Twins…an overdue story

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Twins…an overdue story. That’s quite an understatement, huh? It feels like the twins should be turning 8 regarding how long ago I publically announced our news. I did not to plan to go so long without providing all you curious people with the details, but my Mac had issues and was in the repair shop for a while. The twins really would have been 8 by the time I wrote this post on the WordPress App on my iPad.

So, let’s get started with what will probably be the longest post in the history of all blogs. Twins?! Yep, twins!! I am still as shocked about it as most of ya’ll are—and I’ve known about it for a longgggg time. Once I was given the okay to “go public” by my doctor my phone hasn’t stopped ringing. Everyone wants to know “is this a surprise” and “what happened to the adoption”. I do owe several hundred people an explanation. The journey to get to this point has been a horrible ride and I don’t wish it upon anyone. A few of you have walked this entire journey with me and for that I am thankful. People I don’t even know (friends of friends, friends of my parents, etc.) have gotten us to this point by praying for us and contributing to our failed adoption. A thank you will never suffice. God may have selected us to parent these babies, but they are “prayer warrior” babies. They would not be in existence if it were not for the hundreds of people that prayed for us.

Lets start from the beginning…Philip and I started seeking the help of fertility specialists in 2005. A year after we were married. Of course, were not we ready for a child then. He was in law school and I was teaching school and completing my Masters. However, in the fertility world you have to have a year of failed treatments to be taken seriously. I was warned from a young age that pregnancy would be a difficult feat for me due large hemorrhagic ovarian cysts that rendered my ovaries severely damaged and non-functioning. Anyway, 5 years, 4 doctors, 1,000 injections, and zero pregnancies later I was DONE. We had done an insane number of failed IVF cycles. I pulled the plug. I had been physically and emotionally pushed to my limit. We did not discuss babies for two years. Those were tough times as all my friends were having their second and third child and the pressure people put on me to have my first seemed to increase daily. Less than 10 people knew what we had been going through for the past 5 years. Lesson to everyone….never, ever, ever ask someone when they are going to have children. Never.

During the summer of 2012 we made the decision (while watching the sunset in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico) to explore domestic infant adoption. We did our research, choose a reputable national company with a Jackson office, completed 1200 pages of paperwork, endured countless invasive interviews, had our house put through crazy inspections, sat through days of preparatory classes, read the required reading, and listened to hours of very boring required podcasts, created a cute “about us” book, wrote a massive check, and 6 months later (February 2013) we became “active” potential parents (PPs) in their system. Cue the anxiety every time my cell phone rang. This company does not have a “waiting list”. Birthmothers simply come into the local office (or go online) to view the profile books of all active PPs. The birthmother chooses the parents and goes forth with the pregnancy. The PPs are called post-birth that a baby is at hospital X in city Y waiting for them. This hospital could be in state or across the country. This did not sit well with my type A self, but it was a learning experience.

The day after we returned from our summer cruise in July 2013 we received a letter from the adoption company. It was a generic letter sent to all PPs stating that adoptions nationwide and within their company were dwindling. Their adoptions have decreased from 133 in 2011, to 12 in 2012, to 2 thus far in 2013. They did not anticipate having another placement for 3 years!!! 3?! Honestly, this is when I got pissed. How could they predict when a birthmother was going to walk though their doors? I was also pissed that this was the first form of communication we had had with the company since we became active in February. We were still “active” with them until November of 2013 (your annual payment allows your to be active for 10 months), but mentally I wrote them off.

I spent the first three days of August sitting in professional development meetings at school completing applications for two other national adoption companies. Yeah, no shame in admitting that! Both companies approved us on September 2 (Philip’s B’day). This happened so quickly since we had an active home study, current fingerprints on file, etc, etc. We had lengthy phone interviews with both companies and were pleased with the overall process. We also liked that fact that no money was due up front. So, the wait began. We waited 11 days. On September 13 (my B’day) we got the call that we were selected. I was running Cody in my neighborhood when the social worker from one of the companies called me. I had planned to do a quick 2-mile run, but I ended up walking and talking to her for over an hour. I listened as she gave me “Amy’s” (the birthmother) entire story. 35-year-old Amy lived in St. Louis, MO and was pregnant with her 5th child. None of her children had the same father and they all had been placed up for adoption. This baby was a girl and was due in November. She knew she wanted this girl to grow up in the south because she always wanted to live in the south. She wanted a “prissy” mother and an “outdoorsy” father and our profile book sealed the deal for her. We were “perfect”. Now, I am not naïve and I didn’t trust this. It was too good to be true. A baby girl would be ours in a few months? We had waited on one company for way too long and then got a strike in a matter of days with a new company? Something wasn’t right. Regardless, we set up a phone conference between the social worker, “Amy”, and us. The call took place a few days later and lasted 90 minutes. It went well, maybe too well. “Amy” had me, a huge skeptic, convinced that she was legit. We did find out that she was a pain killer addict and was currently taking methadone. She had done so during two of her other pregnancies and those children were “fine”. I received copies of all of her children’s medical files and her OB reports. I thoroughly read through them and received advice from local medical professionals on what to expect when an infant goes through methadone detox. We were given 72 hours to make our decision, sign the papers, and send the company a huge “match fee”. This match fee was the other half of our adoption fund. Half of the fund went to the first company that sat on their ass for a year. (That may not be true, I’m just bitter) and half was going to go towards this new company in the hopes that “Amy” keep her word.

I hated sending the rest of our money to that company. Gosh, that was a terrible day. I just knew something was wrong. I really did try to listen to my gut, but I was at a point when I just wanted to put all of this behind us and close this chapter of our lives. Philip felt the same way. We had done all our research, talked to other people who used this company, prayed about it. What else was left to do but to trust that this was going to happen? So, we wired them the money, purchased a “go phone” for us and “Amy”, and set up a visit to St. Louis for mid-October. We actually had pretty decent communication with the company for a few days post-placement. “Amy” had come to their office to pick up the go-phone and was ready to text/talk to me without the third party involvement. Yeah, that never happened. Daily contact with the company turned into weekly contact. Four long weeks passed with me only communicating with the social worker. She claimed that they hadn’t seen or heard from “Amy” either, but were trying to locate her. She had moved out of her mother’s house and was now considered homeless with unknown whereabouts. Excellent. She had not been to the methadone clinic to receive her weekly dosage in several weeks and she had missed two OB appointments. I don’t have words for what Philip and I endured during those weeks.

We acquired an adoption attorney in the St. Louis area who helped us attain a PI. Together they were investigating the company while searching for “Amy”. She was finally found walking into her OB’s office on the day of a regularly scheduled appointment. This was Wednesday, October 23rd. She told the PI and the attorney that she had pulled her “case” out of the adoption agency’s system weeks ago and decided to parent the child herself. Come to find out, she had only been active in their system July through August. Yes, we were completely baited.

I was teaching spin that Wednesday evening and received no less than 30 (!!!!) calls/voicemails/texts from both the attorney and the agency. I didn’t answer since I was teaching, but I know I taught a terrible class that night. I was highly distracted and knew that I was about to receive bad news. The first voicemail I listened to was that of the attorney. She informed me to not call the social worker or believe anything she told me. The remaining voicemails all belonged to the social worker stating, “we found Amy! She was at her appointment and she is fine! The adoption is still on! Call me!” I called the attorney immediately who was talking to Philip. She put us on a conference call that lasted almost two hours. It was intense and left me hating the domestic adoption system. I learned a lot of gruesome facts during that conversation about the frequency of the scams (80%). Yes, we all know someone who has had a successful domestic adoption. Well, let me tell you they are in the minority and it’s becoming extinct. I now have VERY strong opinion on this topic.

That attorney was incredible and truly connected with us. She called us frequently to update us on our case (she was working to bust the company and to get our money back). During this time she informed us that we weren’t the only ones that were scammed by “Amy’s” story. That made me sick. I spent a few days pissed at myself for falling for a scam. I thought back to a few instances when I knew “something” was wrong during our match. I remember commenting to Philip that I felt like one of our phone conferences was a recording and not an actual conversation. I also recall asking the social worker for updated medical records from “Amy’s” OB visits, but never receiving them. The last records were in August—yeah, when she was still active with the company. They never received her September or October records because she had pulled herself out of the system. I was so mad at myself.

November was a better month. We were able to get half of our money back and we had a life-changing conversation with the adoption attorney. She is actually anti-domestic adoption and she somehow convinced us me to attempt fertility treatments again. I felt renewed by our conversation, but had no idea where to start. We had spent years with all the doctors in our state and I refused to go back to them. My last visit with one ended with an invasive test with results that showed the chance of me having a child was -11%. One of “the worse” he had seen in his career. That will leave a bad taste in your mouth. Philip convinced me to try a fertility clinic in Mobile, AL. He knew several couples through his work that had success with those doctors. We did a lot of research and I did a lot of soul searching. Could I possibly reopen that part of my past that I vehemently hate? I swore that I would NEVER receive another hormone injection. I agreed to “talk” with the doctor and I got all of my medical records from 2005-2010 sent to the Mobile office. That reopened a lot of old wounds and I was not excited to meet with this doctor, but I did if for Philip. We both took a Friday off work in mid-November and began one of our first of many day trips to Mobile.

The clinic was wonderful. The staff was friendly and the doctor was a Godsend. He immediately bonded with our long, unsuccessful history and us. He truly was empathetic, yet optimistic. We met with him for almost two hours. He was determined to “try my body one last time”. I was insistent that it wouldn’t work and that we weren’t going to throw any more money into a failed IVF. He was as adamant that it would work as I was that it would not work. Philip remained quiet until the doctor us alone for a few minutes to “decide”. I turned to him and said “no way in hell”. He gave me a pitiful, teary-eyed look and whispered, “ Please, there is a slim chance and we need to try it. Please do it for me. If there is a chance we can have a biological child of our own lets try it one more time”. I had honestly never looked at that from his perspective. If the tables were turned I would want him to try again. UGHHH. I was so mad. At what, I’m not sure. It was hard for me to reopen all those old wounds and realize what I was about to put myself through—again. We left that office with a million syringes, expensive prescriptions, and a calendar filled with varying dosage amounts. I liked that fact that this doctor was not wasting anytime and he was hitting me with max dosages. Our first injection with this clinic started on Thanksgiving Day 2013. Our first IVF injection we ever took started on Thanksgiving Day 2006.

Fertility treatments require you to have ultrasounds and blood work done every other day. I could not drive to Mobile that often, so I had to be monitored by a fertility specialist in Jackson. Lucky for me it was the one who shattered my hope in 2010 with his “-11%” diagnosis. Oh, he remembered me, and was a complete jerk throughout the monitoring process. He was pissed that I was seeking another clinic and was actually responding to the treatment. My visits took no less than 4 hours. Checking into the clinic was an absolute nightmare since he refused to claim me as one of his patients and he made me wait until all of his patients had been seen—even though I had an appointment. Ugh. Really, it was bad. I went to Mobile for the actual procedure, suffered through the infamous “two week wait”, got my blood drawn and got the call from my Mobile doctor that it didn’t work. He was heartbroken and I put on my “told you so” demeanor. It took A LOT of convincing between him and Philip for me to do a second cycle. He did a mimic of the first cycle’s medications and dosages. I had to waste my life away in the Jackson’s doctor’s waiting room, miss work due to day trips to Mobile, and end the cycle with another negative blood test. DONE. I was bruised (physically and mentally) and could not find another place to stick a needle in my abdomen. I was also tired of spending a ridiculous amount of money for no results.

I agreed to do a final cycle for three reasons: the doctor and Philip agreed that this was our last attempt, I was being monitored by a friend OB in Jackson, and a family friend gave me all of her meds from a recent successful cycle. Seriously, she gave me thousands of dollars worth of medications—the only medications that are strong enough to elicit a response from my stubborn body. The doctor changed up the dosage and scheduling of the medications and the cycle began on February 8th. He did things completely different and switched up some procedures on us. At times even positive Philip doubted the cycle. Anyway, we stuck it out, spent a lot of quality time in the car going to and from Mobile, and prayed harder than we’ve ever prayed. I personally did a lot of things different during the two-week wait based on advice I was receiving from friend OBs and fetal specialists. I do credit that as being part of the reason the third cycle was successful. On day 11 (4 days before I was suppose to take my blood test) I took a urine test. I have not taken one of those in 5+ years. My symptoms were very different and I knew something was going on with my body. I just knew I was pregnant. I was so calm, which is so not like me. I left school on Tuesday, March 4th and bought a test at CVS. Yes, I was breaking every rule in the book….taking a test before a blood test and taking a test in the afternoon. I went home, took it, and it turned positive immediately. I was so calm. What was wrong with me?!! HA! I remember whispering “I knew it” to myself and then sitting down in the middle of the bathroom floor just staring at it for several minutes. My first positive test ever. Finally I thought, what do I do now? I drank more water, took another test, watched it turn positive, and called my OB friend. She had me come in immediately for a blood test. I had Philip meet me in the parking lot of her office and told him the news. He was shocked and kept asking, “are you sure”. The blood test came back positive with a good HCG number. Another blood test was scheduled 48 hours later. That was a stressful time. The number had to double if the pregnancy was viable. God outdid himself and the number quadruple. When my OB gave me that news she asked, “how do ya’ll feel about multiples?”. We laughed and said, “bring it”.

The next three weeks were pure torture as we awaited our first ultrasound. The scan was scheduled Thursday, March 27 at 2pm. The month of March was the longest of my life, but the day finally arrived. When the ultrasound tech informed us “two healthy heartbeats” I lost it. I am NOT a crier, but I cried harder during that 10 minute scan than I’ve ever cried in my life. Don’t get me wrong…it was all a happy cry filled with disbelief, relief, and awe in God.

So, here we are….16 weeks pregnant with fraternal twins. I am being closely monitored and have ultrasounds every two weeks. It has been amazing to watch them grow. All of my tests and scans have received perfect results and they are measuring perfectly. We have a gender reveal party this Friday night and a large majority of my local prayer warriors will be there. I’m excited that all of those people get to learn the genders of the babies at the same time we do. Stay tuned for fun pictures! Seriously, I will be updating frequently now that I have a computer.

If you made it to the end of this…wow, you must be having a really slow day at the office! ;-) Kidding—kinda! I appreciate the support and prayers from everyone. To end this post I’ll answer some FAQs …..1) yes, I am still working out!! It’s my job, maintains sanity, and it’s providing me with a really healthy pregnancy. The babies love it (they “dance” to the aerobic music”) and my doctor tells me to keep doing what I’ve been doing. 2) cravings….none. Well, I am on a lemonade kick right now. Honestly, the food aversions have been really bad. I hate all meat, I hate vegetables (I can tolerate a salad a few times a week), I hate oatmeal, I hate fruit. I really hate all food. Eating is a major chore and I have not cooked a meal in months. It’s been a big adjustment for Philip, but he’s been supportive and has never complained. 3) the first trimester was….manageable. My only complaints were and still are insomnia, headaches, and food aversions. 4) what have you bought…..nothing!!! Oh, but that’s about to change come Friday! :-)

Out of hibernation

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Out of hibernation

Yeh, I’ve basically been gone from this site so long that I almost forgot my login password. I have no excuses, except that

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My days were long, repetitive, and I had no motivation to record the events of winter—or the dreaded third nine weeks in teacher talk.

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Actually, this past nine weeks really wasn’t too bad.

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No really…..I actually have no complaints. Well, I could do without seeing 3 faces daily, but other than that…  ;-)

Seriously, that job has had a major (positive) turn around in 2014 and for that I am beyond grateful!

Speaking of 2014….

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Oh, yes, that is the reason I have been completely MIA since the holidays ended. My schedule has been ridiculous with new classes and new clients. Days that had me teaching 6-8 classes and training 6-8 clients in one day between my hours at school. That is beyond exhausting, boring, and repetitive.

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A majority of the days I got home and immediately showered and got in the bed before 9pm. Can we say pitiful? A few days I made myself stay awake to watch this ridiculousness….can I please have those hours of my life back?! Oh, and will someone please slap Nikki and wake her up!?!!?

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Yeah, the New Year rush was crazy, but I enjoyed every second of it. New people breath life into a repetitive schedule and challenge me to become a better instructor.  New members also provide the opportunities for new friendships and I am so happy that several have developed!

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Now that the New Years craze has passed and spring is upon us I have reduced some of my classes (I’m slowly transitioning away from daily nights/two-a-days) and have significantly reduced my personal training load. A majority of my new clients registered for a New Year special (3-month) and they ALL hit their goals. Seriously, I should do a before/after with a few of my clients! It has been so refreshing to finally work with clients who were serious about their goals and not constantly sabotaging their gym efforts. With that said, I am not training anymore once my current clients’ contacts expire in a couple of weeks–and that’s my choice. It’s been a long time coming/wanting.

I plan to update more frequently, primarily for my own reconciliation of this new, better year. Yeh, I said it before, but I now have the time and motivation!

And just because it’s been a long time since they’ve been viewed by Internet strangers:

 

I’ll be updating more regularly, so check back soon!

Timber & Traditions

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Timber & Traditions

Yep, as expected it has happened. Izzy has climbed the tree, broken a lot of ornaments, and has caused me to rearrange all my Xmas decor.

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Six feet up in the tree!

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Basically I am living the life all my friends with toddlers are currently living. The only difference…..she is left alone with the “toys” all day and she can leap onto the mantle and destroy attack the items I tried to keep away from her. Seriously, I hold my breath everyday when I get home expecting to see our tree toppled over and shattered ornaments. I have decided that when that day arrives–not if, but when. I will just walk out of the house, drive away, and leave the clean up for Philip.

We have discovered a way to keep her out of the tree, though. It’s required some rearranging of furniture and an eye sore in the keeping room, but…here it is.

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As long as that ladder is available she will stay out of the tree….for the moment at least. Seriously, they day we finished using it for decorating and moved it back to the garage she meowed/cried and started climbing the tree. Once I brought the ladder back into the house she was happy and well behaved.  Hello, new piece of furniture and pushover crazy cat lady.

BTW she asked Santa for a kitty condo/tower.

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Remember how I dressed the pets up for Halloween? Well, while decorating the tree (in between the Izzy drama) I tried hard to get an equivalently cute picture of the dogs wrapped in Xmas lights.  I got the idea from one of those seemingly cute, easy things you see on the devil Pinterest. Yeh, did not happen. This is the only pic I got. I think they are traumatized. Please don’t call PETA.

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Our house is very entertaining.

Ok, the blog world is filled with get-to-know-you/fun fact surveys. Some of my favorite bloggers created this Christmas Traditions survey and I decided to join party. Lets see how well some of you know me and if you can predict my answers…

1.  Favorite Christmas Album/CD/Song?

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Carol of the Bells. Love. I love it so much that I play it in my spin classes….hey, until they protest I will continue to do so annually.

 

2. Favorite Christmas movie?

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Classic. Can’t be topped.

3. Favorite childhood Christmas gift?

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So many hours of my life were spent playing with this “mansion”.

 

4.  Favorite Christmas tradition?

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Driving around and looking at Christmas lights. The more obnoxious the better. Not on my house, but for my viewing pleasure! I’m trying hard to get Philip on board w/ this tradition….meaning do it without complaining!!!!

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5.  Real tree, fake tree or no tree?

Fake. I’ve actually never had a real tree and I’m fine with that. A real tree would freak me out…..1) fire. For real, I’ve heard that they will catch fire from the lights!! 2) Bugs/animals. Come on…it’s a tree! From a forest! It’s gotta have bugs and animals in it!? Those are not urban legends!

6.  Christmas pajamas… yay or nay?

Nay. Big time nay.

7.  Where do you spend the holidays?  Your own house, your parents’ house, extended family, in-laws, friends?

Every year has been different for us, so I can’t answer that. Yes, that does frustrate my Type-A self.

8.   Favorite holiday treat?

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I make a lot of treats this time of year, but my top pick is my peppermint bark.

9. Open presents all at once or take turns?  Stockings… yes or no?

Take turns and yes stockings!

10.  What’s on your Christmas list this year?

BOOTS!! Shopping extravaganza this weekend to find the perfect pair. And jeans, jewelry, purses, workout clothes….  Ok, let me be honest. I would be more than happy to get nothing and just let this adoption shit end. Wow. What a way to end a happy post! ;-)  (Yes, I owe a lot of people an update and yes, we have an update, but I am not ready to go there yet.)

Back to happy…..

Answer one or all!!!   Feel free to do it on your blog and link back too!

1.  Favorite Christmas Album/CD/Song?

2. Favorite Christmas movie?

3. Favorite childhood Christmas gift?

4.  Favorite holiday or Christmas tradition?

5.  Real tree, fake tree or no tree?

6.  Christmas pajamas… yay or nay?

7.  Where do you spend the holidays?  Your own house, your parents’ house, extended family, in-laws, friends?

8.   Run on Christmas morning or take the day off?

9. Open presents all at once or take turns?  Stockings… yes or no?

10.  What’s on your Christmas list this year?

Take one for the team

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Ugh I had to do what I swore I wasn’t going to do….run out of a cooking necessity and have to go to the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving. As expected, it was insane, but there was something different about the shopper population: it was 95% males. Read: grocery amateurs!

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Yep, women sent men to the store to purchase last minute items while they continued cooking. Kids were running wild, items were strewn all over the floor thanks to those kids, buggies were parked and abandoned in the middle of the aisles, and I got asked by no less than 5 men about the location of certain items.  Chaos, mass chaos.

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I had to help a jerk man locate his three kids and once all were found he grumblingly told me he was “taking one for the team and doing a woman’s job”!!!!! I bit my tongue–hard.

I arrived home (35 min later than expected) to unload the groceries and Philip was still hard at work cleaning the house. (That’s how we roll.)  I told him that I would take one for the female team and never send him to the store during prime holiday rush times.  It’s a pain in the butt for primary shoppers to fight the amateurs. Plus it takes those amateurs 3x as long to locate the items, call home to verify they found the correct item, and wrangle half a dozen kids.  He was satisfied with this statement and said he will gladly always unload/reload the dishwasher, wax the floors, wash/fold the linens, and dust the baseboards if I handle the crowds.

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Wait. That’s a lie, but he did say “deal” so I’ll read into it as I please. ;)

After my grocery experience I had to go to good ole Honey Baked Ham to get the meat for our meal. Fun fact: my sister and I worked at HBH sales counter during the holidays when we were in high school. We are still bonded over that sticky, smelly experience. Another fun fact: I won a TV one year by exceeding a sales challenge! I text my sister some HBH inside jokes while waiting in line and she commended me on “taking one for the team”.

I waited in line for an hour next to the same man who lost his kids in the grocery store!!! UGHHH.  This store was too crowded for his kids to get lost, but they sure were bad. That’s not the point. The point is how full of complaints he was and how he felt the need to tell everyone in the store that he was sick of “taking one for the team and running women’s errands”. Um, 65 people were standing in front of me and 46 of those people were men…yes, I was so bored that I counted the people.

He earned lots of ugly looks from everyone in line, but before I could school him the 4’2, 70 pound grandma standing behind him laid into him.

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She expressed everything I had been thinking since dealing with his attitude in the grocery store…..”taking one for the team” is a willingly made sacrafice for the benefit of others. It’s something you do without thought or the need for reward. She got him to admit that over 30 people were coming to their house for thanksgiving and his wife had to do all the cleaning and cooking solo!!  I don’t know if the lecture resonated with him, but it helped shut his mouth.

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Everyone has to sacrifice during the holidays whether that’s running errands, traveling, or listening to the same boring stories year after year.  I believe that anyone reading this blog has so many blessings that the sacrifices are ridiculously petty in comparison. We have warm houses, huge buffets of food, healthy family members…seriously, we have an infinite number of blessings.

The holidays are for gratitude and reflection of Gods love for His people. We are here as servants of God and should demonstrate our shepardship by serving those we love. Get off your butt and run errands for the stressed host or the disabled family member.  Be thankful that you have a loving family that needs errands run and that you have a means to run errands (vehicles, money, and nice stores). Use your time waiting in lines to bless the people around you–or to set the Grinches straight. ;)

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Happy (belated) Thanksgiving!

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The Honey Baked Ham workers and Izzy!

Merry Thanksgivoween

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Merry Thanksgivoween

Happy Monday! I have 12 anatomy classes left to teach until I’m off for Thanksgiving break….not that I’m counting or anything. ;-)

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After Thanksgiving week there are only 2 “teaching” weeks, exam week, Xmas break, and then the school year is 1/2 over! Craziness!

Lets discuss how Christmas has overpowered Thanksgiving.  Heck, even Halloween. Basically, Christmas truly starts in July. I feel like this has slowly become a trend over the past few years, but this year it is completely out of hand. Sooooo many houses are decorated for Christmas and I am having a hard time finding Thanksgiving stuff in stores!! Those that do have Thanksgiving stuff already have it marked 50% off. For that, I am thankful! Seriously, most cities have already decorated for Christmas, a majority of stores are playing Christmas music, some radio stations are only playing Christmas music, and every other TV commercial is Christmas related.

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Confession….I like it. Half of ya’ll agree (those that have decorated) and half are appalled. Another confession, my house would totally be decorated for Christmas if I wasn’t hosting Thanksgiving dinner! Christmas decorations are 1) beautiful and 2) pricy! They shouldn’t be stored in a closet/attic for 11 months! Speaking of storing Christmas decor…I want a Christmas tree closet in my next house . One where you can simply roll your decorated (artificial) tree into it for easy storage. You will never have to deal with the assembly/disassembly again.  I tried hard to convince Philip to include one in our current house’s plans when we built a few years ago. Yeah, didn’t happen and won’t ever happen.

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Anyway, let me share how my Monday started….I set my Keurig to brew a large cup of coffee with no coffee mug set to catch the brewing coffee. Yep, that was a lot of fun to clean up. No, what was fun to clean up were Izzy’s coffee pawprints all over the kitchen floor.

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While Monday didn’t start so great, my weekend was excellent. I continued my change in routine & scenery by going “home” this weekend. I have not been to Birmingham since April! April! That’s entirely too long to go without visiting my favorite stores family. ;-) While I don’t have any exciting stories, I do have some not-so-exciting photos to share that I snapped throughout the weekend.

It rained during my entire drive both Friday and Sunday. That rain provided for an awesome rainbow the seemed to circle all of B’ham as I drove into the city Friday afternoon.

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God’s artwork.

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Double rainbow

Friday night I gave into my weakness… Ok, Saturday night, too.  Thank God there isn’t one of these in MS.

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I spent Saturday doing what I do best: using my husband’s credit card shopping.

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View from one of my fav malls in the city

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Accessories…another weakness of mine

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What?! You don’t take pics of yourself in a dressing room? ;-)

Two things about this picture…

1) If I am shopping alone I always send pics of the clothes I am considering buying to my mom and friends. I’m so dang indecisive. I believe the message I sent with the text was “Yes, this is pink, buttttt it’s totally different from any of my other ones because”….   Yes, I bought it and now it is at home in my closet with its 50 cousins.

2) My boot socks. AKA boot cuffs/boot candy. Obsessed. OBSESSED. It is “the” accessory of the season and I loveeee them. I already have 5 different pairs and only two are shades of pink. Be impressed. Wait. You can be impressed when I make a pair myself. Yep. I actually can knit and I obtained a pattern for them. Again, I made myself sound really old and boring.

Speaking of old and boring…Saturday night I was flipping through one of my mom’s many magazines on her coffee table and I came across this gingerbread house.

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My neighborhood is still planning to do a gingerbread house competition in December. The neighbors are going down now. I’ve got the blueprints of a winner. ;-)

Sunday I hit the pavement in the drizzle and did 15 miles throughout the streets of my childhood. I have a route that I love to do and the miles fly by because it’s so reminiscent.

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Fall colors

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I am so dang sore due to all those awesome hills.

And one last story/pic. My dad and I went to a pet store during my visit and he kindly bought Warrior a new bed. The dog tore all of his stuffing out of his old bed during his horrible puppy years and he’s been basically sleeping on the concrete ever since. Anyway, I put his new bed in his pen last night and he whimpered for 10 minutes. He would NOT  lay on it. As soon as I put his old bed in the pen and he curled up on it and went to sleep immediately.

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I sent Dad this pic and he replied, “I feel sorry for him. It is like Tom Hanks getting off the raft in the movie Castaway and not wanting to sleep on a comfy bed. Warrior likes concrete”. Bahahaha. That seriously cracked me up. I will try the new bed with him again tonight.

And just because…..Izzy loves spinach. No, I don’t let her eat any, but she obsesses over it the entire time I eat it. She stole an empty bag of it off the kitchen counter and squeezed herself into the bag. She’s quite entertaining.

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So…what are your thoughts on Christmas decor making an appearance a little earlier each year? When is it too early? (I definitely think October is too early).

A change in routine & scenery

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I have been in a MAJOR work rut lately. I was starting to get pretty miserable (read: irritable). Don’t get me wrong, I love my gym job and the people, but I have some longgggggg days. While each day is completely different, my weeks are the exact same. Does that make sense!?

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I know, I know. Mega brat alert. I’m so ridiculously blessed that I have no room to be talking whining.

Who doesn’t go through this, though??  I know that ALOT of ya’ll currently are going through complete “blahness” (yes, it’s a condition). Many of my real-life friends have talked about these feelings as well as my blogger friends. The fact is that most of us need some spice in life right now.

This was further revealed to me when I read the following devotion yesterday morning:

“People ought to enjoy every day of their lives no matter how long they live” (Ecclesiastes 11:8 NCV). Families ought to be fun. The home should be a place to play. This is a major fault in many, many homes where couples are good people, but they don’t have enough fun. They’re too busy. They come home with their “to do” list after work is over. All that stuff has got to be done, and they just don’t have time for fun. Don’t be scared to shake up the whole schedule and say “forget the routine; we’re going to have fun”. Do something outrageous. No single day out of routine is going to make or break your life, but a single special event that is crazy and fun will make a memory your family will never forget.”

So, what do I do? Sub out my afternoon gym classes to go into the woods with Philip. Let me add that this was on the coldest day of the fall thus far…

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That’s big, people. Really, really big.

It was an afternoon of firsts and I really had fun.  Or maybe I was just so numb that I was confused.  Who knows?!

Philip text me during work telling me he wanted to take me to his hunting land to practice shooting. Yes, you read that right. Here’s why… I have had the same nightmare every.single.night. for two weeks.

Um, no, not this dream!

Um, no, not this dream!

Since he travels so much, those dreams have convinced me that I need to learn how to use some defense weapons (aside from my awesome muscles ;-) ).

Soooo, I layered up (4-layers, no lie) and we drove to the land about an hour away. I quickly realized this was going to be a “work trip” when he stopped to purchase A TON of deer feed. Yeh, he told me I was going to help him put out the corn and set up his game cameras. Um, what!? You mean I may ruin my manicure!? You mean I am going to be walking through the woods in my True Religion jeans and Frye boots? Yes, that’s what he meant. Yes, I am a brat city-girl.

Anyway, I had a really good time. After my shooting lesson ( I never hit the bulls eye on the target, so I am definitely not a threat to a human body…just the “walls of our house” as I was politely informed) we hopped on the 4-wheeler and rode for about an hour and a half setting up the cameras and chasing after herds of deer. I truly enjoyed being with him and watching him in his element. That’s something I’ve never done in the decade we’ve been married.

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Uh, yeh, southern people, I’ve never been hunting or really deep in the woods. We are talking deep. Like no cell service deep. Like if he had left me stranded I would still be out there. Frozen, but out there. (Watch us have been just half a mile from some major highway. Typical me and my sense of direction).

Change the hair color and this is totally me...shame...

Change the hair color and this is totally me…shame…

Anyway, this change in routine and scenery was awesome and it gave me the slight mental break I needed. Plus we had fun!!!! It’s some good memories and that’s what life is all about.

So, if you are suffering from extreme monotony then change things up for an afternoon.  Get completely out of your element and embrace the cold some new scenery.

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A cold, but beautiful sunset.

And because no post is complete without an Izzy pic…she is showing off her latest climbing discovery. Yes, I have to have a ladder in my closet. Yes, this solidifies the brat/city girl comment from earlier. ;-)

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A 3rd place WIAW

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Happy first Wednesday of November! WOW!!  You know Wednesday means…

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We live in a great neighborhood with about 80 homeowners. IMO it’s a perfect size being that it’s not too large or small. There are about 20 streets/lots currently undergoing constructions, so are expecting more growth. We know almost everyone in the neighborhood (P is HOA prez so we kinda have to) and hang out a lot during the warm, spring/summer months (lots of pool parties and cookouts). The gatherings taper off once pool season/warm weather ends. Since it’s been a few weeks since we’ve hung out with everyone I organized a chili cook-off this past Saturday night. It was a huge success! While I did not win (I didn’t expect to), I did place 3rd and will share with you my losing recipe.

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You’re welcome. The event had some stiff competition and every chili entered was completely different. Two were “traditional” chili (beef, beans, spices, etc) and those were the 1st and 2nd place winners. Some of the other chilis entered included deer sausage, hog meat, and seafood!? Yes, Chili of the Sea! That was a new one to me, but it was great! I had the only chicken chili and Philip fought me hard on entering it. (I modified this recipe.)

I guess I can say that he was right…traditional beef is the way to go if you want to win a chili comp.

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And that is why you will not win a comp w/ this chili….it’s UGLY! Appearance was worth 5 points on our ballots…

While I may not have won the chili contest, my pumpkin cake was a huge hit!

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Ok, so you know how my mind works…I may have lost this friendly competition, but I am already gearing up to win our next neighborhood get-together. It’s going to be a Gingerbread house competition in December. I’m already sketching out plans… so not kidding.

Gingerbread Village at the Seattle Sheraton

Um, I better scale it back….we do  have an hour time limit!

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IDK how/why..