December 28, 2010

Buckeyes, Turn 2, Lights, Puppies, and a Big Belly

The Christmas season has officially come.... and gone. 
The tree was put up, decorated, eaten a little bit, undecorated, and then thrown back into the woods.  The lights were hung, lit, and then taken down.  The buckeyes were rolled, dipped, eaten and are (almost) gone.  The presents were wrapped and tied with bows, batted at and hid behind, and then opened Christmas morning.  The stockings were hung, filled, emptied, and taken down.  Our Christmas is all neatly organized into a giant red and green tote.  But the memories.  Oh. The memories that were made!

This was the first year my husband and I got to host family during Christmas.  We've gone to see family in Michigan in the past, we've had a roommate share Christmas morning with us, and we've had our own Christmases with just the two of us (plus the kitties) - but this was the first year we got to have family here. 
My aunt and my grandma drove over from Texas this year to spend the holiday with us.  We had so much fun exploring all the Christmas-ness that is to be found in and around the Charlotte, NC area. 
First stop: McAdenville - also known as Christmas Town USA.  (Yes, I took these photos, yes, I was the one driving, and yes, I only had my point&shoot since one hand had to be on the wheel.  No, I wasn't going faster than 5 mph, no I wasn't the only one driving and taking pictures at the same time.)  :)
So McAdenville is a quaint little town about 30 minutes outside of Charlotte where everyone in the neighborhood gets in the Christmas spirit by hanging lights and decorating their homes - yes, people actually LIVE in these homes!  The path through the neighborhood was about 2 miles long, and everyone in the community got involved with decorating - the firehouse, the small businesses, the churches even had bells ringing.  It was pretty neat to see all the different ways people decorated their homes and yards and we all enjoyed riding through the display and ooh-ing and ahh-ing at all the lights.  Kids were hanging out of car windows and sun roofs shouting "Merry Christmas" to all the passersby and the scenic pond we passed had a gorgeous fountain that changed between red, green and white sprays with twinkling white pine trees in the background. 

The next night we decided to venture over to the Carolina Christmas at Lowe's Motor Speedway.  It was quite the experience!  We drove all throughout the infield through a maze of lights, we stopped in the infield and warmed up with some hot chocolate in the garages - which had been transformed into a skating rink and little booths filled with goodies to look at, eat, and purchase.  We walked through Bethlehem village - which not only included a live nativity, but live animals, the Inn that was too full, and townspeople walking around.  It was pretty neat.  After that we hopped back into the car and finished out the lights, ending up going up on the track and rounding turn #2!  I thought the car was going to flip over on that 24* turn- needless to say, I didn't take any pictures during that part!  I did manage to catch a few of the lights as we drove through though. :)
 I thought I was going to loose my dinner through this tunnel - the lights were flashing really fast in a spiraling pattern making it look a lot like that boat scene on Willy Wonka... whew, I was glad to get out of that!
They were offering horse-drawn Carriage rides through the lights, but I'm pretty sure the windchill was negative 583* because it was FREEZING out there with the wind!
This was the turn we went up on - FUN!

Thursday was my first day off of school, and Aunt Deb was seriously jonesin' for some buckeyes.  April & I had already made one batch (144) but those were all given away to friends and coworkers, so I taught Aunt Deb & Gramma how to make them - they're a lot of work, but they're worth it!

The puppies enjoyed watching and making sure we weren't dropping any peanut butter crumbs. :)

When they realized we weren't going to drop them any pieces, they went right back to their favorite spots:
We ended up with the first White Christmas in Charlotte in 20 years!  It was very pretty to look at, and even better knowing that it will be gone in a few days - rather than a few months! :)
All in all, we had a great week spending time with family, celebrating the season and doing lots, and lots and lots of relaxing!  It may have been our first year spending Christmas with family, but it was our last year having Christmas without our little one!
Next year there will be THREE stockings hanging from our mantle! 

December 15, 2010

Our Master Plan...

... has failed miserably.

The Plan being: lets try buying a real tree this year, maybe then the cat (Oliver) won't climb in it & eat the needles because it will be all prickly and pokey.

So we went hunting for a tree and found a lovely Douglas Fir that was grown right here in NC and just cut down on Sunday.   The kind gentleman was even willing to negotiate the price on because he was so kind and in the Christmas spirit trying to get rid of his stock because it's only 10 days til Christmas.  
So we brought it home, and put it up and.  Well.  I'll let the pictures do the talking. 

So now we have TWO kitties that are extremely interested in this tree.  Licking it.  Biting it.  Finding spaces to climb it. And running ninety miles around the bottom of it chasing each other and spinning the tree skirt around wildly until it's all crumpled up.

So much for a Master Plan.

Setting Down UP with Baby Boy

We found out last Monday that we'll be welcoming a precious little BOY into the world in April!
We're very excited that our first baby will be a boy - though we'd be happy either way, there's just something about knowing our boy will be a 'big brother' some day.
When we announced the gender to our friends and family Monday afternoon, this was one of the many messages I received: 

"Yay! For a nephew, the little champ is already very blessed. Watch out champ, theres an uncle in Africa that can't wait to meet you!"

(And may I add, the only one that made me tear up a bit!)

It got me thinking about the time when we found out we were pregnant, right after I had returned from Africa.
I thought about how when I read those little lines on that stick, my first reaction wasn't that we were 'settling down.'  My first thought wasn't about what school our little one would go to, or what his first pet would be.  My first thought was about how amazing it would be to take our little man out on the mission field with us.

That's right, we have no plans of "settling down".  We know that God has called us to become missionaries and travel this globe in His name, and that means raising our kids at the same time.  We aren't going to wait until they're grown and off to college or life.  We're 'settling up' - keeping our eyes UP to the Creator who promises to take care of us and bless us and keep us when we follow Him.  And that's just what we plan on doing - following Him and the call He has given us. 

I'm not saying we're up and leaving anytime soon, but I am saying that when we get the call from God, we'll obey.  That may mean taking our little boy with us, or that may mean leaving him with a trusted friend for a few days.  I do know that our little boy's passport will be ready and waiting for when the call comes, though, and I know I can't wait to take him to meet his Ghanaian relatives!  I am so excited to see his face at his first taste of atoto and fresh coconut.

I can't wait to see him playing with all the kids at The Father's House, and I'm excited sling him on my back as we walk around the village.

Our little boy is going to be an amazing man of God, and we're so excited to raise him UP, rather than settling down.

December 06, 2010

From the Inside Out

Well... let's do that backwards:

He was a little camera shy :)  
And here's his first outfit!
My husband actually spotted this last week while we were out getting maternity clothes, and I fell in LOVE with it and said we MUST come back and get it if we find out it's a boy, so we did. :)

 And I'm kinda in love the green accents on this one - the mitten cuffs are a bonus too!
We LOVE bright and bold colors - no pastels or "my mommy loves me" screen printing for this boy - it's bright colors and patterns all the way! :)
So we're very excited to meet our baby boy in mid-April!  We don't have any names yet, but when we do, it's gonna be kept under wraps until he's born - we gotta keep somethin' a secret! ;)

November 30, 2010

You Say Banana, I Say BanAHna...

... and says that's what I've got in my belly right now!  That's right - junior is about the size of a banana these days - 6-6.5inches! 
I'm officially 20 weeks now, which means I'm about 1/2 way there!  Time is flying by and symptoms are still slowly but surely easing up!  I can eat a lot more these days, though chicken and I still don't mix well.  Pizza and other red sauced things give me heart burn so I try to avoid those... but other than things not sounding good/looking good, I've not been sick - which is OK with me!  The tiredness is not changing at all... but I suppose that comes with working full time corralling 20 seven year-olds.  There are times that I get bursts of energy, but I crash very easily too.  My lower back has been bothering me a bit, but nothing major, and seeing the chiropractor regularly has definitely helped with that.  My belly is stretching and growing for sure, and I can see a change... there are still days (depending on the shirt I wear) that I don't 'feel' or 'look' pregnant, but most people say it's obvious at this point.  What do you think?   :)
 This is 20 weeks... below is 14 weeks

So I'm seeing some growth :)
We've also been busy getting the baby room ready.  I had 5 days off (FIVE!) over Thanksgiving so I used that time to relax... er.. or not.  I had 2 photo sessions and we painted the baby's room and rearranged the whole upstairs.  The office had to turn into the baby's room, which meant the moving and selling of furniture on craigslist so we could have a 'living area' in the loft.  We kept the guest room the same, but we also did a hard core cleaning up stairs while we were at it.  Yes.  I was nesting.  I admit it.  :)
 Painting in progress...
 Painting Finished!  The room isn't going to stay furnished like this... but it's a start! :)
So that's what's new on the baby front... 6 more days till we find out the gender of our little banana!!

November 23, 2010

Christmas Plans

I'm so excited about this new video by The Father's House!  It's a great representation and explanation of what is happening over in Ghana, the place that stole my heart. 

With the holidays coming, please take some time to consider giving something ETERNAL for the season.  Talk with your family, your kids, friends, coworkers and neighbors and consider making a donation to save some childrens' lives!  What better gift could there be this holiday season? 

Take a few minutes (literally) and check out the video for more information.

Father's House - Ghana from Matt Garrett on Vimeo.

November 22, 2010

Light & Mello

Mello Yello that is.

So tonight hubby and I went to Cantina 1511 for the first time ever.  We had  a g/c from some friends and finally got around to using it.  It was great food, and loved the atmosphere, but I digress... this is not about the food.  It's about the drink. 

The Mello Yello that came  sailing across the table, out of hubby's glass and onto my seat... and lap.  The full glass the waitress had just placed in front of him was apparently unstable as he reached for it and got knocked over spilling ice and fizzy yellow stickiness all over. 

Why do I blog this?  Because my dear friends. about 9 years ago, when out to eat with my family (though at a separate booth because we were too 'cool' and teen-agey to sit with them), the same, EXACT thing happened.  The freshly filled Mello Yello came sailing across the little table and landed directly in my lap.  I was soaked.  Looked like I peed my pants.  And we had only just begun dating.

We laughed about it then, and many years after, but never did we think it would happen again.  But alas, it did and it made me think about all the fun, silly little things that have happened to us over the years and it makes me appreciate our relationship that much more.  Most teenage girls would have FREAKED out that night, but here I am, married to my high school sweetheart and loving every Mello Yello that comes with it. :)

November 15, 2010

The BOLD and the Beautiful!

No - no - and no - NOT the soap opera!  But I got you reading didn't I?  :) 

I'm talking about our colors for the baby's room - they are BOLD and I think they are absolutely beautiful!  We don't have it all painted yet, but we do have some splotches up on the wall and we are in LOVE with the colors.  They're gender-neutral, since we don't know the gender yet (though we will in 3 weeks!) but can be easily accented to accommodate a girl (with deep purples/magentas) or a boy (with bright, bold blues and greens).  We'll have 3 "Caribbean Holiday"(teal) walls, with one "Field Poppy"(orange) wall, opposite the crib. 
For now the plan is to accent with the bright green color, but that might change.  By accent I mean like, curtains, clock, wall art, etc.

It's feeling real-er and real-er by the minute, now that we've got our paint picked out and have started trying to figure out logistics of rearranging the upstairs furniture... it's all coming together! 

November 02, 2010

.......... 4

4 months ago I watched Ghana fade away in the distance out the window of an airplane.

4 months ago I was on the mountain top, feeling closer to God than I've ever felt before.

4 months ago I came home from Africa and Satan tried to rob me of my joy and damage my marriage.

4 months ago Satan ALMOST won.

4 months ago my amazing friends whom I love so much prayed with my husband and I to fight, FIGHT hard against the attacks that came our way.

4 months ago my husband and I grew closer than we've ever been before.

4 months ago we DEFEATED Satan's stupid attempts to overshadow the miracles God had created in Africa and in my own life when he thought it'd be fun to mess with our marriage.

4 months ago we CREATED life.  We created a living, breathing human being to raise up in the ways of our Father to go forth and reach the nations of the world with the Word that GOD is GOD and Satan LOSES.

4 months ago my life was changed in Africa.

4 months ago our marriage was strengthened exponentially.

4 months ago our family of two became a family of three.

and yesterday... as I lay there and we heard our baby's heart beating (at a rate divisible by 4), I couldn't help but think of all that happened to bring us to this point....

4 months ago.

October 21, 2010

When life hands you lemons...

Take a picture!

That's our little lemon in there... not a box of twinkies.  :)  Yes, I know, I'm at that stage where people look at me and think, "Is she pregnant or just gaining weight?"  I'm at that stage where people look at me, look at my belly, then look back up at me and just smile politely.  Afraid to ask.  Afraid to congratulate for fear of me saying, "I'm not pregnant! HOW RUDE!"  Hahaha, it's funny, really.
Seriously though, our little baby is the size of a lemon right now :)  And he's (or she's) decided to make an appearance... nope, I can't suck that gut in.  It's firm and not going anywhere.  Trust me.
You know those expando-belts they use on airplanes for overweight people?  Yea, I have one of those for my pants.  And I have to use it these days.  And sitting down in jeans?  Well, that's just out of the question - elastic-banded pants come on as soon as I get home so I can get comfy. Laying on my stomach is now officially not an option either.  And bending over while sitting, well, I can do it, but it doesn't feel so good when the stomach doesn't just roll up and outta the way like it used to.  :)
On a good note - the nausea has subsided  a bit.  My appetite is very, very slowly coming back, bit by bit.  I still can't eat many foods, but I do have cravings now so I tend to satisfy them since most foods turn me off altogether. 
The exhaustion is still there... hasn't changed a bit.  I get tired easily and I'm tired early and don't want to get out of bed in the morning.  I was talking to my friend (who's pregnant for the 2nd time) and she says, "Well, that usually goes away around the 2nd trimester - you'll get this burst of energy for a little while and life will be normal again.  Well... maybe you won't 'cause you work full time."  Thanks friend.  Thanks.   :)

In all seriousness, we are very excited.  It's neat to see the changes... and to see the 3oz. that's been controlling my life these past three and half months. :)