The Anniversary

So tomorrow marks the 4 year anniverary of Hurricane Katrina.

Or "Big K" as I like to refer to her.

It seems my life is marked by "BK" or "AK" (Before Katrina or After Katrina).

I think a lot of people in LA and the Gulf Coast probably have that same timeline.

So, 4 years ago - Matt and I were restlessly trying to sleep in Alexandria, LA -- having left before the storm at the last possible second. Listening to the news --- hearing Anderson Cooper and other squak boxes in the background counting down the hours and minutes until the storm touched land.

And then it hit. With a massive roar.

And we knew it was bad.

So after evaluating options, we decided the best thing was to drive to Dallas -- after seeing the hurricane track, we were pretty confident we wouldn't have to be back at work for a couple of days. We made our way to Dallas - pretty much with the smallest suitcase I had ever packed, plus our newly adopted dog Max and all of his paraphenelia. (We had him less than 6 days at this point)

And that's what we thought -- it was a break from work. Wind damage likely. Roads would be blocked. And yay :) The bank would be closed for at least a couple of days.

Never did we imagine the devestation. And we never thought flood waters would take over our little place like they did.

(Insert pics here --- if it wasn't so late, I would upload a few pics - but it is late and I am lazy at the moment - so this is my reminder!)

So, some have heard our story - others haven't. But I'll keep it brief.

We lost our home.

I say that and people automatically assume we came back to a foundation and nothing else.

Let me clarify --- we came back to a mud-filled, nasty molded-out mess where 4-5 feet of flood water once resided. A home that was shuttered and no light or air was let in for 10 days.


That ruins a home by the way.

We were able to salvage some stuff. Most being in the attic. The rest (clothes, all furniture, pictures, appliances) - g.o.n.e.

It is with only a 4 year perspective and a recent trip back to Slidell that I can finally say -- what a blessing.

Now I know that seems twisted - and I do realize that others (probably many others) do not feel like their lives are better off since Katrina. We are among the lucky few.

B.K. - Matt and I were just living lives as happy newlyweds - just bought our first place on our own, our jobs were good.. but looking back, it was just kind of empty. We had just a couple of good friends (that we still keep in touch with today) but besides that - not much else. We worked, we went out to eat, we worked out, we had fun --- but that was it.

A.K. - We had a to do a sudden about-face on the lives we were living. They weren't bad, they just weren't full. We lost a lot... A LOT... in that storm. And to this day, I still mourn this wonderful pair of grey sweatpants from GAP of all places that flared just right, curved the butt just right - man, I miss those...

But we learned that possessions are just that.


We like to have them - hell, we even love to have them. Sometimes we worship them.

And that's where we were. We had all this STUFF. And it was OURS. And no.one should be able to take that away from us.

But here's where we aren't in control.

When God says enough. is enough.

And for us that was the case.

It was humbling the core.

Crushing on many levels.

The scars still remain.

Proof point: anytime a storm even breaks off of the African coastline I start to panic. I didn't stay for Katrina, but I did for Ike (in Houston) - and that being a Hurricane 1 or 2 just scared the bejeesus out of me.

But the point is: and I can honestly say this without resentment or bitterness --- we are better off having gone through that. We learned so much about each other. We saw the good in each other -- we saw A LOT of the bad :) But we somehow made this thing work.

And now with our life in Houston - I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. We are content. We are peaceful. We love our home but are not attached to it. We like our "stuff" but if it was gone tomorrow it wouldn't be the national tragedy that it would have been previously.

Don't get me wrong - I am still human - if my closet were to get wiped out (again) tomorrow..I would not be a happy camper. I am not a saint! But I also have a teeny tiny perspective that there is more to life than that.

Namely, my relationship with my husband...irreplaceable.

My friends. Those who have stuck with them through the last 4 toughest years of my life. They know who they are. I love them each so much for their support & love.

My family - my brother specifically --- who made the first foray down to our house in Slidell with Matt to evaluate the damage. It's a good thing he doesn't read this blog, b/c if he did, he would vehemently deny it, but the boy cried when he saw our neighborhood and the state of our house. And bawled when the Red Cross Truck came by to give them rations while they were cleaning up.

My Dad, who wanted so desperately to help Matt make the inaugural trip back but couldn't -- so instead loaded him up with a shot gun and various types of shells for the "just in case". And stayed glue to the television for days and days to give up updates.

My mom, who was our support system at home. Who was still not only worried for Matt & I's home but obviously and rightfully so, way more concerned about the health of her brother (who chose to stay behind in Covington, LA at the family house) --- I can't remember now how many days it was until we heard he was okay... but it was days. He literally had to chop tree after tree after tree by hand to make it to the main road to let his family know he was ok.

That's real life.

The rest, is just really secondary. And really really really secondary.

Matt and I were driving to dinner tonight and talking the usual "can you believe it's been 4 years?" talk.. It's usually talk like "wow, can you believe it's been 7 1/2 years since we met?" or 1 1/2 year since you quit the bank?" or "wow, it's been 6 days since we've..."

well... you get the picture :)

But tonight was poignant. Not sad. But poignant.

I pray so much for those other families who are still recovering and haven't found the peace in their situation. I ask that God continues to give them grace, strength and fortitude to make it through the darkness.

I could write a book on how blessed we were that the chips fell where they did. We weren't like everyone. But in many ways, we were just like everyone.

We just came away differently. Life is so unfair in many ways.

But for us... unfair worked out just right :) We are right where we need to be. I can finally say that with full thankfulness, passion and without regret or longing.

So, I won't wish everyone a Happy Katrina Anniversary, cause that's kind of tacky - but more of a blessing for you all still struggling - may today be a day where you can celebrate the successes, even the smallest of ones, laugh at the messes, cheers to survival, and prayers for a better year to come. And I also pray, that one year, hopefully in the near future, I won't glance at the calendar and see the date of Aug. 29th and obviously shudder. May we all respect the date, but here's to hoping that one day the reaction will not be so visceral but one of an "awww" moment. That's going to take time. and probably even more time after that.

But on that note, I have to go pull out my bread to "stale" overnight - in honor of the anniversary, I am going to attempt my first bread pudding - a classic New Orleans dish. Wish me luck!

Hugs & laissez les bons temps roulez,

post signature



As long as I can remember, I have been completely unbalanced.

Meaning I go at 100mph for some things and die at 0mph for others. A plus for those things I work on at 100mph... and well, the 0 mph things - you'll find me sleeping soundly (cheesy Lifetime movie in the background) without a care in the world.

I am the Queen of an unbalanced lifestyle.

From birth.

I went from creeping to walking at 9 months old. Just completely skipped crawling. And not just walking - we will call it a full-ahead sprint - usually ended by my careening into the coffee table and bouncing off.

The way I guess I looked at it as a baby, I would so much rather skip the stages - and go right to the cool stuff.

Which pretty much defines me.

Not much patience for the little details.

I sink myself into whatever the project is of the moment and completely immerse myself in it. Won't let go of it until it is finished and absolutely perfect (or so I think).



Most likely... insanity

Few examples:

1. In soccer growing up - I was not happy until I was at the front of the 2 mile run - not for pride or anything like that, but I figured if I was going to be there, I might as well go full out. That carried with me for the rest of the years of my competitive playing.

2. High School - studying for tests that made no sense to me (calculus,physics, etc) --- my brain doesn't work that way, but I was determined to get it down. Repeated, wrote, re-wrote formulas everywhere. Studied until all hours of the night until I was sure I had it. The 'rents would beg for me to go to sleep. I had the only parents who had to tell their kid to quit studying already.

Don't remember a darn thing now though.

3. Everyday life- My life consists of these main ingredients: God, work, husband, work, house, work, work, work-out, etc. I even eat the same unbalanced meals for breakfast and lunch every.single.day. Turkey sandwich and cheetos (baked, of course) with a diet coke.

I know. It's gross to some of you to even think of eating a sandwich for breakfast (that doesn't have breakfast sausage or something on it) but considering that I am allergic to eggs, lactose intolerant and some other less flattering things, breakfast is a tough meal for me. But I have eaten that little combo, every day, oh for a good 6 months now.


I need some hobbies. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know. I don't have a stellar resume for hobbies:

1. I kill plants. Quickly. And I don't like to water.

2. I played co-ed soccer for 2 semesters when I was 27. Way too old. Spent a combo of 2 nights in the hospital, so that's not gonna work.

3. I.AM.NOT.CRAFTY. - I used to pretend when I was little , always asking for the neatest and most up to date craft kits, making pot holders, etch -a-sketch, spin art, tie-dyed, paper mache... but alas, not for me. My idea of crafty is running into Target, grabbing a bag, a cute tag, perhaps a ribbon and oh, gosh - we have ourselves homemade gift wrap. (I know about 3 of my followers just had a hernia reading that.)

So I am open to suggstions --- given the uncertainity of the next few months, I can't so much be tied down but need something to entertain myself.

Proof point: I went to the gym like a PSYCHO 8 DAYS IN A ROW. AND ran something like 30 miles total. Today was my first day off.

See, that's me in a nutshell. Go all the way or don't go at all.

I need balance!!!! HELP!!

post signature


The Gnome

Did I really just title a post, "The Gnome"? But really that's all that needs to be said.

In our little foray to the East Coast (ie: Hilton Head), we made a brief pit stop in Slidell.

Home for the Clanahan's for 2 years until Katrina wiped it all away. Actually that turned out to be a blessing in disguise, but that's another post for another day.

After stopping at Southside, one of our favorite eateries when we lived there --- we made the quick trek over to the old stompin' grounds.

Kind of amazing what we saw. The old high school, Salmen, was being raised up on huge pillars --- our first apartment buildings were now condos, buildings were completely gone and left with only the concrete foundations...still...after all this time.

Matt and I had not been back to Slidell together since he last saw the condo prior to sale in '06. So this was quite the trip down memory lane.

Finally after gasping about what we were seeing and recalling on Pontchartrain Dr (and remember, this is FOUR years later) - we made the turn down to our old neighborhood.

And OMG, thank goodness we don't live there anymore. We bought the condo/duplex when the subdivision was just being developed. House prices in Slidell were crazy, so this was about all we could afford. But it was ours. And cute. When we lived there.

But now --- not so cute. The place has gone completely downhill. Lots that were supposed to be developed --- never built on. Landscaping, gone. Trees in disarray. Signage broken. Gates non-functioning.

And actually the gates thing was a blessing for us cause we got to mosy right in.

I immediately jumped out of the car with the camera when we pulled in to the drive to take pics of the old homestead.

Suddenly, I heard this excited, yet sort of horrified whisper/shout from my husband.


Geez, I just about jumped out of my freaking skin.

"What the H?" I replied (thinking that any moment the current homeowner was jumping out of the bushes with a loaded AK-47 or something).

"The gnome", he said.

"What about the freaking yard gnome"? (Oh, he has LOST it. He has been driving for 6 hours straight, exhausted poor thing and now he is talking about gnomes)

"It's mine!!!!", the excited whisper came again.

Oh my goodness. Are you serious???

And it all came rushing back to me.

The same yard gnome that Matt's college buds had bought him as a JOKE for his birthday.

The same yard gnome that trekked with us to our first apartment in Slidell and found a perma-place on the balcony, far away from any peering eyes.

The same gnome that staked out a far spot on the corner of our patio in our new condo.

The same gnome that was completely abandoned and forgotten about once the storm hit and all was lost. It didn't even make the insurance claim (and everything made the claim - down to every last pair of underwear and socks I owned).

And this lady had his gnome for all the world to see in the prime spot of her/our flower bed.

How did we know it was ours (His)?

Good question.

One thing we do recall after the storm was the gnome must have hit the pillar of our house from either the wind or the flood and the tip was broken off his little hat.

So once Matt saw the concrete junk, I mean gnome, with his little hat broken, he knew it was the original and one and only. (and I stress, ONE AND ONLY)

Before I knew it, Matt was ringing the doorbell to check and see if the lady was home. She was not. (We were able to peer inside the house though and much to our relief it really looks like she has kept things up - all looked great inside!!)

After no answer, and a couple of quick, furtive glances around the neighborhood, Matt told me to haul a*$ and get in the car.

You can only guess what he did next.

My sweet little innocent husband, who really didn't even drink until he was of legal age and has broken very few laws (including speeding limits) in his lifetime, hoisted that gnome over his shoulder and tossed it in the back of the getaway car.

Yup - we stole back our gnome.

And that bad boy traveled with us all the way to South Carolina and back.

Sadly (for Matt), the gnome has been resigned to the garage. He will likely not see the light of day in Houston.

But he's back. The gnome is back. And we have rescued another part of our lives that Katrina took.

Score: Katrina 1,000 Clanahan's: 25

post signature

Little Miracles

It has been so incredibly crazy trying to get back into the swing of things after our 10 day cross-country drive but I promise a vacation post is coming soon!! We had such a fabulous, relaxing time - much needed, I might add. I have tons of pics and stories, I just need to get my act together to blog about them.

But in the meantime, I would like to share that 2 of our friends had their little miracle girl today!!! Congratulations, y'all! We are so thrilled about your little blessing.

I must say when I saw the pictures posted today, I just started sobbing. For all good reasons. No resentment, jealously or anything like that.

Just simple, joyful crying.

They actually experienced the EXACT SAME problems that Matt & I have faced, so to see two people, whom we actually know, go down the same path we are about to embark on, AND have success in such an awesome way --- well, WOW.

There are no words.

Selfishly, it gives me tremendous peace and comfort, knowing that we are doing the perfect thing for us. I am certain of that today more than ever.

And now I will repeat a scripture that my friend Amy has consistently reminded me of during our journey:

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11)

Blessings to our sweet little friends and their sweet new arrival!

post signature