So after recovering from a wild few holiday weeks, Cuan and I got on the plane for Ameeeerica! We timed it this year where we would land in Dallas just before the Dallas Safari Club convention, a hunting show that Cuan’s taxidermy company TCI participates in every year. We had a day to catch up on sleep and get over the jet-lag before setting up for the 3 day convention. I sort of play Cuan’s assistant at these shows, helping to make the stand look “pretty” and deal with payments and customers when Cuan is busy, which is pretty much ALL the time. His clients really value the opportunity to see a TCI manager face-to-face and take full advantage of it when he’s at the shows.
This year’s Dallas show went very well, made lots of leather sales and satisfied existing clients with updates on their trophy’s being assembled back in Zim. We spend our days in the convention hall and evenings out on the town with some of TCI’s loyal customers. I do enjoy participating in the shows, but this time because I hadn’t seen my family in 8 months, I was so anxious to get home! After it was all finished, we packed up all the products and booth supplies, sent it off to Vegas for the next hunting convention, and Cu and I headed to good ole Shreveport!
We decided that we needed to rent a car for the time we were in the States so that we could have some form of transport while we were there. (I sold my car last time I was home… felt so lost without it!) It took me a few minutes once I got behind the wheel to re-train myself on driving on the RIGHT side of the road. But I got the hang of it and we made it to Mom and Dad’s in one piece!
I was so excited to see the whole family, how much my two nephews Hudson and Andrew had grown, and especially my expecting sister Lindsey! The last time I saw her she was driving off in her honeymoon vehicle with her new husband after an incredible wedding and reception.. there must have been love in the air that night because 8 months after the wedding she was one month away from having a baby! I was so excited to see that baby bump and catch up on everything that had gone on since I last saw everyone.
We spent the next few weeks hanging out with the family, eating amazing home-cooked meals made by Mrs. Diane herself, and shopping. There were days where Cuan would say “I’m just going to run to Academy and grab a few things,” and I would literally not see him for 3-4 hours. Who knew he was a bigger shopper than me?! He blames it on the shopping list he received from all his friends back in Zim, but something tells me he got a little bit distracted in the fishing section, or the gun section, or the boating section or the camping section, of Academy and Bass Pro. He really would fit in well in Louisiana…
So do you remember Adam and Megan? The two brave Americans who came to visit us last year. Well we were dying to catch up with each other so Adam organized a weekend down in Grand Isle. And not only that, but a weekend bow-fishing Red Fish in the marshes of Grand Isle! I was back and forth about going as Lindsey was literally about to pop! She had gone to the doctor 3 weeks before her due-date and he told her it could be any day! So understandably I was a little hesitant to go, but I convinced myself if there was an emergency I could make it back in time!
So off we went, down into the deep, Deep South. I don’t think I’ve been that far south in Louisiana before.. Although it was absolutely freeeezing down there right on the shores of the Gulf we still had an incredible time catching up and meeting new friends. As soon as we saw Adam and Megan, it was as if we had just seen each other yesterday! Went straight back to goofing off and acting weird.
We stayed bunkered up in the cabin, laughing and playing games until it was dark enough to go fishing. Now I didn’t really know much about this bow-fishing thing so it was all a new experience for myself and Cuan.
We met Captain Dave or Mike (I can’t remember his real name since Cuan was calling him Captain Phillips the whole time..) and his daughter down under the bridge just inland from the Gulf. To put it lightly, I think this is the first time Cuan got to meet some REAL Louisiana Cajuns. I have spent years trying to convince Cuan that people from Louisiana are not like what you see on TV - Swamp People, Duck Dynasty, Bayou Billionaires, etc. But this duo on the air boat in the marshes of Louisiana just threw my whole argument out the window. Definitely would have needed subtitles had this evening been on a reality show…
But it was truly an experience unlike any other. We were each given our own crossbow and arrows equipped with a fishing line and reel, hopped on to the airboat fitted with lights surrounding the outer base of the boat, and headed off into the darkness to catch us some Red Fish! First time I have been on one of those air boats, it was so cool! Felt weird just being able to cut straight over the marshes without worrying about the motor getting stuck. Although it was quite frigid out, we had bundled up enough to not feel much of the icy wind..
It was slow going at first, but once we spotted the fish the arrows were flying all night. Everyone else on the boat got the hang of the bow, and how to adjust your aim according to the deflection of light in the water, waay before me. I think they were starting to feel bad for me that I hadn’t caught a fish yet, but I was still having a good time! Eventually… I did manage to get one! I think it was pure luck, I still had no idea what I was doing, but I got one in the boat! So we all finished the night will at least one catch. I could not believe the time when we were wrapping things up and headed back to the boat yard. We started just after 6pm and fished for what felt like 3 hours or so, little did I know it was past midnight by the time we made it back!
I had such an amazing weekend in Grand Isle and was really glad that I made the decision to go, and luckily Linds didn’t have her baby while I was away!
When we got back it was almost time to get ready to head to Vegas for the second Hunting Convention that TCI was a part of. Again, mixed emotions about going since Lindsey was even closer to her due date. A big part of me visiting during that time was to be able to be there for her when she had the baby, and of course meet my first little niece! So I was not really looking forward to this trip and being away from her, and I think Cuan could sense that… So he told me not to worry about going to this show, that he had enough help in the booth so he would be fine. What a relief! So for the next few weeks I got to spend more time with the nephews, hanging out with the bros-in-law and catching up with all my series with mom and dad at the end of the day.
Of course, as Murphy’s Law goes, Lindsey didn’t have the baby during the time that I would have been in Vegas. But I’m still happy that I didn’t go, would have been too worried the whole time I was there I would not have enjoyed it, and of course I got to spend more time with the family!
Now this next bit deserves to have a blog of its own, but again as I'm trying to catch you up, I'll put it all in one!
My beautiful oldest sister had a bit of a surprise when she found out that she was pregnant with her first child mere weeks after she became a wife! Exciting/terrifying realization for her I'm sure. But she grabbed the bull by the horns as they say, and carried on with her new life as a working wife and expecting mother without even skipping a beat. I do wish that I could have been around for her more during the pregnancy, but I have no doubt that the football team of family support surrounding her more than made up for my absence.
Since baby girl Tison was so ready to come into the world, the doc decided to schedule and induction. Baby T was going to grace us with her presence on February 13! So when D-day finally arrived the whole Tison/Hudson/Merrick crew headed to the hospital to check how Linds was doing. I could tell she was in a bit of pain, but as we entered the hospital room, Lindsey put on a big smile and told us that she was doing "okay.." We were asked to leave the room for a quick check up on the mommy-to-be, but were told shortly after that this little baby girl was so eager to enter the world, we needed to stay in the waiting area until she was born!
Anxious and excited, we spend the next few hours awaiting the announcement of the first female in the next generation of the Hudson family. After we heard she was born happy and healthy and Lindsey was doing just fine, we all breathed a sigh of relief and waiting on the edge of our seats until we were allowed to go meet this little angel.
As we re-entered the hospital room, the atmosphere had taken a complete 180 degree turn. There was a sense of peace, and an overwhelming feeling of love throughout the room. Tison was holding his newborn baby girl and introduced Miss Evangeline Marie Tison to the rest of her family.
It was such a special moment, Lindsey couldn't hold back her tears of joy, but I don't think I've ever seen her look more beautiful. Any worry about being a mom had completely vanished from her face, and she was just full of pure joy. She, along with Tison and the help of the Man upstairs, created that adorable, tiny little being, and was going to be her mother and role model and friend for the rest of both their lives. I was so happy and proud of her, and grateful that I was there to share that moment. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.
For the next week and a half I spend as much time as possible with that little bundle of joy, but of course it is never enough. I was excited to get back to my life in Zim, however, I felt so broken having to leave that newborn baby EvANGELine, knowing the next time I would see her she would be almost a YEAR old! But I am so thankful for the amount of time I got to spend with my family back home, almost 2 months in total! So I am keeping all of those memories very close to my heart until the next time I am able to visit home!