Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bringing Out The Kid Again

This weekend, the sun came out, our kids slept in until 8 each morning, and I told the
laundry to kiss off.  My cousin threw the most amazing carnival themed birthday party for
her two year old son, Graison, and she doesn't even have a Pinterest account.  There was
a petting zoo with a baby goat and pony rides, an inflatable jumper that reminded me to get
my butt back into the gym ASAP, and a balloon animal making clown that made Brees
cry every time she looked in our direction.  The adults had just as much fun as the
kids, holding an extremely competitive sack race that had the whole party laughing for
hours.  It was the sweetest little backyard extravaganza I've ever been to and I admire
my cousin so much for all her creativity and hard work.  Sunday afternoon brought this
year's first Mardi Gras parade and a BBQ tailgating party with my co-workers.  We caught
lots of beads and filled our bellies up with candy, all in the company of good friends.
Shawn and I couldn't help but reflect on how our definition of a "fun" weekend has
changed since becoming parents.  The first four years of our marriage, it was just the two of
us.  We partied in the big city until the wee hours of the morning, dancing and drinking
and wild hearts floating free.  I'm so thankful that we had that time, those years of
no responsibility, no worries or expectations.  Now, we experience fun times not just
through our own interests and emotions, but through the eyes of our girls as well.
Hearing them laugh, joining them as they scream, "Come jump with me, Mama!!": it brings
out the kid in you.  I've learned to let certain inhibitions go, not caring how ridiculous I look
as I hop along in a sack race but laughing instead because it's just so damn hilarious.
This family life: it's brought out good energy in us, made us more comfortable in who we
are.  I'm thankful for weekends like these, weekends where we let our hair down and enjoy
a good hot dog in the warm January sun.  It's the little things, you know?
008 019 024 029 031 036 220 222 040 paradeCollage Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Songs That Take You Places: One Headlight

I went through a terrible teen angst phase: brooding, scowling, black hair hanging over
my eyes so as to hide their disappoint in the world.  I smoked cigarettes and rolled my eyes
at everything, believing with every inch of my soul that there was so much more to life
than this bullshit small  town I was stuck in.  And my mother: Lord, did she get under my
skin.  Didn't she understand how clueless she sounded when she tried to give me advice
and point me in the right direction?  Why couldn't she recognize how soulfully enlightened
I was at the ripe old age of 15?  I was an old soul, after all, and could have cared less about
her views on boys, morals, and my future.  I had it all figured out, wrapped up in my
Kurt Cobain straight from the Goodwill cardigan.  Duh.
My mother worked directly across the street from my high school and was gracious enough
to give my ungrateful arse a ride to school every morning.  Our days started out with
her begging me to get out of bed so that she wouldn't be late for work, me grumbling
and refusing to eat a healthy breakfast, both of us rushing and raising our voices and
meeting up in the car with a big deep sigh.  I was mean to her at times: a sass mouthed
back talker with a bad attitude.  It wasn't my fault, as far as I was concerned, considering
she just DIDN'T GET IT.  I just wanted to be left alone, to sit in my little puddle of self
imposed sadness.  I wanted to listen to Alice In Chains in my bedroom and write long poems
in my journal.  I didn't want to tell her about my day, I didn't want to confide in her, and I
most certainly did not want to spend any more time than I absolutely had to in her
presence.  She was the enemy, the grown up, the one who gave me this nose I was so
self conscious about.  I hated her for this nose.
But all of that seemed to disappear on our rides to school in the morning.  That was OUR
time, our 15 minutes together without any interruptions.  She would smoke a few
cigarettes while I gazed out the window, both of us enjoying our last few moments of
peace before our day got started.  She was kind enough to put me in charge of the
radio, sighing to herself as I blasted Stone Temple Pilots and Pearl Jam as loud as I
could.  Some days we talked, others we rode in silence.  Just the two of us.
"One Headlight" by The Wallflowers was popular and played every single morning on our
way to school for like a month.  It reminded me of my boyfriend who had just moved an
hour away for college.  It made me miss him so much I could have cried, but I didn't because
I was so cold and guarded.  My mother loved it as well, singing along and giving me a
knowing nod when it came on.  She thought of it as "our song": Mama and her little
Cinderella.  It was one of those songs that took us somewhere, brought us
together, represented a time and an energy.  One of those songs that sticks with you.  
I eventually snapped out of my teenage emotional/hormonal hell and started treating
my mother with the love and respect she deserved, listening to "One Headlight" as I
prepared to leave home and make my own way in the world.  It took me back to her car,
the smell of her cigarettes mixed with her floral perfume, the rising sun on the horizon as
we sailed towards school.  She used to write me letters when I was in the Navy and she
always signed them, "I love you forever and always, my Cinderella", referencing the song
that had become a part of our story together.  Every time I heard it, it made me miss her
like crazy, my heart now big and open and willing to cry because I would have given
anything to be back in that car again.  Just the two of us.  
As I was driving home from work yesterday, "One Headlight" came on the radio.  This time,
I was alone, on my way to pick up my own kids from school after a hard day's work.
I immediately thought of her, and us, and I couldn't help but hear the song in a totally
different light.  Yesterday, I heard the song as she once did: a mom who loves her
daughters more than herself, a woman with hopes and dreams and a free spirit of her own,
a daughter who feels blessed to have such an amazing mother in her life.  My mother
was around my age now when she used to drive me to school and listen to that song, a
thought that amazes me at the ripe old age of 33.  And as I listened to the lyrics, I heard it
the way SHE must have.  
"Hey, come on try a little
Nothing is forever
There's got to be something better than
In the middle
But me & Cinderella
We put it all together
We can drive it home
With one headlight"
It wasn't the sad breakup song I was hearing, pining away after a boy who left me for
higher education.  It was her song to me and my teen drama, a song about waking up and
trying harder and knowing that this too shall pass.  She knew that, one day, I would cheer
up and become the woman I am today.  She put up with my ugly attitude, my
dramatic breakdowns, and my disrespectful disposition because she knew that, together,
we could drive it home.  With one headlight, we made it through that time, those
years, together.  
I love you, Mama.

Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Growing Pains

What is it about two year olds?  

How quickly our sweet, cuddly, easy to please babies transform into demanding
and opinionated toddlers.  The two year old version of Brees knows what she wants and 
works really hard to communicate her needs to you, sometimes in a not so nice sort of 
way.    She often speaks of herself as though she is the supreme ruler of our household, 
saying things like, "No, Mama!  Brees go outside!  Brees no go night night!" or "No, no!  That 
is Brees' cup!  Sissy no touch Bree's cup!".  Then she gives you the look: the one that says 
"If you cross me, you will suffer!!".
We try really hard to just be patient with our little dictator, understanding that so much of
her frustration lies in the fact that she can not efficiently communicate her emotions and
so she lashes out instead.  We try to redirect her attention when she gets upset and
unruly, even when this means literally having to pick her up, limbs flailing everywhere,
and carrying her to another room.  I try to keep my voice calm, quiet, and soothing
even though I am usually drowned out by the sounds of her "NOOOOOOO!!".  I remind
myself to lock up the crayons for good every time I find new drawings on the wall courtesy
of my little Picaso.  Shawn builds new barricades weekly to keep her off the staircase,
but somehow our little MacGyver finds another way up.  She is determined and stubborn,
just like her parents, and she makes us both laugh and cry with her antics.
But, eventually, she always gives in, raising her little arms and reaching for me, "Hold
Brees, Mama!".  And I pick her up, hold her close, and hum "Twinkle Twinkle", her
favorite song, into her ear.  And she gives in, forgetting whatever it was she was
screaming about.  I have to hand it to her: though she can be a drama queen, she gets
over things really quickly.  Before we know it, she's up and about and playing again, the
tears and heartache gone and forgotten.  She's back to being her sweet and cuddly self,
sharing and being a kind and loving girl.  And I hold onto those moments and let them carry
me through the tantrums.  I remind myself that we all have bad days, bad hours, bad
minutes.  Life as a two year old can be tough as our little toddler attempts to navigate the
world and make her mark along the way.  But we love her so much, it makes all the
"terrible" times pass pretty quickly. 
025-1 027-2 026-2 

Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Rain, Rain, Go Away

We're having a particularly hard winter here in Louisiana, hard by our standards anyway.
The temperatures have been in the lower 30s since Christmas and it has rained every
single day for the last two weeks.  Not just a few sparse showers, but flash floods, hail,
sleet, and thunderstorms that go on for hours.  Schools were closed down due to ice on
the roads, we had no internet and have been stuck indoors.  I have come to realize that my
high school dream of living in Seattle and marrying Eddie Vedder could most definitely
never be a reality as I am just not cut out for this cold, wet weather.  Shawn is so relieved.
The good thing about this kind of weather, though, is the togetherness we have experienced
as a result.  We've watched all our favorite movies, baked brownies and had breakfast
for dinner, slept all together in the big bed for warmth, and slowed down to a really lazy
pace.  It has been peaceful and quiet here and for that I am grateful.  I've just ordered
"The Night Circus" and "Gone Girl", two books I've been told are must reads.  Is
there anything better than lounging in your sweats on a rainy day with a good book?
I think not.  Maybe this weather isn't so bad after all...
012 015

Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!

Thursday, January 10, 2013



Eating...stuffed cabbage rolls using this recipe.  One of my favorite patients has the
biggest, most amazing garden I have ever seen.  He gives me big bags of veggies every time
I go to see him and for that I am truly grateful.  This week, he gave me a gigantic head
of cabbage as well as a pound of ground venison from the deer he hunted this year.  I
decided to combine this collection of homegrown goodness and try my hand at cabbage
rolls.  They were delicious, hearty, and a real crowd pleaser.  Score.
Reading...this list of moments that restored our faith in humanity this year.
This list of albums that are all now 20 years old.  Out of this list of 29, I was only missing
3 from my collection: Mariah Carey, Archers of Loaf, and Stereolab.  The caption at
the beginning of this list reads "Sorry if this makes you feel totally ancient".  Yeah, it
doesn't.  It makes me feel f*cking awesome and blessed beyond belief to have been
a teenager during this epic time in music.  Long live the grunge!!!
This adorable pregnancy announcement.
This article on motherhood and why we're not failing.
This awesome list of songs and the moments they remind you of.  (Vanessa, see the list
of 29 above).
"Tell The Wolves I'm Home" by Carol Rifka Brunt.  Amazing so far.
Considering...a new hairdo.  But, I'm a chicken so it probably won't happen.  My long
hair and I are best friends, we go way back, we make each other comfortable.  Maybe
a different color?  Could I be a redhead?
Missing...the outdoors.  It's been raining here for 10 straight days.  Louisiana is quite
a miserable place to be in January.  It's cold and rainy and we are cooped up indoors and
we are not happy about it.  But then February comes with its warmer temps and peeks
of sunshine and Mardi Gras parades and the world gets a little bit brighter again.  

Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Our Word For 2013

Last year, I was inspired my Vanessa's idea to focus on a word in lieu of a New
Year's resolution.  Our word was "grow" and we seriously put it to good use.  We 
grew financially by creating a reasonable budget and sticking to it.  We grew in our 
health habits by eating clean and working out at least 3 times a week.  The real growth 
came after Shawn's accident, though.  We realized how strong we actually are, grew in 
our love and appreciation for each other.  We grew in our faith and became more 
inspired than ever before.
After a long six months, we are determined to get our groove back in 2013.  
This year, our word is "rebuild".
1.  We hope to continue rebuilding our finances.  By sticking to a consistent monthly
budget, doing away with all credit cards, and paying off our medical bills, we can ensure
that we're not just working to pay bills: we are working to save money and
spend responsibly.  We recently traded in our big gas guzzling GMC truck for a Toyota
Prius and love it!  Not only did we reduce our monthly car payment but we are saving
a fortune on gas money.  We are currently in the process of refinancing our house,
taking advantage of the currently low interest rates to reduce our monthly
mortgage payment.  The money we are saving by reducing our car payment, gas
mileage, and mortgage is considerable.  This extra dough will be going straight to savings
for future emergencies, travel, and the occasional fun splurge.  By paying off debt,
reducing our monthly spending, and improving our credit scores, we will be on a
positive road to financial freedom in 2013.
2.  We hope to rebuild our hobbies and social life.  We've been lying low the last few
months, really low, but our adventurous spirits are itching to be set free.  This year, we
hope to get back into the big bright world better than ever.  I have a few adventures in
mind like another trip to the beach, a camping trip or two, and fun little day trips as a
family.  We plan to rebuild our creative interests: more scrapbooking and journaling,
photo projects, and DIY home improvements.  I am so excited to get back into the
things that make us smile.
3.  This year, we are rebuilding our future.  Our long term goals have changed, the plans
we once had have been modified.  Because of his injuries, Shawn will never be able to work
in his field again, the damage in his left hand is too severe and has rendered him unable
to perform his job the way that he used to.  We've had time to mourn this fact,
we've processed it and accepted the reality that Shawn must start over professionally
and find a new path.  Now, as we look forward, we are excited that he has been given
this opportunity, this second chance.  This year, Shawn will rebuild his future by going
back to school and fostering his passion for helping and counseling those in need.  This
year, he will begin his journey to become a social worker.  I believe with every fiber of
my being that all of this happened for a reason, that Shawn was meant to do
something different than what he was doing.  Years from now, I believe that we will
look back and realize that if the accident had not happened, then certain other
key components of our lives would not have taken form.  It's all part of a circle, a series
of actions put into place to create something amazing.  I can't wait to see what is
in store.
4.  This year, we hope to continue rebuilding our emotional strength and health.  We
have come so far as a family and I can only hope that we continue to grow.  I can't
imagine living my life with anyone else other than Shawn, Belle, and Brees by my side.
I hope to live each day to its fullest this year, enjoying each season and learning every step
of the way.  The rebuilding process is long and arduous at times, it can be a bit daunting if
I look too far ahead.  But it is exciting as well, inspiring to think of what lies ahead.
Here's to you, 2013, a year hopefully filled with peace, love, and serenity.

Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!

Friday, January 4, 2013

What A Long Strange Trip It's Been


We stepped into 2012 inspired by the word "grow".  We spent most of January 
taking photos, hanging out in the back yard, going to the museum, and 
playing mama.


In February, we celebrated Mardi Gras, went big for Valentine's Day, my pumping 
days came to an end, and the girls danced their hearts out.


We spent the entire month of March outdoors.  We gardened, played in the dirt, went 
hiking, field tripped, drew on the sidewalk.  I shared 11 things, redefined my values
and Brees went exploring.


In April, we celebrated Isabelle's 8th birthday with the best slumber party ever.  We 
spent time with family over Easter weekend, had a big Easter Sunday dinner, and 
Isabelle made her first Communion.  Spring break was refreshing, and I shared some 
baby steps to a happy, healthy heart here, here, and here.


May was for family, Mother's Day, and being enough.  We had our very own 
Griswold Family moment, Isabelle reflected on the second grade, Shawn and I had our 
first date night in forever, we opened up our pool for summer, and hit the safari park for 
an end of school celebration.


In June, our lives were turned upside down.  Shawn was almost killed in a 
horrific accident and we spent over three weeks in a hospital in Las Vegas.  The 
entire month was a blur as we focused every ounce of our energy into bringing 
him back to life.


July brought us on a 26 hour car ride home to Louisiana, finally reunited with our 
daughters after weeks away while Shawn recovered in the hospital.  We were so blessed 
to be surrounded by family and friends, they even made my 33rd birthday incredible 
despite all the heartache we were experiencing.  The separation forced me to 
wean Brees and we all worked really hard to move on and begin our lives again.


August was a blur of doctor's appointments, work commitments, and survival.  
Isabelle started the third grade, cousins came to visit, Hurricane Isaac hit Louisiana, 
and I focused on the power of the positive when Shawn went back into the hospital and 
our world seemed to be falling apart.


September brought better health and big accomplishments, we all began to wake from 
the fog of the accident and learned to strum again.  We celebrated life with the 
best girlfriends a girl could ever ask for, football season started, and Shawn and I fell 
even deeper for each other after 12 years of marriage.


In October, we stepped out in the cooler weather for family time and best friends, 
enjoyed our annual family costume party, picked out pumpkins, and cheered on a 
cheering Isabelle.  Brees had surgery and we went trick or treating.


November brought Veteran's Day and Election Day and we were so excited!  We 
celebrated year 2 of our baby Brees: the explorer and little sister.  We had a 
Yo Gabba Gabba party with lots of cousins and gifts.  We escaped to the beach 
for Thanksgiving and found our inner peace again.


December was for Advent traditions, school plays, Christmas cards, and
decking the halls.  My best friend came to visit and Shawn and I moved forward
after hearing disappointing news.  We celebrated Christmas and savored every moment
of this blessed holiday.
What a year this has been, so many twists and turns and lessons learned.  As I look back
on all that we have been through and the many ways in which we have grown, I can not
help but feel ridiculously happy.  And grateful.  And blessed.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Magical Morning

I woke up very early on Christmas morning, eager to get dinner started so that I could
spend time with the girls and all their new toys.  I made a honey glazed ham, green
bean casserole, cornbread dressing, and homemade macaroni and cheese.  I had coffee
ready and the tea kettle whistling, cinnamon rolls in the oven and "Miracle On 34th
Street" playing by the time everyone made their way down the stairs.  Isabelle dove
into Christmas morning head first, her little girl squeals echoing through the house.
Brees was a sleepy little baby, snuggling up close until she noticed the big car with the
red bow on it waiting for her under the tree.  She screamed, jumped into the driver's
seat, and took off for a wild ride around the house.  She kept herself so busy with her new
car that she didn't bother opening any of her other presents for the next hour or so.  We
took our time, opening gifts, eating breakfast, enjoying our morning together.  Despite
the fact that I ordered everyone NOT to buy me any gifts, Shawn gave me the
most beautiful watch.  He got extra kisses under the mistletoe for that sweet surprise.
Our family started trickling in mid-morning, the kids showing each other their gifts
and swapping candy.  It was such a great day, a day where I looked around the table and
felt so grateful for all the love we have in our lives.  There was so much laughter, good
food and treats around every corner.  Belle even lent me her angel halo to wear: "You're
an angel today, Mama".
This year, Christmas was a little bit smaller than we are used to.  Our gatherings were a
little more intimate, everything moving just a little bit slower.  After the year we've had,
it seemed fitting that we should trade in the usual big parties for more low key
affairs, enabling us to spend time with each other and really drink in the moment.  It was
a magical, spiritual week and the perfect end to 2012.
064 082 076 067 074 080 075-1 081 083 088 093 097-1 

Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!