Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Here comes the sun...

I admit it. This week, the stress of my to-do list is getting to me. It's one of those weeks where I just complete a task, turn around, and have another email with something else to do. I feel like my head is spinning a mile a minute. The clean house I once admired during Spring Break is now messy, the laundry has piled up, and the lesson plans I had prepared for my 9th grade class have run dry. I have stress on the brain and worry in the heart. I wish I could be more go-with-the-flow, but it's not in my genes. So...I do what I do best - I keep plugging away, a little at a time. The hours of work add up quicker than the laundry and before I know it, I'm determined, but distracted.


I fail to see the things that are important. I fail to reply to the little 'I love you,' in the text message that Beau sent as I was on my way to an appointment. I fail to pour my cat a glass of milk as I fill my own bowl of cereal. I fail to even stop and open up the windows to fill the house with the scents of spring.

Stopping to enjoy and appreciate those small, amazing things in life is not something I can simply add and delete from a to-do list. It's the to-do list that might have to change. Life is going to change in big ways for me in a few months. I might as well start practicing now.

So...the Happiness Project continues...

16. Sunday night, I decided to watch our wedding video. I hadn't watched it for months. I think as the weather changes each year, it makes me think of that special time in our lives. I think about picking peonies the morning before the wedding at the crack of dawn with Mom, putting my dress on just hours before walking down the aisle, the look on Beau's face as he said his vows, and the excitement we felt boarding the plane to Mexico just a day after the wedding.

As I watched the video, it was so fun to get a sense of the emotion we felt behind the expressions on our faces. Just three years ago, we looked like a couple of kids! A couple of kids now waiting to become a couple of parents. What a scary and utterly cool thing to think about!

17. Last weekend, we finally watched The Blind Side. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. Sandra Bullock is awesome and the movie is really inspiring. I cried through the entire first hour, however, like some kind of a blubbering fool. I blame it on the pregnancy hormones!

18. Spaghettios. Odd, I know, but they are small thing that have lately, fulfilled a big craving! I could blame this one on the pregnancy too; however, my mom regularly has Spaghettios and a half of a ham sandwich for lunch. Much to Beau's dismay, I believe Spaghettios will forever have a permanant place in my heart (and my pantry) for years to come!

19. Our TruGreen guy came today, a sure fire sign of spring! As he happily pushed his cart over the tops of our 'greening' lawn, I dreamed of sipping sun tea, planting flowers, and grilling pizzas.

20. Summer Scented Wallflowers from Bath n' Body Works! Caribbean Salsa, Island Nectar, Pineapple Mango, and Cool Tropical Breeze. The smells that fill the room are a perfect little escape. I put a different scent in every single room!

Dear Baby...

Dear little one,'s official. You are one loved little fetus. You are officially all your daddy and I talk about. You, the size of a raspberry (moving up the fruit chain), have become the center of our little world. It's amazing to me how one small moment, one small announcement can completely transform your world. And to are just nine weeks new!

The best part so far has been the excitement surrounding your news. I love day dreaming about you with Beau, imagining you all curled up on my chest or in his arms. I day dream about taking you for walks on cool fall nights, bundled up in cozy sleepers and soft blankies. I day dream about mornings sleeping in, nestled like a snug little bug in between the two of us. I day dream about reading books, singing songs, tummy time, and rocking chairs. Last week, I ordered a Bob Marley acoustic lullaby CD. I day dream about watching you sleep with a little 'No Woman, No Cry' playing softly in the background. You, little Bob, will love the sounds of that Bob.

Last night, we told Gabe and Gina they were going to be an Auntie and Uncle. They were really cute. Gina immediately turned into her generous self, taking us out to supper, talking about showers, and filling me in on the newest and greatest baby gear. Uncle Gabe kept looking at Beau with this big brotherly look of pride. The six of us, including Grandpa Ray and Grandma M, went out to eat in Hampton, which, as you will learn quickly, doesn't happen very often if Grandpa Ray gets his way. But, last night, thanks to you, we all had a great time together. We are beyond blessed to have our family.

And...speaking of family...Charly Grace, your first cousin, is pretty much the light of our family's little world right now. She's absolutely precious. It's really neat to see Jordan and Kelli seamlessly slide into the world of parenthood. She's stolen all our hearts.

So...for week nine, your momma has a lot to celebrate. A new little niece. A wonderful family. The annual debut of the Shamrock Shake at McDonalds. Three weeks until our first appointment. I love you to pieces and pray you grow big everyday.

Forever...Your mommy

Nine weeks!

How far along? 9 Weeks!

Total Weight Gain/Loss? Up one pound…I wonder if this has anything to do with the Oreos…

Maternity Clothes? Nope. I bought a cute dress from Express the other day. I refuse to give up on Express…

Sleep? Still can’t get enough of it. We went to Hampton yesterday after school and on the way home, I passed out cold. Poor Beau has been such a good sport!

Best Moment This Week? Meeting my niece, Charly Grace. She’s amazingly adorable. Beau and I are going to get lots of practice before our shot comes.

Food Cravings? Yes. In fact, I’m dying for a caramel sundae from McDonalds. Do you think the food cravings are due to pregnancy or due to the fact that I feel a little food freedom! I now have an excuse to eat anything I want to!

Gender? I’m starting to think boy. Especially because of all the cute Cubs gear at Von Maur right now!

What I Miss? Diet Mt. Dew, hot tea, Red Bull, pretty much anything with caffeine

What I Look Forward To? Nesting. I can’t wait for warmer weather so I can start getting this house ready for baby.

Weekly Wisdom? An orange a day keeps the Oreos away

Milestones? Nine weeks means our baby has graduated to a fetus! It’s moving its unproportional arms and legs like crazy right now!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Eight week letter...

Hello sweet baby,

As I sit here typing, it's hard to believe you are already eight weeks new. For some reason, eight weeks seems like a milestone. I only wish I could have a doctor's appointment at eight weeks. They are making me wait until twelve. Even though I'm enjoying many of the symptoms that go along with you (except nausea, thank goodness), there is still a part of me that can't make this be real. I lay in bed at night with my hand on my tummy, trying to make a connection with you. And one thing is sure, my motherly instincts have definitely kicked in...keeping you healthy, safe, and strong is of my utmost concern...and you're only the size of a raspberry!

Speaking of symptoms - As I was heading out the door of school this afternoon, I almost grabbed an Oreo out of a 4th grade boy's hand. Needless to say, I drove to Wal-Mart, picked up some other necessities (a couple cute, cheap baby toys), and grabbed a package of Double Stuffed Oreos and a gallon of milk for dunking. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

As the days get a little longer and the temperatures get a little warmer, I anxiously look ahead to spring. Spring means more smiles, better attitudes, and brighter spirits. It also means time for baby...time to let the world know about your coming, time to find out if you are a boy or girl, time to put less focus on school and more focus on preparing for you. I've got big plans little one. By the time you are ready to enter this world, this momma will be ready. Ready with open arms, lots of kisses, and lots of snuggling.

One month from today, I get to hear your heartbeat. I can't quite fathom how that will be. All I know is that it will be amazing.

Stay warm and strong in there little one. I love you more every single day. I am blessed beyond words.

Love you forever,


Monday, March 29, 2010

Eight is Great!

How far along? 8 Weeks!

Total Weight Gain/Loss? Still losing! Six pounds total. My pants actually fit better now than they did before I got pregnant. One day, however, these breaded tenderloins are going to catch up with me!

Maternity Clothes? I bought my first maternity outfit at Old Navy last weekend. A cute summer dress for $7.99! I have no idea if I'll be able to wear it or not, but for that price, I thought I'd give it a try!

Stretch Marks? Nope. Knock. On. Wood.

Sleep? This has been my number one sure-fire sign of a baby growing inside of me. I am tired all.the.time. Bedtime usually happens unwillingly at about 9:00. My DVR is full because I can't make it through a TV show! Even favorites!

Best Moment This Week? I think eight weeks is a big deal. I am two-thirds of the way done with my first trimester! Overall, I've felt pretty great, aside from the usual fatigue, nausea, and blockage. It's a pretty cool feeling to be growing another human inside of me!

Movement? Unfortunately, just my stomach after scarfing down an entire tenderloin...

Food Cravings? Lately, I've been craving junk. And oranges. Orange juice, orange jello, orange flavored Tums...

Gender? Still guessing girl...I can't WAIT to find out!

What I Miss? Being able to stay up and feel normal past 8:00 at night. I'm a zombie and it kind of makes me feel like a big drip.

What I Look Forward To? Summer! Less time on schoolwork and more time on baby planning!

Weekly Wisdom? I know you're tired, but wash your face every night before bed. For some reason, this baby is bringing out the worst in my complexion!

Milestones? My pregnancy journals tell me the baby has graduated from a mass of cells to a human-like creature. At only a half an inch, Bob has eye lids, a nose, and indentations for fingers and toes.

Dear Bob (Baby.On.Board)

(Six week letter to baby. I will catch up soon :)

Dear Bob,

Yes, you have a new name. It was your dad's idea this time. He asked if he could refer to you as Bob, which stands for Baby.On.Board. He even made my Valentine's Day card out to me and you. Bob. I am no longer the only love interest in his life.

In your short six weeks of life, you have been referred to as Soybean, 'Bean,' and now Bob. I promise to give you a new name when you're born and stick to it. My family has a history with cats you know. Jade may be Jade on her Petsmart Adoption Certificate; however, she's been known as Santo, Hellboy, Jadey, Terrible`, Gato, and 'Friend.' And let's not even get into Lieutenant Dan! To this day, Dan doesn't not answer to anything!

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day; however, we're celebrating tonight with dinner at Cu, and a movie. Today, I am going to celebrate with you with a trip to Old Navy! This shopping thing has been pretty difficult since I don't know if you are a boy or a girl, yet, I still try. I've bought something every single week since I've found out about your existence. If I keep this pace up, we should be pretty prepared by October!

October. What a perfect month to arrive! It will be warm enough still for stroller rides, cool enough for soft blankets and sleepers, and early enough to help celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. I already look forward to being home with you, snuggling, rocking, and loving on you! We are going to have the best time. You are going to bring so much light to our life!

So, on this holiday, Valentine's Day, we celebrate you. Our hearts beat a little bit faster thinking about your little heart being formed this week. You are such a gift to us and we can't wait to meet you!

Love you so much...


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Some explaining to do...

Yes...the word is out - this girl is expecting her first baby in October 2010. I'm about to start my 14th week; therefore, we are ready for the world to know (see postings below for more info.)!

Because it seems we found out about this baby months ago, one of the most difficult parts of this process (especially for my husband), has been keeping it a secret from our friends, family, co-workers, and blogosphere. And because I'm a writer, since the morning I stared at that little plastic stick, I've been writing. A lot. This blog has been the place for me to spill out all the emotions that one's first pregnancy brings. The excitement, the stories, and the milestones. The ideas, the fears, and the rare moments I never want to misplace in my memory.

So...although it may be a little confusing, I'm unleashing my writing that is filling up my dashboard with 'drafts.' Starting with week 5, my journey through prenatal bliss is open for the world (or the few readers I have) to see. Most importantly, it is a place to store my thoughts and treasure the moments that the future Baby J may read, explore, and learn about his or her parents.

Six Week Update!!!

How far along? 6 Weeks!

Total Weight Gain/Loss? So far, I’m eating, but losing. Down 5 lbs. since week 3! I think it’s because Baby J is working super hard lately. It’s hard work growing ears, kidneys, and circulatory systems!

Maternity Clothes? Not yet; however, I have been surfing the web for cute summer dresses. I think I’ll be working the maxi dress this summer!

Stretch Marks? Nope. I’m being proactive though and ordered some ‘Belly Mama’ belly butter. It’s supposed to be awesome!

Sleep? I think I could sleep around the clock. Monday night, I knew we were going to have a snow day the following day, so I told Beau I wanted to catch up on some of our shows. We turned out the lights, popped some popcorn, and nestled on the couch for a night of our favorite shows. I made it through 12 minutes of 24. How could anyone fall asleep during an episode of 24??? Try growing a baby!

Best Moment This Week? I had a snow day yesterday and had a chance to relax. I blogged, read some books, and snooped around in Peek-a-Boo Baby!

Food Cravings? Oh yes! I baked monster cookies yesterday, ordered Chinese food tonight, Lays & French Onion Dip, & Grape Pop

Gender? Beau and I are thinking girl at this point; however, it’s pretty early to feel an inkling

What I Miss? This is going to sound weird, but I miss working out with Beau. And Diet Mt. Dew. And tanning beds.

What I Look Forward To? Finding out what we’re having! I want to shop!!!

Weekly Wisdom? Drinking water really does go a long way when you’re pregnant!

Milestones? We haven’t heard it yet; however, we think our baby’s heart is beating away. 80 beats a minute is what my books tell us.

Hello Punctuation Mark

Dear Baby J...

Last night, I told your dad about your arrival in a bitterly cold car in the parking lot of Dillard's. We were at the mall for Beau's once-a-year shop-a-thon. He desperately needed new dress clothes and I was desperately craving coconut shrimp from Red Lobster. It was a moment I will never forget. A Cubbie board book (Beau is convinced your first words will be "friendly confines") and a little Cubs t-shirt later, we were hugging and looking at each other with those awkwardly lovely googley eyes (reminiscent of the night we got engaged and wedding day). Your dad cried (only you and Ron Santo have earned this honor), and it was a moment I will never forget.

The rest of the night was a whirlwind. As if shopping with your father isn't hard enough. Imagine walking through the store, looking at ties and dress shirts, only to find your husband staring at you with this goofy smile on his face. We managed to find some clothes, however, and even snuck over to the baby's section to scope out their winter clearance racks. I have a feeling you are going to be one pricey peanut.

I also experienced my first feeling of nausea last night. I've never had the urge to vomit and jump for joy at the same time before. Minutes later, however, I settled my stomach with a chocolate chip cookie from Great American Cookies and a glass of water. No, it wasn't a nice hunk of celery, but you didn't seem to mind :).

About an hour later, I topped off my bit of nausea with none other than Red Lobster. Eyeing the Passion Coladas and Strawberry Margaritas, I donned them away with a nice glass of water. In between bites of warm cheddar biscuits, coconut shrimp with pina colada sauce, and seafood mushrooms, Beau and I covered the baby basics: When should we tell our parents? I can't wait to tell Grandma J! How will I decorate the nursery? Should we buy a membership to Sam's Club? What kind of flooring should we put in the baby's room? Questions circulated amidst giggles.

After dinner, I'm sorry to say we are already earning the label for "uncool parents." Instead of a late-night movie, we settled for a trip to Menards and an episode of 24. Uncool to say the least.

So, Soybean, the journey to parenthood has begun. Hang on tight!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Baby J is 5 Weeks!

Today was my first day to school since finding out I'm going to be a momma. My to-do list is exponentially long; yet, I managed to kill an entire day texting my husband, looking at baby blogs, and eating. Yes...I've been hungry 24/7. Last week, I had next to no appetite. I actually lost a pound and a half. This week, I could eat my hand. It doesn't help that I get these instant moments of nausea, where I feel like I could puke; however, I just need a little food to settle my tummy. I'd definitely rather have that over the alternative; however, I don't want to be humongous. Somewhere in between is my goal. And a healthy baby of course!

The best part of the day was calling the doctor to make my 12 week appointment. I feel so blessed to have such a great women's clinic in my backyard. Dr. Weno is probably the coolest doctor on the planet and she was so excited! She confirmed that I am five weeks along, and better yet, gave me a due date...

...October 5, 2010...

A baby in 10-'10! Can't wait!

How far along? 5 weeks!

Total Weight Gain/Loss? Down a pound and a half!

Body Changes? My dress pants are definitely difficult to button; however, that has nothing to do with the seed growing inside of me.

Stretch Marks? No! Knock on wood!

Sleep? I had my first true sleep disturbance last night. 1:45-2:00 am. Tums, saltines, and a glass of water. It did the trick!

Best Moment this Week? Telling the daddy-to-be! Telling the grandma-to-be!

Movement? None, including baby or bowels!

Food Cravings? Everything! In about 30 seconds, I told Beau that Burger King chicken tenders, Extra Crispy KFC Chicken, and Red Lobster sounded good! I also think I could down a gallon of chocolate milk!

Gender? No clue and I have no inclination

What I Miss? Working out with Beau and a cold beer afterwards!

What I Look Forward To? Hearing a heartbeat and finding out the sex!

Weekly Wisdom? Just because you're pregnant, doesn't mean you can't exercise!

Milestones? First true symptoms; nausea and utter exhaustion

Friday, March 26, 2010

It's Official!

Baby J is on the WAY!

Beau and I are expecting our first baby in October! 10 - 2010! We are super excited about our news and are having a blast soaking up every little moment.

Here is an excerpt from a journal entry I wrote shortly after I found out. I have lots of writing; however, didn't want to post it until our news was 'official.' I'll post pieces of it every now and then...

I love those few really special moments in life that God gives us. Those once in a lifetime moments where you feel something you’ve never quite felt before. I remember feeling it the night Beau proposed. Downstairs in his duplex, candles lit, Shrek on the big screen (it’s a long story). The whole entire world just kind of stopped in the middle of our little moment. I don’t really remember what Beau said, but I will never forget how I felt.

I remember this same moment when I was about two minutes away from walking down the aisle with my dad. After a complete whirlwind of wedding planning (19 months to be exact), it all came down to that moment. Everyone had proceeded to make their way down the aisle and I was left with my arm clenched tight around my dad’s. The whole entire world just kind of stopped in the middle of our little moment.

Last night was definitely one of those moments. I had thought about it all day. What I would say, how he would react, how things would change from that moment on.

He thought it was an ordinary date night. A little shopping, a nice dinner, a late-night movie... but in the cold car on Jan. 30th, he opened a card.

“Beau…we’re having a baby.”

The whole world just kind of stopped in the middle of our little moment.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Happiness Project

The Happiness Project continues! As the weather continues to creep up the mercury scale, it gets easier to find more and more to be happy about.

12. We are crazy about our niece. Beau, who usually builds a connection with kids when they reach about two years, has fallen in love with Charly Grace. It's pretty adorable to watch him hold her. His signature move is to take her from someone and in one, instant motion, plop her head on his chest. She usually snuggles in face first until Kelli or I tell him she can't breathe. Then, he either moves her to a new position or maneuvers her head to the side. It's hilarious to watch. You can tell by the look on Charly's face that she's already questioning the decisions of her Uncle Beau!

13. After last Saturday, everyone knows how to pronounce the name, Ali Farokhmanesh. And I mean everyone. UNI beating Kansas will forever be known as one of the greatest upsets in NCAA March Madness history. Our little UNI Panthers came out making a pretty big statement, landing Ali on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and landing Ben Jacobsen a contract for $450,000, good until 2020! The Panthers play in the Sweet Sixteen this Friday night and you can bet they will give Michigan St. a run for their money! Here's the link to a pretty cool article from the Waterloo Courier.

P.S. I'm proud to say I picked UNI to beat KU in my bracket. Taylor may study 'bracketology' for weeks prior to the tournament, spending careful hours crafting his picks, but this girl has a different tactic. Here is one of my hints: Think Andy Bernard from 'The Office.'

14. Pico de Gallo. Beau made the mistake of asking me what I wanted for dinner via text this afternoon. I responded with 'pico de gallo, and a blizzard from Dairy Queen.' My loving husband came through in a big way! Salty chips, fresh tomato salsa, crispy cilantro, all piled on quesadillas stuffed with chicken, peppers, onions, cheese, and sour cream. I am officially in a food coma as we speak.

15. Shutter Island. I have a thing for sitting in movie theaters during the rain. As the rain poured outside, Beau and I sat comfortably in the theater, eating Runts I smuggled in from Walgreen's, and awaiting the highly anticipated Martin Scorsese thriller, Shutter Island. It was everything I imagined it would be. A gripping performance by Leo, an abundance of nervous chills from the freakish and dark atmosphere of the setting, and a mind-bending plot similar to 'The Sixth Sense.' I don't know why I continue to see psychological horror flicks. They always leave me a bit on edge. Let's just say, I think Beau and I both double checked the locks once we were settled at home.

Drenched in Pink - 'Showered' in Love

White lights softly layered within waves of pink tulle. Votive candles, pastel balloons, and a tower of cherry chip cupcakes. Curling ribbon, polka dots, and chinese lanterns. Over the past weekend, my gender-neutral house was transformed to a little girl's dreamland - all to honor the newest girl in our family...Charly Grace.

I asked Kelli if I could throw a shower for her in October, so I've been secretly planning my party for months now. I knew I wanted to have a shower after the baby was born, simply to overdo the pink or blue. In this case, I was perfectly happy throwing the oober 'girl' shower.

Highlights of the Day...

1. Decorating! Since I was home on Spring Break, I was fortunate to have time to worry about the details. I took my time and had so much fun with ribbons, lights, and candles!

2. My first diaper cake experience - Mom helped with this one. It was fun to put it together, but even more fun to decorate it!
3. The food! No real messes or travesties concerning the menu. I served homemade chicken salad on croissants, mini fruit skewers with dip, spinach artichoke dip, cranberry turkey roll-ups, mini cupcakes, and pink lemonade.

4. Charly of course. She was cuter than ever. Kelli dressed her in this little demin dress from Gap, a pink striped onesie, and pink tights that were a little big, but baggy in just the right places. Her dad forgot to comb her hair after her bath, so her mane was a little fluffy! She was awake at the beginning, and then fell asleep during games. Turns out, Charly isn't a fan of shower games either!

5. Oh Baby! Shower Favors. Beau helped with this one. A CD full of songs with the word, 'baby.' Everything from the Supremes, to Vanilla Ice, to Amy Grant. I like to think the CD has a little for everyone. Even Grandma Henrichs.

6. Charly's gifts, especially the headband from her Grandma Carol. Kelli insists Charly is not a headband girl. By the look on her face, Charly insists too!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

All to Him I Owe...

Beau and I have been attending Orchard Hill Church since we got married and officially decided to call it our home church last fall. It's truly been one of the best decisions we've made since we decided to start our lives together. The teachings, the music, the people, and the ever-present, ever-growing revival for Christ is amazing. I've been a follower of Jesus for as long as I can remember. I've always felt a little bit cheated because I don't have an inspiring story about the moment I accepted Jesus as my Savior. When I think about my life, I honestly don't remember a time when I felt without Christ. I was raised to trust in Him always, to have faith in times of need, and devote my life to following His example. This road has not been smooth; in fact, I can remember times in my life when it was quite bumpy and rough; however, the road has always existed and I've always been aware of the desired destination.

Today, Dave Bartlett had one of the best sermons I've heard since attending Orchard. During this season of Lent, he talked about the days leading up to Jesus' death: the palm branches in the streets, the celebration of the last supper, and the betrayal of His closest friends. I can't imagine how He must have felt in these moments. How, He, knowing of his ultimate destination, death on a cross, yet, still, found joy in those moments of despair; serving Judas bread and wine as His guest of honor, and washing the feet of the men that would turn against him that very night.

As he washed their feet, he taught:

I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

John 15: 5-13

Here are the four lessons I learned from this chapter of the Bible.

1. Be connected to Christ: This is essential. Beginning and ending each day with God is just the beginning; it's about making Him the center of my life throughout the busy, schedule-packed days. Knowing how He wants me to live my life each day, whether teaching at school, out with friends, or with family. This one is about prayer, but moreso, about awareness. Be consciously aware of the Holy Spirit every minute, every day of my life.

2. Love God and others: This one seems so easy; however, when you look into it, it's a lot deeper than loving the people in our life that are easy to love. Jesus spoke these words as He looked into the faces of the people who would turn against Him, His family of friends. Pastor Dave said something that really stuck with me yesterday. He said in our lives, we must love the people the most when they deserve it the least. Although important, this one is more than a hug, a kiss, or an 'I love you.' It's a prayer for a student who struggles in class, a phone call to a friend I've lost touch with, or giving up on gossiping and taking up complimenting.

3. Bear Fruit: Peace, Love, Hope, Gentleness, Faithfulness, and Self Control. I need to work on finding peace. Trusting God and knowing when to give him control over my life. I admit it. I can be a little bit of a control freak. I need God to help me unpack my life in a way that honors Him. Bear fruit. Be an example.

4. Experience JOY: Wow. This one is big. Yesterday, as Dave preached, he looked into the congregation of more than 500 people and looked into the faces of two different families. He said I know there are people in this room suffering. A family who buried a father and husband yesterday, and a family fighting through unemployment. He said in these times of trial, we must find joy. The joy that Jesus found the night before he would be nailed to a cross. The joy that sometimes seems so far from our lives. It's so easy to go through this life dwelling on the bad because let's face it, there is a lot of 'bad.' I want to be the kind of person that people look at say, 'where does she get that joy?' Blessings exist everywhere, but at times, they hide under pain, and loss, and sadness.

I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”
Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

Sigh...It's Spring Break!

A week ago, no one could have ever convinced me that the snow would be gone by Spring Break. In fact, last Saturday, a foot of snow covered most of our ground, not to mention the piles bordering our driveway that stood a head taller than me. It seemed that it would last forever - that Winter would last forever. But...the earth smiled its warm, 40 degree smile last week and melted Winter away. And now, as I sit in the livingroom drunk from the fresh air, signs of Spring are everywhere.

1. I woke up this morning with sun streaming through the windows. I snuck out of bed, quiet to not wake Beau, and made a pot of coffee and chocolate chip muffins. I sat at the kitchen table and caught up on some mail as the sun's reflection made designs on the kitchen floor. It was quiet, warm, and ultra relaxing.

2. After church, we broke out the deck furniture. We swept, raked, and scoped out the survival skills of last year's landscaping. Our bushes look a little rough right now, but I'm hoping more 50 degree weather will liven them up.

3. Daylight Savings Time...although we lose an hour of sleep, the trade-off is worth it. One more hour of day means more time for neighborhood walks, open windows, and late grill-outs.

4. Our neighborhood. Each year, there's one day that everyone decides to come out of hibernation. Dogs, bikes, babies...toddlers in strollers and toddlers pushing strollers. Everyone is happy. Cars are washed in driveways, kids are laughing and shooting hoops, and our neighbor, Jim, sits on his deck with a beer in hand. Jim is my sign of summer on its way!

5. I can open the big red door at the front of our house, allowing Jade to perch herself for hours in front of the glass door. Her tail swiftly slides from side to side as dogs walk on the sidewalk and she takes a bath and naps for hours in the sun spot on the carpet.

6. Late afternoon walks, grilled hot dogs, macaroni salad, and Sunday night TV. I absolutely love the feeling of settling in for a night after a nice Spring or Summer day. The fresh air casts a spell on us.

This week I am blessed with a week home from school in honor of Spring Break. For me, it will involve washing windows, cleaning closets, going for walks, and planning a baby shower for Charly. Most of all, I'm hoping for a week of catching up, winding down, and breathing in life a little deeper.

Welcome sweet SPRING!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday Monday

Picture taken from Des Moines Register

Thank you, NU Panthers, for playing so well today and starting Spring Break just a little earlier for us burnt-out teachers.

Thank you, huge bowl of fresh pineapple and strawberries, for filling my tummy with your deliciousness.

Thank you, sweet husband, for taking the day off to ride to Des Moines with me. For keeping me entertained in the car, sharing your funnel cake with me at the game, and peeking in Pottery Barn with me afterwards.

Thank you, Jack Bauer, for providing an hour adrenaline rush every Monday night.

Thank you, 40 degree temps, for continuing to thaw the earth and melt the snow in our backyard.

Thank you, Jade, for the funny looks you give me as I scramble out of the house each and every morning.

Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa, for being my audience.

Me = 1 The Monday Blues = nothing

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Happiness Project...

This week, it's all about the small things. It seems like my weeks at school keep getting busier and busier. Halfway through a Masters paper, coordinating the junior/senior prom, tackling lesson plans for two new books in my 9th grade curriculum, getting ready for a tenure track job search, and tackling the weekly, massive piles of grading, all work together to keep my to-do list at times, unmanageable. But...amidst the grading, planning, teaching, reflecting, prepping, and meeting that my wonderful job entails, there is a break in sight. Thanks to the ultra-talented NU Boys Basketball Team, this week will be a fun, stress-free week of traveling back and forth to and from Des Moines to cheer on the Panthers at the State Basketball Tourney. Then, it's a week off for Spring Break! I think I can make it! the Happiness Project continues, I'm making sure I'm squeezing in some time to enjoy the small, unexpected, wonderful things that make their way into my life on a daily and weekly basis.

6.) As much as I love friends and nights out with them, nights at home are sometimes just as nice. Last night, after a full week of schedules, meetings, and obligations, I celebrated a night at home...all to myself. Beau went to a birthday celebration/guy's night out, so I treated myself to a blanket, some cozy sweats, a chick flick, and a Pappa John's delivery...

...all to myself.
...This welcomed night to myself ended much earlier than I had anticipated, as I fell asleep on the couch before the clock struck 11. But, I had time to catch up on last week's 'Idol,' catch up with Mom on the phone, and eat some delicious pepperoni pizza dipped in garlic sauce.

7.) Spring has Sprung in Iowa. Did you know until this weekend, our great state hadn't enjoyed above 40-degree temps. in 94 days? This 40 degree heat wave sent a fever to all of Iowa...a Spring fever. My students were wearing capris to school, Beau fired up the smoker, and Iowa's more ambitious hit the streets for a jog. I put away the Uggs, bought some Dilly Bars from Dairy Queen, and waited in a long line at the car wash. Soon, the bikes will be out, the deck furniture will be set, and the days will keep their eyes open a little bit longer. I. can't. wait.

8.) Spring means Easter. Easter means candy. Specifically, Starburst Jelly Beans, Malted Milk Easter Eggs, and my favorite, Cadberry Bunny Eggs. Pastels, pretty dresses, and a baby shower in the works. Jelly beans are fat free, but I'm pretty sure that delicious white filling in a Cadberry Egg is the equivalent of a meal in itself. I'd better take it easy!

9.) I officially made my teacher-debut in the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier this week. I organized a contest at school called, 'Poetry Out Loud,' giving students the chance to step out of their comfort zones and perform a famous poem of their choosing. We had a school competition and sent one student, Jyothi, to the State Competition in Des Moines. We took her yesterday and she blew me away with her poise, her talent, and her confidence. I thought she had it in the bag, which meant a trip for her and I to Washington D.C. to perform at the National Competition. To my surprise, Jyothi received 3rd place. 3rd place in the entire state. 3rd place, against students from Valley, Sioux City, Des Moines North, and Mason City. I was extremely proud of her and she's already talking about next year! If only all my students were as devoted and driven!

Here's the link for the article.

10.) Sundays at home are always welcomed. UNI won the MVC tournament, which guarantees them a bid in the NCAA tourney. Beau finally helped me get the Christmas garland down from the front porch. I polished my two glass cabinets in the kitchen. Caught up on grading. Caught up on laundry. Sipped on hot cocoa and helped my cat rescue 17 play mice from underneath the couch. Soaked in a tub of bubbles.

11.) The Oscars are on tonight. I don't think I've ever missed the Oscars. Waiting for my favorite stars to grace the red carpet, picking favorite dresses out with Mom, and cheering for certain movies to win the awards are some favorite childhood memories of mine. If only the Academy didn't hate my movie-star crush, Leo.

Someday, I want to have an Oscar night party. I want to eat hors-oeuvres, drink champagne out of pretty glasses, and see all the movies up for the awards ahead of time. Oscar Party is added to my Bucket List.


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