Friday, June 20, 2008

A little bragging about my cutie pie niece-ies

Just indulge me for a minute and look at these cute little girls. Pictured first is Savannah at the beach this week. Look at her hands and feet all covered with sand. I could eat her up. Secondly, is one of Hanna Claire's newborn pictures--sleeping so sweetly. Adorable! Finally, the sisters: Haley Beth and Hanna Claire. HB is already a very loving and protective big sis! I love my family and just wanted to share some recent photos.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Savannah from Savannah: Read this book!

I came upon this great read through my sister, so I credit her with my newfound love for this writer. She found it while browsing at our favorite bookstore, Sundog Books, in Seaside, Florida. It caught her attention because of her daughter's and my niece-y's namesake, and the rest is history.

I had been looking for something a little "happier" to read after my recent literary experience with oppressed women in Afghanistan and teenage angst...

I found it at my library {I have put myself on a "buying-new-books-freeze" for the summer} and pretty much devoured it. It is upbeat, realistic, moral, and just an all around laugh-out-loud book. One of my fascinations with it is the main character's {Savannah from Savannah, DUH} pursuit of a writing career. Her self discovery and evolving of relationships take her on an adventure of relearning the character qualities of compassion and the ability to see beyond herself. It is not in the Christian fiction genre, but it is rooted in faith and eternal purpose while still being hilarious and realistic. Is is set in the beautiful south {and I am a lover of southern literature}, and it just makes you feel good.

Another author that I'd compare Denise Hildreth to is Kristen Billerbeck, writer of the "What a Girl Wants" series. Savannah from Savannah is exactly the sort of book I'd aspire to write. If you need a light-hearted, inspirational, feel-good book, check this one out for sure!

*It's part of a 3 book series. I'll be back at the library today trying to locate the subsequent two!

***EDIT*** The other 2 are great as well--I especially loved the one set in Seaside, and did anyone notice that DENISE HILDRETH commented on my blog????!!!! AND she lives in Franklin. I'm thinking I need to foster this connection and maybe she'll even let me take her to lunch and pick her brain...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Not so good at this...

Well, I have been having some "learning moments" with myself lately. I am not so good at this pregnancy thing. There are things that I love about being pregnant--namely being able to feel my little girl kick and punch me and just knowing that she is in there. There are also things that I have not enjoyed at all. Some areas of this adventure that I did not expect or anticipate in any way have been the anxious feelings and constant worry that I have experienced {and am experiencing} around every corner. I always thought being pregnant would be the most wonderful experience. So many women seem to just LOVE being pregnant, are full of advice, and act like they have it all figured out... Not me.

I am not an anxious or worrisome person. I enjoy life. I roll with the punches. I look at life situations as part of the adventure. I love to have fun, and I'm usually up for anything. USUALLY. Not so much with this. During this pregnancy, I have been focused on the next marker--confirming the pregnancy, hearing the heartbeat, having the ultrasound, etc. It's like I expect that once I reach those points, THEN I will feel OK and completely at peace. We reach each milestone; I am at peace for a week or two; then the worry seeps in again. I have almost worked myself into a frenzy before each doctor's appointment. Sometimes days before, sometimes a week before. I have almost debilitated myself to even function and take joy in each day. I have worried about things such as ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, any and every chromosomal abnormality, feeling fetal movement, me having high blood pressure, preterm labor, and then all of the steps to come. Each appointment has gone well, and my fears have been alleviated--temporarily.

I am a believer. I know my Lord is in control, that he has a plan, that he has knit and is knitting her together in my womb, that he ordains each day and each life. My faith has gotten me through all of the hard situations in my life--the Lord, with his protective hands, has carried me through. I can honestly say that I have experienced the Lord's faithfulness and his new mercy and grace each morning. I don't understand why this time in my life is proving to be such a difficult faith test. I do know that Satan is trying to steal my joy. {I even also realize that my hormones are playing a role in some of my emotions and anxiety.} I want, I NEED, to figure out a way to be faithful through this process.

This past week, I have had a legitimate concern about a potential pregnancy complication. However, my fear of the worst crippled me from taking action. I prayed and prayed and prayed, but even my prayers were timid--I was holding back. I talked to my mom finally, and she just encouraged me to face my fears. I called my doctor and spoke his nurse, and they validated my concern and their need to check me out; and after today, I feel so much better because I faced my fear. I was able to get the treatment and answers that I needed, and God is continuing to protect Addy and me. I was able to ask my doctor all of my questions {I had a list in hand so that my nervousness wouldn't turn into forgetfulness}, talk to him about all of my anxiety and worries, and just be honest. He was so reassuring to me and made me feel affirmed. Praise the Lord. He is Good.

Even through all of these things I am experiencing, I am thankful that the Lord is showing me an area of spiritual growth that I can be intentional about during this time. I pray that He will use my vulnerability to help me become dependent on Him through each day and each step. I hope to live each day with joy and thankfulness. I pray to glorify Him through these special months.

My latest whisper of hope...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Shout Outs!

First... to my sweet Maggie Moo who turned 2 last week! {June 5} She's such a smart, friendly, loyal dog, and she continues to bring Patrick and me so much joy! She's our little "dogbaby," and we love her to pieces.

Secondly, to my sister best friend and her terrific husband of 3 years today. They are a wonderful, loving, happy, funny, well-balanced couple, and parents to my precious niece-y to boot. Happy Anniversary, Lindsay and Daniel!

Monday, June 09, 2008

24 weeks

Well, our vacation for the summer, a la our "babymoon," has drawn to a close, but we had a wonderful time! We were sad to leave our home away from home but also excited to be "home" again and get ready for "Little Miss Priss" to come into our lives.

Patrick and I are extremely compatible travel companions. We like to do the beach the same way, and our trip was a much-needed getaway and bonding experience. We ate at our favorite restaurants, cooked in a good bit, listened to good music, went on walks on the beach, read read read, shopped, even saw a movie, and laughed and laughed. We talked about important things and silly things and dreamy things. Of course, we reminisced about our wedding on the sand, and we drove to Seaside to visit our honeymoon cottage, as usual.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Beach Reads

As our vacation comes to a close, so do my days of lazily reading on the beach. In essence, this vacation also serves as our "babymoon," and I know I will not come to the beach as footloose and fancy free in the future. That said, I decided to soak in all the "good reads" that I could. In addition to catching up on my Real Simples, Dominos, and Baby magazines, I read these 3 great books!
Someday is the newest in a Christian fiction series that I began reading years ago. It is centered around a family--the Baxters--and is set mostly in Bloomington, Indiana. While I have tired of the series a bit {this is the 13th book in the series.}, I have not tired of the family. In fact, I feel like the Baxters are my friends, my neighbors, even sometimes my confidantes. While the lines can sometimes be cheesy, these books have real life, real issues that Christians face daily and can identify with, and they are anchored in faith and scripture. Some of the verses that Kingsbury focuses on have become my go-to verses during times when I am praying scripture. This particular book continues the storyline of the previous ones and focuses on issues that threaten Godly marriage. It seriously made me thankful for and want to pray for protection in my own marriage. If you are interested in the series, you should start at the beginning with Redemption. The first 5 she wrote collaboratively with Gary Smalley, and in my opinion, they are the most well-written, have the most depth, and set the tone.

*On my last trip to the beach for New Year's, I read Hosseini's first novel, The Kite Runner. It immediately made it to my top 25 list. I loved the social awareness that it surfaced. I loved the character development, the intensely complicated relationships, and the idea that redemption can even be found through future generations. I loved his first one so much that I incorporated it in my 10th grade Honors World Literature class during our study of Social Injustice. The students who chose to read that book also fell in love with it. I have been saving his second, A Thousand Splendid Suns, for this trip because I wanted to be able to give it my undivided attention. This book also focused on characters and their relationships, but this time the relationships were between women. It took place beginning in the '70's when the Communists were in control of Afghanistan and moved through the rule of the Taliban, the Americans' role and non-role in all of it, and their ultimate journey to redemption as well. What made this book even more interesting to me was that I watched the movie, Charlie Wilson's War, simultaneously. The movie depicts the Americans' covert war that helped Afghanistan defeat the communists. If you are interested in and an advocate for human rights and social justice, or even if you just are interested in broadening your world view, I would definitely recommend both of these books!

Jodi Picoult, author of many books including 19 Minutes {which I wrote about at the end of last summer} and My Sister's Keeper, is a master at telling psychologically complex, morally gray, and poignant stories. At the beginning of each of her books, you can think that you feel black and white certain about an issue, and by the end of it, through looking at that same issue through each of her character's perspectives, you can justify and view that issue through a totally different light. In this particular novel, she addresses the issues of rape, protecting your family, discovering self, and reinventing of identities. One of her main character's is a prominent scholar of Dante's The Divine Comedy which tells of a pilgrimage through the 9 levels of Hell. Her husband is a comic book artist who is writing a new comic that deals with a father's search to rescue his family, traipsing through the levels of Hell--hence the title, 10th circle. This book deals with the overarching question, "Should the punishment fit the crime?" Is every action due an appropriate reaction or consequence? Are there exceptions, ways to justify acting outside this sphere? How does it all make sense? It was a page-turner and thought-provoker!

Next on my list are The Last Lecture, Water for Elephants, and The Shack.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Dirty Old Men...

REALLY DO EXIST. You know, phrases like this one and "baby's daddy" and other coinages that seem almost funny in their obscure absurdity really baffle me when I witness them full throttle. There have been 2 dirty old men in particular that have been patrolling the beaches and pools of Maravilla this week, and I have been covertly watching and eavesdropping on them.

Our first encounter was at the pool one afternoon. We were enjoying rinsing off our beach gunk in cool chlorine late on Wednesday when we saw these interesting characters. At first they seemed innocent--even grandfatherly--but that soon changed. First, they took off their V-neck undershirts, began scratching their hairy beer bellies, and slipped, or rather plopped, into the water. Then they began commenting through grunts and snickers about each woman at the pool. They didn't discriminate their comments based on race or size, but they were definitely breast men.

What pushed me over the edge was when they moved their comments toward the teenage girls who were flirting with boys their own age and having chicken fights in the pool. The rounder of the two men kept trying to get his buddy's attention, "You've got to watch the girl in the polka dot bathing suit. Every time she jumps up in the water, her boob almost comes out under her bathing suit. Wait... Wait... Look... There she goes. Did you see that?" They sat there gawking at this adolescent, and Patrick and I could hardly keep from gagging. Needless to say, when we left, Patrick brought my towel over to the edge of the pool so the Dirty Harrys couldn't see me in my baby bump glory. He was trying to protect my modesty--how sweet.

On the way home, we vented about their nastiness. I asked Patrick if he thought he'd turn into a DOM one day. He said you don't just TURN into one--it's a reflection of someone you've been becoming your whole life. {don't think he really appreciated my question. :)} He then ranted about how we will need to raise Addy and encourage her to be modest. I just started grinning, picturing all the conversations that will take place in the future...

Anyway, since then, we've seen them at the beach and the pool--poking each other when a well-endowed woman walks by or a group stops to pose for a photo. It's sick. But I keep watching them watching the others--what does that say about me??? Well, I'm taking our camera tomorrow to try to snap a shot of these men. Patrick says he'll help me find the perfect moment.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Beach Savers

Well, since it is summertime, and I can be outside or at the pool, I am temporarily leaving my Dove Energy Glow behind...
Patrick and I are enjoying Castaway Cottage this week for our vacation, and I am developing a summertime beach-giene. Here are some products that are making my vacation low-maintenance and laid-back {some of which I found on my own, others that I have taken from magazines}.

This hair product has been my saving grace. Many of you know that I have humidity-challenged hair, and my typical once-a-week wash-and-straighten routine will NOT work. After days with ocean waves and chlorinated pools, I am managing to pull off a relatively frizz-free curly 'do with the aid of this $3.99 product!

I am loving this softoil in the evenings. It moisturizes, enhances your tan, and gives your legs a shiny--even sexy, if you will--glow without the sliminess and baby smelling-ness of typical baby oil.

This hand cream by philosophy was worn by Lindsay's labor and delivery nurse, and Mom, Linds, and I all have used it since then. It has a calming smell, and it makes your hands feel so soft!

I haven't actually used this one yet, but I plan on purchasing it ASAP. I put SPF30 all over my face, wear a visor and sunglasses, and I want to try a new bronzer to give my face a sun-kissed look too!

We've had him loaded on our ipods forever, but just this week we have deemed him as one of our favorites and definitely our go-to choice for this vacation. I'll credit our newfound interest in him to Katie Highfield Lassiter and her wedding. She walked down the aisle to one of his beautiful tunes, "I Have and Always Will."

*Last but not least is this product given to me by my dear friend Kelley. The Arbonne Ginger Citrus body butter has been hydrating my skin and making me smell so good!