Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Leap Of Faith

Shawn and I are leaving for Houston in the morning to meet with the orthopedic specialist 
who will perform the surgery on the injured tendon in his arm.  We are still very unsure of 
the details surrounding this surgery but we will hopefully learn more tomorrow.  I've spent 
the whole afternoon packing and organizing and making sure that everyone has what they 
will need to get us through the next week only to laugh at myself and my overpacking, my 
only way to control a situation I have absolutely no control over.  Can you ever really 
prepare for life's uncertainties?  No, not really.  You can prepare your mind by remaining 
calm and level headed.  You can prepare your heart by vowing to be of service to those 
in need.  You can prepare your emotions by opening yourself up fully to the faith you 
have built your life on.  For we are strong enough.  We have all been given the tools we 
will need to get through this life, we have all been surrounded by the people who were meant 
to be in our lives for specific reasons.  We just have to believe in ourselves and the journey 
we were chosen for, we have to believe in the destiny we were chosen to fulfill.  I have 
no control over what will happen to my husband in the next few days.  But, I don't 
need control.  Not this time.  This time, I know what we are capable of.  This time, I know 
that we are strong enough.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

30 Weeks

This week was exhausting, both physically and emotionally.  Daily trips to doctors
and specialists, my work schedule, and keeping everyone happy and together resulted in
very little sleep for either Shawn or I.  But we made it through.  We received confirmation
on Friday that Shawn will definitely be having surgery in the next two weeks to repair
a ruptured tendon in his arm.  We will be traveling to Houston for the surgery: Shawn, my
big belly, and I.  Shawn spent most of the week worrying more about my health than his
own: urging me to rest, making sure I ate, making me a cup of tea and comforting my
worried heart.  That's what married people do, little baby: they worry more about each
other than themselves, they take care of one another, they cheer each other on.  And
your Daddy sure has gone above and beyond to put the needs of his wife and his baby
before his own, even in his hour of need.
I will be honest and say that the lack of sleep and overexertion took a toll on me: I have
been more tired and sore this week, my body slowing down regardless of how much I tried
to push myself.  We devoted our entire weekend to resting and relaxing, taking naps and
eating meals hand delivered by our loving family.  We barely left the house, instead
wrapping ourselves up in bed and allowing our bodies to heal.  The rest felt so good, the
stress of the week slowly disappearing as I cuddled up with my family and my
pregnancy pillow.  Shawn hugged me before bed last night, "You're so cuddly right now.  I
love you like this".  To a woman who sometimes feels as though her body has taken on a life
of her own, those words filled up my whole heart.  He loves me like this, and I love him.
We are off to our next adventure, hopefully the last surgery for a very long time.  Shawn
is more motivated than ever to get through this and heal completely.  He has a son who's just
a few months away.  I can't think of better motivation to get through this than that.
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Thursday, June 20, 2013

We Stood Tall

We've been in the thick of things around these parts.  I've had a blanket of worry hanging
over me for the last 3 days and it hit me this afternoon that I need to release it, I need to 
write.  I need to let go of the words flooding my mind and maybe, just maybe, they will 
all begin to make sense.
To make an incredibly long story short, we found out this week that, due to a new
injury, Shawn will most likely have to have surgery again in the next few weeks.  The surgery
is relatively minor though it will involve some down time and a 6-8 week recovery period.
He will have to have a damaged tendon repaired in his bicep, a surgery everyone ensures us
is small potatoes compared to what he's already been through.  We are unsure of when
or where this will take place, there is a chance we will have to travel for the surgery due to
the need of a specialist to perform it.  We have spent the week on the phone, in waiting
rooms, having X-rays and MRIs performed: all things we have grown extremely accustomed
to over the last year.  I've advocated for my beloved husband to doctors and nurses
and technicians, begging them to pay attention and hurry the fuck up.  Time is precious
here, he is precious.  This can't wait for insignificant factors such as referrals and
insurance technicalities: this needs to happen now.
Shawn is, despite this turn of events, doing magnificently well.  He is healthy and happy
and remaining fearless despite this setback.  He is carrying our family on his
shoulders, bringing us through this storm with his optimism.  "We've been through so
much worse, we can't give up now".  I can't say that I've been so gracious.  I am thinking
about all of the details: how long will I have to take off work, who will keep the girls if we
have to travel, what about all of the preparations we still have to make for the baby, will he
still be recovering when the baby gets here?  These thoughts, these worries, my own
selfish needs have been getting in the way of my heart just filling up with faith.  Because
you can't just have faith and be strong and positive during the good times: you have to be all
of these things during the bad as well.  Especially during the bad.
But I am 30 weeks pregnant and my body and mind are moving inward, I am beginning
the instinctual process of nesting, my subconscious mind forcing me to slow down and
really begin focusing on the work of laboring and birthing this baby.  This upcoming
surgery and its aftermath: it is not something I had planned to occur in my last trimester
of pregnancy.  And I would be a complete liar if I didn't admit that my head has actually
gone there: I've actually allowed myself to be selfish enough to think that way.  To
think, "Who's going to take care of me?  How can I care for someone else when I'm in such
a vulnerable place myself?  Am I strong enough to do this again?".  But then, last night,
Brees woke up crying and needed to be comforted back to sleep.  Shawn hopped out of bed
and went up the stairs to her rescue, leaving me to rest in the bed we have shared for 13
years.  When he came back to my side after putting our youngest daughter back to sleep,
he laid his head against my belly, his arm wrapped around me, and every selfish thought
left me in a wave of relief.  In sickness and in health, we will be there for each other.  We
will help each other in every way that we can and we will pull through this time in which we
are both so fragile.  This is what marriage is all about, this is what makes our love so strong.
We don't have all of the answers right now, we are unsure of what the next few weeks will
hold.  But, we are sure of one true thing: we will make it through, together.  We have
good doctors, an amazing family, and faith in a God who has never steered us wrong.
Shawn's surgery will hopefully happen soon, involve no complications, and he will be
fully healed in time to cradle his newborn baby son.  His first son.  I will remain healthy
and strong enough to take care of things while my husband is down.  I will not be afraid, I
will not obsess over things beyond my control, I will not worry about a situation that I
know we will persevere through.  Shawn is so strong, he has proven that a million
times already.  And though it is in my nature to be in control and prepared at all times, I
will not worry about the little things.  I will ask for help when needed and I will let the
small stuff go.  We are as prepared as we have ever been to welcome our baby into the
world, surgery or not.  I really don't think he'll mind if I don't get around to hanging up the
rest of the art work in his nursery or  if I don't finish my pregnancy scrapbook to
perfection.  The only thing that matters is that we get through this time with gracious
spirits and hearts filled with love.  That is how we will survive this.
I cried on my way home from work today, big fat tears of frustration and exhaustion.
This song by Mumford and Sons came on the radio and I knew that they were singing to
me.  These words embody so much of what we are experiencing, they encouraged me in
so many ways:
And after the storm,
I run and run as the rains come
And I look up, I look up,
on my knees and out of luck,
I look up.
Night has always pushed up day
You must know life to see decay
But I won't rot, I won't rot
Not this mind and not this heart,
I won't rot.
And I took you by the hand
And we stood tall,
And remembered our own land,
What we lived for.
And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.
And now I cling to what I knew
I saw exactly what was true
But oh no more.
That's why I hold,
That's why I hold with all I have.
That's why I hold.
And I won't die alone and be left there.
Well I guess I'll just go home,
Oh God knows where.
Because death is just so full and man so small.
Well I'm scared of what's behind and what's before.
And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.
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Saturday, June 15, 2013

29 Weeks

This week has flown by, so quickly in fact that I almost forgot that I was 29 weeks
pregnant.  Who has time to ponder on such epic events as finally arriving to the third
trimester and reaching the point where I am now peeing every 30 minutes?  Not
me, apparently.  But I promise, dear baby boy, to set aside at least these next 10
minutes to reflect on what a whirlwind week it has been here in my muddled pregnant brain.
I am carrying very low this pregnancy, much more so than I did with the girls.  I can
literally feel the baby shift and squirm and rest his growing body against my aching
round ligaments.  My bladder never feels empty and I am waddling already.  My patients
know that the first thing I am going to ask them when I walk into their houses is, "May I
please use your restroom?".  Thank goodness for Southern hospitality.  Yoga and daily
walks have become my saving grace as stretching out my muscles and aching joints seems
to be the best remedy.  I can't wait to see how big this baby is actually going to be.
I bought myself the pregnancy pillow of all pregnancy pillows this week: the Bump Nest
body pillow.  I grew tired of hearing myself complain about not sleeping well and decided
to splurge a little on something to remedy my uncomfortable sleeping situation.  This
pillow and I: we are soul mates, best friends, life long companions.  This pillow is seriously
a big, comfortable, indulgent nest that I never want to climb out of.  Never mind that it
takes up half of our king size bed and completely excludes my husband from any and all
night time cuddling: I haven't slept this well in months!!  Baby boy and I now climb into
bed, wrap up in the nest, and sleep 100 times better than we did before.  We'll be back to
our regularly scheduled husband/wife cuddling later, babe.  Well, after all the night
time breast feeding and baby rocking and cosleeping, that is.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Year That Changed It All

This week marked the one year anniversary of Shawn's accident: an event that was 
completely life changing in every way.

After his accident, Shawn had to relearn how to live his life: he had to teach himself to
perform simple, everyday tasks, how to move forward with the use of only one hand.
He sustained very severe nerve damage, the extent of which we are still uncertain.
Nerve regeneration is an extremely slow and arduous process and every one of
Shawn's doctors advised us to be patient: his recovery would take years and he would
more than likely never regain complete use of his left hand.
Because the slow process of his recovery could feel frustrating, because he sometimes felt
like he wasn't getting anywhere despite all of his hard work, we started capturing little
videos of his progress.  We grabbed our Iphones, our camera, our computer, whatever
was handy and we filmed each and every little milestone.  We cheered when he learned to
tie his shoes again, folded his own shirt, lugged full trash cans with one arm and picked up
our little girls.  We documented each and every hurdle that this amazing man jumped
through, each week bringing bigger and better things.
And now, one year later, he stands before us stronger, more determined, completely
inspiring and full of life.  He was given a second chance at life and he took it and ran with it.
He beat the odds, not by chance or good fortune but through hard work and perseverance.  
It wasn't easy and we were not without struggle.  We experienced every emotion,
felt powerless, hopeless, and full of despair.  We questioned our future and if we could
weather this particularly gruesome storm.  When a person loses who they are, when
every single part of their soul is stripped and they feel as though they would have been
better off dead, it is heart wrenching.  I had to accept that there was nothing I could do but
just be there: I couldn't fix him, I couldn't give him all the answers.  All I could offer was
my shoulder to lean on, my time and my heart.  Just my support and love had to be
enough.  And now, looking back, I see that he felt the same way.  He couldn't be the man to
me that he once was, he had to redefine himself and the ways in which he fulfilled the
various roles in his life.  But he was there for me, he was present, he showed me that he
wasn't going to give up.  And all that hard work and love and effort was enough.  It was all
I ever needed.
He once told me, "Everyone has always looked at me as a positive person, full of faith and
not afraid of anything.  Now, they get to see me live that.  They get to see that attitude
in action".  His outlook on life is one of the millions of reasons why I love him.  I still
think about that day in the desert, I'm not sure that I will ever forget it.  I thank God
every single day for sparing my soul one's life, for allowing me this time with him, for giving
us this second chance.  We are so blessed to know this kind of love and we do not take that
for granted.  Not ever.  Life is precious and, when lived with the knowledge that it can in fact
be taken from you at any given moment, it is beautiful.  Here's to second chances, to
starting over, and to making the most of each and every experience.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

28 Weeks

I feel like the heat and humidity of summer really kicked in this week, leaving my
pregnant body hot and weary.  With Belle out of school, both girls are spending most of
their days home with Shawn this summer.  This means that I can wake up for work and
leave right away while everyone is still in bed, no little ones to get ready in the morning.
I've been using this luxury to its full advantage by getting started with my work day
super early: 7 am most days.  These early starts mean that I can make it home around 1
pm, before the heat of the day gets too overwhelming.  Most of my sweet little patients are
of the age where air conditioning is not a necessity despite the 90 degree Louisiana heat.
My hormones are left in an outrage as I sweat through my day, traveling from house to
house, smiling despite the fact that my uniform is soaked through and through.  No one
said being pregnant through the summer would be easy.
The consolation prize: I get home early and we all spend the afternoon in the swimming pool.
I float in the water with a big glass of tea while my growing baby kicks and squirms under
my meant-for-family-members'-eyes-only bikini.  I am so thankful to have these long
summer days together before little brother gets here: to rest and bond and enjoy this slow
time before things pick up in the fall.  
I've been eating great but sleeping terribly.  My appetite is not as ferocious as it was for
the first half of pregnancy and I crave cucumbers and cantaloupe on the daily.  I wake up
4-5 times a night and have been getting terrible leg cramps that wake both Shawn and I
up nightly.  He says he doesn't remember me having so much trouble sleeping when I
was pregnant for the girls, I say I'm too tired to remember that far back.  We both say that
this little boy is a night owl and these restless nights are just in preparation of what's to
come when he gets here.  But the infant stage, it is so short and fleeting in hindsight.  Who
cares about losing a little sleep when you have that snuggly little love all curled up by your side?
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Thursday, June 6, 2013

What To Do With All Those Veggies

Remember our humble little raised bed garden we built and planted this spring?  Well,
who knew that such a small area could produce so much?!  Our garden, thanks in large part
to our productive native soil and the amazing weather and sunshine here in Louisiana,
is literally overflowing with veggies.  I have been giving away green goodies to all
my neighbors, stocking up our freezer, and cooking up a storm with this overabundance
of squash, zucchini, eggplant, cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes.  Not a bad deal, right?
I've been Pinteresting my little heart out and collecting tons of recipes to try and my family
is reaping the benefits.  Today, I'm sharing two super easy recipes that were a big hit and
made great use of a productive week in the garden.

What to do with all those cucumbers:

Bread and butter pickles

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Bianca shared this recipe with me and it is amazing!  We have been picking 10-12
cucumbers out of our garden daily and this pickle recipe was the perfect way to utilize
them all.  Plus, I'm pregnant.  And anything with the word "pickle" in it sounds appetizing.  
Here's what you'll need:
5 1/2 cups thinly sliced pickling cucumbers (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 cup thinly sliced onion 
1 cup sugar
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
I also added two banana peppers, sliced and 1 cayenne pepper, sliced for some added Louisiana style flavor

1.  Thinly slice cucumbers.

2. Combine cucumbers and salt in a large bowl, cover, refrigerate for 1 1/2 hours.


3. Remove cucumbers from fridge, rinse with cold water, drain, return to bowl, add onion 
and peppers, return to fridge.


4. Combine remaining ingredients in a medium sized pot on the stove.  Simmer over 
medium heat, stir often to allow sugar to dissolve.  Once sugar is dissolved, remove 
mixture from heat and pour over cucumbers in bowl.


5.  Allow cucumbers and vinegar mixture to cool at room temperature for about an 
hour.  Cover and return to refrigerator for 24 hours.  After 24 hours, serve your 
delicious pickles with any dish you wish!  This dish may be stored in an airtight container 
in your fridge for up to 2 weeks.  I used mason jars to store mine and they look so pretty 
and appetizing in my fridge!  Enjoy!


What to do with all those squash and zucchinni:

Baked squash and zucchini parmesean

A coworker shared this recipe with me and we have literally eaten it every night this week.
It is so simple and packed with flavor!

Here's what you'll need:
1 pound of squash or zucchini or both
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 Parmesan cheese
1.  Slice squash and zucchini into thin slices, place in a foil lined pan, coat with olive oil.

2.  Mix bread crumbs and Parmesean cheese in a separate bowl. Sprinkle mixture over 
veggies, covering them as much as possible.


3.  Place pan of veggies in oven, bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes or until 
golden brown.


4.  Sprinkle with a little cheddar/Monterrey Jack cheese mixture right before pulling pan 
out of oven, allowing cheese to melt on top of veggies.  Serve right away for maximum 


5.  Attempt to take a finished product photo for your blog before your children devour 
your  dish.  Fail miserably.  Take it as a compliment.  Be thankful your kids eat their 
veggies.  The end.

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Dancing and Praise

This weekend was Isabelle's 6th dance recital, a chance for us to sit back and witness all of 
the hard work our little girl has put into her talent this year.  She performed a classical 
ballet piece and a tap routine and we could not have been more proud.  Isabelle loves 
to perform, she is completely calm and cool under pressure and you can tell while 
watching her how much she truly loves being on that stage.  Brees was mesmerized as 
she watched her big sister up on stage.  She waved and called out to her from the 
audience, "Sissy!!  Sissy!!", Isabelle's own personal cheering squad.  She earned a new 
trophy to add to her growing collection and a ton of compliments and well wishes from 
her teacher and peers.  I only cried a little bit, wiping my proud mama tears away as my 
little girl twirled and pranced around the stage, her technique much improved since last 
year.  She was awesome, in every single way, and I just love her so.  

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After recital, we made our way over to my cousin's high school graduation party: a 
gathering of our big family on the back porch with tons of food, good dancing music, and 
the best company you could hope for on a Saturday night.  We danced and danced, took 
turns swinging kids, and ate to our hearts' content.  The little cousins entertained each 
other for hours and I stole away for a few slow dances with my husband.  By the time we 
got home, it was almost midnight and we were all delirious.  So many milestones take place 
this time of year: graduations and weddings and showers and ceremonies.  It's a time of 
year that feels full of possibility, new beginnings, farewells and welcome homes.  It's a time 
to reflect on the power of hard work and dedication and to come together with the ones 
you love to say job well done.  And this family, well, we love any excuse to get together 
and celebrate the ones we love!

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Saturday, June 1, 2013

27 Weeks

I went into nesting overdrive this week.  Throughout this pregnancy, I've been telling
myself that we wouldn't worry about decorating the nursery until much later down the
road.  The baby will be with Shawn and I for quite a while and so I didn't see any point
in spending all of the time, money, and energy in decorating now.  We would wait until
later before fully committing to switching the girls and all of their belongings around.
And then I woke up in a cold sweat on Sunday night: what was I thinking?!!  I'm not that
kind of person!!  I'm not relaxed and go with the flow when it comes to anything involving
life changing events!!  We've got to get ready for this baby: NOW!
And so I spent the rest of the week rearranging furniture, cleaning out closets,
Pinteresting away (I sincerely apologize to all of you who follow me on Pinterest for
clogging up your feeds this week with baby decor), and ordering new bedding and art
work.  We have decided, after much discussion and debate, that the two little kids will share
a room and Isabelle will keep her own room.  We originally thought of putting the two
girls together but, with their 6 year age difference, realized this would be a drama filled
reality in the near future.  Instead, we will de-feminize Brees' room quite a bit and make it
a gender neutral nursery space with a circus theme.  We will keep the wall color as it is
now: pale yellow.  I've ordered bedding for little man's crib and new curtains.  I've found
art work to put up on the currently butterfly and flowery themed walls and I am so excited
to start putting this vision into action.  And with all of these decisions made and
packages arriving on the doorstep, I find myself getting more and more excited.
I have felt really great this week, with the exception of some round ligament pain.  I find
my appetite decreasing as my belly size increases.  Thanks to our luscious backyard garden,
I am filling up on cucumbers and squash to my heart's content.  It was a good week, a busy
one.  Here's to nesting and all of the insanity that comes along with it! 

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