Bringing in the New Year in Style

Jeremy has to work tonight, so it's me and all the girls (babies in the belly, dogs in their bed) hanging out tonight. It's seriously doubtful I will last until midnight, since I don't think that has happened since I've been pregnant. So far, however, the night looks promising.
When I got home, I took a long bubble bath using my new sleepy time bath lotion (which is amazing, by the way...it was a Christmas gift from Bath & Body Works). I even shaved my legs, which is no easy feat anymore, and getting harder all the time! : ) Now I'm sitting here in my snuggly and warm pajamas, enjoying the lights from the Christmas tree one last time, watching season 6 of Gilmore Girls. And I plan to stay here all night, and quite possibly most of the day tomorrow! This might actually be a great New Year's Eve...I'm taking full advantage of all this downtime before April gets here and my world is completely rearranged. I even took off work Friday, in order to extend the holiday spirit a little longer. Actually, I'm planning to start cleaning out the spare bedroom that will become the babies' room, but it feels so good to have a four-day, work-free stretch to do whatever I decide to do.
I don't do New Year's resolutions very well, either making them or keeping them, but I do actually have a couple in mind this year. First, I want to stop wasting so much food. Lots of things I buy when grocery shopping only gets half-eaten, then eventually thrown in the trash. So I'm making a resolve to stop buying so much stuff, and focus on the things I know we'll eat consistently. Jeremy is going to have to help me a little with this one, whether he knows it yet or not. Next, I intend to become a little better housekeeper than I am now. I won't say I will ever be very good at this homemaking stuff, and I will never have a house with everything in its place all the time...that's just not our lifestyle. But I can do better than I do now. For awhile, I've been thinking about hiring someone to come in once a month or so to clean, intending to use that Northeast check I put in so many extra hours to earn. That prospect is still definitely a good possibility once the girls are here, but at least until I go back to work after maternity leave I can make an effort to do a little better at my housekeeping.
So there it is...my plan for 2009. Nothing too major, and all quite within reach. In a year that's going to be full of wild and crazy changes anyway, maybe I can make a little progress.
Here's to a fabulous New Year!


December Whirlwind

Where has December gone?? I cannot believe Christmas has come and gone already, and by this time next week it will be 2009. Christmas was good, except that Jeremy had to work, which threw off our normal holiday schedule. We opened our gifts to each other on the 23rd, knowing it was the last chance we would have to really sit down together. Plus, Jeremy can't stand surprises, so the suspense of Christmas nearly kills him! He got me a digital video camera, which we are both very excited about learning to use. We'll have to practice on the dogs until the newest subjects arrive. I think the gifts I wrapped for our stockings may have been close to being Jeremy's favorites:
Our house is most definitely a "house divided" when it comes to football, so I guess it's lucky we'll have two kids to display our team spirit! I got each of us a pink onesie and a pacifier clip, Alabama for me, Auburn for him. I think Jeremy already has visions of at least one of his little girls in head-to-toe Auburn wear.

We had Christmas with Jeremy's family the weekend before Christmas, which was nice because everything was not so rushed on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. On Christmas Eve, Jeremy had to have his truck fixed (an electronic part we'd been waiting for came in that day), and the mechanic came to our house to fix it! How nice was that? We didn't make it to his grandparents as planned that morning, but the truck is now fixed and the horn no longer beeps every thirty seconds, so that's definitely a good thing. I headed to Scottsboro for the evening, where my sister and I had Christmas with our dad, then watched a movie at home. I came back home so I could see Jeremy for at least a little while on Christmas morning. My family does breakfast on Christmas morning, although this year we pushed it back to brunch time since I would not have to rush off to get to the celebration with Jeremy's family. Jeremy and I spent a little time together, then he headed to his grandparents' before work and I headed to Scottsboro again. While packing up the presents, I noticed I had a box to his grandfather, which I thought he'd taken. A quick phone call later, we discovered he had my mom's present instead. We quickly met halfway in between the house and his grandparents' to exchange...luckily they only live about 10 minutes away! The rest of my Christmas was spent in Scottsboro, hanging out with my family. We all stayed in our pajamas all day, but Laura did model some new clothes for me:

We tend to get a little restless by the end of the evening on holidays, since staying home so much is a rare occasion for us. We watched Casablanca, snacked, and napped most of the afternoon. Around 9:00, we ventured out to Talk of the Town, where Bruce was having a Pajama Party....we were, quite literally, in our pajamas, of course! We visited with friends and family who had gathered down there for a couple of hours, and I picked up a few things for my tree next year, at 50% off, naturally. After that, we rode through town a little while, letting Laura try out her new GPS. It finally navigated us back home, and this pregnant lady hit the bed. All in all, a great holiday.

Lately I've been telling myself that as soon as Christmas is over, I am really going to get started on baby preparations, so now the time is here! We did confirm at our last ultrasound that they are definitely little ladies. They are growing right on track, actually toward the upper part of the size range right now (yikes!). They are also staying close to the same size, with only about 2 oz. difference, which is a good sign we are hopefully avoiding the complications of TTTS. I am gaining weight a little more quickly now, and I was up ten pounds total at the last visit. All in all, I think the doctor is very pleased with how well we are all progressing, despite our potential for complications. Praise the Lord! Hopefully we can continue this way for a couple more months. I am getting bigger by the day, which is normal of course, but sometimes I wonder if my belly can grow enough to contain these girls for another three and a half months! I am feeling them move now, but still just when I am sitting or lying still. They are definitely getting stronger though, and I'm hoping their daddy can feel them soon! We had a DVD made at our last ultrasound, and it's so fun to watch those little arms and legs flailing around. Hard to believe all that is going on in my abdomen. My favorite point on the video is when she was switching from baby A to baby B...baby B's bottom is right in front of baby A's face, then B starts kicking her little legs right at A's head! It is so funny to watch...I wish I knew how to isolate it and upload it here. I can, however, introduce my girls from their latest ultrasound pictures. Here they are, in all their fuzzy, grainy, black-and-white glory:

Baby A: Mary Addison Hughes (she'll be called Addison)
I think her arm is folded across her chest.

Baby B: Mackenzie Ross Hughes

And finally, my belly at 21 weeks, alongside my new Christmas ornament:


'Tis the Season

I really cannot believe Christmas is now less than two weeks away. I have done NO shopping yet, either! Well, I did order two small things for Jeremy online, but still, there are no presents under our Christmas tree at the moment. I try not to over-commit during this time of year, so we are not nearly as busy as many people (which I am quite sure will change once we have children). However, since last Saturday I have done the following: ridden in a Christmas parade, given a final exam, graded most of the said final exam, started on Christmas cards, and attended the office Christmas party. When you're a lazy pregnant lady with a bedtime of roughly 9:00 pm, that's a lot! Today, my aunt and I are going to see The Nutcracker and have dinner at Red Lobster (her favorite, since today is my Christmas gift to her...guess I don't have to shop for that one!). I also hope to squeeze in some of that shopping after we finish, though it depends on how tired I am at that point. Tomorrow, we are having a dinner honoring our choir director, who is leaving, then the youth Christmas party tomorrow night. Busy day! Like I said, 'tis the season....

For the first time in the seven Christmases we've spent together, Jeremy has to work this year. That's just the way it falls sometimes...and better this year than next! This will introduce a little change to our normal Christmas routine (which, again, I'm sure will completely change next year). We normally go to Scottsboro for breakfast with my family, then on to Eva for Jeremy's LARGE family gathering. Christmas Eve is spent with his grandparents and my dad. This year, we are doing Christmas with his parents the weekend before, and I will spend Christmas day in Scottsboro. We have long said that when we have children, our parents can all come to our house to celebrate. Next year they will still be too young to really understand, but by the next I expect we will implement the new routine. I'm curious...how do you with children manage your Christmas traditions, while also letting your children be at home to enjoy the day?

At any rate, the season is here, whether I'm prepared or not! I sometimes have to stop and remind myself that it's not the decorations on the tree or the quality of the wrapping and bows (or lack thereof) that matters. It's family and love, and celebrating the miracle that is our Savior...that part I can do!!


So Very Thankful

Thanksgiving has come and gone once again, and we have so, so much to be thankful for this year. The last few months have been a series of ups and downs for us, obviously, but we are on a major uphill climb for now, and we are glad to be here! I had my first experience with the Neonatal ICU today, visiting a friend's baby, and let me tell you, that's a trip that will make you grateful for the blessings in your life. The little guy I was visiting was born with a birth defect that will require at least two surgeries to correct, but he is making good progress and should get to go home early next week. I saw a family in the waiting room whose baby was born at only 23 weeks, weighing barely one pound. Amazingly enough, that was almost a month ago, and he's still fighting! I glimpsed tiny, two-pound babies with breathing masks bigger than they are, and I saw the strain on the parents' faces as they watched their children fighting unfair battles. Jeremy and I spent the first few weeks of our pregnancy preparing to be one of those families, and just praying we'd get the chance to make it that far. Now here I sit tonight, nearly 18 weeks into an unbelievably healthy pregnancy, giving thanks for all the blessings that God has sent our way.

Speaking of which.... Our last visit to the doctor was wonderfully uneventful! The babies are growing even better than expected, weighing in at 5oz. and 6oz., which is about a week ahead of where they should typically be at this point! The fluid on both babies was normal, indicating that there is no sharing going on at this point. Another potential complication dodged for now! We are so, so lucky. : )

And, of course, the other important news...it looks like we are likely having GIRLS!!! She got a pretty good look at one, and since we know they're identical, that's all it takes! We're not painting the bedroom yet, but we are definitely moving in that direction. Though I would have been just as grateful for boys, I am a little relieved. I have not had much experience with baby boys, and I'll admit I was quite nervous about the possibility of learning by experience with two at once!

I'll end with a recent picture- me at 17 weeks, earlier this week:

And a close-up of the baby bump:

One more, because I can't leave them out...our first babies (who are in for a rude awakening in a few months!):


Sick, Sick, Sick

We are still alive in the Hughes household. I have been off work the last two days, sick with a cold. It really, really stinks not being able to take my usual Tylenol Cold to help me breathe at night. I have spent the last two days moving back and forth between the couch and the recliner, kicking the dogs off my feet when I get hot, and complaining about daytime tv. Can I just say that I am absolutely bored to death?! There are things I could do...clean up a little in this filthy house, work on Northeast stuff, etc. Instead, I have watched most of season 3 of the Gilmore girls (which just happens to be my favorite season) and consumed massive amounts of pistachios (lots of protein).
I have to go to work tomorrow, because Monday is my next doctor's appointment! We are having the big ultrasound to check for growth discrepancies in the babies, and we should also find out whether we need to start planning for boys or girls!! I am so looking forward to seeing them again, and to knowing what we're going to have. I think that will make it feel a little more real. I am officially in my second trimester now, and I am feeling pretty good. I'm still tired pretty much all the time, but not as bad as before. My belly is growing almost daily, and I am wearing maternity pants most of the time now. Pictures coming soon....
We had a wonderful time in Gulf Shores a couple of weeks ago...just the restful and relaxing week we needed. It was COLD most of the week, so we spent most of our time eating, napping, and reading. Perfection. I have to admit, we never even set foot on the beach! Jeremy saw a sign for the naval aviation museum in Pensacola, so we headed over there one morning to check it out. We got to watch the Blue Angels practice, which was really fun...even if it was THIRTY-THREE degrees!! It was a neat side trip, and best of all, completely free. I suggest checking it out if you're in the area.
On another note, I can't believe how quickly the holidays are approaching. Thanksgiving is just the week after next, then Christmas will be here in no time. Where has the year gone? We bought a new Christmas tree at Costco on Tuesday, and I can't wait to get it decorated! I like a real Christmas tree, but it's so much work and mess that we've switched to artificial (at least for now). Time to get in the spirit!


Good news

Our appointment yesterday went well! It was a very quick appointment...the doctor did a quick ultrasound to check the heartbeats (167 bpm and 171 bpm, still high, which I say means girls!!), and that was about it. Dr. C. thought she might catch a glimpse if they are boys, but they were moving so much she couldn't tell anything. She said they were bouncing all over the place, which should be lots of fun in a few weeks when i can feel them! : )
Our next appointment is in four weeks, and they are going to do a growth scan, which is normally done later on in a pregnancy. The purpose is to check for discrepancies in the size of the babies, which could indicate twin-to-twin-transfusion syndrome (TTTS). We are at risk for TTTS because there is only one placenta (which I now understand is how we know they're identical), but I have faith that God will take care of it. We are still a much, much lower risk pregnancy than we thought in the beginning, and TTTS has a few possible treatments if it's caught in time, so we are not going to worry without due cause. Along those same lines, we chose not to get the bloodwork done to check for the possibility of Down Syndrome. The tests only predict the increased possibility of genetic problems...and knowing our luck, they would come out indicative of problems and that would be another worry on our minds for the next six months! It wouldn't change anything anyway, if God chooses to give us children with special needs, that's what we will have.
For the moment, I feel so much more at ease and confident that our babies are on track and doing well. I will try to get some pictures posted soon, I just wanted to update on the appointment!


Limes in my Belly

As of today, I am 12 weeks pregnant (almost through the first trimester!!), and according to babycenter, my babies are about the size of limes. That's the first comparison that has really seemed substantial to me. I am familiar with limes (unlike the kumqwat a couple of weeks ago), and I can imagine the space two limes are taking up in my belly. My belly is growing almost daily, and I've bought my first pair of stretch-waist pants (pictures soon...of the belly, not the pants). I am still looking forward to our appointment on Monday, although I'm nervous about it. I'm a major-league worrier, but at the same time, I tend to irrationally think that if I don't know something is wrong, then it can't be that bad. Crazy, huh? If something is wrong with our babies, it's wrong whether I know it or not, and there's nothing I can do about it. Jeremy tries to convince me everything is fine...I'm having all the normal symptoms, no cramping or bleeding, and as mentioned, my midsection is expanding. Still, I've done a lot of praying for God to give me peace, and I hope to get some reassurance on Monday.
I still don't have much energy, but I did have some plans to clean the house today. So far, I've done the following: cooked breakfast (which I haven't done in many, many weeks), loaded the dishwasher, washed the comforter from our bed and hung it on the line to dry...and napped on the couch, off and on during about 4 hours of Law & Order. Productive, huh? Oh, and I should also mention that it's now 7:15, so my bedtime is quickly approaching. : ) So much for that to-do list.
This exhaustion is really beginning to take a toll on my tv-watching. Last week I fell asleep during the last 10 minutes of The Office!! How could that happen? This week, I did manage to make it through the episode (loved Michael & Holly's awkward hug and the Jim & Pam voicemails at the end!), as well as at least half of the Thursday night edition of SNL's Weekend Update...pretty funny, by the way. All I can say is thank goodness for episodes available online! I still have to watch this week's Grey's Anatomy and How I Met Your Mother. There are a few new shows I'm semi-interested in, but I just can't fit anything else into my sleeping-eating-worrying schedule (did I mention I'm supposed to gain about 40 pounds with this pregnancy?? So far, I've lost 2, gained 1...net gain of -1. Gotta get going on that.). I guess maybe this is preparation for life with two newborns...I'm sure I won't be watching much tv then, either! I will really have to try to get my fill for the next six months or so. Bring on the Law & Order!


Counting the Days

It seems like I'm just counting days lately. I'm looking forward to a couple of different things later this month, and now I'm just waiting on the next couple of weeks to go by!
The first (and most important) thing I'm looking forward to is my doctor's appointment on the 20th. I'm so ready to go and see those babies again! I'm so nervous that something's gone wrong and I don't know it. I'm trying to think positive, but I will feel ten thousand times better when we get to have another ultrasound and hear those little heartbeats. By my next appointment, I will be in the 12th week and almost through the first trimester, so the risk of miscarriage drops drastically. Maybe I can breathe a little easier then. After all the worrying we started out with, it's still hard to believe we may actually have TWO healthy babies in the spring. It seems too good to be true. After my 16 week appointment I will start going every two weeks, so no more month long waits between appointments!
The other thing I'm looking forward to is our trip to Gulf Shores at the end of the month. We have our annual conference for work the week of the 27th, so Jeremy and I get a nice vacation courtesy of the state! It is definitely a great perk of my job. Sometimes I think our division gets the short end of the stick by having our conference so late in the season...it probably won't be warm enough to do much swimming or laying out on the beach. But on the other hand, this is kind of a down time of the year- summer is filled with vacations and trips anyway, so we get to enjoy a wonderful week away in a season when most people don't get to take such a break. I'm especially looking forward to it right now...it's going to be a quiet, relaxing week with no stress and lots of reading (for fun!).
Speaking of reading, I've procrastinated long enough, and I should really go get started on posting an assignment for my online course. Maybe it will help pass the time until the 20th. : )


"Office" Love

Well, I'm almost a week late, but I had to mention last Thursday's season premiere of The Office. It was a long, dry summer without my favorite paper company, but the premiere did not disappoint! I just love Angela, even more so after watching some of her short videos on the NBC website. I thought she was fabulous in this episode, dialing up Dwight for covert meetings every time Andy mentioned their wedding. I wouldn't think anyone but Dwight would be nuts enough to work with Angela, but Andy is a pretty close second. Still, I like Angela and Dwight together...
And, of course, I have to mention the couple everyone waited three months to see again...Jim and Pam, naturally. How sweet was that proposal in the rain??? And I have to admit, I really didn't see it coming. I'm wondering if the writers are going to stir up some trouble for the happy couple. I'm sure they probably will, but I hope it's nothing too dramatic.
I'm not too sure I like Ryan being back, but it's kind of funny watching him try to apologize to everyone. I loved how Kelly totally blew him off. Oh, and Michael and Holly= Cute!
All in all, I'm looking forward to a great season!!


Answered Prayers!!!

We went to our second doctor's visit on Monday. The nurse didn't think we were having an ultrasound, but I was kind of insistent that the doctor had said we could have one, just to make sure everything is okay with the babies. She got the room ready and the doctor came in to do the ultrasound herself. And guess what she most unexpectedly found?? Separate sacs for our babies!! You could just barely seem them when she moved the wand the right way, but they were most definitely there. That means our babies are not momos, and barring other complications, we should have a normal identical twin pregnancy! (Yes, they are still identical, though I have no idea how she knows that.) Praise God! Words cannot explain the relief we have felt over the last few days. It's as if I can really be excited about the pregnancy now, and start to believe that we will bring two babies home with us in April (and not have them in February and spend months in the NICU). I am so thankful for all who have prayed for us over the past couple of weeks, and I ask for your continued prayers for a normal pregnancy! God is so good.


1st Doctor's Visit

I had my first appointment last Thursday, September 11. I wondered a little if that was a bad omen, but honestly, I was just excited to get there and see how things were going. I was being very cautious before the appointment, fully aware of all the things that can go wrong. Little did I know what I was in for!

When we were called back at the doctor's office, we went immediately to the ultrasound room. She got right to the point and got started with the good stuff! It didn't take long to pick out a little bean on the screen, and I laughed and said, "Oh, there it is!" The nurse smiled and said "yes, and here's the other one." Wow!! I'm pretty sure I started laughing and crying at the same time. Jeremy asked if she was "freaking kidding," and that was pretty much all he could say for a little while. She showed us both heartbeats, a solid 118 beats per minute. What an amazing relief that was! I was not completely shocked at the fact that it was twins, as we both have several sets on both sides of our families. The nurse could immediately tell they were identical, though, (more on that in a minute) which is not hereditary. She played around on the screen, showing us everything she could, until the doctor came in. She looked at the screen and said "oh my!" She asked the u/s tech if she saw any trace of a membrane, and they both quickly agreed they did not. I didn't think much about that, as I was still absorbing the idea of identical twins! The doctor noticed a small cyst on my ovary, which she was not very concerned about, and is thinking it is fluid-filled and will go away on its own. Before she left, the doctor said she would get a room ready for us, that we had some things to discuss.

We finished up the ultrasound, getting a couple of pictures and a great 4-d one showing both babies. Then we went to the room to talk with Dr. Callison. I remember the conversation, and I remember absorbing what she was telling us, even if it didn't make a whole lot of sense at the time. I remember thinking things must not be too good when she handed me a box of kleenex, though I managed to maintain composure. To make a very long story short, it appears our babies are monochorionic monoamniotic twins...called "momo twins" for short. (I tried to link to a simple wikipedia definition of the diagnosis, but it's not listed!) Basically, our twins are sharing an amniotic sac, as well as a placenta. It is a result of the egg splitting later than normal after fertilization, and it occurs in about 1% of twin pregnancies (naturally, I would be in the 1%...always have to be different!). I am suddenly an extremely high-risk pregnancy, with the main danger being that, as the babies grow and begin to move, their umbilical cords will wrap around each other and can become knotted. It is very scary, and frustrating to know there's nothing we can do to prevent it from happening. The given mortality rate for these pregnancies is usually quoted at 50%, though I have seen several sites claiming the chances have increased in recent years. My doctor initially said "better than 50%," so I refuse to focus on the negatives. As far as a plan of action goes, I will soon go see a specialist at UAB for a full scan and analysis. I will have ultrasounds every two weeks or so for now, some here and some in B'ham. If I make it to 24 weeks, which is kind of the "line in the sand," as Dr. Callison said (the point at which the babies really have a fighting chance of survival outside the womb, though at 24 weeks there would still likely be major disabilities), I will be admitted to the hospital to begin 24-hour monitoring of the babies. At 28 weeks, the survival rate jumps dramatically, and the longer they can stay in after that, the better off they are. Initial opinion is that the babies will be delivered at 32 weeks, if we make it that far...by c-section, no questions asked on that point! Basically, after I go in the hospital, I can have a c-section at any time if the cords become compressed and the babies go into danger. I should mention that I am around 7 weeks at this point (we never did get around to the more "normal" side of the doctor's visit, so I'm not sure exactly where they dated the babies), which is early, but suddenly it's so much further along than I would normally consider it. When you're talking about a pregnancy that will last a maximum of 32 weeks, 7 weeks is almost a quarter of the way there!

Whew...that was a lot to explain in just a few paragraphs, and it's been even more to comprehend over the past four days. But we are doing our best. I've been researching all I can find on momo twins, which is unfortunately not all that much. I have found a support website, with a message board, where I even stumbled across a girl from Huntsville who is 13 weeks into her momo pregnancy. It's great to have someone nearby that I can talk to already, though we both wish we didn't have a reason to connect, I'm sure. I have managed to find several blogs of families who've had success with their momo twins, which is encouragement that I'm clinging to right now. And, of course, I cling to the knowledge that this is all completely and entirely in the hands of our Heavenly Father. From the time I found out I was pregnant, I have prayed the simple prayer that I've had so much difficulty with in the past, "Not my will, but Yours be done." So here we are. I have never been in less control of my life than I am at this moment. There is absolutely nothing we can do at this point to ensure our babies' safety. Nothing, that is, except relying on the faith that our God is in control. I cannot help but think of Angie's words when she found out the baby she was carrying had complications that were terminal... “I think my Jesus is the same as He was before I walked in here.” That's really what it comes down to, isn't it? Faith that God can heal, but ultimately that He will do whatever it takes to fulfill his ultimate plan. And we are called to carry out that plan, whatever it may be.

So that's what I ask for tonight, prayers that God may heal our children as He sees fit, whatever that means. I am hoping and praying that our miracle babies will be here sometime in March (preferably later rather than sooner). There is a chance of misdiagnosis this early in the pregnancy, meaning we could go back and find there is actually a membrane there (and thus, babies in two separate sacs), which we are praying might happen! Unfortunately, though, the doctor seemed pretty sure and there was no trace of a membrane on the 4-D ultrasound. For the moment, we are as prepared as we can be for this ride, however long it lasts. We appreciate the thoughts and support, and above all, the prayers.


**Written Monday, September 1, 2008**

Well, we've told our parents the big news. We told my mom yesterday while we were in Scottsboro. She doesn't get overly excited about most things, but I know she's happy for us. We told Jeremy's parents tonight, and his mom can't wait until she can start telling everyone. I'm getting more excited as it becomes a little more real, but I'm still keeping it in check until I get to the doctor and make sure everything is okay.

I have a doctor's appointment on Thursday, September 11...I hope that's not a bad sign!! I'm trying to be cautiously positive about the visit, but I won't feel any relief until I see a heartbeat on the ultrasound screen!


Guess who's pregnant??

**written August 28, 2008**

Yep, that would be me. It's still sinking in; I actually haven't let my thoughts go too far yet, but I am very excited. Jeremy and I have been basically "trying" (although I loathe that word and have refused to use it) to conceive for the past couple of months, but I think I'm still sort of surprised. I should have gotten my period last week, but I was a week or so late last month so I waited until this week to really start thinking about it. Yesterday morning, I took a pregnancy test and there was a very faint second line in the window. I just sort of stood there for a minute, trying to let it sink in, see if I felt any different....then I had to get ready for work. : ) I had to run to Walmart after work yesterday, so I bought another test while I was there. I planned to wait until this morning, but I didn't make it. This time I bought the digital pregnancy-test-for-dummies, the kind that literally says "pregnant" or "not pregnant." Sure enough, there it was: Pregnant. Seeing it in plain text made me feel a little more sure about it! After reading the test the second time, I actually laughed out loud. Jeremy was at work, so I got to share the moment with my dogs, who were just hanging out in the hallway hoping I would grab a toy and play with them. (I also think Petey Grace was already eyeing the wrapper I had just thrown in the garbage can.) Since last night when I took the second test, I've been trying to figure out if I've had any symptoms yet. The only thing I'm sure of so far is that my breasts are extremely tender! (Details I don't necessarily have to share, I know, but I want this for a record of exactly what I'm thinking right now!) I also realized that I've gone to bed around 9:00 pm about three times in the past week, which is about an hour and a half before normal.

I was a little unsure about how exactly to tell Jeremy, since I got carried away and didn't wait for him to be here when I took the test. He works second shift, so I knew I would be asleep when he got home, and I hadn't mentioned the test from yesterday morning. I have always said I don't want to get carried away too early on, because I happen to know a little too well that things don't always go as planned. Also, my best friend had a molar pregnancy in the fall, and watching her have to go through that experience has just made me extra cautious. Anyway, point being, there were lots of cute and creative ways I could have told Jeremy, but I'm trying to be practical at this point, more so than just over-the-top excited. So this morning, after I got ready for work, I woke Jeremy up and showed him my positive pregnancy test, which I had saved for just this purpose (in a plastic baggie, don't worry!). He opened one eye, looked at it, scrunched up his face and opened the other eye. Finally he said, "Does that say 'pregnant'?" I said, "Yes, it does, and it's mine." He kind of smiled and said something along the lines of "well, cool." As good a response as I could ask for that early and with that little sleep, I guess! A few hours later, when he woke up for the day, Jeremy called me at work and said, "Did you show me a pregnancy test this morning, or did I dream that?" I assured him that yes, I did show it to him, and that it was true. He's pretty excited, I think, and keeps reassuring me that everything will be fine. We are not telling anyone else just yet, but talking about it with Jeremy makes it a little more real!

I already have a Dr. appointment scheduled for September 10, for an annual exam, which should work out nicely for a first appointment. According to the websites I've looked up, I should be 5 weeks pregnant as of today. That means my baby's heart and some other major organs are being formed as I write! Exciting... The estimated due date is April 30, which sounds like a good time to me! I am ready to get to the doctor and let her confirm that everything is okay. For the moment, though, I feel good, so I might as well allow myself a little bit of cautious joy!


August 12, 2006

Two years ago today, I wore the most beautiful wedding gown I had ever hoped to own. Two years ago today, I marvelled at flower arrangements I would never have dreamed of, and I danced at a wedding reception that topped anything I could have ever imagined. I was not one of those girls who knew exactly how I wanted my wedding to be when I was five years old. I didn't sit around imagining the huge, flowing gown, and I didn't spend hours trying to imagine my future groom. It just wasn't my thing. However, when I went to work at Talk of the Town in 2005, I was suddenly surrounded by weddings. I was newly engaged at that point in time, so I did spend a lot of time identifying the details I would like to see in my own wedding. By the next year, with my own wedding fast approaching, we were so busy at Talk of the Town that I felt like weddings had taken over my life. I was literally working 60 hours a week on other people's events! I had no energy left to obsess over my own. The best thing I ever did (related to my wedding, anyway) was to leave the details to Bruce, the most creative and talented person I know. I had an absolutely stress-free wedding day (power outages and all!), and I trusted in the TOTT team completely to handle everything down to the last detail. And as for that day two years ago, it was without a doubt better than anything I could have hoped for.

I realize that I have only talked about our wedding up to this point, saying little about our actual marriage. And I have learned that although the wedding is the beginning of the marriage, they are two completely different topics. The wedding was an event (an amazing one) that took months of planning, but was over within a few hours. The marriage, however, is a process. It continues to evolve and progress as Jeremy and I evolve, both as a couple and individually. In the next couple of days, I will explore our first two years in that process a little more. But for now, a few of my favorite pictures from the beginning of our marriage...

...haha...okay, pictures to come when I get them off the other computer! : ) I wanted to go ahead and get this posted before it was too far past our anniversary!


Random Thoughts

Some things we've been up to lately...

1. I saw Mamma Mia! last weekend. I didn't have a lot of expectations for it after reading some of the reviews, so I was not disappointed. It was silly at times, strange at other times, but overall an enjoyable movie. I'm sure it was better in the theater than it will be at home, so I'm glad I saw it. Someone described it to me as being "like a two-hour vacation," and that's completely true. But who doesn't need that every once in awhile?

2. My husband shaved his head yesterday! He's been wanting to for awhile, but was nervous about how it would turn out. I encouraged it; I've wondered what he might look like if he loses his hair one day, so it's like a sneak peak. I haven't really seen it yet...I was asleep when he got home last night and he was asleep when I left this morning, so I couldn't get a good look. His head is pretty white though, so a little sun might help!

3. My sister has been home for a little over a week, but she leaves tomorrow going back to Mobile. It's been nice having her around, even though we haven't done much. I'm hoping to get to go down there to visit before too long. Mobile is really starting to grow on me too! Jeremy and I will definitely go visit when we go down for my work conference in October, but maybe I can squeeze in a weekend before then.

4. We've had some drama in the youth group in the last week or so. Those kids continue to surprise me! Along those lines, though, our new pastor is awesome. He and his family have already livened up the church, and they are fitting in very well. I think he is going to challenge us like we've never experienced before, but we need that to continue to grow...even if it's hard sometimes.

5. We had to make an unexpected purchase this week, but it turned out okay. The lawnmower quit on Monday, and it was going to cost at least a few hundred dollars to repair it. Jeremy has been dying for a new mower, and it actually made more sense to go buy one, rather than put money into an old one and have something else go wrong next month. The one we had was old, but we got more than our money's worth out of it over the last couple of years. So, on Monday night, we made the trip to Lowe's and purchased a brand-new bright green John Deere. We were able to finance it with zero interest for a year, which was nice. That will allow us to pay for it over the next couple of months when Jeremy goes back to his part-time job at the high school. (That allows us a lot of flex money during the school year!) I did learn that just asking for zero percent interest rates when making a major purchase usually works...good to know for the future!

That's really about it at the moment. We have an anniversary coming up in less than two weeks, but we have no major plans for that yet. Money is a little tight until we go back to our respective second jobs, and we aren't really big on gifts anyway. We'll most likely have a nice dinner out and maybe actually go to a movie or something, which is a rarity with our schedules. Whatever we do, I'm excited to be celebrating our two years of marriage!


Recent movies

The absolute laziness of this past weekend allowed me to check another movie off my list of classic movies. Saturday morning when the dogs woke me up bright and early (they don't have any concept of the weekend and so continue to demand their regular 6:30 am feeding), I decided to settle in on the couch and take in the latest gem awaiting me. This time I watched Brief Encounter, from 1946. It was a very mild portrayal of a passionate affair between two strangers who randomly met at a train station in England. The word I would use to describe the movie itself is "charming." That's what comes to mind when I think of the way the intimacy was only hinted about and all the things the couple left unsaid. It's an great example of the changes in the film industry from then to now...nothing is left unsaid or unseen anymore. The story itself was simple, but poignant and emotional. You could feel the anguish as she sits at home with her kind husband, knowing her lover is on his way to Africa and she will never see him again...and worst of all, that she will never be able to tell a soul about her pain. I am really enjoying the discovery of these great old movies, and I can't wait to decide on my next pick!

Sunday afternoon, Jeremy and I skipped ahead a few decades (we get netflix two at a time, so I usually get one classic for me and a current movie for us to watch together). We watched Definitely, Maybe, which I have to say was one of the better movies I've seen in awhile. The story is told in a creative and entertaining way...a dad, who's going through a divorce, tells his daughter the story of how he got together with her mother, but he changes the names so the daughter can guess which one turns out to be her mother. It's definitely different, sort of similar to How I Met Your Mother, and the daughter is played by the fabulous Abigail Breslin. Jeremy and I both liked it, which is pretty unusual, but it's nice when we agree occasionally. : )


Recap of early July

We had a great trip to the beach and made it back safely. We got to spend some time with my sister, who has been there all summer with Summer Beach Project. She's been working as a lifeguard at Shipwreck Island waterpark and staying very busy with all sorts of projects, bible studies, etc. The "hotel" they are staying in (ok, it's actually a motor inn!) is quite cramped, so she stayed two nights with us. I would be scrambling for a night away too, if I was staying in a room with 5 other girls! Anyway, we visited with Laura, spent an afternoon with a friend of Jeremy's and his family, relaxed and read by the pool, and ate a ton of excellent food. Successful vacation! I have to say that Panama City has changed a lot since the last time I was there (May 2002). For so long, Panama City has had the party place reputation, and the last time I was there it certainly lived up to that reputation. However, it seems that they are making a conscious effort to return to a more family-friendly atmosphere, and it seems to be working. The majority of the lower-end strip motels have been turned into condos, and most places seem to require a minimum age of 25 to check in. The "strip," while still packed and slow-moving nearly all the time, was not full of drunk teenagers hanging out of car windows or riding in the back of trucks. I am sure there is more of that going on during Spring Break and senior trip time, but overall, we found PCB very laid-back and family-friendly. The new dining and shopping locale, Pier Park, was very nice and we went there at some point almost every day. It's similar to Bridge Street in Huntsville, but a little bigger. The only drawback was that most of the shops closed at 9. We tend to eat dinner pretty late on vacation, so a couple of nights we were left without many options for entertainment after dinner. We did venture over to Apalachicola on Saturday, where we spent the afternoon exploring and taking pictures. There is a very old cemetery right in downtown, and it was interesting to walk around and take in the history contained there. My favorite part was reading the inscriptions on the markers...kind of morbid, I know, but it's fascinating. Some of them dated back to before the Civil War. You can't find that just anywhere! Here are a few pictures from our trip:

Dinner at The Backporch with my sister and a friend of hers.

View of the beach from our balcony, with a storm coming in.

Spending the afternoon by the pool with Laura.
The week we got back from the beach was the week of the 4th of July, so I had a very short week. Jeremy worked on the 4th, so my mom, my aunt, and my cousin came to Huntsville. We did some bargain-shopping (Big Lots!) and had dinner. That evening, I learned just how much the people in my neighborhood love this holiday. Several people in our neighborhood shot fireworks, and I have to say, it was just as good as any professional show I've seen! I can't imagine the money they spent on fireworks, but I sat in the backyard and enjoyed them for two full hours. Chloe (our Eskimo Spitz) loved it because I was letting her run around the yard and bark her little heart out at them, but Petey Grace (my black-eyed shelter dog) was absolutely terrified of the fireworks. She refused to come outside after they started, and she sat at the backdoor the whole time so she could keep her eyes on us. The one time I coaxed (okay, pushed) her out the door, she jumped up in my lap in the lawn chair. Have I mentioned that she is not a small dog? She's about 30 pounds and very long-legged, so the image of her trying to curl up on my lap in the lawn chair she would barely fit in alone was quite comical. Apparently some of the neighborhood kids had leftovers from the 4th, because all weekend they shot small fireworks periodically. Poor Petey Grace was scared to go outside for days, but I think she's finally gotten over it.
So that's what has been going on in our lives lately. Nothing too exciting, just enjoying the summer as much as we can around our work schedules. We did have a pool party for the youth group on Sunday afternoon, which was a lot of fun, but tiring. The weather had been iffy all morning, but it held off for two hours, just for us! Literally...it was cloudy just before we got there, and it was raining less than thirty minutes after we left. God knew we needed that fellowship, I guess!


Beach Bound!

Jeremy and I are headed out on our first real vacation in awhile. We are going to Panama City Beach to relax for a few days. We are actually leaving this afternoon to drive about halfway, because we are meeting some friends in PCB tomorrow and don't want to be rushed to get there. This is the first time we've been to the beach since our honeymoon (which was actually a cruise), so we are looking forward to some much-needed time away!


Today, a Victory

A Madison County jury rendered a verdict today in a criminal trial that has become close to my heart. Benito Albarran, a Mexican immigrant, was found guilty of capital murder in the 2005 shooting of Daniel Golden, a City of Huntsville police officer.

When people find out my husband is a police officer, the most common question I hear is "Do you worry about him when he's working?" The true answer is no, most of the time I don't. Jeremy loves his job, and he is so good at it. How can I not want him to do something that makes him so happy and gives him such an opportunity to serve our community? Now, of course, that's not to say that I don't occasionally worry when I hear stories of the fights he's been in or the knife he found in someone's pocket...but that's why he doesn't always tell me the worst of the stories (I'm pretty sure he thinks I don't know this, but I'm okay with it). And the fact that I don't worry doesn't mean that I don't pray every single day that God will keep my sweet husband out of harm's way. I always tell Jeremy I'm sure that he was meant to be an officer and I was meant to be an officer's wife. I can't explain why I have such an inner peace about his job, when I know he's literally out looking for trouble every day, in a sense. I wasn't sure how I would take it when he started, but from the beginning I have just felt that it is all a part of God's bigger plan and I have no reason to question that plan. Jeremy always says his main goal is to make sure he comes home at the end of the day, and I know he does everything in his power to make sure that happens. The other reason I am sure I was meant for this lifestyle is that I don't mind being home alone while he works nights. I actually enjoy some of the evenings I get to spend in a quiet house, just as Jeremy values the mornings he gets to sleep in alone....although sometimes I do wonder what it would be like to go to bed with my husband every night! That's the other question I am asked often: "Don't you get scared staying at home by yourself at night?" That question I can answer with a resounding "no"!

Despite my convictions that Jeremy is living the life and serving in the career God has laid out for him, I do experience a wave of fear when I hear of an officer's death. Daniel was killed before Jeremy transferred to this job, but when Eric Freeman was killed a few months ago, the situation hit me a little more personally. I will be following the trial of his killer closely as well. For now, I am elated at this small victory against those who think they can take a life and get away with it just because their own lives have been hard. Benito Albarran took the life of a wonderful officer, husband, and father when he murdered Officer Daniel Golden. I experienced his kindness firsthand when Officer Golden worked a traffic accident I had in December 2004. He was extremely gentle with me when I was upset, and I have never forgotten it. For his deed, Mr. Albarran's life will now be taken from him, one way or another.


My Favorite '80s Star

is back! At lucnch today, I saw an advertisement for a new series on ABC Family starring none other than...Molly Ringwald!! In case the excessive use of exclamation points doesn't give it away, I love me some Molly Ringwald. In middle school, my friend Sarah and I literally wore out our copy of The Breakfast Club. Our other favorite was For Keeps, one of Molly Ringwald's lesser-known films...which I am about to go add to my Netflix because I haven't seen it in about twelve years or so. I wonder if I will still think it's a good movie?

Anyway, our Pretty in Pink princess will be playing a mom in a show called The Secret Life of the American Teenager. I went to the show's website, and it looks like it could have some potential. It was created by Brenda Hampton, who also created 7th Heaven (a show which, according to the ABC Family site, "pretty much defined teen drama in the '90s"...I'm not sure I'd take it that far, but hey, the show lasted for ten years, so I will let that one slide!). Like most made-for-cable shows, The Secret Life of the American Teenager will probably be either fairly entertaining or really bad. I guess we'll have to wait until July 1 to find out, but I'm excited to see Molly back in action!

Speaking of cable shows, I'm kind of sad to admit it, but one I can't help watching is Tyler Perry's House of Payne. Jeremy started watching it last year, and I grudgingly found myself enjoying the new episodes on Wednesday nights. The show tackles some pretty tough topics with a lot of taste...and with a lot of humor, of course, in true Tyler Perry style. I can no longer say I only watch it with Jeremy though, since I found myself flipping it on last Wednesday when I was home alone. Oh well, if I had to add another show to my list at least it's a family show!


Simple Pleasures

This weekend, I am vowing to take time to notice and be thankful for the simple pleasures in my life. I have been reading some of the heart-wrenching stories of others in the blogging world this week, such as the one found here, and I can't help but wonder if I would be as strong if tragedy struck in my life. I have really been struck the past few days by how fortunate I am, and again, I have decided to take notice and be appreciative this weekend. Some of the good things from the past day or so have included:
---An unexpected weeknight dinner with my best friend Kelly, something that doesn't happen nearly often enough.
---Spending my lunch hour today just catching up on the week with my mom.
---A phone call from my sister yesterday afternoon...another rarity!
---The mandarin chicken salad I had from Wendy's yesterday. I have been wanting to try it for awhile, and it was every bit worth the $5.00 I grudgingly handed over at a fast-food restaurant.
---Sitting outside last night, on my freshly-painted patio furniture, watching the dogs play in the yard. I am especially thankful they were not hurt during Sunday's escapade, and that the fence provisions seem to be working to keep the little criminals inside the yard!

This is my first totally free weekend in awhile, and I plan to thoroughly enjoy it. Oh, and Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there!


Weekend Happenings

This weekend was a pretty good one, as far as weekends go...at least until Sunday afternoon, but I'll get to that in a minute. Jeremy took off Friday night and we ventured into Huntsville to get my overdue birthday present (a brand-new laptop!) and had breakfast for dinner at Cracker Barrel. Saturday night was Kelly's birthday get-together, which I was a little unsure about all week. I was excited to see some people I hadn't seen in quite awhile, but also wondering if we'd have anything to talk about, since we are quickly moving way beyond the college sorority days. Kelly's circle of friends and mine began to diverge a little in college, and she is still in close contact with a lot more people than I am. I really shouldn't have worried though, it turned out to be a really enjoyable evening. I do miss seeing those girls sometimes, and though our conversations lean more toward the trials of sharing a marital checking account than which fraternity's formal is coming up next, I found I still had plenty in common with most of them. We grilled and just enjoyed being outside once the sun went down and it cooled down a little.

Sunday got off to a good start. Jeremy and I kept the nursery during church and we had 4 little boys to enjoy for an hour. I think Jeremy had a good time working puzzles and playing with the matchbox cars! It was our pastor's last Sunday with us, and it wasn't until after church was over that I realized I missed his last sermon. He has been with us for 4 years, which is a long time in the Methodist church, so we will miss him and his family a lot, I think. Having said that, we are all very excited about meeting our new pastor next week. He has three children, one of whom will be joining us in the youth group, and we have heard only good things about him so far. After church on Sunday, we went to dinner with my family, then headed for home. When we were around 30 minutes from home, Jeremy got a call from one of the county dispatchers, who asked if our dogs liked to escape from the backyard. (As a matter of fact, they do, which is something we are trying our hardest to fix, but we have some really smart dogs!) It seems our neighbor across the street had called the police because our dogs were in his yard. Needless to say, we made it home in record time. By the time we got there, the deputy had already caught our dogs and put them back inside the fence, and was out front talking to the complainer. They did not attack or bite anyone, and the neighbor even admitted the teenage boy in his yard had kicked one of my dogs when they wouldn't go away. The neighbor then went inside and got a shotgun and fired a shot in the ground to scare them. I was unbelievably upset at the way all of this transpired. I would completely understand some of this if my dogs had bitten or attacked someone, but I do not think our neighbor handled the situation well at all. I am really just thankful my dogs were not hurt, and I am glad they didn't hurt anyone either. Can you guess what Jeremy spent his day doing yesterday? If you said fixing the fence, you're a winner! We actually just got a privacy fence put up a couple of weeks ago, so we are just working out the kinks and blocking all the places they have been able to dig out underneath the fence (because we live on a hill, there are a few gaps where they can dig and squeeze out). We have tried a new method this time, and we are praying it takes care of the problem! So far, so good.


Birthday week!

Well, it's official: I am now closer to age 30 than to age 20. I have not ever been one to have a hard time with birthdays, or even to make a very big deal of them. However, it does feel a little different to be 26, rather than 25. More substantial, maybe, like I'm truly an adult now. Whatever it is, 26 is here, and I plan to enjoy it!

My actual birthday was Tuesday, and my sweet husband surprised me by inviting our parents and my best friend Kelly over for dinner. It's a good thing he told me only a few minutes before they got there, so I didn't have time to worry that the house was not as clean as I would have liked. We grilled and sat out back until it was too dark to see, then we came in and had homemade strawberry cupcakes, my one request for my birhtday this year. It was a great evening, and combined with the fact that we had already been to Olive Garden on Sunday night with Kelly and her husband, I had a couple of wonderful (if calorie-loaded!) birthday celebrations this year. Olive Garden was out of my favorite dish, eggplant parmesan, and my face must have shown my disappointment because they gave me a free dessert of my choice! (I had tiramisu, by the way, and it was fabulous.)

Kelly's birthday was yesterday, and since she has a slightly harder time with the "getting old" thing, she is having an all-out celebration this Saturday. I will get to see some college friends I haven't seen in quite awhile, and of course, good food will be involved. I am looking forward to relaxing and catching up with old friends this weekend...maybe it will help the time pass more quickly until the end of the month when we go to the beach!


Education in the Classics

I've been watching a lot of older movies lately. In fact, a glance over my queue at netflix would reveal that most of my waiting movies were made before 1990. I seem to feel a need right now to educate myself on some of the legendary works of the past. What's to blame for this urge for pop-culture education? Well, for starters, I partially blame Gilmore Girls. Odd, I know, but if you've seen the show you can probably guess where I am going with this. There are tons of pop-culture references in that show, and while I am pretty sharp on a good many of them, some just escape me completely. That's the first reason for my quest. The second can basically be attributed to Entertainment Weekly. I subscribed to this magazine for several years, and even though I recently cancelled my subscription (just another unnecessary expense at the moment), I visit the website almost every day. Not too long ago, they published a list of the best tearjerker films of all time. Dramas are basically my favorite movie genre, and yet I was struck by how many movies on that list I was not familiar with. And so began my quest...

Of the few movies I've watched so far, Casablanca is my definite favorite. I am not sure why I waited so long to sit down and watch this movie, since I always thought it sounded like one I would like. I was so right! I have seen it three times in the past few months, and it only gets better. Last night I happened to catch Out of Africa on HBO, and since I have a passion for all things related to Africa (I will go there one day!!), I settled in to watch. It is a long movie (nearly three hours), but I was not disappointed. Meryl Streep was fabulous, as she always is. It was also a little bittersweet watching one of Sydney Pollack's most well-known films just a few days after his death.

My film education is already paying off... While watching Gilmore Girls on DVD a few weeks ago, I came across a reference to The Way We Were, a movie I knew was waiting on my Netflix queue. For anyone familiar with the Gilmores, it was referenced in the episode where Lorelai and Luke break up; she is "wallowing" in her sadness, and calls Luke in a moment of weakness. She gets his answering machine, and in typical Gilmore fashion, proceeds to leave a very poignant and verbose message. She references the movie The Way We Were, saying that when Katie and Hubble broke up, she called him because she just wanted to talk to her best friend, even though he was the reason she was sad. Likewise, Lorelai called Luke, her best friend, in her sadness, even though he was the reason for the pain. I now know the exact scene Lorelai was talking about! I am always excited when I get to remove a movie from my netflix list, and I love the feeling of having a new one waiting in the mailbox. Recommendations are always welcome!
Next up: Brief Encounter, from 1946.



I generally do not get into reality shows on tv. I have never watched Survivor, not even in the beginning, I do not watch The Bachelor or any of its spinoffs, and I have never watched more than 2-3 episodes of American Idol. I know AI is one of the biggest pop-culture trends of recent years, but reality tv is just not something I have any desire to follow. (Side note: Last May, I had the opportunity to spend the day with Taylor Hicks when he came to Scottsboro to promote the Goosepond Island development. Two days after he was here, he performed on the AI season finale, which was the very first time I ever heard him sing! Thankfully, he didn't ask any questions related to AI or his performances while I was shuttling him around, so I didn't have to admit I had no idea what he sounded like.) I say all of this to give a general idea of how much I typically dislike reality shows. I realize that some of the better ones (The Biggest Loser, Extreme Home Makeover, etc.) actually serve a higher purpose than the sex and scandal that seem to compose many others, and those are not the ones I rant against. Still, I get frustrated that the genre consumes so much of the networks' time and budgets now.
However...(you knew that was coming somewhere, right?)...last summer I began making an exception for a little jewel I discovered called Design Star on HGTV. I got sucked in to an episode after House Hunters, and I couldn't help coming back for more. Does it even count as a reality show? I am not sure, but I love it even more for leaving out most of the personal dramas and focusing on the competition and the designers' talents. Basically, the show throws together a group of designers, who move into a house together and compete in a series of challenges to find the next star. The winner gets their own show on HGTV. I like that some of the contestants are professional designers, while others just do it as a hobby. In fact, last year's winner was a hair stylist who just happened to have a talent for design. Also, the judges are a talented group (including my favorite, Cynthia Rowley), who really know their field. They are never demeaning or brutalizing with their critiques; they just judge what they see and offer some tips to help the contestant in the future. I know it sounds a little boring from my description, but trust me, it's not! The new season begins June 8, so check it out if you've never seen it.


Memorial Day Weekend

I just love long weekends, but it is so hard to come back to work. This Memorial Day weekend was a good one. Laura and I set out for Atlanta Saturday morning. I knew we had landed some pretty good tickets in the field level section, but I did not realize quite how good our seats really were until I printed them out Saturday morning. We were on the 7th row, just past first base! Needless to say, we were a couple of very excited girls when we saw where we would be sitting. This is the view from our seats to home plate (during batting practice):

(Please excuse the poor quality of the pictures...naturally, I forgot the camera, so these are from my cell phone.)
We had a great time, and it was great to be so close to all the action! Unfortunately, Jeremy had to work and did not get to come. He is just not as thrilled as we are, since he had to miss out this time. We got a little sunburned (it's HOT sitting on the field level without any shade!), but ultimately, I think it was worth it.

The rest of the weekend was fairly quiet. We had dinner with family on Sunday, then went to a campground in Guntersville with Jeremy's family yesterday. It was a relaxing start to the summer, and I am already looking forward to next Monday's holiday!
I will end with one more picture from the game, with a couple of my favorite players:


Happy Birthday, Jeremy!

In my haste to get my "100%" day going yesterday, I forgot to mention it was my sweet husband's birthday. Unfortunately, he had to spend the day and most of the night working. We celebrated this past weekend, when I gave him his present (a new gas grill) and we used it to cook dinner Tuesday night while my sister was over. I think what he's looking forward to most of all is the ice cream cake waiting in our freezer for when he has a moment to sit down and enjoy it. (I have a feeling that will happen today!) Anyway, happy birthday, Jeremy! You are officially on the downhill side of your 20s...but don't worry, I will join you there in a matter of days!

In other news, my sister and I are headed to Atlanta tomorrow for a Braves game. It's the first I've been to this year, and we are looking forward to kicking the summer off right. I wish I could see Tom Glavine pitch, but it doesn't look like that will happen tomorrow. Anyway, a Braves game, combined with a long holiday weekend (two in a row coming up, actually)...I think I can enjoy it!


A 100% Kind of Day

While I was driving into work this morning, one of the hosts on my favorite morning program said, "Make it a 100% kind of day." I really like that statement, and it's something I needed to hear this morning. So here I am, making it a 100% kind of day, ready to be productive. I've had my yogurt, got my radio on, and a big pile of paperwork calling my name. Wish me luck!


Wonderful Thursdays

Tonight is the season finale of The Office, which I have been looking forward to all week! I guess it's a little bittersweet, the season beginning and ending again so soon, but at least we get an hour-long episode to enjoy. The season finale of Ugly Betty is tonight also, and I am interested to see where it goes. I have been finished with school for over a week now, so I get to go straight home and prepare for my favorite night of television. Unfortunately, my husband will not be joining me since his off days have changed, but at least we have Sunday to look forward to.

Lest you think I do nothing more than numb my brain with (fantastic) television, I have been doing quite a bit more reading lately also. I finished Lucky, which is author Alice Sebold's account of her own real-life rape and the aftermath. It was a difficult read at times, but a good start to easing me back into my old reading habits. I have moved on to a couple of paperback mystery-types to fill the time until I decide what to go after next.

This weekend will be a busy one: graduates' reception, preparations for said reception on Saturday, and I also hope to get Jeremy's birthday present Saturday while I am in town. My sister should be coming home either late Sunday or Monday, and I am hoping to take off a day next week to spend some time with her. For now, I am off for home to prepare for a wonderful relaxing evening.



A random collection of thoughts from the past couple of days:

1. Jeremy's off days have officially changed starting this week. He will now be off on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, which is great because he can come to church again (which has been difficult since it's now about 40 minutes away) and we get to spend the entire day together on Sundays. It's been awhile since we've had that and I am really looking forward to it.

2. I am having dinner with wonderful college roommates next week. We don't live far apart now, but still don't see each other as often as we should. I am looking forward to catching up with them.

3. I am also looking forward to my sister coming home for a few days before she begins her summer beach mission. I am unbelievably proud of her. : ) I was hoping we could get to a Braves game while she's home, but it's a little uncertain at the moment. I'm trying to think of something else fun for us to do without having to go far to do it, in case the game doesn't work out.

4. Jeremy's birthday is coming up in just over a week, and I have no idea what to get him! He mentioned golf clubs, but I have no idea about golf clubs, and I would really like for his present to be a surprise. I have something in mind, so we'll see...

5. I am hooked on salads lately, which is very strange for me. Sounds like a good habit to take up, though, right? I am thinking a Zaxby's "zalad" may be in order for lunch today.

6. There was a great article on my most favorite professor (and former employer!) in the Huntsville Times yesterday. Dr. Hawk is such an inspiring lady, and is quite possible the most intelligent person I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. She's an amazing teacher, researcher, mother, wife, and soldier, and I am thankful and relieved for her safe return to UAH.

That's about all I have for now. I have been drained of virtually all energy for the past week or so, and I spent the weekend trying to catch up. I am looking forward to a lighter load this week, and to spending a little more time with my husband!


Mission Accomplished!

We are now one step closer to being ready to start a family. As of Friday afternoon at 5:00, we are the proud owners of an official family car! After nearly giving in and deciding to keep the gas-saving Civic for awhile, I unexpectedly got an offer I could not refuse on Friday morning. By lunchtime, I had the cash in my hand, and by 5:00 (okay, 5:01 according to the lady at the bank) I became the owner of a 2008 Honda Accord. I absolutely love the car, and Jeremy and I are both very happy with the deal we got on it.

This does not in any way mean that we are going to rush home and start praying for a baby, but having a decent-size car (read: 4-door) again is something I promised myself would be in order before we start getting ready for children. Thankfully, God was on my side with that one. I know I will never have everything in order before we have a baby-the list of things I want to have done could be endless. At least now, though, I won't panic about trying to fit a carseat in my 2-door car. :)


The End is in Sight

The end of the semester is almost here. Although there were times I wondered if I would make it through, the time really did go by quickly. I gave a take-home test for the final material from the text, so they just have to turn everything in and take a short current events exam and we will be finished! This semester has definitely been a learning experience for me as an instructor, and I am actually looking forward to starting over and incorporating what I've learned. The next couple of semesters should definitely be easier, since I have notes and exams already prepared. Only teaching one course will be a bit of a relief also.

I had a long weekend this past weekend and though I had big plans to get some things accomplished around the house, I spent most of the weekend relaxing and enjoying the freedom from the aforementioned class preparation. It was actually pretty nice. I also watched Juno, which was offbeat, but good. I have been catching up on my reading this week too, which I had relunctantly been putting aside to work on school things. I read a Patricia Cornwell-style mystery over the weekend, which was enjoyable but forgettable. I started Alice Sebold's Lucky last night, and it is much more promising so far. It's nice to have time to read again, but I am also looking forward to actually being home to watch The Office on Thursday night. No online episode for me this week! Plus, that's a night Jeremy and I will both be home, so we can actually sit down and watch together. Things are definitely looking up this week.


Triumphant Return

I have been trying to write this thoughtful, creative post about my slightly conflicted emotions over the return of scripted television. However, it has been quite a busy week and I have not made much progress with my creative post, despite multiple attempts. So I give up. I will do a nice post on the conflicting emotions and my new (slightly unhealthy?) enthusiasm for tv on DVD another day.

For now, just let me say that I am beyond excited that The Office is back! What a glorious night it was three weeks ago when I sat down to watch the first new episode in more than four months. I am a recent Office junkie; I got caught up the craze during the aforementioned tv on DVD phase during the writers' strike. Now I am wondering what took me so long? Nevermind, it's beside the point now. I am here to stay.

Because I teach on Thursday nights I have not watched last night's episode yet. Thanks to online viewing, that is not a problem. I plan to enjoy both The Office and Grey's Anatomy before long. Last week's episode of The Office just happens to have grabbed a spot on my list of favorites. It was a perfect mix of office craziness and Jim and Pam loveliness. And everyone's favorite couple was particularly lovely last week. When Jim started hinting about an engagement, I was literally bouncing up and down on the couch, telling Jeremy, "he's totally serious!!" It was not one of my finer moments. And still...he was totally serious! The reviewer on EW.com thought it was a little creepy that Jim bought a ring the week they started dating. I disagree. I think it is a perfect indication of Jim's devotion to Pam and their relationship. We know he's in it for real. I can't wait to watch last night's episode.

I am also excited about Brothers & Sisters returing, even though I fell asleep and didn't get to watch Sunday's episode. I will also have to catch it online before this Sunday. That show has great writing, controversial yet relevant topics, and best of all, Sally Field. She's absolutely fantastic as Norah, the family matriarch. The other actors are strong and talented as well, making for an engaging hour of television.

All in all, I think it is going to be an enjoyable month or so, until the summer hiatus. I am ignoring the talk of a possible actors' strike in the fall, hoping it will fade away before I have to get too concerned. If it does happen, I guess it's back to DVD for me. There are a couple of other shows I have missed out on that I have considered catching on DVD. I hear Lost is good....


Good Things

A few good things I am excited about right now:
1. It's baseball season! Baseball is definitely my favorite sport. I enjoy watching college football also, but I've always been more of a baseball girl. The Braves have been my team since I learned what a baseball was, though I consistently support the Red Sox when the Braves don't make it to the postseason (which is often in recent years). Jeremy and I have been going to more games in the past few years, and Turner Field is a place I just can't get enough of.
2. Car shopping. Jeremy and I have decided that before we start talking about the baby thing, we will have to have a family-ready car. The two-door Honda Civic just won't cut it with a carseat in the back. It's paid for, which is fabulous, but we have started looking for something four-door. If I weren't driving 40 miles (one way) to work every day, I would trade with my sister for the Trailblazer (again). Instead, we are going to sell the Civic and probably buy either a Honda Accord or an Altima, sticking with a 4-cylinder model so I can afford to buy gas. I am leaning toward the Accord, and I found a great deal on one, so I am hoping my car sells quickly.
3. Spring weather. I am so excited to trade closed-toe shoes and sweaters for flip-flops and capris! Mom bought me some Reef sandals this weekend, and though I was skeptical of spending $40.00 on what are basically flip flops (I usually stick with the always-economical Old Navy ones for $2.50!), I am absolutely in love with them. I imagine I will quickly get $40.00 worth of wear out of them.
4. Vacation-planning. Jeremy and I didn't really take much of a vacation last year, so I am trying to find us a couple of good, relatively cheap trips for this year. At the top of my list right now is Savannah, GA, so I am trying to convince Jeremy that he will actually enjoy it. I can waste a significant amount of time on expedia just looking at hotel reviews, so planning is half the fun anyway. Also, my sister is spending the summer at the beach doing mission work with a group from her college, so we will be heading down there with my mom.
5. Landscaping. Now that it is getting warmer, it is time to start thinking about our yard. We moved into the house in November, so we were stuck with the yard for the winter, but Jeremy has been making big plans for lots of changes this spring. I am excited to get started, and even more excited to enjoy the finished product. The yard is the only thing we haven't really touched, so when it's done I think it will feel like the house is truly ours.
6. Economic stimulus package, because anytime the government wants to hand me money to boost the economy, I'm all for it! We have big plans for our $1,200.00, mostly related to number 5, above.

Those are just a few things on my list, but on this drab Tuesday, I needed to remind myself of some of the things I am looking forward to! It has made the day slightly better.


The background on my computer at work is now this picture:

This is Petey Grace, our newest family addition. She is slightly dopey at times, but always cuddly and sweet. She's still a puppy, and her clumsiness cracks me up. She's very adoring of her "parents" (Jeremy and me), so I can even excuse the fact that insists on sleeping between us and takes up approximately one-half of the bed! I love my dogs, by the way.

Just the Usual

I realize I have not been using this blog to its full potential...and I still haven't even told anyone where to find it, but maybe one day I will find some blog friends! As for now, I will keep trying to write when the urge strikes, with the comfort that I don't have to edit my thoughts too much. Life is still extremely busy for both Jeremy and me. We are both working extra jobs- his at the high school on Wednesdays and my teaching. I guess people think we are struggling for money and are forced to work two jobs to make ends meet, but that's not really the case at all. I think we are just so accustomed to being busy all the time, we find productive ways to use our extra time. As for me, teaching college is something I have wanted to do pretty much since I entered college myself. I do have to admit, though, the extra income is welcome, and it is nice to be able to do the things we want without having to struggle. I was a little apprehensive about that aspect when we bought the house in September, but it's actually working out nicely.

Speaking of teaching, the semester is on the downhill side now. Spring break has come and gone. It was nice to have a break, but it's still shocking to remember that spring break means nothing outside the education environment. The office was relatively quiet last week, though, which was a welcome change. There is just over a month remaining until I give my first final exam, which is kind of exciting. I have enjoyed this first semester for the most part, but I am truly ready for the end right now. It has been an adjustment period for me, and I have been trying to learn how the system works and figure out exactly how I want to run my class. Beginning with the summer class, I intend to implement a few changes and truly make the class mine. Also, for the summer and fall at least, I am only teaching American Government. Someone else is going to teach the State and Local course, which is great because I didn't care much for it! I am going to try online instruction in the fall, so I will be offering one American Government course online and one on campus. Teaching has been a bit of a challenge this first semester, but overall, I think it is something I will enjoy. The good thing about adjunct instruction is that I am only contracted semester to semester. When it is not fun anymore, I will just find something new to do....maybe with a little better pay next time!

I guess the thing I am most excited about right now is my youth group. Three of our girls are beginning confirmation classes this Sunday, and in about four weeks they will be baptized and become church members! I am thrilled with how receptive the girls were to the idea, and I have to admit, it feels like a little validation for me as an instructor. I feel like maybe we've actually gotten through to some of them and we're making a difference in their lives. Those kids, particularly the girls, need something to hold onto through all they have to deal with, and I hope they can find it in the church. God is good, and I know He is using us all the time, even in ways we can't see!


Encounter Weekend 2008

This past weekend was our annual youth trip to Gatlinburg for the Northeast Alabama United Methodist Conference's winter retreat. Encounter 2008 was a mostly a success, though it did not even begin to compare with last year's amazing conference. The speaker started off slow, but he had a good message in the end. Steve Fitzhugh, last year's speaker, had so much energy and enthusiasm for his message that you couldn't help but be inspired. Steve could make you laugh uncontrollably, then bring tears to your eyes three minutes later. Bart Campolo, who spoke this year, didn't bring quite the stage presence (then again, he's not a very large, black former NFL player!), but he did ultimately present a good message. He was also straightforward and obviously was not trying to please everyone with his message, but was speaking what he truly believed. I respect that, as I struggle to find the courage to do just that at times. The youth said they had an all-around better time last year, but I hope they got some new inspiration out of this conference as well. We discussed some of the ideas presented on the way home, and it seems like some of them really understood, even though it was much more understated than they are used to.

Bart has a big emphasis on missionary work and giving to those in need, whether it be the giving of your time, money, material possessions, or just love. One thing he said resonated with me particularly, because it's something I have felt for a long time, I just didn't know how to adequately express it. He stressed that it is important to remember that we don't have the things we have (wealth, jobs, health, etc.) because of anything we have done to deserve it, or because God has "blessed" us more than others. We simply were lucky enough to be born where we are, with the advantages we have. People in Africa or other third-world areas did not do anything to deserve the life they live, and we are not in any way "better" than them...basically just lucky to live in a place with all the opportunities that are available to us.

I recently read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (great novel, by the way!), which puts this idea in a great perspective. It's about a family of missionaries who go to live in the Congo and convert the Africans to Christianity. You can probably imagine how things don't go quite as planned, and the missionaries themselves are actually the ones who emerge the most dramatically changed.

Anyway, good trip this year, and looking forward to some new ideas we have going on with the youth. I love this time of year, because we are all still pumped up from the conference and everyone feels good about their walk with Christ. I have been talking to one of the girls in youth about confirmation classes to be baptized and join the church. I am really excited about her taking this step...it makes me feel like we are doing some good and actually getting through to at least some of them!


I haven't done so well with my resolve to actually keep up my writing in this blog, but I haven't told anyone where to find it yet anyway, so I guess no one can be disappointed in me! Maybe one of these days when I have something worthy to write about I will let people in on my little secret. Things have settled into a routine lately, but Jeremy and I still both extremely busy. The week has become very exhausting for me, but weekends are my release. I have become very stingy with my time on the weekends. The best ones are when I have Saturdays entirely free to do whatever I want, or nothing at all. Working every weekend at Talk of the Town for so long got very old, so I still appreciate the pleasure of actually having a weekend the way it was intended to be! I have settled into a basic Saturday morning routine. I get up early, around 6:30 or so, because that's when the dogs get up (they don't understand the concept of the weekend, unfortunately). After I take care of them, I usually settle on the couch for awhile with a book and either a good movie on HBO or some tv on DVD (currently watching: Gilmore Girls, Season 2 and The Office, Season 3) until Jeremy gets up around 10:30. Those mornings are probably my favorite time of the weekend...there is a peacefulness and stillness to the house and the neighborhood early on Saturday mornings, and it does wonders for my state of mind (which tends to be stretched a little thin by the end of the week). Anyway, the final new addition to my Saturday morning routine is that I now cook breakfast almost every weekend. I know, it doesn't sound like a good thing if you know my history in the kitchen, but it's not bad at all, I promise! And it's actually improving all the time. Friday nights and Saturday mornings are virtually the only time Jeremy and I are home together all week, so we try to take full advantage of it. This is just a small change in our lives that's come about since we've moved into the new house, but overall, I am loving our life and our home right now.


Everyday Life

The first few weeks of the new year have turned out to be busy ones for us. My new schedule does not allow for much time at home, but I have determined that as long as I have my weekends free I will be okay. The weekends have become my sanctuary for the week's required "me" time. I have started teaching classes in government on Tuesday and Thursday nights, and I think I will enjoy it once I get over my nervousness. One of the classes is a fun group; they really put me at ease and seem to enjoy the subject. I hope they learn something from me, even if it's just an increased awareness of current events and the knowledge that there are so many important things going on every day in the world outside of north Alabama. I think many of them will challenge me as well. I am going to have to strive to keep myself knowledgable about all important current events, whether or not I find them interesting. Election 2008 should provide some good material and a good opportunity for debate that will hopefully keep the students' attention easily. Even with our hectic schedules and struggling to find quality time together, Jeremy and I are enjoying life and making the most of every day.


Endings...and Beginnings

Well, the holidays are officially over. I have to say they went by much too fast for me. As usual, everything snuck up on me around the second week of December and the next few weeks were a whirlwind. It's always fun to remember how much I love this time of year. We didn't get a whole lot of time off work, but thanks to some crafty maneuvering with my coworker, we were able to get a few extra afternoons away from the office. I miss being a kid and getting a glorious two weeks off at Christmas. Of course, that always went by too fast too, so I guess I am just never satisfied.

Christmas Day was packed full, as it has been for the past few years. The hasty Christmas wedding went better than I was expecting, although we were all too exhausted by that time to enjoy too much celebration. Jeremy and I exchanged our gifts on Christmas Eve this year. Since Christmas Day is so busy and rushed, we thought sitting down to enjoy a little time together the night before would be fun. I have never been a fan of opening presents early, preferring to wait for Christmas Day, but it did work well and gave us more time together. It's possible a new tradition has begun in the Hughes household. Of course, within the next few years, we will hopefully have a little one to share Christmas with, which will totally change the holiday for us....but it will be so much fun!

Anyway, now it's all over and it is time to get back to work. I start teaching at Northeast Community College next Tuesday, and I feel so unprepared. I think once I get started I will relax a little, but right now it feels like the first day of high school all over again (which was not a very pleasant feeling the first time around). I keep reminding myself this is what I wanted to do when I got my M.A., and I am actually doing it...at least my degree is going to be good for something!