Friday, July 31, 2009

The best years, but the hardest years

I have decided that these are the best years of my life, but also the hardest years. Let me explain.

These are the days where the tender smile of one of my kids can make a bad day at work just melt away. My kids are at the age where they love me endlessly. I often feel rewarded at work with the completion of a project. I have the energy to start new projects (work or personal). I have been running regularly (okay, semi-regularly) for the past 2 1/2 years, which gives me a huge sense of accomplishment. I have finished 2 half-marathons this year. Chris and I enjoy being with each other (with or without the kids) and our marriage of eight years makes me feel so proud because some couples our age are having tough times and even going through divorce. We both have steady jobs, make a good living, and have an amazing home. We have two reliable vehicles, great health insurance, and NO ONE in our immediate family has health problems.

We are so very blessed and I really feel that these years are the best... BUT - and this is a huge but - they are also the hardest.

My friend Janie commented on my blog post earlier this week about how it looks like I'm having so much fun with Kennedy. She has (or had) come to peace with the fact that she doesn't want children. I respect that. I truly do. My BFF and her husband don't know if they want children. KIDS ARE NOT EASY. They cry. They whine. They spit. They poop (and sometimes it leaks from diapers). Janie, am I making this worse for you?

Finding the balance with my life is difficult. The morning routine nearly kills us all every morning. We have to get everyone ready for work/school/daycare and make sure everyone is packed with lunch, snack, nap mat, diapers/wipes, teething gel, extra bibs and/or clothes in case of accidents. We have kleenex in every spare pocket of my pants, in the car, in their bags - because SOMEONE always has a runny nose. Lucky for us, Chris works from home, so he can throw on shorts and a tee shirt and start the carpool!

Then after all the madness calms down and I walk into my office to prepare for my 8 hour work day, it's a gamble on whether or not my phone will ring. I know the daycare phone number my heart so when I see those digits light up my caller ID screen, I know one of the kids is sick. Brady and Kennedy go to different doctors (Kennedy is going to our family doctor... I still have Brady at our favorite pediatrician). One doctor is in Bossier, one is in Shreveport. So depending on which kid is sick and which of us doesn't have a meeting scheduled, Chris and I determine who will pick him/her up and take him/her to the doctor.

Those days aren't frequent because Brady is one year old now and he's past the "must-see-doctor-because-of-fever" stage. But those days still do happen a few times a month. When those days don't happen, then it's just the usual insanity of the evening routine.

Brady is always hungry. He wants to eat dinner at 5:15 straight up. Most days, Chris or I open a can of veggies and plop them on the tray of his high chair. Sometimes he continues to fuss while shoving the food in his mouth. Sometimes, having food makes him happy. It depends n the day. Kennedy is wanting to color, watch TV, do anything but stand there and tell us about her day. So while Brady scarfs down his veggies and Kennedy entertains herself, Chris and I look at each other (with droopy, tired eyes) and ask, "What's for dinner?"

Dinner. Bath time. Snuggle time. Bed time. And then we start it all over again.

Who knows what will happen when Kennedy starts kindergarten in a few weeks? I'm sure we'll make adjustments to the routine since Kennedy and Brady will be in two separate locations. And Kennedy will have after school projects and activities. Oh and I'm starting graduate school (more on that later). And during all of this, Chris and I try to get in some adult time, I try to do some community volunteer work and we try really hard to go to church every Sunday.

But even though these insanely hectic days make me want to pull my hair out, I look at the kiddos when they're sleeping in their beds and choke back the tears... because I wouldn't change any of it for the world.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Happy Birthday to my sweet girl....

I cannot believe Kennedy turns five years old today. The past five years have flown by so fast. I wish I could slow down time because I feel like I just can't get enough of her at this age. She's going to kindergarten in THREE weeks!! So in honor of my sweet daughter's 5th birthday, here are FIVE amazing things about her. (How will I ever be able to narrow it down to five?!???!)

1. I love the way she LOVES.
Kennedy has such a huge heart.. full of love. She loves to snuggle, hug and kiss. And it's non-stop. She loves to show people how much she loves them. And even when I have to punish her for something, she still tells me how much she loves me. Through her tears, she looks at me with the saddest face and says, "Mommy... I love you." I just know she's waiting to hear me say that I still love her, even though she's in trouble. At night when saying her prayers, sometimes she prays for our neighbors Mr. Phil and Mrs. Maria. Most nights, she prays for Mr. Eric and Mrs. Amber. This girl has so much love to give... and I love that.
2. I love that she could have fun in a cardboard box.
Seriously, my sweet girl has fun anywhere, anytime. She loves to laugh and have a good time... all the time. She's goofy, makes silly faces, and laughs so hard at the smallest things. If I take her with me to run errands and she doesn't have any toys or art supplies, she has fun anyway - because she'll just sing. Which brings me to number three....
3. I love that she loves music.
She loves having the radio on in the car. She is always singing to herself in the bathroom. She likes Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, any High School Musical song, Taylor Swift, and absolutely any song she can dance to. She often performs concerts for us on the fireplace, equipped with a costume, microphone and her guitar.
4. I love her imagination.
Kennedy is very much into pretending now. Seeing her imagination at work is fascinating. This morning when I was putting her hair in a ponytail, she wanted to pretend that we were at the hair salon and she was getting her hair done by a new stylist. So I introduced myself and got to work on her hair. She asked that it be put into a neat ponytail with matching hairbow. Yesterday, she wanted to pretend that I was Mrs. Divine (a character in her Fancy Nancy book) and that I would be playing Mrs. Divine at her birthday party. Lately she's also been pretending that she's a puppy and I give her treats as she crawls in the kitchen. She definitely enjoys pretending with her dolls. They "drive to Shreveport" in the Barbie convertible.
5. I love that she never meets a stranger.
When I took her to a doctor appointment yesterday, the receptionist said hello to her and thus the conversation began. Kennedy told the nice lady her name and that she was going to be five years old today. She told her about her birthday party and that she's getting ready to go to kindergarten. Now, she didn't rattle off all this information without questions being asked. She isn't one of those annoying kids who needs an "off switch." But she just politely answered the questions and said "yes ma'am" and "no ma'am." She's super friendly and I hope it continues.

So on this day, I am celebrating my daughter, my angel, my princess Kennedy. I thank God for her everyday and feel so wonderfully blessed to have such an amazing little girl as my daughter. I love her more than I could ever tell her... and I look forward to loving her more and more everyday.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ingredients for a fun night with a friend

Here's a fun recipe I thought I'd share. Ingredients for a fun night:

One very sweet (and polite) friend. This one is Avril.

All-you-can-eat pizza
60 minutes of pool time

A little bit of a sing-a-long

Lots and lots of silly faces

Mix it all together and you've got a great night with two five year olds.

Cutie!

Hey mom!! What's for dinner??


Friday, July 24, 2009

Donating blood

I've posted about my intense fear of needles before, so it's no secret that I do not like them... not one bit. I don't know anyone who likes needles, but most people tolerate the pain for the end result - either medicine, IV fluids, or donating blood.

When Amber needed blood during her fight with Leukemia, I couldn't give because the blood bank had too much blood dedicated to her. After a few weeks, it expires. So they asked everyone who hadn't donated to wait a month and come back when her supply was low. Unfortunately, she did not make it a month.

Since her death, I have made it my mission to conquer my fear and give every eight weeks, which is as often as blood centers allow you to give. In March, I donated for the first time and was so scared that I couldn't get my heart rate down. After several pulse checks, I was finally able to donate and I didn't cry. I was very proud of myself. Like I have said before, I hate needles.

Lucky for me, a co-worker's wife works at Life Share Blood Center here in town and he hosts a blood drive on campus every eight weeks. It makes it extremely convenient for those of us who can donate. So since March, I have donated two more times. I am well on my way to getting my "One Gallon Donated" coffee mug (Ha!), which by the way takes eight pints. Five more to go!

I would like to brag on my mother here. She has also been a motivating factor. I think the blood center keeps my mom's veins on tap because she has been a regular donor for years. Anytime they are low, they call her and she drives there to donate. Today, my mom wasn't able to donate with me because she left town to see Tracy. But my co-worker George gave me a mug to give to her. "FOUR Gallons Donated!" Yes, four gallons. That's 40 donations. She's my hero.

So if you get a chance to donate, please do. If you cannot, I completely understand. Some people are not allowed to give because they lived overseas or have illnesses. Some people get sick or are afraid of needles. No judgement here folks! I spent the past 30 years of my life deathly afraid of needles! But I will say that I feel very proud to be able to give blood. One pint can save three lives. That's pretty cool.

"Do we need to call Mrs. Fran?"

Apparently Kennedy thinks I don't clean.... ever. She's right... kind of. I like to keep the house tidy... no clutter, counters wiped down, pillows fluffed, toys put away, etc. But I don't like to clean. Okay, I take that back. I like to clean, but I don't have time to clean. Chris and I both work full-time and when we're not working, we spend time with our kids and friends. The LAST thing I want to do is clean. Besides, how could I possibly clean with people in the house asking a bunch of questions, wanting a snack, needing a diaper change... you get the picture. I would have to pick up each room before I clean it and it would get destroyed immediately after.

So the one thing I begged Chris for when we moved into our fresh, brand new house - was a housekeeper. I have had one for six months. Fran comes every two weeks because I just can't afford every week. While she doesn't clean as thorough as I would clean - it's clean nonetheless.

So the point of my story: Kennedy doesn't think I clean at all because this week, Roscoe had a little accident on the floor. I looked at the mess and said, "Oh no.... yuck!"

Kennedy, with her sweet, innocent face, looked at me and said... "Mommy, do we need to call Mrs. Fran?"

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Friends, Part 2

Friends may not always be people who live in the same city. Sometimes they live in another city or another state. These friends of mine live in Dallas, the place Chris and I called home for five years. We have a very unique bond.

In 2001, Chris and I got married and moved to Dallas - a place where I knew no one. I accepted a job as a television producer at Texas Cable News. After a few months of being in Dallas and only knowing co-workers, I decided to reach out and find an alumnae chapter of Phi Mu. I decided to attend the Kick Off party that August and over the next few years became part of what is now referred to as The Great Eight: me, Angela, Kelley, Kelly, Kacy, Mercedes, Francine, and Stephanie.

We started having kids about the same time. We attended the alumni events together. We quickly formed a once-a-month girls night out event. Our husbands played poker together.

Then at our Christmas get together in 2006, I delivered the news that Chris, Kennedy and I were moving to Shreveport. It was very hard to leave these girls, but I knew that we would keep in touch. Mercedes, Kacy and Francine drove over for my 30th birthday party in 2007. I drove over for a day visit with the kids late last year.

Despite the distance, we always pick back up where we left off. I may have only known these girls for five years before I moved back home, but I hope we continue to remain friends as the years pass by.

Prayer

Last night's prayer, by Kennedy Lee:

Dear God,

Thank you for this wonderful day. Thank you for the sun, the moon, the stars. I pray that Mrs. Amber would come back down because I love her pictures. Thank you for the angels, God and Jesus' baby.

Amen.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Kennedy's progress with Roscoe

Things are going well with Kennedy and Roscoe. She's actually touched him when he was awake! I know that's kind of funny, but she didn't want him to look at her. I think she was afraid he would "charge" her. She's let him smell her hand and she's patted his head and back a few times. Before we know it, hopefully they'll be snuggling on the floor.

She started feeling a little brave when I was giving him a bath this week. She wanted to be the one to rinse him. I handed her the water hose and walked inside to get my camera to document this milestone.... and she didn't even freak out when I walked away!
Well after the doggie bath, Kennedy started getting her feet wet... and then started spraying her legs. One thing led to another - and........

Who says you need a bathing suit to play in the water? A good time was had by all (especially mommy laughing behind the camera).

Girlfriends

Having girlfriends is so important. Friends you can laugh with, let loose with, speak your mind with, be goofy with... you get the picture. You need friends who will let you be who you really are. Over the years, I have had "friends" (guess I should call them people-I-know) who weren't really friends. We didn't say how we really felt and we didn't talk about how complicated our lives had become. Everything was perfect on the surface. But behind closed doors, they were totally different people.

I know people don't want to air their dirty laundry and I respect that. But there's nothing like sharing our troubles with someone who has been there. Being able to validate our emotions and have a close friend give advice, a hug, or BOTH.. is one of the best things in the world.

I share these wonderful things with Susie and Shelley. No matter where we are in our lives, we know that we can pick up the phone and call each other. We know that when we get together for a girls weekend, we'll probably talk non-stop about anything and everything.

I love these girls.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

One year

I cannot believe it's been a year since I started this blog. It's been a lot of fun to write entries into this online-journal-of-sorts. This was my first post. The kids look SO different, especially Brady.

I look foward to sharing more stories about our family, our adventures in kindergarten with Kennedy this fall, Brady's latest development as a toddler, and the little things that make life so much fun.

Happy One Year Anniversary LaPierre Blog!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Happy Birthday "E!"

Happy Birthday wishes are in order for our dear friend "E" - a nickname we have come to use for Eric. He turns 35 today and doesn't look a day older than 30. (Of course if you ask Eric, he'll tell you that he doesn't look a day older than 25!)

This is the first birthday E has had since Amber passed away last fall, so we wanted it to be very special. Susie and I knew it might be difficult for him, so she came up with a brilliant idea. Since he was leaving town for the first few days of this week, Susie thought we should "decorate" his house. The word "decorate" is up for translation. You be the judge.Okay, so we did a little decorating and a lot of trashing. It's not really trashed. It's just a little confetti in all the drawers, fridge, on the grill, and workbench. And it's just a small yarn maze with the yarn wrapped around all the door handles, cabinet doors, oven, microwave, dining room chairs, etc. Nothing major.... just a "little" decoration. Here are the culprits.
Then Wednesday night, the entire gang went to Superior - where you will find THE best margaritas in town. I love the atmosphere there with a loud band, chips and salsa, and great friends.
Eric and Rebecca Eric and his goddaughter, Sophie
So much fun hanging out with these girls! Pam, Kandi, Susie and me
Enjoying an adults night out with Chris
The Stinsons
The youngest Stinsons
I think Eric had a good time. He seemed to enjoy himself. At one moment, Susie and I (who were sitting across the table from each other) were listening to the song that the band was singing and the chorus was... "life goes on..."

How fitting. Yes, it does. HAPPY BIRTHDAY E!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A bad day

Some people put on a fa├žade and pretend their lives are perfect, even when they are at their darkest hour. Some people want you to think they have it all when they’re suffering inside. I have never been one to hide my emotions like that. But on this blog, I almost always post the happy, wonderful aspects of my life. I do prefer to focus on the good because that’s the kind of person I am… or at least it’s the person I try to be.

But some days are bad days.

Some days, I have so much to do that I feel like I might explode. Some days, I seriously consider snapping at co-workers. Some days, I am so distracted that I make mistakes in my job. Some days, I just want to scream in frustration. Some days, I worry about making ends meet as we try to sell our house in Texas. Paying two mortgages with bills is extremely stressful. Some days, I fight with the people I love the most. Some days, I get snippy with my kids for no other reason than my crankiness. Some days, I eat way too much cake as a way to get over a bad day.

Today was one of those days.

All those things that happen on “some days” – happened today. I had so much to do and not enough time to do it. Mistakes at work, frustration with co-workers, stress over money woes, fight with my best friend, snippy with my kids, a crime scene in the kitchen with cake.

Yup – I’m not perfect. I’m never going to be. I’m not going to try to be perfect either.

But at the end of a day like today, I do my best to let it all go. Chris sits next to me on the couch, pats my leg and makes me laugh. I snuggle with the kids, listen to them giggle at each other in the bathtub, and I remember that life is short. Bad days will happen, but there will always be more good days than bad.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Decorator challenged

I am seriously challenged when it comes to decorating... my own house, that is. I can walk into someone else's house, arrange furniture, accessories on shelves, pictures on the walls, etc. But looking at my own house - I draw a blank. I have no idea what to do. Maybe it's because we have had our "stuff" for so many years that it's not new and exciting. Who knows.

What I do know is that I need help. This is where Amber would have come in and taken over. That girl had THE BEST taste. And it wasn't always expensive taste. She had a knack for being able to take an old run-down table and refurbishing it into something beautiful. She was going to help me recover the seats on my bar stools and the seats in Susie's dining room chairs.

Anyway, I have been looking through catalogs for inspiration. There is one particular wall that I don't know what to do with.
Obviously it needs window treatments and I think I have an idea of what kind of treatments I want, but they would need to be custom-made. My mom can sew and I'm hoping to get her help - but if you have any suggestions, please let me know!
These walls are .... okay. I have rearranged the "stuff" in my bookcases a few times. I'm still not sure if I've got it right. And of course the kids' toys make it difficult to have a well-designed room. Could someone please send Nate Berkus or Vern Yip to my house??

Rainbow cake

I usually order a birthday cake for Kennedy's birthday. We go all out and get something really fancy from a bakery. Not this year. I am going all out on her party, so I have decided to make her cake myself. Remember what I said recently about my cooking skills? Baking soda is different from baking powder = new concept to me. BUT, I made Brady's this year, remember?
So I am feeling semi-confident that I can pull this off. I decide to make a Rainbow Cake. Look how cute!
Unfortunately this is not a picture of the cake I made. But it came out pretty close!
Inspiration for the cake: Kennedy's party will be a girls ONLY pottery painting party. Yes, we have started the "I-don't-want-boys" already. I think it's a good thing! So for each girl, I ordered an apron (which I will decorate with gros grain ribbon), and two ceramic pieces: a princess trinket box and a small tray. I will pre-paint one of each to use as a sample.
So since we will be using bright colors, I decided to attempt this rainbow cake. It's low-fat, which is a bonus for the adults, and the kids won't know the difference! I had such a good time making this cake.
After the cake was done, Chris and I weren't able to stack the two layers together because we had a little incident. Notice pretty cake in pans.And now... cake earthquake. Getting it out of the pan was difficult because it was so moist, it just wanted to fall apart. We know what to do next time for her actual birthday cake. That is why we do a test run!
Oh and also, when I make it for the party - I will use regular Sprite and regular pudding mix. I completely forgot that Susie cannot have aspartame! I took a huge hunk of this cake to her last night to help her bad day go away.... only to realize that it is full of aspartame. Bad BFF.
More on the birthday party to come.....

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Haircut?

I think it's time for Brady to get a haircut, but I know that once I cut these baby curls... they'll be gone forever. Maybe I'll just wait a little longer. When he starts to get a mullet, will someone tell me so I can bravely take him to a barber?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sunday dinner

I really like to cook. I just don't have much time... nor do I have the quiet ambiance I need in order to concentrate. I have been known to mix the wrong ingredients together. I have also been known to use the wrong measurements. With two small children around, "cooking" usually amounts to baked/grilled chicken breast, a canned vegetable and rolls. That's pretty sad, but hey - it's better than the drive thru, right?

My mother-in-law is known for her Sunday Dinners. They are legendary. And she cooks Sunday Dinner every week without fail. I definitely miss them from our days of living in Maine, but my waistline is smaller without these rich meals!

She cooks everything from scratch.... like stuffed shells...
Lasagna...
Baked chicken with homemade mashed potatoes...
Oh... and Chris' all-time favorite, Boston Cream Pie.
Uh... yeah, I tried to make this dessert for Chris' birthday the first year we were married. That was the year I discovered that baking soda and baking powder are two different things. Let's just say ... disaster... and leave it at that. I haven't tried to make this dessert since.

So once in a blue moon, I decide to cook a Sunday Dinner. I cannot do it without Chris, though. He helps with every dish, making sure I'm measuring correctly, not using sugar when it calls for salt, etc. Yesterday, we made Sunday Dinner.

Feast your eyes on this:
Baked ham, mashed potatoes, gravy made from scratch, green beans, and rolls

I am super proud of us for trying to bring the LaPierre tradition into our home! The best part about cooking a large dinner? LEFTOVERS! No cooking all week and ham sandwiches for every meal!