Thursday, March 31, 2011

from three to four

Are we ready? No, not really. But I guess we better be, because this baby's not waiting on anybody. Ready or not, this little (or not so little) guy is coming, as hard to imagine as that is sometimes. We think: how in the world are we going to handle a newborn with a demanding, dramatic little toddler? How am I going to stay sane? When Hannah is refusing to nap and screaming her head off, when she has completely worn me out (like all week this week), when the teething cannot possibly get any worse, we say "and how are we going to add another one to this mix?" Well... We just will, I guess. And we'll take it one day at a time.

It's hard for me to picture life as a family of four. For the last year and a half it's been the three of us. Our lives totally changed with the birth of Hannah. There is no way to prepare yourself for the changes that take over you physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Once you become parents, you understand the love of your own parents. You learn so much. About yourself, your spouse, and your child. It is hard to remember what life was like as just a couple. I am continually amazed at how rich God's blessings on us have been as we have watched her grow. With every passing day, life gets better. I love Joe more. I love Hannah more. And I love the family we make. And so I'm kinda scared to change anything. Too late for that, I realize. I have asked Joe many times since we found out we were expecting: how can I love this baby as much as I love Hannah? How can I have enough love inside of me? Will my heart just expand to have a greater love capacity when I hold Joseph for the first time? It's scary and surreal at the same time.

Then I think about Hannah. What will this change be like for her? We've heard all kinds of stories and been given lots of advice. We read all kinds of tips on how to move from one child to two. But we don't know what it's really going to be like until it happens to us. I'm a little scared that she'll feel not as special. That she'll feel like she's not our baby anymore. I know these feelings might sound silly and just the worries of a hormonal pregnant lady, but they are real. I can come to tears easily just thinking about hurting Hannah in any way, just as I can come to tears even thinking about the ability to love another child as much as I love her.

Truly nesting, I have been busy finishing Hannah's baby book and working on a scrapbook that will get me to 2010 (yes, still a year behind). I have come across some beautiful quotes. I love this one:
"Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body."- Elizabeth Stone
I couldn't have said it better.

PS - Today I am 36 weeks. Tomorrow morning we have another doctor's appointment and ultrasound. I am very eager to see how much this baby weighs {At my last u/s at 32 weeks, he weighed 5lbs. 9oz. and was still above the 97 percentile.} and what the doctor has to say about it and my progress. Prayers kindly requested for a good visit and, most of all, a healthy baby.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

dogwood festival

Saturday my mom came down and accompanied us to the Jesup Dogwood Festival. Now Jesup shows up when it's time to festival. There are booths and tents set up selling all kinds of things from hair bows and plants, to wooden crafts and knives. And the food. The smell is incredible. Egg rolls, fried corn, BBQ, funnel cakes...I could eat everything in sight. And this year I really could. {I'm still waiting on that part of pregnancy where I am hungry but have no room to fit a full plate of food. I got there while expecting Hannah and I remember crying one night when Joe made a wonderful meal. I was starving and I sat down to eat, ate about 1/3 of my plate, and then could not force another bite. I was so upset.} I still have a tremendous appetite - as evidenced by the dent I put in the buffet at Pizza Inn on Friday night. I had horrible reflux but that's another story.

So back to the festival. Hannah enjoyed the cloggers on stage and we had a fun time.

 Hannah and Uncle John

On the way to the car we saw this. I wish I hadn't. Oh my gross. I mean, I couldn't even believe my eyes. What in the world...?

Everything you could possibly kill is attached to this truck. I freaked out when Hannah reached out to touch it. Have you ever seen something quite like this?

hannah's hideout

Who would've known how much fun it could be playing in a kitchen cabinet? When we introduced Hannah to "her" cabinet, basically unbreakables, she was thrilled. She has spent hours on the floor in the kitchen. {The only thing better would be if she could sit on the dishwasher door and play with the silverware.} But she was so excited when she discovered that she could take all the things out of the cabinet and crawl in there herself. And then she did it over and over and over again. Climbing in, shutting the doors behind her, and then climbing back out. You might think that sounds boring, but it was great fun to her. I took a video so Joe could see. We might be the only ones that think this is entertaining, but that's fine.

I love this still shot the camera took while it was filming.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Well, the news is out. It's been hard to keep it quiet the past couple weeks. We are moving! After three years in Jesup at Epworth UMC, the bishop and his cabinet have told us we are going to a new church.

On June 15 we will be heading to Sandersville, Georgia. For the many of you that might not know where that is, here is a map. It's about 2 1/2 hours from Savannah and 2 1/2 hours from Atlanta. A lot of people we know drive right through on the way to Athens. We'll be closer to friends in Augusta, Greensboro, and Atlanta and are very excited about that.

For those of you that are in the dark on how the Methodist Church works, let me explain. {This process was totally new to me. I was not Methodist until I got married. I was baptized Episcopalian, my mom is Lutheran, I grew up in Catholic schools and became Catholic, and I was involved in a Methodist youth group. Joe lovingly calls me an "ecumenical mut".} There is an appointment process every year in the spring. Ordained elders (like Joe) are not guaranteed more than a year at any particular church. In January the pastor (as well as the church) fills out a form and declares whether they want to stay at their present appointment, leave, or if they are open to a move. This year Joe checked "the middle box" - open to a move. We were happy to stay at Epworth if that's where they (the cabinet) wanted us to be. Appointments are generally made in March. We get a phone call and that's that. It's excitement, alright.

So, while we aren't surprised to be moving this year, it will be hard to say goodbye. It always is. There are the people that are really good to you, the people that are loyal and supportive. And we will miss them. There are people that you come to love like family. Two of those are John and Karen Swingle, our Jesup mom and dad. They took us in from the very beginning. Over the past few years we have spent a lot of time together and shared wonderful memories. They are two of the best people I've ever known. After Hannah was born we asked them to be her Godparents. They eagerly accepted and since then have become more than Mama and Daddy Swingle, but Aunt Karen and Uncle John. One very good thing about the location of Sandersville is that it is right on their way to see their grandbabies in Athens. We know we will still get to see them regularly. Thank God.

This is a great opportunity for us as a family, and for Joe as a pastor. The church there is really excited about us coming and we have friends who are members. I am over-the-moon excited with the fact that the church has a mother's morning out AND a preschool. I can put Hannah in the preschool, and be able to be a sane stay-at-home mom with Joseph. As for the parsonage, there will be a post about that I can assure you, after we've seen it. But it sounds good from what we hear. My friend, Kate, even took pictures of the outside and emailed them to me. As you can imagine, I am eager to see our new home and start laying everything out in my head. As an interior designer, this is the hard part. {I have that song in my head now...the waiting is the hardest part.}

Our new church: Sandersville United Methodist

Saturday, March 26, 2011

hannah's first st. patrick's day in savannah

We went to Savannah for the big day last week. {If you don't know, St. Patrick's Day is the biggest day of the year there.} It has the second or third largest celebration in the country. The population doubles, school is out, most people have or take the day off, traffic is crazy, and the city is chaotic. The fountains in the squares are dyed green. There's green grits, green beer, and just about green everything else. The parade lasts 3-4 hours and is full of floats, bands, and Irish families, as well as special guest the Budweiser Clydesdale horses (my favorite). The celebration goes on for days. Oh, and, everybody's Irish. At least for a little while. I can remember some very fun St. Patrick's Days in my past, but it is a totally different (and awesome) experience as a family. Here are some pictures from Hannah's first time (and it was a full one) during the wearin' of the green:

 finishing my breakfast before the parade starts

  little unsure of everything at first...

 what mom? (with sunscreen all over my face)

 kiss spensey, he's irish.

 see me in the parade? on the board of education float! (poppy is the school board pres.)

there i am again! that's gran gran and aunt barbara to the left of poppy and me.

 with uncle ben

 i got a boo boo on my head at some point, but like my shamrock dress?

 parade watching outside of the cathedral

 being green and snugglin' with momma

all four of us - that belly definitely counts as one, dontcha think?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

the nursery: part 3

Things are slowly getting checked off the list. We went to Savannah for a doctor's appointment on Monday. I was 34 1/2 weeks and had my first check to see where we are in regards to this baby making an appearance. While my doctor had told us he would most likely be inducing a couple weeks early because of baby's size, now it looks like baby is going to come on his own early. Like, we need to be prepared for a baby to arrive 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule. Man, it is ironic how this time around when I haven't done much of anything, the baby is ready to come early and last time I was ready a month in advance! So we left the doctor with the directive to pretty much have our hospital bag packed in case we need to get in the car and make that trip up to Savannah. Obviously, babies come in their own time and we have no guarantee that this baby will be here that early, but being prepared is always a good thing. I'm trying to get there... We washed baby clothes and I've put aside a few things to bring to Savannah. I love looking at his clothes. Such a contrast from all the pink in the closet down the hall. Second picture is his going-home outfit. I'm so excited!

We went to Target while in Savannah too. {Let me just add here how much I love Target and how sad it is that there is not one in my town. I could spend all day wandering the aisles, latte in hand, as much as that would drive my husband crazy and love every minute of it.} We bought a case of newborn Swaddlers (the cutest, sweetest smelling, little diapers in the world), a pack of Gerber onesies, sleep-n-plays, and side-snap t-shirts (an absolute must-have). For the nursery, we got a lamp shade and a hamper I am very excited about. That may sound strange, but I love that it has handles and is collapsible. I bought two actually.

In other news, the bedding is in!

And, I found out that a baby shop in Savannah can order new cushions for my glider for less than I was going to pay to have them reupholstered (price of fabric + labor) as mentioned previously. Now I can keep the girly cushions in case we have another girl someday, and I get brand new cushions upholstered in the fabric of my choice for Joseph. We're going with a natural-colored linen/cotton blend. Done!

holy moly mollie!

Happy 6th birthday Mollie dog. You drive me crazy a lot of the time. I don't like how you stand at the back door and whine at the squirrels frolicking in your yard. I want to scream when you've just had a bath and then go outside, run 15 laps around the yard at your fastest pace, and then roll around on the ground. It annoys me when you go on a food fast and then throw up on my clean floor. But, we do love you despite all that. And... you make Hannah happy so I guess you earn your keep.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

walking for water

Last Wednesday

Today Joe walked home for lunch with a five-gallon container of water. That's 45 lbs. In his work clothes, in the heat. But that is nothing compared to what many people have to do everyday.

Do we ever think about how fortunate we are to have clean water whenever we want it? {Just a couple facts: 848 million people in the world do not have access to clean water, and 316 million people die each year from water-related disease. We use as much water in a 5-minute shower than many do in a whole day.} In Kenya, women and children walk, on average, 7-10 miles a day to gather water. And it's not even clean water like we're used to. They must carry five gallons of water back from the well, in the heat, to their homes. Every day.

I can't even imagine. Do you know how heavy that is? Do you know how far that is?

The Methodist Church is working to fight this problem by drilling water wells for the people of Kenya. Our people are bringing them water and the good news of Jesus Christ. {In these areas, it is those that get there first who convert these people into believers.} Our district in the South Georgia Conference has set up a campaign to raise money to drill water wells. A well costs $20,000. As part of a Lenten project, Joe is raising money and awareness for this campaign. He has felt a calling to walk in their shoes, to experience what this part of their daily lives must be like.

Joe texted me when he was leaving the church and Hannah and I met him while out walking at the entrance to our neighborhood. I watched as he rounded the corner from the highway looking depleted of energy. I have seen Joe compete in many athletic events. I have seen him sweat and struggle, and cross the finish line looking like he's in another world. But I can honestly say I've never seen him like this. He was completely exhausted. He was sweating through his clothes, blisters forming on his feet from his work shoes. His forearms were burning, as he switched the weight of the 45lb container from one arm to the other. Pushing the stroller, I followed him home not really sure what to say. I was in shock. 

I was proud. 

Joe will be doing this every week during Lent. He will walk to church and return home carrying a five-gallon container of water one way and an empty bucket the other way (like the people in Africa). I wanted to help him with his Lenten goal and I figured that I could use this blog to do just that. If you would like to make a donation (and truthfully, no amount is too small) you can send a check to our church: Epworth UMC/P.O. Box 1134/Jesup, GA 31598 with "Living Water Project" in the memo line. You can also share the link to this blog post or any other information regarding drilling water wells on your Facebook page or through email.

Joe and I have been made more aware of how blessed we are to have unlimited access to clean water whenever we want it. We ask that you join us in praying for those that aren't as fortunate and help us get the word out to help those in need.

Monday, March 21, 2011

one man's trash...

Sometimes, one man's trash is another man's treasure. Sometimes, though...

Saturday before last Hannah and I left Daddy at home and ventured out for some fun. Peaches to Beaches is an annual yard sale that runs 171 miles along Georgia's Golden Isles Parkway/Highway 341. There is tons of junk stuff for sale in shopping mall, grocery store, and church parking lots, in private yards and garages, and literally just along the side of the road. I was simply amazed at what I saw. I was hoping to find furniture that could be fixed up or unique random things for the nursery or house. Instead I saw LOTS of clothes (clothes Goodwill would probably pass up), kitchen wares, and knickknacks (you know, those dust collectors you wonder why exist in the first place). A jackpot for some people. A disappointment for me.

So, Hannah and I drove along and wish we would have turned around miles earlier than we did. We started in Jesup and headed west. Somewhere between Odum and Baxley (two towns you most likely have never heard of unless you live in these parts), Hannah had a complete meltdown. Nothing would suffice. We went from sales dotted along the road outside of houses to nothing with no notice. She kept screaming and I kept driving thinking we would hit something. But we didn't. And finally we came up on Baxley, the next town. This is where I took these pictures.

I would've taken more but I didn't want to offend anyone since I was really taking them for fun and not because I admired the goods. That last picture is worth noting. All these boxes were filled with new products: silk flowers, pedi eggs (as in scraping the dead skin off your feet), sponges, and plastic-wrapped bright-colored lacy bras. Not even kidding. Hey, I can imagine they were a good deal and sold well. Just not what I was in the market for.

Occasionally I found something worth looking at twice. But after half a day of taking Hannah in and out of the stroller, this is the one thing we bought: a giraffe for Joseph. Hopefully he will like it and it will have made our experience worth it. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

clothing optional

Last night Hannah walked into the kitchen like this.

I am not even kidding. The hat is mine (she pulled it out from the storage bin under our bed) and the suitcase is empty. Still...she's ready.

Monday, March 14, 2011

do you know about these?

I am sure that if you have kids you do. Or perhaps you had one of these yourself. We had one at our house. These corn poppers can be great babysitters. They can also be terribly annoying. Never fails when I'm trying to hear something on the tv or answer the phone, Hannah picks this time to select the corn popper for her entertainment. No kidding. I have to give it to her though, she will run it back in forth in front of the dogs driving them crazier. Probably animal cruelty but it is hilarious to watch her torment Chloe with it and as Chloe barks, she just laughs and laughs. She obviously thinks that they are playing some kind of game. I tried to video the experience but she only wanted Daddy to do it (naturally).

Here's another favorite. The Fridge Farm. While she still hasn't totally gotten the hang of it, she's figuring it out. But one of her classic maneuvers is to push the chicken at the top that plays random farm songs and walk away. Or she stands there and pushes it over and over so that you never actually get to hear a full song, but clips of all of them. She's a deejay. It's especially nice when I'm sitting at the kitchen table doing my morning devotion or trying to hear the news on tv and she comes back when it stops and hits it again. Great toy though, very educational. Can't you just hear the moo in this picture?

When Grandma came down to celebrate her birthday here with us, she and Hannah had lots of fun. The base of this game they were playing is the Melissa and Doug shape stacker. I love it. It's not noisy. It's educational. She loves it. They are playing some kind of game where she knocks off farm animals (borrowed from another toy) off the top. I think more than anything, she likes the sound effects from Grandma.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

the nursery: part 2

You haven't seen a nursery update in a while because I have hardly done anything. I've been so laid-back in getting things ready. Kinda the whole, if I get to it, I get to it when it comes to my to-do lists. However, if anything puts fire under your rear, losing two weeks will. While we aren't sure yet if this baby will be coming two weeks early, that's what we are operating on right now because it definitely looks that way. So I need to get my act in gear as my mom would say.

I am pleased to announce (finally) that the bedding has been decided on and ordered. We are going with a set from Serena & Lily, a simply awesome company. While it is not custom, the quality is better than the custom stuff I was looking at. And I like it a whole lot more. There is seersucker. See, I told you. The accent color is yellow. I thought I would surely go with orange, but I am really loving the yellow. There's not much of it, but it's perfect.

The fabrics are: slate seersucker, slate and goldenrod mosaic, blue chambray, and goldenrod cotton. The bumpers are seersucker with blue chambray cording and goldenrod ties. The crib sheet is the mosaic print. And the skirt is white with goldenrod and seersucker trim.

I am thinking of ordering some fabric by the yard and having drapery panels made to match the bedding. Maybe white with seersucker trim at the bottom and/or a border on the leading edge of goldenrod cotton?

What else? We have picked out a crib. It's a traditional sleigh style, non-drop side with wainscot panels on the headboard and footboard. Since it is white, it'll coordinate fine with the rest of the furniture. As for the chair, we will be reupholstering the glider in Hannah's room. {We've got a wicker rocking chair that will take its place so we'll have somewhere to sit in there.} I am trying to decide on a fabric. Thinking white, off-white or natural linen, pique, or matelasse.

We are most likely relocating the dresser in the guest room to the nursery. {Technically, the guest room will become the nursery.} This dresser was in my older brother's nursery and was originally white. During Ben's teenage days, the top of the dresser gradually became covered in stickers - all kinds. Joe and I took it from Ben's closet when we moved to Jesup, sanded it down, and painted it with some spare paint we had, a blue and green from the walls of our old house in Savannah. It needed some lovin'. We added a piece of glass to the top to protect it and allow guests to set whatever they want on it without fear of messing it up. It doesn't match Joseph's bedding, so we will be painting it...again. It's a shame that it is not deep or high enough to be a changing table too.

As you know, a nursery evolves over time. Hannah's room isn't just like it was originally. Her book shelf is full of, well books, and is now in her closet. This works nicely since her clothes are short and she's into climbing and making big messes. It makes my life easier. I had her little PBKids armchair in its place, but now that is in the living room with us where she loves to play in it. Another note: there are now five frames on the wall holding black and white 8x10s from her photo sessions over her first year: newborn, 3m, 6m, 9m, and 1 year. That is my favorite part of her room. Now she points to the first ones and says baby. She is my little baby. I had her nursery ready a month before she came. This time around that's probably not going to happen. It's more like a work-in-progress and I do have that 2-3 month cushion when he'll be in our room. Still, I'm hoping some significant strides are made in the next few weeks. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

sweet tooth?

Holy moly. When I wrote that post about all the sugar in our house, I didn't even know the half of it. Yesterday, I walk outside to check the mail and this is sitting on our doorstep.

My younger brother, Will, sent us a king cake from New Orleans. Rewind to when we were in Savannah last weekend. He had one at his house (his girlfriend is from just south of New Orleans) and I desperately wanted a piece. I hadn't had some of that goodness since Mrs. Scafidi's 6th grade class. We left town before I ever got my piece and so...he sent us a whole cake. It was no sweets for me yesterday so it was just plain torture for me to look at that box. And how cool is that box, by the way? So today we decorated it and then cut pieces within seconds. Sweet...and so good. I gave Hannah the beads that came with it.

Today after Rotary Joe walks in the house with this:

That's a cake box. He won the weekly charity raffle for a chocolate cake. Are you kidding me? This week? With Hannah I just really wasn't all that interested in sweets through most of the pregnancy. This time around is different. Good thing too. Dessert anyone?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

sunday's bulletin

Today on Ash Wednesday, and in light of all you see on the news lately, I thought I'd post this piece from Joe.

To say that the Middle East has been in turmoil over the last few weeks is an understatement. You really can't just say the Middle East, because Northern Africa is also included in the turmoil. In the majority of these countries, a dictator has ruled mercilessly for many years, and now there seems to be a reckoning.
This is a time to be thankful that we don't live under the same kind of regime in the United States. But, it is an even better time to be thankful we don't serve a God who rules in the same manner. Some of the aforementioned dictators are trying to "win" their people back by giving them handouts and money, hoping to appease them and calm the tensions. These are actions of an entity who does not want freedom, but only the mirage of freedom. Our God does not treat us in such a way.
God wants the very best for each and every one of his children. Even when we rebel and seek another ruler, God is ready for us to return of our own free will. God does not want us to follow him to make God more powerful or wealthier. God wants us to have a fuller and abundant life for eternity at his side. That is why we follow God, and that is why we worship the one true God: the ruler of the universe, whose reign will never end.

This Lent, I pray we find ourselves growing closer to God and, as we go about our days, remember His ultimate sacrifice and His infinite love.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

the weeks are flying by...

While we were in Savannah this past weekend, my cousin Trudie took some pictures of us. We hadn't planned on doing a maternity shoot like we had done with Hannah, but it just seemed right to have pictures to put in Joseph's baby book too. I really thought it would be cute to have Hannah in the pictures as well since she always says hey to the baby and rubs, pats, and kisses my tummy. Of course, you would know that she did none of that during this particular outing. Stubborn child. Where does she get it? So anyway, this is what 32 weeks looks like...

Thank you Trudie!

Monday, March 7, 2011

sugah momma

Right now we have no shortage of sweets in our house. Glad that I am not training for anything or trying for a flat tummy any time soon. It all started last week when my mom came down to celebrate her birthday with us and Joe made dessert. Remember the yum mascarpone toffee almond bars from this post? Well, trust me they were just as good this second time around (made with cream cheese instead of mascarpone because in Jesup ya just can't find a lot of special ingredients). So glad we have leftovers of those.

Then we went to Savannah on Thursday where we had dinner out at Joe's parents' house to celebrate Joe III's big birthday (he turned 70 on February 22nd and you would never know it if I hadn't told you). Mama Buck made these brownies on steroids. Brownie, walnuts, white chocolate chips and chocolate frosting. Yes please.

On Friday my sweet little girl scout cousin Emma delivered these to me at a family dinner. Four boxes total - I exercised self control. And let's just be honest, what goes better with a blog post than a sleeve of Thin Mints?

On Saturday at my mom's house, while my poor husband was sick in bed with a stomach bug, I greeted a cute little kindergartner at the door selling World's Finest Chocolate bars.

Did you sell these when you were in grade school? We did in the Catholic school system in Savannah. And it was a big deal. It got a little competitive with the homeroom selling the most each week getting a pizza party. Wasn't too hard for the Brooks kids - we loved these candy bars and we would buy a bunch with our allowance. Now they have all kinds, but then it was just the original milk chocolate with almond bar. My favorite candy bar. Ever. I bought all the girl had left which unfortunately for me was only three, so I tried a new kind too.

So right now one of my big decisions is what should I have for dessert (and by dessert I mean snack or any other excuse for something sweet). I know. Tough life. Watch me cry as I stuff my face with sugar.