Happy New Year!
I thought it would be a fun idea to look back and compile some picture of what we did last year. It wasn't until I was almost done with this post that I realized we had a pretty eventful year. When you reflect and look back you can see God's hand in guiding your journey as well as his multitude of blessings.
After 2014 was such a terrible year -- working through the disappointments of my job, pushing past Lily's cancer scare, and coping with my grandmother's sudden death -- I was ready for a new year! It was a great relief as 2015 started out on a fun note. Although we were beginning to struggle financially with one income, I was happy being home for my family. Getting the kids on/off the bus. Keeping a clean house. Order and control...just what someone like me needed.
We kicked off the new year in January with Luke's science-themed birthday party. It was such a fun party for him since he loves anything and everything with science. He had discovered Bill Nye the Science Guy so his party was loosely based on that theme. He helped plan his party from the invitation design to making the cake to setting out the decorations. Little plug, you can check out the science party invitation on my Etsy shop here. So cute!
After our Disney and Universal Studios vacation last December, Luke showed lots of interest in Harry Potter and decided to read the books. I could not have been more excited to share my obsession with him. He read all seven books in three months! We surprised him with his very own wand for such an accomplishment! He enjoyed the books and movies so much that he dressed as Harry Potter for a 'dress like your favorite book character day' at school. He wore my scarf, Prefect pen, Harry Potter 3-D glasses, and carried my Golden Snitch.
Everyone knows I love Disney, so I was surprised to be selected by Disney Parks and MomSelect to host a Disney Side @ Home Celebration. I received free products to host a Disney themed party just for fun! I hosted my party in February. You can read about how I was DisneySide-ing before #DisneySide was Cool and my DisneySide @Home Celebration. Here the goodies I received in my package!
In March, we watched the popular St. Patrick's Day Parade. This was the first time I had ever been. It was like Mardi Gras but green. Ha!
Lily had a colorful balloon themed birthday party with a special appearance by some members of the Gatorette dance team. They taught her their popular game cadence dances.
Lily's hair was really growing back after she lost it from chemo. It was growing a little "out of wack" so she had her "first" hair cut in April. As with tradition, I had my Aunt Tonie do the honors.
April is always a busy month. My mom, sister, the kids and I participated in the Color Run again this year. Thanks to their glitter theme, I had silver and gold glitter in my van for months!
We celebrated Eater.
We attended our first Dreams Come True event - Car Show and Crawfish Boil Fundraiser - and had the opportunity to meet other DCT families. DCT is a wonderful organization that grants dreams to kids with life-threatening illnesses. DCT presented Lily with our dream trip to Disney (Dec 2014). Learn more about their organization here.
Lily also had her first Kindergarten field trip to the Audubon Zoo. I was so happy to be able to attend it with her. Luke forbid me to attend such functions with him. LOL!
May was also jammed packed! We had a fun time at the Dream Day Foundation's Fishin' Galore event for St. Jude families. It was a beautiful day filled with tons of things to do -- fishing, petting zoo, motorcycle and helicopter rides, arts and crafts, horse/buggy rides, face painting, photo booth, music, food, etc.! I took lots of pictures and had all intentions to write a post about the event but never had the chance to put it together :(
That same afternoon, we also showed our support for our local Relay For Life event.
I registered Lily to participate in the Jambalaya Pageant. Last year, she received 2nd Alternative and Most Photogenic. She didn't place this year but she's always be my beautiful princess!
The most exciting family milestone this month, and year for that matter, was Brendon's high school graduation day!! We were so happy and proud of him. You can read the post I shared here.
The next day, this mama needed a much needed girls' night -- a New Kids on the Block concert! I've been a NKOTB fan since day one and really enjoyed their concert!
June was yet another eventful and fun month. I had been accepted in the Teach Ascension Academy and began training to work on my teaching certification.
We celebrated one of my sweet cousin's wedding to his beautiful bride at Ormond Plantation in Destrehan. They asked me to do their invitations, RSVP card, and specialty drink sign. It was truly such a beautiful wedding and everyone had a grand time!
We hosted our first fundraiser for St. Jude, Lily's Tea Party. Thanks to my awesome mom who did 90% of the work to put this successful tea together! We were blown away by the attendance (close to 150) and the outpouring of support for our event. We raised over $4,000 towards "Team Lily Raffray's" goal for the St. Jude Walk/Run. We will soon be diving into planning this year's tea party! Check out Lily's Tea Party on Facebook.
The kids participated in many summer clinics including Astronomy camp, cheer and dance clinics, art camp, basketball camp, and Minion camp.
Finally, we were asked to participate in the St. Jude Dream Home Give-a-Way our local news station. The kids love being on the set!
[As I'm putting this post together and looking back at the pictures from this past year, I never realized how many St. Jude or Dream Come True family events we had the privilege to attend. We have met so many sweet families :)]
July seemed to be a little calmer...I guess, in hindsight, it was the calm before the storm. I was intensely studying to pass my necessary Praxis exams and the kids were still involved in summer camps. One of our DCT moms asked if Lily and I wanted to go to the Miss USA Pageant (preliminary night). Of course! We sat right in the front. The girls had the opportunity to meet the Miss Teen USA contestants and Nia Sanchez, Miss USA 2014.
Lily had her 9 month follow up appointment. She had all good labs just like her past two appointments. Praise God. We celebrated Ole Paw's 85th birthday and enjoyed a lazy 4th of July.
In August, football season was in full swing! The kids started a new school year and I was going crazy trying to figure out how to teach Kindergarten. My life became tiring and stressful beyond belief as I devoted countless hours to schoolwork, prepare lessons, etc....now, it seems like a blur.
Roger started his new job and Brendon started his first real-life job working 40 hours a week.
Luke attended his first Saints game at the Superdome. He was so excited because they were playing his favorite team, New England Patriots. He's sporting both team colors! LOL!
September rolled through and we celebrated Brendon's birthday with an Italian dinner and beignets for breakfast.
Since living through cancer, we now do our part to spread awareness for childhood cancer. This year, the St. Jude Walk.Run was moved to September during childhood cancer awareness month. We were out early to support our "Team Lily Raffray" and pay honor to survivors and angels.
I took Lily to her first Broadway show, The Little Mermaid, at the Saenger Theater. The theater had suffered terrible damage from Hurricane Katrina but has since been beautifully remolded.
October is usually another crazy-busy month for our family, mainly due to football season, however we were able to squeeze in some extra activities. Lily, mom, and I were invited to a Tri-Delta soiree fundraiser for St. Jude to give a testimony about our St. Jude story. Lily was crowned Homecoming queen for her cheer team, escorted by Luke. The kids enjoyed trick-or-treating for Halloween - Luke was a football coach and Lily was Batgirl. And, we watched another Broadway show at the Saenger Theater, Cinderella.
October was an emotionally tough month for me -- not only with the stresses of my job, but also because Brendon, now working full time, had decided to move out a little earlier than expected. Even though he lives right behind us, it was still difficult for me as a mom to realize our babies do grow up and move on.
November brought on another life adjustment since I had decided to resign from teaching. I talk about my struggles with that decision in my last post, I tried.
Our family was invited to attend another St. Jude fundraising event with the Gulf Coast Police Motorcycle Skills Championship at Houmas House Plantation. The kids enjoyed touring the beautiful grounds. I worked there in high school and the home went through a massive transformation since then.
On November 16, the kids and I visited my grandmother's grave on the anniversary of her death. It's so hard to believe she's been gone for a year...
Lily was asked to be a flower girl in another family wedding and we watched her dance her little heart away at her 4th dance recital.
We spent Thanksgiving week in Memphis since we had to bring Lily for her annual appointment. Well needed time to get away and be with the kids after feeling like I neglected them so much to focus on my teacher duties. Lily had all good scans and blood work so she's now 1 YEAR CANCER FREE! Praise God! This was Luke's first trip with us to St. Jude. He enjoyed touring the hospital and campus and took tons of selfies. Ha! We went to the top of the Bass Pro pyramid, visited the zoo to see the lights, ice skated, watched the march of the Peabody Ducks, and even left our mark at Graceland. We also chowed down on ribs and brisket at Rendezvous.
December, the Christmas season! I kicked off the season with another Broadway show, Newsies! I loved the show just as much, if not more, than the movie! Bravo! I had waited a long time for this show to finally come to New Orleans. Unfortunately, it was the same day as the kids' football/cheer banquet -but they understood. Luke earned his 5-year letterman's jacket!
I've never been to New Orleans as many times as I have been this year. So not two weeks after the Newsies, we were back in NOLA for the Teddy Bear Tea at the Roosevelt Hotel. Mom had treated us girls. It was such an adorable tea with yummy treats and drinks.
I had enrolled Lily in Girl Scouts this fall with some of her little friends. Since joining, she's had an outing to the zoo, sung Christmas carols, and gone to the movies with her troop. Look out, we'll be selling cookies starting January 15th!
For the first time in a long time, Roger and I were able to go to a work Christmas party. A date night for us! I even bought a new dress.
Christmas was really nice this year. I made matching skirts for Lily and Kora -- my Ole Maw used to sew matching outfits for the first cousin girls years ago. I may try for matching dresses next year. Every year, my cousins, aunts, mom, and sister make delicious pralines using my grandmother's recipe. We had a small crew this year and made six batches. Keeping with tradition, on Christmas Eve my cousin and I baked Ole Maw's carrot and orange cakes. Christmas night, Santa brought just the right gifts for the kids and they were very happy. It really was a nice Christmas...
It's taken me quite a few days to put this post together but I have enjoyed looking back over the past year. Even though I feel a few months of this year were the most stressful in my entire life, it's amazing to realize God's blessings to us throughout the year. I am so grateful to the Good Lord for carrying us through these times. As always I appreciate your continued concern, love, and support for our family. I'm looking forward to 2016 and praying for another hidden gem year! God Bless.