Sunday, July 26, 2015

Bulletin Board Ideas!!

This time last year, I was seriously depressed about not going back to school as a teacher. I had always figured that if I weren't teaching, it would be because I had a baby, and obviously that wasn't the case, so it was a huge bummer and I was very gloomy for most of August, September, and October.

This year, things are quite different (obviously!) and while I'm thrilled about Alice and eagerly anticipating her arrival, it's still pretty sad to me to walk past all the "back to school" displays, cute classroom decor, and school supplies. (School supplies have been my kryptonite since I was about six. Weird kid.)

 Anyway, while I'm very content with not teaching and staying home with my baby, there are aspects of it that I miss terribly and the number one thing I'm dying to do is bulletin boards (or decorating a classroom in general.) I get how planning, lesson prep, and collating tests and quizzes (shudder!) can be less than thrilling, but decorating my room was always the best part of the job for me. I took a lot of pride in making my room look good and even though I'm not at all a crafty or artistic person, I found the hours of cutting out letters, arranging things with sticky tack, and deciding on just the right border to be oddly soothing. (Weird kid, weird adult.)


Me in my classroom =)

I shouldn't romanticize it all too much; sometimes I forget what it was like to deal with four English classes worth of books...




Strangely enough, many (or most) of my teacher friends don't share my love for bulletin boards. SO even though I'm too far away to take over decorating for my little sister (it's her first year! ah!) or my Aunt Peggy (the best of the best!), I thought if any of you needed a little inspiration for the coming year, I'd put all my past bulletin board posts in one post (this one.) Obviously, some of these are seasonal and won't really apply to the beginning of the year, but you might find something useful!

1. Fall Classroom I

2. Fall Classroom II

Fall Captions:

"Carve Out a Smile" (with a jack o'lantern.)

"Punctuation Patch" (punctuation rules on pumpkins)

"Catch the Gratitude Attitude"

"Fall in Love With Jesus"

"Our Class Is a Real Scream!"

Psalm 56:3 "What time I am afraid..."

"We're Nuts about Learning!" (I also did this by taking pictures of the kids making crazy faces and sticking them on big acorns.)

"My Students Are Such a Treat!" (Apply as much or as little sarcasm as you want there. =) I did this on a big poster board cutout of candy corn.)

"Kindness Leaves Others Encouraged." (With leaves... obviously. This is my most pinned fall board!)

"Persistence" (with definition and Charlie Brown- ah! My all-time favorite.)


3. Dr. Seuss Classroom (this was for Dr. Seuss's birthday in March but I also did a Dr. Seuss theme at the beginning of the year when I taught third grade. Tragically, those pictures are nowhere to be found!) I highly recommend buying a set of Dr. Seuss letters- I used them for this theme of course, but also for Christmas and Valentines. Very handy!

Dr. Seuss Captions:

"Think Left and Think Right! Think Low and Think High! Oh, the things you can think up if only you try!"

"Hats Off to Great Students!" (Names on Cat in the Hat hats)

"Things to Remember" (I did this with Dr. Seuss quotes, as you can see, but I also did "Things to Capitalize" in third grade and surrounded it with capitalization rules. You could apply that to just about anything.)

"A Person's a Person No Matter How Small." (I also added "Jesus loves us, one and all." for one of the boards.)

"Hats Off to Great Work!"

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, Oh! the place you'll go."


4. Christmas/Winter Classroom I

5. Christmas/Winter Classroom II

Christmas/Winter Captions (notice there are no "Frozen" references here- that was after my time and I feel like I kinda dodged a bullet! Ha!)

"Rudolph in the Dark" (always a favorite- red dot on a dark background)

"Frosty's Baby Picture" (just a tiny snowflake)

"Don't Be a Cotton-Headed Ninny-Muggins" (from Elf- using the face of someone the kids know is a big hit! =)

"What a Cool Class!" (Anything with the word "cool" and snowflakes works.)

"Sweet Students" (with Christmas candy/candy canes)

"Welcome Christmas as we stand heart to heart and hand in hand." (I did this by having the students trace their hands and using the shapes to form a tree one year and a wreath the other. Cute!)

"Chill Out! This is a drama-free classroom." (I loved that!)

"It's a Winter Wonderland!"

"Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but English class (or whatever class) is so delightful!"

"Read, read as much as you can!" (with gingerbread men)

"Why fit in when you were born to stand out?" (with Rudolph, Herbie the Elf, and the Jack-in-the-Box from the Island of Misfit Toys... this was my favorite last year.)

"Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more." (Grinch board)


6. Social Media Classroom

Social Media Captions:

"Before you (Facebook, text, tweet, call, Instagram, etc.), THINK- is it true? is it helpful? is it inspiring? is it necessary? is it kind?"

"Are you using the right filter?" (with Instagram logo- ideally this would also have Philippians 4:8 with it.)

"Trending Topics at (School Name/Grade)" (with little birds- I loved this and you can have a lot of fun with the hashtags!)

"There is no autocorrect in life- do things right the first time!"

"Learn it now > Google it later."

"The best way to have a friend (in Facebook font) is to be one."

7. Spring Classroom I

8. Spring Classroom II

Spring Captions (bugs, baseball, picnics, Easter, etc.)

"Go to the ant, thou sluggard..." (with a picnic blanket background)

"Home-Run Students" (I did a "roster" for each grade.)

"Don't bug me; I'm reading!"

"Writing to be 'hoppy' about!" (with frogs)

"Jump for Joy! ____ Days until Summer!" (also frogs)

"Bee Yourself!" (my nod to Aladdin =)

"Sowing Seeds of Springtime" (gardening)

"Blooming into ____ Graders" (each student's name was on a flower stuck inside a little paper flowerpot.)

"We've Got the Writing Bug!"

"You ask me how I know He lives; He lives within my heart!" (student's date of salvation/testimony on hearts or just hung around the words.)

"Our future's so bright, we have to wear shades!" (I bought some neon sunglasses at the dollar section in Target, had each student pose for a picture in them, and attached them all to bright paper. I loved this.)

There you have it! Notice I don't have a lot of "themes" (western, jungle, etc.) but I just found it was easier to go by seasons or holidays sometimes. If you are doing a theme and need ideas, though, let me know, because I love coming up with ideas! (Again, some people probably think it's weird that it's my idea of good time. Fine by me. =)





Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Hello, Third Trimester! (28-Week Update)

You guys, I cannot believe my third trimester begins today. I mean, I've never been good at math but I can count, and I still am in shock that these weeks have actually passed and here we are. I know we still have a while to go (thank goodness- so much to do!) but it's the home stretch now. In just a few months Alice will be here and my humdrum life will suddenly be far more interesting. 

As she grows, I feel myself getting anxious about actually meeting her. I can't wait to see what she'll look like, who she'll look like, if her hair will be dark like Jonathan's or her eyes will be green like mine. Ah! Even though there are a million things to do before she comes, I am constantly daydreaming about what it will be like when she's here... it does make the never-ending process of figuring out baby stuff a little more enjoyable. (Although buying her clothes is no chore, that's for sure. =) 

It's been a busy couple weeks since I got back from Georgia- in particular, our church had Vacation Bible School last week. It was awesome but exhausting- true of VBS even before I was pregnant but especially this year. (The 90+ temperatures and a finicky AC in the car added to that, I'm sure.) But we did have a wonderful week and spent the last few days recovering. =)



Best children's pastor ever!


Alice's first VBS =)


So, on to the update! 





I wore this dress on Sunday (it was my FAVORITE maternity dress of April's and when she gave it to me on my trip home I nearly died of gratitude- really! I love it that much) and I don't know if it was me or the dress or both but I got a ton of "Wow, you're really looking pregnant!" comments. Ha!



How far along: 28 weeks today!
How big is baby: 15 inches (woah- but I can definitely feel her stretched out!) and around 3 pounds. We'll have a better idea after our next appointment!
Weight gain: I put on some shorts that I last wore about two months ago and they were... quite a bit more snug than before. Ha! But overall I feel okay; obviously some days more than others. =)
Sleeping: It's getting better- mostly because I bought a body pillow last week and it's pretty much the best ten bucks I ever spent at Target. It's not a "maternity" one but it just really helps cushion my stomach when I lie on my side. I have always slept on my stomach so turning over even a little has made it harder to fall asleep but this helps tremendously. Yay!

Food cravings: Dill Pickle Lay's (I know, they sound so nasty but they're SO GOOD) and ice cream- specifically Oreo concrete (similar to a Blizzard) from Freddy's, a restaurant/ice cream (technically custard) place right around the corner from us. They also have theeee best fries and fry sauce... okay, maybe those are a craving too. (For my NC people- I'd say the menu is pretty similar to Andy's.)
Food aversions: nothing really- dangerous, right??
Symptoms: lots of sharp little pains where Miss Priss is apparently tossing elbows into my spleen or something. (I know that's not how it works, okay? I just picture her boxing out like a basketball player in there... maybe she'll be a defense star like Daddy. =)
Miss Anything?:  This is totally shallow but I did see the cutest dress the other day and it made me sad that I can't wear anything with a normal waistline. Other than that, not really!
Doctor’s appointment: Our next appointment is still a week away since my doctor is out of town this week. I'm really looking forward to it because we'll have another ultrasound and get to see our girl!
Clothes: okay, let me take a second and share my good fortune with you... I mentioned last time that I had finally found a pair of maternity shorts but like I said, last week it was HOT and this week (and all of July and August, apparently) will be no better. SO, I knew one pair of shorts that actually fit was not going to cut it. Our local Baby Gap has a great maternity section (and great clearance!) so we popped in on Saturday, and (cue heavenly music and sunbeams) I found another pair of maternity shorts marked down to SEVEN DOLLARS. What?? I changed into them as soon as I got home and let me tell you- I am still over the moon about it. Maybe I care too much about clothes but when it's pushing 100 degrees outside, it's a major win to be able to wear something that's actually comfortable and FITS. God bless Gap!



Best day ever!

Movement: well, I mentioned the elbow jabs, didn't I? =) Really, she moves a lot- it's so weird to watch my stomach bounce around when she's really active. Of  course I love it though! 
Best moment of the week: Is it crazy to say finding those shorts?? Oh, and buying my new pillow too. =)
What I’m looking forward to: Well, I got some money in the mail from consignment clothes I dropped off months ago, so I'll be using that to buy a few things I've been eyeing for the nursery. Item number one will definitely be this print... isn't it so pretty! (That's a quote from Alice in Wonderland, in case you were wondering.)
What I did / Got for baby: we found a few little clearance items this weekend (clothes- guilty!) and a couple of decorative things for the nursery.
Prayer requests: As always, health and safety for the baby and for me. And, this is kind of a long shot but it doesn't hurt to pray- we're really hoping and praying that Jonathan can be transferred to branch of his bank closer to our house (specifically, the one that's less than a mile away.) That would be AMAZING for a lot of reasons, the least of which is not that we'd have so much more time together, which would of course be really nice when the baby comes.

There you go! Between the nursery, books to read, and a million other things, these next few weeks will probably go by super fast! But I'm thankful to be healthy and, as I've said before, having a fairly boring pregnancy which is totally fine by me! Some days I do feel pretty rough, but I guess I don't look quite as haggard as I feel since a lady at the pool today told me, "You'll be a very young mom!" and when I told her I was probably not as young as she thought (26), she gasped in her beautiful Spanish accent, "What!! You look so young! You're just a chicky baby!" (Maybe that's her way of saying baby chick??) Ha! I'm glad to know I haven't lost my youth entirely. ;)'


Ash

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Second Quarter Book List: the All-Stars

So, I read a lot this quarter. Like, a lot- 56 books total from April to June. That's a pretty big number but do remember that I don't have a job AND several of these were re-reads (I flew through the O'Malley series by Dee Henderson... those never get old!) Actually, everything on this list is non-fiction because, like I said, a lot of the fiction was either not new or just not really what I'd highly recommend. I really enjoyed some of it, but with 56 books, I had to narrow it down, and the following really were my favorites. 



1. 41: A Portrait of My Father by George W. Bush- This was the first book I read this quarter, and it may be my favorite. I love George H.W. Bush. I think he was a fantastic President and a wonderful person and this book made me love him even more. Not only was he an effective politician (and one free from scandal, ahem), but he was also a WWII vet and just led a really fascinating and impressive life. Visiting his Presidential Library at College Station about a week after I finished this was icing on the cake. 

2. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain- I've probably referenced this book in conversation (or at least in my head) more that any of the others this quarter. I'm not actually an introvert (but I'm not really a true extrovert either- apparently I'm an ambivert and yes, that's a real thing) but the fact is, we live in a society that rewards extroverts and works hard to "reform" introverts into more outgoing people. The chapters on education were particularly interesting to me, but there was even some parenting advice that I found helpful. This is such a good book.

3. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell- I could (and do!) read every book this guy writes. He's just so talented at taking seemingly random topics and tying them together in a way that makes you feel really smart for having read the material. Plus it's interesting and well done. The very first chapter of this book threw me for a loop but I loved it and couldn't put it down. (I won't tell you what it says, but check it out- fascinating!) The way we view negative circumstances- giants, if you will- is very often mistaken, and Gladwell points out how these obstacles to be overcome are actually beneficial in a variety of settings from medicine to education to sports.

4. Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives  by Gretchen Rubin- if you haven't read The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, you really should, but this book might be my favorite of hers. There are tons of tips geared toward just about every aspect of life you can think of, but my favorite parts of the book are the personality quizzes that help determine how you should realistically go about your goals and habits. (I'm an Obliger, and you can find out your own here.) 

5. A Spoonful of Sugar: A Nanny's Story by Brenda Ashford- this memoir by a British nanny who cared for over 100 children in her many decades of service was fascinating. She began working right before World War II broke out and actually spent her first few years in childcare working with children who were evacuated to the country to avoid the bombings in London. It's amazing how much time nannies spent with the children in their care and how little parents saw them. (Sometimes only an hour or two a day with the father was customary. Wow!) Her simple, practical advice and sweet stories were so fun to read and I found myself wanting to take notes- how many women have "raised" so many children successfully? This was a great read.

6. Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life by Eric Metaxas- I was a little skeptical when I started this book, but as the author says, we all buy into the fact that miracles happened in the Bible, but for some reason we completely discount miraculous events today. Why would miracles just stop happening? He presents rather undeniable evidence that they have not stopped and tells many stories to prove that fact. If you haven't read anything by Eric Metaxas, do it. (And follow him on Twitter!) 

7. C.S. Lewis- A Life by Alister McGrath- I've been wanting to get my hands on this particular biography for quite a while, and I'm glad I did. While I found some parts a little tedious- do we need to spend five pages on the exact date of Lewis's conversion?- I enjoyed the different perspectives on Lewis's life and especially that nearly every bit of information was affirmed by his own personal letters. He is still one of my very favorite authors and I loved the closer look at his life (even though this is still my favorite book about him.) 

8. The End of Molasses Classes: Getting Our Kids Unstuck by Ron Clark- I cannot say enough good things about this book! Ron Clark has been my teaching hero since I was about 13, and he never disappoints. There are tons of helpful tips and lots of good information in this book, but the chapter on the parent-teacher relationship alone makes it worth reading. I can't recommend this highly enough! It's so refreshing to see an educator who still has high academic and behavioral standards for his students while maintaining an enthusiasm that can't be beat. Parents, teachers, PEOPLE- read this book! (And I'm anxiously awaiting my turn on the holds list to check out his newest book!) 

9. The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw- this was one of my favorites this quarter. World War II is my favorite era to study and read about, and learning about a different person of that time in each chapter was perfect (I loved that format- not too heavily detailed but not too short either.) Reading Unbroken and Flags of our Fathers last year really made me realize all over again how little my generation (and others) know about dedication, sacrifice, and human suffering, but this generation got it. I shudder to think what would happen if people my age were called upon to serve in the same way. There are so many sweet, inspiring stories here. I'm looking forward to reading the "sequel" sometime.)

10. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande- this was the last book in my stack before the quarter ended and honestly, I didn't have high hopes. I checked it out because several of my trusted book blogs recommended it but the premise- a book about dying- wasn't really very appealing. But after just a couple of pages I was intrigued and ended up reading the whole thing on a Saturday morning. It's a little hard to explain but the author- a surgeon- writes honestly and poignantly about how difficult it is to accept and deal with the inevitable death of patients, from the terminally ill to the elderly. The chapters on nursing homes were most interesting to me but all of it was very good and thought-provoking. 

11. Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull- oh, I just loved this book. The author is the president of Pixar so I was hooked immediately by the "insider" look at the geniuses behind some of my very favorite movies, but the leadership and management advice was actually very well done and enjoyable as well. (My favorite piece of advice: "You are not your ideas, and if you identify to closely with your ideas, you will be offended when they are challenged.") I could ramble on about Disney, Pixar, and this book for days, but I won't- just check it out!

12. Flyboys: A True Story of Courage by James Bradley- I'm not going to lie- this book was hard to read. First, the author inserts quite a bit of what feels like anti-America, "we got what was coming to us" rhetoric, which I didn't care for, but comes around to the stories of several naval pilots who crashed in the Pacific and were captured by the Japanese, only to face some of the most horrific circumstances imaginable before their deaths. Like I said, I can't imagine anyone my age (actually several years younger) dealing with events like these so heroically, but these boys did. They were amazing and even though it's tough reading, it's worth it to get even a glimpse of their sacrifice. 

Honorable Mention

-Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink- what we eat has way less to do with actual food than it does our mental state, environment, presentation, packaging, company- you name it. Really interesting!

-Year of No Sugar: A Memoir by Eve Schaub- basically, the author's family cuts all sugar- with very few exceptions- for an entire year. It didn't make me want to give up sugar but it did make me a lot more conscious of where it's hiding (and gave me a lot to think about when it comes to feeding Alice in the future!) My favorite parts were from her young daughter's journal about the whole process. 

-Boy by Roald Dahl- this memoir about Dahl's childhood made me love him even more and reminded me that he really was a master storyteller. I just bought Emily a copy of Matilda last week and I hope to add her little collection with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory soon. (Also, how is my niece old enough to read chapter books??)

-Walt Disney: Conversations compiled by Kathy Merlock Jackson- this is a collection of interviews with Walt from the 1920s to right before his death in 1966. I loved getting more insights into the "man behind the mouse" and it's amazing just how groundbreaking his work was- not just in animation but in marketing, production, and even Disneyland, which was a huge undertaking and different from anything anyone had seen before. I don't think a day passes without Disney music or some reference for me, so this was a winner. 

-Mouse Tracks: The Story of Walt Disney Records by Tim Hollis and Greg Ehrbar- more Disney! This is the history of much of the music of Disney (yay!) and even though I got kind of bogged down with some of the business aspects of it, I loved reading about the voices of some of my favorites characters- many studio favorites recorded multiple characters over the years! This has a lot of fun information for a true Disney buff.

There you have it- wow! Just making it through this post should count as a book, am I right? If you're looking for a fascinating biography, memoir, or other non-fiction work, check out one or more of these- and then tell me so we can have a book club. =) I know this coming quarter will be very heavy on parenting books BUT it will also be the last baby-free quarter so I may be squeezing in some books on my wish list before my time gets taken by Miss Alice. (I'm sure I won't mind. =)


Ash

Friday, July 10, 2015

26 Weeks and a Wonderland Shower

I'm a couple of weeks behind on my updates but I've been out of town having my usual lovely, chaotic time in Georgia with the Baines clan. Other than the tragic fact that Jonathan had to stay behind, I had a great trip. Pool days, shopping, movies, and wondering what in the world we all did before five (five!!!) babies joined the family.


Why not add a couple more monkeys to this circus??



Seesters




It's so fun being pregnant at the same time as one of my sisters! Only two weeks apart!


Breakfast at Panera, shopping at Belk, and pedicures! Thanks, Gigi! =)


This is the sweetest, most content little lady ever.


Love my brothers!



I can't believe how big all these crazy kids are getting! 


It was a wonderful week for many reasons (um, Cookout is now 15 minute away... whaaat?) but of course the highlight was the beautiful Wonderland shower my sisters, mom, and best friend threw for me and Alice. It was perfect down to every little detail... the decorations, the food (plus, you know, presents!) and they really just outdid themselves.




Gigi and Papa 






Beautiful hostesses! (I'm so glad Sara could come- she is a saint!)


You can see more pictures and details in my album on Facebook!


I could say so much more about the trip and the shower, but I do want to say thank you to all the sweet ladies from my parents' church who came and brought Alice so many pretty things! It was humbling to receive that kind of generosity especially since I've been away from home for five years away. Berean ladies know how to spoil a pregnant lady! =) I also have to thank my my mom for agreeing to my no-party-games policy. (Seriously, though... aren't all shower games the worst??) I loved our beautiful party and Alice is a very loved girl already!

I'm actually right between 26 and 27 weeks but for this update, we'll stay 26 weeks. (I'd save it for 27 weeks but we'll be mid-VBS and I'm not sure I'll feel like blogging. =) 


Exactly 26 weeks- my dress is from Loft and it's non-maternity! Oh, and it has pockets! 



How far along: 26.5 weeks today!
How big is baby: 9.2 inches (allegedly, says the app) and around 2 pounds
Weight gain: Hmm... not sure. I feel pretty good though so I'm not too worried about it. (We'll see what happens!)
Sleeping: Pretty good! Somehow I wake up right around 7:30 every.morning. without an alarm (why couldn't I have had that skill when I was teaching??) and even though I was pretty tired several days last week (five kids under 7 somehow wore me out, interestingly enough) I made it through with minimal napping. Of course, I got home Tuesday night, did okay on Wednesday, and then napped twice yesterday, so.... 

Food cravings: Well, it's a new one- my sister April (also pregnant!) raved all week about some sandwich at Wendy's and I was a little skeptical but holy cow. If your Wendy's has the Crispy Dill sandwich, go get one. Best $1.49 you'll ever spend. (I might get one tonight!)
Food aversions: Not much, but most fast food sounds really gross. 
Symptoms: My back still hurts fairly easily, and I find myself getting winded easily. It's not like I was in such great shape that I can blame that entirely on being pregnant, but still. And living on the third floor apartment might have something to do with it.
Miss Anything?:  Is it crazy for me to say no? Honestly, nothing comes to mind at the moment, except for maybe not being sooo tired all the time.
Doctor’s appointment:  In a few weeks... and I get to have the yummy glucose drink this time. Yay!
Clothes: I've relied heavily on dresses the past month, but I finally found maternity shorts (Walmart!) and they've already improved the quality of my life! I also found a few great things at Old Navy just this morning (they have an extra 30% off the clearance this weekend- a sale so rare it's practically extinct, so take advantage if you can!)
Movement: a LOT! I love, love, love feeling her roll around in there but I think my favorite time is at night when I'm almost asleep and she's going crazy... just a little mommy time. (I know, so sappy!) And of  course I loved that the kids got to feel her last week. Landon saying, "Hi, Baby Alice" was possibly the cutest thing ever.
Best moment of the week: Our shower, spending time with my family and friends, and being reunited with Jonathan! Every time I go out of town I swear I'll never do it again- three years of long distance in high school and college was enough!
What I’m looking forward to: having a bunch of new pieces for the nursery (many from the shower!) and getting started on putting it all together!
What I did / Got for baby: lots and lots of clothes, blankets, and more at the shower! I've also started collecting different editions of Alice in Wonderland and I'm enjoying looking for them (one brand-new version came from Goodwill!). I'm already coveting this one coming out in November!
Prayer requests: As always, health and safety for the baby and me... it is HOT but with the help of the pool we're surviving. =)

It's been a really fun week and half, but I'm happy to be home, back with Jonathan (and my books- nerd!) and gearing up for our VBS this week. We have a group coming to help and I'm so excited! (Also our theme is set it Bible days so I won't be surprised if I get roped into representing a pregnant Mary at some point. =)

Happy Friday!


Ash





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