Tuesday, June 23, 2015

24 Weeks (of Worry)

I skipped last week's update, mostly because I didn't feel that different and hadn't been to the doctor in three weeks so any new information on the baby's size was purely speculation (or a comparison to a vegetable and those grow more bizarre by the week. From a spaghetti squash to a tomato? Huh?). So... after today's appointment I feel a little more at ease sharing our progress plus I've actually noticed some changes recently (like my expanding girth, for example.)

While we're talking about all things pregnancy, let me just say... this nine-month period that can be described as thrilling, terrifying, miserable, or exciting (depending on whom or when you're asking) is pretty much a worrier's worst nightmare. At the beginning it was, "Will I bleed and find out this is over before it really began?" Then, "Is she growing? Is her heart beating?" "Why can't I feel her moving yet?" THEN, "Why hasn't she moved in *insert freakishly precise amount of time*?" "Is she still breathing?" "Does she have all her toes?" (Yeah, I know.)

AHHHH. I'm sure all pregnant women struggle with this, and it's been the biggest contributor to the fact that I absolutely refuse to google anything pregnancy related. (I have a doctor and two sisters for that.) But as someone who would definitely characterize herself as a Professional Worrier, it's taken a toll on my mental health at times. (Slight exaggeration but not much.) Every little jump, twinge, or otherwise unfamiliar feeling (which happens a lot, considering this is my first pregnancy) is cause for concern. Seriously, it's exhausting! Every milestone- another week, another trimester, another ultrasound- allows me to breathe a little sigh of relief, briefly, before the next onslaught of "what if" questions begins and I've taken off on the Crazy Train again.

And once the baby actually comes, it's not like it's over... every time one of my nieces or nephews is sick or gets hurt I realize that... good grief, this stuff never ends! I'll be worrying about this girl for-e-ver. (Spoken like Squints.) AND none of this worry even includes the actual birth/labor/delivery process which I have completely blocked out of my mind and refuse to acknowledge. (Remember that my pain tolerance is... less than zero, if that's possible.)

So these days trust is a big struggle for me. Here's the thing... other than using common sense to take care of myself, there's not a thing I can do about this baby that the Lord hasn't already planned. I have no reason to believe anything will go wrong, but then again, other people face struggles with their children every day and I'm not some kind of Special Snowflake who is immune to reality. The good news is that God is more than capable of handling me in all my neurotic nonsense so I Peter 5:7, "Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you," allows me to pray/worry aloud without guilt. (I try a little harder not to unload on Jonathan.)


Getting bigger!


Waiting for the doctor... I look so calm, right? 


Now that you've trudged through my weird issues, here's some news about me AND Alice- definitely more interesting! =)


How far along: 24 weeks today!
How big is baby: about 8.5 inches (an ear of corn?) and over a pound. 
Weight gain: I feel pretty good and still fit in my clothes fairly well, BUT I legit closed my eyes on the scale at the doctor today. #denial
Sleeping: Not bad now that the constant bathroom-seeking has slowed to about every hour-hour and a half and not 10 minutes. I have still been trying not to nap but on days when I'm busy (my in-laws were here this week and we went out several times), I pretty much can't make it to bedtime without one.

Food cravings: Chick-fil-A. All day, every day. And grape tomatoes
Food aversions: I'm not feeling salad right now (probably a shame) or pizza. 
Symptoms: My back has started hurting pretty easily (nooooo!) and I have become very, very forgetful- like, mid-sentence or mid-task. (I can't tell you how many times I have pulled out my phone to look up something and forgot what it was in the time it took to open Safari. Thanks, Alice, my former students, and old age for crashing my internal hard drive at age 26.)
Miss Anything?: I really miss all my dresses with "normal" waistlines (so, almost all of them.) I would say I miss having energy but considering my life as a teacher I guess I've just stayed exhausted most of the time. =)
Doctor’s appointment:  Today! And everything looked great. (Again, needless worrying!)
Clothes: Oooo.... I found some REALLY great maternity stuff this week so a post about all that is coming soon. (I haven't posted about clothes in far too long... right?? Sure.) Anyway, the search for maternity shorts continues- hardly any stores around here even HAVE maternity, rude- but I'm planning on looking on my trip next week.
Movement: increasing all the time! But definitely more at night and when I'm resting or sitting still. She rarely moves when I'm moving. But the flips and kicks are getting a lot stronger- she's good at keeping me awake. =)
Best moment of the week: I have to say it's just been feeling her movements a lot more strongly and starting to feel a real bond (I know, over halfway through this thing- a little late, maybe?) but I feel more and more like I'm getting to know Alice and not just this alien creature moving around inside me. (Pregnancy is a strange thing.) Also, celebrating Father's Day with Jonathan was very special.
What I’m looking forward to: going to Georgia next week and having my baby shower at my home church! 
What I did / Got for baby: my mother-in-law bought her a few things (thanks, Nana!) including a beautiful Vera Bradley dress and the cutest little chambray shirt ever. I bought her her first book (this one because I had to!) and first stuffed animal (the most precious little Bambi!) and have really started planning the nursery in earnest. We found a couple little things at Ikea but otherwise we're still in the "looking/being inspired" stage.
Prayer requests: As always, health and safety for the baby (and me- see worrisome paragraphs above) and especially safety next week as I travel home to Georgia. (And for Jonathan as he lives the bachelor life for a week!) 

Thanks for all your sweet comments with every update. We're so lucky that Alice is loved by so many wonderful people (or, you know, that you're all just amused by her nervous mother. Either way.) 


Happy Tuesday!

Ash 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

22 Weeks (and a NAME!)

I don't really feel like the days are passing quickly (they tend to drag, in fact, unless I'm lucky enough to have some kind of outing planned) BUT I do think the weeks are flying by. (I realize that doesn't really make sense but that's how my messed-up brain is working at the moment.) Twenty-two weeks already? It seems like we were just DYING to know the gender and that appointment was already a month ago. Crazy. (Also now I must quote It's a Wonderful Life and say, "EIGHTEEN? Why, it was only last year you were seventeen!" I so love Jimmy Stewart. Anyway.)

SO before I get to the exciting news that we have, at long last, chosen a name for this little person, I will follow tradition (set one week ago) and answer the pregnancy update questions first.


Let me briefly mention that, thanks to clearance and a coupon, I got this maternity dress from Target for $6. I actually have it in navy and white too but I love the coral and snatched it up for cheap! Yay!

How far along: 22 weeks (and two days, if we're being obnoxious precise)
How big is baby: according to those absurd fruit/vegetable comparisons it's about 8 inches long and since last week I'd say we're up to a pound? (Just my highly professional opinion.) 
Weight gain: tough to say. I feel pretty good (and I accomplish that feeling by avoiding all scales.)
Sleeping: Well... the last few days I've really pushed through and forced myself to stay awake all day (no naps! the horror!) but (duh) it's helped with not waking up a million times and not taking hours to fall asleep at night. Of course I'm ready for bed at 9:30 but I guess that's the price to pay.
Food cravings: I've never been much of a sweets person (chips over cookies, all day every day) but lately I've wanted sweet stuff. The thing is, I really only want 2-3 bites and then I'm done. So, Jonathan is the lucky recipient of the desserts I don't finish (including a batch of brownies that I ate one of and left the rest. Poor guy.) 
Food aversions: I kind of sandwiched myself to death there for a few weeks so pretty much any kind of sandwich is not very appealing right now.
Symptoms: Still fatigue... I went shopping and to lunch the other day and was yawning up a storm by the time I got home. My marathon mall trips are over, I believe!
Miss Anything?: Mountain Dew (not that I never ever have any, but it's only in tiny quantities with great guilt so... not really worth it. =)
Doctor’s appointment: Next one is two weeks away. 
Clothes: Still looking for a good pair of maternity shorts, but I'm living in dresses like the one above for right now. Anything that doesn't require a lot of fuss is a win in my book! (And, sadly, though I absolutely love layers, that's just not going to happen in this heat!)
Movement: still fairly light and mostly at night when I'm really still... she definitely responds to louder noises!
Best moment of the week: finally choosing a name!
What I’m looking forward to: pinning/planning for the nursery like crazy. 
What I did / Got for baby: chose a name and started looking in earnest for nursery ideas.
Prayer requests: As always, health and safety for the baby (and me) and for Jonathan as he is working full-time and wanting to do the ministry things we came here to do! We're still figuring out that mix with his hours being different than originally planned so we're trying to make adjustments as needed. 

AND NOW... the moment you've all been waiting for...


There it is! I've agonized over this, I promise you... but this is what we ended up with and I love it. Alice is so feminine and classic to me (and as you can tell from the picture, I love Alice in Wonderland, even though I'm sure our Alice will not have hair that is even remotely blond.) And Juliet, of course, has literary roots but let's be honest... Juliet O'Hara was the main inspiration for that. =) Also, my cousin's wife Alice is pretty much one of the most wonderful people I know (and the only Alice I know in person!) so that helped seal the deal as well. 

You better believe I've been pinning Alice in Wonderland nursery ideas like crazy! Some of them are a little much (like... I don't necessarily want the Mad Hatter and March Hare on my baby's walls- slightly creepy) but there are some beautiful ones and I'm going for more of a Disney-inspired theme in general, not specifically Alice in Wonderland. But when I find stuff like this makes me love Alice even more. 

Anyway, I'm completely relieved to have this decision made... it helped that Jonathan just started calling her Alice as if my mind were already made up (it wasn't!) but then it just kind of stuck (and I got tired of constantly wondering what it should be.) The middle name took another few days but now it's all finalized and I'm so glad. 

So, happy Thursday from me and Alice! (Ah!) 


Ash

Monday, June 8, 2015

Disney Lullaby Playlist

Last summer I started a Disney Playlist series and because I'm lazy and our lives were in a slight upheaval I abandoned it after a few posts. But one of the first things I started planning when I found out I was pregnant was a list of Disney lullabies (does my baby have a name yet? Nope. Priorities, people.) So, after several revised drafts, here is my finalized list, in no particular order.

I realize that if a baby is at Disney World at night then she is probably not sleeping but oh well. I love this picture and now I reeeeaaaallly want to go back to Magic Kingdom at Christmas. Anyway.


1. Stay Awake from Mary Poppins- this is probably the most obvious choice for me since it's actually a lullaby. The fact that Mary Poppins was and remains one of my top favorite Disney movies doesn't hurt... and what baby wouldn't be soothed by Julie Andrews's beautiful voice?

2. When You Wish Upon a Star from Pinocchio- oh, Jiminy Cricket. The sweetest little bug (and conscience!) to ever befriend a puppet. (Ha- weirdest sentence ever.) Anyway, this is such a classic and the harmony is beautiful. I love those old-timey Disney arrangements.

3. Baby Mine from Dumbo- I'm pretty hard-hearted and this one can just about have me in tears. Dumbo is such a sad little movie and this part in particular is heart-breaking but so, so sweet. (Also I really like the Alison Krausse version.)

4. Second Star to the Right (also called Main Title) from Peter Pan- another favorite! I loved Peter Pan when I was little (apparently I would pray for him?? Weird kid) but this song is great and includes more of that harmony I love.

5. A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes from Cinderella- I mean, obviously; lullabies, dreams... this one is a shoe-in. The songs in Cinderella are just so pretty, and this one is no exception. Ilene Woods (the voice of Cinderella) is a treasure. (And you can't beat the mice for cuteness.)

6. Someone's Waiting for You from The Rescuers- I love this song and think of it any time I see an adoption story. It's so sweet! The Rescuers (and Rescuers Down Under) are a little underrated in my opinion and so is this song as it's usually overlooked. Not on this list!

7. Bella Notte from Lady and the Tramp- so this isn't exactly soothing but it's one of my favorites. I wanted to avoid "love" songs but I mean... this is the cutest! The spaghetti-sharing scene? (And it reminds me that a small part of me is still a dog-lover. =)

8. Proud of Your Boy from Aladdin on Broadway- yes, I'm having a girl, but I just love this song. I guess they cut it from the movie but brought it back for Broadway and I'm listened to it approximately a million times since I bought the album. Just a sweet song (and Adam Jacob's voice is so good- doesn't he look like a real-life Aladdin?)

9. In the Golden Afternoon from Alice in Wonderland- this scene always cracks me up because some of the flowers are so snobby to poor Alice. "Did you ever see an Alice that size?" "Come to think of it- did you ever see an Alice?" (I wanted to include the Main Title but it's a little too bombastic to be considered a lullaby, I think... this one might be too but I love it so it stays.)

10. Your Mother and Mine from Peter Pan- this song is often overlooked but it's so sweet (and sad!) when Wendy sings to all the Lost Boys on Neverland (and even Mr. Smee is moved to tears as he listens outside.) 

11. The Age of Not Believing from Bedknobs and Broomsticks- this movie is not that well-known but it really should be because it's fantastic but this song is one of my favorites. Angela Lansbury is golden at any age. It's not really a baby song but it makes me nostalgic nonetheless.

12. Once Upon a Dream from Sleeping Beauty- like I said, I was trying to avoid "love songs" but again- dreaming/lullabies- I just couldn't resist. I always thought Sleeping Beauty was the prettiest princess (and I'm seriously in love with the name Aurora.) 

13. Feed the Birds from Mary Poppins- what better way to bookend this post than by starting and ending with Mary Poppins? This song has been my favorite since I can remember (and it was Walt Disney's favorite so I'm in good company.) So soothing and beautiful. 

There you have it- there are PLENTY of great Disney songs that I'll include on other lists for the baby but these are the best lullabies, I think. Also, I'm working on a list of non-Disney (mostly Broadway) lullabies (think Edelweiss, Over the Rainbow, etc.) I've got to start a Spotify playlist asap so the baby can start hearing these songs every night! 

Any songs I missed? What would you add? Happy listening (and sleeping- who said lullabies are just for babies?)!

Ash

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Halfway

I feel terrible about not doing a better job documenting this pregnancy but sickness + hormones + fatigue does not create a mindset that really lends itself to sharing and positivity, am I right? BUT at some point I'll want to remember how I was feeling and all that good stuff so why not write it down and share it with others? (The internet is a beautiful thing.) 


This is a terrible "bump" picture but there we were outside the hospital and people were coming down the sidewalk so I panicked and didn't want to turn and pose for another one. (#sociallyawkward) I'm actually showing even more than that now and it was just a week ago!


I have read in a few different places where women said things about how strong and empowered and amazing they felt while pregnant and I'm like... hmm. What drug is that you're on? I am not feeling sick anymore but I wouldn't in a million years describe myself as feeling empowered... if anyone should feel empowered by pregnancy it's toilet paper companies who are thrilled to capitalize on the fact that I literally have to go to the bathroom 37 times a day. (If only I were exaggerating. Also, TMI? Probably.) I am thankful, however, to feel good most of the time. I get tired easily but that probably has as much to do with my unemployed, sedentary lifestyle for the past year. Oh, and insomnia, which is horrible and, coupled with the whole bathroom-every-five-minutes thing, is wrecking any chances I get at a full night's sleep.

My mom tells me that this is nature's way of preparing me to get up multiple times a night with a newborn, but I think it's a little cruel to be robbed of the last few months of uninterrupted sleep I'll get until I'm pushing 50. But, anything for you, little Baby. (Remember this when I'm elderly and in need of full-time care, please.)

As you know, we did find out that it's a GIRL which immediately took me from slightly dazed, oh-yeah-I'm-having-a-baby mode to HOLY COW THIS IS A GIRL AND NOT AN IT AND WHAT WILL WE NAME HER? (Pretty much the entire reason I was #teamboy was that I had the PERFECT boy name picked out and no girl names nailed down at all.) I'm not really sure what the standard procedure is for a gender ultrasound since so many people choose to keep it a secret until it can be revealed with paint or balloons or candy or custom cars but our ultrasound tech just waved the thing around for a while until matter-of-factly (and with no warning) blurting out, "Oh, it's a baby girl," with little to no enthusiasm. (Apparently she's lost the wonder of her job over the years or perhaps has just grown hardened in the face of weepy parents.) 

Once we (I) recovered from that shock it became clear that shopping for a girl was going to be SO fun and require every bit of self-restraint that I possess (so in other words, not much.) I have done really well and only bought a few little things in the past couple weeks which is really a miracle because baby clothes are like kryptonite. (And as much as Jonathan protests all this shopping, I have caught him red-handed with fistfuls of baby clothes so... we have a daddy's girl in the making already.) 


GUILTY

Oh, and have we decided on a name? No. Has it been keeping me awake at night and during my multiple daily nap times? Yes! It's driving me insane... I started off with specific initials in mind because I knew if I didn't set some boundaries I would never, ever make a decision. (Although, just for fun, I've spent a lot of time perusing Janssen's name posts over at Disney Baby.) I do have it narrowed down to three (realistically, two) names and one of them is definitely Disney-inspired, naturally. But other than that... I got nothin' and I really, really want to make a decision that I won't have to change or regret or make my child resent me forever. (No pressure.)

I truly don't let myself go down the rabbit hole that is the internet when it comes to almost anything baby-related because 1) so much is inaccurate, including those nonsensical fruit-vegetable comparisons (which I check weekly anyway because I'm a sucker) and 2) there are a million and one horror stories that I just don't need to read. So I've kept myself mostly worry-free by ignoring a lot of misinformation and trying to trust that the Lord is in control of what happens over the next few months but I do feel like the minute we found out the baby was a girl and everything became "real" all over again that my Zen-like approach took a backseat as I quickly spiraled into the Crazy Town of paranoia that I hadn't experienced since the first few weeks of pregnancy.

I was especially nervous about our 20-week appointment and ultrasound that would check for any abnormalities, problems, etc. It bugs me when people say, "There's nothing worry about!" when clearly there is... but thank God everything really was fine and I semi-relaxed after that good report. I am beyond thankful that we have a healthy baby and I've had an extremely easy pregnancy compared to a lot of women. I know we're still a good ways out but I'm choosing (trying) to trust and not focus on what could go wrong, which is enough to make anyone crazy. 

SO... it's a girl, I haven't bought too many baby clothes (cross my heart!) and I'm still agonizing over a name, but I'm feeling okay and still kind of in disbelief that I'm pregnant as well as being very grateful for things going smoothly. 

I know you're supposed to do this every week but like I said, I'm a major slacker and I haven't but I thought I'd do one of those pregnancy question thingies just for fun. (I know... I should let other people tell me it's fun. It's probably not.) I'll try to faithfully keep track in the weeks ahead. (I got these questions from Molly's blog but I'm not sure of their original source. Probably a chain email from 1998.)

How far along: 21 weeks
How big is baby: last week the doctor said 14 ounces but I'm not sure how long... maybe seven inches?
Weight gain: not much... only a couple pounds up from right before I got pregnant (I lost weight in the beginning thanks to puking and hating all food.) 
Sleeping: Bleh. Taking forever to fall asleep and then waking up all.the.time. to go to the bathroom. Of course daytime sleep is an A+ but that cuts into my night sleep and the vicious cycle begins again.
Food cravings: Goldfish crackers all day every day because I'm a toddler, apparently. Also cucumbers with apple cider vinegar (which sounds heinous but it's really good) and grape tomatoes. 
Food aversions: Most fast food (probably a blessing) including, sadly, orange chicken from Panda Express. EWWW.
Symptoms: Fatigue... any outing longer than a couple hours really wipes me out. And my stomach is expanding all over and not just in the front.
Miss Anything?: Regular sleep and all my dresses that aren't empire-waisted.
Doctor’s appointment: My next one is in a couple weeks and will be a very brief checkup before I go HOME to Georgia for a visit! Yay!
Clothes: I can still wear a lot of my regular clothes since I usually go for looser styles, but switching to maternity jeans a few weeks ago has changed my life. I did buy a belly band but I'm not wild about it so I'm mostly sticking with my trusty, stretchy Old Navy pencil skirts. Finding a good pair of maternity shorts is my mission at the moment. 
Movement: lots! I actually just started feeling her bump around in there last Sunday night so it's still very new and exciting. I'm looking forward to having the little kicks and punches be strong enough for Jonathan to feel. 
Best moment of the week: Feeling the baby move around and respond to noise/music, etc. and seeing her yawn on the ultrasound which was adorable. 
What I’m looking forward to: Ugh... choosing a name! And Jonathan feeling the baby kick. 
What I did / Got for baby: I'm finalizing my choices for a Disney lullaby playlist (priorities!) and we've been scoping out baby furniture. 
Prayer requests: Just safety and health for the baby and me (and sanity for Jonathan =) especially as the Texas heat settles in with a fury and it gets quite uncomfortable to be outside for any length of time. (Thank goodness our apartment has a pool or I might never survive this summer.) 
I can't believe this pregnancy is over halfway over. I feel like the first trimester really dragged but the second one is flying (doesn't everyone say that?) but as my girth increases and the temperatures outside rise (yay) I'm sure I'll be singing a different tune before too long. Too bad my number one task in the heat is to stay hydrated which plays right into my problem of spending 75% of my time in or finding a bathroom but hey, fun times, right?
Happy Thursday to you from me and (Unnamed) Baby. =)

Ash




Monday, April 27, 2015

Current Playlist

Over the years, I've learned something about myself: I tend to get stuck on new music that I like. I think the reason for that is that it's more enjoyable for me to listen to a song or album once I am familiar with it (for me, that means knowing all the lyrics.) Sometimes that's a good thing but sometimes it means I get sick of an album by the time I've listened to it enough to memorize the words. HOWEVER, these songs/albums are ones I've had on repeat for months now and haven't even come close to tiring of, which means they must be pretty great.

If you need help spending money in iTunes, here you go:




1. Travis Cottrell's "I'm Living Proof": this is pretty much by favorite Christian music I've bought in the last year. Just about every song is wonderful, but my favorite is "Awesome"; I've had many worshipful times in the car with that one. =) And if you want to feel like an amazing, Lauryn Hill-type Gospel singer, try belting along with "Take Me to the King." (That's Amy's favorite... new lip-sync video, perhaps, Little Sister?) Oh, and if you want to cry, "Never Once" is your best bet. =)

2. "Into the Woods" soundtrack: I know, I know... some people (a lot of people?) really hated the movie, for two reasons, I think. Number one: it's a LOT of singing. When Jonathan and I watched it the first time, I said, "Um... do they talk at ALL?" (Not that I minded.) If you're not really a fan of musicals, or are only like a fringe fan, then this movie is probably over the top for you. Also the second half is a lot darker and has some twists that are sad and blah blah...  I won't give it away but it's definitely not a typical fairy-tale ending and I know that bummed a lot of people out. HOWEVER... I am not one of those people and I bought the soundtrack about two days after seeing the movie because I absolutely loved it. I snagged it at Target for $9.99 and because I'm a loser who needs to know all the words I was thrilled to have the physical CD with lyric pages included. Anyway, Stephen Sondheim is a clever, clever genius and these songs are beautiful, clever (yes, it merits a third use) and really different from anything I've heard before. I've listened to this a LOT in the past three months (so much so that I catch Jonathan singing along, much to my delight.)

3. Gold: Carpenters 35th Anniversary Edition: I've been a Carpenters fan from birth, I suppose, since I can't remember a Christmas without their glorious music. (Christmas isn't Christmas without Carpenters music, okay?) But in my childish ignorance, I didn't realize that they actually sang, you know, non-holiday stuff. I'll never forget my parents coming home from Costco with this album when I was in 9th grade. All of a sudden a whole new world of music opened up. These songs were fun! And beautiful! And haunting! And cheesy! And all with Karen's magical alto and Richard's phenomenal arrangements... ah! Overload for my 15-year-old music-loving self. Anyway, I've known and loved these songs for over a decade now but only recently purchased the entire album on iTunes for myself and it has brought me a lot of joy ever since. I guess these songs aren't for everyone (I mean, if you hate the most amazingly mellow voice imaginable...) but if you like the Carpenters or "oldies" check this out.

4. I preordered Josh Groban's new album, "Stages", which included a few pre-lease singles and I. coudn't. stop. listening. to. them. I've loved Josh Groban for a loooong time now- since his very first CD- but some of his post-David Foster stuff has been a little odd for my taste. However, when I saw that his new album would be all Broadway songs, I nearly fainted. Josh Groban singing my favorite genre? OKAY! The singles, "What I Did for Love," "Bring Him Home." (tears!) and "Pure Imagination" (yes, from Willy Wonka!) are golden.... GOLDEN I tell you. And since they were released on iTunes, he's also allowed "sneak peeks" at a few others, including a duet with Kelly Clarkson that may very well blow your mind. That girl can sing like nobody's business. BUT the album was released today and you better believe I'll be listening to it exclusively for the time being (no offense to anything else on this list.) 

5. "Pray" by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir: I love choir music, I think now more than ever because I don't actually have to listen to it in preparation for church, and of course Brooklyn Tab is best of the best. (Visiting the actual church last year was awesome!) That being said, sometimes choir music is a little much when you want to listen to something soothing (and 100+ voices are all but yelling at you). But this album is so great... uplifting, beautiful, worshipful... and sometimes you WANT to belt it out with dozens of your closest NYC friends. (Maybe that's just me.) Anyway, I love these songs but my favorites are "Worth It All," "Come to Jesus," and "He Loved Me." If I had to recommend just one song, it would be "Worth It All" since I've probably listened to that one alone about 50 times.

Oh, and in the spirit of full disclosure, I would also have to add the Rodgers and Hammerstein Cinderella album, which I've had playing on Spotify constantly. Laura Osnes is the modern-day Julie Andrews, folks. Youtube her and hear the magic. ANd I'd have to add the new James and the Giant Peach album... I read the book for the first time (I know!) a few months ago and I love the story. These songs and the voices are awesome, and you can actually download the album FOR FREE right here

There you go... lots of good music! Go download it ALL... or at least the Josh Groban album unless you're not a fan of beauty and pure joy. 

Ash



Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Bigger, Better Plan

This time exactly one year ago, we were strolling around New York City and having a generally wonderful time. And if you remember (okay, you probably don't), this very night last year was when I went to Newsies on Broadway and posted several times about how it was the best night ever.



Given my huge grin and over-the-top gushing about my excitement (which was completely genuine, I promise!), no one would have guessed that right before heading to the city for dinner and the show, I had cried in the bathroom of our hotel room after taking another negative pregnancy test.

I can't and won't act like I dealt with infertility because I know a lot of women who have and it's not something I would pretend to have struggled with in order to gain sympathy or head pats or whatever. But I think a lot of women, even those who have since had children, can relate to the sadness that accompanies "trying," especially when it takes longer than you would have chosen. (And I also recognize that, given all the circumstances, it didn't take me long at all to get pregnant. Others have waited much longer for it to happen, and for some it never did. I can't even imagine how difficult that is; I'm just speaking from my own experience.) 

So, wanting to be pregnant and waiting for it to happen was a hard thing, and at times I wondered why it wasn't happening on my timetable. But, as always, God's plans were much, much better. If I had gotten pregnant when I first wanted to be, then the last several months of transition, traveling, decision-making, and moving would have been that much more complicated, for sure. There's no way I would have been able to go on (or at least enjoy) deputation with Jonathan if I'd been sick like I was for the first trimester, I would have had to change doctors, etc. Or we'd have been making huge, scary life changes with a newborn- which is a huge, scary life change! =)

My friend (and former coworker) Phyllis has said more than once since she heard our news, "God's timing is so funny!" and by funny I think she means perfect. =) I spent close to a year wishing for a baby but slowly realizing how much smarter (you know, omniscient!) the Lord is than I am. 


Tiny little bump!

So, a year later, after months and months of learning to trust and seeing Isaiah 55:9 in action, I'm 15 weeks pregnant with our little person and amazed at the timing of it all. I shouldn't be, but I still am. Even with all the sickness and fatigue (which has mostly passed!) I've tried to remind myself to be grateful for every moment since there were times I wasn't sure I would experience this at all. 

So far it's been the most exciting thing to happen to me... even better than seeing Newsies, which is saying a lot! =) If you're wondering why something in your life isn't working out like you want it to, just wait... there's probably a bigger and better plan in the works! 


Ash

Monday, April 20, 2015

Soundtrack of My Life

Sometimes, at the Baines house, we would have Amanda make up and play what we called the "Soundtrack of Our Lives." This would include ominous music to represent a breakup, love songs to represent a boyfriend, etc. (These are the things you do when you're big dorks and have a ridiculously talented pianist for a sister.) As I turn 26 (?!) I've thought a lot about that little game and what on earth the different songs on my soundtrack would be at this point, especially to represent the last year. (Maybe "Strange Things Are Happening to Me" from Toy Story?)

My childhood songs would have to be a combination of something ridiculously light and happy (maybe "Jolly Holiday" from Mary Poppins), something sporty and spunky ("Follow Me Boys"?) and something slightly poignant, like the reprise of "Belle" from Beauty and the Beast (because I was a daydreaming nerd as well as a tomboy.) And also the Anne of Green Gables soundtrack by Hagood Hardy will always remind me of my childhood and my mom, for some reason. But it's beautiful and melancholy and I love it.

Junior high... yikes. Is there a song that sums up the ugly stage of a seventh grader with the social awkwardness that accompanies a strange sense of confidence at that age? Hmm... well, that was the time I discovered Newsies so really any of those songs would at least remind me of that time, even if they don't quite encapsulate the weirdness of it. 

Ah, high school. Actually part of junior high would apply here too, but at least the first half of high school would have to be one or more Taylor Swift songs... I remember when I first heard her music that I thought, "It's a good thing these songs weren't around when I was in 9th grade. How pathetic would I have been?" Probably "Teardrops on My Guitar" but more likely "You Belong with Me" would have been my anthem. (I'm not proud of that.)

Moving across the country when I was 15 (and what started off as "In My Own Little Corner" and something depressing- maybe "Rainy Days and Mondays"?) was a crazy thing... but it also put me in the middle of a lot of people I didn't know (and more importantly, who didn't know me... or my older sisters) so I kind of became this new, confident version of myself. I don't remember feeling terribly confident, but I remember having a lot of new friends and new experiences (playing softball (badly), singing my first solo (not quite as badly) that were so far removed from everything I knew on the West Coast that I felt like a different person. So, how about "I Have Confidence" (with the qualifier "sometimes) and "O, What A Beautiful Mornin'"? (That's how I felt about living in North Carolina by the end of it all.)

Ah! But then to move again! Just when I had gotten used to my great new life. Back to "In My Own Little Corner" (or, if I had been a typical teenager, maybe something angry by Avril Lavigne. Ha!) Of course, Georgia charmed me pretty quickly and I fell in love with living there, too. (It didn't hurt that that summer of '05 included a trip to Disney World/Universal Studios and several Braves games.) I'd have to say that summer and the next couple years would be represented by "Georgia on My Mind," "Tim McGraw" (yes, Taylor again... but only because the summer that song came out it was EVERYWHERE), and really any country music... I had never heard so much in my life until we moved to Georgia. (Braves games are represented by "Thank God I'm a Country Boy.") And I think all teenagers can be characterized by "The Age of Not Believing" from Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

My college experience is far too varied and would require an entire soundtrack of its own but starting with getting dropped off as a freshman, I'd have to go with the "Goodbye" song from Fox and the Hound (along with the weeping), then the rest would have to be represented by choir music because that's pretty much all there was (other than singing German and Italian for voice lessons which I'd rather not commemorate.) 

Backing up a little to the summer after I turned 16, I fell in love with a skinny, blue-eyed boy from Goldsboro (he didn't fall quite as quickly, strangely enough!) but I felt lucky, very lucky, to eventually be dating him (still do!) and it would be impossible to narrow down a list of songs for him. Maybe start with "Impossible" from Cinderella, then "Puppy Love" by Damian McGinty, then probably some dramatic country song I liked at the time, then "You Are the Music in Me" from High School Musical 2 (again, I didn't say I was proud of all of these.) I'm sure we had what we considered "our song" at the time but am I a terrible person if I say I can't remember? Then maybe "Put Your Head on My Shoulder" by Michael Buble (scandalous!), "When God Made You" (one of our wedding songs) and "I Won't Last a Day Without You" by The Carpenters. And "We've Only Just Begun" by The Carpenters to represent our first year as clueless newlyweds.

Man... there have been so many crazy times since we've been married. (Mostly good crazy... and I don't mean constant fighting over whatever most newlyweds fight over. I was in school and Jonathan was teaching for the first time... we were too tired to fight! Those first couple years would be "The Bare Necessities" from The Jungle Book. =) I'd say change has kind of been a theme along the way, and dreaming, and coming up with new plans (that later changed, as is our way.) Again, I'd have to say "Strange Things" from Toy Story, "What's This?" from Nightmare before Christmas (ha!), and even though I wish I could say, "Hakuna Matata," it would probably something a little less relaxed. I'd throw in "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables if it's not too excessive.

But more recently... the Broadway Aladdin soundtrack ("A Million Miles Away" and "Proud of Your Boy"), "Santa Fe" from Newsies, "Houston" by Dean Martin =), "Glorious Unfolding" by Steven Curtis Chapman, "Baby Mine" from Dumbo, and really any other Disney lullaby there is (in anticipation of Baby M.) Also, overarching for the soundtrack of year 25, would probably be "Let It Go"... but then, isn't that on the soundtrack for all of America at this point? Oh, and through it all (at least the last five years), it's been Disney on Pandora, Michael Buble, Selah, Casting Crowns, and, always, the Psych theme song (a mood-lifter on even the worst days.)

You got all that, Amanda? (That's a long soundtrack.) For everyone else... now go play the game yourself. (If you don't have a talented pianist in the family it won't be as fun but just try.)

I don't know what the "song of year 26" will be but I'm anxious to find out! (Is there a song about growing old and forgetful? I'm thinking that might be a winner.)


Ash