Thursday, May 28, 2009

I Can Only Imagine... by MercyMe

This was Amber's favorite song and I downloaded it today. What a great song, one that brings a big lump in my throat when thinking about her.

I can only imagine
What it will be like
When I walk By your side

I can only imagine
What my eyes will see
When your face
Is before me

I can only imagine
I can only imagine

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine

I can only imagine

I can only imagine
When that day comes
And I find myself
Standing in the Son

I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever
Forever worship You
I can only imagine

I can only imagine


I can only imagine

I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever, forever worship you
I can only imagine

Heaven in a little paper wrapper

For those of you Shreveport folks reading this, have you ever had a Cush's cupcake?

It is absolutely HEAVEN... in.. a... little... paper... wrapper.

"What's the big deal?".. you ask. The big deal is that these babies melt in your mouth and the flavors are out-of-this-world. They have peanut butter, key lime pie, wedding cake (OH YES - tastes just like wedding cake), strawberry, chocolate, chocolate peanut butter, the list goes on and on. The variety changes with each day, so you could try a new delectable flavor every day... if you're willing to have all those calories!

No my friends, this is no ordinary cupcake. It's not Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines. It's a party in your mouth. So yummy (and probably SO fattening) that you can only treat yourself occasionally... or else you'll end up banging down the door to Cush's grocery store and BEGGING for that one little taste.

On that note, I'm off to heat up my Lean Cuisine. Boooooo....

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Brooks and Brady... future BFFs

Brooks is our next door neighbor and he is three weeks older than Brady. We went to his 1st birthday party this weekend and he and Brady weren't quite sure what to do with each other. It was funny to watch.

And then Monday afternoon, Brooks and his parents - Jennifer & James - came over for our Memorial Day BBQ. Brooks and Brady splashed and splashed... and splashed some more in the baby pool. I have a feeling these two will be running the neighborhood soon!

4.... going on 14

There is no need to comment on this bathing beauty.
But I will say that I think this girl is going to give us a run for our money in a few years!

Team in Training, Part 2

There's a new team in town! Team in Training is expanding in the Shreveport area and our group - Team Believe - is proud to be one of the reasons. After our event in Nashville, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society conducted an advertising campaign through radio ads and mass mail. Many of our trusty Team Believe folks were at the information meetings and low-and-behold.... we have a new team!
Not everyone is pictured here at our first training run on Saturday. Our trusty coach, my BFF Susie, was out of town. She and Ford have agreed to be the team coaches, which is exciting because I know they are great coaches. They coached me on my first half marathon!

I am serving as a mentor to this group.... giving fundraising advice and being a rowdy cheerleader to help them in any way I can. It's the least I can do for LLS and Team in Training. Even though our event and fundraising is over (for now), our group really wants to continue to contribute to the cause with our time and awareness.

Go Team!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Our birds

There is so much to report with our bird family. I started this post yesterday, but ended up fighting the stomach bug (second time in two weeks!)

This weekend, our little bird family started showing feathers and wings were flapping. It was quite a site to see them moving around inside the nest. I was able to get a quick shot of them taking an afternoon nap together.

Unfortunately the next day, I found a hole in the nest and one of the babies on the front porch. It did not survive. I have no idea how the nest ended up with a hole, but I was so sad to see that one of the little ones did not make it.

This was the last look I got at them before this morning. I went out to check on them and found an empty nest. I'm hoping they were all able to fly away safely. Their "mama" did a great job of keeping me at bay. I could only get a few pictures before they took flight. Here she is, keeping watch over the nest.

I'm sad to see the bird family leave. I do hope another family takes up residence in the nest left empty in the tree of my front flowerbed. On the way to work this morning, I kept thinking about about these birds. I discovered the nest just a week ago and now they're all gone. The birds flew away to make their own families and hunt for their own food. My babies will do that one day, but it's a huge relief to this mama bird that I will have my babies in my nest A LOT longer than a week.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Block Party

You don't hear about good 'ol fashioned block parties anymore. Remember when we were growing up and they would barricade a street, crank up the music, and fire up the grill? Well as a new resident on Shumark Trail - I decided to host such a party for Memorial Day.

(Note: Chris absolutely loves it when I come up with these hair-brained ideas. Ha!)

So I made up a flyer announcing the Shumark Trail Memorial Day BBQ, hosted by the LaPierre Family. We had such a good turnout and were able to spend some quality time with our neighbors and their kids. We learned that we have several military families amongst us. We have three nurses on our street - which is great news if someone gets hurt! We have a retired couple who keeps a close eye on the new homes being built on our street.

And we do have one slightly obnoxious neighbor, but there's one in every crowd, right?
The kids enjoyed the baby wade pools, sprinklers, bubbles and sidewalk chalk. Kennedy and Brady tested the little pool before everyone arrived.Kennedy and Serena liked the bubbles the most. They are classmates at Cypress Run Child Development Center and will both go to kindergarten together at Legacy Elementary School next year. I have a feeling these girls will be playing together a lot.
And of course we had some of our fabulous friends come over as well, including the oh-so-stylish Aubrey Sneed. Unfortunately she was not in a party mood and fussed most of the time she was there, but we enjoyed seeing her sweet little face anyway.
So, with Chris' blessing, we might make this an annual event. He's the Grill Master, so I need his approval first!
It's very nostalgic for me to have events like this. We live in a world where every day is a rush to get the kids to school, get to work, run errands, attend birthday parties and ballet class. But do we really know who we live next door to? Do we know who our kids are playing with down the street? Forgive me if I am extremely naive (June Cleaver-ish) in my thoughts, but I really want "that" way of life for my family. We can turn off the TV for a while and go outside to play. We can put away our Blackberries for an hour and visit with a neighbor.
So here's hoping that you will do like I did... and take a few moments, invite your neighbors over for a hamburger and enjoy life on your street.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Shumark Trail bird family update

Our bird family is starting to show more life! I saw movement in the nest yesterday afternoon and slowly approached to see if the birds were mobile yet. They were!! So I ran inside to grab my trusty camera and a stool so that I could get a good look at the baby birds. I accidentally shook the tree a little when I climbed up and OUT popped their little heads ready for food! How cute!

And just like last time when I was trying to be a National Geographic-type photographer and take pictures of this amazing site, the momma bird flew up and squawked at me. So I gently backed down and left her family alone.
I am just enthralled by this little family we've adopted. Seeing the miracle of life in other species is something I've never really witnessed before. I've never been around a momma dog when she had puppies... I've never seen a litter of kittens with their mom. So watching these birds go from little fuzzy creatures to "toddler" birds who can fly from the nest lifts my spirit. And I guess it's because it reminds me of what's going on with our family.

We have a little girl who is growing up quickly and showing more and more of her bubbly personality every day. And we have a son who will turn one in just a couple of weeks who lights up the room when he smiles.

So while the LaPierre family grows inside the house... just outside our front door in our little tree, the Shumark Bird family grows as well.

Pre-school graduation

Our girl is ready for kindergarten! She graduated from pre-school last night and showed off her singing skills on stage with her fellow classmates singing "Deep and Wide" and "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes." The entire audience was in stitches over the graduation caps falling off during the "knees and toes" part of the song. This is Kennedy with her friend Avril.

I held it together through the ceremony and didn't burst into tears. I did, however, get choked up when they showed pictures of each of the graduates as a baby, and then slowly faded into their cap and gown photo. But I was a brave mommy and just kept snapping pictures and recording the big event on video.

It is amazing to see how much Kennedy has developed over the past few years. When she was 3, I remember her teaching at Noel Children's Center saying that Kennedy was doing really well with her math skills. They were counting M&M's out loud and doing small math problems. Well if you put candy in front of me, I'd do well with math, too!

But now, she can do some simple addition and subtraction problems in her head. She can write her first and last name, and the last name can be complicated! That capital "p" in the middle of a word is confusing to a toddler! She can also write mommy, daddy, and Brady. She loves to color and does a great job of staying in the lines. She can write her entire alphabet and count to 100. Before I know it, she will be bringing home algebra and geometry homework .... and I'll be in trouble because math is not my forte!

So the next step? "Big kid school" at Legacy Elementary. I'll really need to break out the tissues then!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Letter to my son

Dearest Brady (aka "boog"... "sweet pea".... "scooter")...

Starting off my day by snuggling with you gives me such joy. I enjoyed the same time with your big sister Kennedy when she was a baby and now, at four years old, she is more interested in having breakfast or turning on the TV first thing in the morning.

But when I walk into your room in the morning and you are standing up in your bed and holding onto the rail, I just can't get to you fast enough. I scoop you up in my arms and hold you as close as I can. I kiss your sweet head and smell your hair because the scent of both my babies is the sweetest smell in the world.

I talk to you about your night and though you don't talk back, you look at my face and sometimes will raise your hand to grab my nose or hair. I pick out your clothes for the day, all the while snuggling you up to my chest.

The snuggling used to last a bit longer, but now that you're crawling everywhere, you usually want to be put down so you can get on your merry way.

Thank you for snuggling with me in the mornings. It's the best way to start a mundane Thursday.

Love always,
"Ma ma ma ma ma ma"

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Circle of Life

I noticed a bird's nest in a tree in our front yard this weekend. I quickly called Kennedy outside to show her the discovery. We talked about birds and how the momma bird lays eggs and they hatch and little baby birds come out.
She is scared of animals and didn't want to get too close... so I took a picture for her so she could see them without having to get too close.

The momma bird was not happy that I was getting close to her babies. I talked to her and told her I just wanted to show my baby bird the amazing circle of life! I kept telling her to calm down, I wasn't going to hurt them. Chris said, "Wouldn't you be squawking if someone was trying to hurt your babies?"

Damn right I would!

So I hopped out of my chair and left her alone. I'll be keeping any eye on the little family since they've taken up residence on Shumark Trail.

Professional Pictures....

Our friend DeAnn takes such beautiful pictures so I asked her to snap a few of Kennedy before the big recital. She looks so grown up....
The MINUTE we got home, I scrubbed the make-up off her face so she would look like my baby girl again and not such a grown up girl.

She's a veteran

Kennedy is officially a veteran ballet dancer. She's completed her second year of dance. This time last year, my sweet girl was the smallest in her class. She was in what's called "Pre-Primary" which is girls under the age of five. Since she hadn't even turned four yet, she had to repeat Pre-Primary. What a difference a year makes. This was last year:

And now, this year:
At this recital, she knew the steps even better and was one of the tallest in her class.
Power & Grace Dance Studio does a recital in the fanciest way possible! Dress rehearsals, full make-up and hair... and he recital at The Strand. It's a lot of work, but I think the payoff is worth it. Seeing our sweet girl on the stage brought tears to our eyes.

She says she doesn't want do dance again next year.... but I think she's just a little burned out. She was a tired dancer after the final performance. Daddy carried her all the way to the car.We will take a break this summer and fall and see if she wants to try again next spring. If not, that's okay, too. Maybe she'll find something else she likes better. Either way, I'm proud of my little angel.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Thumb sucking

I sucked my thumb until the 5th grade. Don't laugh... I can hear you laughing. It was something that was very comforting to me. I sucked the thumb on my left hand and with my right hand, I played with the tag on my "Pound Puppy." Anyone remember those? It wasn't until I got a retainer from my orthodontist to prepare me for braces that I stopped sucking my thumb. Don't get me wrong - it wasn't my choice! I might be a 31-year-old thumb sucker if it wasn't for that retainer. The feeling of my thumb in my mouth was never the same. So I quit.

When Kennedy was a baby, the "binky" would never stay in her mouth. She would always reach for her thumb and I didn't stop her because she was able to soothe herself. Anything to help my sweet baby girl self-soothe was just fine with me! She has slowly gotten away from sucking her thumb all day... just when she sleeps (and snuggles). She, too, sucks her thumb on one hand and on the other, plays with her "blankie." I hadn't thought about the "quitting" part....... until her first dentist visit a few months ago.

Dr. Marrineaux looked at her teeth and knew she was a thumb sucker because her teeth were starting to poke out. He suggested we encourage her to quit sucking her thumb.

Hhhhhmmmm.... now if someone had "encouraged" me to quit sucking my thumb when I was FOUR YEARS OLD, I don't know that I would just say, "Okay mom! No problem!" She's only been addicted to her thumb since birth! So, here's what we've tried:

1. "Kennedy, did you know that Dr. Marrineaux can see you at night. He knows when you're sucking your thumb, so you better not!" --- there's a smoke detector hanging from her ceiling and there's a little green light in it. We told her that was a video camera.

2. "Kennedy, if I see you sucking your thumb - I will take blankie away!"

3. "Only little babies suck their thumbs. You're not a baby, are you?"

4. "Do you want to look like a horse with buck teeth?? Then STOP sucking you're thumb!!"

Trying to rationalize with a toddler does not work. End of story.

So we've moved on to harsher measures. Please do not judge me if you're reading this. We sought out the advice of her doctor and she highly recommended this because her four year old daughter went through the exact same thing just three months prior.

Step 1: Wrap thumb in athletic tape. Not too tight, just enough so they can't get it off.
Step 2: Paint the bitter thumb sucking liquid on the tape. If you paint directly onto the thumb, they can rub it off, chip away at it, etc. Kids are persistent, especially if they want their thumb.

So last night, we tried this method. I had a bad feeling about it because Kennedy truly cannot help herself. Even if she gets into bed and says, "Mommy, I promise I will not suck my thumb".... she ends up with it in her mouth when she falls asleep. It's a habit we are committed to help her break.

So I wrapped her thumb, painted on the liquid, and told her it would taste bad if she put it in her mouth. We read a bedtime story, said our prayers..... and then I said a prayer that this would work. Not an overnight cure, of course, but at least the start of breaking the habit!

Ten minutes after we closed her door, she walked out into the living room crying. She wanted to suck her thumb..... BAD. And it tasted bad, she said. Daddy put her back to bed and thank goodness he did, because I have no will power with her. When my baby girl cries, it breaks my heart. He closed her door, walked into the living room and we hoped she would fall asleep without the thumb.

Unfortunately it wasn't the end of the crying.... this time, it was me. I think the reason I haven't pushed the idea of her letting go of her thumb is because she is growing up too fast. If my baby girl sucks her thumb, then she's still my baby! Chris listened to me cry and assured me that Kennedy would always be my baby girl, no matter how big she was.

Having Brady in the house makes me realize just how big Kennedy is getting. She will celebrate her 5th birthday this summer and I am amazed at the amazing little girl she's becoming. She loves to sing (and make up her own songs), dance, kiss her brother, snuggle with her mommy and daddy. I don't want to lose these moments with her. She amazes me every day.

So after her one small meltdown (and mine!), Kennedy was fine. She went to sleep without her thumb and woke up this morning extremely proud of herself.

Stay tuned for an update on Day 2!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"Aunt Jen"

I hadn't seen my niece since Christmas, so when sweet Lauren came in town this weekend - it took a little time for her to warm up to me. I got her a litle stuffed, pink poodle and I think that might have done the trick. She walked around all weekend with the puppy and each time I held my arms offering to hold her, she leaned toward me.

She has the cutest little curls! I know Tracy is happy about that. It has always been her dream (and mine) to have curly hair, so the fact that her baby girl has curls is a dream come true for her! Lauren will be two in August and this is such a fun age. She makes the cutest expressions, says the sweetest little words and give such sweet "lovin"!!
I love you Lauren!

Four generations

This Mother's Day, our family celebrated four generations of women. Faye Ingram, her daughter Ann Ingram Skinner, her daughters Tracy Steiner and Jennifer LaPierre, and their daughters Lauren Steiner and Kennedy LaPierre. What an amazing feeling to have four generations of ladies together. We truly are blessed to have a GREAT grandmother for Lauren and Kennedy. "Grandma Faye" will celebrate her 83rd birthday this year. What an amazing feeling it must be for her to have her child, her grandchildren, and her grandchildren's children!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Luckiest Mom

I am the luckiest mom in the world. I have been blessed with two amazing children who light up my life more than I ever thought possible. And making me an even better mom everyday is my husband, Chris. I am blessed beyond measure and this Mother's Day was the sweetest I have celebrated yet.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Update on Brady

I feel like I need to give an update on Brady, who will turn ONE in just five short weeks!

He is officially crawling. We thought he was going to skip crawling and walk because he wanted to hold our hands and walk everywhere! It seems he has figured out how to crawl, so that buys us a little time before he's RUNNING!

He is pulling up on EVERYTHING! The couch, my leg, Kennedy, his bed in the morning (first time was today... SO cute to see him do this when I walked in to get him).He is growing teeth as fast as possible. Until a few weeks ago, he only had two teeth, but now he has two more which have poked through the top. Others are showing sign of coming through soon.
We had pictures taken by our friend (and talented photograph) DeAnn right before Easter. This is my absolute favorite! I keep hearing the Donald Trump voice in my head "Ya FIRED!"

Since his birthday is fast approaching, I MUST get on the ball with his birthday party!! Little "B" will be celebrating... Red Sox style!

"Swan" flu scare

After fighting a fever for 24 hours, a rarity for Kennedy, we went to the pediatrician. To have Dr. Mack tell us she needed to be tested for the swine flu made me panic a little.

I started racking my brain to think of people she could have come in contact with who might have had the swine flu... and no one came to mind. The ten minutes of waiting for the test results were torturous.

We colored and talked.. talked and colored...

I texted Chris, which sent him into a panic.

Dr. Mack came back into the exam room with the good news. She did NOT have the flu, type A or B. WHEW! That was a scary experience! Dr. Mack said he had to test her because her white blood count came back so low from her labs. (They drew her blood and let me say, she does better with needles than I do!)

We got in the car and headed home. The first person we called was Chris and I handed the phone to Kennedy for her to deliver the good news.

"Hi Daddy! Guess what? I don't have the SWAN flu!"

Monday, May 4, 2009

Guess who is sick NOW??

The kids know when daddy goes out of town because someone is usually sick. This time - it's Kennedy, who is NEVER sick! She is running fever and I'm taking her to the doctor this afternoon, but in the meantime - she can't go to daycare.

So she's been at the office with me and I snapped this quick photo of her sitting at my desk. Think she has a career in Public Relations?

I think so.... she walked right into the Chancellor's office and told him she had fever and was going to see Dr. Mack in a few hours. Dr. Marsala was a good sport about her impromptu visit and told her to wish Dr. Mack well - they know each other.

She then told him that her daddy was going to California. Then she gave him a sticker and left.

My sweet daughter doesn't meet a stranger....

Five Steps to a Perfect Sunday

1. Bright and early Sunday morning, retrieve the Sunday paper....
...throw it on the floor...
and make a huge mess!
Sounds like it would be irritating to a neat freak like me, but it was soooo much fun!

2. After breakfast and the little one goes down for a morning nap, make a comfy palette on the floor and watch a movie!

We watched "Babe" - which was precious. We all really enjoyed snuggle time!

3. After naptime and the kids realize they can't go to the pool, let them put on their floaties and prance around the house and practice swimming!
4. Play games, read books, and have tickle fights!

5. Finally, don't COOK dinner! Order Johnny's Pizza!