Saturday, August 29, 2015


The first church built in Slidell in 1886.  Photo taken in 2013.  
Ten years ago, I was a freshman at LSU.  I'd come home to Slidell, a city just north of New Orleans, for the weekend to celebrate my younger sister's birthday.  Instead of birthday festivities, we were driving away from home, about 1,000 miles away, to where our nearest family lived, to escape one of the deadliest hurricanes in recorded history, Katrina.

My story isn't that noteworthy compared to many I know.  I wasn't there when the water came in.  I didn't witness the destruction of all of my possessions.  I wasn't rescued from my rooftop.  I didn't watch a loved one taken away by the water.  My loss was nothing compared to what many experienced.

A few days after Katrina made landfall, I had to return back home.  With zero cell phone reception, I boarded a plane headed for Baton Rouge hoping one of my friends got my e-mail asking for a ride from the airport.  Otherwise, my plan was to look for a police officer, or maybe a woman with children who'd be willing to drive me back to my dorm.  My first flight, I was the only person on the plane besides the captain and flight attendant.  Thankfully, when I arrived in Baton Rouge, my friend was there waiting.

About a week later, I was able to catch a ride back to my hometown, unsure of if my home would even resemble how I left it.  The drive that normally took a little over an hour, took six.  So many trees were down everywhere, it felt empty.  Without power, the darkness felt pretty eerie, almost scary like the scene from a horror movie.  And the smell.  The smell was a combination of death and decay, and it lingered for too long.

At home, we had one A/C window unit run by a generator and we ate MREs.  No trees fell on our house.  No water came in.  No one I loved or even knew had died.  We were very fortunate.

Over the years I've met people who shared their stories of loss with a numbness.  People who had to throw away their only family photos because they were saturated or covered in mold.  People who came home to the piece of land that their house once stood on.  People who witnessed what happens when evil preys on the weak during times of devastation.  People who were in the Superdome when the lights were out, when the toilets overflowed, when the children were crying because they were hot and hungry, when the women were crying because they were raped.  Bodies floating.  Newborns separated from their mothers when hospitals were evacuated.  Elderly in nursing homes left behind to drown.

Thankfully, that's only some of the stories.  Just a few even.  Most of the people I know, even those who experienced loss, can also share stories of the blessings they experienced after the storm.  Stories of those who opened their homes to the homeless and food to the hungry.  Stories of strangers who left their comfortable homes to camp in parking lots so they could help gut and rebuild a house or a church.  Stories of how the storm, despite being the most devastating time in their entire life, had restored their faith in God and in humanity.

Like everyone I know from Louisiana who has since moved away---I might be here in Texas, but today my heart is in Louisiana.

The pilings of a former home washed away by Katrina.  Photo taken 2013.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


How far along: 27 weeks---the last week of my second trimester!
Due: Thanksgiving 2015
Gender: Don't know, won't know.  
Weight gain: almost 25 lbs (insert wide-eyed emoji) which leads me to believe my scale was wrong last time and that I must have a 20 pound baby in my belly
Belly button in or out: Not really in or out---more like it's flush with the rest of my stomach
Sleep: You know, not so great.  It could be our super uncomfortable prison mattress.  Jon and I recently ordered a new mattress and I'm pretty psyched about it.  
Movement: There's been a lot of kicking on my right side.   
Cravings: Strawberry kefir and cottage cheese have been pretty tasty lately.
Food aversion: I don't really have any aversions at the moment.  When I was pregnant with Violet, and for like a year after, there were a bunch of foods I couldn't even say without shuddering.     
Feeling: Pretty great most of the time.  I get some lower back pains occasionally and some unpleasant reflux at night sometimes.  Nothing really compares to how horrible I felt during my first trimester with Violet though, so all this stuff is just a walk in the park.  
Fun fact: Baby Polk weighs about 2 pounds and is about as long a head of cauliflower! 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


It has been so incredibly hot here in Texas, going outside to play is pretty much not happening.  Seriously, I never see any of my neighbors, or kids riding their bikes, or people walking their dogs.  Some might call this a heat wave, but I'm gonna go ahead and call it like it is.  This is a heat tsunami.  Our outside time is basically walking to and from our car when running errands.  Of course Violet is at the stage where she wants to buckle herself into her carseat and I just patiently melt in the sun until she's done, because it's too cute to see the sense of achievement on her face when she's done.  

Violet is about 21 and a half months old now and she is such a little sponge.  She is fascinated with numbers, colors, learning her body parts, and just new words in general.  Poopall is purple.  Hawk is heart.  Gagoo is goggles.  And for the past two mornings when I asked her what she wanted for breakfast, she said, "Ummmm, eye pea (ice cream)?"  No, Violet, we're not having ice cream.  What else do you want?  "Ummm, ookie (cookies)?"  Ya can't blame a girl for trying though!

She doesn't like food on her face or hands even more than ever.  Any minor things that go wrong---her tower of blocks falls over, she accidentally tears a stickers, or she spills her bowl of frozen peas (at least she's eating vegetables, right?) it's like some biblical disaster has occurred.

Despite her toddler meltdowns---like when she flipped out because I put some bananas in the freezer---she's still the sweetest little girl.  She likes to feed her baby doll grapes, and share her banana with Neil, and give Jon all of her chicken stickers.  And all day long I get hugs and kisses, so I can't complain too much.    

Friday, August 7, 2015


How far along: 24 weeks
Due: Thanksgiving 2015
Gender: Don't know, won't know.  
Weight gain: about 15 lbs 
Belly button in or out: In
Sleep: Sleep is good!  
Movement: Baby does a lot of late night dancing!    
Cravings: My weakness is definitely sweets.  I can hear the mint chocolate chip ice cream (or "eye pea" as Violet says) in my freezer calling my name right now.
Food aversion: Ugh.  Sweet tea.  Sweet tea used to be my meth.  I could not say no.  However, it doesn't taste quite as good coming up as it does going down.  So, I think sweet tea and I are gonna take a little break.  
Feeling: 98% of the time I feel totally normal---minus the alien movement going on inside my belly.  The other 2% of the time I am having random nausea/throwing up and sciatic nerve pains shooting down into my hip. 
Fun fact: Baby Polk weighs more than a pound and is about as long as an ear of corn! 
Other news: We finally had an ultrasound done a couple of weeks ago.  Only Baby Polk knows his or her gender.  He or she was sitting up and even the ultrasound technician wasn't able to see.  It was so exciting to see the baby's fingers moving around and little baby feet kicking.  Sweet Violet wasn't too keen on what was going on though and was pushing the ultrasound tech's hand away!