Friday, January 6, 2012

My year in review

Well, it has happened again.  Another year over and done.  Another year where we have loved, lossed, grown, and seen the world change.  For me it was year filled with new experiences and hang on because this is my year in review 2011.

I can remember where I was when 2011 rang in...well sort of I can.  We had to change around our traditional New Year's plans of spending the night ringing in the New Year with Kyle and Krisha.  Work got in the way, so we changed around our weekends and had to do different things.  We were at the hunting camp for New Year's eve, but sadly we were all sleeping by the midnight hour.  So the new year was off to a slow start, but I'm pretty sure we made up for it!

That next weekend was our first big milestone...January 6th, 2011 Anne Claire's bachelorette party came to town and NOLA has never been the same since!!  It was an amazing night surrounded by my dearest friends who went way out of their way to ensure I would have the most fabulous time ever!  They even made a weekend out of it by spending the next night at my house for a kind of low key night around the fire.  Memories were made that night and our bonds formed a little stronger.

And as proved to be the theme of 2011, there was no rest for the weary because bright and early that Monday morning I started my brand new job.  I remember leaving there one day during the first week of work and heading straight over to the office where I used to work.  I opened the back door and found everyone and just burst out into tears.  I thought I would hate it, I thought I would never be able to get the hang of it, I didn't think I would have any friends.  Little did I know how much I would actually grow to love what I do.  I now cherish my time with my patients and I look back to those days when everything was so new and fast paced and still can't believe how far I have come.  It has been an amazing journey and now I know for sure that I made the absolute right career choice.

Between trying to grasp the flow of a new job and getting ready for a wedding, we were having wedding showers galore.  It was humbling to see how many of our friends and family surrounded us and embraced us as we were beginning to embark on a new adventure in life.  We enjoyed all the wedding showers to the absolute fullest and were ever so grateful for each guest and well wisher.

I even had several anonymous happies come in the mail just to get me in the wedding spirit...did I mention I have the best friends ever?

3.19.11  Our big day was here before we knew it.  I was the happiest girl on the planet, and our wedding was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.  The rehearsal dinner was a was everything we wanted it to be.  The wedding was more than I could have asked for.  Everything came together so beautifully.  The wedding was the special, intimate ceremony we wanted observed by our family and friends.  It was what we had been dreaming about for a really long time!

We became husband and wife.  Then we had the time of our lives at the reception.  Everything was perfect...better than I ever imagined.  We had the best time and couldn't bare to tear ourselves away from our party.  We left a couple hours behind schedule, but we were having such a great time surrounded by everyone we held close that we had no reason to rush out!  The entire experience was magnificent, humbling, and something that we love to relive time and time again.  It was truly the best night of our lives.

Josh had a little too much fun with the cake!

My dad made me a little teary-eyed with his toast.

I sang and danced the night away surrounded by friends.

Tossing the garter.

Throwing the bouquet...even Kay Kay joined in the action.

The ending of an amazing night.

The day after the wedding we set sail on our very first cruise.  And despite battling a few bumps in the road (sickness and Josh getting our debit card cut off in Mexico just to name a few), we had the most amazing honeymoon.

So excited to be on board our first cruise ship!

First stop Jamaica

Then it was off to the Cayman Islands

And finally Cozumel

It was an amazing seven day that we cannot wait to have again and again!

After the wedding and honeymooning we tried to settled down in the regular life.  I was still transitioning into my new role at work, and as a new family of two we were working on slowly remodeling our house.  We settled into life well, learned our new routine, and began thriving as a family unit.

Summer found us before we knew it and we submersed ourselves in fishing trips, quality time out on the boat, one of our best friends beautiful coastal wedding, and learning important lessons like who should and shouldn't be allowed to cut the grass!

We love our time out on the water.

Baker/Smith's rocking their wedding coastal style.

Apparently there are some things that I just am not wired to do!

Camping quickly became one of our favorite past times this year.  We found ourselves loving the peace and quiet that we found while in our home away from home.  We realized how much we really loving being able to load up the camper and hit the road for a few days.  Over the past few months we have found some of the nicest camping resorts in the south Louisiana area, and it's a new love that we enjoy sharing with our friends!

Camping + hibachi grill = perfect combo

This year has brought us a tremendous amount of happiness and blessings. But with the happy it has also brought the sad.  We lost a few precious loved ones this year who were all very dear to our hearts.  One seemed to be taken from us all too soon and the other allowed to live and long and fruitful life and then taken in the blink of an eye.  There is no harder thing in this world to grasp than the will of God sometimes.  And I guess sometimes it's not meant for us to understand it all.  As hard as it seems to cope with some of things we are handed in life, we just have to remember that at the end of the day God is there with us.

Along with the sadness and heartache, we discovered a few miracles in 2011.  The miracle of new life happened time and time again throughout the year for several of my close friends, and I became favorite Aunt Claire several times over.  We experienced the heartbreak that comes with having a baby who may not really be as perfect as she seems.  And then, by the grace of God, we were able to experience the miraculous medical interventions that can sometimes give babies what seems like a second shot at life.  Like baby Charlotte Rae Lyon.  Once her hypoplastic left heart disease was discovered about two days after what seemed like any other birth, doctors told her parents there was no hope for her...all they could do was make her comfortable.  Through the prayers and a new doctor's eyes, Baby Charlotte's heart was operable.  And even though she has a long way to go, she is at home doing just fine right now.

Sweet Charlotte Lyon

The months started turning cooler which meant deer season 2011 would soon be in full swing.  Of course Josh was beyond excited.  I was beginning to get even a little excited myself.  I had decided that this was the year that I really wanted to become a hunter.  I craved the silence and solitude of the woods after crazy days at work.  So when hunting season finally came even I was chomping at the bit to get into the stands.  Four deer down so far, and I would say the Dugas' have had a pretty successful deer season as of yet.  The biggest news of the season is that I became a bonafide hunter by killing my first deer!  I have never seen Josh more proud.  It is a moment that really put our bond on another level.  I still can't help but smile every time I think of that day in the woods together!

Thanksgiving day 2011

Even excited to have the deer blood on my face!

The year started to slowly wind down, and I started to realize that while I absolutely love my job I feel like I can do something more.  I felt the need to do something a little more acute.  In early November I accepted a new job within the surgery department as a circulating nurse.  Because of holiday staffing they needed me to finish out the year on the floor, and I was happy to have a couple more months of spending time with the patients I love so much and my coworkers who have become a part of who I am.

Christmas came at lightening speed, and our plans had to change a little since I would be working on Christmas day.  Something thing I dreaded doing for almost an entire year, turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life.  Having to work on Christmas also allowed us to do Christmas early with all of our families.  Because of that we were able to have very low key and relaxed Christmas celebrations, and we really reflected on the true meaning of Christmas.  We felt amazingly blessed to be able to spend such quality time with our families.  And despite my concerns, Josh and I were still able to have the perfect family Christmas that Christmas night.

Our first Dugas family Christmas card

Christmas with Mom

Jeffie with his loot, and of course Priss peering over

Our new and improved stockings for Mimi's

Christmas with Dad at Kay Kay's

Sweet Joshie opening his presents from Santa

So 2011 officially came to an end. This year we were able to continue our New Year's tradition and spend it with Kyle and Krisha.  We enjoyed a long weekend at their brand new home and enjoyed ourselves to the absolute max.  It was one of the best and most relaxing weekends we have had in a while!  We rang in the New Year by making a quick trip to the coast.  We had a fabulous time.  It was the perfect way of saying farewell to a great year!

New Year's Eve 2011

Me and Krisha celebrating the end of the year and the new beginnings to come

Happy New Year!

So here's to you 2011.  Thank you for all the memories, the bonds we have formed, the joyful times, and all the ways you have allowed us to grow.  Here is to hoping for an amazing 2012.  With a new job on the horizon for me (starting Monday) and great friends and family by our side, we have nothing but high hopes for this new year.  I hope that we will all see a little more happiness than we ever thought possible, see the least amount of pain and heartache as necessary, grow stronger in our faith and in our friendships, and are able to live this year to it's absolute fullest.  I can't wait to see what all 2012 has in store for us all!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas of many firsts

Christmas.  The holiday I look forward to all year long.  Christmas.  The most exciting holiday now that I am married.  My first married Christmas.  The day I have looked forward to since Josh and I got married.  I have envisioned Christmas morning with my husband for months.  I envisioned the new traditions we would set as a family.  It was all absolutely perfect.  Then life cut in.

Work.  Yep, you guessed it.  My first married Christmas and I had to work.  Ahh the joys of being a nurse. Remind me again why I didn't become a teacher?

Granted I have known since about last January that I would have to work this Christmas; however, I chose to not focus on it and therefore -in my mind- I wasn't going to actually have to work that day.  Yet accepting it or not I did have to work.  And you would think that I would handle that news like an adult, right?  I mean, sure it's our first Christmas married but it's not like we have kids or anything like's just another day, right?  Yeah, I didn't quite think of it that way.  In my defense I did try.  I tried to be happy to work, grateful for my job, all that jazz...still didn't work.

I think I cried for a solid week before Christmas actually got here.  I almost refused to put up a Christmas tree (although I did of course end up putting one up).  I all but ripped the radio out of the car every time I heard a Christmas song play.  My way of coping with have to work on Christmas was to not acknowledge that Christmas was actually here in any shape, form, or fashion.  I was in denial.  To make matters worse I didn't only have to work Christmas day.  I had to work Christmas eve, Christmas day, and the day after Christmas!  It sounded like torture.

Josh and I made the decision last year that from now on (working or not working) we would be spending all of our Christmases in Thibodaux.  The traveling to and from between the families on Christmas had gotten so overwhelming that none of us could even enjoy Christmas the way we were suppose to.  So I already knew this year would be different, I just didn't know how different.

My family was very supportive of course.  Everyone went out of the their way so that we could all have Christmas early.  So the weekend before Christmas Josh and I loaded up and headed north for a weekend of Christmas festivities.

Our first stop was my mom's.  Christmas with the lizard on Friday night...Jef and Eighmey were even able to come too.  It was absolutely wonderful.  My mom had everything set up perfectly for us all.  We came in that night and supper was waiting on us...and did she ever have a delicious spread complete with our favorite chocolate cake!  After supper we all opened presents.  It was nice..very laid back.  We had all the time in the world so we were able to each open one present at a time and marvel over what each person got.  Josh thought it was hilarious to swap around a few of the tags, so some of the presents were mysteries until we opened them but that just added to the memory.  After presents we all sat in the living room and decorated our stockings for Mimi's house.  We had a grand time just crafting and being together.  We stayed up way too late and woke up entirely too early the next morning, but it was all worth it!  After a lazy morning of breakfast and a quick shopping trip we all had to load up and head down the road to Kay Kay's.

Saturday afternoon marked Christmas with my dad and family.  Josh and I braved the mall on the way towards that side of town.  I thought we would be trapped there forever with all the people milling around, but Josh said it was a good way to put us in the Christmas spirit.  I guess he was was fun!  We all got to Kay Kay's around the same time, and it didn't take long before the present exchanging  began.  Again we were able to take it slow and all open gifts one by one!  After presents came supper, and then we were all able to just sit around the table and talk and catch up for a while.  Another really great night was had by us all!

Josh and I decided (at my almost pleading request) to wait to do our Christmas until Christmas night after work.  Josh decided to go to his mom's on Christmas eve and spend Christmas morning over there.  Even though I really didn't want to spend Christmas eve alone, I was more than happy that he was going.  I don't think I could have bared being at work on Christmas if I knew he were home all day all alone.  It was really comforting to know that he would be happy and surrounded by family...didn't stop me from crying all week, but it was still comforting.

So the dreaded Christmas eve came.  I laid in the bed crying that morning before work...I was completely dressed ready to go but I didn't want to leave and actually have to start my holiday at work.  Josh reassured me one more time that it would all be ok, and I basically had to force myself out the front door.  Once I got to work I realized it wasn't so bad.  The patient's were all in relatively good spirits, we were trying to get as many of them out of the hospital as possible that day, and everyone's moods were pretty high.  I finally listened to Christmas carols all day long to try to help brighten things up.  That night I went home and baked goodies for our Christmas dinner at work, wrapped a couple of last minute presents for my Josh, and laid in bed and watched my favorite Christmas movie of all time...The Grinch. I was able to talk to Josh on the phone as many times as I wanted, and everything seemed to be a little better.

Christmas morning came, and it was a strange feeling to wake up and be getting ready for work.  Josh called me before I had time to worry about not being able to tell him Merry Christmas before work, so that set the day off on the right foot.  I adorned myself with a light up Christmas light necklace and hat with reindeer antlers that lit up, and hit the door headed to the hospital.  I was in the best mood once I got there, and all of the sudden I couldn't remember why I had made such a big deal out of having to work on this day.  All through out the day I kept getting more and more joyful.  Our census at the hospital wasn't nearly as low as we thought it would be, but I did my best to make sure all of my patient's had the best Christmas they could considering their circumstances.  I was almost sad to leave work that night.

ALMOST sad.  As soon as I remembered that Josh was home and I would get to have the night with him I almost ran for the door.  When I got home that night Josh had two plates of Christmas dinner sitting out on the stove with a special surprise card.  We ate and exchanged gifts, but the best present I could have ever gotten was when I walked in the front door and saw his smiling face.  It was as if my world were right again...everything was in it's place.

I looked back on that Christmas a day or two later, and I shocked myself.  Thinking about Christmas lead me straight into prayer.  I was driving down the road all alone and I was thanking God for making me work Christmas.  I look back now and think about how hard I fought the situation.  I did everything I possibly could to get out of working Christmas.  Then when I couldn't get out of working it, I made everyone around me miserable on the days leading up to Christmas.  It wasn't until a couple of days later that I was able to fully appreciate the effect that working on Christmas day had on me.  It was probably one of my best Christmases ever.  It was a Christmas that left me fulfilled, a Christmas in which I felt like I truly not only grasped the meaning of Christmas but acted on the meaning and allowed God to use me to help others.  It was a Christmas in which I was able to give back, and it was maybe one of the greatest lessons I have ever learned.  Trust God.  Trust Him with all of your heart because He will never lead you down the wrong path.

I needed to be at work that Christmas day.  I needed to see what it was like to do something completely selfless on a day that can get sometimes so wrapped up in gift exchanging and "getting" that we all forget the true meaning.  Working on Christmas day is not something I always want to do.  I want to start traditions with my little family of two.  I want to wake up with my husband and spend the day making memories.  But this year, I am not sad that I had to work Christmas any more.  I am grateful and happy to have had the experience to see Christmas from a different perspective.  It was definitely a Christmas that I will never forget!