Thursday, December 31, 2009

Year in Pictures

In January, we ended up purchasing a DSLR camera. Even though it was a dark and rainy day, I enjoyed playing around with it from day 1: In February, we adopted our crazy and sweet kitten Bones:
In March, we took advantage of some of the great scenery in the Pacific Northwest and did a lot of hiking. This trip was up one of the Table Rocks:
In April, we ate a lot of barbeque and hung out a lot with Kait and Jesse.
In May, I got to do a Trash the Dress photo shoot for Ryan and Renee:
In June, I tried my hand at gardening:
In July, we rang in the 4th of July with friends and family. I played around with the camera some more, and I continued to play around with the camera and learning the settings:
In August, Justin's sister got married, and they made their getaway via innertube while still in their wedding clothes! (PS- I did NOT take this's the work of either Kait or her dad):

In September, we were told that the little bean was a girl, and got to see the first picture where she really looked like a BABY:
In October, I tried my hand at being crafty, and knitted up these baby booties:
In November, I got to do a photo shoot for this sweetie. It was a major accomplishment for me, because it was my first photo shoot for a non-family member or friend:
And in December, we (finally) finished the nursery, which is now just awaiting the arrival of our sweet baby girl!
Overall, 2009 was filled with tremendous blessings, but I really can't wait to see what 2010 holds in store as well!

Pregnancy Post: Week 38

Well, as you can see, my belly button has officially popped out. Justin keeps saying "the turkey's done!", but apparently Lizzy hasn't quite gotten the message yet!

I ended up at the doctor's office yesterday rather than Friday due to a suspected bladder infection. During the exam, I was 2-3 cm dilated, more than 50% dilated, and the doctor kept commenting that she's "extremely, extremely low" and that her head is "practically right there!', which was no surprise to me, because walking around feels like I have a bowling ball between my legs! I do believe the doctor did a membrane sweep, so we'll see how that goes.

I've also now gained about 40 pounds. I'm gonna chalk a lot of that up to baby and water weight, because I have been so nauseous lately that I'm hardly eating. Most people keep commenting about how small I am, but I still do feel huge. Actually, funny story...after the holidays, one of my co-workers joked with my boss at the staff meeting that she should now be allowed to wear sweats to work because none of her normal clothes fit. I laughed so hard that I almost cried...which promptly caused the rest of the office to crack up as well. Yeah...even my maternity clothes are getting close to not fitting. Shirts especially, are almost not long enough anymore.

Earlier this week, we went out to dinner, and my fortune cookie said "The next full moon will bring you an evening of excitement!" Tonight is not only a full moon, but a BLUE's hoping! In all reality though, I'm starting to come to terms that Lizard will make her grand debut in 2010...along with the new year's insurance deductible. I was holding out hope for 2009, but I just don't think it's going to happen. I had a bit of an ugly-cry freak out over that fact last night, but Justin was a great trooper about the whole situation, and today I feel much more at peace.

Also, I now have two more days of work, including today! And I got to see the quilt my mom is working on! It isn't going to end up being a crazy quilt after all, but I think it's going to be pretty darn adorable.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Challenge

Something happened the other day that made me think a little bit. I don't know about you guys, but if I'm in a position where I receive bad customer service, I am the first person to fill out a comment card or write an email to complain. At the VERY least, I usually tell others (or the blog) about the experience. But what about the opposite circumstance--do I do anything when I receive exceptionally great customer service?

I think I mentioned that Justin decided to be on-call for drain cleaning over the holiday weekend. He's done so before and has literally never gotten a call. But, since J already gets paid more for drain cleaning than other plumbing work, and it was over the holidays, it was a great opportunity for some overtime. Anyway, he got a call right as we were getting ready to leave for our big fancy, much awaited Christmas Eve dinner, and I have to admit that I was pretty bummed. Not at him, but the situation just sucked, and I was sad that he would miss a portion of the dinner. He ended up arriving part-way through the main course. Again, a bummer, but at least he made it.

Earlier this week, the elderly couple that he did the call for dropped off a letter at the shop for Justin's bosses. They said that they just wanted to thank J and the company for the great customer service--that they appreciated Justin's willingness to come out even though it was a holiday, and appreciated his positive attitude once he arrived, even though they knew it was taking him away from a special dinner with his family (they offered him dinner while he was there, but he declined and explained that he was meeting us at the restaurant). At some point, J must have mentioned the fact that I'm hugely pregnant, because they also added that he was not only an asset to the company, but would be a great dad as well. kind and thoughtful was that follow-up letter? I am so happy for J that he received feedback like that, because he IS such a hard worker, and DOES try his best to always have a positive attitude with customers, even if he's not personally having a great day.

Anyway, that got me thinking...when was the last time that I went out of my way to let a manager know when someone was exceptionally helpful, or went out of their way for me? Why don't I extend the same effort when someone does exceedingly well as I do when someone does exceedingly poorly?

So here's my challenge to you all--in the next month, if you receive customer service that goes above and beyond, take the time to fill out a comment card or send the manager an email. Just let them (not just the employee, but their boss) know! I guarantee that the positive feedback will make both the manager and the employee's day :)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Peanut Story

So yesterday, I was at work happily munching away on some trail mix while having some "contractions" (which hereafter shall be known as "tightening of the ute", because last night, I had a series of CONTRACTIONS. And let me tell even call the tightening that I've been previously experiencing "contractions" after feeling the "it-feels-like-my-body-is-being-torn-in-two" CONTRACTIONS, is laughable. Anyway.) when I happened to look down and notice that there was something funky about the peanuts in the trail mix.

Now, I'm not sure that these pictures will do the freakiness justice, but it was almost like the peanuts had little blisters! Look at the left most peanut in the picture below. They ALL had those little bumps! And I'm not gonna kind of freaked me out. Even though they TASTE like normal peanuts, I'm not sure that I can bring myself to eat the rest of the bag of trail mix. Which is too bad because trail mix is expensive, people!

Or do peanuts typically look like this and I've just never noticed?!

I'm Reading...

Right now, I'm reading A Prayer for Owen Meany. I have been reading this book for MONTHS. I'm usually a pretty quick reader, but it's just taking me forever and a day to get through this book! It has 826 five star reviews on Amazon, but I'm honestly still waiting for the story to pick up.

Sometimes I feel like I "don't get it" when it comes to books...I never seem to like the same books that the rest of the world likes. Know what I mean?

Anyway....what are YOU reading right now?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Photos and Things

I hope you all had a great Christmas! We were able to spend time with my half, Justin's half, AND Kaitlin's half of Kaitlin and Jesse's family. Overall, it was just a very good day.

Justin was on call this weekend for drain cleaning, and for once, actually did receive some calls. Usually at the most inopportune times (like right as we were leaving for Christmas Eve dinner), but hopefully it will be worth it! Speaking of Christmas Eve dinner, here's some pictures from when we got back to my parents' after dinner:

In other news:

-We went to see Avatar in 3D. To be honest, I didn't really have any desire to see the movie (especially since it was 3 hours long, and we had to stand in line for 1.5 hours before even getting IN to the theater), but it was pretty incredible.

- Our tree is down and most of the decor is put away (we usually don't do that before New Year's, but this year was a little different). After work today, we also plan to re-arrange the living room back to its original arrangement. Although I like the re-arranged version much better than the original arrangement, there really was significantly more room with the original arrangement, and when it's set up that way, we could actually fit the pack and play or swing/bouncer/whatever in the room. We just can't in the re-arranged version. I'm sure it's the first child-related decor sacrifice of many. But I'm okay with that.

- I don't know if it's all the live Christmas trees that I came into contact with over the weekend, or the fact that all of Justin's family has been sick lately, but I woke up the last few mornings with a sore throat and cough. Joy! Still, I took last Wednesday off, and so I'm in to work this morning. Thank you Justin for the Starbucks gift card that will get me through the day!

-My sister got us hooked on Dexter. We're in the middle of Season 2, and I've never loved a serial killer so much in my life.

-My 3 year old nephew Logan came up to me at church yesterday, poked my belly, and said very sternly, "Lizard, you need to come OUT now!" I share the sentiment little buddy. I'll be honest--I was really hoping for a 2009 baby. It would be much better for everyone AND our wallets. But I've pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I am going to be pregnant forever, and that's just not going to happen. Our next doctor's appointment is on 1/1/10 at 11:10am. Here's hoping that will bring me some good luck and good news!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Pregnancy Post: Week 37

So, my 37 week point is actually tomorrow, but I know I'll probably be crazy busy then, so I thought I'd post today instead. As of tomorrow, I am (at least) officially full term, which means that Elizabeth's lungs should be fully developed and ready for the world!

I really don't have much new to report--because of the holiday, my weekly appointment skips a week, which means that I won't see the doctor again until the 1st of the year. He said that he hopes I can cancel that appointment (we're still going by the EDD of 1/14, but my ultrasounds have pretty consistently put me at a due date of 1/8, which would mean that I'm actually almost 38 weeks). That would be FANTASTIC, but I am trying not to get my hopes up. I have no idea whether or not I've made any progress this week, but with all the contractions and pressure I've been having, I certainly hope so!

I was scheduled to work today, but ended up calling in. I'm still just feeling tired (as you can probably surmise from my sleep-with-one-eye-open gaze in the 37 week picture from this morning) and figured that a long weekend would probably do me good. I always feel like a wuss for calling in. Some pregnant women work up until the moment their water breaks...and they are stronger than I am! All I want to do right now is sit at home, nap, cook, and clean. I figured that I might as well take this opportunity to sleep and clean now--Lord knows I probably won't have time once the baby is born!

In other news, I am starting to have to bite my tongue a little bit with the irritating comments that both strangers and acquaintances are making. None of these things are that bad on their own, but imagine having these SAME conversations all day, every day for weeks.

Person: So, are you hoping to have her soon?
Me: Yes!
Person: Well, don't get your hopes up--she'll come whenever she's ready!
[Really? Because I just thought I had to say Abracadabra and she'd appear. Even better, the above person will usually go on to say the following: ]
Person: Well, you just better keep your legs crossed until after Christmas. You just can't let your baby have a Christmas birthday--it would scar her for life!
[Whatever happened to "coming whenever she's ready?]
Person: So when are you due?
Me: Technically, January 14th. But the doctor told me to be prepared anytime from mid-December to mid-January.
Person (happily): Oh...there's no way you'll deliver until at least February! First babies are always late.
Person comes up and starts rubbing my belly.
Person: I bet you hate having your belly rubbed, don't you?
Person: How far along are you?
Me: 37 weeks.
Person: Oh my God, you are HUGE! You better lay off the sweets this year or you'll have an 11 pound baby!
Person: How far along are you?
Me: 37 weeks.
Person: Oh my God, you are so TINY! Please tell me you're not one of those people who tries to diet while you're pregnant--it's terrible for the baby!
Me: Actually, I've gained like 35 pounds.
Person: I don't think so. You really need to talk with your doctor about how small you are. There must be something wrong with the baby!
Person: So, are you nervous about giving birth?
Me: Yes, a little bit.
Person (happily): Well, my sister/friend/cousin had her baby a year ago, and she was in labor for 32 hours and then they had to do an emergency c-section, and both she and the baby almost died! Don't do that!
[Thanks for the warning! I'll make sure the nurses know that not dying is part of my birth plan!]

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Adventures at My Work

8:30am, Co-Worker 1: Oh my gosh! The baby has totally dropped!
8:35am, Co-Worker 2: I think you have a long time to go, your baby hasn’t dropped yet.
8:38am, Co-Worker 3: You’ve dropped so much since yesterday!
8:45am, Co-Worker 4: When is your baby going to drop already?


Backstory: This year, our bosses gave us some dark chocolate dipped fortune cookies as a Christmas present. In the middle of the staff meeting today, here’s what happened:

Co-Worker 5: By the way, did you guys all know there are THINGS inside those cookies?
Everyone Else: Things? What sort of things?
Co-Worker 5: Paper! Little pieces of paper!
Boss: Well, they are fortune cookies.
Co-Worker 5: But they’re dipped in chocolate! Why would they still have the fortune inside?! I ate almost the whole thing before I realized there was still a fortune inside!
Boss: I think this is one of those stories that you probably shouldn’t tell too many more people…
Co-Worker 5: But who puts paper inside chocolate dipped cookies?
Everyone Else: They’re fortune cookies!


Burning Questions of the Day: Pregnant Soldiers

In watching CNN the other day, I saw a clip talking about a new policy under Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo (the general in charge of troops in northern Iraq), under which a soldier becoming pregnant, or impregnating another soldier would be punishable by court martial. An article on CNN's website says:

"The directive applies to all military and civilians serving under Cucolo in northern Iraq, an area that includes Balad, Kirkuk, Tikrit, Mosul and Samarra, according to the Web site of Multi-National Force Iraq.

Of the 22,000 people under Cucolo's command, 1,682 are women."

The article goes on to say that Cucolo will be the sole person deciding which cases are pursued, and that he will not proceed with court martial proceedings if the pregnancy is the result of sexual assault.


Here's my two cents:

Most of the vocal supporters that I've heard from believe that this policy is targeted at female soldiers who intentionally get pregnant so that they don't have to deploy or so that they can go home. It just seems to me that if only 7% of those under Cucolo's command are women to begin with, the percentage of those women that actually intentionally get pregnant so that they can go home probably accounts for an even smaller portion. It just seems like a pretty extreme policy enacted due to the actions of a pretty small percentage of soldiers. And if it was an issue that needed to be addressed, I'm not sure I understand why court-martial is the appropriate punishment...

Second, I don't see this policy creating positive change. Because the punishment is so absolute, it seems to me that a woman who unintentionally becomes pregnant by consentual sex while in Iraq has three options: (a) be court martialed, (b) have an abortion, which are not performed at military bases or hospitals, which means an off-site abortion in Iraq, or (c) lie, and say they were sexually assaulted.

What do you guys think about this?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Weekend Update

-Courtney and Renee threw us an absolutely fantastic baby shower over the weekend! It was a tremendous blessing, and we were given some great gifts! I will post more pictures after I go steal the pics that Kaitlin took, because in almost every picture my dad took, I have my eyes closed, or look like a goon. Case in point:

Yes, I am a giant.

- Justin and I both have to work pretty much all week. Every year, I ask myself why we don't plan ahead and take a few extra days off. It would make everything so much easier! All our Christmas shopping is pretty much done. We do still need to pick up a few baby essentials though, and I'd like to get that done before Christmas.

-I think I am going to try the Williams-Sonoma recipe for Bacon-Wrapped Beef Tenderloin tonight. For some reason, the recipe has always intimidated me, but I'm not sure why. Do y'all have any recipes like that? Things that just seem intimidating?

-I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to wear for the big, fancy Christmas Eve dinner.

-It looks like we won't have a white Christmas this year, and I'm sad!

Friday, December 18, 2009


-It is Friday. I am pretty sure that my bosses are both off today. So, even though our office dress code is "business casual, jeans okay on Fridays", I plan to wear black yoga pants. Hey, they KINDA look dressy...

-I have been up since 3:30am....for no reason at all. I just couldn't sleep.

-I should be working for a canine unit right now. My sense of smell is off the charts--I was sitting in court yesterday, and I could tell *exactly* which parents were still actively using. I could smell the alcohol seeping out of their pores or the marijuana in their hair. No one else seemed to notice.

-I purchased the movie "A Christmas Story" to watch tonight because J has never seen it. And I am pretty sure that he WAS that awkward chubby boy from the movie. In fact, last night when I showed him the DVD case, he said, "Oh my weren't kidding...I had those glasses growing up!"

-Yesterday, I had a conversation with the doctor that went something like this:

Doctor: Well, you're definitely at least 1cm dilated and pretty effaced. And she's pretty much engaged. That's good news. Most first time moms are totally shut up at this point. You're officially on deck!
Me: Well that's good, because I'm officially uncomfortable all the time.
Doctor: No doubt! Well, if there's any day that you really don't want her to come, that will be the day that she comes.
*Justin and I look at each other*
Me: Looks like we're having a Christmas Eve baby
[Every year, my family goes out to one specific fancy restaurant on Christmas Eve. I have been looking forward to this dinner for MONTHS, and keep talking about how with my luck I'll be in labor instead of enjoying the feast]

Doctor: Well, if I had to pick a date for you to deliver, it would be two weeks from today. I always think the 38 week deliveries go the best.
Me: You want us to deliver on New Year's Eve?
Doctor: I didn't even realize that....but bonus for you!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Funny Bones

I think I've mentioned before that our cat can be a pain in the butt. Right now, she's decided that she LOVES the Christmas tree. When we're in the room, she's good as gold and just lays sleeping under the tree. However, if we leave the room for even a second, she's trying to climb the dang tree and/or to knock it over. The thing is, she KNOWS that's bad. She KNOWS that she isn't supposed to, because as soon as we come back in the room, she cocks her head, and looks at us as if to say, "What?"

Then she runs and hides. So, for the last few days, we've been shutting her in the bathroom while we're at work. I don't like doing this, but it really is the only way. And we've got her all set up in there--food, water, toys, and we even shoved some towels in the sink to make a make-shift bed.

The other night, Justin and I were home, so she was allowed out of the bathroom. We were watching some Dexter (thanks sis!), and noticed that we hadn't seen Bones for awhile. I ventured down the hallway, and saw this:

Now, even when we're home, she's taken to sleeping in the sink. It's her new favorite place. The other morning, I needed to brush my teeth, but I couldn't get her to move, so I turned the water on to a slow drip. Nope. She just laid there in the sink, sleeping. Now she guards it--if you come near the sink, she'll swat you away. She is so weird!

Pregnancy Post: Week 36

So, it's been an interesting couple of days. On Monday, we had an absolutely crazy day at work, and I was running around all day. I hadn't felt the baby move much, but I figured that it was just because I was busy. I came home, laid down to do a kick count, and immediately fell asleep.

Tuesday morning, I got up, and almost from the get go, I was just crying...for no real reason. I just couldn't stop crying. I tried to mill around, checking blogs, etc. Usually, the morning is when little one is most active, only she wasn't moving at all. And I couldn't get her to move no matter how much I poked at her. Of course, this just exasperated the crying, and I called Justin as a hysterical mess. I guzzled ice water, and he stayed on the phone with me until I felt a kick. Even then, I couldn't stop crying (I hate this part of pregnancy...I am NOT a crier). At this point, I decided to call in to work--if nothing else, it was clear that I could use a day of rest.

I called to talk to the doctor, and they had me do a kick count. They wanted 10 kicks in an hour. I had like 8, so the doctor decided to have me come in. He basically said, "Well, it could be that the baby is dropping and is just in a different position, or it could be that your fluid is low and you'd need to today."

We headed in for an ultrasound. I am so thankful Justin was able to meet me--I seriously need to send his bosses a thank you note after I deliver for being so flexible with letting him come to pretty much every appointment! Anyway, heart rate was good, fluid levels were good, cord blood flow was good...they just assume that she's dropping and is now in a bit of a different position (the ladies at work keep commenting that I've dropped...I don't really see it). They didn't measure for growth, but the tech did get a clear shot of in between the legs, and said that it is "absolutely, 100%, definitely a girl...go ahead and buy as much pink as you want." So, back to Elizabeth we go :) The tech also commented again about how much hair this little one has on her head! I can't wait to see whether it's curly or straight!

I'm scheduled for another appointment and internal this afternoon, which they wanted me to keep. So I'll find out about dilation then. Here's one of the u/s pictures...not sure if you can decipher it all, but it's a side profile.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Blessings in the Small Stuff

-Our Christmas tree is up and decorated! We didn't end up putting one up last year, and it's nice to have one up this year. It makes me smile :)

-We are having dinner with Kaitlin and Jesse tonight! I am so excited to see them both and "introduce" our offspring for the first time!

-Our cat has been extremely cuddly with me lately. She wants to be held all the time and likes to sit on my shoulder. It's nice not to be attacked for once!

-Justin made me THE BEST chicken and cheese quesadillas for dinner last night, and then went out for milk and brought back Blizzards. Sweet hubby!

- At the most, I have 14 days left of work. Which is a blessing and terrifying all at the same time!

What about y'all--what little things are blessings today?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Burning Question of the Day: Sleeping

Okay, I'm curious....if you're standing at the foot of your bed, looking toward the headboard, which side of the bed do you sleep on? Have you ever changed sides?

Personally, I sleep on the right hand side of the bed. I don't remember Justin and I having a conversation about which side of the bed we sleep just happened that way.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Nursery Reveal

So, the nursery is just about done! We're still missing a few last minute things like a garbage can, and the quilt that will go with the bedding--my mom and I decided that since the gender is a little bit up in the air, we would wait until the little one has arrived before spending all that time making a quilt! Other than that, we have just a few last-minute touch-ups to do, like to finish the trim by the closet, and install some thingy to keep the closet doors from swinging at the bottom.

First, here's a picture of what the room basically looked like was a storage room for all our junk, and had the builder's white walls and tan carpet:







So, here's a break-down of the room, and where things came from:
-Paint Color: Forgotten Secret (Ace Hardware)
-Floors: Costco Laminate in Antique Hickory (Leftover from rest of the house)
-Crib: Baby Mod Cadence Crib from Wal-Mart-$224
-Glider: Un-upholstered Dorel Glider from Wal-Mart- $170
-Glider Slipcover: Wal-Mart- $50
-Rug: Target- $65
-Dresser: Free (Justin's growing up), Repainted with no sand primer and white enamel.
-Changing Pad/Cover: $35 total from Amazon
-Curtains: Wal-Mart $17
-Toy Chest (which is currently storing blankets): Target- $50
-Wall Art: Less than $20 for all 4 (DIY)
-Wall Mural: Painted by Renee
-Sheets/Bedskirt: Made by Mere's Mom
-Other Misc Decorations: Mere's growing up

So, I know some of you were asking if our nursery plan changed much when we found out that there was a chance it might be a boy after all. And the short answer is not really, because most of the pink stuff came in terms of linens (curtains, changing pad slipcover, bed skirt, glider cover), most of which we already had, or could be dyed/replaced without breaking the bank. The only thing that wasn't a linen was the DIY wall art, which would be fairly easy to re-create using different colors. No biggie.

Overall, I am THRILLED with how it turned out. It is really, really close to what I imagined in my head, and I felt like we did it without breaking the bank! A *huge* thanks goes out to both Renee and my mom for helping bring those ideas to life (I can't wait to see it once the quilt is in there too!).

Friday, December 11, 2009


It's going to be another one of those weeks where I go over my one-baby-post-a-week policy. Because truthfully, I'm towards the end of things, and I have a lot of baby stuff on my mind that needs to come OUT of my mind because then my mind will calm down. Settle in, 'cause this might be a long one...

Part 1: Exhaustion

Basically, I'm still measuring 1-2 weeks ahead, which means that even though my "due date" puts me at 35 weeks, I really could be more like 37. This, coupled with the pretty consistent contractions and cervical pressure I've been having, resulted in talk of doing an early internal, because there's a chance that I could already be dilated. However, because the contractions aren't falling into a pattern, we elected to wait until next week to do the internal [partially because I was an exhausted emotional wreck yesterday, and I don't know that I could have handled hearing that there was no dilation].

During the exam, the doctor asked how I was. I told him that I am absolutely exhausted, and that I'm only sleeping like 4 hours a night. He said that's pretty common and it's his theory that our bodies are training us for the baby. Which may be true, but it's really hard when you're still working to function on that little sleep, especially when you already feel exhausted from lugging around 35 extra pounds (yes, I'm up to 35 pounds and I'm not very happy about it even though I know it's for a good cause) all day. Anyway, the doctor asked me how I'm tolerating still working. It was an innocent enough question, but I almost bit his head off. Because the answer is that it doesn't matter how I'm tolerating work--I HAVE to keep working. Because if I stop working now, and the baby is born in January for whatever reason, I would have no health insurance, unless I paid the COBRA premium, which there is no way that we could afford.

On one hand, I feel like a baby for thinking that working is so hard. I don't have a physically demanding job. I am just really tired. And I usually rely on sleeping all weekend to prep myself up for the next week. But then I realized that the next three weekends are absolutely jam-packed...and when I realized that, I cried the whole way home from the doctor's office. Don't get me wrong...they're packed with GOOD things. Blessings! Things like birthdays, baby showers, work Christmas parties--things that I wouldn't miss for the world! Things that would make me really, really upset to miss. But it's still a little overwhelming not to see a day in the immediate future just for down-time.

I was thisclose to calling in sick from work today. But unfortunately, I'm one of the only people in the office today, and I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

Part 2: Fears

I am reading Fearless by Max Lucado. He has a specific 8-step plan for helping deal with fear. And one of those steps is to make lists of your fears so that you can better understand what areas of your life cause fear, and to pray about those areas. So here's what's on my worry list lately:

1- Something happening that causes the baby to die, and having to go through the whole labor and delivery process knowing that the baby has already passed away.

2- Me dying during labor/delivery/recovery. I always catch myself trying to teach Justin how to do little things like pay certain bills online or make little meals so that he would be "okay" if that happened. I know, it's pretty morbid.

3- That we won't be able to make my staying home work financially. This is such a hard situation for me because I know without a doubt that I am supposed to be staying home. We've both prayed about it for countless hours, and it's absolutely, crystal clear to me. I remember having an absolutely overwhelming sense of peace when that's what we decided. But the thing is, it doesn't work on paper. I have no idea how it is going to work. NO IDEA. Justin keeps telling me that this is the trusting in God piece, and we keep talking about Genesis 26, when God told Isaac to move his family to Egypt, and even though Isaac was terrified for his family's lives, he obeyed, and was blessed. I get the point, I know that sometimes it isn't up to me to figure out how things are all supposed to work out. I keep finding the song "Lord, I Don't Know" by the Newsboys stuck in my head, which is awfully telling. But it is just really, really, REALLY hard for me to trust in this way. I am a plan person. A list person. I want concrete things, not just a promise that things will be okay. Ugh.

4- That this pregnancy weight will never, ever go away. I know, everyone says that it will. I will believe that when I see it.

Whew. Okay, I think I'm done.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pregnancy Post: Week 35

Okay, so the bump looks fairly normal from the side. But right now, I think it looks really, really odd from the front. Excuse the blurry picture (it was the only one that I took and I am too tired to go take another):
It's okay to laugh--I did. I think the bump looks weird and bizarre (and Justin says lop-sided) from the front!

  • I'm now 35/35, which means 35 weeks down, 35 days to go. I am really, really, REALLY hoping fewer days though, but trying not to get my hopes up. Justin keeps telling me that I have TOBP syndrome--tired of being pregnant.
  • I do not understand people who nest at this stage of pregnancy. ALL that I want to do is sleep. I have virtually no energy.
  • At this point, baby weighs 5-5.5 pounds. Right now, the Lizard is pretty much just adding on fat, and developing his or her lungs.
  • I have a doctor's appointment this afternoon, so maybe I'll know more then.
  • As previously mentioned, I hope to have the nursery pretty much finished this weekend, so I'm shooting for having pictures up on Monday.
  • I have nothing (other than a Boppy pillow) for nursing. No tanks/ bras/ shirts / creams or what have you. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

More Nursery Wall Art

So...if Justin cooperates with me, I may finally be able to take pictures of the pretty-much-finished nursery this weekend. In the meantime, I was feeling like the wall with the DIY Bird Wall-Art was looking pretty sparse, but I didn't really want to spend anything on more wall-art. I had an idea come to me, but now I'm not sure whether I like it.

Some of you might remember that J and I made a playlist for Lizard at one point. One of the songs on the playlist was "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley. That song was also my high school class' graduation song, and for a worry-wart like me, it's kind of my soundtrack. So, I whipped these up in Photoshop and printed them out on the laser printer, and then I was planning to frame them. The birds are currently hung sort of diagonally from each other, so I have a few ideas on how to hang all four of them together. Justin says that he'd have to see them hung...he isn't quite sold.

Number 1:
Number 2:

What do you think? Is that a silly idea for nursery wall art? Do you have a better inexpensive DIY idea for me?

Thinking About Christmas...

So, I had originally planned to write a post this week explaining Advent--similar to my post around Easter called Holy Week Explained. However, what I really want to talk about in terms of Christmas has changed a little bit over the course of the week. So, if y'all are still really interested in all the symbolism of Advent, I can do that. But for now, things are taking a bit of a different spin. Here goes...

Lately, on TV, the internet, and occasionally even in person, I'm hearing a lot of frustration from fellow believers about Christmas. Almost every day, I receive a Facebook request for a group called something to the effect of "Put CHRIST back in Christmas!" I hear Bill O'Reilly ranting and raving about the "secularization of Christmas." And as a Christian, I completely understand wanting our family to focus on the birth of Christ during this time. However, sometimes I also think about the message that Christians as a whole are giving to those who celebrate Christmas as a secular, rather than a religious holiday. Sometimes I worry that we come across as being rather hostile--'Give us OUR holiday back!' or 'People who celebrate Christmas and don't believe in Jesus are idiots!'

Much like Dan Merchant discussed in his book "Lord, Save Us From Your Followers", I would venture to guess that not too many non-believers feel loved on by Christians during the holiday season. I would venture to guess that some of them probably feel a pretty hostile response when they say that they don't go to church on Christmas Day, or that they believe Christmas is nothing more than a government sponsored economy boost. As a Christian, I strive to act and respond to others in such a way that they never experience hatred or hostility from me...only compassion and love. Because really, Jesus's message was one of love. I'm not perfect, and I don't always succeed at this, but I do try to be mindful of it.

Here's something that I didn't know until my first term in college--that both Christmas and Advent are symbolic celebrations. The Bible does not give us the actual date that Jesus was born, and it's pretty well accepted within both the religious and academic communities that in all likelihood, Jesus' birth was not on Dec 25th (read more about this here). Rather, early believers chose to remember his birth on that day for a few reasons. First, Dec 25th coincides with several pagan and secular celebrations, which allowed early believers to remember Jesus' birth without having to worry about being persecuted for their beliefs. Second, as more people came to believe and the persecution of Christians died down, the early church felt that it would be easier to substitute an "immoral secular" holiday with a "moral" one, rather than to eliminate a holiday altogether and schedule a new one (Augustine makes reference to this idea in his sermons).

So, "Christmas" was the religious significance that the church gave to a holiday that was originally secular, though known by another name at the time. Now, both the secular and religious celebrations have come to be known as "Christmas". And yes, the name "Christmas" does come from the name that those celebrating the birth of Jesus gave the day. However, many of the traditions that we continue to associate as part of the religious aspects of Christmas, like Christmas trees, are carried over from the secular holiday that pre-dated the religious holiday. Call it what you'd like, December 25th has long-since been a date that shared both secular and religious significance. And that's okay.

While I choose to celebrate Christmas for it's religious significance to me, I think it's important for us as Christians to remember that there has long-since been a secular significance to Christmas. And the secular celebration of Christmas doesn't in any way jeopardize the religious significance that we as Christians attribute to December 25th. Neither does the separation of church and state, which prevents state institutions from publically recognizing the religious aspect of Christmas.

Rather, the topic of religious vs. secular Christmas celebrations provides a great opportunity for us to have a dialogue with others about our beliefs regarding Christmas (while also allowing others to share their own beliefs regarding the day). Advent and Christmas are a particularly approrpiate time for this because as we remember Christ's initial coming into the flesh, it is a great opportunity for us also to remember and share that we do not need to be perfect people to come to Jesus--he has already come for us and will continue to come to us in the midst of absolutely any circumstance. There is no sin too great. No matter how broken we are or how much we've sinned when we turn to Jesus, he accepts us with open arms and tells us that he has already come to pay for our sins and that we've already been forgiven. What a comfort and blessing!

So, in my humble opinion, I think it's important for us to remember the historical significance of Christmas, and that it is and was both a religious and secular holiday. And rather than be angry and upset about that, let's use the opportunity to have a dialogue about our beliefs about Christmas and what it symbolizes. But in order to convey Jesus's Gospel of Love, we MUST do so lovingly and with respect.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Now that's interesting....

The elementary school that I went to has recently been in their local news after the principal ordered that a Holiday Giving Tree be taken down after two families complained that it was a religious representation inside the school. The organizers of the tree commented that they were surprised, as they had intentionally left the tree devoid of any ornaments that could be considered religious.

In fact, the "Christmas Tree" was originally a pagan symbol used to celebrate new life. The church has adopted the Christmas Tree as a religious symbol, but in 1989, the Supreme Court said, "The Christmas tree, unlike the menorah, is not itself a religious symbol. Although Christmas trees once carried religious connotations, today they typify the secular celebration of Christmas." Furthermore, the Supreme Court and numerous lower courts have held that nativity scenes and menorahs may be displayed on government property without violating the constitution.

So, really, the principal shouldn't have removed the "Holiday Giving Tree" in the first place, even if it had been called a "Christmas Tree". But that's not the point of this post--the thing that's really interesting about the whole situation is that the "secular holiday symbols" the principal is allowing are candy canes, snowflakes, and snowmen.

Here's the funny part--do you know what the historical significance of the candy cane is? The curve symbolizes a shepard's staff, and they were originally given out to children at church services as a way to remember Jesus as The Good Shepard.

I'm sorry...I just think the whole situation is pretty hilarious.

Asked and Answered

-Alyssa from My Husband's Watching TV asked: Did you guys have any trouble getting pregnant?

M- I always feel badly telling this story because I KNOW how many people are struggling with infertility, but the answer is no. We weren't trying to conceive--I was starting to get baby fever (Justin already had it), but didn't feel "ready" to start having kids. I didn't think we made enough money to make it work. Justin had been encouraging me to pray about it. After trying unsuccessfully to refill my birth control prescription about 3 times, on Easter Sunday we decided that I would go off the pill in preparation for trying to conceive in 3-6 months, but we were still going to be using another method of birth control. Well, one time we didn't use the other method, and two weeks later I found out that I was pregnant, and was honestly, I was pretty terrified at first. It was just much sooner than I anticipated!

She also asked: What is your biggest fear/concern about being a mom?

M- All of it! But the biggest concern is more about making it work financially for me to stay at home. My mom also told me the other day that I was walking by 7 months, which is CRAZY to think about! Also, it occurred to me the other day that if my child ends up having any sort of eye issues, I am going to be in big trouble with my crazy eyeball phobia.

And: What does Justin do for you even though he absolutely doesn't like it? (i.e. shopping, painting toenails, etc...)

M- Justin's been a great sport about helping with almost everything I ask him. Although he does it, I don't think he particularly likes cleaning the bathrooms. Last night, he said, "I really don't understand why I have to do this. It isn't like company's coming over."

-Beth Ann from Life With Us in KS asked: What is his version of how you two met?

J-We were at a multi church campout at the lake and at lunch one day my buddy who knew Meredith, and who is now my brother in law, knocked my plate out of my hands and said, "stupid gravity." So I picked up what was left of my lunch and proceeded to eat it. Meredith saw that and instantly knew she could cook anything for me. And thats how she fell in love with me.

M- And Beth Ann, you nailed I recall, we met about three days earlier when Justin and his brother were playing guitar. I remember that my youth group was full of total flirts, and so I called "dibs" on whichever one of them was my age. I actually thought that Justin's brother was the one that was my age, but was pleasantly surprised to learn that it was Justin.

And: What is his favorite way to spend time with you?

J-In bed of course. I'm not gay.

-Sara asked Justin a crazy long question about plumbing: Over the past few months our toilets have lost their oomph. They flush, but it takes forever for the water to leave the bowl and come back, and I fear soon they won't work at all! So gross! I'm hoping you'll have some ideas or DIY advice to fix them.

J-Give me a call. It could be a number of things and i dont want to type that long. I could probably write a short book trying to tell you what could be wrong. In short you should probably call a plumber. But give me a call and maybe we could figure it out before you have to call.

And asked me where I get all the crazy statistics about pregnancy complications. And the answer is straight out of the pregnancy book that I have, and it doesn't really seem to phase Justin at all. I don't know that I always tell him the crazy statistics, and if I did, he'd probably just roll his eyes at me.

Sara also wanted both of us to answer: if you could make a living wage doing anything(or nothing) you want what would it be and why?

M- Well I would love it if the government would pay me, even just for a little while, to be a stay at home mom! It would be a huge blessing to be able to raise our kids without having to worry about how to pay the bills! Aside from that, probably photography.

J-I would like to test video games or be a disney voice. But I would probably get tired of it not to mention fat. So I would probably stick with what I do now.

-Leah from Marital-Bless asked: At what point did you feel your faith was the strongest?

J-As long as I can remember I have believed in God. I think that I've always been just as strong as I've always been. Although I have had aha moments when my faith has been affirmed but I've also had moments of serious doubt. I do wish that I had a stronger faith though. Sometimes I wonder if it is strong enough.

M- I don't think I've ever felt like my faith was particularly strong. In a lot of ways, believing in God and trusting in him is a constant battle for me. I'm really trying to put things in God's hands this year, and turn to him when I'm in need, rather than trying to "fix" everything myself. And sometimes, I feel like I "get it", but then the next day, I find myself doubting or questioning again.

Also, I get frustrated sometimes because I don't always feel like my faith translates into actual actions in my life. And especially now, I have been thinking more and more about how I want Lizard not only to hear about Jesus, but to see us living in a way that demonstrates not only his love, but our faith as well.

-Leslie gave us two questions to answer about each other. The first being: What is your spouses most annoying habit?

J-Meredith nags and exaggerates when she nags and she is such a good arguer that I feel stupid when we fight. Even when she is wrong she can represent her wrong case better than I can represent my right case. I know that was more than one habit. But they all go hand in hand and always come out at the same time.

M- Justin chews (as in chewing tobacco). Often. I hate it, and it's beyond gross, not to mention expensive. I hate the circular arguments that it causes, and I just wish that he would stop.

And the second was: What's one quality/attribute that makes your spouse the "better half"?

J-She is a woman and remembers everything. I might lose my head if it wasnt attached to me.

M- If you read this blog with any regularity, you know that I'm a complete worry-wart. It's absolutely crippling. Justin doesn't worry like I do--he has inherant faith that things will all work out the way that they're supposed to. Sometimes, it's absolutely aggravating to me, but I'm also very thankful that we're opposites in that way because usually, he can make me trust that things will work out as well.

Friday, December 4, 2009

BQOTD: Stress

*****Again, you can still ask Justin or I anything for the next day or so (see below). We don't have many questions to answer so far--surely you guys must be curious about SOMETHING!?

I'm curious how you all handle stress and/or anxiety in your lives? Are their certain things you do after a particularly stressful day?

For me personally, I've found that one thing that helps me not to carry home stress from work is to make sure there's some sort of separation between work and home. I used to absolutely LOVE going to spinning class right after work!

Also, oddly enough, really bad reality TV (think Real World, The Hills, Rock of Love, etc) also helps. The absurdity of it all helps me to get out of my own head for awhile!

But really, those two things help with stress--anxiety is a whole different thing. It hadn't really been bad enough to take serious note of before I was pregnant. Now that I am, it's absolutely out of control, but coincidentally, now's the time that I can't take meds for it. As I've mentioned before, reading Max Lucado and prayer help some, but it really is still a daily battle!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pregnancy Post: Week 34

First, remember that we've got our "Ask Us Anything" window open! You can see below for details, but basically, we want you to ask either of us (Justin or Meredith) anything you're curious about, and we promise to answer honestly! Whether pregnancy or plumbing related, ask away! Moving on...

So, I thought 'hey, for this week's picture, I should wear the same outfit that I wore at 24 weeks and compare the bump growth over the 10-week period'. Yeah, I couldn't even get the same pants on, but I did manage to sausage-squeeze my belly into the same shirt. And really, all I can do is laugh. I remember feeling huge at 24 weeks--now, I just hope that I can get back there post-partum!

Basically, here's what's up:

-The lizard now weighs in at about 4.5 pounds, which equals about the size of a cantaloupe. Basically, she's still just cooking away and working on developing her lungs. I've read that at this point, the chances of survival, should the baby be born now, are extremely high. However, her brain would only be 2/3 the size of what it would be at 40 weeks, which would leave her at an increased risk of fetal death or learning disabilities later in life. So, as uncomfortable as I am right now, she needs to keep cooking.

-Even though the gender is up in the air, for some reason, I'm still defaulting to refer to the little one as "she". Really, I have no more intuition either way, and honestly, I don't even care. A healthy baby is far more important.

-Over the weekend, I ripped out the one gender-neutral baby blanket that I had knitted and decided to start over. Yeah, I'm crazy, and it probably won't be finished in time. Whateves. I didn't like the old blanket and wouldn't have used it anyway.

-I only sleep for 3 hours each night unless I take Benadryl before bed. Which I finally did last night. And it was bliss. If I don't take Benadryl, the lack of sleep makes me increasingly emotional. Earlier this week, I was already sobbing by 5:30am. Why? Because Justin had forgotten to replace a roll of toilet paper, forgot to actually turn off his alarm (which caused it to go off again and wake me up), and drank the last of the orange juice. Poor Justin...he is putting up with a lot of crazy right now!

-In order to get out of bed, I have to rock back and forth several times first in order to gain enough momentum to propel myself out of bed. It's super sexy.

-My abdomen is pretty much hard all the time. I'm not sure if that's Braxton Hicks contractions, or what. I also am feeling a LOT of pressure on my cervix. I don't think my doctor does internals until 36 weeks, but it will be interesting to see if all that pressure has resulted in any dilation.

-Anxiety is through the roof. I've ordered the new Max Lucado book, which I'm hoping helps. But honestly, I am terrified of labor, delivery, AND recovery.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ask Away!

I know that most of you voted that you want to see the finished nursery--and I promise that you will very soon! We're working hard to finish up some of the small (but important) details, and if all goes well, maybe I will even post a picture before the shower on the 19th.

The next highest votes came in for posts that were either "Ask Justin Anything" or "Ask Meredith Anything". And Justin totally loved answering your questions for the last "Ask Justin" post...he even recently asked when he could do another answer post. So....ask away!

Ask either of us anything...whether pregnancy, marriage, construction, turquoise paint related (or silly)...feel free. We promise to be 100% honest!

We'll work on answering your questions over the weekend for next Monday :)
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