Sunday, December 20, 2009

Forgot this one!


Couldn't leave this one out. The joy of teaching kindergarten!

Thanksgiving
























































It occurred to me when I woke up today that it was almost Christmas and I still haven’t blogged about Thanksgiving! Whoops…I guess time has gotten away from me and I am a little behind in my chronicles! Thanksgiving was a little different this year in that it was the first year that we did not get to celebrate it with our families. However it still was a wonderful day with special friends and reflection on the many blessings of this past year. The weekend before Thanksgiving I was able to go home for a short visit. Unfortunately I had a somewhat traumatic experience when my flight was canceled and I was stranded at the Shreveport airport. Thankfully my sweet husband came to my rescue and left work immediately because his wife had an “emergency”. He tried to cheer me up by taking me to see New Moon that night (which ended up being terrible). Apparently my brain was not thinking when I agreed to this because it was opening weekend so we were surrounded by teeny boppers screaming and crying and we had to sit on the VERY front row. Oh well, it was definitely a night to remember. I finally was able to get a flight and arrived in Greenville late the next day to catch the tail end of the Pirate’s game. I was very proud of my mom who drove all by herself to the airport to get me and didn’t even get lost! The next several days were spent seeing lots of friends, hanging out with family, and of course eating enormous amounts of food. I headed back to Shreveport on Wednesday to see my sweet husband who had been working the whole time I was gone as well as our wonderful friends the Coxes, who were coming to celebrate Thanksgiving with us. We started off the visit by eating at Strawn’s Eat Too shop. This is a little local place that has been featured numerous times in Southern Living Magazine….very yummy pies! After that me and Marianne left the kids with the guys and stocked up on some groceries. I was thrilled to have Marianne around because I had never cooked a Thanksgiving meal and I knew I would need some guidance! I woke up the next morning to an amazing sight. Marianne (in her pajamas) was leaning all on that raw turkey with her hands pulling all sorts of stuff out. To quote her “I already took the neck off. I’m just looking for the giblets!” I decided right then that if I ever had to do that I would never eat another bit of turkey again. The morning passed quickly with cooking and Krispy Kreme donuts. The food turned out great and the only catastrophes were Marianne blowing up an egg in the microwave and me pouring gravy off the stove onto my hand. Ouch! The egg turned out to be a big blessing for me because Marianne felt the need to clean my entire microwave. What an awesome friend! Overall I was pretty pleased with how our meal turned out. That afternoon we went to a local park. The kids and Joe played football while Marianne and I tried to walk off the calories from lunch. The next couple days were filled with fun times: shopping at the boardwalk, Bionicle movie dates with Hayden, baking cookies with Madeline, decorating the house for Christmas, and quality time with friends. Thanks so much for coming Cox family. We love you! As we went around the table on Thanksgiving Day and spoke about what we were most thankful for this year I was reminded of how many blessings we have been given. Specifically I am thankful for the health and relationships I have with my family, wonderful friends, being settled in our new house, and Ryan matching into a specialty that he is excited about. This year has definitely been one of the craziest yet, and as it winds down I am so grateful for all that God has blessed us with as well as how He is shaping our lives according to His plan. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween Happenings











A couple of weeks before Halloween our next-door neighbor came over to chat and forewarned us that we may have a lot of trick or treaters. Well I was thrilled because I love seeing kids dressed up. I didn’t want to be “that couple” that didn’t give out good candy or ran out so I made Ryan go with me to Target a whole week in advance to stock up. Of course this meant that we both ate candy all week long! Anyway so we were eagerly anticipating our trick or treaters Saturday night. However about thirty minutes after seeing kids up and down the street we started to wonder why no one was coming to our house. Gosh they must really have something against NC people! The kids would look right at our door and keep going. Finally I decided to step outside and see what was going on because I was determined to get rid of this candy. Apparently things are a little different down here in the bayou. Trick or Treaters do not come to your door. You are supposed to set up chairs/tables and sit outside in your driveway for them to come to you. Several of our neighbors were also grilling out but that was a little too much for us to deal with. So Ryan drug out our chairs and we bundled up to pass out candy. I wasn’t able to pass out all of it but we at least made a dent in it. People here really take Halloween seriously. They were riding up and down the street in golf carts, 4 wheelers, and truck beds and there were a lot of them. Our youngest trick or treater was 5 weeks old and they went up from there. It was fun to get to meet some more people from our neighborhood. Early that day Ryan convinced me to go buy a wig so we could dress up as a somewhat famous couple. I’ll let you figure out who we are! We also felt left out because every single house was more decorated than ours for Halloween so we splurged and bought a fall wreath. It wasn’t as cool as the inflatable pumpkin the person across the street had but oh well. Overall it was a pretty interesting first Halloween in Shreveport but definitely a little different than good ole NC.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

http://www.maggieleeforgood.org/

http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/maggieleehenson

Maggie Lee For Good



As soon as we moved to Shreveport we began visiting different churches. One thing that’s good about being in the bible belt is there are lots to chose from! Our second week here we visited First Baptist Church. I remember thinking it looked like a college campus because it was so big but the service we went to was relatively small. We heard a good sermon and people were friendly to us. After the service as we were walking out I saw a girl run up to the pastor and give him a huge hug. I remember thinking, that must be his daughter. As a daddy’s girl myself, I always get a little emotional seeing a daughter and her dad sharing that special bond. A couple weeks later I was reading the news online and saw that a local youth group from Shreveport had been in a bad bus wreck on the way to a summer camp. I was shocked to see that it was the youth group from First Baptist. Having been on countless trips as a youth and a leader I felt burdened for this youth group and began praying for them daily. As more details came available I learned that one youth died at the scene and almost everyone on board sustained injuries, many serious. Among many others this included their youth pastor and one girl who was critically injured- Maggie Lee Henson. Maggie Lee was the daughter of the pastor who had preached that Sunday, the girl who had ran up to give him a hug. As I kept up with her Care Page I was inspired by the faith of her parents as well as how the community of Shreveport surrounded this church with their prayers. All around town signs were posted of people praying for the youth group of First Baptist. Unfortunately Maggie Lee’s injuries were too severe and she died several weeks after the crash. To honor her memory her family decided to spend her 13th birthday doing acts of service for others. They decided to try to get 1300 people to commit to just one act of kindness. They decided to call this day “Maggie Lee For Good.” As of last week over 17,000 people across the country had signed up. As I have read about the impact that this young girl has made on so many people, many of whom she had never met, I am reminded of how God works in mysterious yet astounding ways. How amazing for a horrible situation to bring God into focus to so many people. How amazing that a family suffering from grief could still minister to others. How amazing to see the town that we moved to extending love to those around them. So…I challenge you tomorrow to join with many other people and to perform an act of kindness for someone else. It can be as simple as sending a friend an encouraging email or buying some food for your church’s food pantry. My kindergarteners and myself will be participating as well. Life is short and precious. Let us do all we can to make it count…for good!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Parents




Parents- the older I get I not only appreciate my parents more and more but I also feel like I need them more and more. Anyone who thinks parenting ends when your child turns 18 better think again. They may have thought they got rid of me when we left NC but I think they are quickly realizing that is not the case. I am blessed not only to have incredible parents but I also have awesome in-laws. One of the things Ryan and I miss most about being in NC is not being able to just drop by and say hello to our families. However both sets of parents graciously decided to come to visit us during the first month we were here. This was especially helpful for me because it gave me things to look forward to. Anyone who knows our parents knows how wonderful they are but here are just a few pieces of evidence from their trips to prove it. These lists could have gone on and on but I included just a few. I will begin with Rick and Sandra.
1. They drove 18 hours here in Ryan’s car so we didn’t have to pay to ship it
2. They literally cut down a tree that was blocking our window while Ryan and I slept. This was accomplished before 8:00 the first morning they were here!
3. They devoted the majority of their visit to working in our yard in 100 plus degree weather. For all those who know me- I don’t know much about gardening and yes Mrs. Holland is the one who taught me how to shovel. :)
4. They were willing to eat pizza while the dishwasher man installed our appliance and he was at our house forever.
We had a great visit with Rick and Sandra. They helped us in so many ways and it was fun to get to show them around Shreveport. It was especially neat to try our first Louisiana Cajun food at Copeland’s restaurant while they were here. A few weeks after they left we got to have some more visitors, this time Jim and Debbie. I have some evidence of how wonderful they are from their visit as well.

1. Jim endured going to multiple stores including TJ Maxx with me and my mom. This is no small feat.
2. They bought one of every cupcake flavor that was for sell that day so we could sample each… and they helped me eat them for breakfast! (for those of you who do not know, we have a special cupcake store. More about that to follow)
3. They endured a lengthy walk on the boardwalk in 100 plus degree weather.
4. They put up with me and Ryan’s “TV” debate. This debate went on for the entire time they were with us. That is a story in of itself and yes, Ryan won the debate. We got the bigger TV.
We had a wonderful visit with Jim and Debbie. It was a chance for us to see parts of Shreveport that we hadn’t explored and eat at some neat restaurants like in an old Victorian house and at a restaurant on the lake. While we got to do lots of fun things with both sets of parents, the greatest gift of all was being able to spend time together. They have all been so supportive of our move and we are very thankful for them. We miss you guys so much! Please come back and see us again!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lessons
















The first few days living in a new place can be just a little stressful. Actually it can be REALLY stressful. Here are some tips that might be useful that we learned.

1. Be prepared for your credit card NOT to work in a different state, even if you have talked with your company. It will take on average four phone calls to your company before it actually starts going through. Your credit/debit card will normally not work when you have a loaded cart with a line of people behind you waiting impatiently. This was one situation where I was glad I knew no one in this town.
2. There are actually two types of stoves. Make sure to find out if yours is a “free standing” or a “slide in”. They may look the same but they aren’t! Nothing like finding out it doesn’t fit when it’s put in your kitchen.
3. Take as many 10% off coupons for Lowe’s as you can find. Always price match.
4. Air mattresses rarely stay inflated for an entire night. Don’t expect to get sleep.
5. Bring lots of bug spray if you are moving into a house that hasn’t been lived in for awhile. Bugs will be everywhere!
6. If moving to the deep south have your mop on hand. The movers will sweat on your furniture, floors, and everywhere else as they move your stuff. Yuck…

These are just a few of the lessons that we learned in the first 48 hours being here. Thankfully shortly after the movers left our wonderful friends Joe, Marianne, Madeline, and Hayden Cox arrived to help us. We put them straight to work doing everything from unpacking to electric work. Thanks Cox Family!!! We love you! Finally I had to include the picture of us at Cheeburger Cheeburger. It was our first meal in Shreveport and I said, “Ryan, let’s take this picture and put it on our blog one day!.” So…here it is!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

1096 Miles






1096 miles. Wow, for someone who has always lived in Greenville this was a pretty big move for me. I’m going to try to back up in this blog and start back at the beginning so our blog will be in chronological order as much as possible. My last day of teaching at Eastern was June 10th. Early the next morning (6:30 a.m) we packed into the car and headed off for Shreveport. The night before our families had come and hung out with us one last time and of course we had to eat some great food. It was unbelievable how much stuff we still had to pack in the car even though we had already packed 5000 pounds of “stuff” onto the moving van. I’ll be honest. I boo- hooed all the way down Queen Anne’s Rd but then I managed to pull it together (thankfully for Ryan’s sanity) and turned off the waterworks for at least 24 hours. Here are several highlights of our drive:

  • South of the Border- Have you ever sausage a place? :)
  • Eating lunch at Checker’s (we didn’t realize that this would be our last time because they don’t exist in LA)
  • Getting a push-up popsicle at a random gas station (Ryan made fun of me)
  • Eating at the nicest Chick-Fillet we have ever seen

  • Going across the Mississippi River
  • An unbelievable amount of bugs plastered to our car from being on the road so long.

Okay, it’s no secret that I don’t like to drive. I will go ahead and confess. Out of the 18 hours we rode in the car, I drove about 2. I only made it from Augusta through Atlanta. Sorry Ryan! I really am getting better about driving since living here though. When we finally got here (about midnight Louisiana time) we were praying that we would be able to even get into our house/neighborhood and we would even remember which house it was. Thankfully we were able to. Our house was easy to spot- the only one in the neighborhood that had a jungle in the front yard. Since our furniture was not coming for a few days we got our comfy air mattress that Ryan’s mom thoughtfully provided and set up camp in one of the bedrooms. 1096 miles later, we were “home”.

The Adventure Begins!


Finally…our blog has begun. Around the time that we found out we were making the big move from NC to LA, we decided that it might be fun to blog about our “adventures” in the deep south. We thought it would be neat to look back in five years and see all that had happened in our lives during our stint in the pelican state. Of course, it has taken us awhile to get it started. But, here we go! I want to first apologize. Ryan was supposed to write the first blog; he is the talented writer in the family. However, due to scheduling conflicts I have taken the plunge and will be beginning our blog journey. I would first of all like to explain the origin of our blog’s name: The Crawdad Chronicles. For those of you who have not had the privilege of living in Louisiana, people here are all about some crawdad. Just about every restaurant carries some form of the little crawlers, even McAllister’s! So far I have had fried crawdads, gumbeaux with crawdad mixed in, crawdad √©touff√© and…crawdad cheesecake. These are just a few of the many crawdad food possibilities that are offered. Crawdads (known to the rest of the world as Crayfish or crawfish) are often found in the bayous of Louisiana along with a variety of other species such as alligators and shrimp. So we decided to use this special creature as the inspiration for our blog. The next five years will no doubt be an interesting journey and we hope that you will follow all of our adventures on: The Crawdad Chronicles.