Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Country Music 1/2 Marathon

I barely trained. It was extremely hot. The "rolling hills" of the course felt more like mountains. And yet it was the most rewarding weekend in Nashville doing the Country Music 1/2 Marathon.

First things first, I would not have done this race (so soon after my first 1/2 marathon), if it weren't for our efforts with Team in Training. When asked to participate in the event and fundraise for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in memory of our friend Amber, I - without question - said "yes." Thanks to the generosity of our friends and family, Chris and I raised $4,200! My sister and her co-workers alone raised $1,200 of that. The entire Team Believe group raised nearly $32,000!! We exceeded our goal and we all know that Amber would be proud. This is us, the night before the race, pictured with Amber's family and Travis Lee, who works for TNT.

There were 32,000 people who participated in the race. People were everywhere! Of those, 3,000 were TNT members/fundraisers. It was inspiring to see the names of people who were being honored or memorialized.

Race Day - Up at 5:00 a.m.! With 32,000 participants, we had to get to the start bright and early to find our corral, stretch, take one final potty break and then hit the road. Before we head out, a quick reminder of who we are honoring with our efforts.The course was HOT and very hilly. I keep saying that the rolling hills felt more like mountains to this Louisiana girl. I hadn't trained as much this go 'round (much less on HILLS!), so it was definitely a tough course. I added 20 minutes to my time! Yikes! But I wasn't too worried about time for this race. I just wanted to have a good time and I think we all did! The best part about the race was that I crossed the finish line with Chris. He didn't have to run as slow as I did, but he wanted to. It meant so much to me for us to complete one race together. I'm sure he won't run with me again. He's going to be chasing a PR next time!

There were country music bands every few miles, thousands of spectators and cheerleaders. The course was beautiful and everyone was extremely friendly. The race gear was very nice (always a perk for the runners!) and the expo had so much to choose from.

Oh - and did I mention that Susie and I were "the tutu girls"?? Oh yes, we made tutus to wear as part of our running gear and they were quite the hit! Spectators kept cheering, "Hey tutus!"... "Nice tutus!"... "LOVE the outfits!!"
The weekend was bittersweet as we remembered a friend, raised money for LLS, and ran 13.1 miles in one of the coolest cities in the U.S. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to all of those who donated money, bought raffle tickets, donated blood, and support me and Chris as we completed this process. Onto the next race........ uh, 5K race, that is.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Restaurant Adventures

We haven't taken the kids to a restaurant to eat since Brady was a tiny baby that could sit quietly in the car seat and sleep. That was months ago. Last night, we decided to venture out to our favorite local eatery for dinner and it was such a pleasant experience!! Yes, I am surprised because when Brady wants to eat - that's it! You better have food ready because he is all BOY when it comes to food. "Give it to me and give it to me NOW!"

Chris packed a nice dinner for him: diced carrots, banana slices and a jar of apples and chicken. He ate it ALL and a half a piece of toast, too! He was so happy just looking around at all the people.

It's funny because Kennedy and Brady are polar opposites when it comes to dinner time. We put Kennedy at the table to start eating dinner 10 to 15 minutes before us and she finishes 10 to 15 minutes after us. Brady? Oh no... that boy is shoving the grapes, bananas, carrots in his mouth as fast as you put them on his tray. He will even shove 2 to 3 pieces in at a time. I am really enjoying seeing the differences between the two kids.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Kennedy's first friend

My friend Jennifer Sawyer and I were pregnant at the same time in 2004... both of us sharing our aches and pains, questions about motherhood, and strange food cravings. Jennifer had Abby on April 15 - Happy Birthday Abby! - and just a few months later on July 30, I had Kennedy. They have been friends ever since.
They went to pre-school together in Carrollton, Texas at Primrose. We have hundreds of pictures of them celebrating holidays and birthdays together. I would babysit Abby so Jennifer could have date night with her husband Charlie. She would do the same for me and the girls really enjoyed having the playdates!

And even though we moved to Shreveport over two years ago, Jennifer and I try to get together so the girls can remain friends. It is hard to believe that Abby and Kennedy are turning five this year and in just a few short months, they will be starting kindergarten!

For Abby's 5th birthday, Kennedy and I took a quick girls trip over to Frisco to see the Sawyer family... including the always-rambunctious dog Rosco (another common bond - our dog is Roscoe, too), and the testy cat Grendall. Kennedy, as always, was deathly afraid of both. Jennifer and Charlie hadn't changed a bit since the last time we saw them. And Kennedy and Abby picked up right where they left off... playing in the toy kitchen, dressing up, running around, occasionally crying because one of them hit the other one. Time is really flying by!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Little Lauren at Easter

I have no official Easter photos to post because both my kiddos were sick on Sunday. Kennedy had pink eye and Brady had a raging fever most of the weekend and has Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease. It sounds worse than it really is... a virus that gives him bumps on his hands, feet and inside his mouth. The fever is the worst part. He has been keeping it between 100 and 103! The poor little angel feels very yucky and has the fussiness to prove it. He just wants to snuggle, which I am more than happy to do since, at this age, he'd rather play away from his momma.

So instead of cute Easter morning photos of my kids, I thought I'd post one of my sweet niece Lauren! We did have an indoors Easter egg hunt with Kennedy, her and Chris dyed eggs, and we stuff some plastic sports-themed eggs with Cheerios for Brady.... so the holiday didn't go unnoticed.
I haven't seen this sweet little girl in a long time, so I'm hoping to nibble on these sweet cheeks very soon!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

My in-laws

I often feel guilty for moving south with Chris. He was born and raised in Maine and until I met him, he had no intentions of leaving the state he loves... the state where his entire family lives. I, however, never planned on staying away from the south because I am a "momma's girl" - I talk to my mom everyday. I left Louisiana to experience life, see new things, and live on my own for a few years before coming back home. I always knew I'd end up here.

I feel extremely blessed by Chris' family - his brother Matt, his sister Kelly, and his parents Monique and David. Never once have they ever given me a hard time for moving back to the south... with their son in tow. I've never felt uncomfortable around them, except when they play practical jokes on me... but I had to get used to that VERY early on.

(Quick side story: On my first meeting of Chris' family, I brought a dessert to the family dinner - strawberry shortcake! Fresh angel food cake, strawberries, and cool whip. A nice first impression, I thought. When I wasn't looking, Kelly and Matt - Chris' brother and sister, who are twins - took dryer lint, put it on the strawberries and accused me of trying to feed them moldy strawberries!! I was mortified!! I quickly learned to fight back, although that joke will always be the best!)

When we spend time with Chris' family, we always laugh, tell jokes, and eat (A LOT!). When we approached Chris' parents about flying to Louisiana to watch Kennedy and Brady while we were on vacation, they jumped at the opportunity to stay with them. We used Chris' airline miles to fly them here, so all they needed was spending money (for the gambling, their hobby!).

I wasn't worried about leaving my kids with "Memere" and "Pepere" (pronounced MEH-may and PEH-pay.. it's french). I knew they would all have a great time without the watchful eyes of mommy and daddy. Memere and Pepere could spoil the kids, let them stay up late, eat what they wanted, make cookies, etc.

When we got home from Jamaica, I was amazed. There was a pan of lasagna waiting for us with a fresh salad in the fridge. Brady had learned to walk a little faster, but still holding onto someone's hands.
Brady had also learned hold his own bottle and eat chopped up grapes and crackers. Kennedy had been a huge helper, baking fudge, pumpkin bread, and chocolate chip cookies... all wrapped up in the pantry for us. I was in awe!

I am extremely lucky to have such wonderful in-laws. Not everyone is as lucky as I am. I cannot thank them enough for watching the kids while Chris and I took a much-needed vacation. I am looking forward to our next visit... THIS time, we'll be flying north!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Jamaica... "Love is All You Need..."

Chris and I just returned from our first visit to Jamaica... ya mon! All I can say is.... wow.

It was a fantastic trip with our dear friends Susie and Ford. Taking a trip with other couples is the way to go because we often separated boys and girls. The guys played volleyball, water basketball, and sat at the bar. The girls enjoyed baking in the sun, reading and taking poolside naps. EVERYONE was happy!
The two hour drive to the resort showed me a side of Jamaica that I wasn't expecting to see... such a poor country. Once at the resort though, it was like a different world! Lush greenery, flowers, and gardens.... white-sand beaches, clear ocean waters, (mostly) happy people walking around singing reggae tunes... and not ONE person cared what time it was. Chris and I asked a few people for the time the first day, but after we realized that there is no time in Jamaica - we just went with the flow. If we were thirsty, we drank (and drank, and drank some more). If we were hungry, we ate. If we were hot, we took a quick dip in the pool or ocean. Life was easy going and carefree for five days.

Chris and I went scuba diving TWICE! He had to convince me it would be worth it... and it was. I felt like I was swimming in a fish tank! The fish were not scared of us because we were in their environment. We held a puffer fish (think "Nemo" - the big one that blows up when he's upset).
We saw an eel, held a spider crab, saw hundreds of types of fish and the reef. It was absolutely amazing and worth the 2-hour course to learn how to scuba. Chris and I agreed to scuba dive every chance we get. To describe the experience is impossible.... it was simply amazing. Being able to "breathe" 40 feet underwater was something I'll never forget.
Susie and Ford went to the Dolphin Cove and swam with dolphins. They loved their experience!

To warm up for our fish experiences - we all went snorkeling. That was such an adventure! We didn't swim with life jackets because with massive flippers, you can keep yourself afloat by "flipping" like a fish! (Underwater pictures from snorkeling to come at a later time. I need to get those developed!)
We all ate dinner together each night, never eating at the same restaurant twice for dinner. With an all inclusive stay, we ate and drank as much as we wanted. Chris and I eat turkey bacon, turkey pepperoni, turkey lunch meat, etc. But on vacation - we ate the REAL thing! I think I gained a few pounds, but I'm hoping that all the walking and stair climbing we did helped burn it off! We walked along the beach during the day and night... We danced in the street party. (notice the Jamaicans making fun of themselves... ha!)We took naps everyday. We left the patio doors and windows open and let the fresh air in. We ate fresh fruit and drank amazing Jamaica-made rum. We left our iPhone and Blackberrys OFF and enjoyed being away from any technology.... what a nice life it must be to have no worries about e-mails, deadlines, paperwork, etc.
While I enjoyed being away from the busy life I have, I must say I was glad to come home to my sweet children and busy household (TV blaring, kids playing, phones ringing, dog barking, dinner cooking on the stove). It's comforting to me to close my eyes at night in a comfortable bed with a roof over my head. I work hard so that I can play hard... and life may be hard sometimes, but that's just the way I like it. Ya mon!