Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

5 Things I am Grateful For...

I receive a daily "tune up" e-mail that is sometimes interesting, sometimes thought-provoking, always insightful. Some days I read them, some days I send them straight to the delete file. I received on a couple of days ago that I kept because I wanted to write about it. It read:

Just as you are certain that your life will be filled with abundance in the future, appreciate what you have right now.

Focus on five things you are grateful for today.

Only five? Really? Cause I could list sooooooo many things I am grateful for. Let me see if I can cram them into five.

1. My husband. I think some women would be grateful first for their children, but I wouldn't have any children if it weren't for my husband! And I haven't shared in writing (I don't think) our story. I tell it several times a year to new people I meet who ask how we met. But since this blog is for our kids to have a collection of stories from our family life together - here goes.

I was getting ready to graduate college and looking for a job as a television news producer. I wanted to work ANYWHERE... except Louisiana. (Funny how I ended up back home, but at 21 years old - I was ready to fly the coup!) I ended up in Maine. My mother nearly fell apart when I left. I moved to THE farthest point in the United States! But as I was looking for an affordable apartment (on a $23,000 salary), I ended up renting furniture. Since I was a recent college graduate with NO money, I couldn't rent a moving van to bring furniture with me to Maine. I had NOTHING. Just my car and my dog... and we drove three days to get to Maine. Luckily, my sweet friend Nancy offered to ride with me and stay a day or two and then fly home.

So one afternoon, I drove down the street to the Rent-A-Center furniture store to rent a couch and a bed. (Did I mention I was broke?) When I walked in, a creepy guy approached me to see if I needed help. Uh, no thanks!! I just wanted to browse. But after walking around a bit, a handsome young man caught my eye. Apparently I caught his eye as well. I remember it vividly... I was checking out the couches (hideous floral patterns, maroon and blue colors - yuck!), so I decided to ask the handsome young man if there were other patterns to choose from. Unfortunately for me, there were no other patterns.... but he did recommend a sister store in town that had other varieties.

Fast forward a little bit and I found a couch at the store he recommended......but this sneaky little blonde southern girl decided to turn on the southern charm and go to the handsome stranger's store to pay for the rented furniture.

(Kennedy - if you're reading this, your mama wasn't desperate... just mildly curious in the young man. You don't need to be obvious like your mama was!)

So I went to the store where the handsome young man was and started paying my bill there weekly. I could have mailed in my payment once a month, but why waste a stamp? It was really on my way to work... Who am I kidding? I wanted to see the young man! I finally learned his name - Chris LaPierre. When I visited, I smiled, said "hello," and hoped he would eventually ask me out. After weeks of this, no such luck. So - in typical Jennifer Skinner fashion, I took matters into my own hands. I got with some co-workers at my new TV station job and suggested we have a big group gathering and I invited Chris and his friends to join us. It would just be a big group of friends, meeting for a drink after work. (wink, wink!)

Well darn it - EVERYONE backed out! My plan backfired. But when I approached Chris to see if we should reschedule, he said we should just go out together...the two of us. We went on a date that weekend and were inseparable from then on. My friends thought I was crazy for falling so fast. My parents were shocked on a trip to Maine when Chris told my dad, just six months after meeting me, that he loved me and was going to take care of me for the rest of his life. When I say everyone was skeptical, I mean - EVERYONE.

And now, nearly 10 years later - he is the man I was MEANT to marry. He is my everything. So that was a very long-winded version of how we met, but when I say I am grateful for him - I mean it.

2. My babies. Not everyone is blessed with babies as easily as I was. No major complications, no dramatic birth stories, no major fertility trouble. I am blessed to have Kennedy and Brady in my life more than I can ever express. Being a mother has made me a complete person. I would do absolutely anything for them. I honestly did not know it was possible to love this much. Kennedy is my sassy, adorable, and tremendously loving little girl. She has a spirit that makes me smile each time I think about a quirky thing she says or does. She loves to sing, dance, and snuggle. And Brady? Who knew boys could be so much fun? To hear him, at 2 years old, say "Mommeeeeeee!" absolutely melts my heart. I thank God everyday for blessing me with two beautiful, healthy, and happy children.

3. Girlfriends. What would I do without girlfriends? I love being a mama, but sometimes mamas need a little girl time. Drinks, laughs, dinner, movies, concerts, whatever it may be - spending time with Susie, Shelley, Deanna, Deni, Emily, Kandi, Jean, DeAnn is priceless. I am blessed to have a group of girlfriends that I can be myself with.

4. My sister. My sister is amazing. Truly. I never in my life would have pictured her leaving Louisiana because that's just not typical behavior for her. She's more of a homebody... and I don't mean that in a negative way. She just stays close to home. But she moved to Arkansas, had a baby (my sweet niece Lauren) AND got her MBA while she was very pregnant. We have gotten so much closer since we both became moms and I am extremely grateful for that.

5. My humor. I don't always laugh, but I sure do love to! I like to make other people laugh. I enjoy being silly with Chris and my kiddos. Sometimes when a really good song comes on the radio, I'll grab a pen and use it as a microphone. I like to have dance parties in the living room. I like to have tickle fests with the kids. I LOVE it when Chris makes me laugh. It's one of my all-time favorite things to do.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day 2010

I don't know if Chris loves Father's Day as much as I love Mother's Day, but either way - we were going to make it a special day for a VERY special daddy. Not only did he get a round of golf at Olde Oaks Golf Club and a new polo shirt (this amazing tangerine color!).... but he also got a super hero supply box!!!

What is a super hero supply box, you ask? Well, thanks to the amazing folks at Living Locurto - I printed out these precious little labels, bought some cellophane bags, and Kennedy and I assembled this munch fest that only a super hero deserves!
He absolutely loved it!! And from the looks of Brady's eyeballs staring at all the goodies, I think Super Hero dad might share his supplies with the hero-in-training.

I am blessed beyond measure to have this man in my life. He is the most thoughtful, loving husband I could have ever asked for. Mom and I were talking on Sunday and she said it best: "He was perfectly crafted for you!" Yes, he was! He adores our children, playing "tickle monster" in the living room and chasing them around the house. He works JUST as hard around the house as any stay-at-home parent would... but he still works 40 hours in his paying job!

He often makes dinner, takes kids to and from school, manages our money (a HUGE relief for me), picks up the shoes I leave all over the house, and never once does he complain about it. But he sure does listen to all my complaining!

And while I'm in grad school, he watches the kids so I can do my research. I am so incredibly lucky..... and I hope Kennedy will strive to find a man like her daddy and that Brady will follow in his footsteps. Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Summer Swim Lessons

It is official.
Kennedy is a fish.

We had private swimming lessons this year from the talented Miss Emma. Kennedy learned to swim last year, but forgot EVERYTHING over the fall and winter.
Well, okay. I say she learned to swim. She really doggie paddled. But this year - she was showing off her front crawl, her underwater swimming skills, her back stroke, breath stroke....

She would dive to the bottom of the pool and fetch Miss Emma's whistle. You could not keep that child out of the water! She showed amazing swimming skills this year.

I am super proud of her!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Big TWO!

My sweet son Brady,

I cannot believe that you are two years old. The past two years have absolutely flown by. I remember being in the hospital getting ready to deliver you. I had NO idea if you were going to be a boy or a girl, but either way - my heart was ready to welcome you in. You have brought so much love into my heart and having a son is everything I hoped it would be... and more.

We celebrated your birthday this weekend with Nina, Papa, and Uncle Tim. You are a huge fan of dinosaurs (you call them "ohhh-sah"), so I made you a purple dino cake. As soon as I showed you, your eyes opened WIDE and you starting saying "ohhh-sahh! ohhh-sahh! ohhhh-sahh!" over and over and over again.

You were very excited to open presents, which have kept you busy all weekend long. Between dinosaurs, water toys, dinosaurs, cars, and more dinosaurs - you are SET for a while!

Oh - and you should know by now that your mommy is a silly lady. I bought these dinosaur noses for all of us to wear. They were a huge hit between you and your sister.

...and I made your daddy put a nose on for ONE picture.

Papa helped you blow out your birthday candle... and then you chowed down on some "ohh-sah" cake! Chocolate cake was everywhere!

You are such a sweet boy and I cannot wait to see you grow and develop more and more with each passing year. I am unbelievably blessed to have you as my son. I can see glimpses of your daddy in you from time to time. I'm sure I will see more of those traits as you get older.

I love your curiosity for frogs sitting in the water hose... bugs flying around the light posts... or the taste of chalk. You are eager to try new foods; and you have the most amazing smile. You love to play outside, in the water (sprinkler or pool - both make you happy as a clam), or with your sister. She has fallen in love with you just as much as me and your daddy.
Happy 2nd Birthday to my sweet Brady!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My sweet boys

Kennedy spent the night at Nina and Papa's house last night, which gave me and Chris a chance to spend a little alone time with Brady.

Folks, let me tell you that is is SO MUCH QUIETER with just one child at home. Brady squeals and laughs and whines a bit, but Kennedy is THE talker in the house. You cannot get a word in if she's in the room.

So I left the living room for a minute and when I came back, THIS is what I saw:

Is that not the sweetest thing? I was home a few minutes early, so we ate dinner early and had over an hour to play on the floor with Brady and give him some one-on-one attention. It was so much fun.

Tonight, unfortunately, it's back to the busy/hectic/crazy/hair-pulling routine. I'll race home with Kennedy, fix dinner, we'll change clothes and fly to swimming lessons at 7:30. Then we'll get home about 9:00 and I'll throw her in bed and then crash from exhaustion.

Thanks Nina and Papa for the quick break!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Pool time!

The pool in our neighborhood opened Memorial Day weekend. Kennedy would not..stop...asking me if we could go. I think the pictures prove we all had a good time!

Brady is going to be a fish. I can already tell. He wants out of his little floaty thingy, but then panics when I let go of him. So I put him back in the floaty thingy... and he kicks his legs as if he's had swimming lessons already! He would float several feet away from me and Chris and smile SO big!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Best Husband

While Mommy was away this weekend having much-needed girl time, Daddy was rocking the role of father/entertainer/cook/cleaner/diaper changer..... etc.

I had an absolute blast this weekend with my girls Susie and Shelley. We laughed, had lots of cocktails, saw a chick flick, laughed some more, power walked, and then drank some more!

And while I was soaking up some time with my best friends, Chris was being a rockstar dad. I have always thought that dads should be just as involved as us moms out there. They should be able to watch the children they helped create. They aren't babysitters; they are the kids' father. But my husband watches the kids AND goes the extra steps. I would suspect many moms come home to a wrecked house, dirty children, dishes in the sink, and kids fed peanut butter and jelly all weekend.

Not me!

Kennedy had a sleepover at her friends' Maddie and Ellie's house, so Chris just had Brady to contend with over part of the weekend. But he seized the opportunity with Brady still at school Friday afternoon and Kennedy at the movie with Nina... and mowed the yard. He also washed, dried, folded all the laundry and put it away. He ran the dishwasher and unloaded it. He had dinner ready when I got home Sunday afternoon.

And to top it all off - and this is THE biggest of them all - he had 1/2 the kids on our street playing in our backyard in the sprinkler. FIVE kids running through our backyard is NOT Chris' idea of an ideal Sunday afternoon. (I'm the opposite - bring on the "rat pack" of kids!) I DID get a nice little text message from him saying I owed him big time for the neighborhood party he got sucked into.

So ladies... be jealous! Because this mama has THE best husband. And I'm sure he'd be willing to teach your husbands the tricks of the trade.