I think I've decided to do it right - and only do the half marathon.

I WILL do a full marathon one day... maybe after I finish grad school and the kids are older and can come out to the course and cheer on their mama. Until then, I think 13.1 miles will do just fine.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

No pictures

Since we lost our camera, I haven't been able to take as many pictures as I would like. I've been relying on my Blackberry to take photos but the quality is not that good. But I am going to buy one this week, so I'll start posting pictures again as soon as possible.

So here is the LaPierre family news, in words only:

Brady is sick - first time in two months! I'm grateful for that (that it's been a while since he's been sick). I'm also grateful that Chris is home this time because he's usually on the road when one of the kids is sick. I especially need him to be home this time because the little man has pink eye! That means holding him down and putting drops in his eyes. He is a feisty little sucker. This morning, his eyes and nose were caked shut. He couldn't see a thing and was just sitting in his bed fussing for me to come get him. I felt so bad, but laughed at the same time. The camera would have been handy for that site!

I cut Kennedy's hair. Actually, I cut both kids' hair recently. Kennedy's hair was so long that it was tangled constantly. I couldn't stand to hear her whine about the brush hurting her, so I cut about five inches off of it. She LOVES it! She looks precious.... and older. NOT a good thing.

I got an A in my first graduate class!! And a 100 on my research paper! Woo hoo!! Actually, I like graduate school a lot more than I thought I would. Being an adult student gives me a different perspective. It's VERY time consuming, but worth it. Onto the next semester!!

We aren't going to be able to make it to Maine for Christmas this year. I'm totally bummed about this, but financially we just couldn't make it happen. We closed on the house too late in the year to be able to swing $2000 in airline tickets. BUT we are planning a July vacation there this summer. Brady will be 2 years old; Kennedy will be almost 6 and I'm guessing travel will be a little easier during the summer than the holidays.

I signed up for a full marathon. Actually, I upgraded my 1/2 marathon in New Orleans in February to a full - thanks to the constant razzing of my dear sweet friend Deni. She caught me at the right time because I'd just received word from my doctor that cholesterol was way too high. I've been running every Saturday morning for a minimum of 6 miles, but getting the weekday runs in has been a bit more challenging. So I bit the bullet and upgraded. WHAT AM I THINKING!??!

Christmas is just a few weeks away and I'm looking forward to the break from work and some quality time with Chris and the kids! Hopefully I won't let the next few weeks go by without posting!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Daughtry Concert

I love concerts. I haven't attended many in my lifetime (Dixie Chicks, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban), but when I heard Daughtry was coming to Bossier - I jumped at the chance to go. He was my F.A.V.O.R.I.T.E. American Idol non-winner. He was robbed... seriously robbed. BUT, he has been successful anyway. Actually, more successful than the winner that year. If you are not familiar with his music (shame on you), he's a cross between pop music and rock. And let me tell you, that man can SING!

I have always been a musical person. I sang in the choir from elementary school to high school. I toured with our church choir. I had many, many solos with our youth ensemble. In college, I would sing the ballad solos during our sorority recruitment. I love to sing. LOVE it. It annoys Chris a little because I will jam out in the car and serenade him. I guess that's where Kennedy gets it from... ha!

Anyway, I went to the concert Tuesday night with my dear friend Daniel. Chris was out of town and Susie had a Christmas party to attend, so I took Daniel as a little Christmas gift. We had a few drinks before and then headed to CenturyTel Center. I didn't care too much about the opening act, but when the drums and bass started booming before Daughtry came out - I got SOOOO pumped up! We had riser seats, which gave us the perfect view! He sang songs from his older album and then several from his new album. AMAZING show.

Oh, and I know my husband won't get mad at me for saying this because he knows this is how I feel (and he has ladies he admires), but Daughtry is a VERY nice looking man! ;)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

So busy

I have been so incredibly busy that I haven't updated in a while. Busy with Thanksgiving preps, Christmas shopping, wrapping up my first semester as a grad student with my research paper and presentation. And that doesn't even include all the WORK I have been doing. There is so much to write about, but not enough time. So instead, I will post a few pictures that I have taken the past few weeks. Stories about each to come.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Remembering Amber

It's hard to believe that it has been a year since our friend Amber left this earth. On Monday - a small group of her friends celebrated her life and all that she contributed to each of our lives. We met at her grave and released 20 purple balloons. Rebecca chose purple because that color represents Team in Training and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society - a non-profit very close to our hearts. Inside each balloon was a scripture written on a small piece of paper:

"If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes."

Anyone who knew Amber knew how she placed items around her house, in practically every room, that said "Believe."

I stood there with my arm wrapped in Susie's arm as we said a prayer... and then released our balloons to the sky....

She would have loved it. It was a peaceful way to remember our friend. And being there together with my closest and dearest friend reminded me of the importance to tell people who much we love them... because we never know how much time we will have on this earth...

Friday, November 13, 2009

One of those days

Do you ever have one of THOSE days? You know, when you're in a cranky mood and you don't know why? That's me... today. The usual insanity of the morning routine irritated me today, which isn't the norm. People at work are irritating me. It's a beautiful day and I'm stuck inside. I need to be focusing on my research paper and I'm not in the mood. Not even lunch-hour shopping is breaking the spell. It helped a little, but I'm back in my office staring out the window.

I'm just .... arrrrrrrgh.

So while I always prefer to post something positive.... that's just not the case today. I'm not feeling positive. It happens.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sweet Note

As you know, when Chris is gone - mornings are INSANE at my house. Okay, they're probably a little crazy even when he is home. But when he is traveling, they are particularly difficult. I try to get completely ready before the kids wake up. I have not been very successful lately. Brady has turned into an early bird, waking up before 6:00 am the past two mornings. And after he eats breakfast (in his high chair, in my bedroom while I get ready), the crankiness sets in. And by cranky, I mean bawling crying, tears streaming down his fact, following me everywhere. If he is not on my hip, he's crying. Putting on make-up and getting dressed with a 30-pound kid on your hip isn't easy.

So after hurrying everyone to eat, get dressed, comb hair, brush teeth, pack bags, etc. etc... we jump in the car and we're off. Kennedy makes it to daycare just in time to hop on the bus and I leave Brady in his classroom, kicking and screaming because he doesn't want me to leave. I hang my head and walk out the door, trying to not break down myself.

But this challenging morning, the smallest but sweetest glimmer of love comes my way. I pull out my post-it notes (that I keep stashed in my console) to start making my "to do" list for the day and I find this note.

Kennedy must have grabbed my notepad and a pen during a ride in the car and written this note. It melts my heart and helps me to remember that this too shall pass. Through the madness of the day-to-day routine, I am blessed beyond measure to have wonderful friends and family and two amazing, healthy children. God is good.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Just what I needed

For those of you who know my husband, you know he has a quiet, fairly reserved person... until you get to know him. Then, he becomes comfortable and loosens up. Get a few beers in him... well, that's another story.

So when I texted him early this morning (he's working in Atlanta this week and on Eastern time) to let him know that his son was not cooperating, I received the best response. It was just what I needed this morning.

Me: Your son is trying to make sure I don't sleep. Seriously. I'm packing him in a FedEx box and shipping him to you, okay? :)

Chris: Oh honey, I wish he'd stop that crap. You can ship him... just be sure to mark "fragile" on the box.

At this point, I burst out laughing. My sweet husband can say the funniest things and make me laugh at just the right time.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


There's nothing like a party at your house to make you want to spruce things up a little. We've been in our house for a year and bought and installed blinds in the first week. But those windows needed a little ummph. They were barely covered.... they needed a little fancy dressing. What I wanted, I can't afford. I have two weeks until the party at my house, so I had to go with store bought. Sometimes, that's not a bad thing!

At JC Penney, I bought two panels, three valances and two rods for $150. Pretty good huh?

Here is the before of the living room. (I took the photo once the braces were already in the wall).

And now .... AFTER! I feel like it might be missing something... you? I'm thinking maybe a large horizontal wrought iron piece above the curtain rod would help. I've got two feet of space between the rod and the crown molding. If you could sit where I'm sitting, you could see how much it warms up the room!

And now, the kitchen. I wanted the treatments to match, but not be matchy-matchy. The window is on the exact same wall with the door to our back yard in between. I went with something in the same pretty fabric, but a tad more fun!


And now after! Again, I'm thinking that this is missing something. Any suggestions? I like the tassels. They are pretty cute!!

So the best news about these window treatments is that Chris and I only mildly argued. Ha! We tend to get a little tense doing projects like this. We survived!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

My love of crafts and lists

There are two things that I L.O.V.E.

1. Lists
2. Craft projects

How funny.... I even made a short list of the two things I love. Ha! Anyway, I know this makes me a little strange, but I don't mind.

So when I saw this photo of a precious wreath, I decided to make it for Kennedy's kindergarten teacher for Christmas. (Mrs. Ward, hopefully you do not follow my blog. If you do, please stop reading now.)

So far, I have the books and the foam wreath. I've made many wreaths before so I'm not new to this challenge.... however this wreath involves slightly-heavy items (books), painting (the center board), and a lot of fabric.

Stay tuned... I'll let you know how it goes. Oh, and if you LIKE projects like me, you'd love Just A Girl. I love reading her blog... AND she is having an "I Can Make That" Party on her blog on Monday. Guests will post their home projects for Christmas. Stop on by!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Reading and writing

It's time for a new piece of art from our little artist Kennedy. This one serves as a piece of her most recent work, PLUS it shows her learning to write and spell. Mrs. Ward, Kennedy's amazing kindergarten teacher, asks each student to draw a picture and then write a sentence - ON THEIR OWN - describing what they drew.

So last night, here is how the conversation went:

Mom: "Kennedy, what did you draw?"

Kennedy: "That's Brady and me! Don't you like Brady's curly hair?"

Mom: "I do! How cute! So what does the sentence say?"

Kennedy: "It says 'I can be'... uh.... hold on."

She can't remember what she was going to write so she starts sounding out the letters.

Kennedy: "Hhhmmm... g... e... n.... OH! It says 'I can be generous playing with Brady!'"

Mom: "That is so sweet! Did Mrs. Ward help you spell those words?"

Kennedy: "No, we had to figure it out ourselves."

So first, I'm impressed that she tried to spell out "generous." That's a tough one.

But second, I'm amused that she considers herself generous. Maybe she's trying to convince herself.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Early morning snuggles

Monday nights are rough. After working a full day, I grab a quick bite to eat and then head to class. My masters class (Renaissance Literature) is from 5:30 to 8:30 every Monday. I don't get to see the kiddos between work and class and by the time I get home at 9:00, they're asleep. I just keep telling myself that the payoff will (hopefully) be worth it. Payoff meaning... masters degree complete and the opportunity to teach Communications courses at the college level.

So this morning when Kennedy came walking into our bedroom at 5:30 am, my first thought was to take her back to bed. But this morning, I waved her into our bed to catch up on the events of the day before. I wanted to hear about her day at school, her fall carnival that her daddy took her to after school, homework, etc. We whispered so we wouldn't wake daddy (who was snoring, as Kennedy pointed out).

We talked about everything that happened yesterday and even scrolled through some pictures on my Blackberry. It was THE PERFECT way to start my day.

Happy Birthday to Uncle Matt and Aunt Kelly!

We don't get to see Aunt Kelly and Uncle Matt as much as we'd like to. They live in Maine with the rest of Chris' family. Matt and Kelly are Chris' brother and sister, who are TWINS! (Lucky for me, we didn't get that genetic "thing" for twins! I don't think I could handle it!)

Today, they are celebrating their birthday! Happy Birthday to you both! We hope you have a fantastic day today and we hope EVEN MORE that we get to see you at Christmas!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I was given the ultimate challenge last Thursday: get my kids to safe ground... and keep my cool. Well I managed to get them to safety, but I could not keep my cool.

Around 4:00 that afternoon, major storms were moving into the area. We had already endured several days of rain and the streets were flooding, but the intensity of the storms was growing. Tornadoes were coming. It was getting nasty. I scrambled at the office to make an announcement about evening classes being cancelled and then ran out the door to pick up the kids. Unfortunately for all of us, Chris was in Las Vegas all week. I was flying solo. Not good.
It took me TWO hours to get to their school. I had to turn around multiple times because of roads being closed and power lines down. I drove over some sort of lines that were down, but I was desperate to get to the kids. I yelled at Sheriff's deputies who were not directing traffic fast enough. I sat at one intersection for 15 minutes and cried and screamed at the deputy because he refused to let my lane turn left - which was my LAST resort to getting to my kids.

When I pulled into daycare, you could see that one of the tornadoes had hit the daycare owner's house next door. Kennedy and Brady were panicked, but relieved to see me. I was so happy to see their sweet faces. I threw them in the car and took off toward the house. Through this ordeal, Susie and I had been calling (when we could get a cell phone signal) and texting each other with updates on how to get home, where the storms were moving, and trying to decide where to meet since I was alone with the kids. We couldn't get to our house because of trees collapsed in the streets.

At this point, Brady is screaming, Kennedy is starting to get worried again... and I just lost it. I screamed and cried and fortunately for me, it was enough to quiet the kids. Ten minutes later, they were sleeping in the back seat and I could concentrate on getting us somewhere safe.

We tried going the back way to our neighborhood - traffic was at a standstill. We were headed to Brian and Rebecca's house, but they didn't have power and were headed to Eric's. So I turned around and headed toward Eric's, too. By the time I got to his neighborhood, I got word from Susie that the tree had been moved and we could get to our neighborhood. So I turned around again and slowly made my way home. Navigating through all the debris and flooded streets was nerve wracking, but I finally made it to the house. No power.

So I ran in, fumbled through the cabinet to find the flashlights and packed a small bag of diapers, a change of clothes and some food for the kids. I ran back to the car and headed toward Eric's. I wasn't about to stay in my house alone with the kids, no power, no clue what we were in for. The rain kept pouring and by the time I got to Eric's and unloaded the car and kids, we were all soaked.

I wrestled with the kids to change clothes and eat a quick sandwich... then I let my family know that we were okay and staying in a safe place. Then all three of us piled into one bed. NIGHTMARE. Trying to get those kiddos to sleep was impossible. Finally, about 11 pm that night, everyone passed out.... except mom of course. I kept getting kicked in the face, smacked on the back. I'm not sure which was worse - the storm or sleeping in the same bed with my kids!
The next morning.... THIS is what we all saw. Tornado and storm damage. We were extremely lucky. The tornado narrowly missed my kids' daycare and our neighborhood.

My parents' home is in south Shreveport, so going to their house that night would have been impossible - so we were extremely appreciative to our other family.... the Stinsons and Eric. I am truly blessed to have such amazing people in my life. Throughout the entire ordeal - we texted each other, called each other, made sure that we were all meeting in one safe place. None of us suffered any damage to our homes and all of us were unharmed.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

No place like home!

Since Brady isn't big enough to tell me that he's NOT wearing the costume I picked for him, I decided that I better dress him up the way I want to. Because before I know it, he'll be giving me his opinion on a regular basis. So I let Kennedy decide what she wanted to be and then I'd coordinate.

She is loving the Wizard of Oz these days, so off I went to find a costume. Dorothy was easy. Finding a lion, scarecrow, or tin man I liked was the hard part. The lion and scarecrow didn't look like a lion or scarecrow. So I went with this tin man. He was okay with wearing the costume... the oil can hat? No way.

Nina came over to get in on the action. Can you see her? Yup, that's my mom in the grim reaper costume! I love that she wears this every Halloween.

This year, I decided to borrow it and spook the neighborhood kids a little. It was so much fun! Kennedy went to a friend's house for trick or treating and Brady was in bed by 7:30 pm. It was a quiet Halloween, but still so much fun!