Friday, September 30, 2011

Sweet Friday

Thank God for Fridays, it's been an intense week at work.  The kind of days that make
you come home and hold your babies tight, thank your husband for being all that he
is, whisper prayers of praise for all that you have.
I've been reflecting lately on how easy it can be to fall into a state of "poor me", to
take inventory of your life and still want more, to look over the small and simple
blessings that grace us each and every day.  I took care of a lady this week whose floor
has literally caved in due to flood damage after last year's hurricane.  She can no longer
use her kitchen or living room because there is NO FLOOR, only rotted wood and the
cold, hard ground peeking through.  There was a man whose blood sugar was
dangerously high and admitted to me that he has not been taking his insulin because he
can't afford to buy it.  His social security check won't be in the mail until early next week
and he's just praying that his blood sugar can hold out until then.  Another woman
hadn't eaten in 2 days and, when I questioned her as to why, she admitted to me that
her drug addict son and his girlfriend had cleaned out her house and left her alone,
with nothing.
Each and every one of these people touched me in some way this week.  Each one of
these precious souls brought a new blessing into my life, just by letting me into their
home and sharing their story with me.  We do what we can to help patients in need
but sometimes their life circumstances are beyond our control.  I can share my
turkey sandwich I packed for lunch, try to convince the doctor to give me samples
of medications that patients need, but sometimes it's just not enough.  Some people are
really, truly struggling in this world.  And you have to sit back and think: what problems
do I REALLY have?  What is that I am worried about: having too much to do, not
knowing how to manage it all?  Are these really problems?  My life is so blessed that I
have TOO MUCH going on.  It is so full of love and light and amazing people that I
sometimes fret over how to handle it all.
And that is, in itself, the blessing.  I take care of a little old lady who, every time I walk 
into her home and ask her how she's feeling, answers, "I'm good, darlin'!  Too blessed to 
be stressed!".  Now THAT is a mantra: Too blessed to be stressed!  I've been singing
those words to myself all week, imagining all the things this woman has seen in her 
lifetime, all the experiences she has encountered, the hurt and suffering and hardships.  
Yet she wears her smile so big and proud, too blessed to be stressed.  
May we all have the courage to live life in such a positive way.
{One of my favorite photos, Shawn in his mother's backyard, in awe of the
most amazing Arizona sunset.}

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Brees Elizabeth is 10 months old!!

This was the month that Brees went from being a little baby to a moving,
grooving, independent little person.  She was everywhere, into everything, always
on the move.  Her likes and dislikes have become very distinct and her personality
is all her own.
Here are her stats:
Feeding:  Brees became much more adventurous with her food choices this month!
She is eating 3 full meals a day plus an afternoon snack.  She is still nursing 6-7 times a
day, sometimes more depending on what kind of night we are having.  This month,
she discovered the joys of pasta, graham crackers, and whole wheat waffles.  We tried
giving her apple juice with her afternoon snack but she didn't care for it and so breast
milk remains her drink of choice.  She got a little rambunctious while nursing this
month, sometimes pinching me, a few bites here and there, and twirling my hair.  She
is so active, even lying still while breast feeding seemed impossible.
Sleeping:  Brees experienced some separation anxiety this month and our efforts to put
her in her crib next to our bed went right out the window.  She spent most of this
month sleeping right by my side, one hand around my neck and the other hand on my
chest.  She cried inconsolably when we tried to put her in her bed and woke up every
couple of hours to nurse.  I rocked her to sleep most nights and we spent many hours on
the floor bed we created in her room.  She became very attached to her lovie and has made
it an important part of her night time repertoire.  Though it is common for babies this age
to go through a separation anxiety phase, it doesn't make it any easier.  This was a
long month in the sleep department, leaving us tired and hoping for better nights.  We
are currently in the process of making some changes and will hopefully have a better
report soon.
Health:  We realized this month that Brees's acid reflux seems to be almost
nonexistent!  She is no longer taking Prevacid and only spits up once every couple of
days, typically when she is jumping up and down and acting like a wild banshee too soon
after meal time.  She did experience a constant runny nose and itchy eyes that
we determined were caused by seasonal allergies.  We live in a very wooded area and
this time of year is peak allergy season.  Her pediatrician and the allergy specialist that
Shawn and I both see recommended giving her a daily pediatric dose of Children's Zertec
for the duration of the season.  A week later, her sinuses are totally clear and she has
stopped scratching her eyes.
Milestones:  Brees took her very first step one day before her 10 month birthday!  She
also learned to clap her hands, dance when we play guitar, and give real, big girl kisses.
Playing:  This little girl is such a busy body!  She plays very intently and is so curious.
She moves from one task to another and is very content with the simplest things.  She
loves playing Barbies with her sister, tearing off their heads and eating their hair.  Bath
time is her favorite and she would gladly play in the water for hours if we let her.  She
can destroy a room in 2 minutes flat and gets herself in some pretty interesting
situations.  She loves to unpack my purse, tear down curtains, unfold clothes, climb into
the dishwasher, and chew on any single thing she can get her hands on.
A few photos of her handy work...
She also loves to undress herself and take her diaper off.  We frequently find her clothes
in a trail across the house, her diaper in her bed as she lies there bottomless, shoes and
socks left behind as she zips away.  She is a hippie at heart, this little one, and  just
wants to be free...
This month Brees:
  • Was very attached to Mama and Daddy, wanting to be held and cuddled constantly
  • Followed her big sister around everywhere she went
  • Learned to play peek a boo
  • Started holding her own bottle, much to our babysitter's delight
Here's to ten wonderful months little one!  
You have the most amazing spirit and 
bless us all with your love!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Though our weekend was short and our time together limited, it was full of smiles
and beautiful moments.  Here are a few of my favorite things, in a glimpse...
1.  Babies in skirts...
I keep telling Brees to stop growing so fast but she is obviously not listening.  Our
precious, smiley baby girl is walking and babbling and parading around in pretty floral
skirts.  My heart just flutters every time I look into her sparkling eyes...
2.  My new Missoni for Target head scarf...
My grandmother wore head scarves almost every day: around her curlers while she did
the laundry, over her beehive when she drove me to school, matching her shift dress
while she made dinner.  She was the most elegant woman I've ever known, even
while performing the most domestic tasks.  I know she's smiling on me right now as I
wash my dishes with my pretty silk scarf on.  I know she's saying, "Well done, mon cher.
You look tres jolie while taking care of your family."
3.  Isabelle's growing passion for reading...
This busy second grader has been reading every book she can get her hands on.  We've
been making countless trips to the library and she is pouring through stories with
a vengeance.  It's so exciting to see her develop a love for the written word, a love
Shawn and I both share.  
4.  Sunday afternoon football with my mama...
With Shawn away for work, we enjoyed a girls' afternoon with my Mama.  We ate about
a thousand calories and cheered our New Orleans Saints to victory.  My Mama is one of
the most hilarious people I know and an afternoon with her wit and sarcasm is guaranteed
to leave your belly sore and your smile glued on from ear to ear.
She bought Brees her very first cheerleader uniform, here she is practicing her moves:
Here's to the things that make us smile, big and small, past and present.  Here's to seeing
the beauty and love all around us and living a life we can be proud of.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Steppin' Out

Saturday, I stepped out to the hospital to work an extra shift and help my poor,
under-staffed former employers out.  Shawn is away for work and my mother had
a whole day of shopping and playing planned for the girls so I seized the opportunity
to get back to the hospital and use my alone time wisely.  With a family road trip planned
for Thanksgiving and a trip to Voodoo Fest in New Orleans in the works, I just couldn't
say no to overtime hours.  It was so nice to get back into ICU nurse mode,
adrenaline pumping for the full 12 hour shift, excitement around every corner.  Though
I love my new job and it's fantastic hours with all my heart and soul, it's always nice to
visit your roots and remember where you came from.
We snapped these photos before church this morning.  We plan to spend the rest of the
day immersed in football, brownie making, and maybe even a nap or two.  
Here's what we wore:

Momma Go Round

Friday, September 23, 2011

Coffee Talk: The Answers Part 3

A few more of your questions answered, as told through my rambling answers
and a few photos here and there...
6.  Who are your favorite musicians/bands?  What are your 
favorite books? ~ Deanna from Delirious Rhapsody
Music has always been such a big part of my life: from my early childhood, dancing with
my brother to my mother's amazing record collection, to singing in my brother's high
school rock band, "Dysfunctional Family Tree", to sitting on the decks of the ship
while serving in the Navy, listening to Shawn play the guitar and singing our favorite
love songs together.  Our house is always filled with music, either live or blasting
on the stereo.
I was fortunate enough to be a teenager during the 90's grunge era, rocking my Doc
Martens and flannel shirt and devoting my entire heart and soul to the notion that I
would someday be Mrs. Eddie Vedder.  The spirit of that time was ground breaking:
keep your bubble gum pop music and empty lyrics, we're pissed off and we're going to
scream about it!  Kurt Cobain gave us an anthem and Chris Cornell taught us how to use
it.  If you don't know who these people are, it's probably because you had the unfortunate
fate of having to idolize Britney Spears and The Backstreet Boys, so sad.
My favorite type of music is rock, but my taste spans a pretty large spectrum.  I love
indie and folk, grunge and punk, my Southern roots tie me hard to the blues.  I don't
like anything that involves an auto-tuner and overproduced drum machines.  Give
me a guitar, original lyrics, and something to pump my fist to.  Going to shows, seeing
our favorite bands live: it's our passion.  Festivals and rock shows, small clubs and open
mic nights.  We enjoy family jam sessions and sing-a-longs under the stars with
friends.  We've acquired quite an array of musical instruments over the years and
love gathering in a circle, allowing the inspiration and tribal funk to flow.  
Here's an example of what you might hear playing at our house,
a few favorites old and new...

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones
  And reading, oh how I love to read!  My mother didn't allow us to watch very much
TV when we were little: instead encouraging us to play music, sending me to dance
class, weekly trips to the library where I devoured every book I could get my hands on.
She gave us the gift of imagination, showed us the magic that exists when you loose
yourself in a piece of literature, in a beautiful song.  It's something I hope to pass on
to my children as well.
I get obsessed with reading series.  It all started with Anne Rice back in junior high:
I read through her entire vampire series and LOVED it.  I love series that create a
whole other world, developing characters and places and pulling you in, making you
want to know more and more.  Some of my other favorites are the Sookie Stackhouse
series, Philipa Gregory's historical fiction novels about the Tudor dynasty, Harry Potter,
and The Twilight books. I also love biographies and a good love story every now and
then.  Basically, I just love to read and try to make time for a good book whenever
I can squeeze it in...
7.  As a current Med/Surg nurse looking for something new on the 
nursing frontier, I was curious as to how you like home health nursing! 
What made you decide to pursue that change in your career? 
~ Alyssa from The Lovely Things in Life 
Nursing truly is an amazing career: we have so many options of what we can do, places
we can go, different patient populations to work with.  The freedom and endless
possibilities are what drew me to nursing in the first place.  I love the fact that my career
can change with my lifestyle.  I was a Med-Surg nurse for several years and loved it.  I
loved the adrenaline rush of caring for critically ill patients, the fast pace, and the
interesting array of situations my job put me in.  But then, we had our second child and
my life got a little more full.  I suddenly started to dread going to work, the thought of
being away from home for 12 hours began to seem daunting.  I could feel me heart
breaking more and more each week.
I made the decision to find a new job that would provide hours more conducive to raising
my daughters and spending time with my husband.  After making a million lists of pros
and cons, networking my butt off, and praying for the right opportunity, I was offered
a job with a local, fast growing home health company.  So far, I LOVE it!  The hours
are amazing: I work from 8 am until 2-3 pm Monday-Friday, no nights, no holidays,
no weekends.  I am able to get Isabelle off to school and I am home when she gets off
the school bus everyday.  I only have to miss one feeding with my little Brees.  I have
dinner on the table every night and every weekend off.  My patients are adorable and
the nature of the job is bringing out different skills in my nursing repertoire that I
haven't honed in on thus far: being a home health nurse requires a lot of assessment skills
and putting the whole picture together.  It's incredibly rewarding to walk into a home,
assess the situation holistically, and then make critical thinking decisions to improve
the problems that have been contributing to a patient's illness.  I like the fact that I am
on my own, making my own schedule and responsible for my day and my patients.
The ability to be autonomous is amazing and it is forcing me to grow in my
knowledge base.
The only down side I see so far is using my car for work.  While I am reimbursed by
my company for mileage, the wear and tear on my vehicle will eventually catch up.
But really, what more could you want than cruising around in your own car all day,
listening to your favorite tunes, taking care of people in need?  No boss breathing down
your neck, no catty office politics?  My company views me as an educated individual
capable of performing my work to the highest standard, therefore there's no
micro-managing.  Just a nurse on the open highway!  Shawn and I thought long and
hard about what was best for our family, our sanity, and our finances.  God really
blessed us with this job because it truly has benefited all of those aspects.  For now, this
job is perfect for our lifestyle and where I am in my career.  And when our needs
change and this job no longer suits us, I'll set off in search of something else that
does.  Nursing equals job security and, in this day and age, that in itself
is a blessing!!
Good luck with your journey, Alyssa!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Just Me

Yesterday, I finished work early and was surprised to see a big, bright afternoon
unfold in front of me.  With Isabelle off at school and Brees with the babysitter,
I uncharacteristically decided NOT to hurry home.  With my windows rolled down
and Mumford and Sons singing sweetly in my ear, I drove around town and enjoyed
a vanilla milkshake all to myself.  I didn't have to worry about feeding anyone or cleaning
up the aftermath.  I just sang along to the radio and enjoyed me shake.
Just me.
I went shopping for a bit, bought my first pair of jeans since before Brees was born.
Strolled through the racks, admired all the pretty things, read through several
books before picking out a new selection.  I didn't chicken out and put my purchases
down the way that I usually do, deciding to instead buy something for someone else.  No,
I bought myself a pair of jeans and a book.
Just me.
With the weather warm and the sun bright, I took my dogs for a long walk in the
woods behind our house.  We admired the pond filled with bullfrogs and the
blooming wildflowers in the field.  We listened to the horses grazing through the long
grass and the hummingbirds flapping their wings.  We walked as far and as fast as our
hearts could take us.  The dogs didn't have to share their mama, no little girls to pull their
hair or climb on their backs, no slowing down to accommodate short statures.
Just me. 
I met Isabelle at the bus stop, dirt on my knees and leaves in my hair.  She was her
usual after school ball of energy and run on sentences: "Hey Mama how was your day
mine was great I painted you a picture and got an A in spelling oh wow you look really nice
did you do something fun while I was gone?"
Yes, I did something really fun.  I took an afternoon all to myself, spent time with my
heart and allowed myself the space to breath.  I enjoyed a few hours of simple treasures.
Just me.  Just because.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Coffee Talk: The Answers Part 2

Good morning, I'm back for another round of coffee talk: answering your questions and
letting you in on a few of my secrets...
3.   What are your fave hair products?  What beauty products do you 
use / what is your skin routine? ~ Maegan from Chesterrific
Seriously, how is your skin so glowy and dewy and amazing?? 
~ Lucy the Valliant
First of all, THANK YOU!!!!  What sweet words to tell a 32 year old woman who has
really started to see changes in her skin!  Now, in the spirit of honesty and true
feminine sisterhood, there's no way I can share my skin care and product secrets with
you without first letting you see my blank canvas.  I had Shawn snap these photos of
me in the early morning, au natural light: no editing, no make-up, just me:
Up All Night Mama under eye circles, fine lines around the eyes, a mild case of melasma,
sun spots (that I like to pretend are freckles) on my nose: the same "problems" most
women face.  But, with a good, consistent skin care routine and the right make-up:
easily camouflaged and treated!  
I owe my skin to A) my French/Native American genes, the women in my family all
have lovely skin and B) my grandmother.  On my 13th birthday, my grandmother bought
me my very own tub of Noxzema skin cleanser and Oil of Olay moisturizer.  She gave
me strict instructions to wash my face every morning and every night without fail, to stay
out of the sun as much as possible, to avoid cigarettes like the plague, and to never
leave home without a smile:)  Though I have not always been faithful to this wise,
Cajun mama's advice, her words have been ingrained in my beauty regimen for the
greater part of my adult life.  
I am a product junkie and have tried just about every line imaginable: until I found
Murad.  This is, in my humble opinion, the BEST line of skin care products on the
market.  They are gentle on your skin, reasonably priced, and super effective in
controlling and preventing fine lines and break outs.  I use Murad's Time Release 
Acne Cleanser, followed by the Clarifying Toner.  I then use an under eye cream
by Dermalogica called Total Eye Care that is amazing because it is tinted and helps
cover my dark circles.  Next comes Murad's Oil Control Matifying Moisturizer, with SPF
15 in it of course.  The last step is a foundation primer made by Merle Norman that I
simply can NOT live without.  It keeps my makeup fresh all day long and gives my skin
that dewy glow I love so much.  At night, I repeat using only the cleanser,
toner, and moisturizer.  
I have been using Merle Norman's Luxiva mineral make-up for several years and
am obsessed.  It's a two for one product: you are treating your skin with an amazing
anti-aging formula while also wearing quality, skin improving make-up.  Growing up, I
always thought Merle Norman was for my grandmother's age group, a line for older
ladies and not up to par with the modern woman.  I couldn't have been more wrong:
Merle Norman's makeup is gorgeous, provides as much or as little coverage as you need,
and absorbs oil while giving your skin a shimmery glow.  I wear the Luxiva mineral
powder foundation, mineral blush, mineral eye shadow, and eyeliner.  Have you ever
watched "What Not to Wear" on TLC?  My make-up routine is from Carmindy's
minute face, all about a natural look and highlights.  Easy easy.
For hair, I use a shampoo and conditioner by Matrix called Sleek Look.  I never blow dry
or flat iron my hair and use a deep conditioner by Wen once a week.  I only comb my
hair when it is wet and fresh out of the shower using a wide tooth comb, I never brush
it.  While it is wet, I comb a small amount of Matrix sculpting gel from roots to tips, let it
air dry over night, and then use a texturizing cream to form my unruly waves and
prevent any frizz.  The No Heat Curl Method has become my best friend and helps
me to define my curls without causing my hair any stress or damage.
The most important thing any of us can do for our skin and hair is drink lots of water,
wear an SPF cream daily, get as much rest as our children and busy lives will allow, and
stay away from harsh chemicals whenever possible.  My grandmother was right:
consistency is key, morning and night.  And of course, SMILE!
It's the best accessory!
4.  I'm curious if you got the envelope and goodie I sent you! 
~ Erin from My Beautiful Disaster
Erin, YES!!!  I'm guessing you didn't get my email but yes, I got the beautiful postcard
you sent as well as the key chain and I LOVED them!  There's seriously nothing more
exciting than getting REAL mail.  While emails and Skyping and texting and blogging
have made communicating with friends and family so convenient, I miss good old
fashioned letters and postcards.  Isabelle actually confiscated the key chain you sent me
and has been sporting it on her back pack ever since.  She thinks it's pretty cool that
her Mama has a friend all the way from Canada!  Thank you so much and I promise
to send you a Louisiana care package soon!
5.  Do you guys want to have more children? 
~ Caitlin from To Make Love Stay
Yes yes and yes!!  Shawn and I are both pretty in love with the idea of having a son.
Shawn is an only child and the last hope of carrying on the Vasquez family name.  While
we love our daughters more than life itself, I know that he dreams of having a son to
play football with, Boy Scouts and fishing trips, guitar lessons and playing under the
hood of the truck.  When we were newly married, however, my grandmother performed
an old trick with my wedding ring that is legendary in our family for predicting how
many children you will have.  She predicted I would have 3 girls.  So far, she's 2 for 2.
By the end of next year, when Brees is a little older and Shawn is done with school, we
hope to start trying for another baby and, God willing, we'll find out how accurate
she really was...

Monday, September 19, 2011



We spent our Saturday at the Lafayette Children's Museum with our sweet cousins.  We
filled our bellies with french fries and milkshakes and then spent the afternoon exploring
one of the coolest learning facilities we've been to in a while.  The entire museum was
devoted to role playing with room after room of hands on learning.  There was a
veterinarian hospital, a grocery store, restaurant, dentist's office, fully stocked
ambulance, and a bank.  Each room came fully equipped with costumes and the most
realistic props I've ever seen in a children's museum.  Have I mentioned how much
I LOVE this kind of stuff?  I spent hours as a little girl constructing the most elaborate
play houses, forts, imaginary cafes.  If someone had let me loose in a museum such as the
one we went to this weekend, I would have probably never left..
There was a fenced in area for the babies fully stocked with wooden toys, textured balls,
and the most awesome train set.  Brees and Freddie happily skipped their naps and
explored every inch of the baby zone: eyes wide and drool galore.  They are at such a fun
age, two little explorers with happy, mellow attitudes.  
One of the best ways I can show my children my love is by having fun with them,
laughing and smiling and eating pretend pie, leaving work and bills behind and just being
free.  And when I am able to have an afternoon of fun and relaxation, I am showing
myself love,too.  Seeing their smiling, happy faces is the best soul medicine around...
It was such a fun day, I can't wait to do it again.  I love my cousins, I love my babies,
I love our weekends of sweet simple fun...