Monday, February 23, 2009

Mardi Gras 2009

Brady's first Mardi Gras and Kennedy's second was a lot of fun. We started with the 1st birthday party for Queen Audrey and King Hank and the mini-parade. Each family was asked to bring a kid-sized float for a contest and if you know me, then you know I take these challenges seriously.

We were the Krewe of LSU with my kids and the float decked out in purple and gold. Kennedy and Brady both wore LSU jerseys and the entire group paraded around Emily's street on the corner of Kings and Albany. (Thank you Laura Weego for letting us borrow your wagon!) People who were lined up to see the Krewe of Gemini parade that evening thoroughly enjoyed our little parade. And you'll be happy to know - we won THIRD place for our float! There were probably 10 floats there, so I felt pretty good for my ... uh, I mean our ... win.

Brady, sporting his cute little bottom teeth, wasn't sure what to make of all this parade business. He liked people watching, but mostly wanted to be held. I did, however, get a good arm workout out of the deal. Would you believe that he slept through the entire parade? We were all standing about 10 feet away from the floats and he just snoozed away wrapped up in a blanket. He was so tired from all the action.
We were able to get a quick family picture in. The kids are smiling and laughing at Eric who is making funny faces off to the side.
And just like last year, Kennedy managed to get more beads than she could carry. After just a few minutes of walking around with these beads on, she looked at me with the saddest most defeated face and said, "Mommy, could you please take these off?"
We were all so tired on Sunday that we didn't make it to the Krewe of Highland parade. The kids slept right through it. But it was just as well because I enjoyed a quiet afternoon with the kids. Happy Mardi Gras everyone!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Childhood memories of reading

There is a blog I follow called the One Minute Writer. Being someone with a Journalism degree, who writes a lot for a living, blogs, journals, etc.... I like to see what others are writing about. So I check this blog often. I don't always take "one minute" to write about the subject of the day, but today I saw a topic that got me thinking.

"Write about a childhood memory related to reading."

I love books. I don't get to read as much as I'd like to, but I absolutely LOVE the way books smell... they way they look on a bookshelf. I refuse to turn down the corners of the pages because I like to keep my books in pristine condition. I think Chris may love books more than I do. I think he averages two books a month. He reads very fast.

But I don't have a lot of childhood memories related to reading. I do remember being in high school reading "She's Come Undone" on my bed and crying through the last several chapters. I remember being forced to read literature and writing book reports. Right now, I'm on the third book of the Twilight series. But I don't remember being very young and reading with my parents. It may have happened, but I just have a terrible memory.

In our house, story time is very important. Kennedy loves books as much as Chris and I do. We read a story every night before bedtime. That's part of our routine. When Brady gets older, no doubt we'll ALL pile in the bed together and read stories before bed.

I hope it will be one of their favorite memories.

Mardi Gras Madness

This will be one of several posts over the next few days about Mardi Gras madness! Kennedy is celebrating at school today with a mini-parade; then at Queen Audrey and King Hank's birthday party tomorrow with a kids parade featuring decorated wagons and bikes; then that evening with the Krewe of Gemini parade that rolls through Shreveport; and then Sunday with the Krewe of Highland parade that is VERY kid friendly. We have never been to the Highland parade before and we will be riding in it to promote the St. Patrick's Day parade next month!

We Louisiana folks LOVE parades!

Here is Kennedy's mini-float for her school parade today. She is the Krewe of Princesses! have I mentioned that I LOVE arts and craft projects?

The idea behind their school "parade" is that each child was asked to decorate a box, fill it with goodies and they'll walk through the school throwing their prizes.

More to come throughout the weekend!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The way I dress

So apparently I dress like someone who is in her late 30s or early 40s. I was told this weekend, by a kind-hearted person who said it in the nicest way possible, that the jacket I was wearing made me look a lot older than I was. So since I'm 31, my question is - exactly what SHOULD I wear? At work, I need to wear jackets a lot because I'm around donors and I represent the campus. When I get home, I wear old t-shirts and shorts because with an 8-month old who spits up a lot, anything I wear will get dirty in about 5 minutes.

So what is a girl to do?

I'm am now officially super self conscious about everything in my closet.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

8 months and 84 years

The past 8 months have flown by. I haven't always felt the time was flying, like when Chris and I were trying to get him to "latch" in the early weeks... or when "B" would cry for no reason... or when we got up for the fourth or fifth time in the middle of the night. But now, he's sitting up and eating baby food. He's grabbing toys and laughing at his "sissy" (as we call big sis Kennedy). He's ticklish and an overall happy baby.
When Kennedy was about this age, we sat her outside on the lawn with Roscoe, our resident elderly dog, and took this exact same picture. My sweet dog has been with me since 1997, which for those of you counting - is longer than I have been with Chris. He will be 84 years old this spring and you can tell he's slowing down. His arthritis makes it hard for him to get around. His hips are stiff. His ear infections are hard to keep clear. But Roscoe has been with me through some pretty tough times in my life and I consider him my first child! Yes, he has his quarks like refusing to go inside his dog house we built for him. But he's my 84-year-old baby, just like my 4-year-old baby girl and my 8-month-old baby boy.

Kennedy, the artist...

Kennedy has become quite the little artist. For 4 years old, I think she does a great job of writing her name, drawing pictures of our family and coloring in her coloring books. This weekend, she decided to draw her daddy and baby brother. We aren't sure what daddy is holding, but take note of the rather large belly button. And, of course, Brady would be the little pea pod shaped image next to daddy. He's wrapped in a blue blanket.

The family wouldn't be complete without Roscoe, our 12 year old dog (84 in dog years). It's a huge deal for her to think of him because she is terrified of him and clings to my leg every time he slowly walks near her. He would never be able to catch her, but being nose-to-nose with an animal that's your height is probably pretty scary.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Being a Phi Mu

Being a Phi Mu as an alumna is unbelievably different than being a Phi Mu as a collegiate. There are the obvious differences. In college, I was interested in the parties, collecting party shirts, fraternity guys, and staying out as late as possible. Now, as a member of an alumnae group, I am more involved in the philanthropy and the sisterhood of Phi Mu. I was the president of the alumnae chapter in Dallas and now, I am advisor of the collegiate chapter at LSUS. It's been an amazing experience for the past two years and I have truly come to love these girls as my little sisters. I enjoy giving them advice and going to Leadership Conference with the Executive Committee. Last year, we went to Houston (I was VERY pregnant) and this past weekend, we went to Memphis.
I may be ten years older than these ladies, but I really am just a 20-year-old at heart! I truly cherish these young women.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Fundraising and training in memory of our friend

I met Amber Sabala last year through our best friends Ford and Susie Stinson. Amber's husband Eric transferred to Shreveport from Corpus Christi, Texas. He was working for Advanced Applicators there, but the company wanted him here in Louisiana. They weren't too happy about moving at first, but I think it only took a few weeks for them to start to like the lifestyle of Bossier City.
Susie and Ford had spent some time with them and assured us we would like them. We started hanging out together at each other's homes, grilling and having drinks, helping each other move, talking about our parents, our kids, our desire to have kids. I grew to like her more and more.
Just a week after Chris and I had our usual crowd over for beer, pizza and the LSU game to celebrate the move into our new house - I got a phone call from Ford. Amber was at the hospital, tests being run, doctors weren't entirely sure but it was looking like Leukemia. Ford picked up Chris and went to the hospital. I stayed home with the kids.

Her room was filled with friends and people from her church. No one was 100% sure of her diagnosis, but everyone prayed and prayed ... and prayed some more. After an hour, Chris came home to be with the kids so I could go to the hospital to see her. It was a late Sunday night and I needed to be putting Brady (who was 4 months old then) to bed, but I wanted her to know she had friends here to support her.

I am unbelievably grateful that I decided to go to the hospital because that was the last time I saw her. The next day she was diagnosed with Leukemia and for the next 28 days, she fought the cancer so hard. She was too sick for visitors, but Susie and I would go to the hospital anyway. We visited with Eric or their family members in the waiting room. We brought home-made signs, a sassy wig for her hair loss, lotions, girly stuff.

But on our way home from a girls weekend in Memphis, Susie and I got phone calls from our husbands at the exact same time. They told us the news. Amber didn't make it. That was November 16.

I have lost family members in my life. You expect to lose grandparents and great aunts and uncles. But I have never lost a friend before. It has not been easy. But we all know she is in a better place now - no pain, no cancer, just peace.

I signed up to do my first half marathon last fall before Amber got sick. After she died, I thought of her during each and every training run. Every time my legs would hurt or I would get tired, I would think... "Just think about all the pain and suffering Amber went through... you CAN do this."

Now, in Amber's memory - a group of her friends have decided to train for another half marathon and raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. We are a part of Team in Training and each person is required to raise $2500 each. Our team goal is $30,000! Our team wants to make a difference in the fight against blood cancers.

I hope you will consider donating to our efforts. This race will be mine and Chris' first half marathon together and we are excited, but more importantly honored to be a part of this team. Our captain is Eric, Amber's husband, who has done an admirable job of getting through each day.

Mine and Chris' site:

Thank you for your consideration.... it means a lot to Amber's family and other families who are battling the same disease.

Every little bit helps.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My niece

I don't get to see my niece as often as I'd like. She reminds me SO much of my little sister. And THIS face is an expression I see on my own daughter quite frequently. It's as if she's saying, "Hmmph. I'm not happy about this. I think I'll pout a little and see if I can get my way."

Sometimes it works.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Race Report - Mardi Gras 1/2 Marathon

Four days before the big race, I started getting really nervous. It doesn't take much for me to get nervous, though, because my nerves set in even before the local 5K races. I didn't have all the confidence that my fellow first-timers had. I just wanted to finish. Secretly, I kept a time goal of finishing in 2:30:00, but I only shared that with Chris and Susie because I didn't want to be disappointed if I didn't make it.

Thursday night before I went to bed, my throat started getting scratchy. Friday morning when I woke up, the drainage had set in and I could tell it wasn't going away. I begged the doctor for a shot explaining that I was about to attempt my FIRST (you only get ONE first) 1/2 marathon. No sympathy for me. He sent me on my way with four prescriptions. I gobbled up nine pills and went to bed.

Then the fever set in, but this time - it wasn't me. It was Brady. So our plans to take the kids to Shelley's house in Baton Rouge on our way to New Orleans were quickly changed. Chris stayed home with Brady while I took Kennedy to Shelley's. My spirit was slowly fading because my biggest cheerleader would not be able to meet me at the finish line... and I was still feeling sick.

Race day arrives and after being reminded that this is just my "victory dance," the nervousness never showed up. I was so excited to be in a city I love with some of my closest friends and my trusty running coach/best friend Susie.
The course started and finished at the Superdome. We ran through historic New Orleans and down Bourbon Street, something I'd never imagined I would do. The first three miles flew by. Around mile four, I started popping my electrolyte jelly beans and getting ready for the first water stop. It was humid, so we grabbed water or Gatorade at almost every stop trying to make sure we stayed hydrated. After we left downtown, we ran down St. Charles towards Audubon Park - a beautiful path alongside the trolley and historic homes and restaurants. Spectators were cheering everyone on, holding posters, and ringing cow bells. It was an amazing feeling to be a part of something so great.

Around mile seven, we turned into Audubon Park and ran around the golf course and passed the Audubon Zoo. At about mile eight, I saw the first beer table. Of course in New Orleans, people were stopping for beer. No beer for me... at least until after the race. For now, just water and Gatorade.

Miles eight through eleven were a blur. I vaguely remember popping another package of jelly beans, but I do remember feeling really good. I was getting a second wind and there was not stopping me! One of our fellow teammates had to stop for a walk break, but I didn't want to break my pace. I was feeling amazing and stopping would have messed with my psyche. So Susie and I kept going.

We were heading back down St. Charles towards the Superdome, but the large number of spectators was dwindling. I remember jamming to my iPod and talking to Susie every now and then.

At 11.5 or so, we came to the last water stop. I chugged two cups of water and one cup of Gatorade. Susie and I walked for 15 seconds to get that last burst of energy and she looked at me and said, "Okay girl - let's go home."

And we did! The farthest I'd ever run during my training was 11 miles, so I knew the last two miles would be the hardest. They definitely weren't easy and I remember getting closer and closer to the booming music at the finish line. I kept glancing at my watch trying to finish in less than 2:30:00. We turned the corner and I saw the finish line. Susie and I grabbed hands and crossed the finish line together.
I cried. I laughed. I cried some more. It was an amazing feeling of accomplishment. And I can't wait to do it again.

~ Official finish time = 2:28:44
~ Out of the 400 people in my age group, I finished 233
~ Out of all the women who participated, I finished 1,242
~ Out of everyone who participated (male or female), I finished 2,522
~ Number of participants in the 5K, 1/2 Marathon or Marathon = 7,500
~ Number of comments from spectators about mine and Susie's matching outfits (aka "TWINS!") = 14
~ 1% of all people will run a 1/2 marathon. I am part of that 1% now.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

My Victory Dance

A very wise person gave me an extremely valuable way to approach my first half marathon:
"This is just your victory dance.
The months of training is over and that's the hardest part!
This race is just your victory dance!"
She was right.
Today's race was absolutely amazing. I wasn't nervous, as I usually am before any race, not matter how big or small. I was pumped up and "dancing" at the starting line.
I finished in 2:28:40, which was within my goal time of 2:30:00.
No injuries or blisters.
Only one small 15 second walk break at 11.5 miles.
And yes, I cried like a baby when Susie and I finished.
A full race report to come... after a good night's rest!