Friday, December 30, 2011

Looking Back: 2011

As a teacher, I live my life by school years more often than calendar years.  I'm always caught off-guard by student's jokes in December of "I'll see you next year," because I just can't get my brain to operate on the calendar year when I'm in the middle of school.  For me, the year runs from August to August, and I accept that.
Still, the coming of a new calendar year is something kind of special, isn't it?  New years, new days, new mornings.  New chances.  The closing of a calendar year gives us the opportunity to reflect on what was, and to dream of what comes next.

2011 proved me to be an unfaithful blogger and photographer, so I can't do one of those month-by-month, best posts or photos reviews, but I have picked out a few things to share as I reflect on 2011.

On Babies:

In April I shared my thoughts on Husband and I finally deciding that we were "ready" to have children - or to start trying.  Still, that "decision" brought very little chage in my life.
In August, Husband and I were in Lincoln, NE, for a wedding when we discovered that we were, in fact, pregnant.   After taking a couple of pregnancy tests over the course of a couple of days (which, yes, I have pictures of, but no, I will not post here), we sent/gave our parents these homemade mugs to share the news with them.

In October, we shared the news with the world.  The first non-family, non-close friends people to find out?  My Student Council.  They were so cute and excited for us!

I had my first and total meltdown about worrying if my baby was okay - I was sure the baby was dead and I just didn't know it.    I was a sniveling mess for a couple of days until I finally let my rational self and God take over.

In November, at our second ultrasound, we learned that not only was Baby C alive and healthy, but he was also a HE.  A boy.  A son.  Whoa!  I kind of knew it, I think.

In November, I gave in and finally bought maternity clothes (a tramautic experience at first, but I'm feeling more comfortable in my expanding body these days.... comfortable as in more accepting, not as in physically comfortable). 

Most excitingly, the end of November and December have brought amazing feeling movements and kicks that both Husband and I can feel, and the mushy mom-to-be side of me has finally started to come out.  I'm nervous, excited, and realizing, holy moly, I am going to be a mom.  Soon.

On God and Deeper Things:

At a few points throughout the year, I acknolwedged that I needed to dig deeper.  I pondered having Margin in life, God's faithfulness, and a need to spend more time with the One, but little came of it until November, when a friend finally kicked me in the butt and told me to just do it.
December brought nearly daily quiet times (some long, some short), where I've begun to learn more and more about faith, belief, and a new level of relationship.  The Advent season helped me to process that it's about that relationship. 

Photo Credit: My wonderful blog friend, Southern Gal.

I'm on a journey, but it's beautiful.  And hard.  Beautifully hard, but worth it, and I know I'm getting something I didn't get before. 

On Family, Friends, and Life in General:

January brought a visit from my friend Brooke for a weekend.  She's moving to Korea in a few weeks with her husband.  Brooke is the type of friend you know you can always count on.  I mentioned that I would be alone for the weekend and I was super upset about it, because Husband was going to be on the youth retreat, the first I had missed in years.  On a whim, she and her dog Charlie drove out to hang with Ginny and me. 

Husband and I just had the chance to spend another weekend with Brooke and her husband as they drove from Arizona to Michigan, phase one of their move to Korea.  I don't know when I'll get to see her again, but thank goodness for Skype, and for friends that you know are always going to be there and get you, no matter where they live.

Summer yielded two trips to Nebraska on my part and three for Husband (who loved it, since that's his hometown).  In June, we spent a long weekend at John's mom's and attended Husband's cousin's wedding.    There was an incident with a harmless snake in a park that resulted in my crying like an idiot, and Husband explaining to his sister that I am like Indiana Jones - able to conquer everything but snakes.  In July, Husband went back to Lincoln for his 10 year high school reunion, where he got to drive a Mustang and catch up with some old friends.  And in August, we went back again for Laura's (MIL's) birthday and went to another wedding.  (And found out about the Peanut.)  Sadly, I have no pictures of any of this - I was a terrible photographer.

In July, my grandpa turned 96 years old, we moved him from one retirement home to another, and we took him to Estes Park.  He's pretty much the coolest old man I know.  My sister and I had lunch with him yesterday at his place, and just laughed with him.  He's great.

My sister graduated from college in May and, in August, started her first year of teaching (1st Grade!).  She's doing an amazing job, from what I can tell.  She's also the Peanut's biggest fan, and has already bought him a couple of cute little outfits and is super excited to be an aunt.  Hanging out with her is always fun, even when I'm freezing to death at a football game.


 also have found that, more and more over the last year, I just absolutely love and respect my husband.  He's an amazing man, who continues to amaze me more every day.  He graduated from a 4 year schooling program with honors and took his Journeyman's license test and passed on the first try.  He tore out our rotting deck and put in the cutest little patio and yard in our teeny-tiny townhouse space.  He's been reading up on babies and is actively involved in this pregnancy, and is so excited to be a dad.  And he's grown, in lots of amazing ways, that I couldn't even begin to share here.  He's just wonderful, and I am blessed to be his wife.  I can't even begin to imagine what this next adventure we're about to go on together will be like, but I'm so excited to be on this road with him.

There are about a billion other things I could tell you about 2011, but as this post has already taken way longer than I thought, I'll be finished.  

Looking back, I am in awe.  I pondered.  I taught some great students.  I made some mistakes, but I tried to do right.  I spent time with people I love and who love me.  I learned to spend more time with my family, to create some margin, to leave work at school more often.  I'm growing in my faith, in my relationships, and, of course, in my belly.
I know that 2012 is going to be a year full of life I cannot even begin to imagine, and I am thrilled to begin looking forward.   I have some hopes for this blog, but more importantly, I have hopes for myself, for my husband, for my son. 

For my life.

Blessings, and I'll see you again next year.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Coming Soon to Like a Day Off

1. A hopefully fresh, simple blog design.  I can't actually afford to get someone to re-do my blog for me, and I don't really know how to do much on my own, so expect a simple template.  I want a few more days of Christmas blog (just like I want a few more days of Christmas house), and then I want simple and fresh.

2. A post on 30 before 30.  I started that list a bazillion years ago.  (Okay, like a year ago.)  Now, with less than a year to go before 30, I want to cross some things off my list.  Excited to share it with you - maybe they will actually happen.

3. A request for your most-important, non-annoying advice on how to prioritize what actually needs to get done before Baby C arrives.  With less than 15 weeks to go and the terrifying knowledge that I was born nearly 4 weeks early, I have a serious need to get my rear end in gear and figure out what's most important and what can wait.  Any words of advice from high school teachers who are over-committed to their students on how to do long-term sub plans will be appreciated.

4. Hopefully more regular posts that show a better balance of who I am as a person - teacher, wife, homemaker, mom-to-be, Jesus-follower, funny and serious woman.  I like a lot of my early blog posts, but feel like for the last year I was in a blog-rut.

5.   More pictures.  I just have to replace my camera first.  Remember how I lost it a while ago, and then found it?  Well, I tripped and dropped it the other day when I was about to document my epic fail at Spritz cookies, and it's broken.  Lame.  It barely bounced on the floor.    So.... let me save my Christmas gift cards and see if I can get a new camera soon.

Potentially I'll do a "looking back" post before the new year, but if I don't (I really enjoy not being on the computer on breaks), know I'm looking forward to spending 2012 and all it holds with you all!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Midweek Confessions

Excited to link up and share my Midweek Confessions!  I have given absolutely NO thought to what I'm about to write, but I was thinking about blogging today and decided this is the perfect "not too much thinking required since I'm on a break" post.

Here we go!

1. I really, really, really enjoy not being on the computer.  At school I check my email about a million times a day and, because I teach online, I'm on a lot at home, too.  I've been avoiding grading the last few things (including their final) for the online class, mostly because I haven't wanted to be bothered to log on.  In the last few days, I've been on Facebook for about 10 minutes, I've read maybe three blog posts, and I've responded to two emails.  That's it.  And I love it.

2. I don't think I'm a very good "pregnant person."  I am just not mushy.  And I just discovered that, at 25 weeks, I've gained nearly 20 pounds.  If I'm "supposed" to gain a pound a week or more for the rest of the time, I'm going to have gained 35 + pounds.  I realize that "that's okay," and that "all women are different," but for me, the thought of gaining 35+ pounds, even if it's "baby weight," is horrifying.  I mean, absolutely horrifying.  I've begun to notice my face getting rounder (which happened the last time I gained a lot of weight, although that time I had no "guilt free" excuse), and I don't like it.   It would help if I ate better and walked more often.

3. I don't eat well enough sometimes.  Since I haven't "had time" to grocery shop this week, I just finished a bag of Cheetos as my lunch.  Refer to #2.  I feel kind of gross, but I know if there were any more left, I'd be eating them.  I also need to drink way more water and less other stuff. 

4.  I might not be mushy, but I LOVE feeling the Peanut move.  I could probably sit here for hours and just feel my tummy and see if I can get him to wiggle or kick, even if it meant completely ignoring all the responsibilities I have.

5. My house is already a mess.  It was clean for Thanksgiving, and I had good intentions of keeping it that way.  Christmas presents exploded in the living room, and the bedroom is full of Space Bags full of clothes for "after baby" that have yet to be vaccuumed shut and put away and bags of "won't probably ever fit in this so here you go Goodwill" clothes.  They've been on the floor for two weeks.

6. I'm addicted to Hallmark Christmas movies.  I could watch them all day (I've watched at least 4 in the last two days) and my DVR is full because of them.

7. I really, really, really want a White Christmas.  It snowed on Monday while I was Christmas shopping (which I started on Monday, another confession, and mostly have finished now), and really felt like Christmas.  Because it's been cold, some of the snow is still on the ground, but I want fresh snow for Sunday.  I'm like a five year old, and I could never live somewhere where the possibility of a white Christmas didn't exist.  I always want Christmas to be just like I want it to be, but I'm learning to be less selfish about it.  But a fresh layer of snow would be just lovely.

8.  I bet I could write about a million more of these "confessions."  I'll have to join in again next week to "come clean."  As a last, silly one, I'm always jealous of Elizabeth (with whose blog I'm linking), because I think we seem like we could be pretty similar and maybe could be IRL friends if we actually knew each other, but her blog is way better and her posts more fun than mine. :) 

Stay tuned for more Midweek Confessions in the future, as well as (hopefully) some fun pictures over the next few days!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

And Some More on Glory

Last Wednesday morning I headed downstairs at about 5:30, got my cup of coffee (a delicious half-caf blend that I add organic sugar, a little cream (okay, more than a little), and a dash of cinnamon and ginger), turned the twinkle lights on the tree, and opened up to where I'd left off a few days ago in Matthew.

Later, when Husband came downstairs, I couldn't wait to tell him what I'd read. 

"Guess what the first sentence in the passage was about this morning?"

"Umm... Glory?"

Yup.  Glory.  That word I have never really considered much, but am hearing loud and clear now.  It was just one of those "wow" moments, you know?  The very day before, on a whim, I'd opened to a Psalm instead of the normal routine, and pondered glory.  So to head back to Matthew and get more on it? 

Alright, God. 

Peter, John, and James headed up a mountain with Jesus and got to experience Glory.  Jesus was suddenly transformed - His face, his clothing, filled with light, shining brightly (way better than any Twilight vampire's sparkling).   And He was talking with Moses and Elijah.

At this point, I bet Peter, John, and James are in awe and probably a little freaked out, but they're still with it enough to think, "hey, we should build a memorial to remember this!"    But then they get to see more Glory

God shows up.   They're enveloped in a cloud of light and they HEAR God's voice claiming Jesus as His Son, in whom He delights.  All rational thought goes out the window here, and they fall on their faces.  I mean, who wouldn't?  I probably would have had an "accident," if you know what I mean.

These guys didn't just talk about Glory.  They got to see Jesus.  To really see Him.   (Like in Avatar, SEE Him.)  And they got to experience God. 

This Glory thing is real, and it's a big deal.

Well, I decided to keep reading, thinking that whatever came next would be good, but probably not as jaw-dropping as reading more about Glory.
Jesus' disciples had tried to cast out a demon, and failed.  "Why couldn't we do it?" they asked.

"Because you're not really getting it yet,"  Jesus replied.  "You still don't really know God.  If you really knew Him, a tiny bit of faith would move mountains."  (my paraphrase, obviously.  It's how God spoke to my heart.)

Again, with the connections.  They, like me, needed to know, to see, God.  To be in a real relationship with Him. 
I'm praying for belief, for faith, at a level deeper and more meaningful than I've ever had before.  And God's making the message loud and clear. 

The key is this relationship.  The more I invest, the more I'll get it.  The more I'll know Him.  The more I'll believe and have faith and understand Glory and be able to serve and love and obey.  Like a marriage that has lasted a lifetime and grown stronger and deeper and reached new levels of love, I'll learn to know and love Him.



The true meaning of this whole season.  Of Christmas. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Smile

With the entire couch to lay on, this is the pose my dog chose last night.

What a weirdo.  Her face was literally smushed.  Apparently smushed is comfortable.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Christmas House....

... is one of my most favoritest things in the whole world.  I love it enough to use words like favoritest, even though I know that isn't a word at all.

There's nothing like sitting in front of a twinkling Christmas tree.  As you can see by my holiday blog design, you know I'm obsessed with it.  It's really the best thing in the world, any time of day, although early in the morning or as the dusk falls is the best, because then the whole room glows with the twinkly, sparkly white light of the tree.  Growing up our tree was filled with antique ornaments, handmade ornaments, and a vertiable hodge podge of other ornaments.  There was no rhyme or reason, and it was beautiful. 

When I moved out and had to get my own tree, I got a few boxes of matching little ornaments, and then started collecting other pieces.  Marrying Husband brought in a whole set of his childhood ornaments and Santa Claus collection, and each year we've received more ornaments as gifts.  Now, although there are definitely repeat matching ornaments on my tree (thanks to my first year on my own), our tree is just what I like.... a blend of mismatched, twinkling lights. 

The perfect place to relax.

My next favorite thing is my mantle.  Over the last couple of years I've wored on adding height to my mantle decor.  I've played with having a lot on it, to having very little.  My pre-fall and Christmas mantle was back to pretty simple, with a few lovely pieces and some pops of color.  Fall added a bit more, with a leaf garland and some pumpkins.

This season led me to remove several things, but add many more.  It's definitely back to the "lots on it" stage, but I think it might be my favorite Christmas mantle yet.  The words on it inspire me to choose joy, to believe deeply, to find hope and love in my family, friends, and faith.  And it twinkles, too.


There are many other little areas in my house that are Christmas-y, because I love it so.  We have a Christmas quilt on our bed and little Christmas things in the kitchen, the dining room, on walls and endtables everywhere.  Each shelf on the built-ins in the living room has something different on it - candles, CDs, the Polar Express. 

There is one shelf, though, that stands out.  It's simple, it's not dressed in red and green and gold, and there are no twinkling lights. 

But it's beautiful.

Because, more than anything else in my whole house, no matter how much I love sitting in front of the twinkling lights or seeing the reds and golds or sleeping in a Christmas bed, this shelf matters.

This shelf reminds us of what we're really doing here.

Oh, I love a Christmas House. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

23 Weeks....

None of these pictures are great.  I tried and tried and tried, and made myself late to work the other morning, kicking off a frazzled day.  But you get the picture. (oh, punny!)

Pregnancy Highlights:

How Far Along: 23-ish Weeks

Size and Health of Baby: The Peanut is about 11 inches long, according to all the science, and as of Wednesday's doctor's visit, weights about 1 pound.  (Too bad I've gained lots more than 1 pound, ha!).  Apparently, that's the weight of a large mango.  Doctor said his little heartbeat sounded just awesome and that he's moving just the right amount (which I now feel more often, yeay!!!)

Maternity Clothes: Sigh.  I gave in, but mostly, I feel good about it now.  I definitely cried in the store while trying them on - I am not totally sure why it was so rough, but it was.  My sister and I were laughing yesterday about how we kicked her out of the store because she held up a pair of elastic jeans and started laughing.  Not the best timing. :)  But it's good now.  I have a few pairs of actual slacks that I can wear to work to be a little more professional, and they are SO comfy.  And I have several tops that I'm getting accustomed to wearing.  Let's face it - I'm not a huge fan of the belly, but it's growing on me. (ha!  again with the punny!)  

Gender: We now know that the Peanut is a little BOY, which is crazy!  Husband is pretty dang excited, as you can imagine.  I'm working on wrapping my head around that, still.  I check out all the baby boys and little boys I see and imagine what mine will be like.  We haven't figured out anything like decorating or nursery stuff for him, yet, but we're thinking a little.   Anything really fun and boy-y that you'd like to share with me?

Movement: My new favorite thing.  It almost makes me mushy, which is not the normal.  Sometimes he totally surprises me and I barely can contain myself from saying something or wiggling around myself.  Husband has been able to feel the Peanut move a little more.  It makes it more real for both of us.  It's not all the time, but more and more.   Between that and hearing his little heartbeat at the doctor, it might not be long before I'm a mess of mush, lol.

Sleep: Rough sometimes, but sometimes okay.  When my back hurts, I really like to sleep flat, but I'm trying to use the body pillow to help myself stay off of it more.  I don't know how I could sleep without that body pillow some nights, some nights I don't need it, and some nights, nothing is going to help.  For a while I could still pull off sleeping partly on my stomach (like half sideways), but that's out now.  Peanut kicks me for squishing him and won't stop until I roll over.  I don't blame him. 

Cravings and Eating: Still doing pretty well in this area.  Perhaps it's that I've always craved salty food that means I still do... but I'm actually exercising self-control most of the time.  I need to up my fruit and veggie intake, but a lot of veggies mess with my tummy.  I could stand to drink more water.  Worst things I eat (but that I've always loved, so I don't know that they count as cravings): Taco Bell.  Chips.  M&Ms.  Cheese.  I have my gestational diabetes test at my next doctor's appointment.  I'm really hoping it's a non-issue.

What I miss: Balance.  I've always been a klutz.  I'd hoped I would grow out of it as I matured, but no.  I've always been the person to trip, to drop things, to run into something that's always been there (like a wall).  But it's been worse recently.  I've broken two cups, a glass candle holder, a plate, and maybe something else in the last two weeks alone. 

I also miss being comfortable sometimes, which I know is going to just get worse.

Symptoms: The indigestion is much better, thank goodness, especially when I'm careful of what I eat.  (Thanksgiving, not so good.)  My belly is clearly expanding, if you want to call that a symptom.  I'm congested lots, but that's no big deal.  And.... if you really want to know... well, let's just say I've bought some nursing bra inserts.  Apparently that's a sign I'll make lots of milk, something I've NEVER thought about before in my life.  Ha.  How embarassing, but better than the alternative embarrasment!

Things People Say: "Enjoy this part.  It's all really hard after this."  That was my favorite "encouraging" comment EVER.  Gee, thanks.  "Mrs. C, I didn't realize that you were going to get that big."  Fantastic.   And I'm not even to the largest part yet.   "You are such a cute preggers!"  Nice, but I don't really want to be called a "preggers," thank you.

But, to be fair, lots of people say lots of really nice things and do really nice things.  Yesterday a woman who works in the office (and I was her TA when I was in high school) brought me a cute little blue stuffed owl she found at a craft fair.  Lots of moms have told me that they loved having little boys, and that their relationship is something special.  Several people have commiserated that being pregnant wasn't always their most favorite part, which is nice to hear so I don't feel like the abnormal non-mushy Scrooge of pregnant women.  And people are genuinely excited for us.

Best Moment(s) This Week: Hearing is little heartbeat on Wednesday and feeling him move.  It's reassuring, it's real, and it's simulatenously amazing and terrifying.

Linking up today with some Coffee Company friends.  Don't worry.  I definitely have my decaf Gingerbread Latte in hand.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

This Is Not What I Started To Write

I am having one of those mornings. 

Slept in a little too late but still wanted to have a quiet time, needed to shower anyway, couldn't find my shoes anywhere, didn't want to wake Husband up since he's been working nights, tried to take a cute 23-weeks picture but couldn't get the camera to work well enough and wasted a ton of time doing that, was nearly late to my first class, had to rush around to get ready, class wasn't prepared for what they were supposed to be and were being obnoxious and off-task, have lots of meetings today and no free time, and my check engine light is still on and I realized I can't take the car in today even though I need to get the discount from the people goofing up yesterday when I took it in, called Husband to see if he could do it since he's not working today but it turns out he is, so no car in and little chance of him picking up the house mess.

Frazzled.  That's the word I started my quiet time off with as I began to pray, and it's how I've been feeling off an on all morning.

My plan, as foretold by the attempt to take a cute picture of myself, was to do a 23-Week update.  It's been a while, I think I look cute today, and I wanted to blog about baby stuff.  I had even already titled this post "23 Weeks" when I started typing a few minutes ago.

But I'm feeling this post going in a different direction - my heart is leading me to write other things, instead.

As I prayed that God would quiet my frazzled heart this morning, I asked that He would help me focus on the Big Picture, instead of the little bitty pieces I was worrying about.

Four words came to my mind as I prayed about the Big Picture.





I opened to a Psalm instead of picking up where I left off in Matthew, and read a passage about all the angels and the earth singing


as God's thunder echoed through the world.  As God's awesomeness and power were reflected.

God will give strength to his people.  God will give peace to his people.

the passage concluded.

And I was struck that the word Glory, a word which I rarely think about and hardly ever use, showed up twice in a mere five minutes.

Glory (n): worshipful praise, honor and thanksgiving
Glory (v): to rejoice proudly
Glorify (v): to make glorious by bestowing honor, praise, or admiration
Glorious (adj): possessing or deserving glory

Instead of Jingle Bells (which is my go-to, autonomatic, whistle in my head song), I've been humming the Glorias of this song.

I'm not one hundred percent sure I know what Glory means, truthfully, despite the definitions above.  In my quiet times these last few weeks I have begun to realize that, at least right now, I don't quite get what it means to love God above all else, to be in relationship with Him, to desire nothing more than Him and His kingdom. 

Those are hard things to do with someone I can't physically talk to and see and hear.  And I'm learning that, while I believe, and I have faith, and this is real to me, I need to know Him more.  And as I get to know Him more, I know I'll start to get those things. 

Please hear me well.  I'm not saying I don't believe, or that my relationship with Him isn't personal and real.  I do believe.  It is personal, and very real.  There have been times I've felt the nearly tangible presence of God.  Times where I know I couldn't have made it through without Him.

But in these season of trying to put aside my own self-sufficiency, I am learning that there are a lot of things I need to learn. 

I've been pondering.   Being Still.  ListeningObedienceLoveServanthood.  And now, Glory.

I'm not completely positive where this is leading, or what God has in store, but I do know this:

Each day I have a quiet time, I think some more about these things.  I pray some more.  I read some more. 

And I get to know Him some more.

Gloria, Oh Gloria.

I think I'll get there.

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