Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wednesday HodgePodge 12/19/12

  1.  How will you spend 'the night before Christmas'?

Unfortunately, Favorite has to work Christmas Eve evening and Christmas Day evening so I'll be spending afternoons and mornings with him and my family.  The night before Christmas will find me with my Mom's side of the family at her house.  It's usually a good time.
 2.  What is one thing you are not?

   These days?  I'm not someone who can multitask without freaking out.  In the hustle and bustle of preparation, I called Lil Bro and lost my mind the other night.  Normally?  I'm pretty together.  But something about prengnacy and lack of memory for the sake of organization just  Thankfully, it doesn't happen often.

3.  Fudge--are you a fan?  Your favorite flavor?

  I've always been a big chocolate fan, but I just can't find it in my to like fudge.  This holiday season, I doubt I'll be eating too many sweets since they give me such horrible heartburn.  (It's one way to keep the weight at bay!)

  4.  Did you attend any craft/vendor fairs in the month of December?  Do you prefer homemade goodies or the ore professional stalls?  Are you giving any homemade gifts this year?

 I went to a craft fair last month with my mom and aunt, and there were some really cool things there.  Since I am a lover of purses, I especially appreciated all the handmade bags the vendors had available.  Some of them look SO PROFESSIONAL!

Generally, I don't give homemade gifts because I am not together enough to handle all the planning along with my regular job stuff.  And this year I'm busy crocheting an afghan for Ryan's room.  I'll post pictures as soon as I have time to take one. 
5.  What's your favorite type of holiday gathering?

 My favorite is the same type of gathering I appreciate any time of the year--people who are willing to get together and laugh until their sides hurt.  I think it's why I enjoy Christmas so much--my whole family is together.  I so enjoy my brothers and their significant others.  Their presence in my mom and dad's house with my Favorite is my definition of home, you know?

  6.  We're approaching a new year...what's going to be different in 2013?

Well, for starters, I'm going to be a mom.  But I think that responsibility really has me considering the priorities in my life.  I'm reassessing my focus and continuing to order my days.  Some days that's harder than others.  And I'll admit that the holiday season and the rush of the last minute semester fixes has kept me from consistently getting into my SOAP devotions.  Honestly, exercise has taken a back seat for the last month, too.

Fortunately, I feel like those things are only minor set-backs.  In 2013, I refuse to dwell on what's behind and look toward what's ahead--which is really something I've been working on in 2012. 

But I have a break on the horizon (two whole weeks)!  And if there's anything I hope 2013 brings, it's an understanding of what is worthwhile and what doesn't deserve extra time.
7.  Share a favorite scripture, quote, saying, or song lyric relating to peace.

Earlier this week Big Mama posted something about these lyrics.  Since then, that's been one of the few things circling in my mind.
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

  8.  Insert your own random thought here.

 I keep trying to write about belief in my life and how it's affected my journey so far.  But the only intelligible thing I can think is this:  Despite what's happened or is happening, I still believe.  I do.  It was one of my deepest frustration this time last year and one of our prevailing joys this year--the hope of expectation.

And I pray that expectation for people who are waiting.  For those who are hurting.  Or lonely.  Or still working through the frustration of hope in general.  And I pray those people see Christ in a very real way over the coming year.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

25 Weeks--Little Navajo

How Far Along: 25 Weeks

Size: Ryan is the size of a large rutabaga.  At our last appointment, he weighed in at 1 lb 7 oz.  The ultrasound tech said if he continues to progress at this rate, we're looking at a 7.5 lb baby, and that makes me happy :)

Gender: It's a boy--Ryan Christopher!

Movement: Ryan moves all the time.  This week we got to see him actually kick through my stomach which was cool and weird all at the same time.

Sleep: I'm getting enough to function so no complaints.  I don't stay comfortable for long, though, so I'm learning to move multiple times a night and get back to sleep fairly quickly.

Maternity Clothes: Yep.  I could use a few more pairs of pants, and I've realized that a couple more pairs of flat/wedge shoes would be a good plan.  See, this week?  I lost sight of my feet.  I have to purposefully look for them if I want to see them so comfy shoes that slip on easily are likely a good plan.

Symptoms: Heartburn and not being able to eat much due to lack of space.  There are few other things that come along with pregnancy.  But honestly?  Everything has been really manageable.  I feel awesome most of the time!

Aversions: I'm learning to incorporate more meat in my diet, but it's still difficult.

Cravings: Breakfast food--french toast sticks, muffins, milk, cereal.

Basically all the things I'd limited so well in my diet.  I think I'm going to work on giving myself one cheat day a week and then eating really well the rest of the days.  Maybe that will curb cravings (and significant weight gain--though, so far, I'm holding steady at about 8lbs).

What I miss: I'm so grateful to be pregnant. I can't think of one thing I should be missing.

Feeling toward pregnancy: People are forever asking me how I feel, and they seem shocked when I tell them I feel great.  While I'd like to tell you the way I feel is due wholly to an overwhelming sense of gratitude, I need you to know I'm not quite that selfless.

I really DO feel great most of the time.  Per my last doctor's appointment, Favorite and I have learned that my body literally functions better in pregnancy than it ever did when my uterus was unoccupied. 

First of all, my weight gain has been mild.  I don't gain four pounds if I give in to a couple of cravings in a week.  And I can generally get those pounds off if I'm careful about what I eat and incorporate a bit of walking into my day.

Secondly, my blood sugar levels have consistently dropped.  At 16 weeks, my first glucose tolerance test showed my level at 132--within normal range, but at the high end of normal.  My second glucose screening at 20 weeks indicated my levels were 98.  For someone who has pretty significant insulin resistance (proved out by horrible weight loss efforts, etc.), that's a huge win.

Thirdly, while I am certainly tired, I am rarely the bone-tired-cannot-get-out-of-bed-to-function-even-though-I-have-no-reason-to-feel-this-way.  And I don't feel like garbage after I exercise, either.

So when I say I feel great?  I mean I'm trying to find a way to stay pregnant until I die.  This is apparently my body's homeostasis.  And I'm enjoying every minute.

Best Moment this week: Watching different parts of my stomach jump and move because of whatever Ryan is doing in there.

What I'm looking forward to: Christmas!  My family will be together again, and I feel pretty blessed to have the opportunity to share our blessing with people who might be more excited than we are.

And after Christmas?  The nursery.  Without grad school on my mind, I'll be able to focus on getting things arranged and getting material so my mom can get to sewin' :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Magic of 12/12/12

I feel like I should mark the monumental occasion of 12/12/12 by posting a random listing of stuff surely someone will read and comment on.

Truthfully, I had a few pictures I wanted to share along with a few random statements that aren't really enough to make an individual post so I'm lumping them all in one.

*  Today is my mom and dad's anniversary.  They've been married for 37 years.  Isn't that an awesome accomplishment these days?

*  I love my classes this year.  My advanced class moved from a 78% average on their first test to a 90% average on their most recent exam.  Can you believe that?!  And I just love 5th hour.  They are such a diverse group of kids, but they are genuinely interested in each other.  Today, after a few informative speeches, they asked the respective speakers so many intelligent questions.  It was a proud moment to be a teacher.

*  A couple of weeks ago, Favorite and I did a belly comparison:

They're alarmingly similar, are they not?  (On a side note, I tried to get them to post side by side, but I'm not tech-savvy and blogger wasn't cooperative.  Use your imagination.)
*  I still can't talk about this gift my mom got me without saying all these things that apparently make my readers cry.  (You're an emotional group, aren't y'all?  HA!)  But, honestly, I can remember seeing it in Hallmark and repeatedly wishing I would have a reason to make the purchase. 
*  Speaking of gifts, I have several I need to post here so you can get an idea of how awesome my support system is.  My Aunt Diane gave Ryan an Ugly Doll (which matches his nursery perfectly), and since she saw it and knew how much I loved Sock Monkeys, Gloria gave me this:
He plays peek-a-boo, guys.  And then giggles with this little kid voice.  So.Very.Cute.
*  Favorite has been busy finishing up the closet in Ryan's room and the closet in our guest room.  When they come next week, BigBro and SILSheena may even be able to hang their clothes instead of unfolding everything from the suitcase.  And Ryan's room has closet doors.  When those rooms aren't disaster areas, I'll try to get some pictures up here for you all to see.
*  And just for fun, we drove out to the road to see our Christmas tree in the front window of our house.  That picture didn't turn out well, but the one of our tag-alongs was pretty indicative of their personalities:
We are stocking-less this year since I couldn't find any I really liked.  (Or, more accurately, I was unwilling to pay $35 a pop for the Sock Monkey stockings I found and llllluuuurrrrvvvveeeddd.)  But I'm almost completely done wrapping presents and have just a few more things to grade before I can officially relax.
And then?  I'll be chillin' until January 7th.
Which is about as merry as it gets :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

I kinda liked Jon Acuff's take on this particular image.  Visit his blog to see how an angel gets its wings.
(Hint:  This billboard may not be the way to make an angel fly.)

Maybe we should forget about verbiage for a while.

“Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.”
                                                       --Steve Maraboli

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Nursery Imagined

I've been working on some ideas for Navajo's nursery, and I thought I'd share the mood board I put together.  It's my first ever mood board, but you know what I've discovered?  It's kinda fun.  Granted, I would've probably picked most of this stuff even had I never put a mood board together.  But I'll admit the process has been fun so far.

So, here it is:

Feel free to share your thoughts.  Or tell me how I can get that rug (from Urban Outfitters) or the chair (from Target) for a little cheaper. 

In case you're interested, here's where I found the other products:

Crib:  Carter's Summer Infant (Amazon)
Table:  Kirkland's
Owl Lamp:  Target (I had to color the shade red.)
Material:  Etsy (Robert Kaufman Remix collection)

My mom is going to sew the bedding and the curtains out of those materials, but here are a few other things I found on etsy that would definitely match:

and this guy:

So now that I've cleared my mind, I need to go be a better wife.  So folding underwear it is.

No pictures of that.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Snotty, Sweaty Side of Hope

Favorite and I try to pretend we're socially capable people.  We do this by occasionally leaving our hobbit hole and visiting restaurants, or if we're feeling particularly people-friendly, the movies.  We've even ventured out recently in search of Christmas decorations.  (Because I'm actually making it happen this year.  Well, I would if Target would ship my tree already.  C'mon Target.  I gave you business.  You give me a tree.  We all have Christmas spirit.  Right?)

But most of our forays into truly social behavior should be tempered with the fact that we rarely interact with anyone but each other while we're out, and we mostly avoid situations that would require the attention of an audience.  We may be funny, but I promise we're really only behind-the-scenes amusing.  We are not stand-up-comedian material.

You'd think this valuable piece of information would've come to mind when PastorJosh asked us to kick off the Advent season by reading in front of the church.

You'd think.

Unfortunately, you'd be wrong.  See, something about actually putting up a Christmas tree and decorating the house after seven years of not bothering coupled with an emotional gratefulness for Ryan's surprise conception tickled something in my heart.  So I forgot who I was for a second and agreed to PastorJosh's proposal.

When I read through his email, I felt good about the commitment.  The reading was about the light of the world and how Christ came to be a light in the darkness.  I nodded my head as I read each paragraph believing Favorite and I would do our part as asked.  Still, it never occurred to me that we are the people who light candles and accidentally set something on fire--information that would've been helpful to consider given the circumstances.

I was blissfully contented with our capabilities until PastorJosh brought me the print-out on Sunday morning.  Turns out, in a burst of genius, he decided to change the reading to coincide with his sermon.

"OK," I nervously thought to myself.  "All we have to do is read.  It'll be fine."

PastorJosh calmly explained he would call us up front and we would could take it from there.  Our responsibilities were three-fold:

1.  Read the assigned scripture.
2.  Read the attached information regarding the assigned scripture.
3.  Light the candle.

But by the time we were called to the front?  Favorite had started to sweat.

(A bit of a side note:  Favorite does not sweat well.  He only sweats when he is extremely hot or extremely nervous.  And it's not a "glistening" sort of glow, either.  He drenches clothing in an attempt to expel all water from his body.  It's a look-at-the-guy-who-just-got-out-of-the-pool scenario.)

By the time we'd taken the ten steps to the front of the church, the back of his shirt was completely drenched and he was well on his way to changing the color of his jeans.  PastorJosh smiled and commented that it was only appropriate to ask us to read given the fact that we were expecting our first child--a son--and during this Advent season we all look to Christ with hopeful expectation.

We smiled, but the emotional response behind the public recognition of our son was already starting to boil.

(Another side note:  Favorite and I do not do public displays of emotion well.  Because most of our public reactions tend to be socially "off," it should be obvious that emotional outbursts are red-faced, snotty messes.  And before you ask:  Yes, we are ashamed of this fact.)

PastorJosh handed us that microphone with a smile and returned to his seat.  (Likely with hopeful expectation.  He should've known better.)

Favorite began to read the words of Isaiah 9.

He really was doing a great job, sweat and all.  We'd managed to look normal, and then it hit us:  Isaiah 9!  Right as Favorite hit verse six, there was a catch in his voice:  "For to us a child is born,/ to us a son is given..."

Without much warning, his eyes teared up and he stopped for a few minutes.

Let's take a break to imagine a scenario together.  Imagine that the man you love, the one you've worked so hard with to achieve a goal, suddenly recognizes the blessing of that achievement and gets a bit teary-eyed.  That would be enough to cause the most unemotional woman to blink back tears.  Unfortunately, I'm not unemotional; I'm pregnant.  So his pause was my downfall.

I couldn't even stop them.  Tears start rolling out of my eyes and my body was involuntarily convulsing.  I was doing my best to control it, so it was only a slight shudder every now and again, but I'm pretty sure it looked like I was having mini-seizures.

When Favorite handed me the microphone, I proceeded to read my section as fast as my air intake would allow.  We  Otherwise?  I was going to fall to the floor in a fit of emotional gratitude that likely wouldn't translate to an all-church revival.  Trackin'?

Stiffening my body to control my seizures, I got to this portion of the reading:  "In times past, we looked forward to God's promise of the Messiah with great hope and expectation..."  

The statement itself, while true, should've been a relatively benign part of the reading.  But it was hot.  And my Favorite was already teary-eyed.  And Ryan was there.  After seven and a half years of trusting God to carry us.  So I really didn't have much control over myself.

I started crying.  Not the few tears I couldn't blink back from before.  We're talking an all-out-can't-speak-without-your-voice-shaking sob fest.

And when I started crying, my nose started running.  Not a feminine, little, sniff-worthy run, either, mind you. It was a rivers of mucus moment.  I actually had to take my mind off of the reading for what seemed like an eternity to make that age old decision:  do I wipe my nose with my hand in front of all these people and risk the great clinging snot escapade?  Or do I just let it run and hope this ends as quickly as possible?

Then, without much rational thought, I wiped.  With the hand holding the microphone.

Social outcasts, I tell you.

We finally stumbled through the end of our reading and, looking at the floor, managed to make it back to our seats forgetting the third part of our responsibility:  LIGHT THE STUPID CANDLE, YOU CRAZIES!

But given our stellar performance up to this point, it was probably just as well we didn't light any fires in the sanctuary.  Lord knows how that would've gone down.

The moral of the story?  We will never, ever, ever, ever read in church again.  (Make a song out of that experience, Taylor.)  And we will return to our hobbit hole where we can snot and sweat in private.

But we will do it with hearts bursting with gratitude over our situation.  And we will do it with the realization that hopeful expectation comes full circle in the hand of the Father.  We are so blessed.

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.

Friday, November 30, 2012

What I Won't Pray for Him

Favorite and I have spent most of our time together discussing Ryan, his future and our hopes for his life.  That sentence alone makes me gag with sentimentality because if there's anything I attempt to avoid in the general public, it's the overwhelming sense of emotion I can't seem to tamp down when necessary.

So gag if you must.  I promise I completely understand.

Like most people this season, Favorite and I find ourselves looking in store windows and staring at our reflections, hardly able to believe we've been graced with so much blessing.  And I find myself more aware of holidays past--the ones where I choked down emotion, smothered by what we were missing, still grateful for all we'd been given and holding my breath for the revelation of possibility.

They were hard days.  There was so much internal construction happening, but, in winter's typical form, no fruit or foliage to be seen.  Then, out of nowhere, "what was frozen through is newly purposed/Turning all things green" (Nichole Nordeman, "Every Season"). 

We're learning to breathe again.  This is an entirely different terrain, and I wonder how much we would've missed had we not trekked the previous jungle.

Gratitude grows in strange environments.  And that realization alone was enough to breathe new life into a conversation about our son.

Without divulging too many private thoughts, I can tell you that Favorite is admantly hopeful Ryan will not suffer through similar circumstances.  To him, there were needless things, and while he definitely wouldn't describe the last ninety months that way, he would prefer Ryan not cycle through scenery that ultimately leads nowhere.

But here isn't nowhere.  I keep arguing that the last ninety months will serve for the next 220 (and then some, God willing).  That we had to see those days to see these.  That, while there were things I would have definitely avoided had my vision been 20/20, they served as the catalyst for change and understanding to my broken heart.  (And certainly in Favorite's life, though I hesitate to speak for him...)

Call me a fool, a sadist or a bad mother, but I won't pray for my son to avoid that particular environment.

Whatever brings him to his knees...
Whatever brings him to the acknowledgement of Christ...
Whatever draws his heart to the understanding that the universe does not revolve around him...
Whatever reminds him he is not his own...

I would pray of them.  Even if it means gritting my teeth and squinting through tears to watch my precious gift suffer.

If that's what makes every breath worthwhile.  Every sunset spectacular.  Every cloudy sky brilliant.  Every day worth living.  I.Will.Pray.It.

And when he's cycling those valleys, I'll pray he's looking for Higher Ground.

Seems like a powerful thing--the prayers of a mother.  It makes me wonder what mine was whispering when I was in the inbetween.

And it makes me oh-so-very-thankful she didn't pray for something easy.  Because sweet?  Tastes entirely different when it follows the bitter.

And I want him to know sweetness.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Little Navajo--22 Weeks

How Far Along: 22 Weeks (two more weeks to viability, and I'm counting

Size: In actual measurements, Little Navajo is around a pound in weight and around 11 inches long--the length of a spaghetti squash

Gender:  Here are a few pictures from the Gender Reveal Party (I'm finally on my game, Kristin!):

Most of our decorations were pink and blue, and I have to shout out to several awesome people who helped get things together:

My mom who made vegetable soup for our guests.

Gloria and Jason who made chili for our guests.

My MIL who made hot dogs, brought nacho fixings and toppings for the hot dogs.

All the guests who showed up excited to know what Little Navajo would be!

To keep with the theme, I made shortbread cookies and rice krispie treats in pink and blue.  We set up the party in our basement because there was a ton of room down there, and it gave the kids a little space to play.

But let's be honest:  most people were just interested in that cake.  They were willing to pose for a picture according to teams.

Team Pink--the guy in green is JaketheSnake.  His shirt said "Team Pink" on the back.
Gloria took her role on Team Pink really seriously.  I wish you could see the amazing
pink purse she brought to accessorize that outfit.

Team Blue
After the pictures, they started chanting for that cake!

Courtney did an awesome job.  There were question marks all over the cake.  Unfortunately, few people were interested in the craftsmanship.  Mostly, they wanted to demolish that confection just to see what was inside.

I should note, there was nothing left of this cake when we were finished.  It was delicious.
If you're confused,

My mom made that wreath and had boy or girl ready to go after we cut the cake.

Y'all.  I am so excited.  His name is Ryan Christopher, and calling him by his name has been the best.thing.ever.

Movement: Favorite got to feel Ryan on Thanksgiving, and he's been moving like a rockstar since Saturday.  I'm pretty sure he got the hiccups on Sunday, and that was a super weird feeling.

Sleep: I sleep hard when I actually sleep, but I seem to wake up frequently.

Maternity Clothes: Yep. They are more comfortable.

Symptoms: Heartburn and insatiable thirst.  Had my first real set of cravings this week so I went to Walmart and bought a ton of cereal.  It hit the spot.

Aversions: It depends on the day. Some days, salad, milk and orange juice sound awesome. Other days, the thought of one or more of those items makes me gag. 

Chicken is still at the front of things-that-make-me-want-to-lose-my-lunch. As is most meat, I guess.

Cravings: Milk and cereal. 

What I miss: I'm so grateful to be pregnant. I can't think of one thing I should be missing.

Feeling toward pregnancy:  Overwhelmed.  I'm putting up a Christmas tree for the first time in seven years because I feel like I should get used to that tradition.  And really?  Because I feel like celebrating.

I'm excited to put a registry together.  I'm excited to get a nursery together.  Here's a peak at Ryan's crib:

Basically?  I'm just excited.

Best Moment this week: Ryan allowing Favorite to feel him move, and responding to Favorite's voice!  That was a crazy moment.

What I'm looking forward to: Our next ultrasound.  I only have to wait two more weeks :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Little Navajo--21 Weeks

(I intend to be back later to update with pictures.  I have one of the belly, one of Favorite's belly--for comparison--and one of the crib.  Stay tuned.)

How Far Along: 21 Weeks (three more weeks to viability, and I'm counting

Size: In actual measurements, Little Navajo is more than 13 oz (weight at the last ultrasound) and around 10.5 inches long--the length of a carrot.

Gender: Our party/reveal is on Saturday, and I am all pins and needles.  The only person more anxious is the CCL, who can't keep her emotions in check.  She just needs to know!

To recap, here are the standings:

Team Girl:  Favorite, UncleBandy, PastorJosh, UncleJason, Gloria, SILSheena, Amber (who texted just so I would know her stance) and the BabyWhisperer at school

Team Boy:  Me, Dad, Mom, LilBro (who won't bet against Dad) and the CCL.

Undecided:  BigBro, JaketheSnake and Num-Num TheWonderChild who changes her views depending on how she's feeling at the moment.

My students are vehemently divided and have chosen to attack the teacher in the building making the cake for our party.  I'm not entirely sure of the monetary amount, but she's been offered so much money for the reveal at this point, she probably wouldn't have to pay for Christmas out of her paycheck.

Next week, I'll be back with an official update and pictures from our gender reveal.

Movement: Navajo is sometimes a little rough.  It's not difficult to feel him/her now, and a few other people have even managed to feel him/her from the outside.  

Favorite is bummed because he hasn't managed to feel the baby kicking yet, but I have a feeling that will be rectified this weekend.

Sleep: It's off and on.  I had some good nap time this weekend due to a little illness that likely didn't worsen due to my flu shot.  Nighttime sleeping is hit and miss.

Maternity Clothes: Yep.  They are more comfortable.

Symptoms: Dizziness, heartburn and insatiable thirst.  

Migraines are starting to dissipate a little.  No complaints on that front.  Heartburn has picked up in response.

Aversions: It depends on the day.  Some days, salad, milk and orange juice sound awesome.  Other days, the thought of one or more of those items makes me gag.  This week, I eliminated tomato soup from my diet.  I used to love it, but I have no idea why.  So gross!

Chicken is still at the front of things-that-make-me-want-to-lose-my-lunch.  As is most meat, I guess.

Cravings: Milk! I'm amazed at how much I could drink in any given day.  Greek Salads from Panera taste awesome right now, and my taste for coffee is back--though I have to limit the quantities. 

And ice cold water. In large quantities.

What I miss: I'm so grateful to be pregnant. I can't think of one thing I should be missing.

Feeling toward pregnancy:  This week, I put Navajo's crib together.  Then, in one terrifying moment, I thought I'd have to take it apart to get it in the nursery.  Thank heavens that wasn't the case.

Otherwise?  I've been overwhelmed with gratitude.  

I keep thinking about last year, and how hope was the one thing I anticipated and dreaded during the holiday season.  For a lot of people, that last ounce of hope is the difference between going on and giving up, but it's also salt in the open wound of continued disappointment.

I have no idea where Favorite and I would have been had hope not intervened--and I'm not talking about the miracle of Little Navajo.  I mean in the years it sustained us until we understood its worth.

And that?  Makes me so very thankful for Christ, His sacrifice and the hope of salvation.

Best Moment this week: BIG OLE BABY KICKS.

Lord.  Someone is getting a little crazy in there.

What I'm looking forward to: Saturday, Saturday, Saturday!

And then starting our baby registry.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Holding Out for a Hero

While working on a project for grad school, I had a revelation:  why don't I spend any time focusing on a Hero Unit for my sophomores?  We could do some really cool stuff. 

We could compare some really cool movies to classic literature.  I would finally be able to justify introducing a new generation to Star Wars and requiring classes to watch The Lion King!

Fortunately, I think this project has given me just enough motivation to begin developing those requirements.

And I know exactly where I'll start...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

20 Weeks--Little Navajo

This week you get to see a light switch.  And part of the window.
And my big 'ole belly...with a real, live baby in it!
(In case you wondered, we'll be working on launching our photography
business later this week.)

How Far Along: 20 Weeks--officially the half-way point if Navajo goes the full 40.

Size: Little Navajo is the length of a banana.  In actual measurements s/he is 10.5 oz and around 10 inches long.  According to our ultrasound, s/he is measuring 13 oz (in the 52%).

Gender: Y'all.  I had that envelope in my hand.  I put it in my purse and then tried to convince Favorite that we could totally look and no one would know.  I am not even ashamed to say it.

But we did not look.  We didn't even peep.  And we won't officially know until the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  But if you like to keep track of that sort of thing, here's the run-down:

Favorite--believes Navajo is a girl.  Not sure where his instinct is coming from, but he's highly convinced and refuses to think otherwise.

Me--My initial thought was boy; however, I switched to girl based on our first doppler.  Now?  I'm back to boy.  The last two heart rates were 140 and 138 respectively (and I know that doesn't really matter) and the ultrasound tech knew in a matter of three seconds.  All that leads me to think little boy.

Ultimately--Who cares?  There's a baby in there.  Navajo is alive and thriving.  I'm just going to enjoy the surprising news surrounded by family and friends.

Movement: Like a salsa dancer.  Oddly enough, I couldn't feel her/him during the ultrasound even though the tech said there was a ton of movement going on.  It was hilarious to see him/her put his/her feet beside his/her head throughout the ultrasound, though.

Sleep: I dream weird dreams.  Sometimes I dream things that could happen.  Other times, they are so far in left field, I have no idea how my mind came to rest there.

Maternity Clothes: Yep.  They are more comfortable.

Symptoms: Migraines, dizziness, heartburn and insatiable thirst.  And I wouldn't trade a bit of it.

Aversions: Chicken is still a problem.  I try to eat it occasionally, but I generally end up picking it out of whatever dish it's in.  I do better with things like bacon and sausage; however, since heartburn is a consideration, I try to limit those foods in my diet.

Cravings: Milk! I'm on my second gallon in less than a week, but I suppose I could be craving unhealthier things.

And ice cold water. In large quantities.

What I miss: I'm so grateful to be pregnant. I can't think of one thing I should be missing.

Feeling toward pregnancy:  We have been surrounded by pregnancy announcements.  As Favorite and I discussed that fact with my mom, she asked when it would be real for some of the people who are just now finding out.

We looked at each other and discussed that.  It was hard to say that it's been super real for us to this point.   We've spent a ton of time discussing pregnancy in general, but I wouldn't say I've anticipated actually bringing a baby home.

But today?  When I saw this little face?

That's a forehead, a little eye (looks like it's closed), a nose a mouth and if you look to the far
right, a foot.  S/he kept putting his/her feet beside his/her head.

And the tech told us that all systems looked good? (Except for the heart.  Little bugger kept putting his/her hands over one side of the heart so it couldn't be checked!)  I realized something:  we're getting a baby.  

Twenty more weeks (give or take) and I'll be holding that little body and kissing those chubby cheeks and playing with those little toes.  Twenty more weeks and we won't be discussing how I'm feeling--just how Navajo is doing.

This isn't an alternate universe, right?  Favorite and I really are getting this much blessing, right?

Best Moment this week: Hands down:  the ultrasound.  I haven't seen Little Navajo since I wasn't quite 8 weeks and now we are just over 20 weeks.  That's more than three months of waiting, anticipating and praying.  His/her spine, my major concern, was closed and perfect.  Organs were in his/her little abdomen.  Navajo's little heart (the part we could see) was pumping blood and beating with a steady rhythm.  Does it get better than that?

What I'm looking forward to: Getting those envelopes back!  With a cake!  How did I possibly think I could wait?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Knees to the Earth: Gratitude and a Call to Ministry

(On Saturday/Sunday, I will be 20 weeks pregnant.  Most of the terrifyingly scary stuff is behind us and while medical science cannot guarantee everything will be OK for the next 20 weeks, Favorite and I are resting in the fact that the God who sustained us to this point will continue the good work He began.  Our God is greater.  And stronger.  And higher.  Though I am a tad nervous for our ultrasound since I haven't seen Navajo on a screen in several weeks.)

One of my favorite singer/songwriters, Nichole Nordeman, penned the words to "Gratitude"--a song that returns to my mind periodically and has played a large role in my prayer life in the years before Navajo's presence:

"Oh, the differences that often are between/What we want and what we really need/
So grant us peace, Jesus, grant us peace/Move our hearts to hear a single beat/
Between alibis and enemies tonight./Or maybe not, not today/
Peace might be another world away/And if that's the case.../
We'll give thanks to You/With gratitude/
For lessons learned in how to trust in You/
That we are blessed beyond what we could ever dream/In abundance or in need/
And if You never grant us peace/But Jesus, would You please...
Those words have haunted me--on one hand, a prayer for change.  On the other, the possibility that an unchanging God may choose to move in a direction counter to the one requested.  I cannot possibility explain how my heart struggled with the duality and singularity present in those lyrics.

While my heart hurt with the prospect, my head eventually accepted the notion that my continued prayer was acceptable, but not always answered.  I continually prayed for peace; God gradually moved me in the direction of Himself.  In that place of waiting, I could attest to His goodness honestly because I knew what it was to be sustained even when my heart longed for a different outcome.

Now that I've stepped through the looking glass, I wonder what to do with myself.  The landscape, certainly different than the one trekked previously, was/is unfamiliar.  So I set my feet on the only path I understood.

I began praying for three couples facing infertility.

In the last week, two of those couples have come to me to share their own Navajo stories.  Two more babies.  Two answers to prayer (due dates within 3 days of each other, no less).  Giddy, I shared the news with one of the expectant mothers.  She responded, "Maybe you've found your spiritual calling."

Whew.  I still loudly exhale at the gravity of that statement.  Mostly because I feel stuck in ministry limbo--the place where you know there's a specific place you should be serving, but you are unsure as to where that place exists, or even more daunting, if it exists.

In the past, I've served in several capacities:  Praise and Worship, Women's Ministry, newsletter, etc.  But for a quick reference guide, here's the current break-down:

Praise and Worship--I'm retired.  I love music, and I love to sing.  I'm not sure those are things I can separate from who I am.  But I'm not sure I want to stand on the platform every Sunday.  And I'm not sure I can separate the what is from the what was. 

Frankly, I'm comfortable without leading worship.  We have a great worship pastor who really puts his heart into what he's doing.  And since I've been in his position (mildly), I can tell you he has his work cut out for him.  Whatever we pay him?  It's not enough.

Women's Ministry--Bible study has always been my heart and soul, but like everything else in life, things change.  I still feel a fairly deep connection to study overall; however, I've found myself becoming a bit more guarded--intensely private, almost. 

It's impossible to facilitate a study without complete transparency.  In addition, my current church supports small group ministry (which is *sings* AWESOME) and a women's Bible study might impede involvement in that ministry.  (And since it's, well, the backbone of connections made in the church, that's counter-intuitive.)  So the only time available is during the summer when small group ministry is on hiatus.  Unfortunately, involvement during the summer is limited due to all the other demands on time.

Will I continue to be involved in that sort of ministry?  More than likely.  At least, that's my thought at this point in time.  But how to serve in the meantime?

And that question brings me back to prayer.

Her comment hasn't been the first indication that my ministry may very well be a call to bend my knees to seek God's face.  I'm just nervous at the prospect, and even more hesitant to determine how that ministry functions.  (Yes, I get that I pray.  But how to organize those prayers.  How to best pray for my church.  For our service to God and the community.  Those are the things that create pause.)

In the meantime, I wonder:  how do you focus your ministry, or find ways to serve your church?

It's a balancing act, and I'm curious how responsible other people keep their ducks in a row.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Morning After

I spend most of my time telling my students I got involved in education to entertain myself with the antics of high school students, and what better way to get paid than to make fun of the kid who accidentally butt-dialed an authority figure in less than desirable circumstances?

I realize, though, that my position in the classroom is valuable and influential, and I carry the weight of those words every time I address topics on which I feel woefully unintelligible.  Or, maybe more accurately, every time any student looks to me for the correct answer.  Any person in a position to influence or challenge the young minds of the world likely feels that same sense of pressure.

But the fact that I value my influence is part of the reason I spend time discussing political matters in my classroom.  I've had to strike a precarious balance between giving my students room to think and guiding their thought processes to consider aspects easy to overlook due to inexperience or other factors.  It's precarious because I don't want to allow my political leanings to inhibit their processes or understandings.  How will they ever become informed citizens if I forgo the steps that allow them to develop critical thinking skills?

Last week, through a simulation activity in class, 90% of my students opted to give up their first amendment rights for the sake of the government providing a safer living environment.  

(The last 10%, heartily led by "Iron Will" declared the other 90% to be crazy and then said something about taking guns and hiding in the woods to defend their rights a la Red Dawn.)

Let that sink in for a minute, though.

Ninety percent.

I know I teach at a small high school in the middle of nowhere.  I know the opinions of my students do not dictate the leanings of the masses.  But I am disturbed to think that anyone--in the smallest portion of the Midwest or the most populated part of the inner city--would buy into the illusion that safety is an adequate or even a preferable alternative to freedom.

My classes quickly realized that the loss of that first amendment translated to an even more significant loss in overall freedom.  When that happened, their collective tune changed dramatically.

In the same vein of experience, my advanced class has been working through persuasive rhetoric and even identifying its presence in presidential debates or campaign commercials.  Our class has taken the time to discuss the "why" surrounding these approaches and the overall effectiveness of the persuasive elements.

Never once have I shared my political affiliations.  Never once have I told them how I determine my voting preferences.  And I don't really see myself sharing that information in my classroom because, again, I think there is something far more valuable in giving the people tools to use and opportunities to use them.

I don't believe I've changed the face of America or impacted the political education of the masses.  But I feel like I've honored the liberties I so value as an American citizen.

So today, winners, losers, Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians or otherwise, I hope we realize where and how our voice really matters.  Arguments over a loss or a win or the state of our country due to a particular individual are likely to do little to change the minds of those who have already made a decision.

Why don't we consider the population just now developing the skills to form an opinion?  And instead of inundating them with reasons we are right, why don't we help them develop a sense of reason?  

Aside from exercising our own rights, it seems to be the most valuable use of our time and resources.

At least, it sounds preferable to arguing on social media, right?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Little Navajo--19 Weeks

I straightened my hair.  LilBro said he really liked it, but I think
I prefer my hair to be big.  It balances my hips a little better :)
How Far Along: 19 Weeks

Size: Little Navajo is the size of a large heirloom tomato.  (Which really doesn't seem much bigger than last week?)  In actual dimensions, Little Navajo is 8.5 oz. and measures about 6 inches.

Gender: My official appointment is Nov. 13th. I'm anxious to start calling Navajo by the appropriate pronoun, but I won't get that opportunity until Nov. 24th because Favorite and I intend to be surprised with the rest of our guests at our gender reveal party.

I'm doing a bit of finalization for that party this week since Favorite is home, and making a sad, sad attempt to cut the guest list as much as possible.  Thirty people in my basement seems like overkill.

Movement: Honestly?  It feels like she runs a paint roller across my stomach and then punches me.  I wish there were some way to know what's going through the mind of a baby in the womb because I have no idea what sort of movement warrants that type of feeling.  And she's certainly getting more insistent.  I don't think it will be much longer before Daddy gets his wish and feels her.

She always moves during PastorJosh's sermons.  And lately, when we're at small group?  She's been moving when 'Maine sings and stopping when he stops.  So weird.

Sleep: The introduction of a body pillow is helping on this front.  I had been using a regular pillow as a substitute, but there is no comparison.  If you are pregnant, or are planning to get pregnant, BUY A BODY PILLOW.  MAKE IT YOUR FIRST PURCHASE.  I don't know why I waited so long.

Maternity Clothes: Where necessary :)  I actually got a pair of pants and a skirt from Old Navy this week.  That'll be an awesome help to my work wardrobe since I've been sneaking jeans once a week other than Friday.

(And somehow I lost three lbs this week so some of those pants fit in the belly and have problems on the back end.)

Oddly enough, I feel a little more willing to try styles I would've never attempted before pregnancy--like belting my midsection, for example.

Symptoms: Migraines are a regular occurrence--once or twice a week. Recently, they've started to make me sick to my stomach. But there are definitely worse things. (Morning sickness, anyone?)

Heartburn.  All. The. Time.  Usually accompanied by hiccups.

I'm thirsty all.the.time, and if my bathroom visits are any indication, my body is actually doubling the amount of liquid I ingest in a day. (And that number is significant. I drink a minimum of 96 oz. of water besides milk or the occasional glass of iced tea.)

Aversions: Chicken is still a problem.  I try to eat it occasionally, but I generally end up picking it out of whatever dish it's in.  I do better with things like bacon and sausage; however, since heartburn is a consideration, I try to limit those foods in my diet.

Cravings: Milk! I'm on my second gallon in less than a week, but I suppose I could be craving unhealthier things.

And ice cold water. In large quantities.

What I miss: I'm so grateful to be pregnant. I can't think of one thing I should be missing.

Feeling toward pregnancy: One of the things people have asked me (and Favorite and I have discussed amongst ourselves) is this:  Do you think you'll appreciate this more because you've waited so long for it?

Like most of my answers, I heartily believe yes and no both fit here.

Do Favorite and I appreciate the gift of children more than another couple who didn't wait as long as we did?  Absolutely not.  I've seen too many people who are wonderful parents and so overwhelmed and grateful to have that opportunity.

Not only that, but we know couples who have pursued treatments like IVF after a devastating diagnosis and found themselves expecting within six months of beginning treatment.  Am I more grateful than they are?  Hardly.  I think the honest truth is that gratefulness doesn't come by degrees, and any time we declare it does, we silently encourage the sense of entitlement that declares we are special because of the circumstances that brought us to this point.

On the other side, I certainly think  my 32 year old self is more thankful for this blessing than my 25 year old self would have been.  This is the only type of comparison I can make--me to myself.  And Favorite and I definitely believe we'll be better parents now than we would've been seven years ago because we've grown through different circumstances.

Best Moment this week: More insistent movement on her part.  It really is one of the coolest things I've ever experienced.

What I'm looking forward to: Thanksgiving :)  BigBro and SILSheena will be here for the first time since we found out about Little Navajo so I'm pumped to see them.  They'll also get to be here for the gender reveal.

I got my first baby gift from AuntDiane and I'm pretty excited to open it :)

Favorite getting to feel her kick.  I know he's anxious to be a part of this experience, and he gets jealous that I feel her so consistently.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

We're Moving (Out of Our Trailer)

Favorite is on vacation for the next week so we're finally going to move out of our trailer.

No, there is no reason to remind me that we've lived in our house for almost two years.  Consider it to be an emotional decision.  We were so excited to move into the house, we just forgot the trailer even existed.

I'd offer you pictures of its aluminum magnificence, but I hestitate to share my shame make other people jealous--particularly when there are so many other reasons to be jealous of my way awesome life.

Let's take our church fall festival last week.

I discovered what Favorite would look like with a full head of hair:

Now that?  Is a sexy beast.  A totally a reason for you to forget about the trailer and envy me for my choice in man candy.  Ignore the fact that he accidentally trimmed his facial hair a bit too closely and, as a result, looked about 10 years younger than normal.

Of course, I didn't want him to feel like he was the only one who could pull off a truly awesome hair-do.

It's me, no?

I'm working on outfits to truly optimize it's sophistication.

But my real talent comes in the form of pumpkin carving.

See that?  Not one lesson.  And it's an original design.

And it won a prize.  (Unlike my chili.  But it's OK.  Eventually I'll recover from the fact that Favorite is now in love with my music minister's wife because she's a better cook than I am.  How did that happen?  I used to be awesome.  Clearly I've spent too much time working on my appearance [see above] and capitalizing on my knife skills [Um.  Obviously].  He'd best watch himself.)

The trailer is going to have to wait, though.  We're going to celebrate a second birthday for this little princess:

Guess Favorite will be on his own this week while I'm at work...