Friday, August 31, 2012

Sweet Friday: After the Storm

At the start of this week, I never thought that we'd make it to Friday.  Shawn was in
the hospital, Hurricane Isaac was slowly making his way to Louisiana, and Isabelle
caught scabies.  Yes, SCABIES.  There has been a huge outbreak of this highly contagious
skin rash in our area and my poor girl fell prey.  Off to the pediatrician we went where we
were given a cream that the whole family was instructed to apply from head to toe.  We
then had to wash all of our linens, towels, pillows, and teddy bears.  To say that I went
on a disinfecting rampage would be an understatement.  I put my stress and anxiety to
good use, taking all of my energy out on my vacuum cleaner.  By Tuesday, the entire
house was sparkling and Isabelle's skin was healthy and itch-free.
During the great skin mite debacle, I was simultaneously stocking up on key
hurricane preparedness supplies: candles, batteries for our flashlights, bottled water,
and nonperishable food items.  I filled up the gas cans for our generator in case we lost
power, secured all the patio furniture, brought in my container plants and herbs.  The
girls helped me set out the board games and we made "Welcome home" cards for Daddy.
I visited as many of my patients as possible, making sure they were as prepared as we
were, filling up their medicines and directing them to shelters as needed.  From Monday
to Wednesday, I think I slept a total of 6 hours.
But then Shawn came home and Isabelle started feeling better and I looked around
and realized that everything was done.  All that was left was to sit back and let the ball
roll where it may.  After work on Wednesday, my mama came over and we cooked shrimp
stir fry for dinner.  We watched the Weather Channel and tracked the storm between cups
of tea and good conversation.  The work was done and it was pure joy to sit around with
my family, to be together and healthy, riding out the storm.  
Our parish was lucky: the storm blew right by us with only a few inches of rain and
heavy winds.  We have branches to clean up in our yard but the trees stood firm,
relatively unscathed.  Our home is solid and undamaged, our family together again.
Other parts of Louisiana and Mississippi were not so lucky and our prayers are with those
still fighting through the storm.  When people ask me why I chose to live in a place
that regularly sustains such extreme natural disasters, my answer is simple: because it is
home.  There is no place in the world that could ever replace my Louisiana, no place
could ever compare.  My heart and soul belong here, tied so deeply to this place, my roots
and my culture.  We made it through another week, another storm.  Long live Louisiana!! 
021-1 015-1 002-1 020-1 hurricanecollage 011-1 007-1

Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Power of the Positive and Hurricanes

Just in time for Hurricane Isaac, Shawn returned home from the hospital yesterday.  We
are all together again, home, a family complete.  I have barely been able to hug him as the 
girls have permanently attached themselves to his legs, his arms, and any other body part 
they can squeeze, hug, and kiss.  He walks from room to room, breathing in the familiar 
smells, his hand grazing over the furniture, soaking in the soothing energy of home.  
Though he is physically and mentally exhausted from all that he has been through, his 
spirit screams loudly from somewhere deep inside his soul.  "I am here!  I am alive!".  I see 
it in his eyes, hear it in the way he says my name.  He is here, we are moving forward.
This hurricane comes to Louisiana at a time when I can fully identify with its strength
and destruction.  The last two months have felt like a devastating storm, a catastrophic
event that has rocked our world and shaken us to our core.  But we are here, we are
still standing.  Our family reminds me of the hundred year old oak trees in the back yard:
their strong, solid branches swaying in the breeze, their leaves blowing wildly through the
air as the wind whips through.  They are taking a beating as the storm blows past, bending
as the weather attempts to tear them from the ground.  But their roots are strong, their hold
on the earth invincible.  They absorb the impact and stand firm: no storm is gonna bring
them down.  
And so our family will stand firm through this storm as well, both figuratively and literally.
We will stand watch through this difficult time and wait for the hurricane to blow through.
We are as prepared as we could possibly be but know that, in the end, there are some things
in life you just can't control.  Hurricane Isaac will not break us and neither will
Shawn's accident.  Even though the flame of our candle seems to be burning low, we will
stand firm.  Flashlights and lanterns, bottled water, books, and board games: we are
ready.  God bless Louisiana and the strength of this land.  We are together again and ready
for phase two.

Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Power of the Positive and Brees

I have buried myself in the love and support of family and friends this weekend.  I have
read and re-read all of your comments, emails, and text messages.  My responses have
been scarce as I have just not had the energy to tell the story over and over again, to talk
 about the harsh reality that Shawn has had this set back.  He is still in the hospital but
doing very well, in great spirits and working hard to get back to a healthy place.  I
cherish every single moment with him, every conversation, every love letter we pass
back and forth.  It is impossible to think of all we've been through these last few
months.  Every time I try to wrap my mind around all that has happened, I feel my chest
begin to ache.  But we are here, we are alive, and we have each other.  That is more than
I could ever ask for.
This weekend, I took my Brees outside to sit in the sun and enjoy a popscicle: a simple
summer activity that has become way too scarce these days.  With everything that has
been going on, I feel myself holding onto these moments for dear life, soaking them in
and memorizing every detail.  She walked back and forth across the patio, sharing her
treat with the dogs, making puddles and then playing in them.  Every few minutes or so,
she walked back to me to kiss me and hug my legs, to climb into my lap with her sticky
hands.  And then she would climb down to walk around and play some more.
Gravitating around me, she played like that for a long while.  She was so happy to just play
and be with her mama, to give an endless amount of love.  I am so thankful for this little
girl and the way her heart knows no bounds.  I am so thankful to be her mama.
When loneliness attempts to overpower my heart and the sadness I feel over what Shawn
is going through makes me feel helpless, Brees always seems to sense my pain.  She hugs
me just a little bit longer and smiles right deep into my soul.  Her positive spirit strengthens
me and keeps me going each and every day.  
009 007 008 

Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Power of the Positive

This week is ending on an unexpected note: Shawn is back in the hospital, getting
further treatment as we work hard to help him recover from his devastating accident.  I
am a hundred different emotions right now, my mind and heart working together to form
a solid ground, struggling to remain strong and sure.  This accident has changed our lives
and tested our strength but we remain ever confident that we CAN and WILL make it
through to the other side.  I am with our girls, holding down the fort, the three of us
holding onto each other as we cheer Shawn on to good health.  He is stable, in good spirits,
and working hard at, once again, returning home.
This blog is and always has been my special little treasure box, the place I come to reflect
on all of the good and amazing things in my life.  While I am away focusing on Shawn and
our girls, I plan to continue writing and reflecting, to remind myself of all that we have to
live for.  Join me as I get through these days counting my blessings, using the power of 
positive thinking and love to strengthen our family.  Join me in reflecting on the good.  For 
I can assure you, dear friends, that these times are so much more manageable when you 
take the time to remind yourself each and every day why this life is so beautiful.
011 005 015 013 

Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Setting The Example

There are days when I feel like nothing I am doing is enough: I can never fulfill my
own impossible expectations for myself.  Am I spending enough time with my girls,
stimulating them, inspiring them, showing them enough love?  As the days stretch ahead
of us, the week seems like one long balancing act.  Am I caring for my husband with
patience and love, lifting his spirits and reassuring him that the load he can no longer
carry is safe and sound on my shoulders?  Some days, I feel like all we do is talk about
bills and chores and logistics.  Am I taking care of my home and maintaining the scared
space that nurtures all of our souls, serving as the foundation for which we all feel
grounded?  Lately, when I look around, all I see are little corners begging for my attention
to clean and organize.  And so it goes: my own personal internal battle waging on with
fierce intensity, shaking me to my core as I wonder whether or not I can give enough love
and attention to those who so surely deserve it.
Let's face it: as women, we very rarely hear the words, "thank you".  We are not
often recognized for the efforts we so willingly put forth, the daily workings of our world
lost in the precious harmony of family life.  But, just as I think that no one is watching,
that I am not enough, that I am always slipping behind in my multiple roles, someone
surprises me.
On Saturday, stuck indoors during a thunderstorm, our family gathered in the kitchen for
a pizza dinner.  As I zipped around the kitchen, filling drinks, grabbing napkins,
and replenishing plates, Shawn called us all together to say grace.  We bowed our heads
and listened as Daddy led us all in prayer as he does before every meal.  My attention
shifted as I heard him laugh and I looked up just in time to see Brees saying her very
own prayer: hands clasped together, head bowed, and a smile beaming across her face
as big and bright as the sun.  As Shawn said his final words, laughter still on his lips, Brees
let out a loud "Thank you!!!" and finished up our prayer.  
Our little baby girl, so innocent and full of love and light, had learned something
new, something we never intentionally taught her.  She learned simply by watching us in
our day to day lives, she learned by observing the example we have set for her.  For all
the times I feel like I have failed, moments such as these remind me that we just might be
doing something right after all.  There will always be instances of failure, places in our
lives where we will be lacking, but those are just speed bumps along the way.  The real
moments to hold onto are the moments when my family inadvertently tells me thank you,
when they show me through their own actions that all of my hard work is
actually accomplishing something.  Those moments keep me going, pull me from my
slump, and make me sing Amen.  Those moments remind me that working hard and
putting good energy out into the universe does not go unnoticed.   

While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what life is all about.
~Angela Schwindt

Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!

Monday, August 20, 2012

These Days

This weekend was easy and slow, full of quiet time as a family.  We recuperated from
Isabelle's first week at school, cooked good food and made a trip to the grocery store.
We caught up on movies and took a Sunday afternoon nap, Isabelle and I read books and
did laundry.  Brees went through my make-up bag and scattered its contents inside her
toy box, smiling her big, mischievous grin as she held up my half-eaten tube of lipstick in
her hand.  I couldn't help but laugh at her, knowing what the toddler years hold.
I treasure these weekends so much, they give me a renewed sense of energy as I start
another work week.  When I am home, I hug my family every chance I get, rarely turning
away from an open set of arms.  It's the small, simple gestures of love that mean the
most: rocking my baby to sleep, painting my daughter's nails, making my husband a cup
of tea in the morning.  As parents, we are so often told, "Cherish these moments, they go
by so fast".  These words are so true: this time is so precious.  This time together as a
young family is a magical time, a phase I can not get enough of.  I want to remember
every chaotic trip to the grocery store, every mess and broken dish.  I want to squeeze
every ounce of love out of every moment, no matter how simple or small.  These are the
days worth remembering.

Mama wore>>Top: JC Penney//Shorts: AE//Shoes: Tom's
Belle wore>>Top: Old navy//Shorts and sandals: Target
Brees wore>>Dress: Carter's//Shoes: Tom's

007 016 005

A few snapshots from our weekend:

Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Third Grade


Isabelle started school this week as a third grader.  I've spent the whole week 
wondering how my baby can be old enough to read and solve math problems and write 
in cursive.  Time certainly does fly.  This year is quite special as she is attending a 
new school, leaving behind the school she has attended since she was 
in preschool.  I have mixed feelings about this: as a rule, I don't like moving, I 
don't really like change.  I love being comfortable and knowing my surroundings and 
building a strong community.  But I know that this move is going to bring some 
positive changes into Belle's academic career.  Plus, her cousin and best friend Sarah 
was accepted and is making the move, too.  They are basically a package deal, these two.
And if there's anything we've learned over the last few months, it's that sometimes a 
change truly can do you good.

The first day of school was full of rituals: a big breakfast, arguments over which headband 
to wear, nervous jitters, and a sweet new backpack.  We met up with Sarah at my 
aunt's house for a photo shoot, the girls so excited in their new uniforms.  My aunt and 
I drove them to school: our first day tradition.  We walked them to class, meeting a few 
new faces along the way.  Everyone was friendly, the girls both smiling as they took
 their seats with their brave faces on.  I walked back to my car and cried a little bit, so 
proud of my daughter and her strong, confident character.  I knew that she would be fine 
at her new school, she would make new friends and integrate well.  Belle has a kind soul 
and a strong sense of self, she works hard and tries her best.  
What more could a mother ask for?



I made sure I was home every afternoon this week to greet her when she ran off the
 school bus: papers flying and stories spilling out of her mouth before she could even
 get down the driveway.  Shawn sits with her in the office and helps her with her 
homework while I make dinner and look after Brees.  My husband has worked on oil rigs
 in the Gulf of Mexico since Belle was born, traveling for work constantly and rarely home 
in the late afternoon homework hours.  He confided in me last night that one of the 
bright spots of his accident are that he can be home with us now, he can help his little 
girl learn her spelling words, watch her grow and change and develop.  Watching the two 
of them together, heads down and pencils sharpened: I can feel my soul beginning to 
heal from the trauma we have endured.  I can begin to see a purpose so much 
greater than us.    
015 016

Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Liv and Belle Cook: Enchiladas

Isabelle has grown up in a house where the kitchen is the main gathering place.  She 
has followed me around as I prepare our meals ever since she was a baby, sitting at my 
feet with a wooden spoon and a bowl, imitating my every move.  The sights and smells of 
the kitchen will surely fill her childhood memories as we spend much of our time 
together perfecting our own family recipes.  This summer, she became more involved in 
the process, learning new concepts and age appropriate techniques.  Here we share 
our recipe for beef and beans enchiladas.  This recipe was originally given to me by 
my cousin, April, and has become one of our favorites.


2 lbs of ground chuck
2 purple onions, chopped
2 green bell peppers, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
1/2 clove of garlic, minced
2 packets of enchilada seasoning mix
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cans of red enchilada sauce
1 can of green enchilada sauce
1 can of Rotel
10 flour tortillas
2 large cans of refried beans
Grated cheese of your choice 
(We like a blend of monterey, cheddar, and pepper jack)

Add ground beef, veggies, and enchilada seasoning to a large pot, brown meat and 
saute veggies.  Stir frequently.


Once meat is brown and veggies are soft, add enchilada sauce and Rotel.  
Cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes, stir frequently.
Warm refried beans in a side dish.  Heat tortillas until warm.  


Spread beans onto tortilla, spoon beef mixture onto tortilla, sprinkle with cheese, 
fold tortilla into a burrito-like shape.  Place enchiladas in a baking dish side 
by side.  Spoon leftover beef sauce over entire dish, sprinkle with cheese.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 15-20 minutes until bubbly.  

046 047 058-1

Serve your hungry family members who will surely be stalking your kitchen thanks to
the fantastic smells brewing about!


Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!